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September 2011

opening windows Buy the right box

Printer Technology

Paper, Ink

& Pixels

assisted computing Apples for everyone!

Under Attack A timeline of PC threats

R14.95 incl. VAT

g u P ay l p & io! d u a t u o b a All

Top

Reviews MONITORS LAPTOPS CAMERAS Tablets SOFTWARE cellphones GAMES


Windows® Life without Walls™. Sony recommends Windows® 7.

Brightening

your life

C

M

Y

CM

MY

CY

MY

K

VPCCB15 • Genuine Windows® 7 Home Premium 64-bit • Intel® Core™ i5-2410M Processor 2.30 GHz with Turbo Boost up to 2.90 GHz • 4GB Ram / 500GB HDD (7200 rpm) • AMD Radeon™ HD 6630M (1GB Graphics) • 15.5" HD Display, LED Backlight • HDMI out / USB 3.0 / Backlit Keyboard • HD web camera / Bluetooth / Wireless • 2 Year warranty


www.connectmag.co.za

VOL02 Issue #17

September 2011

22

FEATURES

14

Listen up! The A to Z of audio accessories

18

Back to Basics: Printers How to pick the perfect printer

22

Windows 7’s Many Flavours Get to know the world’s most popular operating system

26

History Of… Computer Threats Worms! Trojans! Viruses!

28

Assisted Computing Apple makes it easy for audio, visual and physical disabilities

32

PC Backups It’s easier than you would think!

10 14

18


REGULARS 04 06 08 68 70 72

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

REVIEWS 38 40 50 52 53 54 56 58 60

First Look Top 5 Tablets Personal Navigation Laptops Smartphones Accessories Software Books

GAMING

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

REVIEWS Deon du Plessis EDITOR deon@connectmag.co.za TECHNOLOGY Christo van Gemert EDITOR christo@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 Contact Hypertext Media Communications (011) 023-8001/4 info@hypertext.co.za FAX 08654 83304

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

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©2011 Research In Motion Limited.  All rights reserved.  BlackBerry®, RIM®, Research In Motion® 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.

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19/07/2011 10:38


ed’s note

s a h g Sprin

I

Subscribe now and you could win an Epson EH-DM3 All-In-One Home Theatre Projector worth R8 000!

t’s easy to get obsessed with technology accessories. After all, once you have the tablet, smartphone or media player, you need a fashionable neoprene sleeve, a Smart Cover (for your iPad), that quirky set of external MP3 speakers, a sleek sound dock and a perfect pair of headphones. Looking at sound specifically, there are a number of exciting audio accessories available, which is why in this issue of Connect, we’re giving you a roundup – some sound advice of what’s out there (see page 14). While a portable sound system might not be at the very top of your shopping list, a printer is something everyone needs. As nice as a paperless environment sounds, we’re not there yet (hard copy documents, please!). Whether you choose a cheap inkjet printer or one that has multifunction frills, we’ve gone through the need-to-know printer pointers on page 18. Lion or Windows, Apple or Microsoft? Most computer users are pretty loyal to the brand they’ve chosen reliable when it comes to brand loyalty. So your OS of choice is Windows… but what version of the operating system are you going to get? Is the software your PC came bundled with the one you really need? As you’ll see from our feature on page 22, Windows 7 comes in many different flavours. Deon du Plessis is here to help you choose correctly. And once you’ve made your choice, on page 32, we feature a great guide to making backups a regular part of your digital lifestyle.

4 | connect | September 2011

Technology has opened the doors of accessibility and made it easier for people with disabilities to become digitally enabled. What you might not know is that Apple computers, for example, come with a plethora of in-built software that, out the box, can be used to help those with audio, visual and physical impairments. In part one of our series on assisted computing, we’re focusing on Apple’s offerings. VoiceOver, for example, is a technology that makes it easier for the blind and those with poor vision to use a computer. To read more about this and more, turn to page 28. Be sure to look out for our retrospective PC threat piece (page 26), and some great game reviews. The September gadget reviews section takes a peek at the new MacBook Air and the world’s most popular e-book reader, the Kindle. And yes – instead of shipping Amazon’s e-reader to South Africa from the US or UK, you can now buy it at Incredible Connection. Have a technology-related question? Don’t forget to pop our Tech Tannie Tamsin an e-mail. And be sure to subscribe to Connect – that way, you won’t miss an issue and could stand in line to win an amazing Epson projector. We hope you enjoy spring and the September issue of the only technology publication that speaks your language. Keep connected! Tiana Cline Editor

Editor’s photo by Dan Elkabir / www.lightscapespdd.com

! g n u S pr


The ultimate portable storage solution

Verbatim’s range of USB2.0 Store ‘n’ Go portable hard drives provide outstanding performance, reliably storing all your precious data while on the move. The drives are housed in a lightweight, palm-sized silver case – a new design that makes it one of the smallest and lightest drives on the market.

www.verbatim-europe.com


in the news...

Sony strips the PSP Sony has unveiled a new version of its ageing PSP handheld console. The new model, simply called the PSP E1000, featured a basic, matte black finish and redesigned row of buttons below the display. The biggest difference with the hardware is the lack of WiFi, which has enabled Sony to drop this new model’s price to a mere €99. The current PSP retails for €130 in Europe and R1 600 here, so if we were to extrapolate it could see this new budget model selling for around R1300 or less. Local pricing and availability has yet to be confirmed. It’s still a good buy for those who don’t want the latest hardware and want to keep their UMD library, especially with the PlayStation Vita not being far off.

Motorola’s new tricks

iOS App Review: Zombie Gunship (for iPad and iPhone) A while ago, when Call of Duty: Modern Warfare came out on the Xbox, PC and PS3, gamers were raving over a certain level in the game. It saw players take control of the artillery on an AC130 gunship, a big scary plane, nicknamed “Spooky”, used by the US military. Players would defend their squad of soldiers from invading forces using the three different guns and thermal vision imaging on the plane. In Zombie Gunship, you have all the repetitive fun of that level, except you’re defending escaping humans from hordes of invading zombies. There’s no way to finish the game, you merely get a higher score each time. When zombies invade the base, you’re given reward money and that can be used to upgrade the guns on your plane. Rinse and repeat. It’s simple fun, and really easy to play. It’s not ultra violent, either, so there’s no reason younger teenagers can’t get it. All in all, fantastic value for just 99c on the iTunes App Store.

6 | connect | September 2011

Motorola has brought two new Android devices to the local market, an even smarter smartphone, called the Atrix, and its muchawaited Xoom tablet. The Atrix changes things up by offering a high-quality design and security features, such as a fingerprint reader. The device can be powered on and unlocked using a simple swipe of your fingertip. Powering the Atrix is a dual-core processor, with versions 2.3 of Android installed – complemented by Motorola’s own widgets and interface enhancements.

Intel brings African SKA bid closer to home Technology giant Intel has become the latest multinational to throw its weight behind South Africa’s bid to house the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), with the signing of an agreement with the SKA and Department of Science and Technology to provide the latest processing technologies to the project. South Africa is currently bidding against Australia to house the largest and most sensitive radio telescope in the Southern Hemisphere. Intel Vice President and EMEA General Manager Christian Morales said the company viewed South Africa as the gateway to Africa, and the SKA project would give the country – and the continent – the opportunity to showcase its technology, infrastructure and expertise to the world. “The SKA will unlock many benefits for South Africa and Africa through job creation, enhancing ICT skills and monetary inflows. We feel we can help put South African scientists on the map, reaffirm the country’s scientific and engineering capabilities, and attract young people to careers in science and engineering.” Part of the attractiveness of the African bid is that South Africa provides the ideal site for the telescope due to its well-placed and legally protected radio-quiet environment. If successful, the project will also have outstations in Namibia, Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique and Zambia.


techno jargon // by Christo van gemert

With so much jargon being produced by the technology industry, it can be hard to keep up. Here are a few explanations of some of the more common terms you’re likely to encounter.

