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FEATURES 10 Smarter Phones Mobile trends to look out for
Speak Up! Your back to basics guide to PC sound
Seeing Storage Learn the lingo in an easy infographic
Manage your Social Networks Online tools that make it all work together
What is Kinect? Get to know Microsoftâ€™s all-seeing peripheral for Xbox
How To: Install a Hard Drive A step-by-step workshop - itâ€™s mever been simpler!
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Editorâ€™s Letter News Trouble-free Technobabble Tamsin the Tech Tannie Competition Disconnect
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elcome to the April issue of Connect magazine. This month, we’re talking about mobile phones – what makes a smartphone, well, smart? And how do you choose between iOS, Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry? Deon du Plessis presents 10 of the most interesting products, on page 10, to have emerged from the Mobile World Congress held in Barcelona earlier this year. From phones to tablets and everything in-between, read on to find out what’s new in this space. Turn to page 14 for some sound advice on speakers. We’re now using our computers in more ways than ever before, for watching movies and listening to music, for example. So why shouldn’t what we hear be top-notch? Brands like HP and ASUS are teaming up with audio experts such as Dr. Dre and Bang & Olufsen to give us even better beats. Christo van Gemert breaks down the basics of sound. Our must-read articles include a helpful how-to on managing all your social networks (page 20), a stepby-step guide to installing a hard drive (page 24), and an explanatory infographic on storage (page 18). In reviews, there’s a great monitor round-up, and a First Look at Apple’s new iPad. April’s gaming section features some AAA titles like Kinect Star Wars and Mass Effect 3. For all your gadget gripes and computer complaints, remember our friendly Tech Tannie is only an e-mail away. Enjoy the issue, Tiana
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Budget-bundle for beginner gamers For those who’ve wanted to purchase one of Nintendo’s extremely popular handheld consoles, but were put off by the price, there’s no longer an excuse. Nintendo has announced a budget bundle for its DS Lite handheld console, which sees the console sell for just R999.95. In addition to that, select games are available for a bargain-bin R129.95 each, making it really affordable to get into portable gaming. > The DS Lite is available in pink, white or black, and the list of games includes Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, Naruto Ninja Destiny, Pokemon, and Advance Wars: Dark Conflict.
App of the Month: iPhoto for iPad
Colossal Canon Photography enthusiasts have many reasons to rejoice, with Canon’s recent spate of announcements. While some photo printers and compact cameras were unveiled, the big news was the replacement for the Canon 5D Mk2. Its successor, aptly named the Canon 5D Mk3, has 22.3-megapixel full-frame sensor, and an ISO range spanning ISO100 all the way to ISO102400. This means it’s possibly to capture photos in extremely low light without resorting to a flash. The full frame sensor, on the other hand, will capture more of a scene when used with compatible lenses, thanks to a wider field of view. At a lick under R42 000 this isn’t cheap, since it is a professional level piece of equipment – but it’s nice to dream, knowing that some of that technology will eventually filter down to the consumer-level snappers we use every day.
Along with the announcement of the new iPad, Apple also took the wraps off its iPhoto app for the iPad. The new app works together with the standard photos app to manage photos on your iPad, but brings the ability to create special albums called Journals, and offers a powerful suite of editing functions. The photo editing functions are gesture controlled, and have awareness of certain photographic scenes. For instance, the colour saturation tool can be used enhance only the blue sky in a scene. It’s not a lightweight photo management tool, either, since it’s capable of handling images up to 19-megapixels in size – so it should have no problem managing photos from the new iPad’s 5-megapixel camera. > iPhoto for iPad is available now on the iTunes App Store, and costs $4.99.
Cheaper iPads Hot on the heels of the new iPad announcement in the States, Apple’s local distributor dropped the prices of the iPad 2. Apple US said that it would continue selling the iPad 2, albeit only in the 16GB capacity, at $100 less than usual. This brings the starting price of the iPad down to $399. Local prices have dropped even more than that, with the 16GB WiFi-only version having R1 000 slashed from its price, retailing now for R3 999. Other models in the current iPad 2 range are also cheaper, with similar discounts. 3G versions are even cheaper – the 64GB 3G iPad 2 used to sell for R8 699, and with the price drop now retails for R7 299.
6 | connect | APRIL 2012
Samsung recommends Windows® 7.
Introducing the new Samsung Series 9 Notebook. Cast from aviation alloy and powered by a 2nd generation Intel® Core™ i5 Processor, it’s the latest innovation in fast computing performance. At only 16mm, its ultra thin, lightweight streamlined arc design make it more than just a notebook. It’s a true reflection of strength and sophistication. What defines you? TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS Intel® Core™ i5 Processor 2537M (1.4GHz, 3MB) • Genuine Windows® 7 Home Premium (64bit) Operating System 4GB (DDR3) System Memory • 13.3” SuperBrightPlus© Anti-Reflective HD LED Display • 128GB Solid State Drive (SSD) Up to 7 Hours Battery Life** • Weighs only 1.31kg
www.samsung.com/notebook Copyright© 2011 SAMSUNG Electronics Co, Ltd. Screen images are simulated. Intel, the Intel logo, Intel Core and Core Inside are trademarks of Intel Corporation in the U.S. and other countries. ** Battery life based on Battery Mark test scores that will vary based on configuration. SAM_SERIES9_7374_CT_F
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techno jargon // by CHRISTO VAN GEMERT Whether you’re taking photos, printing documents, upgrading a hard drive or buying a new monitor, there’s bound to be some technical jargon involved. Here’s a handy guide for the common acronyms and terms you’ll see in this issue of Connect.
8 | connect | APRIL 2012
Serial ATA, or Serial Advanced Technology Attachment, is the standard for the interface used by hard drives. SATA is used on all consumer-level hard drives, and can transfer information as fast as 600MB/s. SATA is currently in its third generation, called SATA 3 (or SATA 6Gbps). The two previous versions of SATA transferred at speeds of 3Gbps and 1.5Gbps. A hard drive is linked to a motherboard using a SATA cable.
A megapixel is a collection of one million pixels (hence, mega). The image sensor in a camera is capable of capturing millions of pixels: an eightmegapixel camera is eight million pixels. More megapixels are better for printing, because you capture more detail over many more pixels. However, too many megapixels in a small camera can be detrimental to image quality.
Optical zoom Molex Molex is the term used to refer to the power connectors inside your computer case. The name comes from the company that invented them. While there are different types of Molex connectors, most are simply referred to as a Molex connector.
Your digital camera’s lens can move back and forth, adjusting the magnification of the scene you are photographing. This is optical zoom – it is an actual magnification, using glass elements. Most pocket cameras will offer an optical zoom range between 3x and 5x, while some intermediate cameras can offer as much as a 30x optical zoom.
File system The file system is a hard drive’s way of storing information. This is far removed from the user experience, but it is very important to the operating system. When you install a new hard drive you format your hard drive with a filing system. This is the equivalent of giving it orders (formatting) on how to store files (file system). Windows users will be able to use the NTFS file system, as well as ExFAT and FAT32. Mac users will be able to use the HFS+ file system, as well as ExFAT and FAT32. Windows computers cannot read or write to HFS+, and Mac users can only read files stored on a hard drive that uses NTFS.
Video Memory Your graphics card consists of two main things: a graphics processor and video memory. When the graphics processor pulls information, it needs to store it somewhere nearby, and that would be the video memory. With more video memory available the graphics processor can access more data, and that lets games look better. Graphics memory is separate to system memory (RAM).
PCI Express This is a standard for the internal connections in your computer. If you open up your computer case
you’ll see certain slots, for devices such as graphics cards or sound cards. These are slots use PCI Express technology, which presents an extremely fast connection between those devices and the main processor in the computer.
Ultrabook Ultrabooks are a new generation of thin, ultraportable notebooks with fast processors and long battery life. Ultrabook is an Intel trademark, and any device branded as such will need to have an Intel processor – usually a Core i5 or Core i7 – along with other criteria that Intel has determined.
ISO (photography) This is a setting on a digital camera that determines the sensitivity (to light) of the image sensor. Normal ISO ranges start at 100, used in bright daylight, and can extend to 1600, which is more suited to taking photos indoors or in low light. Modern cameras can go as high as ISO 3200, 6400 or even 12800. The higher the ISO setting, the easier it is for the camera to operate in conditions with less-than-ideal lighting. With a high-enough ISO setting you can take photos without firing the flash.
Banding (printing) If a printer leaves visible lines on a printed image, this is called “banding”. This usually happens because of clogged or mis-aligned print heads, but can also be as a result of a low-quality image, printer settings and even the wrong type of paper being used.
www.connectmag.co.za | 9
looking ahead //by deon du plessis
he Mobile World Congress is a massive trade show that takes place in Barcelona every year. This year’s event revealed a fascinating line-up of new mobile devices that are faster, smarter, and bigger than ever before. Clear trends include phones that use processors that will shame your desktop computer, the emergence of phones so big that they blur the lines between a phone and a tablet, and a move towards making mobile products tougher than ever. Here, we present you with 10 of the most interesting products or technologies to emerge from the conference. Bear in mind, of course, that these are all meant as showcases of what’s happening out there; whether they will all make it to South Africa is unknown at this time.
Show us the goods: LG Optimus Vu The Optimus Vu is LG’s addition to the growing number of large smartphones. LG is throwing everything it has at the phone to help it fill its very big shoes – the 5” IPS LCD screen is beautiful, and uses a rather unusual aspect ratio of 4:3 and a resolution of 1 024 x 768. It has a dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM and 32GB of built-in memory, and while it currently runs an older version of Android (2.3), LG has promised an upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich “soon”.
10 | connect | APRIL 2012
Smartphones NVIDIA Tegra 3 Mobile Processor NVIDIA is a company with an incredible pedigree when it comes to processors, and its new mobile chip is no different. It’s not only a quad-core monster, but it renders graphics with amazing fidelity, opening up devices that use it to entertainment options that go beyond HD videos and 2D games. Think 3D games that look as good and play as smoothly as they do on a console, and you’ve got a good idea of why we’re so excited about its potential to really change the way mobile devices perform, and what they are capable of. Huawei Ascend D Not a company known for its high-end products, Huawei surprised everyone by unveiling a line of powerful smartphones that run Android v4.0. Among these was the Ascend D, a 4.5” phone that uses Huawei’s own K3V2 quad-core chip. The processor is clocked at 1.2GHz and makes use of a 16-core graphics processor unit that Huawei claims renders “true 32-bit colour” for better overall visuals. Despite such amazing processing muscle, the K3V2 processor doesn’t use a lot of power thanks to a low core temperature and some clever programming, which could mean better battery life in the long term.
Nokia Lumia 610 This phone is here not because it’s an amazing, brand-new piece of kit that will wow you with its speed and abilities. It’s here because it represents Microsoft’s relaxing of previouslystrict Windows Phone 7 hardware rules. Before the 610, every Windows Phone 7 phone had to meet Microsoft’s minimum hardware requirements, which prevented it from popping up on budget phones. With the Lumia 610, all that changes, and now it’s anyone’s game. This heralds an era of affordable Windows Phone 7 phones and widens Microsoft’s potential audience for its mobile wares.
HTC One X This is the world’s first-ever Android-powered smartphone to use a quad-core processor. As a result, the One X is an incredibly smooth phone, regardless of whether you’re browsing the Web, watching HD videos on its large, 4.7” screen, or playing games. It’s even possible to enjoy HTML5 and Flash content on the phone, with no performance hiccups whatsoever. Even the camera is amazing, able to take great pictures in low-light conditions. Lastly, the Beats Audio sound sub-system plays back music the way the artist intended, for an accurate and rich listening experience.
www.connectmag.co.za | 11
looking ahead Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Samsung’s Galaxy Note smartphone has enjoyed quite a lot of success and attention in the year since its launch. Consumers apparently love the very large, almost tabletlike screen, and Samsung announced a new Note that comes with a massive 10” screen. It’s not a phone, though, it’s a tablet computer that uses Google’s Android v4.0 operating system, has an HSPA+ radio for on-the-go communications, and comes with a new stylus that enables super-accurate input.
Asus PadFone Do you like the idea of turning your smartphone into a tablet by plugging it into a docking station? Well, somebody at Asus agrees with you, as the company revealed a new 4.3” smartphone they call the PadFone that does just that, converting from Android phone into a 10” tablet in seconds flat. You can go even further and make your very own netbook PC with the addition of a keyboard dock.
Nokia 808 PureView Where other companies’ mobile phones are emphasising speed and graphics capabilities over everything else, Nokia has brought out a product that’s a throwback to a mid-2000s trend – a feature phone that takes incredible-quality photos with a 41MP image sensor. Yes, you read that correctly – a forty-one megapixel image sensor. This ridiculous (but awesome!) quality comes at the cost of a phone that is otherwise unremarkable – but to some, that’s a price worth paying.
Motorola Defy Mini The rigours of everyday life have also had an impact on how manufacturers develop mobile products, as several of the big players showed off phones that can survive some serious mistreatment, including being dunked in water. Motorola’s Defy Mini is one such phone, and it’s been designed to survive falls, sandy beaches and pockets full of coins. It’s also completely waterproof. The screen, one of the most vulnerable parts of any phone, is now nearly indestructible thanks to Corning’s Gorilla Glass 2, making the Defy Mini one of the toughest phones around.
Google Android 4.0 “Ice-cream Sandwich” Perhaps the biggest shaper of the immediate mobile future is Google’s new operating system, Android v4.0, which we should start seeing on devices in the next little while. Code-named “Icecream sandwich”, it offers all kinds of improvements over previous versions of Android, including better performance, text that’s optimised for high-resolution screens, improved multi-tasking and an overhauled interface that makes it even easier to use. It also makes use of voice recognition for issuing commands and creating documents!
