Thursday, 9 September 2010

Reallusion iClone 4 Pro. Review

Rating: 8/10

Price: £122

What it does: Software with which you can accomplish real time 3D animation, in-screen motion editing and facial puppeteering.












Pros
Cons
+ Lots of customization
-      A limited number of avatars to choose  from
+ Pre made templates
-      Difficult for beginners

First Impressions:

-         Ease of use – Several steps to go through to start animating your character but after a while you get quicker at it.

-         Design – Uncluttered interface with easy to navigate tabs

What’s in the box:
-        
     DVD
-         Manual

Tech Specs: Full specs here.

To start off you choose your backgrounds; either a 3D preset or one of your own pictures. Then using the Set tab you add ground, sky, any water, grass, trees, fog and rain as desired. As well as manmade items such as floors, walls, etc.

Once your background is created simply change to the Actors tab and you have one male, female and child default avatar all of which are pretty high quality. But there are a limited number of characters.

Once you have your setting, weather, buildings and avatars you get to breathe life into them with the Animation Tab. You use motion paths to move your avatars and transition curves to make the movement less jerky.

Conclusion:

An exciting piece of software with the potential to make impressive animations with the right know how. Lacks variety of avatars, but you can tinker to make them more unique.

Feel free to ask a question or leave a comment.


Facial Animation Creator CrazyTalk 6 Pro. Review

Rating: 8/10

Best Price: £85.73 here. Standard version: £29.49 here.

What it does: Facial animation creator software with which you can take any photo and make it speak, smile and a host of other emotions.











Pros
Cons
+ Loads of features.
-      A little hard to navigate.
+ Upload to YouTube straight from the programme.


First Impressions:
-        
     Ease of use – Easy on the whole with the option to keep it simple in basic editing and effects, but with loads of features and configurations to play with if you are feeling more confident.

-         Design – A little tough to navigate, but after a while you get the hang of.

Once installed, it was easy to start a new project either choosing my own photo, taking one with a web cam or using one from the programme itself.

Then there are a few step by step processes to crop, rotate, adjust the colour levels and mark the points which at movement will be centred around on the photo.

Once you have suitably adjusted the picture, you can make it talk through a text to speech function with the ability to adjust volume, pitch and speed; or you can record your own voice. Then you can adjust the emotion on the face and the lip sync key to make the character talk more naturally.

You can then share your creations in a full screen viewing on your computer, or upload to YouTube in HD from the programme itself.
 
What’s in the box:
-        
     CD ROM software
-         Manual








Tech Specs: Full specs here.

Conclusion: An astonishing amount of features to play with creating great animations, all at a great price for the standard version.

Feel free to ask a question or leave a comment.


Edifier OnTheGo if350 Review

Rating: 8/10

Best Price: £93.05 here.















Pros
Cons
+ Decent sound quality and radio reception.
-      Not the cheapest of docks out there
+ Built in rechargeable battery
-      Prone to scratches in areas not covered by neoprene case
+Remote and carry pouch as standard


       
     Ease of use: Very simple and well laid out buttons on the top of the speakers. The remote has a fair few buttons; however it is also very intuitive and straightforward.

-         Design: The back of the speakers are a nice iPhone white, and black at the front. The LCD display is a little on the small side.

-         Sound quality: The Edifier has a very impressive sound quality for its size. Bass strong enough to give depth to the music and the volume goes to a good level, easily enough for a BBQ or small garden party. Here are a couple of recordings of the speakers.
     
     The dock supports itself with a flip down leg at the back released by a catch. When the leg folds down the iPod dock folds down at the front. At the back of the if35o is a line in jack and a slot in which the remote fits in.
     
     The neoprene pouch is a nice extra, but as it does not cover the entire system, over time the speakers may get scratched and bumped.
     
     The LCD is readable but gets hard to read in direct sunlight. When in standby mode the screen displays the time, in aux and iPod modes it displays the volume and battery level.
    
     The radio picked up all the main stations no problem, and it was easy to store them into one of 18 pre-sets.