8 | connect | September 2011


Solid State hard drive

DisplayPort

Regular hard drives and Solid State hard drives do the same thing in very different ways. Both will store your data, such as when you choose to download a file or save it to your documents folder, but it’s their construction and performance that separates them. Regular hard drives consist of a spinning magnetic disk with a head that reads information off it. These disks usually spin at between 4 000 and 10 000 revolutions per minute, and can transfer data at around 100MB/s. Solid State hard drives have no moving parts at all. Instead of disks, they use microchips. The advantage is that they’re more resilient when dropped and they’re massively faster, with speeds being in the range of 500MB/s to 600MB/s. Solid State drives are more expensive to produce, and as a result are only available in smaller capacities.

The last few years have been exciting if you’re a fan of display standards. We quickly moved from the old, analogue standard of VGA to a more modern one, called DVI. Then we got HDMI, which was just an all-digital version of DVI but with the ability to carry sound – and all this over a smaller connector. Now we have DisplayPort, which is a standard that has some interoperability with HDMI, but is not designed to replace HDMI in high-end home theatre electronics. Instead, it’s a new set of connectors and cable that will make it possible to have higher resolutions and more colours on our displays, using digital instead of analogue signals. The highest resolution supported by DisplayPort is limited by the bandwidth on the cables, but can be as much as 4 times higher than current full HD standards.

Thunderbolt Driver (speakers) When it comes to loudspeakers, it’s generally accepted that the entire unit, with its enclosure, is referred to as a speaker. The bits inside the enclosure, the ones making the noise, are the driver units, or just drivers. Whether you’re dealing with headphones or desktop speakers, they all have drivers inside them, each with their own special construction for the job at hand. Tweeters and subwoofers are specialised drivers, for treble and bass frequencies respectively.

Apps This is just short for applications, and usually refers to the software you can download and install on modern smartphones. We had 3rd-party mobile applications before the iPhone came along, but Apple’s dedication to the platform, along with a simple delivery mechanism – the iTunes App Store – gave us apps. BlackBerry, Android and Windows Phone devices all have their own app stores now, where users can download software that for their phones.

Android This is Google’s mobile operating system used on smartphones and tablets. Samsung, Acer, Dell, HTC and many other manufacturers use the standard versions of Android, supplied by Google, to power their devices. Usually these Android installations will be customised with different interface elements. Samsung has Touchwiz for its devices, while HTC uses HTC Sense on its smartphones and tablets.

Thunderbolt is to USB what DisplayPort is to HDMI: it’s the new kid on the block, with a few tricks up its sleeve. Where DisplayPort is designed for displays only, Thunderbolt works for both displays and data transfers. In fact, Thunderbolt includes DisplayPort technology, so you can have a DisplayPort monitor plugged into a Thunderbolt port. If that monitor has other Thunderbolt ports, devices can be daisy-chained together – a single Thunderbolt port can have up to 7 devices linked to it. Data transfer speeds on Thunderbolt are up to 2.5 times faster than on USB 3.0. At present, only Apple computers boast this new port, but this could change as more manufacturers adopt this Intel-developed technology.

DirectX Keen gamers would’ve seen DirectX mentioned on high-end graphics cards and sound cards. DirectX is a set of programming libraries Microsoft developed to give game developers standardised access to the powerful hardware required to churn out 3D graphics, high-definition video and multi-channel sound. This makes it easier to develop games that can easily harness a computer’s power. Each new version of DirectX adds features that make it more efficient for a graphics card or processor to do certain tasks, leading to performance improvements in some cases, and improved graphics in all cases. It was first used in 1995, but with revisions and refinements, we are now at version 11, incorporated into Windows 7. AMD and nVidia design their graphics cards around the functions and capabilities of DirectX.

www.connectmag.co.za | 9


scan and deliver //by Christo van gemert

Are you QRious? Is reading and typing long URLs into your smart phone making your eyes go all square? Say, “hello!” to QR codes and let these genius little boxes do all the hard work for you. Here’s how...

10 | connect | September 2011

R

eaders with keen eyes will notice that the reviews in this issue of Connect have special barcodes, known as QR (short for Quick Response) codes. These can be scanned using a number of smartphone apps available for Android devices, the iPhone, Windows Phone 7 and other mobile platforms. To download a QR code scanner, simply log in to the app store for your mobile device. When scanning a QR code in this issue, you’ll be taken to a website with additional information, photos or videos about the product we have on test. For instance, scanning the QR code for the Samsung 3D monitor (see page 40) will bring up a YouTube video with a feature demonstration of that computer. QR codes will feature in this and future issues of Connect to provide extra information to benefit you, the reader. All you need is a smartphone with a camera, and the relevant mobile app.

QR Scanners R Us Android users, search the Android marketplace for QR Droid, one of the better scanners for this platform. iPhone users can search for a free app simply called QR Scanner, to read the codes in this issue. BlackBerry users will have luck using an app called QR Code Scanner Pro, which works perfectly for the kind of codes we’ve used here. Finally, for those folks using Windows Phone 7, the aptly named QR Reader is what you’ll need. Search for these free apps on the respective app stores for your mobile device, and you’ll be one step closer to QR scanning goodness.

Scan and win! We’ll be tracking the scans of the QR codes in this and our next issue, and one lucky reader will be selected at random to win an Acer Iconia Touchbook, featuring dual 14” touch screens and running on Windows 7. The winner of the prize will receive a notification once they’ve scanned the code and loaded the page associated with that code, so keep scanning and you could get lucky.

www.connectmag.co.za


18V


CopyrightŠ 2010 Symantec Corporation. All rights reserved. Symantec, the Symantec Logo, Norton, Norton 360, and NortonLive are trademarks or registered trademarks of Symantec Corporation or its affiliates in the U.S. and other countries. Microsoft, Internet Explorer, Outlook, Windows, and Windows Vista are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. Other names may be trademarks of their respective owners.


Copyright© 2010 Symantec Corporation. All rights reserved. Symantec, the Symantec Logo, Norton, Norton 360, and NortonLive are trademarks or registered trademarks of Symantec Corporation or its affiliates in the U.S. and other countries. Microsoft, Internet Explorer, Outlook, Windows, and Windows Vista are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. Other names may be trademarks of their respective owners.

Samsung recommends Windows® 7.

Introducing the new Samsung Series 9 Notebook. Cast from aviation alloy and powered by a 2nd generation Intel® Core™ i5 Processor, it’s the latest innovation in fast computing performance. At only 16mm, its ultra thin, lightweight streamlined arc design make it more than just a notebook. It’s a true reflection of strength and sophistication. What defines you? TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS Intel® Core™ i5 Processor 2537M (1.4GHz, 3MB) • Genuine Windows®  7  Home  Premium  (64bit) Operating System 4GB (DDR3) System Memory • 13.3” SuperBrightPlus© Anti-Reflective HD LED Display • 128GB Solid State Drive (SSD) Up to 7 Hours Battery Life** • Weighs only 1.31kg

www.samsung.com/notebook Copyright© 2011 SAMSUNG Electronics Co, Ltd. Screen images are simulated. Intel, the Intel logo, Intel Core and Core Inside are trademarks of Intel Corporation in the U.S. and other countries. ** Battery life based on Battery Mark test scores that will vary based on configuration. SAM_SERIES9_7374_CT_F

FIND OUT MORE


buying advice //by Christo van Gemert

Whether it’s a laptop or an iPod, you’ll want something to enhance the way it sounds. And the world of audio accessories is as vast as it is complicated. This month, we look at the finer points in each category.

T

hose earphones that came with your iPod? Dump ‘em. They might sound okay now, but you’re really doing your ears and music a disservice by not having a pair of highquality earphones or headphones. Similarly, the tinny speakers that are built into your laptop don’t quite cut the mustard when you want to have a party in your cubicle. Even the bog-standard speakers that came with a desktop computer are probably not that great. Finally, there’s the area where the two meet: how about plugging your iPod into a pair of proper speakers? Yes, it is possible to make your mobile music sound mega, and we’re here to advise on what to look for.