12 | connect | APRIL 2012
back to basics //by christo van gemert
14 | connect | APRIL 2012
Computers are no longer things that should only be seen and not heard. Sound technology has progressed massively, not to mention the plethora of new ways in which to consume movies and music on our PCs. Here’s the lowdown on the things that give your PC its voice.
wenty-five years ago, our computers only emitted a few beeps and tones, courtesy of an internal speaker. In the mid ‘90s, we started seeing sound cards – add-in cards that gave computers the ability to be connected to headphones or external speakers, producing excellent 16-bit sound. Modern computers, from tablets to notebooks to desktops, all have excellent onboard sound solutions. Cheap laptops have simple speakers, while premium audio solutions are used in higher-end machines: JBL, Bang and Olufsen, Harman Kardon, and other well-known audio brands have lent their expertise to laptop designers. Meanwhile, desktop users have a lot of freedom when it comes to sound solutions.
What’s your type? Multimedia speakers are available in a number of configurations to suit the varying needs of users. There’s the simple 2-channel setup, where you have basic stereo sound from 2 regular speakers. These can be cheap, and powered by USB, or they can be really expensive monitor speakers (used for music creation). Sometimes you can get a 2-speaker system with a subwoofer, which will be called a 2.1 system. Subwoofers add a lot of body and bass to the sound, allowing the satellite speakers to be smaller, thus taking up less space on your desk. These 2 systems are great for everyday multimedia tasks, such as gaming, listening to music or watching movies, but for enthusiasts, something like a 5.1 system might be in order.
These systems will have 5 satellite speakers and a subwoofer, the same layout used by home theatre systems. DVDs and Blu-ray movies already have soundtracks that support surround sound systems, and all modern games are developed with multi-speaker systems in mind.
On-the-go audio Regular PC speakers can be used with a laptop, which is convenient, but when you’re on the road and want better audio quality for a presentation or music, there are options. Portable speakers for laptops are usually USB-based, meaning they draw power and get sound signal using a single connector. These can still be used with desktops, but low power output and compact dimensions mean they’re really only useful as portable, temporary solutions.
www.connectmag.co.za | 15
back to basics
Assume the position
Almost every computer will have a 3.5mm audio jack – the same as used on your headphones – and any set of PC speakers worth its salt will have a cable ending in the complementing connector. Some modern speakers will use USB ports to hook up to the PC, which negates the need for a sound card, since USB speakers have a built-in sound processor. Some PC speakers offer additional connectors and ports, too. If you want to link up more than one device, you’ll want multiple inputs. Certain sets of desktop speakers have a secondary input for things like MP3 players, while other sets have USB inputs that let you play music files directly off a flash drive. Another connector to look out for is a headphone output. This makes it convenient to hook up some personal audio for those moments when you can’t make noise.
Placement of speakers is an important part of getting good sound quality. Regular stereo systems simply require a decent amount of space between the 2 speakers in order to get the correct sound stage, but systems with more than 2 speakers need careful placement. Read the documentation that comes with a system to get optimal placement – and always remember that a subwoofer near a corner or under a desk can greatly amplify the bass.
Party power Laptop and portable speaker systems come in all shapes and sizes, including those ShoX speakers that collapse into themselves to make for easy storage. These are battery-powered, so won’t drain your laptop battery, but some other speakers use USB ports for power. Keep this in mind, just to make sure you’re not going to run into battery life problems.
16 | connect | APRIL 2012
Beat box Some advanced PC speaker setups, such as the 5.1 Logitech Z906, use a signal box to connect multiple sources. These systems are nearly as good as home theatre systems, and are designed for use with your Xbox, PC, and other things, all at once. The signal boxes allow for multiple inputs and easy source control.
gigabytes ‘n’ bobs //by christo van gemert
We know that our electronic files are stored on our computers, and they take up megabytes or gigabytes. To help you put these figures into perpective, we’ve got a handy infographic to help break it down.
he two most common kinds of storage in use today are portable flash drives and hard disk drives. The latter is what you’re most likely to have inside your desktop computer or laptop, and even in your backup hard drive. Hard disk drives have spinning magnetic platters, and can store up to 3TB – or 3000GB. USB flash drives are a cheap solution for portable storage. They take up very little space and a 4GB stick – which holds nearly as much as the average DVD-R/RW disc – can cost as little as R80. They’re perfect for sharing files with friends or transferring relatively small amounts of data between computers. Below, we have a breakdown of the kinds of files you’re most likely to store on a USB drive, and how many of each you can fit on a 1GB stick. On the next page there’s a similar diagram, but for a 1TB hard drive.
A high quality music file (MP3 or otherwise) is about 6MB in size. While an album of 16 songs can be 100MB. That’s 170 songs or approximately 16 albums on a single 1GB USB stick.
18 | connect | April 2012
Photos from a mid-range consumer camera are about 3MB in size. More expensive cameras can have files up to 8MB in size. So 1GB should happily accommodate about 330 holiday snaps.
Word and Excel files are small – 1MB can more than accommodate a number of them. Smaller PDF files can be up to 1 or 2MB in size. That’s easily 1 000 or more files on your USB stick!
Depending on the source of video files, they can be between 5MB and 5GB in size. Full length movies can be 700MB – 5GB large. So, at the most, one full legnth Standard Definition movie should fit.
Other files, such as software downloaded online or application-specific files can be less than 1MB and more than 100MB. Your milage may vary, but 1GB should hold anywhere between 10 and 100 apps.
All of those applications and software suites installed on your computer also take up space - photo and video editing software, tools and utilities, media players and more. These can use up to 20GB.
If you’re a casual player, bank on using up to about 15GB of space on your hard drive. More dedicated gamers can dedicate more than 200GB to game storage.
Downloaded videos and home videos can eat up lots of space, so bank on using about 10 – 50GB. That grows massively if you start saving fulllength movies and TV episodes to your hard drive.
Your system files can take up between 15GB and 30GB, depending on the version of operating system you have installed or other configurations in place.
MP3 and other music file compression allows you to store a single album in 100MB of space, but if you copy your CDs to your hard drive, or buy albums online, it adds up quickly. Music lovers can amass more than 150GB of music over time.
PDFs and Office documents don’t take up a lot of space on their own, but an archive of documents and presentations can use between 1GB and 10GB. This can also include email archives, which can grow to large sizes.
1TB Your home PC is great for storing, organising, and backing up your digital photos. A few years worth of photos can swell to 20 or 30GB in size.
www.connectmag.co.za | 19
social networking //by Bret Haggard
. .. r u o y e g a n ma
Social networking is a wonderful way to keep friends, family and acquaintances updated on what’s happening in your life, while at the same time allowing you to keep up to date with what’s going on in your social circle. But because there are so many social networks available – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and blogging engines, to name a few – managing your updates to each can be complicated.
here are a couple of tricks you can employ to make the process easier, from using desktop applications to automatically update numerous social networks with one click, to cloud-based services that cross-post updates from one social network to another. There are even clever blogging engines that automatically post content to your social networks.
Organised on the desktop While the majority of social networks exist as Webbased services, power users utelise desktop PC or notebook applications to keep their social feeds on a tight leash. One of the most popular tools for doing this is TweetDeck – a product that’s owned by Twitter, but that is capable of cross-posting to both Twitter and Facebook. TweetDeck lets you select which updates you would like to post to each social network, meaning you’re able to post to either Facebook or Twitter, or both. The same holds true if you have multiple Twitter or Facebook accounts. Apart from easily allowing you to cross-post to Facebook and Twitter, TweetDeck also lets you mine the entire Twitter public timeline by defining specific search terms.
20 | connect | April 2012
Cloudy with a chance of social
If you need even more control than TweetDeck offers, you’re going to have to head into the cloud and, more specifically, onto HootSuite. It’s a Webbased tool that most social media management companies employ, and can be found at www.hootsuite.com. HootSuite gives you the ability to manage updates to multiple Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts from a single interface. HootSuite has even more complex features, like scheduling updates to go out exactly when you want them to. (And unlike TweetDeck, it doesn’t have to be open to work.) If you’re managing a social network that is shared between groups, it requires approval from other group members before posting an update. HootSuite also has a free mobile app for your iPhone/iPad, BlackBerry or Android mobile device so you can monitor and message anywhere.
Set and forget your updates If you simply want to post once and have that update appear in multiple places automatically, giving Facebook and LinkedIn your Twitter credentials is the easiest way to do it. To wrangle the Facebook side of things, you’ll have to log onto Twitter on the Web, go to ‘Settings’ and then ‘Profile’. Scroll right down to the bottom and tick the box that allows Twitter to auto-post to Facebook. After you’ve authorised this, everything you tweet (barring retweets and replies to other Twitter followers) will now also end up on Facebook. To empower LinkedIn in a similar way, log onto LinkedIn and head over to your account settings. Make sure your Twitter information is entered correctly on the profile page and head over to ‘Manage your Twitter settings’. Tick the relevant boxes, and save. Now, when you tweet, your updates will end up on LinkedIn too.
Social-aware blogging A final way to pull your entire social updates together and tackle blogging in one step is to make use of a service called Posterous Spaces. Available at www.posterous.com, the service will cross-post links to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, as well as other social networks. From short, random thoughts, to picture galleries and even lengthy posts consisting of mixed media, users can either log onto Posterous to post their content, or e-mail in, and the technology engine will take care of the rest. Posterous takes away all the hassle of sharing online by automatically resizing and optimising photos and videos. Additionally, each Space can be set to public or private – public Spaces can be accessed by anyone, and private Spaces are only seen by those you invite.
www.connectmag.co.za | 21
what is it? //by DEON DU PLESSIS
What is Kinect? We have a squizz at Microsoft’s take on the motion-control concept that has revolutionised modern gaming.
inect is the name of Microsoft’s motion-tracking camera system that works with Xbox 360 game consoles. The principle behind it is simple and elegant: it’s a webcam-like device that uses some pretty complex technical wizardry to track people’s bodies, and use their movements and voices to control games and the Xbox itself. It’s cool because it removes the need for a handheld controller, and instead lets people use their entire bodies to play games and make their way around the Xbox Dashboard. It even picks up voice commands and translates them into actions, like moving to the correct tab within the Dashboard or powering down. An interesting side-effect is that it also helps gamers, people not known for their enthusiasm for physical activity, to move off their chairs and get some exercise while they play.
How does it work? Kinect uses a complicated array of technologies to do this. It has an RGB camera, a depth sensor, and something Microsoft calls a “multi-array microphone”. 22 | connect | APRIL 2012
Together, they can establish who is standing in front of the Kinect, how far away they are and what they are saying. It’s even smart enough to identify individual players by their facial features, allowing gamers to log into their Xboxes by simply presenting themselves to the camera. Even more impressive, the system can track the movements of more than 1 player at a time, allowing for up to 4 people to stand in front of the Kinect and interact with a game.
How much space does it require? The official stance is that you should stand about 8ft away (about 2.5m) from the Kinect in order for it to properly pick up gamers and track them. While you can stand closer, if you want the bestpossible experience with the Kinect, sticking to the recommended 2.5m is required. It’s partly a safety concern, as it’s possible to get carried away and knock things over, or accidentally hit other people while playing. Kinect on its own retails for about R1 999, but it can be bought with an Xbox 360 console as a bundle, which lowers the price somewhat.
how to //by deon du plessis
surgery At first glance, adding a new hard drive or even replacing an old one can seem a bit like brain surgery. This month we walk you through all the steps needed to install a 3.5â€? hard drive in a desktop system.
24 | connect | April 2012
f you’ve owned a desktop computer for a number of years, you’re quite likely to have run out of storage space at some point. It’s not much fun to have to go through all your files and delete those you haven’t used for a while, but it’s a necessary evil if you don’t want to buy a new hard drive. You may think buying an additional drive is costly, and you’d rather not install it yourself because it’s too complicated. We’re here to tell you that you’re only half right. Hard drives are currently quite expensive, thanks to the unfortunate floods that struck Thailand in 2011, submerging the production facilities of several major hard drive manufacturers. This strangled supply while demand skyrocketed, causing prices to rise sharply. So yes, hard drives are a bit costly at the moment. On the bright side, installing a hard drive yourself is nowhere near as complicated as you might have thought. If you follow this guide, you will easily be able to install your own hard drive in less than 10 minutes, saving yourself a callout fee as well as the labour charge for a professional technician to do it for you.
Step 1 Decide on the capacity that’s right for you and buy the appropriate hardware. Since we’re talking desktop drives here, you’re looking at 3.5” SATA drives. 3.5” refers to the physical width of the device, and SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) refers to the technical standard that governs how a hard drive connects to a computer’s motherboard.
Shop Smart Hard drives are available in various capacities, from 250GB all the way up to 3TB. If you want lots of space and don’t mind a drive that performs somewhat slower than others, consider a 1TB 5 900rpm “green” drive from manufacturers like Seagate and Western Digital, which will cost a few hundred rand less than a faster model that spins at 7 200rpm. A drive that spins slowly uses less power and transfers data more slowly than one that spins faster, but you score on its up-front cost.
Step 2 Open the side panels of the computer case.
Step 3 Slide the new hard drive into an available bay (it will be obvious where it’s supposed to go), and secure it with screws. Make sure its connectors are easily accessible.
Here’s what you will need: > 1 x 3.5” SATA hard drive > 4 x screws to secure it > 1 x SATA cable > 1 x SATA power connector
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how to Step 6 Close the computer case by re-installing the side panels, and press the Power button.
Step 7 Once Windows loads, the drive will be automatically detected; if successful, Windows will display a window announcing that a new drive has been installed.
Step 4 Locate the SATA ports on the motherboard. They should be located on the inside edge of the motherboard, and they can be any colour but are most commony red or black. Check the motherboard manual for their location if you’re unsure. Connect the SATA cable to any available port.
Step 5 Connect the free end of the SATA cable to the SATA port on the hard drive. There is only 1 way to plug it in, so there’s no chance you’ll do it incorrectly. Plug in the power cable too. The computer’s power supply should have at least 1 SATA power connector free. If it doesn’t, you’ll need a Molex-to-SATA converter cable and 2 free Molex connectors. If you’re so inclined, try to thread the SATA cable through the case in such a way that the inside of the PC looks neat once everything is connected.
