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!

Often things arrive at totally the wrong time of year, sometimes however they arrive exactly when you can get the best from an item, here one of the latter category a column fan during the hottest part of the year and over the next few weeks it got lots of use in both my office, lounge and bedroom, in the case of the last mentioned because it was nearly silent.
This column fan measures just over a metre tall and around a quarter of that size at the base, it weighs just under 5.4 kilos. It can rotate 90 degrees or be used in a static position. It is ribbed all the way up in horizontal increments and starting 27cm from the base there are 59 rows of three spaces where the air is expelled. The area they cover is slightly decreased as they near the top. The top edge is slightly sloped and the manual controls are on this area.
875143 landscape pro

Landscape Editing

Published in Software by mfereday on 22 Aug 2017
Adding to its portfolio of make-over software for either portrait or landscape images, Anthropics Technology has released the follow up title to its LandscapePro offering. Not surprisingly, this software is entitled LandscapePro 2.
Anthropics LandscapePro 2 comes in a choice of three flavours designed to suit the needs of different users.  The product is available in Standard, Studio and Studio Max versions.  This review is based on the new Studio Max product which includes Photoshop plug-in capability, support for RAW files and different colour spaces plus a Histogram pane, batch mode processing and more streamline editing amongst its feature set.
This is a very small A3 All In One unit. For my review time it sat on top of my own A4 All In One and only overlapped by a small degree. So it can of course still print A4 as well as the larger A3, it is a six ink offering and for good measure will print on CD’s and DVD’s.
It is 46x36x14cm when closed, A4 paper is stored internally near the base, A3 paper will need the sit up poke up from the back tray so more height will be required for that and unless you are adept at poking a sheet of paper into the lift up scanner bed then a little extra for that especially if you are scanning from a book.
873738 Canon IXUS 185 Compact Digital Camer

Canon IXUS 185

Published in Cameras by paul_smart on 31 May 2017
This is Canon’s entry level range but do not make the mistake of thinking they are basic units. Canon’s technology filters down and things that would only be in a high end unit a few years ago are now on something that can fit into a small pocket.
As always I start in Auto mode and right from the first image you know that you have hold of a more than decent unit. It is 9.5x5.3x2.2cm the last figure when closed this can increase by another 3cm when the unit is fully zoomed. It weighs 126grams.
873265 Huawei Nexus 6P android smart phon

Huawei Nexus 6P from Vodafone

Published in Phones by paul_smart on 26 May 2017
Because of the relationship Huawei have with Android they always get the newest and latest version of Android, here the current version is 7.1.1 whereas the only other version of ‘Nougat’ I have seen is Version 7 several point releases behind.
The Huawei Nexus 6P measures 16x7.5.8CM and weights 177 grams. The viewable screen is 12.5x7cm which gives the huge notional diagonal imperial measurement of 5.7inches and this has 518 PPI. The processor is an Octa (eight) Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 offering. The speakers are front facing so it has good volume levels. This Huawei offering was also the first to offer Android 6 ‘Marshmallow’, here you are also nagged to upgrade to the latest Beta version 7.1.
873502 coreldraw graphic suite 201

CorelDRAW Suite 2017

Published in Software by mfereday on 16 May 2017
While no longer the market leader in the field of computer graphics software, CorelDRAW still has a lot to offer the digital designer.
While some products appear briefly, with their 15 minutes in the limelight, others have a long and distinguished existence with numerous versions showing their popular appeal.  The arrival of the latest version of one such product with long lasting appeal, CorelDRAW 2017, got me thinking about when the first version of this graphics product first made an appearance.  Believe it or not, CorelDRAW first arrived as a vector-based illustration package in 1989.
873015 Epson Expression Photo XP 960 A3 All in One Printe

Expression Photo XP-960

Published in Printers/Scanners by mfereday on 18 Apr 2017
Unlike the previous Epson All-in-One which I looked at recently, the Epson Expression Photo XP-960 is of the more traditional type that uses ink cartridges rather than the bottles provided Eco Tank models with their ink supply.
Decked out predominately in black, the Epson Expression Photo XP-960 combines print, scan and copy functionality with a choice of WiFi, Ethernet or USB connectivity.  You also get the ability to print images of up to A3 in size.  As a very welcome bonus item, you are provided with a pack of 50 A3 sheets of glossy photo paper in the box.
872529 abbyy Finreader 1