Jargon: Busted Just to clear things up, there is a difference between headphones and earphones. The former, sometimes referred to as “cans”, are the kind that go over your head. Hence the “head” in headphones. Earphones, then, are the little speakers you plug into your ears. These are available as the kind that clip over your ears or earbuds, with silicon tips that sit snugly in the ear canal.

14 | connect | September 2011

Personal Parties Portable audio players, be they cellphones, an iPod or similar, are most often used with either headphones or earphones. They even ship with a pair in the box. Even though the music stored on these devices is compressed, thus standing a chance of having poorer audio quality, it’s still important to use a good pair of ‘phones with them. The choice between earphones and headphones (see boxout) is purely down to comfort and convenience. A high-end pair of earphones can sound just as good as an expensive pair of headphones. There are some functional features to look for: Cord length. Ideally, a pair of headphones or earphones should have a cord longer than 1.5 metres. Sometimes it’s possible to get ‘phones with a tangle-free cord. This is a special cord wrapped in fabric that prevents it from twisting up and knotting. In-line microphones and volume controls are available on certain earphones, especially those targeted for use with smartphones. Noise cancellation is a premium feature that you pay a lot more for, but it becomes useful for cancelling out the drone of aeroplane engines on flights, for example.


Desktop Ditties In the early days, the speakers you attached to a desktop computer were only there out of desperate necessity. Computers were just starting to ship with soundcards, and multimedia audio requirements weren’t all that demanding. As the years went by and we started watching high-definition movies, with multi-channel Dolby soundtracks, speaker systems evolved. People sometimes think they need “just a set of speakers” in the same way they need “just a mouse and keyboard”, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. Modern PC sound systems can have two high-quality standalone speakers, or a 2.1 setup that includes a subwoofer. Gamers might want to opt for a 5.1 system, which includes 5 small satellite speakers and 1 (usually large) subwoofer. If you’re playing games and watching movies, a high-end system is a must. For regular web browsing, where you listen to music and watch YouTube videos, a more modest 2-speaker or 2.1 sound system is more than ample. Things to look for on desktop speakers: Volume controls, usually integrated in a speaker, but sometimes available as a remote control or wired control. Auxiliary audio inputs, for your MP3 player or a second device – 5.1 sound systems might even come with control boxes that allow you to connect consoles and DVD players. On multi-speaker setups, you’ll want to make sure the cables are not hard-wired. Instead, they should have speaker posts that let you use any speaker cable, should the supplied cables not be long enough.

Numbers Game When looking at audio equipment, there are two main figures that will help determine the kind of sound you’re going to get out of the equipment. The first is the frequency response of the speakers, rated in hertz (Hz) or kilohertz (kHz). Low frequencies are for bass, and higher numbers determine treble. Usually the figures are quoted as a range, e.g.: 20Hz – 20kHz. High-quality speakers and earphones will have better bass, as low as 12Hz maybe, with treble going higher, up to 25kHz or 28kHz. Another quoted figure is for power output. For desktop speakers, it will be quoted in watts, while earphones and headphones use decibels (dB). This determines the maximum power output at full volume – but be careful, because extended time at high volumes can cause hearing loss.

www.connectmag.co.za | 15


buying advice

Outside Broadcasts There’s a third audio option on the cards, too – a mix of portability and power. In the ‘80s and mid ‘90s, it was not uncommon to see kids with boom boxes or portable radios. Thankfully, the modern solution is less garish, and produces even better audio quality. Logitech, Bang & Olufsen, Bose and a few other manufacturers have iPod and media docks, for folks who want their sound in the bedroom, kitchen or even on the go. With the popularity of iPods, most docks will feature connectors for Apple’s music player. Simply plug in your iPod and the music plays through the dock’s (usually decent) speakers. shopping for a dock? here’s what to keep in mind: If you want to take your dock on the road, make sure it can be easily transported and can be powered by batteries. Some docks are more compact, and come with carry cases, while others have built-in rechargeable batteries. You can replace your bedside alarm clock with certain iPod docks that boast alarm functionality, including a snooze button. Auxiliary audio inputs are also available on certain models, perfect if you don’t use an iPod, but still want to play music through an external speaker system. Modern music docks have both wired inputs and wireless capabilities. For instance, there are players that support Bluetooth audio playback, which works with most music-enabled phones. Wireless freedom means there’s no need for an iPod.

16 | connect | September 2011

Hertz so good! The human ear is generally believed to be sensitive to frequencies between 20Hz and 20kHz. Some people hear a bit more, others a bit less. In either case, it’s important for a speaker to produce frequencies outside these limits – if not for more sensitive ears, then definitely for sound quality. Having a speaker cut off at exactly 20Hz, rather than continuing to produce (inaudible) sound all the way to 15Hz, is the same as hitting a brick wall. The abrupt halt of those frequencies is jarring. If the speaker continues down to 15Hz, it is like slowing down gently. Your ears might not hear 17Hz, but having the sound gently roll in and out of that spectrum makes it feel far more complete.


back to basics //by Christo van Gemert

pick a

printer

Whether you like them or not, printers are near essential in our current computing environment. Let’s see what makes them tick, and what variants you’ll find on the shelves.

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ry as we might, the paperless office environment, whether in a corporation or at home, is not quite a reality, just yet. Kids need to print out school projects. Bosses demand hard-copy duplicates of important documents. Airlines let us print our own eTickets. Photo printing is also in strong demand – multi-megapixel cameras and excellent printer technology mean we can finally get back to filling out family albums, rather than populating Facebook with pics.

FANTASTIC PHOTOS Most consumers purchase inkjet printers because they’re cheaper than their laser counterparts. But there is a reason to specifically choose an inkjet printer: photo printing. High-end photo printers aren’t tremendously expensive, and enable you to cost-effectively print your photographs at home, for the price of only slightly more than a dedicated photo lab. Inkjet printers are also capable of handling the special photo paper required for high-quality prints, an ability that laser printers lack.

18 | connect | September 2011

Ink-orporated There are key differentiators when it comes to printers, though. The most affordable printers to buy, outright, are standard inkjet printers. These can cost as little as R199, but this does mean the cost for replacement ink can outweigh the purchase price of the printer itself. These cheaper printers are usually designed for folks who are on a budget, and only print a few pages per month. Cost per page (see below) is not ideal, but the buy-in – for an item that will be used infrequently – is very low. Once you move up the inkjet printer range, manufacturers start including additional features. It’s possible to buy a mid-range to high-end inkjet printer for between R999 and R1 999, with all the bells and whistles. This includes network functionality, with both wired and wireless networking options, built-in scanners and even e-mail functionality. HP have their ePrint-enabled printers, where users can connect their printers to a wireless network, giving the printer Internet access. After that, it’s as easy as e-mailing a photo or document to the printer (it has its own, special e-mail address) and it will print out the contents of the files it has been sent.


DUTY CALLS A printer’s duty cycle refers simply to its ideal workload. It is possible to print 3 000 pages per month on a run-of-the-mill inkjet, but don’t be surprised when your ink costs go through the roof and the printer’s internal mechanisms need regular servicing or replacement. Printers used in office environments have duty cycles rated in the thousands: 5 000 to 8 000 pages per month is small change for a busy office, but probably a hefty bill for a household. Laser printers, due to their inner workings, can stand up to a bit more abuse than inkjet printers, which is why they usually have higher duty cycles.

Of course, these pricier inkjet printers have other advantages, too. They use more advanced print heads – the part of an inkjet printer that sprays the ink onto the page – which means they can print more pages per set of ink cartridges. With separate ink tanks for each colour, it becomes difficult to determine how many pages you’ll get on a full set, since some colours will be used up sooner than others. This modular approach does make it easier to contain costs, though. Instead of purchasing a single colour cartridge, which will need replacement when one ink runs out, you just replace the depleted tank. This also means more pages since each tank can now be physically larger. Depending on the type of inkjet printer, a set of inks can cost between R300 and R800. That said, a really good colour photo printer can get about 300 pages of text and graphics, before one of its ink cartridges needs to be replaced. If printing in just black and white, the higher-capacity black cartridges can last up to 2 000 pages. Cheaper models that are less frugal will get about 200 pages on average, with the black cartridges capable of up to 500 monochrome prints. One term often used to describe the running costs of printers is “cost per page”. This is simply how many rands or cents it costs to print a page (excluding the cost of the printer). With colour inkjet printers, this varies between R2 and R1.20 per page.

