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November 2010

law & you: The internet

What is legal?

Linux 101 The easy, open-source alternative

Xbox Kinect! Be the controller

R14.95 incl. VAT

d u o l C ver C olves v e e r a w t f o Security s

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Reviews MONITORS LAPTOPS CAMERAS PRINTERS SOFTWARE cellphones GAMES


www.connectmag.co.za

VOL02 Issue #07

FEATURES 10 The Internet & The Law What’s legal and what’s not?

18

November 2010

14

Get up & Game! Microsoft’s Xbox Live and Kinect hit SA shores!

18

Protection from the Cloud How security software evolves to stay ahead of the baddies

24

Idle no more! Did you know your computer can help save the world?

26

Lovin’ Linux This alternative operating system is no longer just for nerds

24 14


REGULARS 04 06 08 68 70 72

Editor’s Letter News Trouble-free Technobabble Tamsin the Tech Tannie Competition Disconnect

REVIEWS 32 40 42 44 50 52 58 60

Top 5 Portable music and books Headphones Mobile computing Wireless charging Imaging & Printing Networking Books

GAMING 62

PUBLISHER Brett Haggard brett@connectmag.co.za EDITOR Tiana Cline tiana@connectmag.co.za

TECHNOLOGY Deon du Plessis EDITOR deon@connectmag.co.za JUNIOR WRITER Tamaryn Watkins tamaryn@connectmag.co.za CONTRIBUTORS Tamsin Mackay Adam Oxford ART DIRECTOR Jason Palmer jason@connectmag.co.za

Reviews

SUBSCRIPTIONS subscriptions@connectmag.co.za ADVERTISING Dorothy Haggard dorothy@connectmag.co.za

Connect is a joint venture between Hypertext Media Communications and Incredible Connection

Contact Hypertext Media Communications (011) 023-8001/4 info@hypertext.co.za FAX 08654 83304

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ed’s note

y g o l o n h c e t g Usin

J

Subscribe now and you could win awesome prizes from Verbatim.

ust the other day I was reading about Google testing out cars that drive themselves automatically in traffic. It sounds quite unbelievable. What’s more astonishing is that there was only once accident, and it happened when the one car got rear-ended at a stop street by a human-driven vehicle. Is this something out of a sci-fi book come to life, or is it technology progressing at a pace? After all, it’s the inventive use of IT know-how that could halve the number of road-accident-related deaths (says Google). Unfortunately, not all great IT minds use their power for good; some create malicious viruses that hack into your beloved computer, leaving you dataless. In Part 2 of our Internet security feature (page 18), Deon looks at protection and how security companies are learning new tricks to stop all sorts of new-age viruses. Be sure to look out for Part 3 next month, where we’ll look at what qualities make for a security software worth purchasing. From security protection to law enforcement, do you know what is and isn’t legal when using the Internet? It’s easy to commit Internet piracy, even by mistake, so in this, our November issue, we explore the legalities to keep you away from accidental piracy. Piracy may be a big problem in the gaming community, but there are a lot of other exciting things happening right now, from Microsoft’s motion-controlled gameplay (called Kinnect) to Xbox LIVE officially launching in South Africa. Thanks to the Nintendo Wii, gaming consoles that encourage movement (say goodbye to the couch-

4 | connect | November 2010

potato-gamer image) are incredibly popular. Read all about the PlayStation Move (reviewed on page 36), and then get into the world of Kinnect on page 14. Not only is the world of gaming constantly changing, but computers are also getting smaller and smarter. Now, imagine if you could leave your computer to work while you were away? To geeks, this is called “distributed computing” and we’re about to enlighten you on the topic (page 24). Our final feature in this issue of Connect offers an introductory look at Linux, the open source software solution supported by South Africa’s very own Mark Shuttleworth. This free operating system might be just what you need if you’re considering an alternative to Microsoft Windows or Macintosh OS. As always, you’ll find reviews of hot new products, including the exciting iPhone 4 from Apple, along with other great gadgets. Tamsin the Tech Tannie is only an e-mail away if you need answers to those muddling technology mishaps and the gaming section is packed with top titles from Fallout: New Vegas, to Medal of Honor, Civilization V and more. You cannot afford to miss a single issue of the only local technology magazine that speaks your language, so why not consider subscribing? Not only will you receive the magazine first, you’ll also be entered into a draw to win big prizes. This month we’re giving away a 250GB Portable Hard Drive, a Micro USB Drive (2GB) and more exciting goodies courtesy of Verbatim. Enjoy the issue, Tiana Cline Editor

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news

Belkin gives away a car to a lucky customer

So, what’s a BlackBerry PlayBook?

iPhone App of the Month: Mind Snacks Spanish Keen to learn a new language? Mind Snacks Spanish is a one-of-a-kind language-learning game for the iPhone. There are six games to cover vocabulary, reading, writing, listening and conversation skills, as well as 50 Spanish lessons designed by Ivy League instructors. With 1 400+ words and phrases to master and 1 400+ native speaker audio clips, you’ll be impressed with the full library of images and fun challenges to keep you motivated. A nice touch is the ability to track your high scores. More than a conventional language application, Mind Snacks Spanish is impressive in both looks and educational value. Best of all, it’s also fun. Un idioma nunca es suficiente! (Look out for Mind Snacks Italian, French and Mandarin, currently in development.) Price: $4.99 US Rating: 5 Stars

processor and the new BlackBerry Tablet OS, which supports true symmetric multiprocessing. The BlackBerry PlayBook closes that gap and brings the real, full web experience to mobile users, with premium multimedia features to support high-quality mobile browsing. It includes dual HD cameras for video capture and video conferencing that can both record HD video at the same time, and an HDMI-out port for presenting one’s creations on external displays. BlackBerry PlayBook users who carry a BlackBerry smartphone will be able to pair their tablet and smartphone using Bluetooth. For more information, visit www.blackberry.com/ playbook

Gaming Inc: a new interactive website Incredible Connection has officially launched Gaming Inc, an exclusive gaming site. Launched with the intention of speaking directly to the gaming market, the gaming community is excited about this new space in which they can express and explore their passion. The site has forums, blogs, purchasing and pre-order information and a chain of communication so that someone can respond directly to any queries that members have,” says Trevor Henry, Incredible Connection’s gaming events coordinator. “People are very excited about what we offer, and the forums are buzzing.” (As a part of the company’s gaming-centric activities, Incredible Connection also sponsors Big Fat B*Stards, a gaming team of which Henry is the clan leader, with the handle of “qu1k_sh0t”. He also administers the team’s activities under the Incredible Connection banner, and they have been at the top level of Call of Duty 4 competitions for the past two years.) Incredible Connection has been wanting to bring focus to its gaming department, and we needed to work out how to get in touch with gamers,” Henry says. “The idea was to create a platform where consumers and gamers can talk to us and tell us what they want, and we can enter into discussion with them.” Being able to talk directly to a gaming store isn’t happening anywhere else in the South African market. To find out more or to join the Gaming Inc online community, visit www.gaminginc.co.za

8869 IDEA ENGINEE®S

BlackBerry recently unveiled its all-new BlackBerry PlayBook tablet (and BlackBerry Tablet Operating System to match). Designed for uncompromised web-browsing, multitasking and high-performance multimedia, while also providing advanced security features, out-of-the-box enterprise support and a breakthrough development platform for IT developers, the BlackBerry PlayBook is perfect for work and home use. This beautifully designed and incredibly powerful tablet is portable and ultra-thin, measuring only half an inch thick and weighing less than a pound. The BlackBerry PlayBook features a vivid 7” high-resolution display that looks and feels great in your hand. Its groundbreaking performance is jointly fuelled by a 1 GHz dual-core

In recent months, customers who purchased Belkin products at Incredible Connection stores stood a chance of winning a car, courtesy of Belkin and its local distributor, Gopic. On Thursday, 16 September, all finalists gathered at Incredible Connection’s Boksburg SuperStore for the final draw. When the dust settled, it was 27-year-old Chris De Kock from Centurion who walked away with the grand prize of a VW Polo Vivo. Alan Mendelsohn, owner and managing director of Gopic, was at the store to hand over the keys to the ecstatic winner.

6 | connect | November 2010

8869


Once you’ve had Six, there’s no going back! With BlackBerry® 6, graphical menus welcome you and intuitive navigation allows you to catch up on all your social networking updates in one view. Everything is designed to give you a more visual, fluid experience that stimulates your senses.

All-in-one design 5MP Camera Social Feeds

Looking for something? BlackBerry® 6’s new universal search scans your folders, apps, internet, email and more, and won’t stop until it finds what you’re looking for.

With BlackBerry® 6, the multimedia experience has been completely Engaging overhauled. Now you can carry, watch Multimedia and share your videos, pictures, files and more. You can also access your home music library right from your BlackBerry® smartphone thanks to BlackBerry® Media Sync, and you can watch and subscribe Enhanced to podcasts that are pushed to you as Browsing soon as they’re available.

Visual, fluid interface

Introducing the joy of Six.

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BlackBerry® 6 Operating System that is. BlackBerry® 6 does a whole lot more than give you a warm glow of satisfaction, it will change the way you look at social intercourse for ever!

When it comes to web browsing, BlackBerry® 6 has got it all, from intuitive motions like pinching and zooming and tabs that let you swap between multiple web pages. Multitasking, always one of BlackBerry’s advantages, means your apps stay connected whether you’re using them or not. In other words, regardless of what you’re doing, emails, messages, updates and notifications keep coming through. Right now, you can have BlackBerry® 6 on the BlackBerry® Torch™ 9800 smartphone. And soon, it will be available to upgrade onto other models. Try it. We promise that once you’ve had BlackBerry® 6, there’s no going back!

www.blackberry.co.za ©2010 Research In Motion Limited. All rights reserved. BlackBerry®, RIM®, Research In Motion®, SureType®, SurePress™ and related trademarks, names and logos are the property of Research In Motion Limited and are registered and/or used in the U.S. and countries around the world. E&OE.

8869 BB6 Connect Magazine.indd 1

15/10/2010 15:43


techno jargon // by Deon du Plessis

Because of the arrival of the iPhone 4, this month’s Tech Jargon features some of Apple’s new buzzwords. Join us as we lay bare such arcane terms as “Face Time”, “Retina Display” and “pinchzoom”. Fans of Logitech also get a few terms demystified, and we throw in some random ones for good measure.

8 | connect | November 2010


Supercomputer

Logitech Unified Technology

Pinch-zoom

Your desktop computer is just a regular computer. A ‘supercomputer’ is one that is on the very edge of what is possible to achieve in terms of raw performance. They are generally made up of the most advanced hardware on Planet Earth and are capable of processing extremely complex data, very quickly. Supercomputer performance is measured in “Petaflops”, which roughly translated is a thousand trillion floating point operations per second. The record holder as of November 2009 is an AMD Opteronpowered Cray XT5 Jaguar capable of over 1 .7 Petaflops.

This is Logitech’s new approach to connecting peripherals like keyboards and mice to computers. Instead of giving each product its own USB dongle, a single “Unified” dongle allows consumers to connect up to six Logitech Unified devices using a single USB dongle. This addresses the problem of running out of USB ports as well as encourages consumers to purchase multiple peripherals to use at the home and the office. There is therefore no longer a need to keep track of which dongle goes with which peripheral.

This is the simple action of making a pinching motion with your fingers on a multi-touch capable screen that results in zooming in or out of an image or screen, dependent on which direction you move your fingers.

Logitech ‘Incurve’ Distributed computing When several computers are connected via a network (for example, the Internet) but which work on the same problem at the same time, it can be said that a distributed computing model is being used as the computers are physically distributed across a geographic area.

ADSL Line An ADSL line is nothing more than a Telkom landline telephone line that is capable of connecting to the Internet using an ADSL modem router. In South Africa, is it not possible to access the ADSL network wthout an ADSL line from Telkom; the cost varies according to the desired speed of the connection.

Motion-based gaming This relatively new trend in gaming aims to physically involve players in games by allowing them to interact with on-screen objects using their bodies. Nintendo was the first to bring out a successful motion-control system in 2006, Sony followed suit in September 2010 with the launch of the PlayStation Move accessory, and Microsoft launched their controller-less verson, called Kinect, in early November 2010. Advantages of these systems include encouraging usually-immobile gamers to get off their couches and get some exercise while playing fun and involving games.

Multi DVD Drive When you see this description, it means the DVD drive in question is capable of reading from and writing to many different kinds of DVDs. These include single-layer 4.7GB DVDs, dual-layer 8.5GB DVDs, DVR+R, DVD-R and DVD-RW discs as well as older CD-R and CD-RW discs.

Incurve is the name Logitech has given to its new approach to the design of the keys found in some newer-model keyboards. Instead of just raising the right and left edges of each key, now all four edges are raised to help you tell individual keys apart. As a result of these raised edges, the keycaps have a cylindrical indentation that, Logitech says, naturally accommodates the curve of your fingertips. We quite liked the new approach as seen in the review on page 51; if you’re remotely curious, consider trying out the new design in-store.

Hyperscrolling This refers to the ability of some Logitech mice to freely scroll the scroll wheel with the flick of a finger. By “freely scroll” we mean that with a single flick, you can send the scroll wheel spinning on its axis until it runs out of momentum. This helps to navigate long documents and webpages quickly and easily. Mice that support Hyperscrolling also allow you to switch between regular scrolling mode and Hyperscrolling by pressing the mouse wheel.

Retina Display Apple uses this term to describe the screen of the new iPhone 4. The theory behind it is that at a certain resolution, the human eye stops distinguishing individual pixels in a display, resulting in a display that never appears to show jagged edges. The resolution at which this occurs is around 300 pixels per inch, so the iPhone 4’s screen, which displays 326 pixels per inch, is theoretically capable of ultra-smooth visuals. In reality, the iPhone 4’s screen is as amazing as this description suggests, and shows a remarkable improvement over the iPhone 3GS’s screen – a feat in itself.

Gyro sensor Simply put, a gyro sensor is an electronic device that is able to detect how the object it is embedded inside is oriented. This is useful in cars to tell the onboard computer what angle the car is at, it’s used in motion controllers like the PlayStation Move to tell the PS3 and the PlayStation Eye camera exactly how the controller is being held. When used together with an accelerometer, both the position and speed of a device can be determined.

Third-party developers A third-party developer is one that brings out a game or a piece of software that works on another company’s system. An example would be the new Kinectenabled Harry Potter game from EA – EA designed and programmed the game to work on Microsoft’s Kinect motion-control system, making the company a third-party developer as Kinect’s technology does not belong to EA.

Wi-Fi Dongle If your notebook or PC does not have wireless networking capabilities, a Wi-Fi dongle that slots into an available USB port can be purchased to allow wireless connectivity.

Face Time This is Apple’s way of describing a video chat. Face Time is integrated into every iPhone 4, and lets people talk to one another using two-way video and a wireless connection like 3G or Wi-Fi.

E-Ink E-Ink is a proprietary electronic ink technology from E-Ink Corporation. It uses tiny microcapsules filled with positively-charged white particles and negativelycharged black particles; these can be manipulated into producing an image on a screen. As E-Ink does not use a lot of power, it has been used in eReader devices like the iRiver Story tablet, resulting in very good battery life and sharp, clear text.

www.connectmag.co.za | 9


cyberlaw 101 //by Tamaryn Watkins

t e n r Inte w a L &

the

the

d what’s not! What’s legal, an

10 | connect | November 2010


Internet piracy is a crime that’s very easy to commit, without even being aware you’re doing it. However, ignorance of the law is no excuse! Connect takes a look at the legalities of some consumer conduct on the Internet, and helps keep you on the right side of the law.

Online Pirates For years, digital technology and the Internet have provided a virtual buffet of digital content from which millions have feasted for free. Whether downloading films illegally, ripping a movie rental from the video store to a computer hard drive, republishing an unauthorised copy of a photograph to the Web, or sharing music on peer-to-peer services, these are all forms of online piracy. There are three main types of piracy in this context: music, movies and software. Despite no precise numbers being known, it’s safe to say that, worldwide, hundreds of millions of people commit online piracy on a daily basis. What is copyright? Copyright is the set of exclusive rights granted to the author or creator of an original work, including the right to copy, distribute and adapt the work. Copyright does not protect ideas, only their expression or permanent fixation. In jurisdictions like South Africa, copyright does not need to be registered; it attaches to the work automatically. Copyright owners have exclusive right to exercise control over their works for a specific period of time, after which the work enters the public domain. The effects of online piracy are hotly debated. Those in favour argue that the financial impact of piracy is minor, and that in some cases, piracy may even help sales of a product. They argue that most people who pirate music, videos and software are people who would purchase the product in the first place; they’re merely downloading to sample before they buy. Those opposing online piracy argue that it poses a serious threat to artistic and creative development in the world and that piracy reduces the amount of money an artist or software programmer can expect to make, and, therefore, reduces the incentive for them to create new work. Piracy refers to the act of violating the exclusive copyright held by the artist or software programmer to the song/software in question, by illegally copying, distributing or reproducing the copyrighted material without authorisation.

Digital Rights Management: Digital rights management (DRM) is a generic term for access control technologies that might be used by hardware manufacturers, publishers, copyright holders and individuals in order to limit the usage of digital content and/ or devices. DRM is used by companies such as Sony, Amazon, Apple Inc., Microsoft, AOL and the BBC. DRM technologies attempt to control use of digital media by preventing access, copying or conversion to other formats by end users. But for every measure there’s a counter-measure and it only takes a few smart brains, some time and the willingness to experiment, before a workaround is found. All it takes is one hacker to find a way around the built-in limitations, and then it’s a free for all, all over again. Amazon’s Kindle is an example of proprietary DRM. Capable only of reading .azw files (e-books bought from Amazon.com) and not the free e-book format, ePub, Amazon thought they’d sewn up the market with their Kindle. Less than two years after its release, hackers say they’ve successfully cracked copyright protections on the company’s Kindle e-reader, making it possible to export e-books to other devices. There’s a program called Unswindle that promises to convert books stored in the Kindle for PC application into a different file format. The tendency within the entertainment industry has been to steer away from DRM as a result, placing more faith and trust in the consumer. Music available from the Nokia Ovi Store is DRM-free, for instance.

www.connectmag.co.za | 11


cyberlaw 101

Media piracy

Software piracy:

Downloading mp3 songs or full albums off the Internet, without paying for a legitimate licence to use the mp3 files, is illegal. Downloading films, documentaries or television series without authorisation is illegal. Downloading mp3 files, and burning them to CDs and giving them to all your friends is also illegal. Despite the fact that you might not be making money off it, it’s still an infringement of the copyright. But the copyright police aren’t going to lock you up for downloading one or two songs illegally, nor are they likely to lock you up for a few ripped CDs. Their beef is with the people who are uploading the content. It’s much easier for those looking to enforce the copyright to go after the source, rather than to try to squash the demand for copyright-infringing digital content. Chances are if you’re downloading music or movies from a peer-to-peer sharing site, like LimeWire or Bit Torrent, it’s illegal. If you attempt to download LimeWire, you’re informed that “downloading LimeWire does not constitute a licence for obtaining or distributing unauthorised material”. It’s not LimeWire (or any other peer-to-peer sharing utility) that is illegal as such; it’s the manner in which it is used. If you’re not downloading the content directly from the copyright holder’s website or from an authorised distribution source like Apple’s iTunes store, there’s always the chance that what you’re doing is illegal. It’s best to check the terms and conditions of any particular website, and see what kind of licence attaches to the files you’re downloading.

Downloading a cracked copy of Microsoft Office 2010 is illegal. Downloading a copy of any software without authorisation, (i.e. without having bought a licence to do so) is illegal and if you’re caught, you run the risk of having your hardware confiscated, and being prosecuted to the full extent of the law. With Open Source (and thus free) alternatives to most licensed software available these days, it’s really not necessary to download pirated versions of premium software anyway.

