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!

774341 roberts stream 205 internet dab fm radi

Roberts Stream 205

Published in Wireless by paul_smart on Mar 21, 2014
This is a DAB, FM and Internet radio; however it is also a music player and has a full Last FM trial. Roberts are one of the main names in these devices so how does this mid sized unit shape up overall for both quality and value.
The Roberts Stream 205 measures 28x22x9cm which include the handle but not the five piece rod aerial that will add 60cm if used vertically. It can be used on mains or on batteries but the latter requires six ‘D’ cells. The control panel is on the sloping top of the unit there are 15 well marked buttons of different size and shape spread along the top and a large silvered knob to change station. There is a large clear display 6.5x3.4cm which shows relevant information.
756503 Moto G 8GB Sim Free Smartphon

Moto G Budget Priced Smartphone

Published in Phones by paul_smart on Feb 3, 2014
Until now budget in the Smartphone market meant at least £200 and probably more. Here is one that launched SIM free at £139 or less. So does the new Moto G have it all at a price far less than others have offerings in the market?
I have been using the Motorola Moto-G for the last couple of months and I can say it probably is the best budget phone around at the start of 2014. It runs Android 4.3 but the promised upgrade to Android 4.4 Kit-Kat is due very soon. It upgraded on my phone on the 15 January. The phone measures 12.5x6.5x and even with a case attached weighs less than 174g.
752572 AOC I2460PXQU Ecran flat panel monito

AOC i2460Pxqu Panel

Published in Laptops/PCs/Apple by paul_smart on Jan 24, 2014
This is – as you may guess from the name – a 24inch panel. I have yet to look at any offering from AOC that I would not be happy to put on my desk and use daily and this offering is no exception, a well-made unit with excellent response.
The screen is 54x36x1.5cm the latter at the edges. It sits on a 23cm circular base which raises the screen on a telescopic arm between 2 and 15cm. The viewable screen is 51x32cm which gives the notional diagonal imperial measurement of 24inches. There is a protruding lip on the rear about 7cm above the base of the screen and this has all the possible connections pointing down so nothing extends outwards and everything is retained within the units dimensions.
This can be lighter than an Android Tablet, however it runs Windows 8.1. The transformer part is a near full size detachable keyboard so all your Windows programs should run and it comes with Microsoft Office installed.
The Asus Transformer Pad T100 measures 26x18x1cm at the front, this increases by .5cm at the rear. It weights 1106grams with keyboard and 516grams without it. While the keyboard supplied is ‘near full size’ the individual keys are 1.4x1.1cm each with .1cm between keys and you may struggle to be a fast typist on it. It has 84keys with the top row of keys being only 1.2x.8cm. There is a 7.6x4.1cm trackpad mounted 8.4cm from the left and 10cm from the right. The viewable screen is 22.
752563 Sony DSCHX50 Compact Digital Camer

Sony CyberShot HX50

Published in Cameras by paul_smart on Jan 15, 2014
It's been a while since I have had an opportunity to look at one of the excellent Cyber Shot range; in fact from memory the last Sony offering I told you about was the NEX6L almost a year ago. Here a fixed lens offering to fit into your pocket.
Just because it fits into your pocket do not dismiss its capabilities. The Sony CyberShot HX50 is a 20MP offering with 30x optical zoom. It is 10.5x6.5x3.7cm, the last figure when turned off, fully zoom in and the lens can extend by as much as 6cm onto that figure. It weights 273grams. The flash flips up manually from the top left edge of the camera and can never be closer than 5cm from the lens.
740719 motorola moto g android mobile phon

Motorola Moto G

Published in Phones by mfereday on Dec 31, 2013
When considering a new smartphone, do you look for the latest, high price model with all the latest bells & whistle or check out the more economical models?
The ownership of smartphones, in the opinion of Motorola, is divided between those who are willing to pay over £400 (in some cases well over) for the latest technology plus the kudos of possessing the appropriate status symbol and those on a more practical and restricted budget that put pricing at the head of the queue when a new handset comes under consideration.
742326 acronis true image 2014 premiu

Acronis TrueImage 2014 Premium

Published in Software by paul_smart on Dec 25, 2013
This is probably the best hard disc full duplication software on the market. Currently on offer with an amazing 250GB of free Cloud storage available, available for the same price (as a special offer) as the more normal 5GB offering.
I have used several previous versions of this software, but always previously the versions supplied by third parties with their hardware. Those versions did just the basic job of cloning or moving data from one place to another. To find out about the new features and especially the Cloud options – for those worried I found their Cloud resides just over the channel in France and not as so many in the USA – I was due to meet with Acronis bosses in September.
737588 BenQ BL2411PT 24 inch Widescreen LCD Monito

Ben-Q Panel BL2411PT

Published in Laptops/PCs/Apple by paul_smart on Dec 4, 2013
This is a nice sharp panel, it has the ability to be used as one of a multiple panel display and can also be rotated 90degrees to be used as portrait which for those writing long items or viewing endless web pages saves a lot of scrolling.
I did not mention what for a lot of people would be an added plus point the ability to display 1920x1200 or of course 1200x1920 and to save you checking the default for most panels is 1920x1080. The screen is 55x35cm giving the notional diagonal imperial measurement of 24inches. The stand raises it a minimum of 10cm from your desk but this can be as much as 22cm using the hydraulic touch control on the back to raise it. The stand footprint is 25x17cm and the total depth of the unit is 22cm.

