Roger Frost previews a must-see data-logger for science and geography
Data Harvest's EasySense VISIONData Harvest's EasySense VISIONEasySense VISION is a new unit for measuring with sensors from Data Harvest. Its killer features are: a touch-operated colour screen; familiar built-in software and an extremely valuable socket that lets you show readings being taken using a projector and mouse.

You don't even need a PC to use sensors in a science lab because now that capability is built into the VISION itself. The result is that it's now affordable for numerous groups in a class to monitor readings from experiments. Nevertheless, if you do have a PC you can use it to take readings from VISION as well as put collected data into a lab report.

Veho VFS-004 Deluxe scannerVeho VFS-004 Deluxe scannerChris Drage
Now we’ve all gone digital with our photography what happens to all our old pictures, negatives, slides/transparencies? The low-cost Veho VFS-004 Deluxe scanner could be just what you’re looking for, and it is extremely easy to install and operate.

This standalone USB device, roughly the size of a compact photo printer, is designed solely for digitising 35mm slides and negatives (colour and black-and-white). Once the drivers are installed in Windows (there’s no Mac version to date) you plug in the scanner and off you go.

By Chris Drage
Sony's Vegas Pro 9Sony's Vegas Pro 9Anyone involved with video editing to any degree soon realises that Windows Movie Maker is pretty limited. That’s why many school media departments opt for Ulead’s VideoStudio, Avid’s Pinnacle Studio or indeed Apple’s Final Cut Express as suitable digital video editing software.

However, over the past two-three years Sony’s Vegas Studio software has increasingly impressed me if, for no other reason, than its rock-solid stability. It seldom, if ever, lets you down. And the latest, Version 9, unlike its rivals, offers an upgrade path that will suit practically any school, college or university.

Chris Drage gets his podgy fingers on the Veho Kuzo pocket camcorder

Veho Kuzo camcorderVeho Kuzo Pocket HDThe old adage that says you only get what you pay for applies firmly to digital, optical technologies and the Veho Kuzo Pocket HD Camcorder (advertised as “the slimmest HD camcorder on the market and is even an MP3 player”), certainly proves the point.

Measuring just 100mm x 57mm x 17.9mm, it is diminutive. Many of the buttons are multi-functional and very close together – which immediately poses problems for anyone with remotely podgy fingers, like me. A child however, wouldn’t be too bothered.

Open the 2.5-inch flip LCD screen and the camcorder turns on. The sequence of button pushes is a bit confusing at first but once the logic is sorted out you can immediately start shooting stills or video. It comes with 38Mb of usable storage, enough for a few seconds of video at high definition. To get any reasonable footage you need to buy a high-density SD card.

There is no optical zoom, only an 8x digital zoom. However, there is a macro mode button (range of 20cms) that permits zooming in to small objects, and a small LED light for lighting. Other features include effects like Normal, B/W, Classic (sepia) and Negative and a Night Mode to enhance image quality while capturing movies or stills in darker environments.

All of the effects and settings, such as white balance (auto, daylight, fluorescent and tungsten) are applied through a menu system which in itself is not easy to immediately get to grips with. Once the video is shot it can be downloaded to a PC or output via the HDMI cable directly to an HD-ready TV for appraisal.

Personally, I found it tricky to hold the device still, compose my shots and press the shutter release and the first group of stills downloaded to the computer were all blurred and out of focus. Thinking that I must have had the macro mode on for  distance shots and vice versa, I took another 15, inside and outside, with and without the macro setting and with the LED light on and off.

Of these only two were crisp and sharp, which makes me think that the lens is letting the camcorder down very badly and emphasises the point that it doesn’t matter how many megapixels an optical device purports to have, if the lens is poor you’ll never get crisp shots. Worst of all though, when I looked in detail at the stills in Photoshop I discovered a huge number of 'artefacts' (digital specks) in each image. The best shots were those taken at wide angle in bright light.

The video was little better. Jerky when panning, poor depth of field and an auto white balance that was too slow to react to changing conditions; all resulted in disappointing video. Surprisingly, the captured sound quality wasn’t bad at all for such a small device.

According to the advertising hype Veho are “redefining the world of video capture with its range of HD camcorders.” If this model is anything to go by, I don’t think so. Better to spend a bit more of that hard earned budget and go for a camcorder that delivers good images.

Ratings (out of 5)

Fitness for purpose   2
Ease of use               3
Features                    4
Quality                       3
Value for money        2

Veho Kuzo HD Camcorder VCC-001HD
Digital camcordwe (takes 11 megapixel stills) with built-in MP3 player and earphones, internal rechargeable li-ion battery

Capable of capturing video or images, and also works as a webcam. Features high-definition recording with direct connection to HD TV using HDMI connector. Price: £99.99

Available from:

Chris DrageChris Drage is a CISCO Regional Academy manager and an adviser and trainer with Central Brent Education Improvement Partnership. You can contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Neo 2Neo 2: robust, versatile and good valueBy Chris Drage

In a world increasingly dominated by a new orthodoxy of netbooks it might appear rather odd that I’ve become a fan of the AlphaSmart NEO 2.

Why? The AlphaSmart NEO 2 is classroom favourite due to its simplicity: a no-frills, rugged and robust word-processing device that works in a straightforward, uncomplicated way. However, if that’s all you think this device can achieve you would be mistaken, for the impressive NEO 2 does quite a bit more.