HOW TO: SAVE ON PRINTING COSTS Some manufacturers claim it’s possible to print using an inkjet, with a cost per page equal to that of a laser printer. This is possible, but only under certain circumstances. A good start is to reduce print quality to draft, for non-essential documents. This uses a lower print quality, and is ideal for text. Certain printers also have extra-large ink cartridges available. This is the same as buying in bulk, allowing you to buy more ink at once for less than you’d pay buying two or three cartridges separately. Buying smart and printing smart can save you a lot of money in the long run.

www.connectmag.co.za | 19


back to basics

Laser love Laser printers have a far cheaper cost per page, but the initial outlay is a lot more substantial. Laser printers are not very suitable for high-quality photo printing, and this is where inkjet printers, despite their ink costs, have the lasers beat on pure print quality. Laser printers have become really affordable over the last few years. It’s now possible to buy an entrylevel black-and-white laser printer for as little as R599, with a replacement toner cartridge that costs about the same. Now, R600 for a cartridge might seem like a lot, but it yields between 1 200 and 1 500 pages, giving even a cheap laser printer a very good cost per page. Since the thermal laser assemblies inside laser printers are more complicated, the initial hardware costs are higher than with inkjet printers. Consumables, on the other hand, are maybe as pricey, but yield far more pages before requiring replacement. This, combined with their high duty cycles, makes laser printers far more suited to office environments where a lot of paper is used.

Colour laser printers usually use 4 toner cartridges, one for each print colour, and the requisite black. On high-end models, the cost for toner can be up to R900 per colour, but here, the total yield is closer to 4 000 pages on black toner, with slightly lower figures for the colour toner cartridges.

MULTI-FUNCTION BASICS Most printers sold today are multifunction devices. Unless you’re specifically looking for a dedicated fax machine, copier or scanner – something that’ll probably impact the budget for home users or small offices – a multifunction printer can deliver all of that functionality without really compromising your workflow. There are two types of scanners available on these devices: document feed and flatbed. The former is great for automatically feeding sheets, but is less common, while the latter is great for more general use, including scanning books and other flat items. Scanning functionality usually means the printer will be a selfcontained copier, with no need to be connected to a computer. Finally, fax functionality can be had for a small premium, should office environments require it.

NATIVE NETWORKING If you think about it, connecting your printer directly to your computer is a bit old-fashioned. Thankfully, modern printers are available with either wired or wireless networking. In either case, it makes it simple to share a printer with a number of computers on a home or office network, with near full functionality available on all of them. Even if you are scanning a document, it’s possible to save the scanned file to a USB stick or a memory card. Some multifunction devices already have ports for memory sticks to be plugged in.

20 | connect | September 2011


advertorial

TomTom LIVE Services Traffic got you down? Fret not, there is help!

W

ithout doubt, traffic is a daily nuisance. Worse than the traffic itself is not knowing when or where it will suddenly get worse, which alternate routes to take or even just which roads are the most congested.

A GPS device cAn helP TomTom’s LIVE GPS devices grant you access to services that can help you plan your route to take you around congested roads. Using a complicated system that gathers and analyses traffic data, your TomTom can tell you what is happening on the roads in your area, with amazing accuracy. By using that information to avoid clogged routes, you can potentially make it to your destination quicker. If re-routing is not possible, your TomTom will also tell you what sort of delay you’re facing so that you can notify anyone expecting you of how long you will still be.

live ServiceS LIVE services don’t just keep track of traffic, either – for your annual subscription you’ll also get access to the locations of speed cameras. Your TomTom device will then notify you of their presence, and you can drive accordingly. For a relatively modest investment, you can possibly save yourself thousands in traffic fines. LIVE-enabled devices can also tell you what’s around you with TomTom’s POI (Points of Interest) feature. You can search for restaurants, petrol stations, shopping centres and much more from the device itself, and results are listed according to how far they are away from your current position.

WhAt doeS it coSt? You get a year’s worth of access to TomTom’s Live services and map updates with your GPS purchase. Once the year is up maps cost R400 and Live services R499, and both must be renewed every year. You can choose not to purchase new maps every year, but then – surprise – your GPS device won’t display the absolute latest map data, and you might end up turning down a closed road that was open a year ago.

Added extrAS Throw in voice commands, weather information and handsfree cellphone controls via Bluetooth and you have fullyfeatured devices that make for excellent travel companions whether you’re going on holiday, or just driving around town.

live-enAbled deviceS: The following TomTom GPS devices are all LIVE-enabled... > Via LIVE 120 > Via LIVE 125 > GO LIVE 1000


buying advice //by Deon du Plessis

Windows 7’s many flavours Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, or Ultimate? 32-bit or 64-bit? We peel back the layers to reveal some of the differences between Windows 7’s many variants. 22 | connect | September 2011


M

icrosoft’s Windows platform is the most popular operating system in the world. The latest version, Windows 7, is arguably the most successful Windows operating system ever, but it’s also one of the most confusing. Not because it’s hard to use, but because there are several versions to choose from available at retail, either boxed individually or bundled with a personal computer. Unless you know the intimate details of each, it can be hard to choose the version that’s right for your budget as well as your computing needs. That’s where we at Connect come in – this feature will provide the info needed to make that choice.

Windows 7 Starter What is it? The Starter edition of Windows 7 was developed to address the basic computing needs present in emerging markets. It’s the entry-level version of Windows 7 and doesn’t have many of the frills of other versions, so you’re unable to change the desktop background or activate the awesome Aero interface that makes elements of the Windows interface see-through. It’s also limited to a 32-bit version and is thus not intended for performance computers.

32-bit or 64-bit? Before we start, let’s get this out of the way. The amount of memory (also called RAM) your computer has will determine whether to go for a 32-bit or 64-bit operating system. While there is a significant technical difference between the two, all you need to know is that a 32-bit operating system (also called an OS) can use a maximum of 3.3GB of RAM, whereas a 64-bit OS can address up to 128GB. Some programs benefit from access to a large amount of memory and Windows runs somewhat faster with more. If you don’t anticipate editing high-resolution photos and video, a 32-bit operating system and 4GB of RAM is more than sufficient for everyday computing. Creative types and gamers, however, will definitely enjoy the benefits of more than 4GB of RAM as it means smoother Windows, application and game performance.

Windows 7 Home Basic What is it? The only feature Windows Home Basic has that Starter doesn’t is the Windows Mobility Centre, a small application that provides quick access to Windows functions that deal with portable computers. It lets you adjust screen brightness, rotate the screen, connect to an external display, check the status of any nearby wireless networks and your notebook’s battery. Besides the Mobility Centre, Home Basic is identical to Starter, and is still subject to Starter’s many limitations.

Usage scenarios Windows 7 Starter is intended for use in netbooks. Starter is not an operating system you’ll see on notebooks or desktop computers, and it has a very restricted feature-set, which makes it less demanding on the hardware on which it runs. Notable restrictions Cannot create Homegroups (but can join them) Cannot create or play DVDs Media Centre is not included (but Media Player 12 is) No 64-bit version No Aero interface Does not support multiple monitors No remote desktop connection Does not allow the desktop wallpaper to be changed Cannot minimise all secondary windows using the Shake gesture Get it if… …you’re on a strict budget and need a basic operating system that will let you install and run applications, surf the Internet and perform productivity-related tasks like sending e-mails and creating documents.

www.connectmag.co.za | 23


buying advice

Windows 7 Professional What is it? This is Microsoft’s operating system intended for use in corporate environments. It has all the networking and security features needed to satisfy any corporate IT department’s requirements, as well as added extras like the ability to run older programs in a “Windows XP compatibility mode” (a separate download). Usage scenarios This is the OS to go for if you’re a professional using a notebook or desktop computer. The limitations of other versions don’t apply here, as Professional grants access to domain-based networking, remote control and something called “Location-based printing”, a cool feature that automatically changes the system’s default printer when you switch networks.