12 | connect | November 2010

Where to look for Open Source software alternatives: Open Source Windows: http://opensourcewindows.org is your first port of call for all the best Open Source programs for Windows. And the Mac equivalent is, of course, http://opensourcemac.org


Legal Alternatives So you want to listen to music using the Internet, but you’re not keen on committing copyright infringement. You still want movies, and chances are, you might even be willing to pay if you’re receiving a safe, high-quality service. There are a number of legitimate services online that will satisfy your appetite for movies and music. While the pickings for movie rentals/downloads are currently slim in South Africa, we suspect that this will soon change with greater access to broadband Internet being offered to more consumers now that the web has been uncapped. Hopefully very soon, we’ll be able to browse an online digital movie store, right from the comfort of our own homes.

Connect Picks We sifted through what’s on offer out there on the WWW, and came up with a list of the latest and greatest. OttoVod: (http://www.axxessdslvod.co.za) is a locally accessible digital movie delivery provider offering movies over broadband into your home on your PC/MAC or media player. It’s a service powered by DivX DRM and offers a huge range of movies to choose from, once you’ve subscribed. Watch the movie you’ve paid for, as it’s streamed onto your computer. GetMo: (http://getmo. co.za) offers access to music and music videos, both on your computer and mobile phone. We like the local flavour in the “Best of SA” chart, and we can’t wait to see what they’ll offer in their upcoming “movies” section. Spotify: (http://spotify.com/int) Any artist, any album, any genre – you can search for any song, and with Spotify, there are no limits to the amount of music you can listen to and you’re allowed to help yourself when and where you like. This service pays artists a royalty in exchange for access to their songs, which ensures that you’re getting a licence for the content. Want to share your music with friends, legally? You can with Spotify.All you need to do is send them a link to a track or playlist and they can listen to it. If you like what you hear, you can buy individual tracks or entire albums – legitimately. It’s also available as a mobile app, which means portability of your music is guaranteed. Listen to your favourite playlists while sweating it out at the gym, without sweating about copyright infringement. DStv On Demand: (http://ondemand.dstv. com) If you’re an MWEB subscriber and also happen to have a DStv Premium Subscription, you could be viewing prime-time movies and series on your computer right now, instead of missing out because you forgot to set the PVR.

Creative Commons: If you’re looking for stuff that’s free and that can be legally shared with friends, keep a look-out for media bearing the (CC) symbol and the Attribution and/or Share Alike licence conditions. Licence Conditions are chosen by the creator of the copyrighted work, and they usually consist of a combination of the following: 1 Attribution: You’re allowed to copy, distribute, display, and perform the copyrighted work, and derivative works based upon it, but only if the creator is properly credited. 2 Share Alike: You may distribute derivative works only under a licence identical to the licence governing the original. 3 Non-Commercial: You’re allowed to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work, and derivative works based upon it, as long as it is for non-commercial purposes. 4 Non-Derivative Works: You may copy, distribute, display, and perform verbatim copies of the work, but are not allowed to create derivative works based upon it. To find more works created under specific Creative Commons licences, go to http://search.creativecommons.org

LastFM: (http://lastfm.com) is a music recommendation service. Sign up and download The Scrobbler, which allows you to discover more music, based on the songs you search for and play. You can also create custom radio stations and playlists from any of the audio tracks in Last.fm’s music library, as well as listen to individual tracks on demand, or download tracks if the rights holder permits it. For users living outside the UK, US and Germany, you’ll need to fork out for a subscription once your free 30-track trial expires, but it’s a measly €3 per month. Nokia Music Store: (http://musicstore. nokia.com/za/en) With the Nokia Ovi Player, you can browse the Ovi Music Store, where you can stream music and download songs from a library containing millions of tracks. Explore the latest charts and check out the free download of the week and share your music between your PC and mobile phone. Project Gutenberg: (http://www. gutenberg.org/catalog) Access loads of e-books in the public domain and download them after choosing a format: ePub, Kindle, HTML and other simple text formats.

www.connectmag.co.za | 13


energetic entertainment //by Brett Haggard

get up &game Gaming consoles that encourage exercise are all the rage and Microsoft’s entry into the market brings a couple of interesting changes, to say the least. We take a closer look.

14 | connect | November 2010

S

ince the launch of Nintendo’s strangely named Wii gaming console in September 2006, the concept of motion-based gaming has been steadily growing in popularity. And, to be honest, what’s not to like? Instead of lazing on a couch, clutching a controller and mashing buttons manically, you get to move around your living room waving a motion-sensitive controller around like a mad thing, not only getting some exercise in the process, but also providing onlookers with light-hearted entertainment. Nintendo’s ability to accomplish two things that had been missing from gaming for the longest time – getting people up off of the couch and moving around, and making gaming simple, accessible and pertinent to a much larger audience – made this new concept in gaming

a massive success. And as a result, the company was able to redefine the gaming market forever. But it was inevitable that Nintendo would have limited time in the sun. While it took a great deal longer than what most of us expected, the two other 10-ton gorillas on the block have responded with motion-based gaming add-ons of their own. Sony was the first to come out with PlayStation Move (reviewed on page 36), a controller and camera combination that replicates the kind of functionality Nintendo created with the Wii, but with added responsiveness and 3D awareness. While there’s no doubt that PlayStation Move has a great deal more to offer from a raw specifications perspective, Microsoft’s foray into the motion-based gaming arena is as dramatic a leap forward as the launch of Wii was.


Entering the fray Called Xbox Kinect, Microsoft’s play into the getup-and-game market does away with handheld controllers and, instead, uses some clever camera technology and infrared scanning to allow gamers’ bodies to become the controller. And the best part is that it can be an add-on for existing Xbox 360 consoles or purchased with one of the newer consoles launched a couple of months ago. It’s a pretty wild concept to experience first-hand and by removing the need to learn the ins and outs of using a controller, Kinect promises to eclipse the Wii in terms of the success it achieved in addressing an entirely new category of gamers.

Vital statistics: > Xbox Kinect (including Kinect Adventures game) R1 999 > 4GB Xbox console and Kinect (including Kinect Adventures game) R3 699 > 250GB Limited Edition Xbox console and Kinect (including Kinect Adventures game) R4 299

How does it work? The concept is simple and probably best explained by one of the games that will be launched for Kinect, namely Kinect Adventures. Kinect Adventures (which will be bundled with the purchase of a Kinect peripheral) places you in a number of scenarios, like floating around in space, diving underwater, tackling mountaintop obstacle courses and downhill whitewater rafting. In each scenario, you become the controller, stepping left to move left, right to move right, or jumping to get over an obstacle. As you perform the action in the real world, your actions are replicated with great accuracy within the game. Interesting little touches like the fact that raising your hands, kicking a leg out to the side and generally performing silly actions are replicated on-screen make it a very immersive experience – and something that’s likely to last for some time to come.

www.connectmag.co.za | 15


energetic entertainment

What’s under the hood? As mentioned before, the bits that make Kinect tick are an RGB camera, a depth sensor and a multi-array microphone. While the RGB camera is for all intents and purposes a high-resolution web-cam, the depth sensor and multi-array microphone are where the real magic takes place. The depth sensor consists of an infrared projector combined with a monochrome camera sensor that allows Kinect to see the room in 3D under any lighting conditions. This allows Kinect to distinguish you from, say, a couch or a coffee table, and pick up your movements through the 3D space it sees. The multi-array microphone, as its name suggests, is a highly sensitive microphone that is able to locate voices by their sound and source direction and extract ambient noise from the mix.

This makes Kinect very useful for video-calling friends and relatives over the Internet, provided they have access to Xbox Live (see sidebar) and, ideally, also have a Kinect. The camera, depth sensor and microphone allow Kinect to accurately pick up your movements and the movements of someone playing alongside you, distinguish between the two of you and translate each person’s movements into commands for the games that support the new peripheral. Apart from being used to control games, there’s a ton of interactive fun to be had in-game. Jump and your on-screen avatar jumps; wave your hands in celebration and your on-screen avatar follows suit.

Get gaming As with any launch of a new paradigm in technology, it takes some time for the market to catch up. And right now, there’s only a handful of games available for Kinect. If word around the campfire is anything to go on, however, third-party development houses are extremely excited about the prospect of controllerless Xbox games and in the next 6 to 12 months, we should see a vastly different landscape in terms of what’s available.

Launch titles available from Microsoft will comprise: • Kinect Adventures: Bundled with the Kinect peripheral at point of sale, Adventures sees you navigating your avatar through outer space, underwater, outdoormountain and downhill-white-water obstacle courses. • Kinect Joyride: The first controller-less racing game in existence lets you steer a racing kart around a track by turning an imaginary steering wheel, and perform massive jumps and tricks using your entire body. • Kinectimals: Interact with a family of adorable virtual animals by giving them a

16 | connect | November 2010

name, scratching them behind their ears to show them affection and keeping them active by playing a game of virtual fetch. • Kinect Sports: Play a game of soccer by kicking a virtual ball, deliver a crushing punch in a virtual boxing match or bowl a strike by knocking all of the virtual pins down.

Releases from Electronic Arts at time of launch will include: • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Become Harry, Ron or your favourite hero and fight off death eaters and snatchers using magic spells activated with hand gestures.

• EA Sports Active 2.0: Designed to • Dance Central: Get your blood pumping give you true and your lungs working by busting some fitness results, virtual dance moves. Either learn how to Sports Active 2.0 has you perform exercises, dance using the in-game instructions or let the game judge your moves. With a fantastic monitoring your progress and heart rate with a built-in heart rate monitor. soundtrack, this is sure to be a winner.

To coincide with the launch of Kinect, Microsoft has announced that it will finally be bringing its Xbox Live service to South African shores. Essentially the online, social networking play for the Xbox 360 platform, Xbox Live allows players to set up an online profile, track their progress in different games and earn achievements, which, in turn, unlock different elements of their gaming. The free Xbox Live ‘Silver’ service allows members to access game demos and previews, participate in text, voice and video chats with others, buy arcade games and add-ons or expansions to their existing titles. Xbox Live Gold additionally allows members to share photos and other content. Most importantly, it allows for online multiplayer gaming with friends or random strangers. Unfortunately, services such as the purchase of movies and music online, as well as the ability to stream content from the likes of services like Netflix and Hulu, are not going to be supported in South Africa. South African gamers with active gamer profiles on the US or European versions of the service will also be able to migrate their accounts to the South African service. Whether or not this feature will be available at the time of launch is unclear.


16V 16V


internet security part II //by deon du plessis

n o i t c e t pro from the

cloud The number of security threats faced daily by the average Internetconnected PC is multiplying so fast that even rabbits can’t keep up. This month, Connect looks at some new methods security software companies are employing to stay ahead of the flood.

18 | connect | November 2010


T

en years ago, protecting a PC from a virus was a relatively simple matter of detecting malicious code based on a database that contained the ‘signatures’ of all known viruses – code that specifically identified them. This signature database grew as new viruses emerged. The process was virus discovery, analysis of its actions, development of a ‘patch’ that reversed whatever damage it had caused or prevented it from executing in the first place, and then deployment of that patch to users of security software. This process could take anywhere from 24 to 72 hours to complete. Today, a 24- to 72-hour gap between detection and protection is just not good enough. The problem is the number of new threats appearing daily is simply too big for the old ‘signature-based detection’ method to be effective. To address this trend, players in the security industry have donned their thinking caps and come up with a number of new ways to combat the rising tide of malicious software.

Software behaving badly ‘Behavioural analysis’ in the context of security software is the act of monitoring files for suspicious behaviour. How this works is a file’s activities are given a number rating, with potentially dangerous activities receiving higher ratings than those that pose less of a risk. Once a program’s overall rating reaches a predetermined level, it is flagged as dangerous and immediately blocked from doing anything further. Suspicious activities include logging your key presses, unsolicited software installations and modifying the computer’s registry without permission. The user is notified that this has happened, and they can take appropriate action, either by granting the suspicious file permission to continue operating, or accepting the security software’s recommendation that it be completely blocked from doing anything at all. Think of behavioural analysis as a caregiver watching a group of children for unacceptable actions instead of merely refusing known troublemakers entry to the crèche. It’s far more effective than waiting for an offence to take place and only then implementing a fix.

Let the cloud handle it A popular term in IT circles these days is ‘cloud computing’. The basic idea is to use a whole bunch of extremely powerful server computers, accessed over the Internet, to perform complex tasks. Google is a good example of a company offering services from ‘the cloud’. It uses a massive collection of powerful server computers to handle search queries in an insanely short amount of time and then returns the results to the computer that requested them. Similarly, security software companies now employ a large number of servers – located ‘in the cloud’ – to help users of their software identify threats. These servers are able to apply several detection methodologies at once to any files they receive to determine their risk levels and notify the querying computer of the results. With millions of computers protected by security software, each capable of providing anonymous feedback about threats to these central servers, security software companies are able to monitor global trends in file usage, Internet traffic, detect ‘zero-day’ attacks and respond to threat outbreaks faster than ever.

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internet security part II

You gotta keep ‘em separated Another new entry in the anti-malware arsenal is the ability to run suspicious programs in a completely safe, simulated virtual environment. By running potentially dodgy files in a virtual environment that is completely separate from the main operating system, the actions of these files can be scrutinised without putting your actual system at risk. If, for example, the file makes big changes to important Windows files that may result in the computer not starting up, these actions become apparent in the virtual environment and the file can be flagged as dangerous before it has the chance to wreak havoc on a ‘live’ system.

Credibility counts Another layer of security provided by ‘the cloud’ is based on a file’s reputation. Once security software is installed, a list of ‘safe’ files present on the computer is generated based on a database of programs that are known to be legitimate. If a file does not exist on this list, it is examined once it has been opened and sent into the cloud to check whether it has a reputation for good or bad according to the software’s user community. Once the file is received by the computers in the cloud, it is checked to see how old it is, if any other users have encountered the file and, if so, how many in order to establish its threat status. If only a handful of computers have seen it before and it’s only a few days old, it’s immediately quarantined, thereby protecting the computer. If lots of people have used it and it’s been around for a while, thus earning it a reputation for safety, it’s flagged as safe and added to the computer’s database of legitimate programs.

20 | connect | November 2010

The silver lining Modern security software has been designed not to impact negatively on overall system performance, and now, thanks to the speed of modern Internet connections and the power of cloud computing, it’s getting even faster. It also means a specific human-made fix for a malicious file is no longer needed for every virus, resulting in protection that is as close to “real-time” as possible. When all these measures are used together with more traditional approaches like a signature database, it is actually possible to stay a few steps ahead of all the nasties out there. In the final part of our security series, we’ll look at what qualities make for a security software package worth purchasing.


advertorial

May the internet be with you. Always. The technology involved in connecting to the Internet when on the move has come a long way. Companies have moved towards tethered devices like cell phones and portable Wi-Fi stations.

H

uawei, one of the world’s biggest manufacturers of wireless 3G devices, has kept pace with the times and brought out a device it calls the R201, a small, rectangular gadget that can be used to create a Wi-Fi hotpot. Up to five client computers can connect to it over the Wi-Fi network it generates, and an additional client can connect directly over a USB connection. The R201 connects to the Internet using any available Vodacom 3G connection, which it then distributes among all connected client computers. Even with so many clients connected, the R201 lasts up to four hours on a single charge, making it exactly the kind of device that suits road trips, especially when you don’t know how long you’re going to be away from a permanent Internet connection. Additionally, it can handle HSUPA upload speeds of 5.76Mbps and downloads at up to 7.2Mbps. To keep you connected for longer, Huawei’s R201 can be used as a wireless hotspot while being charged over USB. As long as your notebook has power, you and your colleagues will have Internet connectivity.

The look of the R201 is new, too, as it sports a white finish with an OLED display in the centre that informs you of its status, from the strength of the wireless signal to the kind of connection it is using (3G, HSDPA etc.). The evolution does not stop there, as the R201 can also be used as a USB storage device. This is made possible by its support for microSD memory cards; once connected via USB and a microSD card is inserted, computers see it as a regular removable USB drive. This type of device represents a very important step in the evolution of human connectivity. Not only are you connected to the Internet wherever you have cellular coverage, but you can extend that to multiple client computers and use the device for storage, too. Having plenty of battery power as well as the option to recharge via USB is the kind of versatility busy, highly mobile people need, and Huawei is rising to meet this growing need. Vodacom has launched the R201 in South Africa, and it is available from Vodacom outlets and Vodashops.


t c e n n o c now! Buy a computer from Incredible Connection and get free ADSL data – no questions asked…

T

he Internet is, without a doubt, one of the most important – if not the most important – technological development in the history of humankind. From being able to provide us with a veritable smorgasbord of information on every topic imaginable, to its ability to tear down the barriers of distance and allow family and friends to cheaply and reliably communicate with each other, the Internet has become such an integral part of our daily lives that without it, computers might as well be elaborate paperweights. And with international undersea cables landing on our continent, the quality of service and accessibility of the Internet is improving. There’s quite simply never been a better time to fully immerse oneself in what the connected world has to offer. That’s the reason we’re excited about ‘Incredible Connect’, a new ISP offer that sees Incredible Connection customers getting free ADSL data with every notebook, netbook or desktop computer purchased from mid-November – watch press and instore for details.

22 | connect | November 2010


advertorial

DID SOMEONE SAY FREE DATA? That’s right, Free. The deal is simple: buy a computer from Incredible Connection that costs under R6 000 and get a R1 500 (39GB) ADSL data voucher. Buy a computer from Incredible Connection that costs between R6 000 and R10 000 and you’ll get a larger ADSL data voucher to the value of R2 000 (52GB). If you spend over R10 000 on a computer from Incredible Connection however, you’ll qualify for a R2 500 (65GB) ADSL data voucher and be able to surf to your heart’s content. You can choose how to use your entire ADSL data voucher up in monthly increments that suit you. That means, you can use the entire value of your ADSL data voucher up in one month, or divide it up into equal parts of anything up to twelve months. The only proviso is that the minimum amount per month is 3GB and that you’ll have to decide how you want your ADSL data voucher to be divided up, when you redeem it.

WHAT IF I DON’T HAVE A LINE OR ROUTER? While you can easily give your voucher to a family member or friend and let them benefit from free ADSL data (it’s fully transferrable), doing that would be defeating the purpose. So, if you don’t have an ADSL line, you can order one from Telkom, or straight off the Incredible Connect website. The benefit of doing the latter is that an extra R500 will be added to your voucher, which means an extra 13GB of free data. And the same deal applies, if you already have an ADSL line and switch it across to Incredible Connect. If you don’t have a router, the Incredible Connect website (or your nearest Incredible Connection store) is a good place to start looking for one. Add a router to the mix when ordering a new ADSL line or transferring an existing one to Incredible Connect and you’ll qualify for a discount on the purchase price of your router. That means you can scoop up a wired router from R299 and a wireless model from R749 – both delivered straight to your door. If you don’t want to go through the rigours of installing it yourself, there’s even an option to get an Incredibles OnSite technician to come out to your home or office and do it all for you. It will cost you R499 to buy a wired router and have it installed, whereas it will cost you R999 for the same arrangement, but with a wireless router. And if don’t have Internet access, you can always order your ADSL line and router through the Incredible Connect call centre: 0861 INCREDIBLE (462 733).

FEED Y PASSIOUFR ONEED Y PAS OU R U SIO R O Y D E FE A N N O D PASS52I SL DAATA GB VO D W O U C H39EGR SL DA TA R T HB VO TAW ADSL DA R O R U C H E R E T H 65GB VO U C H H

FREE FRE E E E R FR 200 R0 150 T R O W 0 0 0 R25

Registering on the system So now that you’ve bought a computer and been handed your free ADSL data voucher, how do you use it? Well, that depends on your situation and level of expertise. IF YOU HAVE AN EXISTING INTERNET CONNECTION AND KNOW YOUR WAY AROUND THINGS: 1 Point your browser at http://www.connect.co.za /free; 2 Follow the on-screen instructions, entering the unique code on the inside of your voucher pack and your tax invoice number from your till slip when asked to; 3 Enter your new Incredible Connect username and password into your router; and 4 Enjoy! IF YOU HAVE AN EXISTING TELKOM ADSL LINE, BUT NO INTERNET CONNECTION: 1 Phone Incredible Connect’s call centre on 0861 462 733 and have your unique ADSL data voucher code and tax invoice number close at hand; 2 Follow the call centre agent’s instructions to get your connection set up correctly; and 3 Enjoy!

