Highly commended

Highly Commended

Some products just miss out on our coveted 5x5 smiley award - a product has to be just about perfect in every way to receive that award! That doesn't mean there aren't a lot of very good other gadgets out there!

To recognise those products that missed out on a 5x5 award by just a whisker, we've introduced the 'Highly Commended' status. Products still have to be pretty good to get one of these and out of almost 5,000 reviews on GadgetSpeak (as of February 2016) only around 280 have gained the required marks to be Highly Commended!

Tell me more about the GadgetSpeak Awards!

890185 D Link DCS 8627LH Full HD Outdoor Wi Fi Camer

D-Link Outdoor Camera

Published in Homes and Gardens by paul_smart on Oct 19, 2020
Most recent ‘outdoorcameras that have crossed my desk have been battery offerings that would require you to climb up to change the battery or recharge it. They of course require only fitting, this offering from D-Link is wired so it needs to go through either a wall window or door frame to get power and to deliver its signal to you.
It is 8.5x5.5x6.5cm the last figure the depth is increased by the bracket so could be as much as 12cm. The hard wired lead that emerges from the back of the bracket is 4.2 metres long ending in a round 1cm across fitment that carries both power and signal. There is a further plug/fitment on another 3 metre length of cable that ends in a power plug so however you link it you need power within three metres of entering your home. Also in the box is a ten side fold out Quick Start Guide.
889629 Bitdefender Total Securit

BitDefender

Published in Software by paul_smart on Aug 19, 2020
The only way you know if your Anti Virus or Total Security product is doing its job is if it fails; and, if you have no problems, then it is probably doing its job. While I have previously told you about what McAfee and Kaspersky have to offer today its BitDefender.
I have been using it for nearly a month and the only time I know it’s there is when I attach a memory stick while it checks its content. Some people are concerned that certain files are permanently deleted and here they have a secure shredder to do the job. The thing that most recently seems to be the thing that people worry about is Ransomware and BitDefender say they will stop files being encrypted once they know an attach is in progress.
889470 Weird Park The Final Sho

A Weird, Weird World

Published in Entertainment by mfereday on Jul 25, 2020
With its collection of puppet-like creatures, you ca visit a world that has the feel of a nightmare.
Bringing the Weird Park saga to a conclusion is the appropriately entitled The Final Show.  Like the earlier offerings, this title is a Hidden Object Adventure game and is entirely self-contained so missing out on the first two parts of this trilogy should not spoil your enjoyment of this adventure game. Rather than just offer the player the challenge of the main game, Weird Park - The Final Show comes with a number of bonus items that could well appeal to you.
889013 HONOR 9X PRO android smart phon

Honor 9X Pro

Published in Phones by paul_smart on June 17, 2020
Knowing the price of something when I start reviewing is not my choice as it might predetermine the value score, here however I do know the price and ‘I do not believe it’ came immediately to mind. As always there must be minus points, now to try and find them.
Really top end offerings by Samsung and Apple can get towards four figures, while Honor is a part of Huawei their prices are normally somewhat lower but this offering is really low, the initial promotion price was sub £200. Sadly this offer finished just as I received the unit to review, the price now is £249.99 but you do get one of a choice of three free gifts with it. It is 16x7.3x.8cm and weighs 210grams.
888973 ACER XC 88

Acer XC-885 Desktop

Published in Laptops/PCs/Apple by paul_smart on June 8, 2020
A rare find these days a Desktop offering, rather than a Laptop/Tablet/Notebook. This is a very small offering the dimensions are below and it comes with a Wireless keyboard and mouse set so nothing apart from the panel needs to be on your desk.
The Acer XC-885 desktop computer measures only 10cm wide, 29cm tall and 32cm from back to front but add another 4cm for cables etc. so 36cm deep. On the back it has two HDMI connectors and a VGA. There are 4xUSB and below that 2xUSB3 and Ethernet. The standard three 3.5mm audio connections and there is still room for two internal blanking plates. The front has on/off button at the top and working down an SD Card reader, two always on ports USB ‘C’ and USB and finally 3.