What’s in the box:

-         OnTheGo Speakers
-         Remote
-         AUX Cable
-         Neoprene carry case
-         AC cable
-         Manual

Tech Specs and Features:

Features:

  • Portable speaker for iPod or iPhone.
  • Two 3-inch speaker drivers deliver smooth, clean, uncompromised audio.
  • Built-in rechargeable Li-on battery – up to 15 hours of playtime on a single charge.
  • Full function wireless remote allows navigation of iPod songs and playlists. When not required simply store in the slot within the unit.
  • Fold away dock and neoprene carry pouch.
  • FM radio with up to 18 presets.
  • Black LCD screen – displays radio station, volume and battery status.
  • Switching power supply for worldwide use.
Specifications:
  • Total power output: RMS 12W (2 x 6W)
  • Input Type: iPod / Aux / FM
  • Power supply: Full range universal 90V – 240V, 50Hz/60Hz
  • Gross weight: Approx 1.5kg
Conclusion:

On balance the IF350 is a petite yet solid portable speaker, well designed with added extras such as a carry case and remote as standard. For the price, it would be nice to have DAB on top of FM radio. However it is a nice package with lots of functions.  

Feel free to ask a question or leave a comment.



Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Ricoh CX3 Digital Camera Review

Rating: 8/10

Best Price: £204.99 here.

What it’s up against: The Canon PowerShot SX210 IS (£197) and Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ10 (£219) 





Pros
Cons
+ Lovely metal design
-      No manual controls
+ Nice crisp LCD screen
-      Canon at lower price with higher meghapixles.

First Impressions:

-         Ease of use: Nice uncluttered metal buttons with a simple, intuitive layout.

-        Picture quality: See pictures below and a sample video here. Both the colour and sharpness of the lens is good and 720p HD video recording is a nice addition as well.

-         Design: Lovely black aluminium metal case, with an expensive and retro look.
The camera is easy to use with all the buttons where you would expect them to be. The menu functions are a little sprawling but it doesn’t take long to familiarise yourself with it. Simple to point and shoot to create good quality images without spending forever setting up the camera.

What’s in the box:

-         CX3 Camera
-         CD ROM
-         User guide
-         Warranties
-         USB connector cable
-         AV Cable
-         Rechargeable battery and charger
-         Wrist strap

Tech Specs:

-         10 Megapixel
-         10.7 Optical zoom
-         HD 720p Video Recording
-         Full specs here.

Conclusion:

The Ricoh CX3 has a good range of features at a reasonable price. A nice metal case and a crisp LCD screen make this a fine camera.

Feel free to ask a question and leave a comment.





Monday, 6 September 2010

Fujifilm Finepix HS10 Review

Rating: 7/10

Best Price: £285.40 here

What it is: A 10.3 Mega Pixel digital camera with all the trimmings and gizmos of an SLR. 

Pros
Cons
+ Impressive lens range.
-      Costs nearly as much as an SLR

-      Only 10 Megapixels

-      No internal rechargeable battery   

What it’s up against: The Olympus SP-800UZ, the only other digital camera with a 30x zoom lens.

First Impressions:

-         Ease of use – Nice and simple command dial and menu functions including one button playback and video recording.

-         Picture quality – See photos here and a sample video.
-         Design - The matt black finish and ergonomic curves give the HS10 a nice strong look. Big controls allow rapid and simple access to the cameras many functions.
The Fujifilm HS10 looks like and is a serious piece of tech requiring a little time familiarising yourself with the features and manual.
The most impressive feature is the zoom which even at maximum keeps very good picture quality.
The LCD screen can tilt 90 degrees upwards and 45 degrees downwards which helps with shots from the hip or above your head. One issue is that the screen has neither a cover nor the ability to turn around for protection when not in use.
 
What’s in the box:

·        HS10 Camera
·        4 X AA Batteries
·        A/V cable
·        USB cable
·        Lens cap and chord
·        CD-Rom

Tech Specs: Full specs here.

Conclusion:
A “superzoom” camera at the higher end of the price scale, near the point of a basic SLR. A nice SLR finish and a very impressive manual zoom very unusual in a digital camera.

Feel free to comment or ask a question.