What else should I know? > If you purchased a computer from Incredible Connection any time after (and including) the 1st of August 2010, you will be eligible for a free ADSL data voucher as outlined above. All you need to do is bring in your Incredible Connection till slip before the end of December and you’ll be given a voucher that correlates to the value of your computer purchase. > Incredible Connect data vouchers need to be redeemed before the 30th of June 2011 and the speed of the connection offered depends directly on your chosen line speed. > ADSL lines are available at speeds of 384k, 512k, 4Mbits/ sec and, in some areas, 10Mbits/sec. If you move your ADSL line to Incredible Connect, for a 384k line you will pay R147.00 per month as opposed to R152.00 per month through Telkom. And the prices improve the higher capacity line you take! For a 512k line you’ll pay R315.00 instead of R326.00, and for a 4096k line you’ll save even more, paying R399.00 as opposed to R413.00 through Telkom. An increased line speed and cost is in addition to a standard voice line rental of R133.50 per month. > The service also comes with a complementary e-mail address with the @connect.co.za suffix. > The connectivity offered by Incredible Connect is a premium service that is balanced across the two largest undersea cables feeding South Africa – Seacom and SAT-3 – and as such, is redundant and delivers higher performance than most connectivity solutions on the market. > Users can expect the service to perform at speeds of 0.33MB/s on the downlink front and 0.11MB/s when it comes to uplink speed on a 384k line. At the top end of the scale, the service on a 4Mbit/sec line should see downlink performance of around 3.1MB/s and uplink performance around the 0.27MB/s mark. > The Incredible Connect call centre operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week and can be reached on 0861 462 733. > More information is of course, always available online at http://www.connect.co.za

www.connectmag.co.za | 23


distributed computing //by deon du plessis

idle no more!

Did you know you can make your computer contribute to the betterment of humankind through science when it’s not in use? Connect shows you how...

24 | connect | November 2010

T

he concept of supercomputers has been around for a long time; building and using one, however, is still incredibly expensive. For complex tasks like weather modelling, mapping the depths of the human mind and searching the skies for extraterrestrial life, the enormous processing power of a supercomputer is not optional, it’s essential. A supercomputer is, at its most basic level, a massive conglomeration of processors, memory and storage

devices. A network of personal computers, then, should, in theory, be capable of processing feats wsimilar to those of a supercomputer. It didn’t take long for supernerds at the University of California’s Berkeley campus to figure this out and write a program that would enable thousands of computers, all connected via the Internet, to process chunks of data together in a way reminiscent of a dedicated supercomputer. Thus, the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing, or BOINC, was born in the late ’90s.


More power to ya Over the last ten years, home computer processing power has multiplied exponentially, to the point where the processor in your humble PC is more powerful than a room full of computers from 20 years ago. When your computer is on, but not doing anything, all that power goes to waste. The idea behind BOINC is to use your computer during its down-time to work on chunks of important data, and to upload the results of all that processing to the Internet for further analysis. Other organisations have piloted projects that make use of BOINC software. The World Community Grid is another organisation leveraging the power of networked computers for research purposes.

What kind of projects can I assist with? Projects that make use of the distributed computing model are generally of a highly scientific, highly technical nature. All anyone really needs to know is these projects include things like furthering cancer research, analysing global warming, developing new treatments for diseases, looking at clean energy solutions and a lot more really awesome high-tech, solutions-focused projects. One of the more famous projects is called SETI@ Home, which aims to aid the search for extraterrestrial intelligence by processing data gathered by powerful radio telescopes. At the time of writing, more than three million people worldwide participate regularly in the project.

How does it work? All you need to do is find the project you want to help with, download the software and run it. Your computer will automatically be sent a batch of data to work on over the Internet, and once received, it will be processed. Once that batch has been processed and the results uploaded (which happens automatically), the next batch of data will be sent to your PC, and the cycle starts again. The software will allow you to change options like when the program should work and how much of your processor’s power you’d like to dedicate to the task, allowing you to customise it to your needs.

What are the risks? We must add that pushing your computer to perform at its peak for hours on end will drive up your electricity bill and may even cause computers that aren’t properly ventilated and cooled to malfunction. This will not happen in the majority of cases, but the chance does exist so we recommend you ensure your PC is adequately cooled before committing to this. Also, the amount of data your PC will use will push your bandwidth usage up, so if you only have a few gigs to use each month, you may want to consider an uncapped account before signing up for any of these projects.

What do I need? > A personal computer > An Internet connection > A desire to help out

Where do I go? We recommend the following websites: > http://www.worldcommunitygrid.org The World Community Grid > http://boinc.berkeley.edu Berkeley’s BOINC site > http://climateprediction.net A distributed computing project dedicated to predicting climate changes and testing weather models

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open source explained //by tiana cline

’ n i v o l

linux

Bought a new PC, but don’t feel like shelling out extra cash on Windows? We take a look at Linux, the open-source software solution.

26 | connect | November 2010


I

f you’re considering an alternative to Microsoft Windows or Macintosh OS, it’s time to look at Linux, the Unix-like operating system originally developed by Linus Torvalds in 1991. And because Linux is open-source (free and editable), there are literally hundreds of places from which to get it, because there are hundreds of “versions” or distributions of Linux.

Deciding on a distribution A Linux “distribution” is a version of the Linux operating system made specifically by a company, organisation or individual. The one thing they all have in common is that they use the Linux kernel – as the name suggests, the core of the operating system. From there on, each developer will add their own programs, tools and other applications. Some are dedicated to specific uses and others depend on your needs – desktop or notebook, for example. Android, the mobile operating system developed by Google, is actually based upon the Linux kernel! One of the most popular distributions is called Ubuntu. It’s a secure, intuitive operating system that powers desktops, servers, netbooks and laptops. The best bit? Ubuntu is, and always will be, absolutely free. Ubuntu is named after the Southern African ethical principle Ubuntu (“humanity towards others”). Ubuntu is currently funded by a company called Canonical and backed by Mark Shuttleworth’s ‘Shuttleworth Foundation’, which supports the development for all future versions of Ubuntu. Other forms of Linux include Red Hat (www. redhat.com), which is a commercial business distribution used mainly for Internet servers, while Fedora (www.fedoraproject.org) is a widely used spinoff of the above, designed for home use.

Meet Tux Tux is a penguin character and the official mascot of the Linux kernel. Originally created as an entry to a Linux logo competition, Tux is the most commonly used icon for Linux, although different Linux distributions depict Tux in various styles.

How to download Ubuntu 1 Go to www.ubuntu.com/desktop/get-ubuntu/download 2 To download the desktop version of Ubuntu, click the big orange button. 3 Once you’ve finished downloading the file, you’ll need to create a CD or USB drive.

NOTE: Burning a CD means you can trial Ubuntu without affecting your current system. And you can install it alongside or instead of your system whenever you’re ready. 4 When your CD or USB stick is ready, you can run Ubuntu directly from the CD or USB without affecting your current system. 5 When the CD is ready, simply put it in the CD drive, restart the computer and follow the instructions that appear on your screen.

Go Live! A relatively new phenomenon in the Linux world is the bootable Linux CD distribution, called a LiveCD. Most modern computers can start up by reading the operating system from the CD instead of the hard drive. This arrangement lets you see what a Linux system is like without actually installing it. This is an excellent way to test various Linux distributions without having to mess with your PC. Just pop in a CD and boot! All the Linux software will run directly off the CD. There are lots of Linux LiveCDs you can download from the Internet and burn onto a CD for a test drive. Some of the more popular ones include SimpleMEPIS (perfect for novice Linux home users) and PCLinuxOS, a full-blown Linux desktop work station on a single CD.

Quick Tip Some LiveCD distributions (eg. Ubuntu) can even be installed and configured to run off of a 1GB (or larger) USB flash drive. This means that you can, quite literally, have your Linux operating system in your pocket and with you wherever you go! Ready to plug in and use on whichever computer or notebook is at your disposal without affecting any of the current settings or files on the computer you have chosen to use.

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open source explained

TECH JARGON: Speak the Linux lingo > Distribution (or distro) A package of programs and features that makes up each ‘version’ of Linux. A distribution will always contain the Linux kernel, an operating system and a way of displaying information graphically as with Windows; it will usually also contain some applications. > EXT2 The most common file system used in Linux distributions. > Fork When a developer takes an existing Linux development project and works on it by themselves rather than collaborating with other developers. Although the development community believes people have the right to do this, it’s generally frowned upon as it can needlessly duplicate efforts. > Linux kernel The heart of any Linux-based operating system! Like any kernel, it acts as the brain of the system and controls how the hardware and software interact, plus decides which activity a computer should carry out at any particular instant. > LiveCD A version of Linux that can run directly from a CD or other portable format without having to be installed on a computer first. This is particularly useful for people who want to run Linux on a Windows machine without worrying about installing the two systems side by side.

More meek, Less Geek Although it may seem, at first glance, that working with Linux requires years of hands-on experience, tons of trial and error, advanced computer science training and intense dedication… it’s not true! It’s easy to find a Linux system that does what you want. Linux is more than “just another operating system”; it’s the flagship of open-source software within the computing industry, and also happens to be a rocksolid OS because of the model under which it was (and continues to be) developed. To find the right Linux distribution and the most recent update, visit http://distrowatch.com.

Did you know? Linux was initially created as a hobby by a young student, Linus Torvalds, at the University of Helsinki in Finland. Linus had an interest in Minix, a small UNIX system, and decided to develop a system that exceeded the Minix standards. He began his work in 1991, when he released version 0.02, and worked steadily until 1994, when version 1.0 of the Linux kernel was released. The kernel, at the heart of all Linux systems, is developed and released under the GNU General Public Licence and its source code is freely available to everyone. http://www.linux.org

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> Package The name for the file that contains a particular program for downloading and installation. > Package manager Software used to download and install other programs from the Internet. Using a package manager means you don’t have to visit different websites to download different programs. > Repository A collection of software hosted in one location, usually online. It’s where a package manager will get hold of software. > Root This is the name for a user on the computer who has complete control over the machine (similar to a Windows user with Administrator privileges). For security reasons, many Linux users avoid logging on as a root user whenever possible. > Terminal A way of controlling a computer through text only rather than using Windows-style visual controls. > xWindows The style of graphical display used by many desktop environments. It’s designed to look and feel reminiscent of Microsoft Windows.


Eye candy T

here’s no questioning how intrinsic a part of our lives technology has become. And looking back at the numerous developments that have made an impact on society over the past decade, there’s a lot of commonality. While the mind boggles at what a dramatic effect technology has had on what we do and how we do it, technology has without fail, added convenience and simplicity to our lives, and enabled us to do things we never thought were possible.

And with two key developments announced in the past month or so, Intel has shown that the trend towards simpler, more useful technologies is due to continue for some time. The two developments in question, Wireless Display (WiDi) and HD Graphics are quite different in terms of what they achieve. But, in concert they’re all about creating a more convenient, immersive experience for PC users that are into entertainment.

New technology is changing the way we live…. Look ma, no wires Taking the capabilities of HD Graphics to the next level, Wireless Display technology allows for notebook users to stream a video, game or whatever is on their display to an external monitor, without connecting a single cable. There are a couple of prerequesites. On the client side, the notebook has an Intel Core i3, i5 or i7 processor (and Intel HD Graphics) and Intel’s brand of wireless networking, marketed under the Centrino brand. The external monitor must on the other hand either natively support the WiDi standard, or be connected to a wireless display adapter, like Netgear’s Push2TV. All the user then does is press a button on their notebook – pairing it with the external monitor – and immediately, they can begin enjoying the convenience of a larger, more immersive external monitor or projector, without connecting a single cable.

Big visuals, small budget One of the most important value propositions of Intel’s 2nd Generation range of Core i5 processors is that they feature the ability to play some of the most popular computer games on the market today, encode and decode popular media like high-definition movies and television series and even begin exploring the new possibilities offered by 3D – all without the need for a discrete graphics card from a third party vendor. All of this power is enabled by Intel HD graphics technology that’s built into the chip package alongside the processor and other components. This is significant for a couple of reasons. Apart from it being a great indication of where things are headed in the computing environment, this speaks volumes about users being able to do more with far less. Building HD graphics into its processors has allowed Intel to drive costs down, drive capabilities up and allow for high definition media and gaming to become part of every user’s life. This glimpse into the future is brought to you by:

Intel Corporation – Sponsors of Tomorrow

For more information visit: http://www.intel.com/?en_ZA_01


product reviews // by Deon Du PLessis

Get ready for greatness!

REVIEWS

T

he good news about Christmas looming so close is that this is the time of year that retailers get out the good stuff. This is no more apparent than in the awesome line-up of reviews we have for you, starting with Sony’s excellent PlayStation Move peripheral and the amazing new iPhone 4. Apple’s latest has the best screen of any gadget ever invented, ever, and is well worthy of the Apple name. Also in our list is a locally-produced compact media player called the Mede8er that is a lot better than any dedicated media player we’ve seen yet, capable of full 1080p movie playback and priced really well, considering its 1TB storage capacity. I look forward to bringing you even more awesome reviews as the silly season gets into full swing! Until then, 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.

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Alienware M15X Gaming Notebook Apple iPhone 4 Mede8er MED500X 1TB Media Player Sony PlayStation Move Apple iPod Touch Apple iPod nano iRiver Story eReader Bose Around-ear Headphones Samsung Galaxy Tab Acer TimelineX 5820TG Logitech N110 Notebook Riser Exspect Twin Charge Dock for Xbox 360 Logitech Harmony 650 Universal Remote Powermat Wireless Charging Station Logitech Wireless Desktop MK710 Canon Legria HF R-106 Camcorder Lexmark Pinnacle Pro901 Canon Selphy CP-780 Printer Bundle SanDisk Ultra 16GB SDHC Card Verbatim GT 500GB Portable USB Hard Drive Sitecom WL-326 Wi-Fi 3G Router Siemens Gigaset SL-785 Telephone Books


top

5

product reviews

related

products

Acer TimelineX 5820TG

For a notebook on the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of size and weight, consider Acer’s excellent Timeline series. Best of all, gaming is also possible on these, albeit at lower frame rates.

perfect companions

Microsoft Sidewinder Keyboard & Mouse bundle A killer notebook demands killer peripherals; gamers fond of Microsoft’s approach to hardware design will enjoy the performance benefits offered by this solid gaming set.

Crysis – Maximum Edition Get the award-winning Crysis and Crysis Warhead bundled together in this value-stuffed title from EA. Maximum Power, indeed!

Dell Alienware M15X Gaming Notebook NEED TO KNOW • Insanely powerful notebook designed for high-end gaming • Classy metal chassis with user-configurable lighting • As powerful as it isn’t small and lightweight R21 999.95

South African gamers and hardware enthusiasts have, until recently, had to settle for long-distance drooling when it came to Dell’s amazing Alienware gaming notebooks. With the introduction of Dell’s Alienware brand into the local market at rAge 2010, that is all changing. The first product we got a hold of was the M15X gaming notebook. If first impressions are important to you, prepare to reach for your wallet when you set eyes on this beast of a machine – it is clad in red metal with a big 3D Alienware logo on the lid, with two massive black grilles on either side of its rather thick front face that hide powerful speakers and are lit from within with user-configurable lights. Its looks are aggressive and hint at mind-blowing power, and happily we can report that it’s not hot air at all. To put it simply, the M15X has the kind of thoroughbred hardware that will even make some high-end desktop PCs look donkeys. The M15X has an Intel Core i7 processor clocked at 1.6GHz, 8GB of DDR3 RAM and its graphics capabilities are powered by ATI’s excellent Mobility Radeon HD5850 1GB mobile graphics card. To take full advantage, it runs the 64-bit of Microsoft’s brilliant Windows 7 Ultimate operating system, which performs beautifully regardless of what tasks are thrown at it. The reason to buy this notebook is for gaming, and in this the M15X excels. Its full-HD screen is LED-backlit so colours are beautiful and details are sharp, and its powerful graphics card chewed through every game we threw at it, from Modern Warfare 2 to Dead Rising 2, all while keeping frame rates (and therefore smoothness of play) at highly playable levels. Even Crysis, that bastion of PC graphics and bane of mid-range video cards, ran silky-smooth. Notebook performance like this is not to be taken lightly, but we wouldn’t expect anything less than excellence from Alienware. If great performance is still not enough for you, it may be of comfort to know that Alienware offers all manner of upgradeability on their products. If you want an Extreme Edition Intel Core i7 CPU, more RAM, a better graphics card and a 256GB solid-state hard drive for eyeball-melting performance, the option exists – just be prepared to shell out a lot more than R22k.

32 | connect | November 2010

It’s not all roses, however, as performance like this comes at a price independent of cost. The M15X is a big notebook, and it’s heavy – two things mobile computers should ideally not be. Since you’re not going to be lugging this around airports on a regular basis and its performance more than makes up for any bulk, this is forgivable. Battery life is also not wonderful, clocking in at under an hour when graphics-intensive games are played. Since gaming far from power outlets is not really a common practice, this is once again something we can overlook, but bears mentioning. For a first foray into the SA market, Alienware has delivered a notebook worthy of its reputation as a performance-first hardware company. If you’re a gamer and you hate lugging your desktop PC to LANs and you are in a healthy financial state, the M15X is an excellent purchase as the performance and looks on offer here are very tempting indeed. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • Intel Core i7-720QM Processor (1.6GHZ, 6MB) Mobile CPU • Genuine Windows 7 Professional (64 Bit) • 15.6” Wide Full HD (1920 x 1080) WLED Display • 8192MB (2 x 4096) 1333MHz DDR3 Dual Channel Memory • 500GB Serial ATA (7200RPM) Hard Drive • Slot Load DVD+/-RW • 1GB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5850 Graphics Card • South Africa Dell Bluetooth 370 Card • Intel Wireless 802.11a/b/g/n 3x3 LAN Card • Alienhead 3D Avatar • 3 Year, Next Business Day On-site Warranty Pros

Cons

• Desktop-level gaming performance from a notebook • Upgrade options exist if you want even more power • High-tech, aggressive looks to make your mates green with envy

• The weight is not ideal for long trips or sore backs/shoulders • Battery does not last very long when gaming • The chassis is very bulky

Overall rating


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5

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Apple iPhone 4GS NEED TO KNOW • Available in either 16GB or 32GB sizes • Amazing Retina Display • True multi-tasking • HD video-recording R8 599.95 (16GB) R10 899.95 (32GB)

Like Apple’s advertising says, the iPhone 4 changes everything. Again. There’s always a huge build-up and massive hype that drives wild speculation and heated discussion just before a new Apple product is announced. The iPhone 4 has, by far, been the most anticipated Apple product launch ever. The resemblance between the new iPhone and its predecessor is minimal. The handset itself feels heavier, and the curved, sleek feel of the iPhone 3GS is replaced with a heavier, sharper-edged, stainless steel– and-glass affair that, while stunning, is prone to nicks and scratches. Still, Apple has packed in what it calls a Retina Display, a backlit LED that is by far the best we’ve seen – ever – on a mobile device. The display is noticeably brighter and more crisp than that of the 3GS, and with a resolution of 960 x 640 (compared to 480 x 320 on the 3GS), that’s exactly the way it should be. The benefits of this Retina Display will become clear if you use the web browsing functionality on your mobile phone a lot. Effectively, you’re getting more screen real estate without needing a physically bigger screen as even the smallest, most zoomed-out text in e-mails or on websites is still clearly visible, allowing you to read and see more without having to pinch-zoom in on it. Everything else viewed on this display? Gorgeous. Not a single discernible pixel in sight. There’s also the new Game Center (like the new iPod Touch), which is set to be the hub of mobile gaming. Apple has, furthermore, created something called ‘Face Time’, which is video-calling for iPhone 4 and owners of the latest iPod Touch to use to keep in face-to-face contact with loved ones when far away. You can HD video-record as well, and the resultant footage is smooth and crisp. There’s also a 5MP camera for taking still snaps, with tap-to-focus

BlackBerry Torch

functionality with an LED flash and geo-tagging. The iPhone 4 also sports a faster processor (a 1 GHz Apple A4 processor, in fact), as well as 512MB of RAM. The battery life is better – way better – than the 3GS and the iPhone 4 only needs charging every other day, as opposed to twice a day with the 3GS. A better battery life and more thinking power means you can spend more time using the applications that have made the iPhone such a hit, like browsing, videocalling or listening to music. There are lots of connectivity options, as well as true multi-tasking and push e-mail. With the iPhone 4, you get everything you need, and everything you didn’t know you needed. However, if you’re not planning on making use of the apps, the video-calling or browsing experience, we suggest you spend your money on something else. With a price-tag like this, you need to enjoy everything to really get your money’s worth. Noteworthy specs • Connectivity: GPRS, EDGE, 3G, HSDPA, HSUPA, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth v2.1 and USB 2.0 • Primary camera: 5MP, 2 592 x 1 944 pixels, autofocus, LED flash • Video: 720p@30fps, LED video light, geo-tagging, video-calling over Wi-Fi • 1 GHz Apple A4 processor and iOS4 • 16GB and 32GB models

Samsung Wave

The latest touchscreen sensation from Samsung features the proprietary BADA operating system, an AMOLED display and a whole host of social media-centric applications, all of which make this a great entry-level smartphone.