Abbyy Finereader 14

Published in Software by adrianmorant on 20 Mar 2017
Abbyy Finereader 14 is a universal OCR package that works with scanned images, PDF files etc. and, having recognised the text, can convert it to Word, Excel or other formats in addition to offering a range of advanced options.
We have a love/hate relationship with paper. All too often if it is in the computer, we want hard copy. Similarly, if it is on paper, we need to have it stored in an appropriate electronic form for editing or onward transmission to others. Finereader 14 is a versatile tool that should meet virtually everyone’s needs. Having downloaded and installed Finereader, and inserted the 24 character registration key, it found the connected scanner without any difficulty.
872304 Acronis True Image 201

True Image 2017 Next Generation

Published in Software by mfereday on 7 Mar 2017
With a range of new features, Acronis backup software emerges in New Generation mode.
Breaking the pattern, I have come used to over the last few years of releasing, a new single version of True Image each year, Acronis has produced a second version of its 2017 True Image offering.  In order to distinguish this second version from the original product, Acronis has named the latest offering True Image 2017 New Generation.
872170 Edifier S1000DB Audiophile Active Bookshelf Speaker

Bookshelf Speakers

Published in Misc by mfereday on 28 Feb 2017
Seeing the courier struggle up to my front door was enough to give my back a panic attack at the thought of this next review.
As a specialist in the production and manufacture of premium audio solutions with innovative design concepts, Edifier has a portfolio consisting of a wide range of speakers developed to fulfil different user needs and budget constraints.  Currently the company has speakers that could be classified as Bluetooth, Desktop, Cinesound, Wireless, Portable, Bookshelf and Speakerphone.
871733 canon G3X compact camer

Canon PowerShot G3X

Published in Cameras by paul_smart on 8 Feb 2017
Canon do three ranges of cameras the IXUS the smallest, next is the PowerShot and finally their DSLR range. However the area between the last two is somewhat grey, this PowerShot is considerably larger in size than a small DSLR.
The Canon PowerShot G3X measures 12cm wide, 8cm deep and 11cm from the screen to the front of the lens when closed however when fully zoomed this last figure increases to 17cm. So with that amount of optical zoom (25x) you will not be surprised that it weighs a good bit more than most PowerShot offerings at 738grams. Of course all recent cameras have to have the ability to take selfies so the TFT can flip through 180 degrees to show above the camera.
871692 bitdefender total security 201

Total Security 2017

Published in Software by mfereday on 26 Jan 2017
As one of the leading players in the arena of computer protection, Bitdefender has a range of software offerings to suit the different needs of users. You can select from products such as the 2017 versions of Antivirus Plus, Internet Security, Family Pack, Antivirus for Mac or Total Security which is the subject matter of this next review.
Available in a choice of boxed product or download, Bitdefender Total Security 2017 is the company’s current flagship offering.  If you opt for the latter method of receiving the product, as I did, then I would advise that you also download the User Manual.
870802 huawei mate 9 android smartphon

Meet Mate 9

Published in Phones by mfereday on 1 Dec 2016
Adding to its range of smartphone handsets, Huawei has released the Mate 9.
Featuring a 5.9-inch full high density touch screen, this Mate 9 has a high-precision unibody, aluminium metal frame that has been finished with a soft sandblasted texture.  With dimensions of 156.9 x 78.9 x 7.9mm (H x W x D) and weighing 196g (including the non-replaceable 4,000 mAh battery), the Mate 9 is available in a choice of colours including Space Grey, Moonlight Silver, Mocha Brown and Black plus the Champagne Gold of my review model.
870800 Fire Kids Edition Tablet 7 inch 16 G

Amazon Kid’s Tablet

Published in Mobile Tech by mfereday on 29 Nov 2016
Do children spend too much time using a mobile device? Amazon believes it has a solution for this problem with a tablet and software managed by parents.
In an apparent effort to integrate, and influence, every aspect of home life, Amazon has developed a version of its Fire tablet specifically for the younger members of the family.  This Amazon offering combines a standard 7-inch Fire tablet with a removable child-proof bumper frame in either blue or pink plus a one-year subscription to appropriate content that has been graded for specific age groups.  This product goes by the title of Fire Kids Edition.
870540 corel winzip 21 pr

File Management Assistance

Published in Software by mfereday on 12 Nov 2016
It is time for an old favourite to make its annual upgrade appearance.
Over the years WinZip has developed from a basic compression / decompression utility, which was my first introduction to the product, into a file management / sharing / encryption application while retaining its original functionality.  The latest edition of this software is now up to version 21 with Standard, Pro and Enterprise packages being available.  This review is based on my experiences with the Pro version of the product which has been launched with a price point of £42.
870099 magix photostory 2017 delux