Side Step If the drive is not automatically detected, try the following: right-click on Computer, select Manage and navigate down to Disk Management. An “Initialise And Convert Disk Wizard” will launch once you click on Disk Management and walk you through the process of initialising the new disk. Once that is complete, you need to make sure Windows can use the drive. Right-click on it in the Disk Management window and choose “New Simple Volume” from the menu; another Wizard will pop up and walk you through the process of specifying its size and formatting it. Be sure to select a drive letter that you’re happy with, and choose NTFS as the file system.
Step 8 Start copying files off your long-suffering primary hard drive to your shiny new secondary drive.
It Wrapping up The only potentially tricky part of the process comes if the drive you purchased wasn’t already formatted and you need to initialise and format it. If you’re in any way unsure of how to proceed if that is the case, we recommend you enlist the help of Google for detailed, step-by-step, screen-by-screen instructions on what to do.
26 | connect | April 2012
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product reviews // by Deon Du PLessis & Christo van Gemert
oy, was this month crazy! Not only has there been a ton of news coming out of the tech industry, but some really awesome products were also announced. As a result, our First Looks section is packed: we have the lowdown on Apple’s new iPad, new Ultrabooks from Acer and HP, and Amazon’s new Kindle Touch eReader, and they’re all looking mighty impressive, indeed! Reviews were likewise stuffed with goodness. I had a ball trying out a new R/C car that let me control it using my Android phone – I was honestly taken by surprise by how much fun it was! I was also impressed by BlackBerry’s new Curve 9380 smartphone, as it really doesn’t come across as a “budget” phone. There is a lot more to explore in this month’s reviews section, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as we did reviewing everything. Cheers Deon
While we make every effort to ensure pricing is accurate before we go to print, sometimes through circumstances we have no control over, the prices in Connect may differ from those you’ll see on store shelves. In all cases, shelf pricing takes precedence. 28 | connect | APRIL 2012
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Apple iPad 3 First Look Acer Aspire Timeline M3 Ultrabook First Look Kindle Touch eReader First Look HP Folio 13 Ultrabook First Look Asus GeForce GTX560 1GB Leapfrog Leapster Explorer Canon IXUS 500 HS BlackBerry Curve 9380 BeeWi Mini Cooper S R/C Car Monitor Roundup Philips AS141 Android Dock HP Photosmart 7510 Garmin nüvi 2495 LT Wowee Speaker JumpStart 3D World: The Legend of Grizzly McGuffin PlayStation Vita Accessories
product FIRST LOOK
Apple iPad NEED TO KNOW • High-resolution Retina Display • 4G networking • Quad core graphics Availability: May/June
At the beginning of March, after much rumour-mongering and speculation, Apple’s next generation iPad was unveiled. Simply called “the new iPad”, Apple has chosen to do away with sequential numbering of its tablet. After all, its Macbooks and iPods don’t have numbers at the end of their names. This is also a move that reflects the company’s commitment to the tablet as a “post PC” device – meaning that it no longer sees the personal computer as the centre of your technological universe. Along with the iPhone and iPod, the iPad offers a new way to browse, communicate, create and consume. At least, according to Apple it does, and with more than 15 million iPads sold in the last quarter of 2011, it has reason enough to continue pushing the tablet as the personal computing device of choice. The new iPad brings some beefy numbers to the table, to help it dominate the tablet market for a while longer. Headlining the list of features is a new display. It remains at 9.7” in size, but the number of pixels has quadrupled. The current iPad display has a resolution of 1 024 x 768, while the new iPad’s Retina Display has a resolution of 2 048 x 30 | connect | April 2012
1 536. Put simply: more pixels in the same space means higher display density. Like the Retina Display on the iPhone 4 and 4S, this will make smaller text easier to read, while photos, video and any visual content will look far better than ever before – this is close enough for a digital display to look as sharp as a printed photo. It’s also helped along by a new manufacturing process that lets it display brighter colours with improved contrast. All of those new pixels need to be juiced up by far more powerful graphics hardware. Apple’s solution is a beefed-up version of the dual-core A5 processor it used in the iPad 2. It’s now called the A5X, and, along with a faster clock speed, has 4 graphics cores that help manipulate the onscreen action with amazing fluidity. Demonstrations of the new iPad show it easily scrolling through large photo collections and playing full-HD video without breaking a sweat. Speaking of HD video, the 5-megapixel camera in the new iPad replaces the 0.7-megapixel camera in the previous tablet. Not only will photos have more pixels, but they’ll also look better thanks to the inclusion of the optics system from the iPhone 4S – a better lens and better sensor design will contribute greatly to image quality. The new rear camera also captures 1 080P full-HD video, up from the previous model’s 720P video resolution. Sharing videos, photos and downloading other content shouldn’t be a hassle, no matter where you are. Regular 802.11n WiFi capabilities
are built in, as expected, but if you opt for a 4G model, you’ll be able to take advantage of cellular network speeds of up to 42Mbits per second, currently offered by the local operators. When the new LTE-compliant networks are launched, we can look forward to speeds of up to 72Mbit/s. That’s 7 times faster than the fastest ADSL line available today – or fast enough to download a high-definition film in less than 10 minutes, if it’s running at full speed. Finally, the new iPad has built-in voice dictation. A simple tap of the dictation button, on the virtual keyboard, lets you talk naturally and the iPad will transcribe your speech, turning it into text. This should take care of the “I can’t type on a virtual keyboard” complaints some people have.
Apple iPad 2
The older iPad is no slouch by any means, and still holds its own against most existing Android-powered tablets. Plus, it’ll now be selling for less.
NOTEWORTHY SPECS • Display: 9.7” Retina Display, 2 048 x 1 536 resolution • Storage: 16GB, 32GB or 64GB • Processor: Apple A5X dual core processor, with quad core graphics • Camera: 5-megapixel Apple iSight rear camera, Facetime front camera • Networking: 802.11n wireless, HSPA+, HSDPA, LTE
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1”
The award-winning Galaxy Tab 10.1” is one of the best Android tablets you can get. It just about matches the iPad 2, and gives buyers an Android option from which to choose.
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product FIRST LOOK
Product Acer Aspire
Timeline Ultra M3 Ultrabook NEED TO KNOW • 15” Ultrabook with an 8-hour battery • Space for an optical drive or a second hard drive • 20mm thick Available: Late March, early April 2012
Acer Aspire Timeline Ultra M3 Ultrabook • Uses Intel’s Core ultra low voltage processors • 4GB of DDR3 RAM • Solid State and regular hard drive options • Optional DVD drive • Windows 7 Home Premium/ Pro/Ultimate • 2 x USB 2.0 ports, 1 x USB 3.0 port • HDMI output • Full-sized keyboard with number pad • Multi-in-1 card reader
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The Timeline series has thus far only been made up of notebooks, but that is about to change with the introduction of Acer’s Timeline Ultra M3 Ultrabook, unveiled at the CeBIT trade show held in Hanover, Germany, in March this year. Timeline notebooks are known for their excellent battery lives, a tradition continued by the M3, which also has a battery that stretches to the 8-hour mark and beyond. But that’s not all. From what we’ve seen so far, the M3 is an Ultrabook that strives to break the mould and seriously differentiate itself from other products in the same category by being bigger, faster, and having more features than its competitors. It’s one of the first 15” Ultrabooks, putting it into the same category as many business notebooks. Acer has kitted it out with Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors, and we have been informed that it will offer various configurations that will cater to the customer’s specific needs. That speed is further complemented by the first use of NVIDIA’s new “Kepler” mobile graphics architecture, the GeForce GT640M. Kepler-based graphics chips consume less power while still providing excellent graphics capabilities. We’ve heard that it’s possible to play 3D games with only minor compromises in overall image quality. HD movies playback is made extremely smooth by the GeForce GT640M’s media-processing capabilities. As a result, the M3 might be able to offer a pretty decent entertainment experience in addition to its number-crunching, productivity-enhancing capabilities. Unfortunately the screen Acer has chosen only supports a maximum resolution of 1366 x 768, so it won’t be “Full HD”. The M3 offers something no other Ultrabook has managed to achieve so far – a built-in DVD drive. That’s fantastic news for anyone who might have been put off Ultrabooks by the prospect of finding a new way to
install programs that have traditionally come on DVDs or CDs, and even better news for DVD collectors who like enjoying their favourite flicks while they travel. Acer has beefed up the M3’s sound by using Dolby Home Theatre v4 technology and what they call “premium speakers”, which provide surround-sound effects delivered at impressive volumes. Just the look of the words on the page has us drooling at the potential awesomeness, so we really can’t wait to hear these for ourselves. Power users have the option of choosing a model with a second hard drive instead of a DVD drive. That means it’s possible to have a super-fast SSD as the primary drive, and a secondary hard drive with more capacity for additional data. Offsetting SSD’s lack of capacity with a secondary drive gives power users the best of both worlds. Lastly, the little things: its full-sized keyboard has a number pad, there are 3 USB ports – 2 x USB 2.0 and 1 x USB 3.0 – as well as an HDMI output, all located along the back edge of the device. There’s even a multi-in-1 card reader! Hard drive options include a hybrid hard drive – these devices combine the speed of an SSD with the capacity of a regular drive. That means one partition made up of Flash memory and another that uses traditional drive technology, giving users the best of both worlds. By loading the operating system onto the Flash partition, booting up, shutting down and restarting is super-fast. Pros
• Important extras that other Ultrabooks don’t have • Hybrid drive options • Much bigger than the average Ultrabook • Plenty of notebook-class features
• Does not have a Full HD screen
product FIRST LOOK
Product Kindle Touch
Kindle Touch Wi-Fi eReader • Read in bright sunlight • Simple-to-use touchscreen • Light and compact • Holds up to 3 000 books • Massive selection of content • Low prices compared to physical books • Free, out-of-copyright books • Free book samples – try before you buy • Search function • Text-to-speech synthesiser • Store your library in the cloud • Built-in Wi-Fi • Adjustable text sizes
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Wi-Fi eReader NEED TO KNOW • Amazon’s new multi-touch eReader • Stores up to 3 000 books • Screen is visible even in bright sunlight • Can last for up to 2 months on a single charge • Wi-Fi connectivity Availability: Soon RRP: R1 999.95
Have you ever wanted an eReader, but have been put off by the size, price or underwhelming capabilities? Amazon, the company behind the ultra-successful Kindle eReader, clearly takes those concerns seriously and wants to offer a product that even cautious consumers will find attractive. To that end, they have developed a new eReader called the Kindle Touch that makes all of those worries completely moot. Best of all, it will be available in South Africa shortly, if it isn’t already. The Touch takes much of what made the original Kindle successful, and compacts the formula down to something a little more pocketable, with a better screen and improved touch controls. You can still download and store electronic books (eBooks); in fact, the Touch can store up to 3 000 eBooks, a figure far larger than the contents of the average book collection. But now, instead of relying on a physical keyboard that takes up space and makes the Kindle quite large, the Touch has a touch-sensitive screen that acts as the interface between human operator and the underlying software. Touching the edges of the screen turns pages, and touching the top edge brings up the device’s menu, which is how you browse Amazon’s extensive eBook library. What sets the Touch apart is the fact that it also supports multi-touch, a feature that allows the use of pinching motions to make text larger or smaller. The Touch connects to the Internet over Wi-Fi, so you’ll have to be close to a wireless network you have access to in order to browse. The absence of a keyboard means the Touch is small and compact – it measures 172mm x 120mm x 10.1mm, which is approximately 6.8” for those of you
who prefer the Imperial system. It weighs 213g, so is only slightly heavier than the average cellphone, making it a highly pocketable device. The star of the feature line-up is undoubtedly the “E-ink” display. E-ink is a display technology that uses very little power but provides an incredibly high-contrast viewing experience. Amazon claims the display on the Touch uses the most advanced implementation of E-ink technology ever, so it’s fair to assume the screen will be clearly visible, even in bright sunlight, something that should help to reduce eye-strain and make reading on the device a pleasurable experience. Amazon claims the Kindle Touch can last up to 2 months without needing to be recharged, although of course that’s with only half an hour of reading every day and the Wi-Fi radio turned off. Still, that’s pretty good – at least you won’t need to recharge it every day like those power-hungry smartphones. It has access to a huge selection of content, some free and some paid-for, so it’s like carrying a portal into the world’s biggest library in your pocket. The Touch even has a built-in text-to-speech synthesiser that can read all your English books aloud to you, if you like that sort of thing. If you prefer real voices, it also plays audiobooks. Amazon has the market cornered with the sheer brilliance of the Kindle range. The new Touch looks to build on that solid foundation and its reduced price and improved E-Ink screen should prove to be a hit with local audiences when it lands. Pros
• High-contrast E-ink screen • Very long battery life with moderate usage • Acts as a portal into the world of books
• No 3G connectivity • Black & white only
HP Folio 13 Ultrabook NEED TO KNOW • 13” Ultrabook, powered by Intel’s ultra-low-voltage Core i5 processors • Equipped for business users who travel a lot • HP’s first Ultrabook product Availability: Late April 2012
HP’s first Ultrabook, the Folio 14, is launching in South Africa on April 29, 2012, and we’ve been given a sneak preview of what consumers can expect from this incredibly classy, business-friendly machine. The first thing that jumps out at observers is the fact that the Folio 13 is a little bit thicker than many other Ultrabooks in the same size category. It measures 18mm at its thickest point and doesn’t taper down to a sharp edge like some Ultrabooks do. This has been done to allow HP’s engineers more space for features business users will find useful. For example, it has an integrated Ethernet port that can be used to connect the Folio to wired networks, a function that makes it easy to join networks at branch offices without always having to find out what this week’s wireless network password is. While it doesn’t have an optical drive, the Folio does have USB ports (1 x 2.0, 1 x 3.0), a 3-in-1 card reader, and an HDMI output for connecting to an external screen or projector. The keyboard keys have a pleasant rubberised finish and can be backlit for easy viewing in dark places, like on airplanes, at the press of a button. The webcam shoots video in 720p, allowing users to talk to business contacts or family members over the Internet without the blurriness and stuttering from which traditional webcams suffer. All of these are built into the Folio’s beautiful metallic chassis that’s as attractive as it is tough. Inside, the Folio runs an ultra-low-voltage Intel Core i5 processor, has 4GB of DDR3 RAM and a 128GB Solid State hard drive that gives it a serious speed boost. It uses Windows 7 Professional 64-bit as its
OS, which offers enterprise-friendly features not found in Home Premium, like remote desktop and the ability to join a corporate network. Fast resume and sleep times are standard, and HP claims it lasts for around 9 hours with a 6-cell battery, and can sleep without running out of battery power for “several weeks”. This is thanks to its ability to go into what they call a “deep sleep state” that’s made possible by the low power consumption of the Ultrabook’s Solid State drive. HP’s “CoolSense” technology automatically detects where the Folio is being used, and adjusts its cooling accordingly. This prevents it from overheating, as well as directs any accumulated heat away from the base to ensure comfortable usage when it’s on your lap. The bright screen uses the standard Ultrabook resolution of 1 366 x 768, which qualifies as HD but only 720p. HP has gone with Dolby for the Folio’s sound, opting for Dolby Advanced Audio v2, which provides good volume, clear audio and even surround-sound effects when watching movies. HP might be a bit late to the Ultrabook party, but it seems they’ve done their homework, and are offering a competent and compact Ultrabook that will be as useful in a business environment as it will be at home, playing back movies and music. Pros
• Useful as a business tool as well as for entertainment • Backlit keyboard • Intelligent cooling • Great battery life
• A few more USB ports would be nice
HP Folio 13 Ultrabook • Uses Intel Core i5 processors • 4GB of DDR3 RAM • 128GB Solid State hard drive • User-selectable backlighting for keyboard • 1 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB 3.0, HDMI, Ethernet, headset ports • Windows 7 Professional 64-bit • Uses HP’s CoolSense technology • HD webcam • 9-hour battery life with a 6-cell battery • Dolby Advanced Audio v2
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Battlefield 3 This superb first person shooter looks absolutely incredible and comes with an action-packed single-player campaign and a huge multiplayer component.