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Pros

Cons

• Battery life is much longer than we expected, even with heavy usage • Retina Display is simply exquisite, and makes the already excellent browsing experience even better • Three-axis gyro sensor means switching between landscape/portrait modes is quicker and more responsive

• Only accepts a microSIM, which means those with regular SIMs will have to get a replacement • People unfamiliar with the iPhone might find it a pain to manage the device using iTunes on a PC • Using iTunes as a non-US resident means limited access to apps and other media

Overall rating

The latest smartphone from BlackBerry sees the amalgamation of touchscreen functionality with the convenience of a full QWERTY keyboard.

Lady Gaga Heartbeats Add some personal flavour to your iPhone listening experience with these highquality Lady Gaga earphones that look as good as she does.

www.connectmag.co.za | 33


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Mede8er MED500X 1TB Media Player Seagate GoFlex Desk 3TB

Since the Mede8er can also read files from an external hard drive, it makes good sense to grab a nice big one so you’ll never run out of space for movies, music and photos.

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Windows 7 Ultimate The most advanced version of Windows offers built-in Media Centre capabilities that will help turn your PC into a multimedia powerhouse. It still won’t look wonderful in the lounge, however.

Iomega Screenplay Pro HD Iomega’s venerable media player does a solid job of storing and playing back your media files.

NEED TO KNOW • Locally-produced, high-quality dedicated media player • Supports a large number of media file formats, including HD • Outputs to HDTV via HDMI, regular TV via Composite R2 999.95

A dedicated media player is a small, box-like device that has a hard drive and is able to connect to a TV and sound system. It stores music and movie files, usually comes with a remote control and can be connected to a home network and used to stream movies and music from other connected devices. It is intended to replace the need for a full-blown Media Centre PC in your lounge and generally looks far nicer than a computer case, while also being more compact. The Mede8er is a locally-produced media player that fulfils all of these criteria. It’s small, made of shiny black plastic, has a very big 1TB hard drive (upgradable to 2TB) and comes with a remote control and all the cables you might conceivably need to hook it up to your home entertainment system, including an HDMI cable. The company behind the device, Midrand-based Sanji Electronics, has poured a lot of effort into making the Mede8er one of the best media players on the market. This is evidenced by the fact that the Mede8er can play a large number of media files, including videos in the popular .MKV format. It can even read and play .ISO files and if you copy all files off a DVD movie disc onto your hard drive, it can read the folder structure and then play the DVD’s contents back, complete with a working menu system. The Mede8er doesn’t stop there, either. It can show off your photo collection with music playing in the background, stream Internet radio stations to your home entertainment system, and even lets you transfer HD movie files directly from a camcorder to the Mede8er’s hard drive for easy viewing without the need for a PC. It also has a built-in card reader, so you can load the photos you’ve taken with your camera directly into the Mede8er. While not entirely necessary, it is a nice touch that further shows just how far Sanji is going to make the product worthwhile. The interface has a very nice modern look to it, it’s easy to understand and the remote control makes it simple to navigate. Movie files are previewed when they are selected, and a small image (of, say, the movie’s DVD box) can be dropped into each folder that gets displayed when the file is highlighted. Both wired and wireless networking options exist, courtesy of a

34 | connect | November 2010

built-in network port and an included Wi-Fi dongle that plugs into one of the Mede8er’s USB ports. Files can be copied to and from the Mede8er’s hard drive over your network as well as streamed directly from another PC. Despite the dongle supporting the ultra-fast 802.11n wireless specification, HD movies streamed wirelessly from a PC are often choppy due to the amount of data involved. When using the wired port, however, HD movies stream perfectly so it’s not all bad unless you really hate cables lying around. The Mede8er’s excellent feature list and near-flawless execution make a very strong argument for its purchase. We strongly recommend that you check out this locally-made, truly excellent alternative to a full-blown PC in your lounge. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • Video codecs supported: MKV, H264, DVD (VOB - IFO - ISO), DIVX, XVID, DAT, AVI, MPEG, HD MPEG-2, TS, HD MPEG-4, SP, ASP, AVCD (H.264), MTS, M2ts, WMV9, FLV, VC-1, Real Networks (RM/RMVB) 8/9/10, up to 720p • Audio Codecs Supported: MP3, MP2, OGG Vorbis, PCM, LPCM, AAC, RA, Dolby True HD, Dolby AC3 Passthrough, Dolby AC3 Downmix, DTS Passthrough, DTS Downmix, FLAC up to 24bit 96Khz, WAV, WMA Standard (DRM, & Advanced Profile not supported) • Photo format supported: JPEG, BMP • File system supported: FAT32, NTFS • USB: 2.0 port x 2 (compatible to USB 1.1) • Input/Output: HDMI 1.3, Component video, Composite Video Stereo RCA audio for analog audio connection SD/Sony Pro Duo card slot S/PDIF optical Output/Coaxial Digital RCA Output Video output resolution: NTSC, PAL, 480p, 576p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p, 1080p24hz Pros

Cons

• Excellent and intuitive interface • HD movie file types are strongly supported • Has all the outputs necessary for even the most advanced home entertainment setup

• Streaming HD media over wireless produces choppy playback • USB ports on the side are inconvenient in cramped cabinets

Overall rating


Copyright © 2010 Symantec Corporation. All rights reserved. Symantec, the Symantec Logo, Norton and the Norton Logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Symantec Corporation or its affiliates in the U.S. and other countries. Other names may be trademarks of their respective owners.

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Nintendo Wii

If you don’t mind retro graphics or a blocky controller, the Wii has a massive library of motion-controlled games for you.

Sony PlayStation Move Starter Kit NEED TO KNOW • Sony’s answer to the Wii’s motion controller • Get active while you play games on PS3 • Includes a Move controller, PlayStation Eye camera and Starter Disc R699.95 – Starter Kit R449.95 – Standalone Controller R349.95 – Standalone EyeToy Camera

Microsoft Kinect

It’s not out yet, but Microsoft’s Kinect motion control system may well be worth waiting for as it uses your whole body and not a controller to direct the on-screen action.

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Sports Champions The full version of Sports Champions offers six minigames to play. The most satisfying of these is Gladiator Duel, in which you bash virtual opponents with big sticks and sharp objects. Fun!

Sony has finally released its answer to Nintendo’s motion control system. It’s called Move, and it’s a big improvement on Nintendo’s Wii remote in every way, with better sensitivity and accuracy. Best of all, it feels very comfortable in your hand thanks to its ergonomic, rounded edges. It paves the way for new motion-controlled games on the PlayStation 3 console, which means PS3 gamers can enjoy all the fun of the Wii’s control system with the added bonus of high-definition graphics. Sony has had a good few years to perfect its technology, and it shows. The Move controller looks, feels and plays way better than Nintendo’s Wii remote, which more than justifies the four-year wait. The Starter Kit consists of the PlayStation Eye camera, one Move controller and a ‘starter disc’ that contains instructions on how to get going, as well as a collection of game demos that show off the Move controller’s capabilities. The PlayStation Eye camera is used to track the Move controller’s motions, which are then translated into on-screen actions. There is also a device called a ‘gyroscope’ inside the controller that tells the PS3 how it is being held, which is how the PS3 knows whether you’re pointing it up or down. The controller itself has a rubber ball on the end of it, which makes it look a little daft, but the technology inside is so impressive you’ll soon forget about its silly looks. The ball is used by the Eye camera to track the controller, and it lights up in various colours determined by the games you play. The starter pack comes with a large selection of games demos, all of which need to be installed on the PS3’s hard drive. This is a bit annoying as the install process can be lengthy, but the games themselves give a very good idea of just how much fun and accurate the Move controller is. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 and Sports Champions are the two standout demos of

36 | connect | November 2010

the lot, as both games are easy to get into, lots of fun to play and deliver a very satisfying motion-control experience. Sports Champions features two of the six games found in the full version, Disc Golf (frisbee-throwing) and Table Tennis. Both rely heavily on how you position your hand, and both respond very well to the efforts you put into getting things right. As you start Move games, the control system is rather forgiving so you can have fun with it, but as things get more difficult, more accuracy on your part is necessary to succeed. This is a great way to reward gamers for improving their skills. Since the PS3’s graphics look way better than the Wii’s and its new Move controller is more accurate and more comfortable to hold than a Wii remote, the PlayStation Move is very easy to recommend. Stellar launch titles like Sports Champions give early adopters a lot of gaming fun for their money, with newer and even better titles on the horizon. Things are looking good for motion-controlled PS3 gaming, and we look forward to seeing what PS3 game developers do with this cool new tech. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • Three-axis gyroscope • Three-axis accelerometer • Terrestrial magnetic field sensor • Colour-changing sphere for PlayStation eye tracking • Connects using Bluetooth technology • Vibration feedback • Rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery

Pros

Cons

• Controller responds quickly and accurately to movement • Very comfortable to hold • Opens up new possibilities for PS3 gaming

• Two remotes are necessary for the best Move experience • PlayStation Eye camera is very grainy when showing the player

Overall rating


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Copyright © 2010 Symantec Corporation. All rights reserved. Symantec, the Symantec Logo, Norton and the Norton Logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Symantec Corporation or its affiliates in the U.S. and other countries. Other names may be trademarks of their respective owners.


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Bose Around-ear Headphones

If it’s a superb listening experience you’re after, we highly recommend these excellent around-ear headphones from Bose.

Apple iPod Touch 4G NEED TO KNOW

Philips DC580 Digital Player Speaker Tower

This iPod docking station’s vertical design is intended to take up as little space as possible, while still producing excellent sound output. Also features an FM tuner, alarm clock and a variety of inputs, including USB.

Skullcandy Ink’d Earphones

If you’re looking for a replacement or an upgrade to the standard earphones that came with your iPod, Skullcandy’s stylish Ink’d should prove to be an affordable, quality improvement on Apple’s default set.

• Retina display • HD video recording • Game Centre • 8/32/64GB variations R2 199.95 (8GB) R2 999.95 (32GB) R3 999.95 (64GB)

When the iPod Touch first came out about two years ago, we were impressed and thought it would be very difficult to improve on. How do you better something that’s already so close to perfection? The iPod Touch is an incredibly good-looking portable media player (music, photos and video) that doubles as an Internet device capable of web browsing, offering access to all the applications that make Apple gadgets so popular. All of this is tied together with the brilliant touch-screen experience that Apple fans can’t seem to get enough of. So it came as a bit of a surprise that the fourth generation iPod Touch bowled us over with its new spec and features list. It somehow manages to be even slimmer than before, yet Apple has managed to cram more functionality into this device than we thought possible. The latest iPod Touch has the same display qualities as the new iPhone 4, and you’ll be dazzled by the Retina display, made up of a 960 × 640-pixel resolution screen. This means that whatever you’re viewing on the iPod (be it photographs, web pages, videos or games) will be pleasing to the eye. This little media player also runs the same A4 Apple processor as the iPhone 4, which makes it capable of highpowered tasks like recording 720p HD video and burning through apps and games with ease. A lot of fuss has been made about the iPod Touch having a camera, and it seems it’s something people have been waiting for for a long time. The iPod Touch has a rear camera that shoots 720p video, but that means its maximum resolution is 1280 x 720 – and when it’s used for still photos, that resolution becomes 960 x 720 (that’s 720p at a 4:3 ratio). The camera is also fixed-focus rather than auto-focus, and we were disappointed with

38 | connect | November 2010

the lack of a flash. But, as consolation, there’s built-in basic editing, which means you can share stuff on YouTube shortly after capturing it. There’s also a second camera around the front, a VGA camera similar to the iPhone’s, and it’s perfect for on-the-spot snaps. Obviously video quality is more impressive than stills, but this could have been due to the added element of novelty that is the video chat facility that Apple calls FaceTime. FaceTime feels natural and useful on an iPod Touch and it’s a nice alternative for keeping in touch with distant family or travelling spouses, as this is an easy virtual face-to-face communication solution that doesn’t require Skype or USB webcams. There’s been much hype about the Game Center on the iPod Touch. That A4 processor combined with the Retina display makes the iPod Touch the ideal portable gaming device. The three-axis gyroscope and multi-touch support make for an incredible hands-on gaming experience, and with access to thousands of apps and games in the App Store, you’ll soon have very busy gaming fingers. Overall, it’s a lust-worthy gadget – Apple really know how to keep their fans happy and spending. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • Super-fast A4 processor • 960 x 640 Retina display • 720p HD video recording • 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi (802.11n 2.4GHz only) Pros

Cons

• Same processor as found in the iPhone 4, which makes everything run smoothly • Video chat (Face Time) is wellexecuted and very useful • Retina display is simply superb

• The chrome-finish backplate attracts smudges, fingerprints and scratches • Still photographs are not as highquality as those we’ve seen taken with the iPhone

Overall rating

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ShoX iPig iPod Docking Station

Don’t let the cutesy looks deceive you – the Shox iPig is a pretty powerful iPod docking station that performs rather surprisingly and is more than capable of handling everything in your music collection.

Skullcandy HESH earphones

With 50mm high-octane power drivers and edgy looks, Skullcandy’s HESH earphones will pump sound into your skull while making you look good at the same time.

Sony MHS-CM5 camcorder

If you really miss the videocapture facility that was on the previous generation of nanos, you might be interested in the Sony MHS-CM5 (fondly dubbed the “Bloggie”).

iPod Nano 8GB/16GB NEED TO KNOW • The smallest nano yet, weighing only 21 grams • VoiceOver functionality for sight-impaired • Multi-touch navigation with accelerometer • 24 hours of music playback R1 599.95 (8GB) R1 999.95 (16GB)

Clearly the folks at Apple aren’t subscribers to the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” philosophy, because they’ve given their best-selling iPod a total makeover, once again. The latest model is half the length of its predecessor and shares a similar clip-on design to the new iPod shuffle. The biggest change to the design is the fact that there’s no clickwheel, just a screen. In fact, the only actual buttons found on the nano are for sleep/wake and volume control and everything else is controlled by a brand new multi-touch display. Yes, you heard right: Multi-touch display – the iPod Shuffle is no longer the only iPod to feature a touchscreen. It has a full-colour, touch-sensitive 1.5”screen with a resolution of 240 x 240. The display itself is perfectly square with four icons on each screen. The nano runs a scaled-down version of Apple’s iOS (the operating system used in the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad) that has limited functionality. For example, you can’t buy and install third party apps and there’s no Wi-Fi. From the Home screen you have access to Playlists, Now Playing, Artists and Genius Mixes. Swipe left and you’ll get another screen hosting access to Radio, Podcasts, Photos and Settings and the next screen contains Songs, Albums, Genres and Composers and finally the last screen boasts Fitness and Clock. If you’re new to this kind of touch interface, it might not immediately apparent how you move back up a level in a menu, but a right swipe always takes you back one screen from wherever you are and tapping and holding anywhere will take you back to the Home screen. So once you get the hang of this you should find menu navigation on the new nano to be far easier than the old click wheel ever was.

40 | connect | November 2010

Syncing the new nano with iTunes was a pretty typical experience if you’ve ever used it before. People tend to either love or hate iTunes, but either way, it’s here to stay. Your PC isn’t the only thing you can plug your nano into - with the built-in 30-pin connector, you can easily plug the nano into docking stations, third-party chargers and loads of other iPod products. Sound quality seems to have improved a bit since the last nano and bass feels full and deep, and highs weren’t as piercing on the ear drums like some other media players we’ve tried. However, we must stress that the nano includes a set of Apple’s standard earphones, so we suggest a stop at the headphone stand too on your way to the till. Noteworthy specs • Available in 8 and 16GB varieties • Audio formats supported: AAC (8 to 320 Kbps), Protected AAC (from iTunes Store), HE-AAC, MP3 (8 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, 4, Audible Enhanced Audio, AAX, and AAX+), Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV • Built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery with up to 24 hours of playback • 1.54-inch (diagonal) colour TFT display with 240 x 240 pixel resolution Pros

Cons

• Radio app uses the earphones as an antenna and you can pause live radio for 15 minutes. • The handy clip allows you to attach the nano to your clothes/handbag/ pocket so that it doesn’t get lost. • Multi-touch navigation is much better than a click-wheel • Sound quality is improved over older nano models

• Fitness app isn’t the full Nike+ iPod Sport Kit experience • The video-playback functionality seems to have been dropped, as was the camera • Standard Apple earphones could be a lot better

Overall rating


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Nintendo DS Lite (Pink)

If reading isn’t your cup of tea, then you might want to consider Nintendo’sDS Lite, which gives up to 19 hours of play on a single charge along with wireless connectivity.

iRiver Story eReader NEED TO KNOW • 6” screen • Supports all major e-book formats • E-Ink technology • Full QWERTY keyboard Price: R2 999.95

The idea of an electronic reading device might not appeal to paperback traditionalists fond of the feel and smell of books. However, an electronic eReader might tickle your fancy if you enjoy carrying stacks of books with you and often lament the fact that you don’t have enough space in your luggage for everything you’d like to read. Compact, lightweight and supremely portable, the iRiver Story is the Kindle alternative, only better. Why? It comes down to better file support: it supports all e-book formats, which are basically computer files that can be displayed on an e-reader. While almost all e-readers support HTML, text, MP3 and JPG files, the Kindle only supports the .azw format in addition to these, and not the ePub format that has become the e-book standard. With a Kindle, you can only buy books from the Amazon store, but because the iRiver supports ePub (in addition to a host of others), you can access free titles on the Internet. As an added bonus, your iRiver Story purchase comes with a R300 Kalahari.net voucher, which gets you started on creating your own virtual library. The iRiver Story makes use of a black-and-white E-Ink display. E-Ink conserves power as these screens make use of reflected light. E-Ink screens are more readable than backlit LCD screens and, as a result, do not place any strain on your eyes. Because there’s no backlight, the iRiver is perfect for poolside reading. You’re also able to adjust the font, font size and zoom in/ out on text, which makes it handy if you battle reading the print in novels and magazines. An eReader’s battery life is always an important consideration and is measured in page turns. Since it is capable of 7 000 page turns, you should get a lot of reading time between charges with the iRiver. You’ll need this battery life, as the built-in 2GB of memory is expandable to 32GB using SD and miniSD cards, which equates to a lot of books.