Photostory 2017

Published in Software by mfereday on 20 Oct 2016
Turning your digital images into a slideshow has never been easier with this next product from MAGIX.
Our love affair with all things digital has resulted in many terabytes of storage space, whether of the local variety or that situated in the virtual expanse referred to as the Cloud, being taken up by our personal collections of digital photographs.  While readily available via various approaches, it does seem rather wasteful if these representatives of our personal memories are left to gather a form of digital dust, caused by faded memories, through the lack of use.
869851 Epson Expression Photo XP 960 A3 All in One Printe

Epson A3 AIO XP-960

Published in Printers/Scanners by paul_smart on 12 Oct 2016
Just 12cm wider than an A4 unit this six ink inkjet offering might solve problems for those who need the ability to print A3 as well as A4. It can also print direct from a range of cards and memory sticks, connection can be via Wi-Fi, Ethernet or USB.
The Epson XP-960 measures 45x37x15cm however if you place this on a shelf you would need a few centimetres more on the last figure the height to add or remove items from the flatbed. You will also require around another 13cm in front for the paper output tray and TFT screen to open so 45x50x28cm should be the overall space requirements.
869735 Kaspersky Total Security 201

Family Total Security Protection

Published in Software by mfereday on 29 Sep 2016
It is up to you to ensure your computer and mobile devices are protected from malicious threats.
Described as “Our best protection for your family on PC, Mac, Android™, iPhone & iPad”, Kaspersky Total Security software comes as either a download or retail purchase package.  Actually that is not strictly true as the retail package does not contain a physical copy of the Kaspersky software.
A gift that anyone wanting to get into baking will appreciate, a flat surface 5kilo kitchen scale, an instant read thermometer and a timer. Best of all they all match so even the kitchen that has them in will look smart before cooking starts.
Salter are the name in small scales this 5kilo offering allows you to place a dish or bowl on the scale and reset it to zero so that adding a certain amount of a substance does not require any maths, you can then add the next ingredient or should you wish zero again and carry on until you have all the ingredients. The scale is 22x19.
868474 Huawei P9 32GB Smartphon

Huawei P9 Dual Camera Phone

Published in Cameras by paul_smart on 6 June 2016
I have already outlined the ‘phone’ part of this latest offering from Huawei on the 18th April. At the time I said I would tell you about the cameras when I had more time to study them. So here goes the camera are very good as they are made by Leica.
Perhaps if you think of this as a camera first and everything a phone does for you second then that gives you an idea of what it can do. Very early on I took a picture of the local lake and right at the top of the image was a branch of a tree that spread almost by mistake into the picture, every nodule of the bark of the branch showed up and although the lake a fountain and the wildlife on the lake were clear and sharp I still remember that branch.
A few weeks ago I had a gas problem, when I realised it was going to take a while to fix I started to look around for other ways to keep warm in the mornings, at this time of year the afternoons are not a problem and nor are the evenings.
I have one halogen heater and while it could be moved around it’s a pain to keep plugging and unplugging, so that sits in my office, so I needed something very portable. I took a walk around my local town and could not find anything suitable so while I was waiting for my bus home I popped into the local Wilko store as much to keep warm and out of the rain as anything and there at the end of an isle was this little Beldray Fan Heater.
867005 nest indoor web camer

The Nest Cam

Published in Homes and Gardens by paul_smart on 11 Mar 2016
Protect your home while you are away is something that many companies seem to be producing items for, some insurance companies even offer a reduction in your premium if the item selected meets their criteria. Here is a solution from Nest.
I thought the setup for Nest Protect was easy, this is even easier, select a site for the camera attach it to the magnetic dock provided, plug in the camera to the 3metre micro USB to USB lead a 13amp USB plug front is supplied and start watching what the camera shows on your phone or Tablet.
866374 WD My Passport Ultra Portable External USB 3 Hard Driv