Audacious SIM

Published in Phones by paul_smart on May 4, 2020
This is a SIM with a difference, it is tuned to your hearing, so your phone conversations in any phone are as clear as they can be, and this service is ideal if you have a little or a lot of hearing loss. The process is simple and they have several plans to suit the amount you use your phone. In these times where meetings in person are not encouraged the phone becomes more important than ever.
I have been testing this service with the range of Emporia phones recently reviewed but I have also tested it with other recent SmartPhones. In fact I would never have heard of Audacious without my meeting earlier this year with the man from Emporia. You go onto the Emporia website and select the service that suits your needs, in fact you can conduct a hearing test before you sign up. They recommend you do the test a couple of times and certainly you should repeat it if you get a new phone.
888033 Norton 360 Deluxe 2020, Antivirus Softwar

System Protection

Published in Misc by mfereday on Feb 18, 2020
Watch out, Hackers about and it is up to you to protect your computer data with the appropriate software.
As a young child I can remember playing a game we knew as "Pig-in-the-Middle".  Now as an adult, with a thicker waist line and many grey hairs, it seems the situation is returning.  I, and many others, find ourselves in the middle of an ongoing battle that is taking place between security companies and those who are intent on infiltrating the computer data and facilities of ours for their own nefarious purposes.
887791 Olympus PEN E PL1

Olympus Pen E-PL10

Published in Cameras by paul_smart on Feb 3, 2020
Every new Pen camera from Olympus is a pleasure to review. For such a small overall unit to give brilliant quality images and video without you having to be a semi-professional user is great. This latest offering camera only was sent with the new 14-42mm lens so I could review it.
The Olympus  Pen E-PL10 measures 12.5x6x6cm and weights 471 grams. There is about 3cm of extension with the lens. Let’s start with the top of the camera, pop up flash, flash shoe, nine position wheel, and finally on/off button. On either side of the top are neck strap anchor points. The left side is clear, while the right side has a door covering HDMI and USB sockets. The base has tripod screw and the solid battery bay as well as SD slot. The face has the motorised lens.
887720 Tutorial

Facial Improvement

Published in Software by mfereday on Jan 30, 2020
A picture, so they say, may be worth a thousand words but sometimes the image does not tell the complete story. Images, especially those of celebrities, have sometimes been doctored to enhance and modify the original image by specialist using software such as PortraitPro 19 from Anthropics Technology.
This product is available in Standard, Studio and Studio Max versions with this review being based on the top-of-the-range 64-bit PortraitPro 19 Studio Max offering.  As its title should indicate, this software's main focus is concerned with the facial features of the subject featured in an image.  This software does work best when dealing with a full face or profile view of the main character featured in the image.
887642 Jewel Match Twilight 3 Collectors Editio

Tackling Twilight Time

Published in Entertainment by mfereday on Jan 28, 2020
ewel Match Twilight 3 is the latest edition to Suricate Games’ Match-3 series. As the game’s title might indicate, this offering has a ghostly theme as it features eerie sounds and abandoned buildings that require restoring. This review is based on a Collector’s Edition of the game that comes with bonus levels, spooky wallpaper and music.
Jewel Match Twilight 3 is the latest edition to Suricate Games’ Match-3 series.  As the game’s title might indicate, this offering has a ghostly theme as it features eerie sounds and abandoned buildings that require restoring.  This review is based on a Collector’s Edition of the game that comes with bonus levels, spooky wallpaper and music.
887121 Pure StreamR Portable Wireless Digital Radio Speake

Pure StreamR

Published in Wireless by paul_smart on Dec 16, 2019
This is a DAB and FM radio with presets, it is also a speaker for those who want output from the ‘Aux’ input plus it also has ‘Alexa’ built in. This oval unit has another big plus the ability to run from its internal battery for up to fifteen hours.
I called it oval as it has rounded corners but in truth it is a 10cm cube when in use. The height when switched off is only 8cm. The on/off mechanism is simply by pushing down in the centre of the top and this releases the unit to show the display, push down again from any mode and the display disappears and it becomes 10x10x8cm. On first switch on you should be given the option to set your language of choice.
886412 Google Nest Min