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings RPG lovers will find a lot to love here: a fantastic story, strong RPG elements, challenging combat and a game world so beautiful that jaws will drop regularly throughout the 40plus-hour campaign.
DiRT 3 The 3rd entry in the DiRT franchise is stuffed with content, from a wide range of race types to the skillchallenging Gymkhana event, stunningly presented through amazing hi-fidelity graphics.
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Asus GeForce GTX560 1GB NEED TO KNOW • Dedicated graphics card with 1GB video memory • Makes 3D graphics run faster and look prettier • Offers better performance than any onboard video card • For desktop PCs only R2 599.95
If you like playing games on your PC, you’ll know just how important smooth graphics are to the experience. A lot of desktop PCs designed for home use skimp a bit when it comes to the system’s graphics card, providing either an onboard card that is part of the motherboard, or a very low-end dedicated card that is separate from the motherboard, but underpowered. What you really want, as a PC gamer, is to play games at the highestpossible resolutions, with the details cranked all the way up while maintaining a frame rate of 30 frames per second or above. Fortunately, desktop PCs can be upgraded, and by adding a good, dedicated graphics card, like this one from Asus, that can be achieved. Buying the right graphics card is tricky, though. Because they’re such specialised hardware, they use a lot of electricity, and that means your system might need a power supply capable of supplying 500W of electricity or more. In the case of the GTX560, 500W should be fine. You’ll know your power supply is not supplying enough juice if the system sudden shuts down or reboots for no reason once the card is installed. On to the actual card. The GTX560 is one of NVIDIA’s best mid-range chips, which means it’s been designed to offer good performance for a reasonable amount of cash. Although R2 600 might seem like a lot of money, really high-end GPUs can cost over R7 000, so it’s actually quite a good price. What are you getting for the cash? You’re getting a pretty powerful mid-range card that can run today’s games at full HD resolutions without stuttering. Even Battlefield 3, one of the most graphically-intensive games to come out lately, runs beautifully on the GTX560 on Ultra settings. Your mileage may vary, of course, as game performance is also determined by the rest of your system – your processor, for example, can cause slowdowns that are unrelated to the graphics card if it’s not fast enough. We recommend anything from an Intel Core i5-2 500k and up, and at least 4GB of DDR3-1333 RAM for the best-possible experience with this card.
The GTX560’s technical details are rather complicated, but the important bits are that its main component – the graphics processor unit – runs at 810 MHz, and it has 1GB of cutting-edge GDDR5 memory that runs at a speed of 1 002 MHz. It’s not so much the speed of each component that matters, it’s how NVIDIA has designed the chip itself that makes all the difference. Suffice it to say, this is a very good card for the money being asked. You will need a free PCI Express x16 slot on your motherboard and enough room in your case to accommodate the card, so don’t head off to a store and buy the GTX560 until you’ve confirmed your system will take it. The only downside here is that consoles like a PS3 or an Xbox 360 cost about the same as this component alone, and are a lot less complex to operate. But if it’s silky-smooth, high-fidelity desktop graphics you’re after, consoles can’t hold a candle to a system running this card. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • Video memory: 1GB GDDR5 • Memory speed: 1 002 MHz • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 • GPU speed: 810 MHz • CUDA cores: 336 • Shader clock: 1 620 MHz • Interface: DVI, Mini HDMI • Max. resolutions: 2 048 x 1 536 (VGA), 2 560 x 1 600 (DVI) • Accessories: Mini HDMI to HDMI converter, DVI to VGA converter, power cable • Recommended minimum power supply: 500W • Required: Free PCI Express slot, enough physical space to install
• Games play and look so much smoother • Outperforms both games consoles and onboard graphics chips • Supports high-resolution gaming
• Complicated to install and maintain • Costs almost the same as an entire console • Technical knowledge required for installation
Leapfrog LeapPad Explorer Tablet
Expand the Leapfrog learning experience onto a tablet designed specifically for kids! Share games between devices and get maximum value for your cash.
Disney/Pixar Toy Story 3 Game Cartridge Compete in 16 educational mini-games and learn valuable spelling, maths and science skills as you make your way around this interactive board game as either Buzz or Woody.
Camera Accessory for the Leapster Explorer Add even more fun and functionality by installing the add-on camera that lets kids take pictures and videos, and even indulge in some light editing that adds fun elements.
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Leapfrog Leapster Explorer Handheld Learning Console NEED TO KNOW • Handheld console for kids • Packed with fun, educational activities • Plays games, eBooks, videos • Leapfrog store has tons of content R699.95
A few months back, we reviewed the Leapfrog LeapPad, an educational tablet designed for kids. This month, we review the Leapfrog Leapster Explorer, Leapfrog’s original handheld gaming/learning device, and just like we were with the LeapPad, we’re mightily impressed. It’s a high-quality, well-thought-out product that is absolutely packed with fun things to keep kids entertained while imparting vital skills and knowledge, plus it’s not ridiculously priced. The handheld is quite big and bulky, but not so large that small hands can’t carry and operate it. It features several big, easy-to-press buttons, a 3.2” LCD screen, a headphone jack, volume controls, shoulder buttons and a covered slot where the product’s camera (an additional purchase) fits. The build quality is sturdy, and easily able to withstand the unintentional abuse it will no doubt endure at the hands of the average 4-year-old. Setting up the Leapster Explorer takes about half an hour. It requires 4 AA batteries that fit into a battery pack located on the rear of the device. The initial setup asks for the child’s name, the date and the time. A CD is included that launches an application for your PC to download the latest version of the Leapfrog software, called Leapfrog Connect. Once that is installed, you need to connect the Leapster Explorer to the PC using the included USB cable to synchronise everything. Through the program’s interface, and by accessing the Leapfrog store, you can get new games to play, eBooks to read, videos to watch, and more. You can also download free game demos that give you a taste of what they contain. If you want to buy something, you have to buy “Leaplet Download Cards” from retailers; they have 16-digit codes on the back that can be redeemed for purchases and cost about R150 each. Unfortunately, the store doesn’t accept credit cards, which is quite inconvenient. The content itself is superb and well worth the money. eBooks are done particularly well as they’re interactive – not only do they display text that is read aloud, but individual words are highlighted as they are spoken, and can be repeated by pressing on them with the device’s kid-sized stylus. The page itself is interactive, playing sounds when images are pressed on
and turning when swiped across. Stories are fairly short, taking about 10 minutes to go through, so a child’s attention shouldn’t wander. Each Leapster Explorer comes with access to LeapsterWorld, a safe online destination that kids can explore. It’s quite bandwidth-intensive and can take a long time to load if you’re on a 384k ADSL connection, but the wait is worth it. LeapsterWorld has a lot to offer kids, from a new games room to the ability to take their “pet”, created on the Leapster Explorer, with them into the world. Many of the games available for the Leapster are based on popular movies and characters, and gently encourage the learning of words, shapes, spelling and more, using familiar characters and settings. They’re also compatible with the LeapPad tablet. There’s a reason the Leapster Explorer sells out quite often – it’s a fantastic, well-thought-out product that’s affordable, useful and effective. Kids will love the friendly interface and fun games, while parents will like the cost, ease-of-use and its tangible educational benefits. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • Suitable for kids aged 3 and older • Teaches school skills like reading, spelling and maths • Built-in instructional tutorials • Responsive touchscreen • Game skill levels automatically adjust • Visual and audio guidance reinforce writing skills • A LeapWorld online virtual world in which to explore and have fun • Learning Path lets parents track kids’ progress • Comes with a kid-sized stylus Pros
• Exactly the kind of educational toy kids need • Excellent build quality and functionality • Very easy to use • 2 free downloads with every purchase
• Store purchases must be done using download cards • Chews through batteries – rechargeables recommended • Very Americanised
Canon Powershot S100
Canon Ixus 500 HS NEED TO KNOW • 10-megapixel still photos • Stabilised 12 x zoom • Full HD video R2 999.95
Canon’s really on a roll lately. Last year’s Powershot S100, a compact camera that’s got near-pro image quality, was one of our favourites. And this year, we have the new Ixus 500 HS. That HS suffix is one we’re seeing on a lot of Canon products. Denoting “high sensitivity”, it means the camera can better capture images in lower light. This is one of the biggest problems cameras (digital or not) face, since photography is the art of capturing light, and how do you capture that which is not there? In the case of an HS-equipped camera, you capture the very little remaining light by cranking up the power that goes through the image sensor (the little chip that captures images). More power means more sensitivity to light, in effect allowing it to amplify the existing light and making it possible to record a photo. But more power introduces interference, which shows up on your photos as grainy textures or coloured spots. And that’s where HS tech, present on the Ixus 500’s 10-megapixel sensor, comes in. Images, in all light conditions, are far sharper and more vivid than they are on competing cameras. It’s also helped by an image stabiliser, which steadies the action a bit so you don’t get any blurry snaps. The real groundbreaking feature on the 500 is its lens, though. Previously, we’ve seen fast lenses, with huge apertures. Those let in more light, enabling you to take some creative shots. This new Ixus opts for a larger zoom, and ends up being the slimmest camera featuring a 12 x optical zoom. It really is compact, too. The most compact models in the Ixus range have not really got any bigger over the years, despite the newer tech being shoehorned into them. Here we have a 10-megapixel camera that can record 1 080P video, with a 12 x lens, and Canon has even crammed a crisp 3” display onto the rear. Thankfully it’s not a touchscreen, and has a neatly arranged column of buttons sitting next to it. Image quality is superb, as we’ve come to expect from the new
generation of compacts, but it’s not quite as good as the results from the higher-end Powershot S100. Video quality is, sadly, not as deserving of praise. It lacks overall clarity and there’s the common issue of noise being recorded from the lens electronics, as you zoom in. Hopefully they’ll find a solution for this in future models. Getting those results isn’t difficult, either. The Ixus has 58 built-in scene modes for every kind of photo. The smart auto can take care of most things, but if you fiddle through the menus and select the right preset, it’ll make the photos that tiny bit prettier. Smile shutter mode even adds a neat function. We’ve seen cameras that take a photo as soon as the subject smiles, but there’s now a mode that’ll activate the shutter as soon as you wink. This is a great way to take a photo after you’ve set the camera up on a tripod, walked into a scene and taken your place; no more fiddling with timers. The Ixus 500 HS is jam-packed with useful features that make the photography experience easier than ever before. The results are great, the zoom lens is very useful, and it’s all available in an extremely compact body. Canon has another winner on its hands. NOTEWORTHY SPECS
If this high-end Ixus isn’t powerful enough, the S100 has a few more manual modes and improved picture quality for the more demanding photographer.
Sandisk Ultra Micro SD Card The Ixus 500 is one of the first compact cameras that require the use of a micro SD card, and Sandisk’s range is perfectly equipped to handle the speed demands.
• Sensor: 10.1 megapixels • Video: Up to 1 080p • Lens: 12 x optical zoom • ISO range: 100 – 3 200 • Rear display: 3.0” • Scene modes: Programme mode, smart auto mode, 58 scenes • Storage: Micro SD card slot Pros
• Excellent photo quality • Compact design and layout • Great zoom for a compact camera
• Video footage not that sharp • Zooming noise during videorecording • Unreliable face-recognition modes
Golla Camera Bag Golla’s range of compact camera bags will keep your snapper in good health, protecting it from everyday bumps and knocks.
www.connectmag.co.za | 39
BlackBerry Curve 9380 Smartphone NEED TO KNOW • Budget BlackBerry phone • First Curve to have a touchscreen • 806mhz processor R1 999.95
BlackBerry Torch 9810
Can’t choose between a keyboard and a touchscreen? Get the best of both worlds with the Torch – it has both!
The 8520 is the current king of the budget smartphone market, selling in the thousands every month here in South Africa, thanks to BlackBerry’s solid engineering and fantastic free messaging app, BBM.
