Although I have looked at one or two similar products in the past, this is my first opportunity to check out a Powerline product from Belkin.
Powerline technology makes use of your current electrical cabling as the conduit for a home network system. Rather than run a new set of cables between rooms, Powerline allows you to send data along the wiring that already exists by making the necessary connections through available wall sockets. Belkin has a number of Powerline products and the one I have been looking at is entitled Share Powerline AV 3 Port.
In the past I have used a number of methods to ease the discomfort that can be caused by heat emission from a laptop. Now it is the turn of a product from Belkin.
As we own more and more mobile devices, so the logistics regarding recharging can increase. Belkin has a solution for this problem.
While some like the reassurance of flashing lights to indicate activity, Belkin has opted for a single steady light to show power/connection with its new range of network routers.
A few months ago Belkin announced a new approach to home networking with the arrival of its range of Surf, Share and Play routers. Belkin claims that these new products have been designed to make it easier for consumers to get online and connect all the various computing and entertainment gadgets into a home network environment. Recently I have been putting the company’s top-of-the-range Play Max Wireless Router with a built-in modem through its paces.
I had just installed this on my test system when my own modem/router decided to pop its clogs. So what would have been a test suddenly became real life with my day to day communications relaying on the Play Max.
It is 19x16x3cm and sits on a 18x5cm base that raises the vertical unit .5cm from the desk but as cables protrude 3cm from the back its really 19x19x5cm for its overall footprint. There is a small angle cut from the front edge that has a large green (or orange) LED and a single push button, these are the only controls on the unit. The whole system is sold on ease of installation and as leads come attached the three point install is exactly that.
A stress ball shaped like a pear but is not new but having USB abilities is another clever item from Brando in Hong Kong. The second item is from Belkin a device that enables up to five people to fit their ear buds and listen to the same content.
The pear shaped ball (mine was red) is 10cm tall and 5cm across it is coated in rubber and it has three working actions. Before attaching the stress ball to the PC you need to install the software and on my XP system it took 2 minutes and 40MB of hard disc space. The instructions say XP SP3, Vista SP1 or Windows 2000 SP4. Connect the stress ball to a USB port it has a 1.2metre lead so it should have enough length to work from a rear port.
Neither of which is via a PC however both require an Ethernet connection, the first the Belkin Ethernet Skype Phone is wired and the second the Philips VOIP 841 has a wireless link to its base station that connects to the router.
This looks exactly like a standard office phone. Looks are deceiving as it is a Skype phone and unlike most other Skype phones needs just one thing an Ethernet port. It is not wireless but wired and probably because of that sound to the caller and receiver is excellent. It is 15cm tall, 18cm wide and 3cm thick. However the phone sits at 45degrees making its display very clear on your desk. The handset is 17x4.5x3cm max and this sits on the left side of the unit.
First the Wireless Notebook Microsoft Presenter Mouse 8000 that comes in some very novel packaging. Second the Belkin offering that I first saw last August as a prototype a washable mouse.
Microsoft Wireless Notebook Presenter Mouse 8000 This is the first mouse I have reviewed that comes in its own carrying case, and more than that, it swivels in the packaging so you can view it 360 degrees while still on the dealers shelf.
No matter how many USB ports you may have, there will probably be occasions when none are available to connect a new device.
On a recent surfing expedition, I was checking out Belkin's various products and noted that the company currently had 29 different USB hubs as part of its product portfolio. Admittedly in some cases the only difference was the colour of the hub but there was certainly enough choice to satisfy the discerning user. Among the newer models were a clip-on hub and a flex hub which are the subjects of this review.
Three items from Belkin all sold as accessories for the iPod. First a clear Acrylic and brushed metal case. Next TuneBase FM that lets you listen to your iPod through your car stereo and finally a dock that allows you to charge and Sync your iPod. Is this iPod heaven?