Google Nest Mini

Published in Homes and Gardens by paul_smart on Nov 13, 2019
Early this year I told you about the Google Home Hub, now Google have launched another range of products. I will start with probably the smallest the Google Nest Mini (2nd Generation) that is truly small but it has a big sound with twice the base of the first generation offering.
The Google Nest Mini is round with a 9cm diameter and is 4cm thick; there is a choice of four colours: chalk; sky; coral or charcoal. There are three touch controls on the device volume down, volume up and mute. The only physical connection is the 1.5 metre long micro USB to mains plug. The initial setup requires the Google Home App which is available on the iOS or Android store. Once setup is completed you can run the Nest Mini totally from your voice so the phone does not need to be present.
885904 Oppo Reno 10x Zoom Android Smartphon

Oppo Reno 10 Pro

Published in Phones by paul_smart on Oct 21, 2019
While this was launched before the Cricket World Cup it did not arrive with me until the Cricket season was finished. Indeed anyone watching the main courts at Wimbledon would have seen the ‘oppo’ name on the show courts, great advert but how many will have known what the name referred to.
The Oppo Reno 10 Pro measures 16x7.5x.8cm and it weighs 216grams. The viewable screen is 15.5x7.2cm which gives the notional diagonal imperial measurement of 6.6inches. This is a large phone with hybrid zoom. The selfie phone gives a wider capture angle as the lens is not in the screen but on a pop out above it. Start up is 13 seconds and shutdown only 1.2 seconds. Going around the outside has the on/off button on the right. The base has USB ‘C’, SIM entry point and speaker.
885868 Neos SmartCam security camer

NEOS Smart Cam

Published in Homes and Gardens by paul_smart on Oct 7, 2019
Originally only available for those taking out insurance from this company, it is now available for all. I looked at the early offering in February. Now it comes with packaging more fitment options and the chance to get far longer video clips.
Since my first review nine months ago the camera will now work with Alexa and you have the option via a subscription to get far longer video clips, the basic is twelve seconds and this increases with the extra subscription to sixty seconds, either way your videos are stored for 14 days. The camera itself is a five centimetre cube but the height can increase by another three centimetres by the base lifting on itself in a three way movement to let you get it pointing in exactly the correct place.
885609 brando11in

USB ‘C’ All the ports you need

Published in Misc by paul_smart on Sep 20, 2019
As notebooks get smaller something had to go, the easiest to lose was the optical drive, other things were harder possibly the Ethernet connection and then the flood gates opened as some devices have just a single USB ‘C’ and sometimes little else.
So the market for third parties to produce the ability to let your notebook have all the connectivity when in the office and still be as small and light when out of the office. So from Brando those clever people in Hong Kong comes the ‘USB-C Multifunctional Converter’ which gives everything you used to have but no longer do with the exception of the optical drive. It is 28cm long 7.5cm wide and a minimum of 1cm and maximum of 2cm thick, it weighs just 258 grams.
885539 Corel Pinnacle Studio 23 Ultimat

Corel Pinnacle Studio Ultimate 23

Published in Software by mfereday on Sep 10, 2019
Adding to its range of graphics software products, Corel has released version 23 of its Pinnacle Studio offering. I was fortunate to have been sent a free version of the top of the range Ultimate product rather than the standard Studio or Studio Plus products.
Without a doubt, the fact I had been sent the Ultimate version of the product added to the time required for the downloading of the software and its installation on my work system.  The size and length of time required by the tasks can be judged by the number of desktop icons that were created.  Normally you would expect a product, even one involved with graphics, to make do with a single desktop icon.
885503 amazon kindle oasi