Aldi 16GB Digital Camera

Published in Cameras by paul_smart on Nov 15, 2013
This Maginon Digital Camera goes on sale in Aldi stores on Sunday, as with almost all of these offers when it’s gone there are no more. This is an ideal Xmas present and rather than having to then purchase an SD card and case both are supplied in the box.
Firstly it looks expensive – it isn’t – second it takes good images – even at lower resolutions – and third as the SD card and case are supplied its ready to go – even a wrist strap is provided – lastly the price is an amazingly low one for such a good camera. My suggestion is get down to your Aldi today as tomorrow they may all be gone. It is 10.5x6.5x3.5cm the last figure is the width which can increase by another 4.5cm when fully zoomed in.
727315 Prestigio MultiPhone 5430 android phon

Prestigio Phone PAP5430

Published in Phones by paul_smart on Oct 30, 2013
A European Phone and Tablet company that had a brief foray in the UK a few years ago, now they are back backed by the biggest name in chips in their phones Intel. So what has the Multiphone PAP5430 got to offer users?
The first thing is a very good price point of around 50% of a similar phone by others in the same area. The Prestigio MultiPhone PAP5430 measures 12.5x6.3x.5cm and weights 133grams. First a minus point, currently it only comes with Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) but an upgrade is promised this year. Now for some good stuff, it is sold unlocked so you can use any SIM in it. It has an 8MP camera which takes rather good images and videos. The viewable screen is 9.5x5.5cm.
723402 focus mysteries secrets shadow

Mysteries, Secrets & Shadows

Published in Entertainment by mfereday on Oct 23, 2013
Focus Multimedia has brought together three titles described as “The Best of Big Fish Mysteries” in a triple pack entitled Mysteries, Secrets & Shadows. The three titles are Grim Façade Sinister Obsession, Secrets of the Dark Eclipse Mountain and The Theatre of Shadows As You Wish. All three games belong to the Hidden Object Adventure genre and will need to be installed individually from a basic front end.
Taking the titles in the order they appear on the 3-game packaging, Grim Façade Sinister Obsession places you in the role of a detective who is called upon when the Conti family maid finds a diary relating the mysterious deaths of three women.  The game gives you the options to adjust the volume levels for background music, sound effects and voice dialogue plus play in full or widescreen mode.  You have a choice of Casual, Advanced or Hard difficulty levels.
716134 Sennheiser Momentum On Ear Headphones 2.jpg

Sennheiser Momentum On Ear

Published in Entertainment by paul_smart on Sep 25, 2013
It is rare that a single set of headphones produces a press briefing. Here however it does mean that the focus is on exactly them and not other items brought along to make up the numbers, the only variant the range of colours available.
While these are designed to work with Apple devices they also work perfectly well with Android and for that matter even humble MP3 players. For many reason weight can be important and these are very light at 160grams. First job is to extract from the packaging, not like I so often moan with industrial scissors as this has a sturdy box and then a foam surround followed by a zip up case and then a drawstring bag. You might think you are unpacking a valuable piece of fragile glass.
691340 Pure Move 400D Palm Sized Rechargeable Digital DAB FM Radi

Pure Move 400D

Published in Wireless by paul_smart on May 31, 2013
Most radios I have reviewed from Pure rely on mains power, some have worked on batteries if you play extra for a ‘ChargePAK’, however this unit is designed to work on its internal batteries charged by USB, no mains lead in sight.
It is 15x8x2.5cm and weights 296grams. In use the second figure the height can be as much as 50cm when the 42cm six piece rod aerial is fully extended. The connections are on the right side at the top a silvered lock button. Below this the micro USB connection, Auxiliary I and Headphone 3.5mm sockets and finally a Pin Hole reset button. The back has an easel type stand that tilts the radio back by around 15degrees when extended. The top and the left side are clear.