40 | connect | APRIL 2012
BlackBerry’s low-cost BBM service has made it very popular in South Africa. Perhaps unsurprisingly, phones like the affordable BlackBerry Curve 8520 have been a hit with local consumers. With the release of the Curve 9380, BlackBerry has introduced a new budget phone that aims to do even better. The 9380 is the first BlackBerry Curve smartphone to have a touchscreen, and it’s pretty impressive – at 3.2”, it’s big but not offensively so, and its resolution of 360 x 480 guarantees a pixel density better than that of competing budget handsets. Text and graphics look good for a budget phone, and the interface responds very smoothly to finger swipes and presses thanks to capacitive touch technology. Long-time BlackBerry users will also like the fact that the trackpad is still there, and just as responsive as ever. In order to bring the touchscreen experience to a wider audience, RIM has made the handset more affordable by chopping its hardware somewhat. It uses a single-core processor that runs at 806 MHz, has only 512MB of RAM and 512MB of internal storage, which is expandable through the use of microSD cards (a 2GB card is included in the box). Fortunately, RIM’s new operating system, BlackBerry 7, runs pretty well even on such modest hardware. The phone only really struggles when multi-tasking – switching between open applications – and a bit during the installation of apps. The rest of the time, it is pleasantly responsive. The embedded graphics chip and BlackBerry 7’s “Liquid Graphics” subsystem are to thank for that. The build of the phone is fantastic; it’s lightweight, yet still manages to feel high-class. Volume controls and the camera’s shutter are tiny buttons on the right edge, and BlackBerry’s navigation buttons – call answer, the BlackBerry symbol, back and end call – are physical buttons located on the bottom edge of the screen. It’s thin, too, measuring barely 8mm at its thickest point, and feels really good to hold, even if it also feels a little fragile.
We really enjoyed the “Universal Search” feature that can be used to find anything on the phone, from contacts to snippets of a BBM conversation, to an e-mail or SMS and even posts on Twitter and Facebook. The operating system basically indexes everything on the phone, and, as a result, is able to recall information quickly. We weren’t wild about the 9380’s keyboard, as it’s a bit small in portrait mode (particularly if you have big fingers), but there is an option to use a “reduced keyboard” that makes it easier to type, with some practice. Tilting it spreads the keyboard keys out a bit, which also helps. Other noteworthy features include a 5MP camera that takes good pictures, Wi-Fi, HSDPA and HSUPA connectivity, a 3.5mm jack for headphones, and, perhaps most impressively, a battery that lasts up to a day and a half. That’s fantastic for a smartphone. BlackBerry has done a great job with this phone. The 9380 performed better than we were expecting, it looks fantastic and has a ton of useful features. It’s so good and is priced low enough that it might even overtake the popularity of the Curve 8520 over time. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • Display: 3.2” capacitive touchscreen @ 360 x 480 pixels • Memory: 512MB internal, micro SD card slot (expandable to 32GB) • Connectivity: GPRS, EDGE, HSDPA, HSUPA, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth • Camera: 5MP stills with geo-tagging, face detection, image stabilisation; VGA video • Operating system: BlackBerry 7.0 • CPU: 806 MHz • Messaging: SMS, MMS, e-mail, Push e-mail, IM • GPS: Yes Pros
• Amazing performance and features for a budget phone • Attractive build and nice feel • Day-and-a-half battery life • Universal Search is very useful
• Virtual keyboard keys are very small • Not great at multi-tasking • Navigation buttons are a bit hard to press
BeeWi Storm Bee R/C Helicopter
The same principle applies – you can control this helicopter using your Android phone. It’s more of a challenge, but tons of fun.
BeeWi BBZ201 Mini Cooper S R/C Car NEED TO KNOW • Control this car using your Android phone • Accelerates and turns in response to how you hold the phone • Uses 3 x AA batteries R499.95
This is a remote-controlled car you can control with your Android smartphone, and it costs R399.95. You buy it (and some batteries, as they’re not included), spend about 10 minutes setting everything up, and then wile away the hours learning how to control it accurately, having a blast while you do it. It’s a simple concept that’s extremely well-executed, and more than that, it’s just plain fun. We were impressed at just how easy it was to set up the car. First, we opened the car and installed the 3 AA batteries and turned the car’s power switch to “on”. Then, on the phone, we turned on Bluetooth and searched for Bluetooth devices in the area. On finding the BeeWi Mini Cooper S, we paired the two devices. After that, we accessed the Android marketplace and searched for the “BeeWi Control Pad” app as instructed. A quick (and free) download later, the app was installed and ready to go. The whole process was so easy, we’re sure anyone, even newcomers to the Android environment, will be able to do it. On launching the app, we were presented with a screen that asked us to select the vehicle to control, and after choosing the Mini Cooper S, the app launched the controls. At first we were a bit puzzled, as moving the phone around and pressing the arrow buttons we saw on the screen didn’t do anything. Then we spotted a button with a big P on it, presumably for Park, and once we pressed that, the car sprang into life, shooting forward and smashing itself into the nearest wall. Oops. What happens is the car responds to how the phone is being held. Tilt it forward, and the car drives forward. Tilt it backwards and the car reverses. Turning means tilting the phone left or right, and co-ordinating your movements so that the car actually goes where you want it to is a fun challenge. We managed to come to grips with it after about 10 minutes,
and it was an absolute blast navigating it around the office, into and around obstacles, and over the odd ramp. The Mini Cooper S is not much of an offroad car, and neither is this tiny motorised toy version. It works best on tiles and other flat, stone-free surfaces (carpets included), and it’s fast enough that controlling it is a lot of fun and somewhat challenging, but not so fast that it runs away from you. The car’s range is only 10m, but that’s more than enough to let you have some fun with it. We were mightily impressed with this little car. It turned out to be a fun, affordable way of marrying smartphone technology with a more traditional toy; it worked extremely well and was also easy to set up. At only R399.95, it’s an inexpensive way to have a little fun and amuse kids and friends alike for an hour or two, and we think that’s a pretty good way to spend 400 bucks. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • Bluetooth chip: Bluetooth 2.0+EDR, CSR BC4 • Bluetooth range: 10m • Powered by: 3 x AA batteries (not supplied) • Use time: Up to 3 hours • Controls: 2 forward/backward, direction steering • Dimensions: 179 mm x 98 mm x 74 mm • Weight: 205 g • Scale: 1:20
• Learning the controls is fun • Not as expensive as you’d think • Very easy to set up
• Range of only 10m • Doesn’t like the outdoors • Batteries not included
Samsung Galaxy S II Smartphone The Galaxy S II is a slim yet powerful smartphone that runs the Android operating system. Its 4.3” AMOLED screen is one of the best in the business, and its performance is impressive.
Samsung Galaxy Ace The entry-level Galaxy phone is no slouch - it has every essential feature needed in a smartphone, including an HD video camera, GPS, and 3.5” touch screen.
www.connectmag.co.za | 41
© 2011 Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. Screen images are simulated.
INCREDIBLE DEPTH FOR THE ULTIMATE GAMING EXPERIENCE.
Experience real-life depth with the new Samsung 3D LED monitor.
Brighter* 3D images
2D to 3D image conversion
* Brightness comparison based upon monitors with same brightness in 2D.
*3D glasses are required and are included with purchase.
By Deon du Plessis
Is the biggest monitor your budget will allow for really the best way to spend your money? We’ve rounded up four different-sized screens in an effort to answer that very question. With so much to see and do on a computer these days, a good screen is a necessity. With so many models out there with such widely-differing specifications, it can be rather daunting deciding which one to buy. And then there’s 3D – is it really all it’s cracked up to be, or is it just a gimmick? In an effort to help you answer these questions for yourself, we rounded up 4 screens that you’ll find on store shelves today. They’re not nearly-identical; in fact, they’re quite different from one another. We did this so you’ve got an idea of what is out there, and to give ourselves the opportunity to explain what the benefits and drawbacks of each are. For this roundup, we put these 20”, 22”, 23”, and 27” screens through rigorous testing by playing games, watching movies and performing general tasks like sending e-mails and browsing the Internet with them, in an effort to find the one we liked the most.
www.connectmag.co.za | 43
Samsung SyncMaster S27A950D An Overview
Samsung’s S27A950D screen is one of the nicest-looking screens available today. At 27” wide, it’s huge, and its cutting-edge 1080p screen technology and LED backlighting enable Samsung to make it super-slim. Samsung has gone a step further, designing everything to fit into a beautiful – and tilt-adjustable – chassis. On top of all of this techno-goodness and aesthetic appeal, it’s also a 3D monitor, meaning it supports 3D movie playback as well as PC and console gaming in 3D. In short, it’s got all of its bases covered, and as a result is a highly desirable piece of kit.
visible to the naked eye. It’s only a problem if you sit really close to the screen as most people do, but if you position it further away this is less of an issue. Unfortunately, this diminishes the impact of the screen’s size which defeats the object of owning it somewhat. Who should buy this?
Whether such a specifications show-off is a practical purchase depends entirely on your needs as the buyer. If you want a huge monitor that supports 3D gaming and you own an AMD graphics card, then you’ll get a lot of mileage from the S27A950. If not, there are better 27” options out there.
What are the benefits?
The sheer size of this screen is reason enough to want to buy it, but that’s not all it has to offer. A plethora of connection options greet you on the screen’s base – you can hook it up with either a DisplayPort or DVI cable, or connect it to a gaming console like a PS3 or an Xbox 360 over HDMI. It has no speakers, though, but it does have a 3.5mm audio jack so you can still get sound out of it. If your system has an AMD graphics card, the S27A950 will let you play games that support the feature in 3D. The monitor comes with a pair of 3D glasses for that exact reason; if your system isn’t cut out for gaming in 3D, you can always upscale 2D movies to 3D. Unfortunately at the time of writing the S27A950D’s 3D capabilities are not officially supported by NVIDIA cards and so it can’t use NVIDIA’s 3D Vision technology. We did notice that, due to its size, individual pixels seemed noticeably bigger and easily44 | connect | April 2012
• Huge screen makes for very pleasant viewing • Also does 3D gaming/movies • Beautiful design, plenty of inputs
• Individual pixels are more visible than on smaller screens • Does not support NVIDIA’s 3D Vision technology • Quite a hefty price tag
Dell S2330MX An Overview
“sharpness” setting that is meant to make text look very crisp when set to its maximum level, but it wasn’t as helpful as we’d like. Happily, its low response time of 2ms means blur-free fast-moving game graphics and videos. The stand is large but sturdy, so while there is a bit of screen wobble there’s no real chance of bumping it over. The screen also tilts. It’s not a big tilt, mind you, but just enough so a pleasant viewing angle can be achieved.
When it comes to striking a balance between a nicely-sized screen and price, 23” is where it’s at. The reason is that a 23” screen is capable of “Full HD”, which means a resolution of 1920 x 1080. This makes it the right size for watching HD movies and playing games at a resolution high enough that the jagged edges of graphic elements become less noticeable. Dell’s S2330MX ticks all the right boxes when it comes to the kind of features a discerning shopper might be interested in. It occupies the price-to-value sweet spot of 23”, it has really attractive looks thanks to an impressively-thin build, and its touch-sensitive controls are subtly hidden on its bottom right edge. It’s an excellent choice as an upgrade to the world of big widescreen monitors.
This is a monitor for someone looking to chuck out their old, smaller screen and upgrade to something bigger and better. Gamers will probably get the most out of it.
What are the benefits?
The benefits on offer here revolve around value. Sure, the S2330MX doesn’t do 3D, but it’s a fantastic monitor for everyday use, plus it’s quite pleasantly priced. It has both DVI and VGA inputs at the back and comes with an external power supply that resembles those you get with a notebook. It’s very thin and lightweight as a result because the main screen doesn’t have to make space for an internal power supply. Image quality is also well worth the money. It’s not the world’s brightest monitor at only 250nits (anything above 300 is considered unusually bright), but you can adjust the way it displays colours using the on-screen menu. There are several colour settings to choose from that are suited to doing different things; we liked the “cool” setting the best. There’s a
Who should buy this?
• Occupies the value to price sweet spot • Very thin build and attractive aesthetics • Good image quality
• Tilts, but not much • Screen wobbles a bit when bumped • Small text can look a bit cramped
www.connectmag.co.za | 45
Samsung SyncMaster S20A300B An Overview
With DVI and VGA inputs, the S20A300B is able to connect to any PC. While a lovely monitor for the most part, the S20300B does not tilt much and has a refresh time of 5ms, which is higher than (and therefore not as good as) some competing screens. Fortunately, it’s still good for gaming and video playback.
As monitors have increased in size over the years, the bigger ones have generally received most of the attention. But when it comes down to what consumers want, smaller screens have proven quite popular owing to their more compact size and lower prices. This one from Samsung, the S20A300B, is exactly the right monitor for someone upgrading from an old CRT, or one of the older, non-widescreen LCDs that were popular in the early-tomid 2000s. It’s nothing fancy, but it is a widescreen monitor and priced rather attractively, and those 2 factors alone give it a lot of appeal.
Anyone looking for an affordable widescreen LCD monitor for their computer will find a lot to like here. Gamers with modestly-powered PCs will also like it.
What are the benefits?
You might think a small screen has more drawbacks than benefits, but that’s simply not true. The S20A300B has a native resolution of 1600 x 900, which is high enough that it can display 720p HD movies, and low enough that the system it’s attached to can get away with using a lower-end - and thus cheaper - graphics card for gaming purposes. That makes it a great choice as a monitor for a budget gaming PC. Image quality is very good. Colours look vivid and punchy, and the screen is nice and bright, although no more than the Dell since it’s also rated at 250nits. Its excellent colour reproduction is thanks to Samsung’s screen technology and excellent contrast ratio. The box rates it as 5 000 000 : 1, but this is just marketing gumpf, really. All it really means is that blacks are really black, and whites are very white. 46 | connect | April 2012
Who should buy this?