Windows 7 Home Premium What is it? Now we’re getting to the good stuff. Home Premium is the version of Windows best suited to home and small business use. It supports the majority of features the average South African computer user will likely need, including the very attractive Aero interface (including cool features like Peek and Shake), Homegroup creation and control, and the very useful Snipping Tool. Home Premium’s limitations are all to do with big business networks, and are, therefore, not going to be missed by the average user. Usage scenarios This is an excellent operating system for both desktop and notebook computers that are used at home and in small businesses. Power users might lament the absence of features like Remote Desktop support (the ability to remotely control a Windows 7 computer), but for the most part, this is the operating system that should suit the needs of home users like parents, kids and students. It’s also good for small business users who don’t need the advanced networking features preferred by corporate networks. Notable restrictions Does not switch printers when you move locations No Remote Desktop support Cannot join a domain (a requirement of big company networks) Does not allow backups to be saved to a network location Get it if… …the PC you’re buying is intended for home use, or use in a small business environment where support for domain-based networking and remote control is not needed.

24 | connect | September 2011

Notable restrictions Windows 7 Professional only lacks the extras tacked on to Windows 7 Ultimate. As such, it’s the best choice for professionals and power users (gamers, technicians and other advanced users). See the next section for details on what Ultimate has that Professional doesn’t. Get it if… …you’re a mobile professional or advanced home user looking to make use of features like Remote Desktop.

Windows 7 Ultimate What is it? Ultimate is the absolute best operating system Microsoft has to offer, and it has everything the company’s engineers could think to stuff into the package. While it is the best of the best, not everyone needs the features it has that Professional doesn’t. Usage scenarios This is the OS for serious power users, like gamers who want the best and technicians who absolutely must have the ability to lock down their hard drive with military-grade encryption. Notable additions BitLocker, a utility that is used to encrypt your hard drive so that it cannot be accessed by anyone without the password. Language packs allow you to operate Windows in a selection of 35 languages. AppLocker lets IT professionals choose what applications a user can run. Boot directly from a virtual hard drive. Get it if… …you’re an IT professional or hardcore power user looking for the most advanced version of Windows yet.


flashback //by Deon du plessis

... e h t f o y r o t The his

computer viruses As long as there have been computers, there have been malicious people creating programs that cripple them. This month, we look at some of the more notable computer viruses and worms of the past 30 years. 1986 1982 American teenager Richard Skrenta creates a program called Elk Cloner, written for Apple II computers, that displays a brief poem every 50th boot. It spreads by copying itself onto floppy disks inserted into infected computers, which would, in turn, infect other computers. It’s considered the first-ever large-scale virus outbreak.

The Ping Pong virus is a relatively harmless bug that creates a small ball that bounces around the screen of infected PCs, sometimes causing them to crash. Viruses start getting media attention, with articles appearing in several high-profile publications, including Business Week and Byte.

1987 1983

The term ‘virus’ is coined by Frederick Cohen to describe computer programs that replicate themselves.

26 | connect | September 2011

1988

The Brain virus appears. It’s the first virus ever written that’s compatible with IBM PCs. It relocates the boot sector of floppy disks and marks the original location as bad, which slows the read-write speed of infected floppy disks considerably.

The Stoned and Jerusalem viruses infect PCs. Jerusalem erases all executable files that are run on every Friday the 13th,, starting on May 13, 1988. Stoned is a nuisance virus that causes infected PCs to display text in support of legalising certain narcotics.

1990 Symantec launches Norton AntiVirus, one of the first commercial anti-virus software programs.


2003 2000 In early May 2000, e-mails with the subject ILOVEYOU arrive in inboxes with an attachment that claims to be a love letter. On opening the attachment, the virus immediately sends copies of itself to everyone in the infected computer’s address book, but unlike Melissa, it also damages or deletes files on affected PCs in addition to crippling e-mail servers with lots of network traffic.

The Blaster worm of 2003 exploits a flaw in Microsoft’s Windows XP and 2000 operating systems, that, among other things, causes PCs to initiate a shutdown minutes after booting.

2006 “Bi”, the first cross-platform virus appears. It affects both Windows and Linux operating systems and is considered a “proof of concept” virus that indicates virus writers are researching ways of infecting multiple computer platforms simultaneously.

1995 Microsoft Word is targeted by a macro virus called Concept that exploits Word’s ability to create shortcuts called macros that can be embedded in Word documents.

2006 On July 14, security software company Sophos reports a drop in the number of worms and viruses being written as criminals discover other cyber-attack avenues that generate revenue.

1991 The first ‘polymorphic’ viruses appear. These viruses change their underlying programming code each time they are run without changing their function, making them harder to detect.

2004 Ominously-named worm MyDoom takes remote control of millions of PCs and targets www.sco.com with a flood of Internet traffic. This is known as a “Denial of Service” attack, which makes targeted Websites inoperable. It is speculated (but not confirmed) that the attack originated because of SCO’s controversial lawsuits and public statements made against open-source operating system Linux.

2001 An e-mail claiming to contain an image of tennis player Anna Kournikova starts to circulate in early 2001. Instead of said image, the virus hijacks the PC’s address book and sends itself onwards. It’s not harmful to individual computers, however, just a nuisance. The Nimda virus hits the Internet later that year; while it doesn’t do damage to PCs, it generates massive amounts of network traffic that slows the Internet to a crawl across the world.

1992 Bulgarian hacker ‘Dark Avenger’ releases a ‘mutation engine’, software that turns regular viruses into polymorphic viruses. A ‘Virus Creation Laboratory’, the first-ever viruscreation utility, also surfaces.

1999 The Melissa virus is embedded in an e-mail that claims to contain a list of passwords that grant access to naughty websites. When the offending attachment is opened, the virus spreads by mailing itself to the first 50 people in the now-infected computer’s address book. This overwhelms and cripples e-mail servers around the world.

www.connectmag.co.za | 27


accessibility //by tiana Cline

assisted with Apple For those with visual, aural or physical disabilities, this month, we’re highlighting in-built Apple software that makes all the difference. 28 | connect | September 2011


Vision OS X comes with a variety of assistive technologies to help those with impaired vision. These technologies include a built-in screen reader, screen and cursor magnification, high-contrast settings, and more.

VoiceOver VoiceOver, a utility that comes with Apple computers, is an advanced, full-featured screen-access technology that makes it possible for those who are blind or have low vision to control their computer. VoiceOver is much more than simply a text-to-speech tool. It uses speech to describe what is happening on the computer, and you can use it to control the PC without seeing the screen. VoiceOver in OS X Lion includes built-in voices that speak 22 languages. In addition, there are other languages available for download, as well as alternative voices with differing dialects such as English (UK), English (Australia) and English (South Africa).

Applications VoiceOver is not a standalone screen reader, it works with a wide range of applications – word processors, spreadsheets, browsers, audio software, utilities, and more, including those built into OS X.

The Alex Voice Alex is the voice of the Mac. Alex uses advanced Apple technologies to deliver natural intonation in English even at extraordinarily fast speaking rates. While most text-to-speech (TTS) systems analyse and synthesise text one sentence at a time, OS X analyses text a paragraph at a time and deciphers the context more accurately. In addition, Alex more closely matches the nuances of human speech and is so natural that he even breathes between long passages. Using Alex, it’s easier to understand the meaning of longer text passages in books, articles and news stories.

Braille With plug-and-play support for braille displays, VoiceOver includes software drivers for over 40 USB and wireless braille displays. And through a unique feature called Braille Mirroring, VoiceOver is the only screen reader that supports more than one braille device at a time –up to 32 braille displays connected simultaneously to the same computer. This enables you to share what you’re working on with others who read braille, just as sighted users can share their computer screen using a video projector.