There are a number of features that make us think the iRiver might well be perfectly suited to business and student users, specifically the ability to make annotations on texts and use Excel, PowerPoint and other Office documents. The fully-functioning QWERTY keypad facilitates all manner of inputs, notations and document alterations, making it ideal for studying purposes or taking notes. The iRiver can also play MP3 music files and has built-in speakers, along with a 3.5mm headphone jack, handy if you enjoy audio books. There’s also voice recording functionality – think how useful it would be to record lectures/meetings. The entire set-up works with a USB connection to your PC or by slotting in memory cards, with your content already loaded. If you’re looking for an electronic reading device that can do more than just read, you can’t go wrong with an iRiver Story. It’s all about choice, convenience and clever functionality.

Cool-er eBook Reader

The Cool-er is the ideal entrylevel eReader as it has a much more attractive price tag. Even though it lacks built-in wireless functionality and a hardware keyboard, it makes up for these deficiencies by adding music, an SD card slot and PDF/MP3 support.

Noteworthy specs • Battery life: 7 000 page turns • Screen size: 6” E-Ink • Internal storage: 2GB with SD card support (up to 32GB) • Supported formats: EPUB, PDF, TXT, DOC, PPT, XLS, MP3, WMA, OGG, JPEG, BMP, GIF • Book store: Kalahari.net/anywhere you care to buy ebooks • Connectivity options: USB, SD card

Pros

Cons

• Support for a wide variety of file formats, including comics • Browsing for titles on Kalahari.net affords you the opportunity to start reading some excellent local authors • Design and build means the Story is comfortable to hold and use

• Handling of Excel files is a bit awkward, and text always seems too small, even when zoomed in on • SD card slot seems finicky when trying to load a card, fine if you have long fingernails but a hassle if you don’t

Overall rating

Sansui MP4 Player

This affordable media player lets you create playlists of music, photos and videos.Take your media wherever you go – to the gym, out for a run, to the office, or even lying on the couch indulging in some relaxation therapy.

www.connectmag.co.za | 41


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Philips SHC 2000 Wireless Headphones

The SHC 2000 wireless headphones have clearly been designed with comfort in mind. They allow you to watch TV or listen to music without disturbing those around you.

Bose Around-Ear Headphones NEED TO KNOW • Comfortable, around-ear headphone design • Ideal for use with portable players, laptops and home stereos • Extremely lightweight • Exceptional, dynamic sound quality R1 499.95

Bose Companion 2 Multimedia Speaker System

If you’re looking for a multimedia speaker system, and your criteria are small form factor, slick design, excellent sound quality and the ability to plug in more than your PC, you’ll be pleased as punch with this system.

Logitech Clearchat Comfort

If you’re looking for a costeffective headset for your notebook that’s ideal for Internet-based chats, this set delivers comfort, convenience and perfect clarity, all in one eye-pleasing package.

Quality is synonymous with the Bose brand and you can rest assured that when making a Bose purchase for the first time, you really do get what you pay for. By no means their most expensive, these Bose Around-Ear Headphones still bear a price tag that might seem hefty to some – after all, they’re only headphones, aren’t they? It might look, at first glance, as if they are, in fact, just headphones. That would be until you slip them over your head, position them over your ears and press play, only to have warm, rich audio envelope you, revealing subtleties to the music that you have never heard before. If you’re used to the standard, bottom-line headphones that came with your media device, these headphones will be a pleasant surprise. They let you experience your familiar digital content in a whole new way. We’d go so far as to say you’ll probably even be dusting off old CDs and re-exploring those old tunes just to listen to them with the new ears these headphones provide. The range is incredible, as is the exceptional clarity that comes courtesy of clear mid-range and high-end tones. Fans of dance music will appreciate the bass reproduction of these headphones as it really thumps in your ears without distorting. This excellent sound quality is achieved by the acoustic TriPort headphone structure that works to produce tonallybalanced audio. The integrated Bose acoustic equalisation technology finetunes the frequency response for exceptional audio performance to better suit whatever audio you’re listening to, be it movies, music or games. In terms of the build quality of these headphones, Bose has catered for comfort. They’re extremely light for their size and they fit comfortably around the head and sit snugly over the ears. This snug fit is thanks to the proprietary earcup cushions, which also serve to ensure quality audio

42 | connect | November 2010

performance and make extended wearing comfortable. In terms of the built itself, Bose could have used a better-quality material than pedestrian plastic and designed them to fold in half for travel, as this would have made a lot of sense. The plastic headband might be a bit flimsy, so we’d recommend these headphones be your stay-at-home/office headset, and you look for something a bit sturdier if you travel a lot. If you do decide to buy this set for travel, a drawstring bag is provided, although this doesn’t do much in the way of protecting the headset from getting broken in a backpack. If audio quality is the most important factor influencing your purchasing decisions, these Bose Around-Ear Headphones won’t disappoint. Provided you look after them properly, they’ll be keeping your ears entertained for many moons and will have been money well-spent. Noteworthy specs • 40mm drivers • Sensitivity: 97dB • Impedance: 32 ohms • 6” attached cord • 3.5mm stereo mini plug

Pros

Cons

• Extra-long cord is convenient for home computer use • Each ear canister easily swivels to accommodate any head • Around-the-ear design is better at blocking external noise and preventing noise leakage than in-ear headphones

• Build quality seems a bit fragile, so handle them with care • Vinyl that’s used to make the ear-muffs seems prone to wear and tear • No active noise-cancelling technology included

Overall rating


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Samsung Galaxy Tab Need to know • 7” tablet PC • Android ‘Froyo’ operating system • Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and HSDPA networking • Doubles as a mobile phone R7 999.95

With their easy-to–use, touch-based user interface, more than 10-hour battery life and ability to connect users to important information online, tablet computers are being hailed as the next big thing in personal computing. And with Samsung’s release of its 7”, Android-based Galaxy Tab, Apple’s dominance with the iPad might be under threat. The Galaxy Tab sports some significant changes to the traditional tablet blueprint. The first of these is form factor. Where Apple’s iPad has a 10” form factor, the Galaxy Tab is a 7” device. That means a small sacrifice in screen real estate, but a significant improvement in portability. The Tab weighs 381 grams, while the iPad weighs a rather more hefty 453 grams. Despite the reduction in form factor, there’s very little sacrifice in screen resolution. The Galaxy Tab has a 1 024 x 600-pixel resolution as opposed to the iPad’s 1 024 x 768-pixel resolution. That means it has the perfect resolution for watching videos in 16:9 aspect ratio without impacting the web browsing, e-mail and applications experience. The 1GHz processor used in the Galaxy Tab is just as competent as the processor used in the iPad – meaning the same bang in a smaller package. Samsung has somewhat of a differentiator with the Galaxy Tab on the connectivity front, as the Tab has built-in Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and 3G modules, while only some iPad models have the latter. This means Galaxy Tab users can browse the Internet and check their e-mail while out on the road, whereas this is only an option on 3G-enabled iPads. On the memory front, the Galaxy Tab is available with 16GB or 32GB of storage and has a built-in SD card slot, making it easy to add capacity as needed. We like that the Galaxy Tab includes both a 3-megapixel rear camera with LED flash, as well as a 1.3-megapixel front-facing one. The iPad has no built-in camera. This makes the Tab perfect for video-conferencing and capturing 720p video, adding quite a bit to the device’s usefulness. Best of all, the Galaxy Tab doubles as a phone. While you can’t hold the device up to your face and use it like a conventional cellphone (and let’s face it, people would laugh at you if you did), you can use it like a speaker phone; plug in

the bundled hands-free or use it with a Bluetooth headset and make normal voice calls. Looking at applications and everyday usage, while Apple’s devices have a good web browser, that browser doesn’t support Adobe Flash, one of the most commonly used web standards on the market. Android – and the Galaxy Tab – does support Flash, which means users will have an unhindered experience on the Internet, able to view all forms of content without hassle. The story isn’t quite as rosy for applications, however. Where the iTunes application store has been one of Apple’s strengths in the phone and tablet space, mainly because of the massive variety of free and paid-for applications from which users can choose, the Android marketplace has been somewhat less of a drawcard. That’s because even though the Android marketplace has a large number of applications on offer, South Africans don’t have access to paid-for content – and this is where some of the best applications live. While Samsung is working on the problem, for the foreseeable future, local users will have to be content with only having access to free applications. This one drawback aside, the Galaxy Tab is a fantastic competitor to the iPad and sure to do well in South Africa.

Samsung Galaxy S Smartphone

The handset the Galaxy Tab is built on, the Galaxy S, is probably the best Androidpowered mobile phone on the market today. Pretty much a scaled-down version of its 7” sibling.

Noteworthy Specs • 1GHz processor • 7” LED backlit touchscreen • 1 024 x 600 screen resolution • 16GB/32GB built-in memory • SD card slot • 3MP and 1.3MP cameras • Android ‘Froyo’ operating system Pros

Cons

• More portable than other tablets • Flash-capable web browser • Two built-in cameras • Doubles as a mobile phone

• Android marketplace not as complete as iTunes AppStore in South Africa • Priced as a premium product – no entry-level iPad competitor

Overall rating

Built Tablet Bags

You’ve spent good money on your tablet, now protect it from everyday knocks and bumps. A variety of sizes and designs means there’s something to suit every taste and need.

www.connectmag.co.za | 43


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Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820T

For R1 000 less, the 4820T offers a slightly less powerful processor and 140GB less storage, but it’s 7mm thinner. A great choice for the money. Perfect Companions

Acer Aspire TimelineX 5820TG Notebook

perfect companions

• Thin and lightweight notebook with excellent battery life • Features an HD-ready glossy 15.6” LED screen • Powered by an Intel Core i5 processor R10 999.95

Microsoft Basic Optical Mouse If you’re not a fan of trackpads, this inexpensive but robust and comfortable mouse from Microsoft is an excellent alternative.

Acer H233HABMID 23” LCD Screen If you want to save even more power, hook your TimelineX notebook up to this 23” external monitor and get yourself a bigger screen while stretching your battery even further.

NEED TO KNOW

It’s fair to say that a lot of consumers want notebooks that last a long time between charges, based on the success of Acer’s original Timeline series. The only criticism levelled against the original Timeline notebooks was that they compromised on performance in order to achieve their impressive battery life. Acer has addressed this complaint with this year’s models, which bear the name TimelineX. They are far more powerful than last year’s Timeline notebooks while still offering great battery life. The notebook on review, the 5820TG, is arguably one of the best thinand-light models available, although at 2.4kg, it’s right on the edge of the ‘light’ definition. Weight aside, it’s an impressively skinny 31mm when closed, and its black, brushed-metal finish lends it an air of class sorely lacking from some of Acer’s other designs. The notebook’s interior has the same finish, just with a black keyboard. There is also a keypad, making the keyboard appealing to number-crunchers who don’t like using the numbers above the QWERTY keys. The trackpad is located slightly off-centre to the left, and it supports multi-touch gestures like pinch-to-zoom and rotating photographs with a twist of your fingers. It’s not the smoothest trackpad in the world, but it’ll get the job done. It features a single button, and its right and left edges serve as right and left clicks. We’re fans of separate trackpad buttons, but that’s just nitpicking. The biggest departure from last year’s design is to be seen in Acer’s choice of hardware: this new model favours Intel’s newest mid-range darling, the Core i5 processor. The 5820TG boasts one of the faster i5s, too, the Core i5 450M. It’s clocked at a respectable 2.4GHz, so it’s easily capable of handling most tasks thrown at it with ease. Better yet, it’s also very power-efficient and, as such, you can expect over five hours of use for work, and over eight hours if you don’t push it too hard. The rest of the specifications are remarkably similar to the 4820T we reviewed back in July: 4GB of RAM, a 640GB hard drive and Windows 7

44 | connect | November 2010

Home Premium 64-bit. For the R1 000 price difference, you’re getting a faster processor and more storage, and both of these are worth the extra cash. The 5820TG is a little thicker (31mm vs 24mm); that is the price you pay for the extra power, and really, it’s not steep. The 5820TG uses the same graphics card – ATI’s Mobility Radeon HD5650 – so it’s more than capable of handling games, even graphicallydemanding ones. The extra processing power will help here too, making this notebook better overall for gaming. A built-in Intel graphics processor can be selected for the times that graphics power is not necessary but battery power is, so you’re covered. In all, the 5820TG is a very capable notebook. Its excellent hardware is fast enough for pleasant everyday use and, best of all, long battery life is not sacrificed to get it. At this price, it offers excellent value for money and comes highly recommended. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • Operating System: Microsoft Windows Home Premium 64-bit • Processor: Intel Core i5-450M @ 2.4GHz • Memory: 4GB DDR3 RAM • Storage: 640Gb HDD (WD) • Graphics: ATI HD5650 with on-board switchable Intel graphics • Battery: 6-cell • Screen: 15.6” CineCrystal display with LED backlighting @ 1 366 x 768 • Optical: DVD Multi Drive

Pros

Cons

• Thin and light design does not compromise on power • Excellent battery life of over 8 hours, with over 5 hours of regular use • Excellent graphics solution powers even demanding games

• Glossy screen is a bit reflective, and viewing angles aren’t great • 2.4kg is right on the border between light and heavy • Trackpad isn’t the smoothest ever

Overall rating


C090047JUN

Somewhere in this picture a sniper has a high velocity rifle trained right between your eyes. Unless you’re gaming on a Samsung LED Series 50, you’re as good as dead. With sRGB that recognises the original picture quality and corrects your screen accordingly as well as Magic Lux which decreases eye fatigue, it’s easy to see why the Series 70 may very well be the difference between life and death. BX1950 BX2050 BX2250 BX2350 BX2450

Customer Contact Centre 0860 726 786. www.samsung.com/za


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Logitech Lapdesk N700

This very comfortable stand lets you use a laptop on your lap or even in bed without it unbearably heating up your legs. It also has built-in fans and stereo speakers.

perfect companions

Logitech Notebook Riser N110 NEED TO KNOW • An adjustable stand for notebooks • Elevate your notebook by 20, 30 or 40 degrees • Helps maintain correct typing posture for greater comfort R499.95

Logitech Wireless Desktop MK710 This keyboard and mouse set comes with no wires, Logitech’s trademark excellent design and responsiveness that will leave you very satisfied.

Verbatim 2.1 Desktop Speakers This unassuming set of speakers won’t blow away your eardrums, but it’ll play decent sound while not costing the earth, good for adding just a little depth to your notebook sound experience.

Hunching over a keyboard and looking down at a laptop screen will, over time, cause you significant discomfort thanks to the unnatural positions your body has to occupy when your notebook is placed flat on a desk. This is why Logitech has developed the N110 Notebook Riser, a product that elevates the notebook’s screen to a height that is far more comfortable to look at, while also raising the angle at which your keyboard lies. At its most basic, the N110 is a thin piece of plastic that has an adjustable stand. There are three settings for the stand that result in the N110 elevating your notebook by 20, 30 or 40 degrees; as the degrees get steeper, so does the angle of the notebook. It’s designed to accommodate notebooks up to 15.6”, and can support even the heaviest of these. While you can certainly type when a notebook is raised like this, it will get uncomfortable pretty quickly, so using a separate keyboard and mouse together with the N110 is highly recommended. That way, your hands are in a natural position while you’re looking straight ahead at your screen, which is ideal if you’re going to be typing for a long time. To stop the notebook from sliding off the stand, Logitech has included two rubberised fold-out stoppers at the bottom, against which the notebook rests. They are fairly thick and will rub against your wrists if you choose to type on the notebook keyboard, though, unless the lower edge of your notebook is super-thick. Really thin laptops, like the TimelineX reviewed on page 32, will fare particularly badly in this regard, which is why a separate keyboard and mouse set is so highly recommended. The N110 travels really well as it folds completely flat and fits easily into any notebook bag bigger than 15.6”, so it can be transported

46 | connect | November 2010

conveniently between office and home. One concern we have is its build. While the N110 is sturdy enough to carry even hefty notebooks with ease, the plastic does not feel reinforced and gives the impression it may break if not looked after properly. This is not a problem for anyone who takes pride in their possessions, of course, but everyday travel between work and home provides plenty of opportunity for the worst to happen. For a paltry R499, the N110 is a smart buy. It will alleviate any discomfort you may currently be experiencing as a result of using a desk-bound notebook for hours on end. Its portability means you can be comfortable both at home and the office, and its slim design makes it simple to slip inside a crowded notebook bag without making the bag unbearably full. Look after it and we’re confident that Logitech’s Notebook Riser N110 will give you years of good service. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • Accommodates PC and Mac notebooks with up to a 15.6” display • 20°/30°/40° adjustable stand with tilt and swivel • Folds perfectly flat for easy transporting • Rubberised stoppers prevent notebook slippage

Pros

Cons

• Alleviates discomfort from prolonged notebook use • Three elevations from which to choose • Rubber stoppers prevent slippage

• Somewhat weak overall build quality • Rubber stoppers will rub against your wrists if the notebook is very thin • Separate keyboard and mouse recommended for optimal use

Overall rating


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Xbox 360 Slim 250GB

The Xbox 360 is shaping up to be a formidable gaming system. It now comes preinstalled with Wi-Fi capabilities and a 250GB or 4GB hard drive.

Exspect Xbox 360 Twin Charge Dock NEED TO KNOW • Charge two Xbox 360 controllers at the same time • Stand helps keep entertainment area tidy • Plugs into an Xbox 360 via USB • Rechargeable batteries included R399.95

Exspect is a company specialising in accessories for all major platforms, from PC and Xbox, to PlayStation and Nintendo. It has a new range of Xbox products that will help exasperated Xbox 360 owners and parents of children obsessed with the console arrange their lives a little better. If you own more than one Xbox 360 wireless controller, you might be familiar with the mess that always seems to surround the console. If it’s not wireless controllers charging using USB cables, it’s the controllers themselves that are strewn around the entertainment area, causing clutter. Exspect’s solution is a wireless charging station that lets you charge up to two Xbox 360 controllers at the same time. It’s a neat, compact stand that has space for the two controllers, allowing them to be neatly arranged. All that is needed is a shelf on which to place the stand so that everything is out of the way. The next hurdle, of course, is to convince gamers to place their controllers on the stand once they are done! We suggest a big stick, just until the proper behaviour patterns have been established. The stand connects to power over USB, so it does not need a dedicated power outlet. While this still means a cable is required to power the controllers, at least it’s just one and not one per controller. Included in the box are two rechargeable battery packs that click right into the back

of the Xbox 360 controllers, so you’re covered if your controllers currently use AA batteries. We’re big supporters of companies trying hard to make our electronics-rich lives that much easier, and Exspect puts out great-quality accessories too, which makes it easy to get behind them. Best of all, their products are not expensive, and this one in particular is well worth the purchase price. If you’re a parent of an Xbox gamer, or a gamer yourself tired of charging cables and controller clutter in your entertainment area, the Twin Charge Dock from Exspect is an excellent purchase.

Xbox 360 Wireless Controller

Many gamers find Microsoft’s controller design to be more comfortable to hold than the competition’s. While quite bulky, it still manages to keep buttons and analogue sticks within easy reach.

NOTEWORTHY SPECS/BOX CONTENTS • 1 x Twin Charge Dock • 1 x USB Charge Cable • 2 x Rechargeable Batteries

Pros

Cons

• Sturdy construction and attractive, minimalistic design • Charging two controllers at the same time is very useful • Drawing power from an Xbox 360’s USB port saves on power outlets • Including two rechargeable battery packs is a nice bonus

• Does not eliminate charging wires entirely • Gamer habits still need to be addressed for the stand to be effective

Overall rating

Halo Reach

Arguably one of the biggest 2010 game releases, the last instalment of the Halo franchise is a rollercoaster thrill-fest for fans of first person shooters and Halo in general.

www.connectmag.co.za | 47


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Iomega ScreenplayPlus TV Link

This is the ideal portable multimedia player/adapter that allows you to stream digital content from any USB hard drive to your TV. It’s compatible with many popular audio, video and image formats and it’s easy to set up and use.