• Widescreen monitor for a very low price • Great for gaming on a budget • Very good image quality
• Does not tilt much • 5ms response time is only “okay”
Dell ST2220L An Overview
The ST2220L is slightly older than the other screens here, and that shows in its design which is, we have to say, not as attractive or striking as it is with the other 3 screens we have here. Fortunately, when it comes to buying a screen how it performs on a daily basis is a lot more important than how it looks, and we’re glad to say that the ST2220L is very competent in this regard. Where it has an advantage over some of the other screens is in its good selection of ports. DVI, VGA and HDMI connections are all present, and there are even 2 audio jacks – for input and output – that let you connect headphones and other audio devices. It’s also a Full HD screen and therefore great for watching HD movies on.
out the box, but if you would like to tweak them further, doing so using the touch-sensitive navigation buttons is easy. The ST2220L won’t reflect your face back at you thanks to its anti-glare finish, which makes it a good choice for use in brightly-lit rooms. A sturdy stand offers just the right amount of tilt, allowing users plenty of flexibility when it comes to how it’s set up. Who should buy this?
Buyers looking for a big - but not huge - all-purpose desktop monitor will get a lot out of the ST2220L. Console gamers will benefit from its HDMI input. R1 699.95
What are the benefits?
Having 3 display ports means the ST2220L is a more versatile solution than 2 of the other 3 screens. Its biggest advantage is that it can be hooked up to a games console via the HDMI port and play game audio through the headphone jack in addition to displaying visuals. With its 5ms refresh time, this isn’t an ultra-fast monitor but that needn’t put you off, as anything below 8ms is more than quick enough to ensure ghost-free moving images. In our time with the ST2220L, we experienced nothing but butter-smooth visuals. Settings are adjusted using touch-sensitive buttons, and the built-in menu is easy to navigate and user-friendly. The monitor’s colour and brightness calibration is very good
• HDMI port useful for connecting to gaming consoles • Good overall image quality • Sturdy stand with good tilt
• Only a 5ms refresh rate • Quite a chunky build
www.connectmag.co.za | 47
Ed it Ch or ’s oice
Going on our experience, we have to say the Dell S2330MX was the best of the monitors we received for this roundup. While we would have loved to give top marks to Samsung’s 27” 3D-capable screen, we just couldn’t due to its price and the fact that it doesn’t support NVIDIA’s 3D Vision technology. We felt that the other 2, while decent monitors in their own right, were either too small or too bulky. The S2330MX is the screen that the average consumer will get the most from – it’s not too big or too small, it’s thin and attractive and everything from movies to games to surfing the Web on it is a real pleasure. Lastly, it’s priced very well and therefore offers the most value of all the screens here.
• Size: 27” • LED Backlight: Yes • Response Time: 2ms • Native Resolution: 1920 x 1080 • Brightness: 300 nits • Contrast: 3 000: 1 (Static) • Connections: DVI, VGA, HDMI • Viewing Angle: 160/170 • Speakers: No • 3D: Yes, 120Hz input, 2D to 3D
• Size: 23” • LED Backlight: Yes • Response Time: 2ms • Native Resolution: 1920 x 1080 • Brightness: 250 nits • Contrast: 1 000: 1 (Static) • Connections: DVI, VGA • Viewing Angle: 160/170 • Speakers: No • 3D: No
• Size: 20” • LED Backlight: Yes • Response Time: 5ms • Native Resolution: 1600 x 900 • Brightness: 250 nits • Contrast: 1 000: 1 (Static) • Connections: DVI, VGA • Viewing Angle: 160/170 • Speakers: No • 3D: No
• Size: 22” • LED Backlight: Yes • Response Time: 5ms • Native Resolution: 1920 x 1080 • Brightness: 250 nits • Contrast: 1 000: 1 (Static) • Connections: DVI, VGA, HDMI • Viewing Angle: 160/170 • Speakers: No • 3D: No
48 | connect | April 2012
JBL Onbeat Xtreme
This iPod/iPhone/iPad dock is expensive (around R5k) for a reason – the sound it offers is superb for its size, plus it has a rotating dock to accommodate i-devices in portrait and landscape modes.
Beats By Dr. Dre Beatbox iPhone and iPod Dock
If you’re super-serious about having one of the best iPod docks available today, this is the one to go for. Incredible audio reproduced exactly how the artist intended it to be heard is your reward.
Apple iPod Nano If you own any music player with a 3.5mm jack (and that’s pretty much all of them), you can hook it up to the AS141 using the included 3.5mm cable and listen to your tunes that way.
50 | connect | April 2012
Philips Docking System for Android AS141 NEED TO KNOW • Combo bedside alarm clock & Android phone dock • Wake up to the radio, a buzzer or music from your Android phone • Charges the phone while it’s docked R1 699.95
Walk into any electronics store and look for a bedside alarm clock/ music player docking station that uses non-Apple products to provide the tunes, and chances are you won’t find many. That’s why Philips has come up with this product, a docking station that accommodates Android phones and completely ignores iPhones and iPods. Finally, Android lovers can charge their phones and be woken up by their favourite tunes too. The AS141 is quite small, with a footprint that can easily fit small or space-challenged bedside tables. It’s quite heavy, too, and its build quality is very good – it doesn’t feel like a cheap piece of plastic. It features a dock that uses a micro USB connector that points vertically, and interestingly the dock can slide left and right so that you can position your phone according to your tastes. Philips calls this a “FlexiDock” and presumably, this has been done as some Android phones have connectors on the side, and the inability to re-position them would lead to a rather strange, lopsided look. Any Android phone that uses version 2.1 or later of the operating system works with the AS141. Philips includes a sticker on the device that has a QR code that, when captured using a QR code reader app (there are many available for free on the Android Marketplace), takes users to a download page for Philips’ Fidelio app. Once downloaded and installed, Fidelio synchronises some of the phone’s setting with the dock, like the time. It also makes the Bluetooth pairing and connection process a little easier, and the app’s main screen shows the time and local weather conditions. For music management and playback, Philips recommends their very own Songbird app, which lets you browse and play the music stored on your phone. It works well enough, but isn’t entirely essential as many other apps (as well as Android’s built-in software) can easily handle the job. Fidelio is not perfect, though – it must be manually launched once the phone is docked to show weather etc., and for some reason it didn’t allow the phone we tested it with to make the screen go dark automatically after
a few minutes of inactivity – that had to be done manually. In a rather different – but very cool – move, the docking station doesn’t use the direct connection to the phone to play music. Instead, it’s all done wirelessly over Bluetooth. At first this seemed odd, but it made sense over time as it allowed the dock to play wake-up music stored on the phone even when the phone was not docked. It’s also a nice way to play music in a bedroom or office using the phone as a remote control. As for volume, tie AS141 is easily loud enough to wake up even the heaviest of sleepers. Its Sleep button is nice and big and presses easily, and it has the option to set 2 separate and customisable alarms. It’s not the world’s most amazing dock/alarm clock, but it’s certainly competent and will definitely wake you up. If you have an Android phone and you want to charge it and wake up to music stored on it, this dock is a solid choice. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • Works with Android 2.1 or above • Streams music from Android devices wirelessly over Bluetooth • Bass reflect speaker system delivers good bass • FM digital tuner with station presets • Plays music from other audio devices using a 3.5mm input • 20W RMS total output power • Wake up to an alarm, the radio or music from your phone • Dual alarms for extra convenience
• Very solid build, compact size and good audio quality • Easily loud enough to wake you in the mornings • Wireless connectivity between phone and dock • Also plays music from other devices using a 3.5mm input
• Fidelio app could use some more polish • Songbird app is not an essential download
Girls with technology on the brain 24/7
If you’re going to be printing high-end photos, you’ll want to use an excellent camera – the D5100’s 16-megapixel sensor will produce great results for A4 prints.
HP Advanced Photo Paper To get the best-quality prints from the 7510, you’ll need Advanced photo paper – and it’ll take sheets in either postcard or A4 size.
HP Printer Cartridges HP 178 print cartridges are recommended for the Photosmart 7510, and it’ll take black, cyan, magenta, and yellow, as well as a photo cartridge.
52 | connect | APRIL 2012
HP Photosmart 7510 NEED TO KNOW • All-in-One multifunction • Flatbed and document feeder scanner • HP ePrint technology R1 899.95 (Selected Stores Only)
The amount of money you invest in a printer is directly proportional to the results you’ll get – with only a few exceptions to that rule of thumb. HP’s Photosmart 7510 is one of those exceptions. At just under R2 000, it’s not the most affordable photo printer around, but you can spend more than twice as much for high-end photo printers from Epson, Canon and co. For your money, you’re getting what HP calls an e-All-in-One. This means it’ll scan, copy, fax and print, with the “e” features being those offered by its Internet connectivity. With an easy setup process, it can connect to your Facebook account and print out your albums, or access a number of other Web-based services that offer photo and multimedia content. Also present is HP’s ePrint technology, which gives the printer its own e-mail address. Using this, it’s a simple matter of e-mailing the printer photos and documents from wherever you are, and it’ll print them out at home or the office. As a scanner and copier, the 7510 is perfectly equipped to deal with most scenarios. There’s a flatbed scanner for books and magazines, and it’s complemented by an automatic document feeder if you have printed sheets. The latter is capable of taking 25 sheets in one go, with output being saved to either a computer (which will require a USB cable link) or an SD card (using the integrated SD card slot). Copying functions also use the scanner, as does the eFax feature. Rather than requiring a phone line to send faxes, this uses an online service to do so. Conveniently, new HP All-in-Ones are eligible for up to 20 free faxes a month without having to register for the optional premium service. But this is a printer, and all those extra features rely on the printing part of the 7510. Here’s where it excels. We threw everything at it, to test its speed and quality, and came away mightily surprised on both fronts. Regular draft-quality document printing saw it blaze through pages with astonishing speed. The quoted figures of 34 pages per minute are easily believable. Higher-quality document printing takes substantially longer, but the quality of draft prints is really, really good. Unless you’re submitting a portfolio for official evaluation, the draft mode is perfect.
For something called Photosmart, it wouldn’t be extraordinary to expect good photo prints. It doesn’t disappoint. Compared to prints from the Canon Pixma MG6140, one of our favourite photo printers, prints from the Photosmart 7510 were superbly detailed and colour-accurate. Although, we did print using the best quality photo paper and with the printer’s settings turned all the way up, all of which contributed to a massive 6-minute wait for a single A4-sized print. That said, the prints are good enough for framing and hanging on a wall, so if you have a camera (10 megapixels or more) capable of taking high-quality snaps, this is the printer to have. Regular postcard-sized photos will take a lot less time, though. We tested it, and less than 30 seconds seemed to be a consistent figure. For the money, the 7510’s features and relatively inexpensive running costs (a full set of XL cartridges will cost R750 and last months) make it a seriously good buy. Slow photo prints and a bulky design can easily be overlooked for this kind of value and quality. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • Printer type: Thermal Inkjet • Cartridges: HP 178, individual black, magenta, cyan, yellow and photo cartridges • Copy speed: Up to 34 mono copies per minute, 33 colour copies per minute • Print speed: Up to 34 pages per minute mono draft, 33 pages per minute colour draft, colour postcard photo prints as fast as 16 seconds • Connectivity: USB 2.0 and 802.11n wireless • Total media capacity: 125-sheet input tray, 25-sheet photo tray, 25-sheet document feeder, 50-sheet output tray • Paper handling: Up to A4, photo print sizes • Scanner: A4 flatbed and auto document feeder, up to 1 200DPI • Weight: 8.4kg Pros
• Brilliant photo print quality • Dual-feed scanner • Great touchscreen interface
• Extremely slow photo printing in A4 • Problematic setup over wireless • Large and bulky
Garmin nüvi 2495 LT GPS NEED TO KNOW • GPS with a 4.3” touchscreen • Now supports voice commands and apps • Free lifetime traffic updates R1 999.95
Garmin’s new nüvi GPS is stuffed with features. It’s not just a GPS, it also shows what’s around you, supports the use of apps (some free, some paid-for), and will warn you of traffic and speed cameras on your planned route. It displays detailed images of upcoming intersections and tells you which lane you need to be in to take it smoothly – and that’s only the tip of the iceberg. It has 2GB of internal memory, plus a slot for a tiny microSD card that can be loaded up with photos and audiobooks (great for long trips or for listening to something other than the radio on the morning commute). It hooks up to any Bluetooth-capable phone and functions as a hands-free kit and has a built-in calculator and a unit converter (miles into km, etc.). There is even a 30-day trial of Garmin’s “Language Guide” program that provides the ability to translate from English into French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish. It would have been nice if the translation app included Mzansi languages, though. The feature that might grab the most attention is the fact that the 2495 LT responds to voice commands. Saying the words “voice command” brings up a short list of the commands the GPS responds to. Using these, it’s possible to perform common tasks while driving by speaking to the device. You can even adjust the screen’s brightness and volume with your voice, and surprisingly, it works quite well. Some trial and error is required, especially when dictating addresses, but for the most part, the 2495 LT’s accuracy is very good. If you don’t like the default colour scheme, you can customise the way the device displays maps. Users have the choice of several sets of colour preferences, some of which are extremely bright with highly contrasted roads and highways, while others are somewhat more subtle. The point is there’s a colour scheme to suit just about anyone. We highly recommend that you update the device before using it for the first time. The updated software is a lot better than the version the GPS ships with (it acquires satellites a lot faster with the update installed, for instance). It also provides the option to download improved speech recognition data and voices for a variety of languages (but again, no
Mzansi languages bar English). The updater has to be manually found and downloaded, though, so prepare to enlist Google’s aid. So how does it do in daily use? Well, the screen is nice and big at 4.3”, and automatically adjusts its colours to match the time of day. It’s quite responsive to both touch and voice input, and clearly displays route information. Maps are shown as flat representations or in quasi-3D for a little visual pizzazz, and finding and selecting destinations is easy. It’s not perfect, though. Its biggest flaw is the fact that to display traffic information, it has an aerial that must be plugged into the car charger. It’s a bulky and annoying solution, considering other GPS devices don’t require anything of the sort to do the same thing. So, if you don’t mind sticking an FM antenna to your windshield for traffic updates, this GPS has a lot to offer. Just be sure to update it before setting out.
TomTom GO Live 1005 World
Sure, this GPS is almost double the price and only comes with a year of free map updates and traffic services, but at least it doesn’t require an external antenna to keep your route info updated.