High Contrast and Reverse Video Screen and Cursor Magnification Zoom is a built-in, fullscreen magnifier that can magnify the items on the screen up to 40 times. It can be activated using keyboard commands, a button on the screen, a trackpad gesture, or the scroll ball (or wheel) on a mouse. Independent of Zoom magnification, the cursor can also be magnified so it’s easier to see and follow when you move the mouse. The cursor remains scaled to the preferred size even when the cursor shape changes; scaling remains in effect until you change it, even when you log out, shut down, or restart your Mac. You can use cursor scaling in combination with Zoom and other OS X features, allowing you to adapt the computer for your specific needs.

OS X includes flexible adjustments for changing the display. There are settings to increase and decrease contrast, remove colour (switch to greyscale) and even reverse the video to white-on-black or black-on-white.

Safari Reader Safari Reader removes visual distractions from online articles so you can focus on the content. As you browse the Web, Safari detects if you’re on a Web page with an article. Click the Reader icon in the Smart Address Field, and the article appears instantly in one continuous, clutter-free view. (The onscreen controls let you easily zoom in on the article, which is great for users with low vision.) Because Safari Reader presents multipage articles as one, continuous view, VoiceOver users can listen to the article without any interruptions.

Talking Alerts When an application needs your attention, Talking Alerts automatically speak the contents of dialogues and alerts.

Talking Calculator OS X includes a talking calculator that speaks each button you press and the results of the calculation. It has 3 modes: a simple calculator, a scientific calculator, and a programmer’s calculator.

Talking Clock If you’d like the time of day spoken to you, you can instruct the Mac to speak it automatically – on the hour, half hour, or quarter hour. Or you can use a voice command to have the Mac speak the time of day whenever you like.

Converting Text to Speech If you don’t use a screen reader, but can benefit from hearing text on the computer screen spoken to you, you can use Text to Speech.

www.connectmag.co.za | 29


accessibility Physical and Motor Skills OS X provides built-in and assistive technologies that can help you navigate the computer even if you have difficulties using the keyboard, mouse and trackpad.

Slow and Sticky Keys Slow Keys changes the sensitivity of the keyboard to filter out unintended multiple keystrokes. It adds a delay between when a key is pressed and when it is entered, so you have more time to press it and more time to remove your finger to avoid mistakes. The delay is adjustable, and you can choose to have a sound play to let you know when a key is entered. Using Sticky Keys, you can enter key combinations (called chords) – such as Command-Q (for Quit) and Command-Control-Option-8 (to reverse the display to white on black) – by pressing them in sequence instead of simultaneously. When Sticky Keys is active, OS X visually displays each modifier key in the sequence in the upper-right corner of the screen, accompanied by a sound effect, so you can verify the sequence and correct it (if needed) before it’s entered. When you press the last key in the sequence, OS X plays a sound, enters the keys as a chord, and removes the visual representation from the screen.

Hearing OS X Lion includes a variety of features that can make using the Mac easier for the deaf and hard-of-hearing.

Alternative Keyboard Layouts

Closed Captioning

In addition to the standard QWERTY keyboard layout, OS X includes several Dvorak keyboard layouts that may be useful for those who have difficulty typing. The traditional Dvorak keyboard layout places the most commonly used keys under your fingers. The Dvorak-Left and DvorakRight layouts place the most commonly used keys under your left or right hand, respectively, reducing the need to move your hands and fingers. (And if you have difficulty using a mouse or trackpad, you can use Mouse Keys to control the mouse pointer using keys on a numeric keypad.)

OS X Lion includes support for playing back open and closed captioning in dynamic content such as movies, videos and podcasts, using QuickTime, Front Row, and DVD Player. Closed captions appear in a high-contrast white Sans Serif font against a black background, similar to line 21-style television captions.

iChat Included in OS X Lion is a text, audio and video conferencing application called iChat. You can use iChat to place and receive video relay and text relay calls, using a service called Purple. Purple Relay Service can connect you to others using IM and even those using videophones. Just add “PurpleVRSim” as a buddy, then type “hello” (or “hola”) in a message. Purple Relay Services places the call and provides a Video Interpreter (VI) or Call Assistant (CA) to facilitate a conversation between parties through speech, sign language and text messaging.

Screen Flash When a Mac application needs attention, it can ask the operating system to play a beep sound, or it can choose to have the Mac flash the entire screen like a camera flash. Using the screen flash, you’re sure to get the message no matter where your attention is focused on the screen – it works with every OS X application that uses the system beep.

Mono Audio Unlike monaural audio recordings, stereo recordings have distinct left- and right-channel audio tracks. If you’re deaf or hard-of-hearing in one ear, you may be missing some of the music or audio contained in one of the channels. OS X Lion can help by playing both left and right audio channels in both left and right ears (or speakers), so you won’t miss anything and can enjoy all of the music or spoken audio.

30 | connect | September 2011

Inkwell Speech Recognition Speakable Items lets you control the computer using your voice instead of the keyboard. And you don’t have to train the Mac to use it. You can use Speakable Items to navigate menus and enter keyboard shortcuts, speak checkbox names, radio button names, list items, and button names, and open, close, control and switch between applications. (If you want to perform speech dictation on the Mac, there is an application you can buy from MacSpeech called Dictate.)

OS X comes with built-in handwriting recognition technology called Inkwell (or Ink). If you connect a graphics tablet to your Mac, you can write on the tablet using a stylus, and Inkwell translates what you write to typed words in your document. Some applications allow you to enter text directly; with others, you first enter the text into a “scratch pad” (where you can edit or revise it) before bringing it into the application.

Onscreen Keyboard If you find it easier to use a pointing device than a keyboard, you can use the Keyboard Viewer to enter text. You’ll find this onscreen keyboard in the Language & Text pane of System Preferences. The Keyboard Viewer floats above other applications (so you can’t misplace it) and can be resized to fit your screen. Although you “type” with a mouse or other pointing device, it otherwise works just like a physical keyboard.

Automator If you have trouble using a mouse or trackpad, you can have Automator perform complex, routine tasks for you. Using its “Watch me do” feature, you can quickly and easily record what you do on the Mac, save it as a workflow, and run the workflow whenever you want to perform the same series of steps.


BE AT S A L L V I RUS ES . A N D A N T I V I RUS E S .*

One virus. That’s all it takes to delete your files, leak your identity, and render your PC worthless. So why settle for protection that’s second best? Bitdefender catches the viruses other products miss, plus comes jam-packed with innovative features including Autopilot--to automatically make all the security decisions for you, and social network security—to safeguard your privacy when on Facebook and Twitter. * According to AV-Test (July 2011)

Learn more at bitdefender.com.


how to //by Deon du Plessis

Backup & Restore7 Windows

Have you heard about this mythical “Backup” thingy, but you don’t know where to start? Then read on, as our handy guide will show Windows 7 owners everything they need to know to make backups a part of their digital lifestyles.

32 | connect | September 2011


A

s much as it would be truly awesome if technology never, ever broke down, that’s simply not the case. Sometimes – often at the worst possible time – bad things happen and we’re left with non-functional phones, notebooks, desktop computers, TVs, etc. Computers are the worst items to have go bellyup because they contain so much important information. The ability to back up information came about for that exact reason, and until Windows NT (launched in 1997), it was handled by software that had to be bought separately. In all versions of Windows since NT, users have had the option to back up their data using a built-in, dedicated program. It was originally called NTBackup, but was replaced by the more robust Windows Backup and Restore Centre in Windows Vista. As Windows has matured, Microsoft has made it progressively easier to perform backuprelated tasks.

Not all are created equal Windows 7 has several versions, and each differs from the others in small ways. When it comes to backups, computers with Windows 7 Home Premium and below are limited to backing up to a local hard drive, a writeable CD or DVD drive, or a removable USB hard drive. Computers running Windows 7 Professional and above can also back up to locations on a home or business network.

