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While many families value their collection of analogue video tape recordings, perhaps made years ago when the children were young, they sooner or later have to face the fact that this old technology has had its day. The hardware to play it will not receive support forever, and there's the fact that although such recordings are generally of mediocre quality by modern standards, it means they will have to look to systems such as this, designed to digitise them for storage and replay, typically on archival-quality DVDs.
Many would consider that the first thing to add to a new PC these days would be a TV tuner. After all, everything you need in order to play live television is in the computer itself except the tuner, and that can be added for a reasonable outlay. Modern LCD flat panels are capable of excellent resolution, and current multi-core CPUs and integrated graphics processing standards should be up to the job.
Fed up with spam email? We were, until back in 2008 we looked at the original Cloudmark spam blocker and reported it an excellent solution although perhaps, at $39.95 USD per annum, somewhat costly. How does their new replacement product, Cloudmark DesktopOne, rate? The headline news is that DesktopOne is free of charge in its basic form, which should be sufficient for most users.
As we saw with the process of upgrading the Windows 7 operating system to a higher, more functional grade, upgrading the Office 2010 Starter package - which Microsoft currently includes with OEM Windows 7 installations for free - is also ostensibly easy. However, we hit temporary buffers, partly of our own making, as we shall explain.
Again as with the OS upgrade, in order to unlock the features of your chosen specification of Office 2010 you need an appropriate Registration Key. If you get the upgrade DVD, you’ll have that key ready to hand, but the upgrade process via the DVD doesn’t, in our experience, make it quite that simple.
If, upon delivery of your new Windows 7 PC, you discover that the Recording tab in Control Panel / Sound doesn't offer the very useful Stereo Mix option, even after you've switched on hidden devices, what are you to do about recording sound output via any of the many software products that can ostensibly do this for you? For example, Audacity, Audio Recorder for Free, or even the very basic Sound Recorder that's offered by Windows itself. These, among many others, rely on Stereo Mix being available to record streaming audio - radio via the Internet, webcasts, general music, LP conversion, records, tapes and so on - about which, more in a minute. Basically, Stereo Mix, or 'What U Hear' as Creative call their version, makes your audio system able to record anything you can hear from your computer.
If you face the problem of legacy applications that are no longer directly supported by Windows 7, there are sometimes adequately effective alternatives available without resorting to Windows XP Mode.
We have, for many years, maintained a contacts database in the venerable Sidekick 98, foe example. This, we discovered on moving to Windows 7, was no longer directly supported. In this situation the mind turns immediately to using Windows XP Mode, provided you have any version of Windows 7 higher than Home Premium (ie Professional, Enterprise, or Ultimate). If you don't, and most OEM PC users won't without indulging in an expensive upgrade, what are your options?
A new PC of average price will, these days, typically come with Windows 7 Home Premium preinstalled. That may be an unadulterated Microsoft Windows 7 install, or more likely an OEM variant, compiled by the assembler, that contains commercial apps which are complete with suitable prompts for you to register and purchase the full product. If you accept, it makes a few quid for the PC assembler, so if he can get away with it, why not?.
Few new PCs will come with a parallel port as standard these days, so you might think an old parallel printer should be consigned to the waste bin, especially if it's to run under 64-bit Windows 7 where drivers for such devices are sometimes flaky at best. This was the case with our faithful old Canon BJC-50, a venerable parallel port printer of whose 64-bit Windows 7 driver Canon themselves had said "no guarantees". We tried it, expecting little.
As we pointed out in an earlier review, most moderately-priced OEM PCs will come with Windows 7 Home Premium installed, probably in the 64-bit version unless you specify otherwise. If you want to upgrade this to a Windows 7 installation with a better specification - Professional or Ultimate - then all you need for a quick upgrade is to acquire the product key. The DVD comes with a product key for the higher spec version of the OS, in the correct bit version, and within a matter of a few minutes and a couple of auto-reboots of the system, the job will be complete.
While the world can be said to be full of MP3 players, and that not every new one that appears bright and shiny onto the market will necessarily be seen as better than the last, it can generally be assumed that the latest model in a given price bracket, from any one supplier, will be something of an improvement on their last, such is the pace of technological development.
The typical mid-price MP3 player will generally come with an adequate but non-optimal set of earphones, though such compromises are generally considered acceptable in order to bring the player's price within market expectations. There are exceptions, of course, but the more demanding user will often have to upgrade to better earphones if he is to have the best listening experience.
For a long time now the 200Mbps PowerLine adapter has been standard in the computing world for those who either didn't get along well with wifi connectivity - perhaps they were out of range - or those for whom direct wiring with Ethernet cables was not feasible.
But, as always, more speed would have been welcome to cope with increasing demands from HD video streaming etc, so we took a look at this latest gear from Belkin. As usual, these adapters incorporate a three pin power plug and an Ethernet socket, though they did not, as some do, provide a piggy-back power socket wherein to plug your computer or external peripheral.
There are many webcams out there to choose from, and many laptops come with one pre-installed, usually embedded in the top strip of the screen. While these can work adequately, features such as auto-focus, zooming, video and audio tuning, mirroring the image etc may not be supported.
When installed and running, Ditto lets you copy something to the Clipboard and store it in its own database to make that clip retrievable at a later time. Ditto is, in effect, an extension to the standard facilities of Windows’ own clipboard because in Ditto each new capture doesn’t over-write the previous one as it does in Windows’ Clipboard. This little program allows you to save any type of information that can be put into the clipboard, including text, images, html, and custom formats.
I've always had an urge to create music but have been hampered by a lack of time to learn the skills and money to buy the kit. When Magix offered the latest version of their Music Maker package to review, I jumped at the chance.
For a mere £49.99 in its basic version, Magix Music Maker 16 provides an incredible amount of music making technology in a single package.
Altec Lansing have produced a number of iPod speaker systems over the years with the inMotion COMPACT being the latest iteration in their portable range. It is an update to the earlier iMT310 with changes to enable 'Works with iPhone' certification. The changes means you no longer get nasty GSM buzzing with iPhone's.
In USB Drives Part 1 we ran through the features you'll find on modern USB flash drives. In this final part we take a close look at four drives, each offering a different range of features and facilities.
There can hardly be any computer user who doesn't have at least one USB memory stick, flash drive, dongle - call them what you will. They have become an essential part of computing, a convenient way of transporting data, much easier than floppy disks - remember those? - or burning CDs or DVDs.
In fact, there are now so many USB drives, it's not easy to know what to buy. Do you want capacity, ruggedness, speed, reliability, good looks or what?