Kindle Oasis Reader

Published in Misc by mfereday on Sep 7, 2019
Amazon started life as a book seller, now it sells EBook readers.
Books, a valuable source of information and entertainment, whether in hardback or paperback format, have been around and will continue to do so for many years.  However this should not mean that new, or more recent concepts with regards literature, should be ignored.  Not only does the digital format of text presentation provide the means to read literature but it also delivers additional information concerning the story and its author.
885111 Olympus TG 6 Tough Camer

Olympus Tough TG-6

Published in Cameras by paul_smart on Jul 24, 2019
It been a while since I have reviewed a camera that can fit in your pocket, of course most recent SmartPhones have better than average cameras but I do not know any that can shoot underwater as this latest offering from Olympus can.
While it was clearly marked sample and it was just the camera no leads and most importantly no manual, I was able to download the manual sometime later and this helped me to fill in some of the things that the camera is capable of that I was unable to figure out without it. I defy most to get anything like the best from this unit without a thorough read of the 168 pages of the manual.
884851 amazon fire 7 tablet with Alex

Fire 7 16GB with Alexa

Published in Laptops/PCs/Apple by paul_smart on Jul 15, 2019
Recently my review of an 8th Generation Kindle was published and it was something I had not seen for a number of versions. Here another such items a Fire Tablet which I see – over the years - I had tried three previous versions, now it comes with Alexa built in so it is possible to talk to your Tablet. So what exactly has been happening with the Fire Tablet recently?
The Fire 7 tablet from Amazon measures 19x11.4x1cm and weighs 288 grams. The viewable screen is 9x15.2cm which gives the diagonal imperial measurement of 7inches. A full charge via trickle charge is 3½ hours boot up is 20 seconds and shutdown is 3 seconds. Going around the outside has the micro USB slot on the right side, the base is clear; the right side has the speaker near the base. The top has volume up and down buttons, 3.
884584 Acer Nitro N50 600 Gaming P

Acer Nitro N50-600D

Published in Laptops/PCs/Apple by paul_smart on June 28, 2019
This is a small but extremely powerful tower system. Acer does a number of different versions under the same name and model number both with and without an SSD drive, it also has various Intel and AMD processors so do think about all this prior to selecting where to purchase it from as certain models like this one are only available from two outlets.
It’s 35cm from front to back but add another 5cm for cables to be inserted. It is 16.5cm wide and 35cm tall. The top has a wireless charging plate towards the front. The front has a vertically mounted optical drive and towards the right near the base an SD card port, a USB ‘C’ and a USB3 port (always on) as well as 3.5mm headphone and microphone sockets. The back has kettle style mains lead, lower down are four USB2 sockets and below this two USB3 ports and an Ethernet port.
Raspberry Pi has launched its 4th generation model which is significantly faster and more capable than any of the existing products.
True wire free connection as this kit is Wi-Fi and uses rechargeable batteries that should last months between charges. This means you just need to find somewhere to fix an external camera, this kit also includes a second camera and a motion detector even for total darkness so while other kits say they are wireless often you still need something going through an external wall.
The kit is controlled by the siren which can be set to on or off, this connects to your router via a supplied Ethernet lead and this also needs mains power once this is connected you download an App to your phone from either the Android or iOS store. Once you have created an account just follow the prompts and in around two minutes you should be setup. You now have two cameras each around 8x5x7.5cm although they are more oval than rectangular.
883775 f secure key securit

A Protection Suite

Published in Software by mfereday on Apr 27, 2019
F-Secure, as you might presume from the company’s title, offers users a range of hardware, software, apps and Cloud protection solutions.
For those looking for an all-round protection software solution, F-Secure offers its Total product which consists of three main elements.  There is another fourth element but I am reserving that element for another review.  The three main elements are SAFE, FREEDOME VPN and KEY.  As well as being available on a subscription basis, there is also a 30-day trial version for checking out the product.
880897 Cello C55QLED 55 inch QLED 4K HDR T