Logitech Universal Harmony 650 Remote NEED TO KNOW • Replaces up to 5 remotes • Supports 5 000+ brands • Simple online setup • One-click activity buttons R1 199.95

Microsoft Xbox 360 Slimline 250GB

The new Xbox 360 is slimmer, lighter, more quiet and comes with the kind of hardware sorely lacking in the original, namely built-in wireless N networking and a generous 250GB hard drive.

Philips DCM 278 iPod Docking Station

In addition to a dock function, the Philips DCM278 also features a CD player, AM/FM radio, alarm clock, and a USB port for plugging in a noniPod MP3 player.

Having a home entertainment system is all about relaxing. You get home after a busy day at the office, plonk down on the couch and reach for the remote to start channel-surfing. But you can’t find the DSTV remote. So you decide to watch a DVD, except you can’t locate the DVD remote your toddler hid last week either. Sound familiar? Juggling all the different remotes and settings on your TV,amplifiers and speakers and everything else can be stressful – which is the last thing you need. What you do need is the Logitech Harmony 650. This is the one device that will truly simplify your life and de-clutter the lounge by replacing all remotes with just one that can control up to five of your home entertainment gadgets. What’s more, you can configure it so that you get right to your movie, music or favourite channel in just one click. In terms of the Logitech Harmony 650’s layout and functionality, it’s roughly segmented into three main zones. The top zone is taken up by the one-inch-by-one-inch colour LCD display. It’s not a touch screen (the price for touch functionality is double that of the Harmony 650), but there are five buttons that allow you to choose contextual options on the screen. The centre zone has a five-way directional thumb pad, channel and volume controls, and some of the standard DVR keys (like Menu, Guide, Info, Exit, etc.). On the bottom section of the remote are the standard video transport controls (Play, Pause, Rewind, etc.) as well as a 12-digit keypad. Like mentioned above, with this remote you can control five different devices in any combination you might need. You can configure “Activities” based on what you want the remote to control, such as “Watch TV”, and the Harmony 650 will control all the functions for the TV, PVR, amp and speakers. Choose “Listen to Music” and it will turn on the CD player and amplifier; select “Watch Movies” and it turns on the DVD player, TV and amplifier. Basically, the Harmony 650 consolidates all the actions needed

48 | connect | November 2010

to enjoy your home entertainment setup. So how does it work? Simple – the remote needs to be hooked up to your Internet-connected computer via USB and you have to set it up by selecting your devices (there is a huge library to choose from) and configuring the settings. You’ll then be prompted to answer a series of questions about settings that may need to be turned on or changed in order to watch TV or movies. We liked how simple this was. There was nothing to figure out; all we had to do was answer the questions. From this input, the Harmony 650 will know what to do. It might take a while for you to get your combos right, but once you’ve found the golden arrangement, you’ll wonder why you ever put up with a million different remotes and complicated settings processes. Bottom line: if you’re looking for a gadget that’s all about simplifying your life, or you’ve lost one of the remotes in your home entertainment arsenal, you might as well ditch them all and get one of these. It won’t be long before you consider it worth every cent spent. Noteworthy specs • Colour LCD display • Connector Type: 1 x USB • Infrared technology • Compatible with: Windows 7, XP, Vista and Mac OS X 10.4.8 or later

Pros

Cons

• Having just one remote is a real pleasure • LCD display and buttons are backlit, so the remote is easy to use in a dark room • This device is future-proof: pair it with existing entertainment equipment, and with any additional devices you might bring home

• No battery-life indicator and it doesn’t use rechargeables • Requires a PC with a decent Internet connection to set up and configure • Feels a bit clunky to operate one-handed

Overall rating


advertorial

Audiophiles Listen Up!

L

ogitech audio products are designed with the discerning listener in mind. You may be working on your computer, relaxing at home, or taking your music along with you – wherever you are, Logitech has the perfect audio product for you.

What makes Logitech audio spectacular? It’s all about control!

1. Perfect driver control: Ideally, a speaker should be able to deliver an audio experience that reproduces sound as it was when first performed or mixed in the studio. Logitech speakers use meticulously-tuned drivers that produce high frequency, mid-range and low bass tones that are as closely-matched to those of the original recording as possible. 2. Perfect frequency control: Some Logitech speakers use an advanced audio technology called Frequency Directed Dual Drivers, which requires two identical full-range drivers in each speaker, and one that contains a specialised filter that senses specific frequencies so as to gradually mute that driver as needed to prevent the speakers from interfering with each other. 3. Perfect acoustic control: The same technology that’s used in high-end home theatre designs is used in Logitech speakers to deliver omnidirectional acoustics. Within each speaker, one driver faces forward and the other backward to transmit sound evenly in all directions. A wider range of frequencies can reflect off walls to provide awesome sound across a bigger listening area.

Choosing the right sound product: Logitech has cleverly anticipated all of your needs and considered everything that’s important to you when designing their audio products. Here are some of our top picks:

Desktop listening pleasure: Logitech Z523

These speakers are slick and have a somewhat retro look about them. They’re intended for multimedia use – music, movies and games – which this high-performance system brings to life in immersive 360-degree sound, without dead spots, from just about anywhere in the room. This is because two satellite speakers deliver rich mid-range sounds and clear highs while the down-firing subwoofer reproduces deep bass that you’ll actually feel. > Take it with you: Logitech S125I

Intended for use with your iPod or mp3 player, the s125i can plug into a power outlet for continuous play or give you 10 hours of audio off four AA batteries. Featuring bass boosting technology, this device adds a whole new audio dimension to your favourite playlists. > Travel companion: Logitech V–10 Notebook Speakers

This lightweight speaker solution for your netbook or notebook can be easily packed into the supplied travel bag and connected using a single USB cable. Top-notch sound is made possible by advanced stereo sound technologies with matched quad micro drivers and volume levels that can be easily adjusted using the easy-access controls. > Conversation starter: Logitech Premium Notebook Headset

This headset has both headphones and a microphone, so it lets you listen to music, take part in voice chats and make use of speech recognition software. It has its own built-in sound card, which means it can handle voice and audio at the same time even if your notebook isn’t able to. It also folds up neatly into a travel case for convenient mobility.


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Powermat Home & Office Wireless Charging Station NEED TO KNOW Apple iPhone 3GS

The iPhone is cool and all, but it’s even cooler when placing it on the Powermat is all that is needed to charge it.

BlackBerry Curve

With a Powermat on your desk, it will be easier than ever to make sure your BlackBerry never runs out of juice.

Nintendo DS

Even though the DS has a battery that lasts for ages, it’s good to know that wirelessly charging it is an option with Powermat’s DS cover.

• Platform that charges up to four devices at once • Cuts down on the number of outlets needed for gadget-charging • Comes with a ‘Power Cube’ for miscellaneous devices Powermat: R799.95 iPhone covers, additional Powercubes, Apple Dock receiver: R349.95 each BlackBerry covers: R249.95

Many modern households play host to a range of battery-powered devices that are essential to everyday life. Cellphones are the most prolific of these, and as such, many of us are accustomed to the ritual of checking battery power, finding a free power outlet, connecting a charger and setting our phones to charge overnight. A new product called the Powermat aims to make this ritual a little bit easier. It’s a flat piece of plastic that looks a bit like a miniature surfboard; it has three magnetised spots that are able to charge supported devices without needing to plug those devices into a wall socket. It’s not a simple case of connecting the Powermat to a power outlet and just plonking your cellphone ontoa its surface, though. The box includes another device called a Powerblock, which has the wires needed to connect the Powermat with non-Apple/BlackBerry cellphones and handheld gaming consoles. This seems to go against the Powermat’s claim of wirelessness. Unfortunately, it’s true – to charge anything other than iPhones/iPods and BlackBerry cellphones, the Powerblock is necessary to act as the gobetween. Luckily you’ll find a whole host of adapters in the box for many of today’s more popular devices that plug into the Powerblock’s mini-USB connector. The Powerblock then snaps into place on the Powermat, and charging commences. There is also a USB port that can be used to charge a fourth device. The only real advantage to be had here is that you don’t need to go rummaging around for a charger when your battery runs low, as all that is needed is the Powermat/Powerblock combination. Of course, if you want to charge more than one device that needs a Powerblock, additional Powerblocks are necessary, which is yet another purchase as there is only one in the box. At the time of writing, the folks behind the Powermat only created covers with built-in Powermat receivers for the iPhone, BlackBerry phones and Nintendo’s DS handheld gaming console, but more are apparently on

50 | connect | November 2010

the way. The covers for each feature a large, blocky protrusion housing the receiver that draws power from the Powermat; once the phone is inside the cover and placed on the Powermat, charging begins. While this is an elegant solution to the requirement for a wired charger unit, the covers are quite bulky to keep on the devices all the time. They are also not included in the initial package. If the idea of a cover for your iPhone puts you off, Powermat’s makers have also made an Apple Universal Dock that connects to the Powermat magnetically. Once it has snapped into position courtesy of magnets embedded in the Powermat, all you have to do is install your Apple device into the dock, and voilà, it will start charging. The Powermat makes a small beep when everything is properly connected and ready to charge, taking out any guesswork on your part. The idea is a really good one – having a single power cord connected to an outlet instead of needing individual chargers for cellphones, iPods and handheld gaming consoles is fantastic. We’re also quite forgiving of the need to buy covers for BlackBerrys and iPhones, but, in future, we’d really like to see designs that are less bulky. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • Charging positions: 4 (3 wireless, 1 USB port) • Dimensions: 0.6” H x 12.3”W x 4.6” D • Input voltage: 100-240VAC, 50-60Hz Universal • Output voltage: 18VDC • Output current: 0.83A • Standby current: 0.011A • Adapter power: 15 Watts

Pros

Cons

• High-tech solution to the need for individual chargers • Easily charges up to three connected devices at a time • Only one power outlet is needed to charge three devices

• Covers for iPhones,BlackBerrys and DSes are sold separately • Not exactly a completely wireless charging solution • Built-in receiver makes the covers quite bulky

Overall rating


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Microsoft Arc Keyboard

This keyboard marries both form and function. It’s lightweight, beautifully designed and perfectly ergonomic. Wireless capabilities mean you’re not tethered to a PC with wires.

Logitech Wireless Desktop MK710 NEED TO KNOW • Bluetooth wireless keyboard and mouse • Unifying technology • Comfortable, ergonomic finish • Three-year battery life R1 099.95

Spend some time with Logitec’s MK710 wireless desktop, and you’ll notice it’s a perfect blend of comfort, performance and convenience. This desktop set consists of a chunky keyboard complete with rubberised wrist supports and a mouse that’s curved for supreme comfort. The features that really make this desktop set stand out from others in its class are those that go unseen. However, once these features are experienced, they won’t go unappreciated. It’s the first time that Logitech has paired two devices, using the Logitech Unifying receiver. It’s a tiny, wireless receiver that can stay plugged into a PC’s USB port, and it lets you connect up to six compatible Logitech wireless mice and keyboards, freeing up multiple USB ports. From the second we plugged it in, the mouse was ready to go and the keyboard simply needed the touch of one key to configure. In terms of using this desktop bundle, let’s start with the keyboard. While it’s not designed with space-saving in mind, it’s clear that it is designed to fit perfectly into your computing environment, and maximise ease-of-use. Sleek, but still chunky, the keys on this keyboard all have rounded edges (something Logitech has called ‘In Curve’), which you’ll appreciate if you spend a fair amount of time typing as there’s less impact on your fingertips. The keys are closely spaced together, making it comfortable if you have small hands, but could take some time getting used to if you have bigger fingers. It only took a few minutes before we’d adjusted to the layout and the sound and noticeable tactile response of the keys. There’s an LCD display on the top of the keyboard that shows you how much battery life is left, but chances are you won’t be looking at this display much. Logitech claims that with judicious use, you’ll get about

three years’ worth of battery life. There’s also a clutch of media keys – play/ pause, volume control, mute, and two skip buttons. These, along with a row of F-keys, make the MK710 a versatile keyboard for home, office and media-centre PC use. The mouse has a sculpted feel, which means it can be cradled comfortably in your fingers, and it’s a nice fit even for left-handed users. The two side buttons that appear near the top on the left of the mouse default to back and forward functions. The mouse tracks well and clicks very quietly, and is not too cumbersome. It has a metal scroll-wheel that delivers four-way tilt scrolling and a handy feature called hyperscrolling. It works by clicking the button directly beneath the scroll wheel and it offers traditional click-scrolling and smooth hyper-scrolling, which allows you to fly through large chunks of text, silently. Logitech’s MK710 is a solid, value-for-money desktop set if you’re looking for ergonomic, user-friendly peripherals with a touch of class.

Flexible USB keyboard

This flexible keyboard rolls up and stores away easily and is entirely spill-proof and portable, perfect if you’re prone to accidents with coffee cups and food items.

System Requirements • Windows XP, Vista, or 7 • USB port • CD-ROM drive • Works with Mac

Pros

Cons

• Hyper-scrolling is smooth, and silent; makes regular click-scrolling unnecessary if you don’t like the noise the scroll-wheel makes • One USB receiver for up to six devices frees up additional USB ports • Keyboard is extremely comfortable on the wrists

• Can take a while to get used to the In Curve keys; you’ll struggle a bit with typos until you get the hang of it • Application-switcher button located on the left-bottom side of the mouse is awkwardly placed

Overall rating

Microsoft Wireless NB Presenter Mouse 8000

This tiny mouse is a powerful wireless slide presenter, media remote and presentation pointer that fits easily in your hand and works using 2.4GHz Bluetooth technology.

www.connectmag.co.za | 51


product reviews

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Nikon Coolpix S8000

The Coolpix S8000 is a travelzoom camera that features a 10x zoom lens with a versatile focal range and also sports a DSLR-class autofocus system. It’s perfect if you want excellent quality photographs without having to carry a bulky camera or spend time adjusting settings.

Samsung F40

If you’re looking for an affordable camcorder for easy, quick videos under a wide range of conditions, look no further than Samsung’s F40.

Sony MHS-CM5 camcorder

In the age of the social media network, everyone is a potential broadcaster, and this is the perfect camcorder to get you started. Fondly dubbed the “Bloggie”, the Sony MHS-CM5 is perfect for capturing those YouTubeworthy moments and your own video blog posts.

Canon Legria HF-R106 HD Camcorder NEED TO KNOW • High-definition camcorder • Twin SDHC card slots • 20x optical zoom, 400x/80x digital • Dolby Digital Stereo sound R4 299.95

Canon’s Legria HF-R106 HD camcorder effectively blends quality with value. You’re getting premium Canon imaging technology infused with easy-to-use features that make the shooting and sharing of high-definition home video content simpler than ever. The Legria HF-R106 is well-endowed with features, like its super-silent HD 20x zoom lens with optical image stabilisation. Combine this with a full-HD 2.0-megapixel CMOS sensor and you get true HD video quality. The camera is also sensitive to low-light conditions, so you’ll always get good colour balance even when the scene isn’t very bright. The Legria’s 20x optical zoom HD video lens brings distant subjects right up close. Additionally, you don’t need to worry about an unsteady hand ruining your videos; with Canon’s enhanced Dynamic Optical Image Stabiliser, all footage will be rock-steady. You can easily toggle between Standard Mode and Dynamic Range when wanting to stabilise a shaky hand while on the move or filming something in the distance. All the details are taken care of for you. Canon’s Smart Auto technology allows the Legria to intelligently select the correct settings so you can concentrate on getting the shot, assuring great-looking movies. Don’t worry about scene settings either – Advanced Scene Detection technology automatically analyses the shooting conditions and then selects the perfect setting from 31 specially defined scenes. The advantage of this approach is you don’t have to worry that your video might not come out looking good as a result of improper scene settings. Unique to Canon HD camcorders is the Instant AF (auto focus) system that uses two auto focus sensors to keep videos nice and sharp. The first sensor rapidly estimates the distance to the subject, while the second makes the fine adjustments for pinpoint precision. We thought this was a nice touch, as errors in focusing are far more noticeable in HD movies, so having assistance in the auto focus department is a definite advantage.

52 | connect | November 2010

The Legria saves movies directly to removable SDHC flash memory cards, so they are ready to be shared right away. Just be aware that highperformance Class 4 SDHC cards are necessary for HD movie recording. SD movies can be recorded using Class 2 cards. Another nice touch is support for Eye-Fi video cards – these are the first memory cards with their own built-in Wi-Fi transmitter that allows you to easily transfer videos straight from the camcorder to online sharing sites using a wireless network. The cherry on top is how easy it is to make multi-shot movies with music. A smart little feature called ‘Video Snapshot mode’ makes it fun and easy to create excellent video montages (with music). It’s yet another of the Legria’s handy features that doesn’t require a PC to implement. The Legria HF-R106 is Canon’s smallest compact full-HD camcorder that’s ideal for beginners. It delivers everything we’ve come to expect from Canon: excellent imaging technology, attention to detail, quality output, a plethora of useful features and a solid build. The only gripe we have is the price tag, but good quality is always worth paying for. Noteworthy specs • Supports SD/SDHC cards • 20x optical zoom, 80x/400x digital zoom • Smart Auto mode with 31 scenes • Digital effects • 1hr25mins recording time

Pros

Cons

• Instant AF works so well that you barely even notice it happening • Video Snapshot mode is fun to play with for making YouTube-worthy videos • Incredibly comfortable and easy-touse flip camera

• Limited shooting options for still images • No flash present, nor does it have a video lamp • No quick-charge functionality, which makes it a bit of a hassle if you’ve forgotten to charge the battery the night before

Overall rating


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HP OfficeJet K7000 WideFormat Printer

Size matters when it comes to print, and the K7000 is capable of printing in a variety of sizes, including A3. With a monthly duty cycle of 7 000 pages, Ethernet connectivity and sharing, this will be the perfect, hardworking largeformat printer.

Lexmark Pinnacle Pro901 NEED TO KNOW • Four-in-one print solution • 4.3-inch touchscreen • Automatic duplex printing • Print from SD, xD, MS/MMC and USB/PictBridge media R2 999.95

The Lexmark Pinnacle Pro901 is the perfect all-in-one office solution if you want something that’s a bit of a workhorse when it comes to bundlescanning, faxing, copying and high-quality colour prints. If you’d like that device to come with a variety of paper-handling options, then you’re in luck because the Pinnacle Pro901 is easy to integrate into your current computer set-up. It will reduce clutter by replacing four separate devices with just one. Not only will it save you space, but it will also give you loads more useful functionality and share-ability, with its wireless capabilities. The unboxing and installation is simple. Surprisingly enough, you’re afforded the option to choose the installation process based on your skill level. If you’d like to have your hand held through the details of the set-up, it’s totally possible, as is skipping the hand-holding. It was simple enough to set up without being guided and once we’d clipped in the print heads and the cartridges, we moved on to setting up the wireless. There’s an option to do an untethered Wi-Fi install with Wi-Fi Protected Setup, or you can do it by plugging the printer into your PC via USB and allowing the installation software to gather Wi-Fi settings and password and send them to the printer. The most attractive feature on the device itself is the 4.3-inch capacitive touchscreen. One of the smartest things about the printer’s engineering is the ability to install and run little applets (and control them through the touchscreen) to enhance the device’s capabilities. It’s a nice touch, and it’s as simple as registering the printer on Lexmark’s website, where you can then configure your selection of apps and transfer them to the printer – configuring it to your exact needs. The Lexmark Pinnacle Pro901 is highly capable when it comes to communicating. You can fax, scan to e-mail and even scan to the Web – we tried this functionality with Evernote and it was a breeze. As for the other functions, the copier works well, and the 50-page auto-feed document

tray means larger handling volumes for copies. Even more useful offerings include scanning and printing double-sided automatically as well as support for printing directly from SD, xD, MS/MMC and USB/PictBridge devices – so you can plug in all your memory cards and cameras, and print without a PC. In terms of its print functionality, the Pinnacle Pro901 has a 150-sheet paper tray and can print 10ppm black, and 6ppm colour, which is speedy enough for the small-office, low-demand environment it’s intended to serve. With colour print resolutions of 4 800 x 1 200 dpi and 2 400 x 1 200 dpi for mono, prints are crisp and bright. Four separate colour ink tanks mean you only replace what you use. Look out for the super-sized XL black cartridges. They’re said to be seriously, seriously cheap, which is great if your business prints a lot of text documents. Overall, this device is perfect for a small office environment that’s looking for affordability, flexibility and oodles of functionality and efficiency from such a purchase. You can’t go wrong here.