Backup and Restore Centre Windows 7’s Backup and Restore Centre lets users back up their data or restore data from a previous backup. It also lets them create a ‘system restore disc’ – a process that requires a blank DVD and a writeable DVD drive – which allows them to restore from a previous backup without needing to load Windows. Another option is to make a ‘system image’. This is an exact copy of a hard drive and thus requires a backup device with a lot of available storage space. The benefit of doing a backup in this way is that a PC can be restored to the exact state it was in when the system image was created.

www.connectmag.co.za | 33


back to basics

Backing up The most common method of backing up is for the user to choose which files and folders to include, where the backup data will be stored, and the time the backup is scheduled to start. Here’s how to do it. 1

Connect Recommends It’s never pleasant to imagine “worst case scenarios”, but they have been known to crop up from time to time. Connect recommends that all Windows 7 owners create a system repair disc, a system recovery disc, and set up a weekly backup, just in case. It could save your skin in the future.

2

3

4

5

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Click on Start, and type in “backup”. Click on Backup and Restore once it appears. Under the heading “Check Backup Settings”, click on the box that says “Options”. Click “Change backup settings”. Wait for Windows Backup to start. Choose where you’d like to save your backup data. If you need to, connect an external hard drive and click Refresh. Once that’s done, hit Next. You can either let Windows choose what to back up, or specify the folders you’d like to save. Letting Windows do it is easiest, but if you prefer to finetune what is backed up, choose the second option. Click Next. Review your settings. If the specified backup time is not right, click Change Schedule and choose a more convenient time. Click Save and Exit, and the backup will run at the time you’ve chosen. If you’d like to start the backup right away, click the “Back up now” button. Otherwise, click OK to close the Backup and Restore window.

Best Backup Behaviour Set your backup to run very early in the morning on a day you’re not likely to use the computer. If your data changes daily, set your backup to run once a day, and manually create a “System image” once a month, just in case. Create a System Restore disc and label it clearly. Store it in a location you’re most likely to check first in case of technical issues with your hard drive or other computer hardware. Purchase as big an external hard drive as your budget allows; 1TB is a good start, but a 2TB drive is even better, as backup data can run into the hundreds of gigabytes.

System Restore Windows periodically backs up important system files which can be restored using System Restore. This doesn’t affect personal files at all, and helps to return a computer to a working state in the event of a new driver or program causing erratic behaviour. To access System Restore, click on Start, then All Programs, Accessories, System Tools and finally System Restore. Select the date of the backup you’d like to restore, and click Next.

34 | connect | September 2011


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Lost property Norton Mobile Security lets you remotely disable your phone, erase all of your personal information, and instantly locate your phone, all with a simple text message. If your phone is lost or stolen, you can locate it fast and not worry about cybercriminals running up your bill or using

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SPRUNGING SPRING

product reviews // by Deon Du PLessis & Christo van Gemert

I

t’s my favourite time of year again – spring! I love that I am no longer freezing my extremities off every night, everything is starting to go green and everyone seems just that little bit friendlier. It also doesn’t hurt that the busy year-end season gets underway this month, with plenty of really cool products and game releases starting to trickle into stores. This month I got to play with another awesome Alienware gaming notebook, the M14x. While it doesn’t do 3D at all, it has a lot going for it, with a compact build and plenty of power under the hood, along with Alienware’s aggressive looks and a really coolfeeling, high-quality rubberised finish. There are some other exciting products coming soon – the 2 First Looks this month are on Samsung’s 10.1” Galaxy Tab tablet and Apple’s new MacBook Air notebook. What we know of them so far makes us really keen to get our hands on a few review samples! In the meantime, we’ll just have to settle for whetting your appetite with some interesting info. That’s it from me; may you all have a fantastic September and we’ll talk again next month! 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. 36 | connect | September 2011

Contents 38 40 42 44 46 48 49 50 52 53 54 56 57 58 59 60

First Look – Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1” First Look – Apple MacBook Air Kindle eReader iFrogz Earpollution Ronin Headphones Alienware M14x Gaming Notebook HTC Cha Cha Smartphone Norton Mobile Security Acer Iconia A501 Tablet PC TomTom Start GPS Lenovo B560 Notebook Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc Smartphone Verbatim Store ‘n’ Go USB 3.0 1TB Headphonies Kaspersky Internet Security 2012 Eurotalk Learn Xhosa Books


product FIRST LOOK

Samsung Galaxy 10.1 (P4) NEED TO KNOW • 10.1” tablet • Runs Android 3.0 • HD video playback Available Now: R7 499.95

Samsung, with their sights on Apple, are constantly releasing products that aim to oust those from Cupertino. When the iPhone started gaining popularity, Samsung’s Galaxy offerings stepped up their game. After the launch of the iPad, Samsung had one of the most anticipated tablet offerings with the Galaxy Tab. Even Apple’s Macbook Air now has a Samsung competitor, in the Series 9 (reviewed here last month). So when Apple gave the world the iPad 2 earlier this year, Samsung knew they had to release something that people could consider an equal. The first Galaxy was a 7” device, so the obvious decision would be to give the new tablet a larger display. As the name suggests, the Galaxy 10.1 has a 10” display, boasting a resolution of 1 280 x 800. Both numbers best the iPad, as do the figures for the dual core processor (it’s faster) and the RAM (it’s double what you’ll find in the iPad 2). One of our complaints about the first generation of Android tablets was the interface. Android was, after all, an operating system born on smartphones, and many of the features on Android tablets felt clunky. Android 3.0 (codenamed Honeycomb) takes care of that, offering many tablet-only features. As such, the Galaxy 10.1 will provide a better user experience than its predecessor. The deal is also sweetened by the Tegra processor being capable of delivering some awesome graphics, making that prettier interface even smoother to use. It’s also enhanced by Samsung’s own Touchwiz user interface, giving users of the Galaxy S phones a few familiar themes. Battery life, one area where the iPad excels, has also been given a bump. Samsung’s 38 | connect | September 2011

quoted figures are up to 9 hours when watching videos, and a whopping 72 hours when playing back music. Of course, it wouldn’t be a multimedia tablet if it didn’t support a ton of different music and video formats, so Samsung have made sure the 10.1 will play back all current formats, including high-def video and even the AAC audio format used by Apple on the iPod. There’s almost no digital content the Galaxy won’t play, at present. Everywhere else it’s a match for all its competitors. Networking is well sorted, including Bluetooth 3.0, n-class wireless networking and 3G cellular data connectivity. There are models with 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of on-board storage, more than enough to store data that you’ll commonly use, in addition to any applications from the Android Market. On paper, the Galaxy 10.1 has what it takes to be an iPad 2 competitor, but Apple’s strong points have never been in the outright speed of the hardware. The user experience has been what makes their devices so popular, and if Samsung have managed to pull some strings with the Android interface, it could have a winner on its hands. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • Display size: 10.1” • Resolution: 1 280 x 800 • Operating System: Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) • Storage: 16GB, 32GB or 64GB • Battery life: 9 hours on video, 72 hours on music • Networking: 802.11n wireless, Bluetooth 3.0, 3G data Excitement potential


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product FIRST LOOK

Apple MacBook Air NEED TO KNOW • Second-generation Intel Core i5 and i7 processors • Backlit keyboard • Solid State hard drives Availabile at selected stores R8 999.95 (MC968) R11 499.95 (MC969) R11 999.95 (MC965) R15 499.95 (MC966)

It seems like just a few months ago that Apple released the new Macbook Air, with all models boasting extremely fast Solid State hard drives and high-resolution displays. So when the company announced a refresh to that new model, right after the launch of its OS X Lion operating system, everybody thought it a bit rushed. But since its introduction in early 2008, the Macbook Air has been the victim of an irregular release schedule. While the rest of Apple’s product update cycle is quite predictable, the MBA saw two versions at the start and end of 2008, a lowly processor speed bump in the middle of 2009, an all-new model in October 2010, and then this 40 | connect | September 2011


Also

Consider

Samsung Series 9

refresh announced in July this year. Thankfully, it’s for good reason. Nothing has changed on the outside, save for the new Thunderbolt port. Under the skin, we see a new Intel Core i5 processor being used, where the previous version was still saddled with a much older and slower Intel Core 2 Duo chip. This new bit of silicon puts the Air on par with mounting competition from the likes of Samsung, Lenovo and Acer. Their thin notebooks have modern tech, and now Apple’s do, too. Available as an option is a 1.8GHz Core i7 processor – but this will have to be ordered in advance. Other things on the specification list show generous figures, too. The base 11” model has only 2GB of memory and a 64GB Solid State hard drive, but the rest of the range has 4GB of RAM and either 128GB or 256GB Solid State hard drives. Also present are n-class networking and Bluetooth 4.0, to keep things wirelessly connected. One returning feature that Apple fans called for, and now have, is the backlit keyboard. This has been a mainstay in the high-end Apple notebooks and becomes a must-have option when you’re working on planes, in dark photography studios or even just a dimly-lit room. Joining the keyboard is a large multi-touch trackpad. This was present on the outgoing Air, but has become essential now that the latest

version of OS X is so dependent on multi-touch gestures. This refresh to the Air makes one of our favourite notebooks even better, and it’ll be priced at the same level as the model it’s replacing. Keep an eye on these pages for a full review.