NOTEWORTHY SPECS • Display size: 10.9cm (4.3”) diagonal • Battery life: Up to 2.5 hours • 2GB of built-in memory • Micro SD card slot (card not included) • Audio Book Player • Voice prompts (e.g. “Turn right on Elm Street in 200 metres”) • Lifetime traffic and map updates • Lane assistance • Displays junction signs • Bluetooth-enabled • Speed limit indicator • “Where Am I?” guidance to nearby hospitals, police stations, etc.
Garmin nüvi 40
If all you need is an affordable, frill-free GPS but you like the size of the 2495LT, grab the nüvi 40 instead – it offers a pure navigation experience on a 4.3” touchscreen.
• Voice controls work remarkably well • Very responsive and easy to operate • Free lifetime traffic and map updates
• Antenna and external power needed for traffic updates • Not a lot of Mzansi-specific features • A software update is highly recommended before first-time use
Google Maps Navigation
This Android GPS app works brilliantly on all Android 2.1 smartphones and later, and best of all, it won’t cost you thousands of rands.
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There’s always the “original” compact speaker for those who want something to take on their travels. The ShoX is cheap and has better sound than your laptop or phone’s built-in speakers.
Wowee One Speaker NEED TO KNOW • Single-speaker design • Battery-powered • Sticks to flat surfaces for better bass R599.95 (Selected Stores Only)
Logitech Tablet Speaker
Its name might say “tablet”, but this battery-powered portable speaker can be used with any device that has an audio jack.
Sony Walkman B-series The B-series Walkman is a great portable audio player, boasting MP3 playback and an FM radio. And it’s affordable, too.
54 | connect | APRIL 2012
Most portable audio players, tablets, smartphones and laptops have 2 things in common when it comes to audio: the supplied speakers or earphones won’t blow you away, and they all have a 3.5mm audio jack. Through the second fact alone we can remedy the first, because there’s a multitude of portable speakers that can be used with these gadgets. More importantly, there are portable speakers that have built-in batteries, which means they don’t drain your MP3 player or smartphone’s battery to produce louder audio. The usual selection of portable speakers are the kind that fold away into really compact shapes, or those that have a neat trick up their sleeve. The Wowee One falls into the latter category. This unassuming oblong brick, with its shiny finish and high-quality construction, doesn’t look like the regular offerings. There’s a speaker grid along the top, neatly etched into the gloss plastic cover, and the bottom of the device has a soft, sticky pad. On the working end, there are 2 ports: a 3.5 audio input, for which a cable is supplied, and a mini USB port that’s used for charging it. Don’t worry, there’s a cable for that too. It’s that soft, sticky pad that really sets this apart, though. See, the Wowee One is designed to stick to certain surfaces, such as desks, windows, or any other surface that doesn’t completely absorb vibrations. Inside the Wowee One sits a Gel Audio transducer, produced by SFX Technologies, and that’s what makes this so different to any other portable speaker. The regular driver in the unit takes care of high and mid frequencies, playing back music as you would expect from your laptop speakers, but a bit louder. There’s almost no bass at all. Until you stick the Wowee One
to a window. Now the transducer – which is like a speaker but creates mechanical vibrations instead of sound – will send the bass frequencies through that larger surface. The window begins to vibrate, amplifying the bass and creating sound that completely belies its origins: a shiny box stuck to the window. It works well enough to fill a medium-sized room with sound that has body and punch, but it’s not exactly going to take over from your regular desktop speakers – never mind making your subwoofer quake in its boots. The only thing is, it’s hard to think of situations where you’ll need mega audio, but also be near a surface with which this will work. As a gadget, it has a great wow factor, but in practice, it has some limitations. If you’re out and about, chances are you won’t always be near a big window or wooden panel. If you’re camping or having a picnic, those odds become virtually nil. In these situations, a more conventional audio solution will fare a lot better in every imaginable scenario. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • Power output: 2 watts RMS • Frequency response: 40Hz – 20kHz • Inputs: 1 x 3.5mm audio, 1 x mini USB charging jack • Drivers: 1 x conventional driver, 1 x Gel Audio driver • Battery life: Up to 20 hours • Weight: 200g Pros
• Long battery life • Compact design • Relatively loud
• Requires specific surfaces • Sticky pad needs to be kept clean • Sounds terrible on its own
Jump Start 3D Virtual World: Quest for the Colour Meister
Kids from 6 to 8 can run, jump and swim their way through a lush, rich 3D world and solve mind-boggling puzzles as they work to find out who is stealing all the colour from Camp JumpStart!
Jump Start 4th– 6th Grade
This slick and well-produced title teaches kids over 50 skills, including language, arts, maths, and science, through a series of fun minigames.
Jump Start Preschool Advanced
If you think there is no educational software for 2-year-olds, think again. The people at Jump Start have this package, stuffed full of fun activities that help kids from 2 to 4 prepare for school.
56 | connect | April 2012
Jump Start 3D: The Legend of Grizzly McGuffin NEED TO KNOW • Educational games that teach through fun • Helps to build your child’s mental and motor skills • Teaches valuable computer skills • For kids aged 4 to 6 R99.95
The Jump Start range of educational software titles has made the leap to 3D, and in so doing has managed to become even better than it was before. It offers kids a huge 3D world in which to explore and learn, and is packed with educational content that kids will find fun and challenging. Jump Start’s 3D titles are also wider in scope than any of the range’s previous programs, covering a mind-boggling range of activities designed to assist kids to learn and develop useful mental skills that will help them at school. As far as value-packed educational programs for very young children go, these new 3D “Virtual Worlds” from Jump Start have a great deal to offer. The Legend of Grizzly McGuffin is aimed at kids aged between 4 and 6, and is set in a “summer camp” environment. It’s very American, unfortunately, but given the high quality of the software’s presentation and content, it’s a forgivable offence. Fortunately, the concepts it embraces are easy to relate to – every kid understands the idea of making friends, learning new skills and having fun, and this is the focus of the game. As they play, kids are motivated by the collection of badges earned through completing activities and the lure of uncovering the story of “Grizzly McGuffin”, a legendary “Camp Jump Start scout”. McGuffin is the only Jump Starter to ever earn all the activity badges, and kids are challenged to follow in his footsteps. Players walk their character around the 3D world using the arrow keys, and finding new friends and places to go is made super-easy; the game essentially leads them by the hand until they get to know their way around. Advice as to what to do next is also never far away, so players won’t feel lost at any point. Each of the educational mini-games offers gems as rewards that can be used to purchase in-game items. These items can be used to decorate the world, purchase pets and accessories at the ‘Zippy Mart’ and many other fun things, so players are constantly rewarded for the tasks they complete.
The game takes the “encouragement, gentle guidance and reward” approach to teaching; since this is an excellent way to entice kids into learning, it gets top marks from us. There’s so much to explore and so many fun things to discover that they can’t possibly all fit into this review. Suffice to say that The Legend of Grizzly McGuffin packs in a humungous amount of value, offering kids many hours of exploration, skill-building and fun, with a total of 360 games to experience. Best of all, the reward system keeps kids motivated to complete all the various activities, meaning it will be long time before they get bored. Lastly, if you’re worried that the game might not run on your computer, don’t fret. It has been designed to run on a wide range of hardware, so even if you haven’t upgraded your PC since Windows XP, Grizzly McGuffin will run just fine. Despite its American origins, this is still a package South African kids and parents will get a lot out of. For the amount of money you’re paying, you’re getting a serious amount of interesting, entertaining and, above all, fun, educational content for your kids to explore and absorb at their leisure. SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS • Windows XP/Vista/7 • Pentium III 1GHz or faster • 3D Video card with 32MB dedicated memory • 256MB system RAM (512MB recommended), 1GB for Vista • CD ROM drive • 1.4GB hard drive space
• Huge world to explore • Engaging, skill-building activities • Motivational reward system • Excellent presentation • So many things to see and do
• American actors and themes • Characters’ walking speed in the 3D world is very slow • Looks very small on widescreen monitors • No option to adjust the game’s screen resolution
Accessorise! Now that Sony’s new handheld gaming console is here, it’s time we looked at a few of the official accessories Sony is selling alongside it. PlayStation Vita In-Ear Headset Price: R299.95 Sony has a well-deserved reputation for creating highquality audio accessories that are surprisingly affordable. The official in-ear headset for the Vita continues this fine tradition, delivering crisp, clear audio right to your eardrums. The set fits snugly, but not uncomfortably, in your ear canal, and it doesn’t cost the earth. It even has a built-in microphone that’s useful for Skype and talking to teammates during multiplayer gaming sessions.
PlayStation Vita Starter Kit Price: R299.95
Just as the name suggests, this product is great for those starting their PlayStation Vita love affair. Since the console doesn’t ship with anything but a power cable and a memory card, the protective case, extra memory card, memory card case, headphones and cleaning cloth are everything you need to protect and maintain your Precious. That’s not too bad for a package that costs only R300.
PlayStation Vita AC Adapter Price: R149.95 This isn’t a particularly amazing product, but it’s nice to know that should you ever lose or break the AC adapter that ships with the Vita, a new one is but a trip to the shops away.
PlayStation Vita 4/8/16GB Memory Cards Price: R199/R349/R499 By making full use of everything the PlayStation Network has to offer, it’s quite possible to run out of storage space. All those saved games, media files and game demos take up quite a bit of room, and the best way to avoid running out is to make sure you have a spare card or two lying around. We recommend the 16GB card as it represents the most value for your money, but a 4GB card will easily do in a pinch.
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Kinect Star Wars R349.95 Could there be a more suitable series than Star Wars for the Kinect? Imagine finally being able to use the Force, wield a lightsaber, or train like a true Jedi Master without the hindrance of a game controller and buttonmashing. Kinect Star Wars really brings the Star Wars Universe to life like you’ve never seen it before. Expect to see all those iconic characters, ships and droids, plus vehicles like podracers and Speeder Bikes to take control of. Kinect Star Wars features 5 modes: Jedi Destiny, Duels of Fate, Rancor Revenge, Podracing and Galactic Dance Off. (Why not take a break from all the action and battle Darth Vader on the dance floor to Star Wars-themed pop tunes?) In Jedi Destiny, you’ll travel the Galaxy, working your way up from Padawan to Master, engaging with forces of the Empire in intense space battles and facing an evil that threatens to undermine the fabric of the Republic. Pilot a starfighter, race speeder bikes and become the ultimate Jedi.Duels of Fate is one of the more intense game modes in Kinect Star Wars. Here, you’ll find yourself sharpening your Jedi skills against the Dark Side in one-on-one lightsaber battles, culminating in a mano-y-mano fight with Darth Vader himself. Rancor Revenge is a favourite, especially if you like the idea of being a powerful Rancor Monster, tearing through Mos Eisley wrecking buildings, taking out imperial Stormtroopers and vehicles, and earning points for your destruction along the way. The multiplayer Podracing mode – inspired by Episode 1, where 9-year old Anakin Skywalker becomes the first human to ever win a race – takes place across different planets and settings. With 8 tracks in total, it’s really a full-blown career mode where all you have to do is simply hold your arms out in front of you (like you’re holding onto the throttle) and move your hands to control your pod. Kinect Star Wars may not be the most hardcore of games, but it does take full advantage of the motion-sensing Kinect controller, providing the most authentic experience for fans of all ages.
58 | connect | April 2012
NEED TO KNOW • No controller required • Two-player co-op • Inspired by all 6 Star Wars movies
Xbox 360 Limited Edition Kinect Star Wars Bundle Get the Xbox 360 Limited Edition Kinect Star Wars bundle, with the Special Edition white Kinect Sensor and custom-designed console and controller based on popular Star Wars characters R2-D2 and C-3PO. WHAT’S IN THE BOX? • Xbox 360 Console: A custom R2-D2-themed Xbox 360 console with sounds • Kinect Sensor: The first white sensor • Xbox 360 Wireless Controller: Includes custom C-3PO-themed Xbox 360 Wireless Controller • Kinect Star Wars game • Kinect Adventures game: Get off the couch and into the game in a whole new way. You and your friends and family will jump, dodge, and kick your way through 20 pulse-pounding adventures set in exotic locations. • 320GB hard drive: The largest hard drive available on Xbox 360 • Xbox 360 wired headset: Make your voice heard. Play your favourite games on Xbox LIVE and use voice chat to keep in touch with friends. • Xbox LIVE Token: Exclusive downloadable content
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Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
NEED TO KNOW • A fantasy RPG with cinematic combat • 60+ hours of gameplay • Customise your character, armour and weapons If you’re looking for a role-playing game with fantastic fighting, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning might be the answer. The story begins when the Well of Souls brings you back to life. You can now change your destiny – the perfect setup for any RPG game, isn’t it? Similar to Fable (but a bit darker), this game will see you travelling to different areas and battling various creatures. Combat is where Amalur truly shines, with cinematic combos, advanced weapon skill trees and a smart auto-targeting system. Alchemy, gemmology and the ability to create (and name) your modified armour or weapon are all part of this in-depth section of Amalur’s gameplay. So while the questing can be a bit repetitive, it’s the swordplay, looting and levelling that will keep you engrossed in this open world for a very long time. R599.95
Mass Effect 3
NEED TO KNOW • The end of Bioware’s epic gaming trilogy • Co-operative multiplayer and Kinect integration • Save the galaxy from destruction!
60 | connect | April 2012
>>Look out for<< The Secret World Funcom’s new MMORPG looks at a world within ours where magic exists, monsters roam and ancient forces are fighting for the dominance of earth. We can’t wait!
Consider >> This <<
Mass Effect 3 is a sci-fi 3rd-person shooter with role-playing elements. You play prominent galactic hero Commander Shepard, who can be customised to your liking, right down to his, or her, character class – you’ll choose what works best with your play style and skillset (soldier, engineer, etc.). Once again, ME comes with an impressive storyline and setting that’s both immersive and emotional. The characters you meet (who may form part of your squad) are voiced by well-known Hollywood actors, and thus have a depth rarely seen in other games of this genre. Over and above the cover-based shooting, combat in ME3 consists of platforming and weapon augmentation. Combat, conversation, exploration and choice sum up this brilliant series – it’s quite something to see the choices you made early in the game having an impact later on. New additions such as multiplayer and Kinect voice control (Xbox only) add to the experience, making ME3 a worthwhile finale to the series, and a game that will no doubt impress fans. R599.95
Gears of War 3 Another trilogy comes to an end. Battle the Locust comes with award-winning co-op and multiplayer gameplay, new maps and a campaign you won’t forget.