Learning Windows 8

Published in Software by paul_smart on May 22, 2013
Rather than a book this is a software package that will work on Windows XP, Windows 7 and Windows 8. It has text to read – this can also be read out – and things to do after it has explained them using a dummy Windows 8 interface.
It will not proceed until you have clicked the correct item and whatever you are then meant to do correctly, a good way to learn. At this point let me say I have used Windows more or less since it first came out and gone through all the incarnations since. Yes I admit that Windows 8 is very different but I would liken it to driving an automatic car after driving a manual one for years.
691157 Garmin 2598LMTD sat na

Garmin's New Generation Satnav

Published in Misc by adrianmorant on May 19, 2013
Over the years satnavs have got more user-friendly and more sophisticated. Garmin’s 2598LMTD is a vast improvement over products available even just one or two years ago. It comes with maps covering 45 European countries and free lifetime map updates so will meet the needs of the traveller both today and into the future. Consequently, as well as the first-time buyer, many existing users could well consider that it is s worthwhile upgrade.
The 2598 is matt black in colour with the exception of the silver styling strip below the 5 inch screen. It is provided with a windscreen suction mount and a 170cm “traffic-compatible” power cable terminating in a mini-USB connector at one end a cigar lighter plug at the other. The mount has a quick-release catch that it would be possible to leave the mount permanently on the windscreen and just quickly detach the unit itself.
Over the years I have been asked quite often what e-mail clients can read the Outlook Express files. This now becomes more pressing as Windows XP support ends very soon. Here is one item that reads these and other file formats, and, if you have one or two mail accounts then it’s FREE.
687811 Creative Sound Blaster Tactic3D Rage USB Gaming Headse

A Wireless Headset

Published in Wireless by mfereday on Apr 18, 2013
If you are a gamer, one of the hard core brigade, then you will appreciate the need for the appropriate tools that have been specifically developed to fulfil certain tasks. You need to purchase or build the system box with high-end components such as the motherboard and graphics cards and boost its performance with a gaming keyboard and mouse. You might also want to complete the line-up with a gaming headset. One such product is the Sound Blaster TACTIC 3D RAGE unit.
Developed by Creative, the Sound Blaster TACTIC 3D RAGE has been designed specifically with gamers in mind, although that should not preclude others from sampling its performance.  This headset breaks what I thought was a rule for gaming peripherals.  Rather than a tethered device, which is meant to give a faster performance, this TACTIC 3D RAGE offering is a wireless headset that comes with a USB receiver already paired to work with the headset.
683984 Sony NEX6 Interchangeable Lens Digital Camer

Sony NEX6L Camera

Published in Cameras by paul_smart on Feb 25, 2013
Since reviewing The NEX5 a couple of variety’s have emerged, however new cameras from Sony are not frequent so when I saw a prototype some months ago I immediately requested to review the new NEX6 when it was available.
Small enough to be a digital camera but it’s not. Small enough to fit in a pocket but it has a neck strap. It can have different lenses and mine came with a 16-50mm lens, this can also zoom to 2.8 times. Another reason why this is a DSLR – although Sony just call it an interchangeable lens camera - is that it has something most digital units do no longer have, a viewfinder.
682650 canon pixma mg5450 all in one printe

Canon PIXMA MG5450

Published in Printers/Scanners by mfereday on Feb 14, 2013
The Canon PIXMA MG5450 is a Photo All-in-One product offering print, scan and copy functionality with a choice of USB or WiFi connectivity. You also get a built-in facility that allows you to print labels directly on to appropriate optical media as part of a second paper input tray.
With a plinth-like top, which houses the A4 flatbed scanner module, mounted on top of the box-shaped ink-jet printer unit, this product has dimensions of 455 x 369 x 148mm (W x D x H).  The MG5450’s outer coating of lacquered black seems to want to tempt you to reach out to touch and feel its smooth lines – especially if you share my hang-up about finger smears that tend to congregate on this type of surface.
All Android tablets are the same is something I have heard stated, well I disagree and here is a great example of a company giving more than you normally get, one such added extra is a full size USB port so importing or exporting is just a matter of attaching a USB stick.
This particular Android table is from Polaroid and measures 26.5x16.5x1.3cm while weighing 672grams. The viewable screen is 22x12.5cm. The system is delivered with Android version 4 (Ice-cream Sandwich). There is a small 28 page User Manual that is well laid out with illustrations to explain all the controls and connections. The screen is capacitive and multi touch so enlarging or reducing something is just a matter of opening or closing two fingers.
680507 acronis true image 201

True Image 2013

Published in Software by mfereday on Jan 22, 2013
Storing your documents, images and music in digital format on your computer is now the de facto choice of many. But how would you manage if this data became corrupted especially if you did not have a backup?
Over the years Acronis has built up an excellent reputation for producing back-up software for the Windows platform.  The company’s flagship product of True Image is now available in its 2013 edition.  This product features a set of tools designed for back-up and recovery tasks and includes support for Windows 8.
680344 Nikon D3200 Digital SLR Camer

