Logitech Harmony 1100i Remote Control
The Harmony 1100i is Logitech’s premium universal remote control within its Harmony range. It features a large LCD touchscreen next to controls that should work on any device (volume, channels and directional choices).
Pros: Like the rest of the Harmony range, the 1100i’s emphasis is on ‘activities’, which you predefine via a very slick Web interface. However, this model takes this a little further than other Harmony remotes, as you can also define your own buttons and determine the screen placement for them.
Cons: Unlike wand-style remotes, the 1100i is strictly a two-sided affair, which can be fiddly. I found one HDMI switch in the setup that couldn’t be identified, which was disappointing. It also comes with an undeniably premium price tag, which puts it out of reach of many home theatre enthusiasts.
Overall I give this a 3/5 – A nice remote, but too costly.
Linksys Media Hub NMH305
The Media Hub is, in essence, a NAS (Network Attached Storage) device – a way to have a big, home-based external pool of storage for files, documents and multimedia that can then be shared out to any PC or compatible home AV equipment. Linksys’s promise is that, unlike many other NAS units, the Media Hub makes it easy.
Pros: They’re mostly right, too; setup was simple and the Media Hub searches out compatible files on your network and either indexes them or copies them to its own 500G hard drive. It’s possible to remotely access your files even when you’re not at home, too.
Cons: it comes with two drive bays, which gives you the option of having a redundant backup drive within there – but only one drive is installed as standard. In my tests, I also found it was rather slow on the whole with file transfers and some streaming operations.
Overall I give this a 4/5 – A good entry point for NAS without all the networking confusion.
VHS to DVD 3.0
VHS to DVD 3.0 is one of those products that really does do almost exactly what it says on the box; it’s a software and hardware solution (via a USB-connected conversion box) that lets you transfer your VHS tapes onto your PC and directly via any DVD writer to disc.
Pros: the simple wizard setup is very simple indeed, and arguably idiot-proof. There’s also a more advanced mode that offer simple editing tools, as well as the ability t export to PSP or iPod.
Cons: Rendering was very slow, so you should expect a long wait while converting and burning, especially on an older PC. Predictably, it’ll do nothing for tapes with any kind of copy protection on them.
Overall I give this a 3/5 – Useful for VHS conversion, although hardly unique.
Corsair Flash Survivor 32G
Flash drives seem to be everywhere, and they’re pretty cheap these days – but with cheap often comes the issue of flimsiness. Corsair’s Flash Survivor isn’t cheap in either build or price, and it comes in a solid metal enclosure to keep your data secure.
Pros: This flash drive certainly stands out when it comes to size – meaning it’s tough to lose, unlike many physically smaller drives – and durability, with what amounts to a massive metal cap to protect the drive from knocks, bumps and shattering blows when you’re on the go.
Cons: Even for a 32G drive, this is definitely a costly beast – and its relatively large size means you’ve got to allow more space for it in a pocket or bag than you do for the average flash drive.
Overall I give this a 3/5 – It’s almost indestructible – but it’s definitely not cheap.