Clear Acrylic and Brushed-Metal Case The model I was sent works with iPod's with video. The dimensions are 10.5x6.5x1.5cm. The front was blue brushed metal with the rest acrylic apart from the area over the click wheel that is a thinner plastic that enables protection for the wheel while at the same time enabling you to use it. The area over the screen seems to cause no distortion to the image displayed.
The first is a lightweight shoulder bag that has lots of pockets, ideal for losing things in. The second is a rotating USB hub called a Flex Hub enabling you to place a hub where a hub would not normally fit.
Belkin Sling Bag Not being up in the latest wording I would call this a backpack or a rucksack but it only has a single strap and sits on your left shoulder. The wording on the bags label says 'slim and lightweight carry your laptop and gear in comfort'. Well it seems quite light - when empty - and it is stated to accept a 15.4inch notebook - it does - and it has a range of other pockets to accommodate all those extras.
A lot of people think of a surge strip as a gang socket and little more. There is a vast difference as anyone who has had an electrical surge will know to their cost.
However until now most surge strips looked like gang sockets even if they sometimes had extras like Ethernet and phone protection, I remember one where a couple of the sockets rotated to allow for power bricks that were above and below the actual plug.
Here however are two strips from Belkin that are a totally new design and format.
Belkin Compact 6 socket This unit is an upturned 'T' with three sockets either side of the base this could sit on the floor or a desk or other flat surface and the plugs allow for both above and below plug power bricks of a reasonable size as the actual plugs are mounted mid way. A cable management clip is supplied in the box allowing all the leads to be kept safely together.
This is a rather special USB cable with some rather clever software that over the coming months and years is likely to be in much demand as people realise they have information on their PCs that needs to be transferred to another.
So what is in the packaging? A 2.4metre USB cable with a clever dongle in the centre and a mini (8cm) CD as well as a few leaflets. Both the copy of the instructions on the CD and the paper version go to four small sides. My normal rant about Belkin packaging applies. You need a large strong pair of scissors and a strong pair of gloves if you are not going to suffer nasty cuts from the plastic as you try to detach the cable and CD from the packaging.
This has one clever plus on the large range of Skype phones, to use this the PC does not need to be turned on. So provided you have a wireless router thats it.
The is 11.5x5x2cm and looks exactly like a chunky mobile phone. The weight is close to 100grams and the rubberised exterior says it could survive the odd drop onto the carpet. Belkin WiFi phone for Skype It has 16 buttons plus the ubiquitous joystick. Above these is a 3.6x3cm clear a bright display.
This is a KVM switch and in this case not only links two computers together using only one keyboard, monitor/panel, mouse but also a single set of speakers.
A KVM switch has long linked my two computers that sit either end of my desk, now I can dispense with speakers as well. The long term test Acer panel has excellent speakers built in and now the set of speakers that were used for the other PC are redundant so the office now has that little bit more space and the eight gang surge strip even has a spare plug.
Some problems are not immediately obvious as happened with this particular device.
In my house there is a constant fight ensuing between various items of computer equipment and living space. I hate to admit it but it is often the former that wins the day in these battles. Sometimes, though, a compromise can be reached as in the case of a KVM (Keyboard, Video and Mouse) solution.
If you feel your computer does not appreciate you then perhaps you need to add a glow to the relationship.
If asked to list the top ten features I would look for, or hoped to be included, in a desktop set (keyboard and mouse) then I can honestly state that a feature regarding illumination would not be included. Belkin, however, would appear to be of a different opinion. The company's latest desktop set has both the keyboard and mouse providing an illuminated display.
Here two different ways to charge your iPod all types and just for good measure one of the devices also allows files to be removed or added from the iPod as well.
TunePower First the one that comes in the Blister Pack - strong scissors and gloves required - while these look great on the dealers shelves they are devils to get into. Any iPod with a dock connector will be able to be charged from this device and if you disconnect the battery from the lead it can give an additional 8-10 hours of use to your iPod. It comes with a range of custom sleeves so your iPod will fit securely.
Whether still or on the move, this mouse basks in its own light display.
Glowing Input was my original title for this next product but a mouse's liking for dark places finally held sway.