Nikon D3200

Published in Cameras by paul_smart on Dec 21, 2012
The Nikon D3200 is the DSLR has the ability to capture the largest images, at 24mega pixel, the highest definition I have ever reviewed. Just think for a moment one tenth of the image size should be enough to print an A4 image if you use it all.
The Nikon D3200 I am looking at comes with an 18-55mm lens and, , this does come with built in flash. Quite unusually I have been able to use this for a longer than normal test period, sometimes this is because the company need it back to go to another journalist or other companies have sent me cameras and either way on this occasion I was able to test and retest under a range of conditions.
674307 Motorola XT890 RAZR i android smart phon

Motorola XT890 RAZRi

Published in Phones by mfereday on Oct 30, 2012
Following my favourite breakfast of bacon baps, I was introduced to a new handset that has become my mobile device of choice.
Combining the talents of Google, Motorola and Intel produces the RAZR i.  This Motorola handset is the first smartphone to combine the Android operating system (4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich) with an Intel chipset. Consisting of a sealed unit, therefore no access to the unit’s 2000mAh battery, the handset has dimensions of 61 x 122.5 x 8.3mm (W x H x D) and weighs 126g.  The RAZRi is built around an aluminium frame with a decorated Kevlar padded backing.
Normally to boot a PC you need a DVI or VGA monitor connected. Recently I reviewed a unit that could be a second unit for notebook that had only a USB lead, so this unit was a new thing for me as it has neither DVI nor VGA.
The Samsung C24B750X Smart Station Series 7 monitor has a surround which measures 56x33.5cm and apart from where it joins the stand is only 2cm deep. The screen itself is 53x30cm which gives the notional diagonal imperial measurement of 24inches. The default resolution is 1920x1080. The screen has no side to side or forward movement but can tilt back up to 20degrees. The stand is quite meaty at 16x23cm and raises the screen around 9cm above your desk.
673611 Dragon Naturally speaking 12 premiu

Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12

Published in Software by mfereday on Oct 18, 2012
While you may not fancy holding a conversation with your computer, it can handle your dictation with the help of appropriate software.
To me this is my discovery of the year. One of the items I saw during the ‘Xmas In July’ round of events and if anyone is interested its top of my wish list for Christmas this year. It gave me lots of good workouts during its testing.
A simple seat and back arrangement it will fit on almost any chair. I remember seeing a similar thing at the Harrods Technology Department launch, that however was built into a dedicated armchair and it cost a lot of money. To have a Shiatsu massage to your back and at the same time Thai compression on your lower back and or upper thighs is amazing. Should you want you can also incorporate heat treatment. The massage and compressions both have three levels of intensity.
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TuneUp Utilities 2012

Published in Software by mfereday on Aug 9, 2012
While a new version of an OS (Operating System), such as Windows, might take a number of years to make a commercial appearance, utilities designed to keep the OS running smoothly operate on a short gestation period.
New versions of utilities are generally released on an annual basis with the year appendage being used to identify the current version.  One such product that falls into this category is TuneUp Utilities 2012.  Available with a three user licence this product provides a range of tools covering different aspects relating to the smooth running of your Windows computer system.
664191 condusiv diskeeper 201

A new outlook for Diskeeper

Published in Software by mfereday on Jul 28, 2012
With a different company name and a newly designed interface, there is a new look to an old favourite with DIskeeper 2012.
Once upon a time there was a company called Executive Software.  In 1981 this company turned its attention to the problem of data being fragmented on hard disks causing deterioration in the overall performance of the host computer.  This was, and still is, a big “No, No” for users everywhere.  The solution produced by Executive Software was a product entitled Diskeeper.
664189 htc one s android smart phon

A HTC Smartphone

Published in Phones by mfereday on Jul 26, 2012
NASA technology and a branded set of ear-buds are just two of the features found on a new HTC smartphone.
As part of its One series of smartphones, HTC has released its One S model.  My review unit, kindly supplied by Vodafone, has an appealing if understated aluminium body with dimensions of 130.9 x 65 x 7.8mm (H x W x D).  Weighing just 119.5g (battery included), this smartphone fits comfortably in the hand and slips into a pocket or bag without causing an unsightly bulge or over-burdening you.
662758 Cocktail Audio X10 500GB Network CD Recorder Music Playe

Cocktail Audio X10

Published in Entertainment by paul_smart on June 18, 2012
With so many people turning to iPods or MP3 those –like me – who have large CD collections need a way to condense the output and this offering allows an easy way to transpose to WAV, MP3, Flac or Ogg Vorbis with little effort from you.
This comes with a rather good database that identifies most published recordings and fills in all the information for you while it is ripping your CD’s. Then with your library stored you can create playlists of simple select by Album or Artist what to play by just using the remote and the units display, just attach headphones or speakers.
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