>>get this<< Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim For a bigger world, better quests and an open-world fantasy game that will take your breath away, Bethesda’s Skyrim is a dragon-slaying masterpiece.
“2”and “PlayStation” are registered trademarks of Sony Computer Entertainment “2”and “PlayStation” Inc. are registered Also, trademarks “ of Sony Computer ” isEntertainment a trademark Inc. Also, “ of the ” is a same trademark ofcompany. the same company. require mobile network or wireless internet connection and PlayStation®Network are subject and PlayStation®Store to terms require of mobile usenetwork andorlanguage wireless internet connection restrictions, and are subject see to termseu.playstation.com/legal of use and language restrictions, see eu.playstation.com/legal for details. for details. 18 require parental consent. Some services require access Users must to be PlayStation®Network 7 years or older and users under 18 require parental or PlayStation®Store consent. Some services require access or to PlayStation®Network both. Additional or PlayStation®Store age restrictions or both. Additional agemay restrictions apply. may apply.
THE WORLD IS IN PLAY.
Wherever you are, the world is now your playground. WiFi, 3G, innovative social gaming, 5” OLED touchscreen, and dual analog sticks give you portable gaming like never before.
Only on PlayStation® Vita.
The Sims 3: Showtime
NEED TO KNOW • Head to Starlight Shores, SimHollywood • Cool social networking • Be an acrobat, musician or singer
Uncharted: Golden Abyss
NEED TO KNOW • Experience Uncharted on-the-go • An epic single-player campaign • Interactive and traditional gameplay this action-adventure on Vita making it a must-buy for anyone with Sony’s new portable in tow. R499.95
Making its way to the Vita platform, Uncharted may have the same voice actors and high-def graphics as its PS3 counterpart, but it’s certainly not a port. The story of Golden Abyss is a prequel to the first Uncharted game, and this time you’ll find Drake uncovering the dark secrets of a central American jungle. The Vita’s two analogue sticks, touch and motion controls are all used in the game so no matter if you’re in a heated gun battle or solving a puzzle, there’s a lot to do and even more ways to do it. Even with its predictable storyline, it’s amazing to experience
Showtime is expansion pack number 6 in the ever-growing franchise that is the Sims 3. If your virtual counterpart has stars in her eyes, Showtime adds a bit of music and fame to the mix. This is also the first Sims game with some social options – you can connect to Twitter, Facebook and an exclusive EA MyPage that unlocks even more content. There are also ingame achievements, three new career modes (acrobat, musician and singer) and the ability to customise your career outfits or performance stage with props, for example. Sim fanatics will also love collector’s edition eh is endorsed by Katy Perry and comes with some fun extras. R299.95
Lumines: Electronic Symphony Perfect for a portable platform, this puzzler has new modes and showcases some of the biggest names in electronic music.
SSX is bigger, better and back. From Patagonia to Kilimanjaro, the Alps and Antarctica, each mountain range in SSX range holds unique gameplay experiences and an endless possibility of amazing tricks. And if you take into account the different event types in each location as well, there’s over 150 drops in SSX. Survival mode boss battles, a rocking soundtrack and customisable multiplayer modes really add to the gameplay. Online, the new RiderNet feature keeps track of your moves and sets up real-time challenges. For over-the-top stunts and death-defying fun, EA has proven that it’s once again on top of the snowboarding genre. R599.95
>>Get this<< >>Consider this<<
NEED TO KNOW • 9 mountain ranges • Over 150 drops • Go online with RiderNet 62 | connect | April 2012
Ridge Racer Unbounded For an adrenaline-filled, turbo-charged race, you’ll love Unbounded’s full environmental and vehicular destruction.
The Sims 3: Master Suite Stuff From stylish bedroom sets to spainspired bathroom furnishings, deck out your Sim’s home and let them relax in comfort and style.
Tech Tannie swoops in like an
ANGRY APP and knocks those worrisome tech piggies into the sky.
issue of the month: Q: A:
If you have questions, gripes or just seek some solace, e-mail Tamsin, our friendly tech tannie at email@example.com 64 | connect | APRIL 2012
The iPad 2 and now the iPad 3? Is there any point in me buying it? Tablet in Tafelberg
This is an interesting question. I am against this trend of launching a new version of the same product every year with only a few changes each time. It seems a big waste of resources and a lot of fuss over nothing very much at all. However, if you completely disagree with me, then here’s what you can find on the latest Apple iPad. The iPad 3 has 1 080p resolution (see my answer to a question on this very subject below if you are not sure what this is), making it full HD and capable of taking both 1 080p videos and photos. It’s nice for family video-sharing or photo slideshows on the TV. The iCloud media storage service gives you more space to store these videos and photos, as well as movies and music. And AirPlay will stream movies and photos to your TV. There’s also a Retina Display, quad-core graphics (which will make games that much faster, while the HD will make them that much shinier), improved connectivity, and it is thinner. The iPad is a bit like a popular fashion model that gets skinnier each season, and just that little bit more temperamental. The iPad2, for example, was a thinner and faster improvement on the original iPad, but the charger port on 2 is very tricky to use. The A5X processor will also show a difference in performance, especially if you’re doing more than1 thing at a time and some of your apps need complex computation. It will really just be that little bit faster and you’ll notice it. If you don’t have an iPad yet, this could be the one to aim for as it is apparently (and this is still up for debate) going on sale for the same price as the iPad 2.
What is the difference between 720 and 1 080p? Are they both high-definition or what? Defined in Durban
While both forms are considered high definition, the real difference lies in the resolution. When you have a TV, monitor or device that supports 720p, it means it can support video up to 1 280 by 720 pixels. If it says it is 1 080p, then it can support 1 920 by 1 080 pixels. The most picture clarity will be from 1 080p, the image will be sharper and clearer and much more pleasing to the eye. The fact that the content is displayed progressively (the “p” you see in the title) means the detail is extremely high and you can enjoy seeing your movies and photos at their most beautiful and brilliant. If you are thinking of buying an HD TV, for example, you can get away with 720p if you don’t fancy spending too much money, as 108p broadcasts or videos will just scale down to match. The eagleeyed will certainly see a difference but how much that will affect you will depend on personal taste. Getting a 1 080p TV will mean, however, that it is capable of handling the highest levels of resolution available today.
I have been seeing a lot of stuff about Windows 8. What is it? Windows, via e-mail
Ja, hey, this is a question everybody is asking right now and, depending on who you are, the answer isn’t that lekker. Previews of the new operating system from Microsoft have had many people wondering if they can skip it altogether. So, let me start at the beginning. Windows 8 is the next step up from Windows 7 (which works perfectly, so why change it?). It has the Windows 7 core and has been designed to take advantage of the touch interface. If any of you are lucky enough to have a touchscreen PC, you’ll probably find this development rather exciting – the touchscreen issues in Windows 7 have apparently been ironed out. Using Windows 8 on a touchscreen lets you swipe, drag, drop, navigate and do all those other tasty things you usually do on a tablet, except now it’s on a PC. Does it work? The reviews are trickling in and they’re mixed. The big thing is Metro, which is your onscreen app selection tool and interface. It’s bright, cheerful, slightly crazed – and this is where people are disagreeing. Some find the layout, the speed, the colour and the design to be brilliant, while
others say that anybody without a touchscreen is going to want to gouge out their eyes with a spoon. Those of us who are used to using Windows with its typical Start button and layout are going to have to learn how to use the operating system all over again – well, sort of. It is difficult to use with a mouse and keyboard, and finding your settings verges on being frustrating. Used on a mobile device with a touchscreen, like a tablet or Windows Phone, many of the fiddly problems disappear. Used on a standard PC with mouse and keyboard, it’s irritating. And nobody likes to be irritated while they work. It’s worth pointing out, however, that the release everybody is talking about is only a consumer preview. It’s not the final product and there is still time for Microsoft to iron out some of the kinks. If you fancy giving it a try, you can download it from here (HYPERLINK “http://windows. microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/ consumer-preview”http://windows. microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/ consumer-preview), but make sure you keep your system partitioned so you can switch back to Windows 7 if you hate it…
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Subscribe now and you could win a BlackBerry Curve 9380 smartphone! Socialising and sharing with friends has never looked this great or been this fun—introducing the all-touch BlackBerry Curve 9380 smartphone.
All-touch display The 3.2” all-touch screen is packed with pixels for a crisp, clear display and responds quickly whether you’re tapping, swiping or zooming.
Social apps Post your latest pics, tweet, update your status and keep tabs on your friends’ updates with social feeds and pre-installed Facebook and Twitter apps.
New experiences With BlackBerry 7 OS powering the latest technologies like Near Field Communication (NFC) and Augmented Reality, the BlackBerry Curve 9380 smartphone will open your eyes to the word around you.
5MP camera with flash Capturing the things that make you smile is easy with the 5 MP camera with flash. And with the ability to instantly share your pics via BBM or post them to Facebook, you can make your friends smile too.
BlackBerry 7 OS
Easy to use
The latest BlackBerry OS provides seamless scrolling and zooming in the fast BlackBerry Browser and a responsive touch experience that makes every type, swipe and tap easy.
With the responsive touch experience, intuitive virtual keypad and optical trackpad, navigation is a breeze, whether you’re browsing the web or sending a quick BBM message.
that’s two issues
Title: Name: Surname: Delivery address: Postal code: Cellphone: Home phone: E-mail: Type (Visa, MasterCard): Cardholder name: Credit card number: Bank: Security number (three digits on back of card): Expiry date: Please debit my account with R149.50 for a 12-month subscription to Connect
• Subscribe to 12 issues of Connect by filling out the form below and faxing it to +27(0) 86519 2845. • You can also e-mail your details to firstname.lastname@example.org or call +27(11) 023 8001.
Competition runs until 30 April 2012
Get issues for only
Read our review of the BlackBerry Curve 9380 smartphone on page 40.
Our way of protecting the environment
Bring in any old technology and we will either re-furbish and donate it to those in need or we will ensure that the items are disposed of in an environmentally responsible manner with Enviro Connection and Desco. Enjoy discounts off your purchase of a new printer cartridge or toner when you bring in your empty ones. (Terms & conditions apply)
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2/12/10 12:21 PM
disconnect //By adam oxford
Does it pay to be paranoid? Your apps are talking to each other behind your back. Are they revealing your secrets?
have a friend in the UK whom I’ve known since college. He’s a very smart guy, a lawyer. A criminal barrister actually, who’s worked as both prosecution and defence counsel for just about every kind of offence you can think of. It’s a fascinating job, but from some of the stories he’s told me, I know he sees the worst that people can do to each other. My friend is a bit suspicious by nature. It’s his job to catch people out, and he’s had enough clients blatantly lie to him that he can read a falsehood a mile away. He’s also quite a traditionalist – the London law courts have been slow to go digital, so while I spend my evenings researching multiple sources and data archives with Google, he’s still burning the midnight oil in a library somewhere, manually finding case notes in something called ‘books’. A few weeks ago, he finally caved and got a smartphone. In fact, he got a very good smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy SII (he is a barrister, after all, so he can afford it). When I next saw him, I congratulated him on his purchase. “Look, I have the same model,” I said. “Here are some apps you should try out.” And I began scribbling down all the Android apps I consider essential for every day life: Evernote, Seesmic, Dropbox, TuneIn Radio, Dolphin Browser, Zinio, Press Reader... “Ah, yes,” said my friend. “I’ve tried some of these. The problem is that when I went to install them, they listed all the things they wanted to access on my phone and, well, why does Evernote need to know my GPS location?” He has a point. Unlike most people, my attorney comrade actually reads things like licensing agreements before he installs software, and he looks at the permissions screen that Android throws up when you grab a new app from the Market. Most of us just want to get the app installed: we’ll click the ‘Accept & Download’ button without a second thought. A few days after our meeting, an iPhone app called Path hit the headlines – for all the wrong reasons. Path is a social app that lets you share details of where you are and what you’re doing with close friends. The problem was that in order to find out who your close friends are, Path was uploading your entire contacts database to its servers – so it had phone numbers, e-mail addresses, physical
68 | connect | APRIL 2012
addresses and nicknames for everyone you know. It turned out that Path wasn’t the only app doing this – apparently it’s common practice for developers. As a result of the negative press, Path deleted all the contact information it currently held and changed the app to make it clear when personal data was being uploaded. Apple also changed the App Store to be a bit more like the Android Market, so that apps have to make it clear what data they’re going to access once installed. The trouble is, as we know from Android, who actually reads those permissions anyway? How can we change people’s habits from simply accepting terms and conditions they don’t read? Click ‘Accept’ and another app like Path has full access to your contacts list or other sensitive data anyway. We’re so conditioned to clicking ‘OK’ when we want something, that the actual text might as well be meaningless, as we don’t read it anyway. There could be something in the small print about surrendering our first born and we wouldn’t notice. So next time you install an app on your phone, at least try to remember to have a look at what it wants to know about you. And if you don’t like it, don’t install it.
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Touch Touch awesomeness!
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Full Full competition competition terms and terms conditions and are conditions available at za.blackberry.com/touchawesomeness are available at za.blackberry.com/touchawesomeness © 2012 © 2012 Research Research In Motion Limited. In Motion All rights Limited. reserved.All BlackBerry®, rights reserved. RIM®, Research BlackBerry®, In Motion® andRIM®, related trademarks, Research names In Motion® and logos areand the property related of trademarks, Research In Motionnames Limited and andare logos registered are and/or the property used in the of U.S.Research and countriesInaround Motion the world. Limited All other and are registered and/or trademarks trademarks are the property are the of their property respective of owners. their respective owners.
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