Cello 55inch Android TV

Published in Entertainment by paul_smart on Nov 26, 2018
Certainly the biggest TV to have invaded my lounge, unlike most others that allow me to slide my own TV back on the unit this needs to be towards the back of the unit because of the width of the screen and the size of the stand.
The Cello QLED 55inch 4K TV measures 124x70.5x.6cm and the stand it sits on is 76cm wide at the front and 24cm from back to front, it is the shape of a ‘C’ this raises the unit by 7cm from what it sits on. It can of course be wall mounted. However as the fitment is the only place I can put any TV the width of the ‘C’ is vital for me.
880779 Huawei Mate20 Lite Android Phon

Huawei Mate 20 lite

Published in Phones by mfereday on Nov 15, 2018
When it comes to Huawei handsets, you can never really complain that you are spoilt for choice.
Huawei offers a regular flow of new models, whether part of its flagship Mate or Honor brands, to suit a variety of taste and pockets of potential customers.  The latest Huawei model to come under my gaze is the company’s Mate 20 lite offering. With dimensions of 75.3 x 158.3 x 7.6 mm (W x H x D) and weighing approximately172 g, my review sample was decked out in black with highly polished and reflective front and rear panels.
880778 Kaspersky Total Security 201

Kaspersky Total Security 2019

Published in Software by adrianmorant on Nov 11, 2018
Kaspersky Total Security 2019 is aimed at meeting a family’s need for computer security with Safe Kids parental control being one of its additional features.
880437 AOC I1601FWUX 15.6 Inch 3

AOC USB C Monitor

Published in Laptops/PCs/Apple by paul_smart on Oct 3, 2018
The first monitor that I have seen that takes both its power and video signal from a USB ‘C’ port. In fact it has just one connection the USB cable – the other end goes to a USB ‘C’ port on your Notebook or Tablet and an on/off button.
The AOC I1601FWUX portable full HD monitor measures 37x23.5x.7cm and weights 1053grams with prop and USB ‘C’ cable attached so small enough to travel with you. The viewable screen is 34.5x19.5cm which gives the notional diagonal imperial measurement of 15.6inches. While the claimed 1920x1080 is of course available the notebook/tablet I did most of my tests with showed 2160x1440 and this reproduced that either landscape or portrait where of course the display was 1440x2160.
880182 HP ENVY 13 ad015na 1

HP Envy Laptop

Published in Laptops/PCs/Apple by paul_smart on Sep 10, 2018
It’s taken a while, 18 months in fact from change of agency to the first arrival of an HP notebook. Its thin its light and it has connectivity so what is not to like about this 13inch offering called very appropriately by the name of ENVY.
The HP Envy 13-ad015 laptop measures 30.5x21x1.5cm and weighs 1359 grams. It is matt silver grey in colour with four silver lines of two lengths that form a very clever HP logo. The left side has a USB port, 3.5mm headphone socket, USB ‘C’ port and micro SD card port. The front is clear the right side has USB ‘C’ port, USB port and charging port. Open the lid and the screen can go back to 135 degrees.
880146 magix photostory delux 201

Creating Photo Stories

Published in Software by mfereday on Sep 4, 2018
Putting your digital photos to work can be achieved with this next product from MAGIX
As a result of the digital age take-over, the collection of captured image owned by users has grown substantially.  Taking up space on hard disk storage devices, these images are just crying out to be put to some useful service on our behalf  Offering to be helpful in this respect is MAGIX’s Photostory Deluxe software with the release of the product’s latest 2019 version of this slideshow creating product.
Most wireless earbuds still have a cord of some sort even if it’s just enough to link the two buds behind your neck. Here nothing more than the buds that fit in your ear. So the total weight is just an amazingly small 13 grams the pair. So as they say on the box ‘no strings attached’.
The no strings goes as far as charging as instead of attaching a cable to the buds they come with their special case and the USB lead attaches to the back of that so they are charged in a fitted case ideal for transporting them when not in your ears. As regular readers know I have a somewhat problematical existence with earbuds in that my ears swell and after less than an hour they start to become uncomfortable.
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