Category Archives: Gadget


I had to buy something new today. When I saw the DW5110-D1 I just knew I had made the right choice. The sleek lines of the DW5110-D1, the way it sat, the designer had obviously influenced by the design and lines of a single seat racing car. The blue and white paint scheme looked so right on the DW5110-D1.

I got if home and unpacked it quickly and fired it up and put it to work. I admired its shape and form as I waited for the DW5110-D1 to warm up. I quickly familiarised myself with the controls of the DW5110-D1. Fully charged it burbled like an F1 racer on tick over.

I flicked it in to high power mode, turning the click wheel of the DW5110-D1 to the desired setting, waiting for the acknowledgement signal and then we were ready.

I was immediately impressed with the handling of the DW5110-D1, it took the rough with the smooth, carving it’s way through creases leaving a smooth path behind it.

The impressive power to weight ratio of the DW5110-D1 was no doubt the key to its high performance over all surfaces. The small turning circle of the DW5110-D1 and its shapely designed nose shape helps it get in and out of tight spots.

A pile of shirts completed, I stood and admired my new DW-5110 Rowenta Steam iron……..

Improving your Skype audio

I use Skype a lot these days for keeping in touch with family and friends around the world. Computer to Computer calls are free so it makes a lot of sense to use it

However are you getting the best from your Skype set-up?

Because of the small delays in transmission across the internet it is possible that you might get an ‘echo’ coming back to you, which can be quite distracting.

Whilst Skype works with nearly all computer set ups. I don’t recommend using the built in microphone and speakers on your laptop.  You can improve the performance of your set-up by just plugging in some earphones/headphones in to the speaker out socket (normally the green socket) on your laptop or computer. This will isolate the incoming audio from your outgoing audio via the microphone.

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Apple TV2

I recently got this little gadget to save me the bother of carrying my iMac upstairs to watch rented films from iTunes, given that the iMac weighs in at about 15 kgs, it’s not a task I like doing that often!

So what is the Apple TV, well it’s not a TV in it’s own right, it’s a small box which plugs in to your TV via an HDMI interface. Apple hide the details about the Apple TV on their iPod pages.

It comes with a mains lead, Apple remote and a small instruction book. There is no HDMI lead included in the package so you need to consider buying one of those as well. I bought an ‘Amazon Basics’ one which seems to do the job ok and seems well made.

The Apple TV has an Ethernet port as well as Wifi (802.11n,g,b) so it can easily hook in to your home network internet connection. As well as HDMI there is a digital audio connection available as well.

The Apple TV can be used for streaming content from the internet, or from your own PC or Mac. By content I include Video, Audio, Photos.


Depending on your location you will have different content providers available to you, for instance in the US it’s possible to watch Netflix movies. You can also watch You Tube videos as well. We have been ‘renting’ films from the iTunes store and watching them on the iMac or now on the Apple TV.


In terms of photos you can browse your own collections or look through Flickr on line. It turns our 32″ LCD TV in to a great digital photo frame! For the price most conventional photo frames I have come across only offer quite small screens and limited capacity and then you have to transfer the photos to the frame via a USB lead. With the Apple TV you just browse your existing photo libraries and you can view them in quite high quality on a large screen.

You can use your photos as a ‘screen saver’ on the Apple TV as well. Or as a slideshow with music. The box offers lots of different options.


You can browse and play your audio collection on iTunes on your PC or Mac via the menu system on the TV screen. I have our TV hooked up to a HiFi amplifier and speakers, so I now longer have to hook my iPod in to this set up to play music.

Remote Control

Controlling the box can be done using the supplied remote to navigate your way through a simple menu structure. Or if you have a recent iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad download the Apple Remote app (it’s free!) and you can control the Apple TV from that. You can also use ‘Airplay‘ to play music or video from your ipod/phone/pad device via the Apple TV. It doesn’t do this in real time, so if you say play this video, it streams it to the Apple TV and then plays it but with no pause, so your ipod/phone/pad device can turn itself off whilst you watch or listen.

Set up

Setting up the Apple TV is fairly straight forward. Connect your HDMI cable to a spare HDMI socket on the TV. Plug in the mains lead. Turn on your TV and select the HDMI input. If you are using Wifi (and I suspect most people will be) you need to select your own Wifi access point and configure the Apple TV to connect to that access point/router for this you will need to know the password for your access point. The box will then most probably check for an update of it’s own software and download it.

Then on your PC or Mac you need to enable Home Sharing and Photo Sharing in iTunes.

Additionally you might need your sign in user names and passwords for YouTube and Flickr, but once you have done these the Apple TV will remember the details and you will be able to look at your list of subscriptions and saved searches etc and you will be able to sit back in the comfort of your living room and watch plenty of things.