WD 3TB USB3 Drive

Published in Laptops/PCs/Apple by paul_smart on 12 Feb 2016
In September I told you about 1TB and 2TB WD portable drives and now I can tell you about the 3GB version that the press release said was released in July sadly it only arrived on my desk at the end of the year, still better late than never.
Most laptop and notebook computers still only have 500GB (½TB) hard discs. My desktop has 1TB and if you have 2TB you probably paid a large premium. So 3TB for a USB powered external drive is still a very large in capacity unit. My first surprise is that it is exactly the same size and weight as the 2TB unit, so unless I have gone further round the twist than normal it means that 1TB or additional memory is stored in more larger carrier but weights exactly nothing.
The Philips Brilliance P-line model 241P6EPJEB is a 24 inch LED professional monitor which has the facilities and ergonomics to meet the needs of those who sits in front of their computers all day long.
This 16:9 aspect ratio monitor has a native resolution of 1920 x 1080. As well as providing a good quality image, it employs the new SoftBlue LED technology which we are assured is less harmful to the eyes. This is because studies have shown that just as UV can cause eye damage, blue light rays from LED displays can result in eye damage and affect vision over time. This technology reduces the harmful blue light waves without affecting the colour or image of the display.
If it sounds too good to be true I thought so to, so I tried it and I can confirm they are offering a range of services and the lowest level of data 200MB a month is FREE and you get both 200 minutes and 200 texts with it as well.
A few modern SIMs are full size, most are micro and a few are nano. Specify which you need at the time of registering. After a few days your SIM arrives and it is already activated ready for you to insert into your phone. You an unlocked phone and at the time of writing you have to accept one of the phone number choices offered, for some this would be a problem but they say that changing your current number will not be essential shortly.
866240 Epson Eco Tank ET 2550 Multifunction Printe

Bottles not Cartridges

Published in Printers/Scanners by mfereday on 26 Jan 2016
It was just over twelve months ago that Epson turned its approach to the printer inkjet market on its head. This change was brought about by the company’s EcoTank technology.
For those not familiar with Eco Tank, this technology uses bottles rather than cartridges to store the ink used by the printer.  Whereas a standard cartridge will hold approximately 3 or 5ml of ink with a price point of £5.99 for the 3ml of colour ink or £7.19 for 5ml of black ink, an EcoTank bottle has a capacity of 70ml of ink priced at £7.99 for both black and the various colours.
866143 iHealth Edge AM3S Activity Sleep Tracke

iHealth Edge

Published in Health and Beauty by paul_smart on 18 Jan 2016
This is an improved and updated version of something that I had for a while before I could use it as it had a problem with syncing for those of us who use Android. I am pleased to say this rather smart unit does not have those problems.
The iHealth Edge is circular, a tad under 4cm and around 1cm thick. It comes fitted with a grey – near black – rubber strap with eight holes for the simple popper to nestle into so it should fit even the largest wrist. The upper part of the casing is matt silver with the bottom part matt black. When you look at the near flat face you see nothing in fact one person I showed it to thought it was a mirror but in reality it’s not that reflective.
One problem with a sound bar is that to get a good improvement on the ‘naff’ sound coming from your TV is that you really need both the soundbar and a sub-woofer, probably expensive and for a lot of people it needs more space, here a different solution a Soundstage.
So there are a few around and they are not cheap but this offering that goes on sale - as with all ALDI specials - when they are gone they are gone and at the price they are selling it at they will not be available for long. In essence it’s a black box measuring 54x31x8cm and it will fit under your TV providing the TV stands legs are not wider than 54cm. It is stated to stand up to 30KG placed on it, few recent TVs weigh anywhere near that.
864852 nuance dragon professional speech recognitio

A New Version of Dragon

Published in Software by mfereday on 27 Oct 2015
While computers have recently been given the ability to talk to use through the use of applications such as Siri and Cortana, we have been able to talk to our computers for a number of years and have our spoken words transformed into editable text using specialist software. A leading product in this particular area is Dragon Naturally Speaking with the latest version of this speech recognition software package being available in Professional Individual and Professional Group editions. This review is based on my experiences with Dragon Professional Individual product.
When Dragon Professional Individual is first fired up, it will be in trial mode allowing the user up to five launches to check out the software.  You will need to enter the supplied serial number in order to activate the software and remove the launch restriction.  If the software detects a previous version of the product, it will offer to upgrade your user profile using the data gathered by the earlier version.
864545 acronis true image 2016 backup softwar

Acronis True Image 2016

Published in Software by mfereday on 17 Oct 2015
As another year passes by, so the latest version of a popular backup package makes an appearance.
Often regarded as an optional task until problems arise, having a backup schedule can be extremely useful and a great time saver when circumstances occur. Offering to provide a comprehensive range of backup/restore facilities is the latest version of Acronis True Image. This product allows you to create backups of your entire computer system, user-specified folders or particular types of files with the data being stored locally or in a Cloud Storage allocation.
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