HP PhotoSmart A826

Having amazing photo-editing software is pointless if you don’t have an amazing photoprinter. With print resolutions of 4 800 x 1 200 dpi, it’s easy to see that this device is all about quality. It has a 100-sheet input and support for a variety of memory cards, PictBridgeenabled devices and USB devices.

Noteworthy specs • Print resolution: Colour 4 800 x 1 200 dpi /2 400 x 1 200 dpi mono • 150-sheet input, 100-sheet output tray, 50-sheet ADF • Support for SD, xD, MS/MMC and USB/PictBridge devices • Ports: 1 Ethernet/1 Hi-Speed USB2.0/ 1 PictBridge • 802.11b/g/n Wireless

Pros

Cons

• Wireless capability means it can be shared by a group of users • Auto duplex printing can reduce paper usage, and a variety of paperhandling sizes means your print options are innumerable • Scanner is quick, and Scan to PDF is incredibly useful and time-saving

• Double-sided scanning can be a bit finicky and a hassle, and we can’t really see a need for it

Overall rating

Samsung CLP315 Colour Laser Printer

The Samsung CLP315 prints up to 16ppm mono and 4ppm colour and has an effective output of 2 400 x 600 dpi, much better suited to high-quality colour print needs. With a 150-sheet input tray and a hi-speed USB 2.0 connection, it is perfectly suited to the individual user. Compatible with Mac OS X and Windows.

www.connectmag.co.za | 53


product reviews

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Canon LiDE 200 Scanner

This scanner will complement any high-tech office or home-office environment with its good looks and userfriendliness.

Canon Selphy CP-780 Printer Bundle NEED TO KNOW • User-friendly, ultra-compact photo printer • Print from camera or memory card • Auto Red-Eye & Image Correction • Variety of print sizes R1 199.95

Canon Pixma iP100 With Battery

This lightweight, compact mobile printer delivers remarkable quality and printanywhere portability and comes with a rechargeable battery kit.

HP LaserJet M1522-NF

The HP LaserJet M1522-NF offers networking options, time-saving features and professional print results to prove its value way beyond its price tag.

The perfect accessory for your digital camera is a portable photo printer. It allows you to take pictures and print them to peruse at your leisure, wherever you might be. One of the best we’ve come across lately is the Canon Selphy CP-780 portable photo printer. It’s aimed at the family market, so it’s easy for everyone to use, from gadget-crazy kids to techno-phobic oumas, and because it doesn’t require a PC to work, its functionality is straightforward. The 2.5” LCD display comes in handy when not hooked up to a PC and the smartly-labeled control buttons will take any user through the simple editing and special-effects options. The Selphy CP-780’s best selling points are its three media slots for SD cards, CompactFlash, MultiMediaCards, and memory sticks that are easily accessible on the front of the device. Look around the corner, and you’ll also even see a PictBridge port on the left-hand side, allowing you to print directly from any PictBridge-enabled camera. It’s great that there’s a lot of choice when it comes to plug-in options with this printer, but if you’re wanting to use xD-Picture Card and other formats, you’ll need a third-party adapter, which can be a hassle, but it’s a small concession because you’re getting so much already with this printer. For a portable, it’s pretty capable in terms of its paper-handling and the front-loading paper cassette holds up to 54 sheets of 4” x 8” photo paper. However, to print on 4” x 6” photo paper, you’ll need to manually push the stack of paper to the front of the tray. The Canon Selphy CP-780 has an edge over other mobile photo printers in that it doesn’t use Inkjet printing technology. It uses something much, much better – dye sublimation print technology. This is a print process that uses heat to transfer ink onto the print material, in layers, ending with a final clear overlay, which makes prints look vibrant and crisp, and

protects them from water and smudging. As such, you can see why this print process is preferable when printing photographs: you want something that’s vivid, bright and sharp; you also want it to be smudge-proof and this is something no Inkjet printer can produce. When it came to fiddling with our prints on the Selphy, we rather enjoyed the My Colors (sic) effects that allow you to customise photos by choosing between black and white, sepia, vivid, neutral and positive film effects. We also printed borderless photos in a variety of sizes, from labels to credit-card sized, as well as 4” x 6” and 4” x 8”. There’s also a handy little portrait image optimisation functionality that detects faces within your images and automatically corrects brightness and contrast for each face. It works beautifully, as does the built-in red-eye correction. This printer has a lot going for it – portability, foolproof ease-of-use and superb quality photo prints, and with an attractive price tag like this, we’re confident it will practically sell itself. Noteworthy specs • 300 x 300dpi fixed print resolution • Auto Red-Eye & Image Correction • Prints in under 1 minute • 2.5” colour LCD

Pros

Cons

• This purchase comes bundled with 3 different-sized packs of paper and ink cartridges to get you started • One pack of ink and paper is enough for an exact amount of prints, so when the paper’s finished, you’ll know the ink is done too – very useful • On-board photo edits and effects are easy to use and implement

• 4” x 6” sizing is not conducive to digital images if using a pointand-shoot camera, so you’ll have to resize to these measurements using a PC

Overall rating

54 | connect | November 2010

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1/12/10 1:16:36 PM


product reviews

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Samsung HMX-104 HD Camcorder

This tiny handheld HD video recorder is the perfect candidate for a high-speed SDHC card.

Olympus SP-800UZ Camera

Taking 14MP images means speed and space are a requirement when it comes to storage. Grab a 16GB Ultra II card and you’ve got both.

HP Pavilion DV63060 Notebook

This excellent and fast notebook from HP has a builtin card reader that will let you transfer photos and movies easily and quickly from your high-speed SDHC card.

SanDisk Ultra 16GB SDHC Card NEED TO KNOW • High-performance memory card with extremely fast read and write speeds • Necessary to capture hi-res still images and HD movies • 16GB capacity can store a lot of HD content R699.95

The High Definition (HD) revolution has been underway for some years now, and has invaded everything from TV technology to cameras that take both still and moving images. This is also only the consumer end of the progress science has made in the processing of images – a Google search for Gigapixel Photos is all that is needed to discover just how far imagecapturing has advanced. As the megapixel ratings of the average camera have increased, so have the file sizes of the resultant images. These days, it’s possible to take pictures that are multiple megabytes in size, even with an entry-level compact camera. As such, memory cards purchased only a few years ago don’t store nearly as many images as they once did. Not only that, but we’re willing to bet that you’ve noticed a bit of a slowdown when it comes to how long each image takes to save. Today, it’s imperative that cameras write hi-res JPEG photos to memory in less than a second. This is particularly necessary for anyone shooting action shots, where multiple photos are captured each second. Cameras need to save each one to memory before the next one can be processed, so if your memory card is slow, you may miss vital shots. The same applies to HD video cameras and camcorders. Due to the quality of high-definition 1080p video, the resulting file sizes are huge when compared to older, standard-definition video files. Thus there is a need for memory cards that are both larger than ever before and that can read and write data fast enough to keep up with the demands of HD movie recording and playback. This is where a product like SanDisk’s Ultra SDHC card comes in handy.

56 | connect | November 2010

At a glance, it appears to be a regular SDHC card, but it’s not. Ultra memory cards are specifically designed to allow for extremely fast data processing. In other words, Ultra cards have very high read and write speeds so they can capture photographs and videos, even extremely high-resolution ones, without compromising on speed or quality. SanDisk rates this as a ‘Class 4’ card – the higher the class, the faster the rated read and write speeds. This Ultra card can read and write at a speed of 15MB per second, which means it’s brilliant for HD photos as well as HD video Storage capacity on offer here is 16GB, which is ridiculously large. Chances are good the average photographer won’t come close to filling this card before heading back to their PC to download, as 16GB means 2hrs40mins of HD video footage (1080p) and over 6 000 photos at 10MP. If you have a camera capable of HD image or video capture, this card is a highly recommended purchase at only R700. You get 16GB of storage and read and write speeds that will have you concentrating on capturing the shot, not waiting for your camera to process the images. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • Read/write speed: 15MB/s • Capacity: 16GB • Photos: 6 125 10MP images • Video: 2hrs40mins HD video (1080p) Pros

Cons

• 15MB/s read and write speed is very quick • 16GB is a massive amount of storage for moving and still images • Well worth the asking price

• Not all devices that use SDHC cards recognise it (Wii) • Requires a card reader on your PC to read

Overall rating


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Verbatim Executive 500GB

If all you’re after is 500GB of affordable storage in a classy housing, you can’t go wrong with Verbatim’s excellent Executive range.

Verbatim GT 500GB USB Hard Drive NEED TO KNOW • New portable Verbatim hard drive with GT stripes • Also includes ‘Green Button’ software that lowers power consumption • Comes with Nero BackItUp software R999.95

People seem to love carrying their data around, and these days there is a lot to store, even for the average computer user. Documents, e-mails, images, movie files and more are the space-hogging culprits, and when you throw the odd backup into the mix, it’s easy to see how even a lot of storage can be used up in a very short space of time. The answer is, of course, more portable storage! Today consumers have plenty of options when it comes to their storage needs, from high-capacity desktop drives that need wall power, all the way down to small Flash memory sticks that store only a few gigabytes of information. Verbatim’s latest addition to the growing ranks of portable hard drives takes the form of this new GT drive. It’s a 500GB USB hard drive with the notable addition of two GT stripes meant to pay homage to racing cars of yore. Unfortunately, that’s all it does. This is a bog-standard laptop hard drive ensconced in plastic that performs just like every other portable drive out there. In our tests, it topped out at a transfer rate of 20MB per second, which is about average for a drive of this type. On the looks front, it’s pretty sleek. It also comes in black, giving consumers another option if red isn’t their thing, and the quality of the plastic Verbatim used is actually quite sturdy. The drive is also slim enough to easily fit into pockets and, therefore, travels easily. Stored on the drive are two utilities – Nero BackItUp and Verbatim’s ‘Green Button’ software. The latter is a small utility that can set how long the drive must be idle for before being sent into ‘Power Save Mode’; this saves on power consumption and extends the drive’s life. The former is a backup

utility that you can use to specify what you would like to back up, and when to run it, plus it does other things like allow you to burn data to CD or DVD. It’s fairly standard stuff, but chances are good the average buyer will find a lot of use for the backup software. The Green Button… well… it’s a nice idea and all but we’re not convinced it’s an absolutely essential tool. Use it and you will save a watt or two and maybe extend the life of your hard drive by a few months, though. In all, we’re a little disappointed with Verbatim’s latest offering. If it was a USB 3.0 drive and therefore faster than the average portable hard drive, it might justify the ‘go faster’ GT stripes. That not being the case, it’s just a portable hard drive with two white stripes that is no more special than any competing – and cheaper – product. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • Power: Bus powered via USB 2.0 cable • Interface: USB 2.0/USB 1.1 port • Data Transfer Rate: up to 480 Mbits/second • Rotational Speed: 5400rpm • Cache: 8MB or greater

Pros

Cons

• Compact and sleek design, GT stripes look nice • Included backup utility is useful • 500GB is still a lot of storage by anyone’s standards

• GT stripes don’t mean it’s faster than other 500GB drives • Power-saving utility is not a big drawcard

Overall rating

Iomega eGo 500GB

Iomega has a long history of making storage products, and this is one of them; 500GB of USB-based storage is yours for the taking.

perfect companions

Packard Bell LX86 Notebook This sleek but powerful notebook is almost as easy to carry around as a USB hard drive.

www.connectmag.co.za | 57


product reviews related

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Belkin N+ Wireless Router

Belkin’s competing wireless ADSL router offers much the same as the WL-359, but it boasts a more contemporary colour scheme and network storage capabilities.

Netgear N300 Wireless Dual Band

This wireless router from Netgear also does dual-band networking and can use USB storage to create network shares.

perfect companions

Sitecom Wireless Media Adapter 300N To truly make the most of this router, a companion USB dongle is needed. This one supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies and superfast 802.11n networking.

Sitecom WL-359 ADSL2+ Wireless 300N Router NEED TO KNOW • Fast wireless and wired network router for use on the go • Uses a USB 3G modem for internet connectivity (not included) • Comes with 2 wired Gigabit ports TBA

Sitecom is a networking brand that is relatively new to South Africa, having only been here for a few years. In that time, the company has built a very good reputation for well-built networking products that are fast and reliable, and prices that are reasonable. The product on review, Sitecom’s WL-326 3G router, is a fine example of everything the company has to offer. It’s a slick-looking, high-speed wireless router that lets you connect to the Internet in places that don’t offer a wired connection. Instead of ADSL, it connects to the Internet using a 3G modem (not included) which can be plugged in via the router’s single USB port. If you have a separate ADSL model, it can be connected to the WL-326 by plugging it into the WAN port located at the rear of the router. The WL-326 features cutting-edge 802.11n wireless networking for up to 16 client computers, two wired Gigabit network ports and all the security needed to secure your network and prevent the next-door neighbour from stealing all your bandwidth. What this means for you is that it’s incredibly fast whether you’re using a wired or a wireless connection (wired is always going to be faster, though) and it’s secured against hackers and other nefarious types thanks to Sitecom’s implementation of super-strong wireless security protocols like WPA2. Two older security protocols, WEP and WPA, are also supported. Since the WL-326 router makes use of 3G bandwidth, which is comparatively more expensive than ADSL bandwidth, securing it against possible bandwidth theft is essential. Sitecom has made doing so straightforward if you’ve ever set up wireless security before. Setting up a wireless network is likewise an easy process. The WL-326 supports One-Push Setup, also called WPS or Wi-Fi Protected Setup, which literally involves pressing a button on the router and another button on your WPS-compatible wireless device; if your device does not have a WPS button, the function can be activated using the included software . This then synchronises the two and within two minutes of starting the setup, your secure wireless network is configured and running. Sitecom separates itself from the competition by backing its products

58 | connect | November 2010

up with a 10-year guarantee. In the event of a hardware failure, all you have to do is bring it back to the store for an on-the-spot swapout. We’re confident this is not a scenario most people will have to deal with given the overall quality of Sitecom’s products, but it’s still good to know you’re covered should the worst happen. Ten years is a long time, especially for a hardware product, giving a good indication of Sitecom’s confidence in its manufacturing process. If you live in an area that makes a landline a poor internet connectivity option for whatever reason and you’re happy using 3G as an alternative, this Sitecom router is an excellent option. Just be sure to check the list of compatible 3G modems, found on Sitecom’s website (http://www.sitecom. com ) to confirm whether your 3G modem will work before buying. The ten-year guarantee sweetens the deal even further and lets anyone in the market for a 3G router buy with confidence. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • Internet Connectivity: 3G via USB modem (not included) • 802.11b+g+n Wireless Standard Protocol, wireless speed up to 300 Mbps • Two 10/100 Ethernet Ports • Security: WEP 64 & 128 bits, WPA-TKIP, WPA-AES, WPA2, WPA-Radius • Compatible with Dynamic IP, Static IP, PPPoE and PPTP internet connections • Two internal antennas • Quality of Service (QoS) • Universal Plug & Play (UPnP)

Pros

Cons

• 3G lets you connect in places without wired access • One-button wireless network setup works well • 802.11n wireless connectivity offers excellent speeds and coverage

• 3G bandwidth is more expensive than ADSL • The colour is a bit 1975, if we’re allowed to nitpick • Only 2 wired 10/100 Ethernet ports

Overall rating


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Siemens Gigaset AL140 Dual Pack

Siemens Gigaset SL785 Wireless Telephone NEED TO KNOW • Stylish, luxury wireless landline telephone • Comes with a wireless base station, a stand and a handset • Synchronises with Microsoft Outlook over USB R999.95

Wireless landline telephones are starting to resemble cellphones, if this new one from Siemens’ Gigaset range is anything to go by. This luxury phone may have an unsexy name, but it makes up for Siemens’ lack of imagination with arguably the most attractive looks ever seen in a handset not offered by a cellular service provider. It’s also stuffed to the gills with functionality few would expect of their landline telephone. These include a full-colour LCD screen, a 500-user address book that synchronises with Outlook’s contact list and the option to have ringtones and screen-savers added via a PC. If you really want to, you can even use the phone with a Bluetooth headset in much the same way you can with a cellphone, as it’s fully Bluetooth-enabled. Siemens has used more metal than you’d expect in the phone’s construction, giving it an attractive chromed look. As a result, it’s pleasantly hefty in your hand, something we’re fond of. The back is entirely plastic, however, but it has a pleasing matte finish that excuses the plastic used. Inside the back cover you’ll find the battery and a mini-USB port used to connect the phone to a PC. The SL785 connects to your Telkom landline through its base station, a chunky plastic box that is supported by a stand. The phone itself rests on a heavy metal charging base that plugs into the wall, so you’re not tethered to the base station at all. The range is pretty good, and people in medium-sized houses should have no problems with signal strength or audio quality from anywhere in the home. Device interference is a problem, however. Microwaves and other wireless devices located between the base station and phone can cause audio quality to degrade and a slight hissing to be heard. The buttons are very flat, and there is no delineation between them, making pressing them blind a bit more challenging than it should be. It’s a problem a bit of experience will solve, though, and is by no means a deal-breaker.

Sadly, the style and elegance of the phone’s design does not extend all the way into its interface. Some of the more frequently used options are buried within submenus, while the more obscure options are easily reached with only a few clicks. Call quality is very good, even if the handset’s volume is pretty low. Ringtones also need to be set to the highest volume, or you might miss the phone ringing if you’re watching TV. The included speakerphone facility is excellent. It’s easy to set up and use (and it’s loud enough), and the SL785 has a built-in answering machine that can store up to 15 minutes of highquality audio and 45 minutes of low-quality audio. While it’s not without its quirks, the Gigaset SL785 is a very cool landline handset that looks good and functions smoothly. If you’re looking to replace an older wireless model, it’s a solid choice. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • Integrated answering machine with up to 45 minutes recording time • Genuine metal handset frame and charger with high-class design • Bluetooth headset connection and full duplex hands-free function • Radiation-free ECO Mode Plus • Address book for up to 500 vCard entries • Exchange of address book entries with Bluetooth-capable mobile phones • Caller display • PC connection via Bluetooth/USB • Register up to 6 handsets per base station Pros

Cons

• Beautiful, appealing design and excellent build • Built-in address book and voicemail features • Good audio quality overall

• Range is not as wide as we had hoped for • Potential interference from other wireless devices • Menu system could be a little more user-friendly

Overall rating

If you prefer functionality over form, there are phones in the Gigaset range that will get the job done while sporting somewhat more down-toearth looks. This pack comes with two phones.

Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini

Cellphones are still the best way to stay in touch, and this tiny one from Sony Ericsson offers a compact body and the extremely user-friendly Android operating system.

perfect companions

Bluetrek Bluetooth Headset Fans of hands-free telephony can even use the SL785 handset wirelessly with the Bluetooth headset of their choice.

www.connectmag.co.za | 59


book reviews

Windows 7 Secrets

NEED TO KNOW •Paul Thurott and Rafael Rivera •1 080 pages

Paul Thurott is the man behind the Windows 7 Supersite, a massive repository of online information on everything Windows. In this book, together with fellow author Rafael Rivera, Thurott presents Windows 7 in all its glory. It gets right down to the nitty-gritty of the new Windows and along with a very useful dissection of its features, tells readers the differences between Windows 7 and previous versions of the operating system. This is a book for readers already familiar with the Windows family of operating systems, as it forgoes the basics in favour of a deeper look into Windows 7. Thurott and Rivera maintain a conversational, witty tone throughout the book, and it becomes apparent that the subject matter really is near to the writers’ hearts. Tips, tricks and things you never knew about Windows are revealed throughout making this is a fun, informative book for techies interested in peeling back the many layers of Windows 7.