I’ve also found it great for watching Video podcasts, set up iTunes to subscribe to the higher resolution versions if one is available, some are in HD in fact and you can really enjoy a 30 minute or one hour show on a big screen.

Highly recommended, lots of features in a small box that is easy to use.


Amazon Kindle 3G

The new Kindle 3G has been around now for a few weeks and I recently bought one for my wife Alison’s birthday.  I’ve recently seen a couple of people asking about the Kindle, so here is my take on it.

Firstly purchasing the Kindle… should be easy shouldn’t it… Well if you are in UK and you are receiving your Kindle at a UK address then yes… anywhere else and you will be purchasing it from the US via Which at first I thought was going to be quite a task, but in the end it proved just as simple as any Amazon purchase. Delivery was no different to ordering from UK and waiting for delivery here in France, if anything I would say it was about a day quicker! Once ordered you receive a tracking number and the link on the Amazon site shows you exactly where your Kindle is zooming its way to you.

It comes in two models. Wi-Fi only and Free 3G + Wi-Fi. Wifi is fine if you are mainly going to use it at home but the 3G option only increases the price slightly and there are no monthly charges for the use of 3G where ever you are in the world… so it make sense. How does this work? Well they are obviously including something in the cost of the books to pay for the communications between yourself and Amazon I suspect.

So out of the box you have your Kindle and a USB lead, although this is only for charging the Kindle. I’ve also ordered a mains charger. In fact apart from charging the Kindle, you don’t actually need a PC to use the Kindle. Unlike say an iPod where you download files to the PC and then sync the PC and iPod, the Kindle talks directly to Amazon and files are sent over Wifi or 3G direct to the Kindle.

You can turn off the Wireless connection at any time and just use the device as a reader, this will save you some battery life of course but it claims a fairly long battery life anyway.

The display like other ereaders of this type is an eink type display, it flickers during page turning, and then displays a very clear page of text, you can move the Kindle around and there is no dimming of the display or loss of contrast. This type of display only consumes power when the display is changed from one page to another. So even when turned off it still displays the last page.

The display surface is a matt surface, so there are no reflections when you are viewing it in full sunlight and the display is fully readable in full sunlight too.

One disadvantage of course is this type of display can’t really cope with moving images. Also being black on white any photographs will be in a grey-scale but still recognisable. There is no back light, some of the cases you can buy include a light so you can read it in the dark, but a normal bedside light isn’t normally going to be a problem for most people. Try the Kindle without it first and see how you get on.

Amazon have built in some neat features, for instance if you are also using the Kindle App for your PC, Mac, iPhone, iPod Touch etc and you get to say page 10 before your eyes get heavy and you switch off for the night. When you say pick up your Kindle on the bus or train going to work the following day, if it has network connectivity it will go to the same page you left off at.

You can email your own content to the Kindle using an email address that you set up on your user page on the Amazon site. If the content is a PDF file then the file will be transferred more or less straight away to your Kindle. Amazon however do charge for this facility full details are on the Amazon site.

As an ebook reader I can’t fault it. To quote a well known phrase… ‘It does exactly what it says on the tin’ It’s slim, compact, easy to use, ideal for holidays when you might get through several books and with budget airline baggage restrictions it would be ideal as a travel companion.

So what else can it do…. This was the bit I was interested in! It has a good text display, a keyboard and a means to connect to the internet, it’s not expensive… so could it become a simple internet browser I wondered, well almost. If you click on Home and then tab down to Experimental you will find a Web Browser, and an MP3 player as well as Text to Speech. There is a pair of speakers on the back of the Kindle and also a headphone socket and microphone built in to it.

The web browser has been criticised in several reviews I’ve read for being difficult to navigate around. Well Amazon should have included some bookmarks to some ‘text only’ type sites rather than the fully blown normal sites. For instance instead of I’ve tried using the mobile site this reduces the graphics content and the layout is more suited to the Kindle display. There is a mouse cursor, but you have to use the navipad to navigate your way around a page. This when you first try it can be a little slow but it works. The keyboard is also a little slow but works fine for short messages.

It is possible that in future there will be other applications for the Kindle, ones that work within it’s constraints, which will be great to see. For insistence today I saw an announcement for Scrabble for Kindle.

As an ebook reader I don’t think you will be disappointed. If you think this however going to be as good as an iPad for stuff other than reading ebooks then I think you would be disappointed, but there is a huge difference in the price. To get started download the Kindle App for your computer or mobile device and take a look at the content that is available via the Kindle Store. If you like what you see then a Kindle might be just the thing for you.