MCTS Windows 7 Configuration Study Guide - Exam 70-680

NEED TO KNOW •By William Panek •624 pages

Studying for any complex certification course is always a mission, which is why study guides are essential to every aspiring techie. This one from Sybex contains much of the information needed for a solid grounding on Windows 7 from a technical perspective, from deploying it to upgrading to managing and improving network performance and much more. This is emphasised with real-world examples, intelligent and to-the-point chapter summaries, hands-on exercises and review questions that challenge the reader’s understanding of the preceding chapters. Unfortunately it’s not enough on its own to get you through the actual exam. The coverage of exam-specific 60 | connect | November 2010

subject matter is not as comprehensive as it could be, and if you’re writing the exam soon other books, like Microsoft’s self-paced study guide are recommended as supplementary study materials. While still a good read that is nicely structured and easy to remember, it’s a bit thin on the details needed to get you through the exam the first time.

Windows 7: Up and Running - A Quick, Hands-on Introduction

NEED TO KNOW •By Wei-Meng Lee •208 pages

This relatively thin book aims to provide readers with a basic foundation on which to base their experiences with Windows 7. It provides a how-to guide for installing Windows 7 and upgrading from other Windows operating systems, along with solid advice on how to configure Windows 7 to suit your needs. The author covers Windows 7’s new features and provides a tour of its built-in applications so that readers can be up and running without having to wade through a thick book that details every little function and feature at length. Readers will learn all about the tweaked interface, find out differences between 7 and Vista, set up their home network and a lot more with this book, making it an excellent starting point in a beginner’s discovery of Windows 7. The style is accessible and easy to read, and the reader is never bombarded with complicated information. In all, a solid, fun book on Windows 7.


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This book is definitely not for anyone intimidated by numbers and advanced concepts in mathematics. Author James L. Johnson delves deeply into the concept of probability and how it affects statistics and relates it all back to computer science disciplines. This neatly arranged book is sure to have maths aficionados and budding computer scientists intrigued from the start. Johnson starts by defining probability distributions and random variables and goes on to discuss how they come into play in decisionmaking and estimation problems. He provides the necessary foundation for all the maths needed to properly grasp the concepts he is trying to get across, making this a complete resource for those interested in the field. It’s not easy reading, and a mathematical/technical mind is a definite requirement before starting out but for committed readers there is a wealth of information to be found.

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game reviews //By Tiana cline

Fallout: New Vegas R699.95 If you’ve played Fallout 3, then you’ll already know about the epic and award-winning game series from Bethesda. And yes, New Vegas is exactly what you would expect from a role-playing game – and so much more. Fallout: New Vegas takes place in Mojave, a desert wasteland inhabited by power-hungry factions, mutated creatures, sporting special weapons, and loads more. Who are you? A courier, carrying a package of unknown contents, ambushed on the road to New Vegas. Unfortunately for you, you’re shot in the head and left for dead in a grave. But this is just the beginning. After waking up in the small town of Ghost Springs, you’re rehabilitated through a customer characterisation process. Gaining strength, dexterity and everything in between, you’ll soon be back on your way to Sin City, this time on a quest to discover who wanted you dead and why… and what was in that mysterious parcel? New Vegas looks quite different from the DC Wasteland of Fallout 3, mainly because it was untouched by nuclear weapons. For one, it still has power, which means the casinos are running, making the place somewhat of an isolated oasis. But getting into New Vegas won’t be an easy task, as you’ll have to fight your way through various factions and a whole lot of super mutants. Outside of New Vegas, small towns dot the desert landscape. The environment is huge and there is plenty to explore. As expected in a role-playing game, there are many interesting personalities to encounter. The conversation system has been updated and now, when you select someone, you’ll be directed to the companion wheel. Instead of navigating your way through line after line of endless dialogue, you can simply select and manage what you need to know, be it health, inventory and so on. There are also new weapons and these come with added customisation. Want to make a grenade machine-gun or a space-based solar laser? You can! With weapon mods, you can begin by adding an extra magazine onto a gun. If you’re more creative (and have the skillset), why not adapt a plasma rifle with a magnetic accelerator – the options are endless. (And yes, the V.A.T.S weapon system is still in use – pause time in combat, target specific enemy body parts and queue up attacks.) There is a reputation system that tracks the consequences of your actions, and an aptly titled Hardcore Mode to separate the meek from the mighty. Make the Mojave your own, choose sides in the upcoming war or declare “winner takes all” and crown yourself the King of New Vegas. The post-apocalyptic wasteland has never been this fun.

62 | connect | November 2010

NEED TO KNOW • Feuding factions, colourful characters and a bunch of hostiles • Explore Sin City and the Mojave Wasteland • An arsenal of shiny new guns


>>Star power<< Fallout: New Vegas has a starstudded voiceover cast. The game features Golden Globe-winner and two-time Emmy-nominated actor Ron Perlman (“Hellboy”, “Sons of Anarchy”), Screen Actors Guild winner and Emmy- and Golden Globe-nominated actor Matthew Perry (“Friends”), Mr Las Vegas himself, Wayne Newton, William Sadler (“Shawshank Redemption”), Zach Levi (“Chuck”), Felicia Day (“The Guild”), Michael Dorn (“Star Trek: The Next Generation”), Kris Kristofferson (“Blade Trilogy,”), Danny Trejo (“Machete”, “From Dusk Till Dawn”), John Doman (“Mystic River”, “The Wire”) and Rene Auberjonois (“Boston Legal”, “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”).

>>Get this<< Fallout 3: Game Add-On Pack – The Pitt and Operation: Anchorage Already have Fallout 3 but want more? This add-on pack lets you explore the Alaskan tundra and the post-apocalyptic ruins of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, known as The Pitt! There are new weapons, exotic armour and items, as well as new perks and achievements.

>>coming soon<< Dragon Age 2 You’re Hawke, a penniless refugee who rises to power to become the single most important character in the world of Dragon Age. With an all-new story spanning 10 years, you will help tell that tale by making moral choices, gathering allies, amassing fame and fortune and sealing your place in history.

www.connectmag.co.za | 63


game reviews

Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock

NEED TO KNOW • A story-driven quest mode • Use the redesigned rockinspired guitar controller • The biggest on-disc selection of rock music yet

PES 2011

NEED TO KNOW

Coming >>soon <<

Guitar Hero has taken the world by storm. Now, for the first time, there is a story-driven mode, an epic rock journey to save rock ‘n roll. PLOFamiliar features returning include the popular Party Play mode, for jump in/out gameplay, a number of tough competitive modes, and the option to play any combination of guitar, bass, drums and vocals. Thanks to Quickplay+, which features 13 unique gameplay challenges for every on-disc track, as well as most downloadable and importable songs, Warriors of Rock will change how you play the game. Additionally, there are over 90 new tracks from Queen, Muse, KISS and Megadeath... metal fans will be pleased. R499.95 (standalone game)

• Total control over the ball • New animation and player physics • An online Master League to compete against other managers arounbd the world Rock Band 3 Rock Band 3 allows players to create, save and share set lists, both in-game and through RockBand.com. In addition to guitar, bass, drums and solo vocals, Rock Band 3 adds three-part vocal harmonies and a keyboard peripheral to the band!

You’re Aragorn, the celebrated King of Gondor. But Aragorn wasn’t always king. Back in Middle-earth, he was the revered warrior Strider and this game tells the tale of his most valiant battles. Armed with a sword, shield, bow and spear, the gameplay is full of action as you battle fierce (and familiar) creatures and lead armies to victory. There is also a two-player co-op mode that features Gandalf and all his magic. On the Wii, Aragorn’s Quest takes full advantage and delivers motioncontrolled gameplay, perfect for the whole family. If you like Lord of the Ring but are worried it’s a bit too dark for the younger members of the family, Aragorn’s Quest is a more appropriate adaption of the popular series. R399.95

The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn’s Quest

NEED TO KNOW • Explore the Lord of the Rings universe • A fun and friendly fantasy title • Co-op multiplayer mode featuring Gandalf

64 | connect | November 2010

>>coming soon<< The Lord of the Rings: War in the North Experience an epic, story–based adventure through vast Middle– earth to experience storylines and characters going beyond what has been seen in the feature films and previous games.

When it comes to soccer games, there are die-hard FIFA fans and those who only play Pro Evolution Soccer, known simply as PES. Lucky for both, there are new titles released yearly and PES 2011 offers more than incredible realism and control – the entire series has been reinvigorated with a bunch of gameplay additions, control options and animations. For one, every player on the field has a power bar as well as a shot and stamina gauge so you have total control over every ball movement. You’ll also have to sense and react to the AI that is more intuitive. PES 2011 truly captures the beautiful sport in both looks and gameplay, boots and all. R599.95

>>Get this<< UFC Undisputed 2010 Experience the most advanced and commanding virtual MMA action with more than 100 of the best fighters with intuitive combat, fighter customisation, career progression, challenging new gameplay modes and explosive online offerings.

>>Buy this<< Shaun White Skateboarding Transform a dull, lifeless city into your own extraordinary skating utopia. How? As you skate, you’ll add colour to the city by extending handrails into endless grinds, carving alleys into half pipes, morphing streets into ramps – it’s a customised skating world.


game reviews

Medal of Honor

Sid Meier’s Civilization V

NEED TO KNOW

• 18 playable historical civilisations • Manage an empire and redefine history • Visit the in-game community hub

NEED TO KNOW

• A modern-day war FPS • An exciting single-player campaign • Extensive multiplayer mode developed by DICE operates under the National Command Authority. There are skill-based score chains in the game that unlock support actions that rely on tactical choices. The action-packed multiplayer mode really shows off the game, with different modes promising plenty of hours of play. R699.95

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Going back to WWII, BC 2 offers endless hours of 24-player multiplayer action over three classic and tropical locations – Wake Island, Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima – as well as gun and vehicle warfare online. Doesn’t read well, but I’m not sure what is being said.

Do you have a desire to rule the world? If so, would you choose war or peacekeeping? From the dawn of mankind all the way into the space age, the choice is yours in Civilization V. No matter your tyrannical tactics, Civilization has a number of ways to play and win, along with new tools to manage and expand your nation to greatness. The combat in the game is largerthan-life, with swarms of armies on the battlefield. Graphically, it’s exquisite. (Along the way, you’ll also have to negotiate with some of history’s most interesting rulers.) But be warned, Civilization is not a pick-up-and-play game. The learning curve can be steep, so take it slow, listen to your trusted advisors, and you will raise your nation to glory. Expect hours of addictive, strategy-filled gameplay. R399.95

Consider >>this<<

Consider >>this<<

It’s been 11 years since the first Medal of Honor game was released. Always a WWII game, this first-person shooter defined the genre. Set in Afghanistan for the first time, you start off as a regular US ranger, but once you rank up (there three separate classes – rifleman, special ops or sniper) and unlock more weapons and mods, you’ll be chosen to become a Tier 1 operator, elite warriors of the military that

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty SCII is all about fast-paced, hard-hitting, tightlybalanced, competitive real-time strategy gameplay that recaptures and improves on the magic of the original game. Enough said.

>>Get this<<

Call of Duty: Black Ops

NEED TO KNOW • Four-player online and two-player splitscreen co-op mode • Warm up with a training session and get used to new maps and weapons • Cinematic graphics 66 | connect | November 2010

Set in the Cold War, Call of Duty: Black Ops revolves around Mason and Hudson, two Studies and Observations Group operatives on a mission behind enemy lines. What makes Black Ops different to every other first-person shooter out there? Backed by interesting and cinematic graphics, CoD’s multiplayer modes are what make it special. First up is a training system, a new “warm-up” mode to ease players (and your friends if you choose co-op) into the multiplayer experience. The online multiplayer mode of Black Ops is about customising, creating and competing and returns with experience points and an unlockable rewards system. Are you ready, soldier? R699.95

Halo Reach This is the story of Noble Team, a squad of heroic Spartan soldiers, and their final stand on planet Reach, humanity’s last line of defence between the terrifying Covenant and Earth.

>>Consider this<< Singularity FPS and sci-fi fans are in for a treat! Unravel a conspiracy and fight your way through an ever-shifting environment, haunted with timeravaged creatures while sudden time waves hurl you back and forth between 1950 and present day.


tech tannie

Like a cat caught in the rain, Tech Tannie looks

strangely thin

when she steps out from behind her PC to answer your questions…

issue of the month: Q: A:

If you have questions, gripes or just seek some solace, e-mail Tamsin, our friendly tech tannie at techtannie@connectmag.co.za 68 | connect | November 2010

How can I start a blog? Wordy in Walvis Bay

Well, to start with, you’re going to have to learn to write a kak load more than you did when you sent me this question. Seriously. That is one abrupt piece of work, my friend. I am going to assume that you have a computer and that this computer is at home (no point in me advising you on how to write a blog that will get you fired because you’re constantly updating it at work). There are several ways to start a blog and, the best part is that it doesn’t matter WHAT kind of technology you own. Here are some of the best free platforms for you to use. Posterous.com lets you update your blog from your e-mail, so you can do it on your smartphone, netbook, laptop or desktop. Hell, anything with a keyboard and access to the internet will do. The same almost applies to Wordpress – many smartphones have apps that let you update your blog from your phone – and to Blogger. I have a Wordpress blog that I can update from my Android phone, my Windows-based platform, or my Linux-run netbook. It’s a beautiful thing. However, Wordpress is initially a steep learning curve. If you’ve never done anything on the internet before, then don’t expect a shiny blog that looks the biscuit in a day. That will take time and patience. Personally, I think it’s worth it. Another simple but effective platform is Blogger. It’s all part of the Google World Domination network so if you have a Google Mail account, you are automatically logged into your Blogger, ahem, blog. Simple and easy. It isn’t as customisable as Wordpress, something I don’t like, but it is very, very easy to use. There you go. Now you can go forth and start blogging. Remember – you can do it on any form of technology with any platform and you can do it for free.


Q:

I work with Excel 2007 a lot and cannot find a way to change lower case to upper case (within the same cell). In Word and other programs, you simply highlight the text you wish to convert and click on an icon. I DON’T LIKE THE =upper or =lower command as this does put the sentence into upper or lower case, but not in the cell from whence it came (you then have to copy and paste it, by which time I might as well have typed in from scratch!). Surely it shouldn’t be this difficult? Evil Excel in East London

A:

Ahhh, Excel. My favourite programme to hate. I know that it’s one of the best and all that kak, but it’s also packed with Microsoft’s trademark complications. Sometimes I need a moerse Cane and coke after trying to figure something out with Microsoft’s software. Sadly, you may need to pour yourself a stiff drink too. There is no other way for you to change the cases of the letters other than to use the designated terms you’ve already described. It has to be =lower, =upper, or =proper. My suggestion is to either copy and paste the relevant reference into the cells next to your column where your formula sits, or become firm friends with Caps Lock.

Q:

I keep getting a Macro warning on my Excel worksheet but I have no idea what this is or why I have one. I started the document myself and haven’t done anything unusual to it. Please help! Macro in Magaliesburg

A:

November October seems to be the month of the spreadsheet, hey? All of you clever souls preparing your tax returns or something? Well, this is a common Excel problem that appears in many of the older versions of the software. Not so much in the newer ones. It can be pretty hectic to see this warning when you have no idea what a Macro is or why it has taken up residence in your worksheet. To start with, let me tell you what exactly these goggas are. Macros basically automate tasks that you perform repeatedly and are made up of a series of commands that can be stored to run whenever they are needed. You can create your own or use other people’s, and they can do things like insert your name into a worksheet or copy data and so forth. To get the document to stop harassing you, press ALT+F11 to activate the Visual Basic Editor

in Excel, find your worksheet in the project window, and look to see if it has any VBA modules. If the project window doesn’t open, make sure that the F Lock is on. The VBA modules will look like Module1 or Module2. Delete these, even the empty ones. Then go down to ThisWorkbook, click on it and read through the text that appears in the window below. Read the code modules for each Sheet and make sure that they don’t have any macro codes in them. You won’t be able to delete the actual code modules, but you can remove their contents, which does the job just as well. Make sure they are empty, save all of your changes, and then close down Excel. Restart the document and see if that works. You should have lost the macro warning and Excel should happily amble along without any problems. Of course, you can always just ignore the warning as just a flash of software paranoia.

www.connectmag.co.za | 69


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disconnect //By adam oxford

g n a h e h t g n i t t e G of

g n sla

Even the best online lexicographers can be caught out by internet acronyms.

I’m beginning to wonder if I’m part of the paper generation after all. Back in the year 2000, just a few months after I’d bought my first cellphone and when I was still deeply suspicious of texting, I began a new job on a magazine about videogames. The editor, only halfjoking, told me that “you can’t work here if you can’t speak l33t”. I turned to Google (which was already the search engine of choice among tech-heads) to find out what “l33t” meant. Pronounced ‘elite’, it’s the typographic creole of hackers and gamers that changes words using numbers either phonetically or stylistically. L33t, of he Oxford University Press has announced that it course, evolved into txt-spk, the keyboard shorthand used to make doesn’t expect the new edition of the much respected Oxford English Dictionary (OED) to ever appear in print. sure SMS messages and, later, Twitter updates stayed within strict character limits. Instead, it says, the next major revision to the work that That was a quick lesson in learning that language defines a many consider to contain the metaphorical – as well as literal – first and last words of the English language will be available culture, large or small. I told myself that as long as I was writing about technology, I’d have to stay up to date with its phraseology or online only. I might as well give up. To most people, the insides of a Naturally, book lovers are outraged. But if you listen carefully, PC are an enigma shrouded in mystery wrapped in you can hear the world’s forests breathe a sigh of relief that an acronym, but not to me. Or so I thought. the current 20-volume edition will be the last that’s made of Looking back, I can see that this was sheer wood pulp. hubris on my part. There are many hundreds The OED has always been a useful cultural barometer. Its of pieces of Internet slang that I’ll never truly development takes place on a truly epic scale. The original understand, some of which are in common use. edition was published in 1928 after 80 years of research. The Sure, I can LOL and ROFL with the best of them, or first full update, the Second Edition, didn’t appear until 1989. even BBIAB if I go AFK for a while. I have no By these historical standards, the online-only Third Edition fear of YABA and know I’m a BOF when is being positively rushed: work began a decade ago and is I feel :(, that my favourite patronising scheduled to be finished around 2035. putdown, DYS, has fallen into The slow pace of development gives us disuse. an epochal snapshot of word usage But despite all this, I’ll never that can’t fall victim to fashion. The d really be DWTK when it comes linguistic curators who write u o L Out to Internet slang. I doubt even the definitions, however, also Laugh g hin r Laug o the OED – which, incidentally, provide a more contemporary lo F n T he proves acronyms are nothing critique of our times. Every Roll O Be Back In A Bit new – can help me. This I three months, a list of new board y e know, because I was recently entries is posted online. K m ro Away F cronym A caught out by a set of The latest inclusions (as of y od lo B Yet Another letters I really should have September) include iPod, rolert ? e d Fa e l S recognised. playing, parkour and ‘sheeple’ O u ng Do Yo B or i The acronym in question – four words that pretty much Down With The Kids underlines either enduring sum up the last decade. uncoolness or complete and I bring up the subject of the OED utter naivety. Either way, it’s not to laud the editorial decision to time to hang up my keyboard. make the dictionary more of an ongoing Which one was it? work in progress than a product fixed in NSFW. time. I think it’s generally a good thing, but

T

72 | connect | November 2010


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