This is the computer Samsung built to take on the Macbook Air, and it’s one sexy bit of kit. It has a fast processor, lots of memory and a Solid State hard drive.

NOTEWORTHY SPECS • Processor: 1.6GHz or 1.7GHz Intel Core i5 • RAM: 2GB on base 11” model, 4GB on all others • Storage: 64GB, 128GB or 256GB Solid State drive • Display size: 11.6” or 13.3” • Resolution: 1 366 x 768 or 1 440 x 900 • Operating System: Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion) • Battery life: 9 hours on video, 72 hours on music • Networking: 802.11n wireless, Bluetooth 4.0 • Weight: 1.08kg for 11”, 1.35kg for 13”

Excitement potential

Lenovo Thinkpad X1

Lenovo’s ultra-thin laptop is far from sexy, but it gets the job done by being both thin and rugged, while still offering the features and functionality that’ll make it a formidable office machine.

www.connectmag.co.za | 41


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Amazon Kindle NEED TO KNOW • The e-reader that started all the fuss; • E-ink screen great for reading in sunlight; • Battery life of 10 days to two months (depending on use). TBC

In 2007 Amazon.com – the largest online retailer of paperback and hardcover books in the world – announced it was going to dip its toe into the electronic publishing space. So, it launched a strangely named eBook reader and began offering its customers a new way of getting their hands on books and other popular reading materials. The Kindle, that strangely named eBook reader is in its third generation, is available for a third of the price of the original and is the most popular item on Amazon’s online store. And today, Amazon’s store today sells a great deal more than books and other reading materials. If Kindle’s dominance wasn’t enough though, electronic books now dominate the company’s overall book sales. And playing with the current model of the Kindle and the ease with which one can buy books from Amazon’s online store, it’s not surprising it’s been such a runaway success. Unfortunately, it’s never been easy to get your hands on a Kindle, since the only way you could buy one was directly from Amazon. But, now it’s available from Incredible Connection. Looking at the hardware, there’s not a great deal to the device. It’s available in a choice of white or granite, has a 6” screen, a small keyboard for taking notes and searching the store for books, page turning buttons on both the left and right side of the screen and is made from a fairly sturdy plastic. 42 | connect | September 2011

So far it sounds like any old e-reader right? But, wait for it. There are 3 features Kindle has in its arsenal that every other vendor struggles to deliver. The first is its fantastic e-ink ‘Pearl’ screen, which as its name suggests actually consists of electronic ink instead of pixels found in conventional screens. It’s an important distinction, since this design choice means the Kindle displays text with an unbelievably high contrast level, and this is as easy on the eyes as reading a paperback. It truly has to be witnessed in both the sunlight and under conventional artificial light. The use of an e-ink screen also means the only time power is consumed by the Kindle is when a page is turned. Once a page has been rendered, the Kindle’s screen stops consuming power. That’s the primary reason the Kindle has a battery life of 10 days. Turn the wireless radio (used for buying and delivering books) off and the battery life jumps up to two months. The Kindle’ second major advantage is its weight. At 250 grams, it’s more comfortable in-hand than holding a paperback or, if you have to go the electronic route, reading any modern tablet or smartphone. Considering that Amazon claims the Kindle’s memory capacity allows for the storage of 3500 books, it’s also a lot lighter than carrying an entire library of books around with you. The third differentiator is the book-buying model employed with the Kindle. While users are able to add books to the Kindle’s internal memory in the form of plain text, rich text and PDF documents, the real fun comes when users begin exploring Amazon’s online bookstore. You can browse the online bookstore right from the device, buy a book with the click of a button and within seconds, it’s available to dive right into. There are even free samples of books on offer, so you can get a feel for a piece of work


related

products before you commit to buying it. Because the Kindle is available locally in a Wi-Fi/3G version, the only constraint is network coverage. Quite obviously, Wi-Fi needs access to a Wi-Fi hotspot in order to access the store, while 3G means it is constantly connected to the store. Whether or not Kindle is a cost saver is debatable as its up front purchase price is not small. Right now, electronic books cost about two thirds what conventional books do. When it comes to convenience though, there’s simply no contest – Kindle wins every time. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • Display: 6” E-Ink • Size: 190 mm x 123 mm x 8.5 mm • Weight: 241 grams • Storage: 4GB internal • Inputs: USB 2.0 micro-B connector, 3.5 mm stereo audio jack • Wireless connectivity: Wi-Fi, 3G Pros

Cons

• Thin, light and ridiculously good battery life • Carry up to 3 500 books with you • 3G connectivity • Buying books is a breeze

• Not great for book-swapping clubs • A single-purpose device

Overall rating

Apple iPad2

Want more than an e-book reader? As the undisputed leader in tablets, this device is great for reading magazines, surfing the Web and having fun with games and applications.

Kindle Application

Available free of charge, this application for all smartphone, tablet and computer platforms lets you read your Kindle purchases wherever you happen to be.

www.connectmag.co.za | 43


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iFrogz Earpollution “Ronin” Headphones NEED TO KNOW Skullcandy HESH Red Headphones

If looks are more your thing, Skullcandy has a range of flashy headphones from which to choose.

perfect companions

Apple iPod Nano 8GB While the Ronin headphones work with any music player that uses a 3.5mm jack, the Nano is one of the best out there and is thus highly recommended.

SanDisk Sansa Clip+ These headphones and a Sansa Clip+ are an excellent audio solution for music lovers on a budget.

• Subtly stylish headphones • Thick and sturdy yet flexible cord • Padded for comfort R399.95

Students of Japanese history will know that a ronin is a samurai – a Japanese warrior – without a master. Movie buffs will know that Ronin is a 1998 movie starring Robert de Niro as a former US intelligence officer doing a bit of freelance work, and boasts one of the most amazing car chases in cinematic history. How either of these is relevant to headphone technology, we’re not sure. Maybe the designer is a big Bob de Niro fan, or perhaps the idea of being a social outcast (“ronin” translates literally as “wave man”, or one who has been socially cast adrift) is intended to inspire purchase by individuals to whom the term applies. More likely, it’s just a really cool name. Whatever the case, that’s the name the people at iFrogz chose for this set of DJ-style headphones. iFrogz is scoring major points with consumers on the pricing front, without compromising on quality. We were very surprised, after opening the package and trying out the Ronin headphones for a few hours, to discover how little they cost. Considering the quality of the audio – deep yet not overpowering bass, really good mid- and high-range response – we were stunned to learn that the Ronin headphones sell for only R399.95. Considering the headphones’ overall build quality (excellent), the price is even more astounding. These are rather large headphones, built for comfort. They fold up easily for travel and storage thanks to spring-loaded hinges, and each earphone is padded with comfortable foam that doesn’t encourage sweat (although they did warm our ears considerably). Comfort levels are maintained even after hours of wear and they block out a lot of external noise. Colleagues won’t complain that they can hear your music, either, if experiences in the Connect offices are anything to go on. Speaking of volume, these headphones happily handle loud music. Setting the PC they were attached to to maximum volume, they produced distortion-free audio that was loud enough to be uncomfortable. If “loud”

44 | connect | September 2011

is your bag, baby, the Ronin headphones will easily cater to you without distorting – a hallmark of a far more expensive set of ‘phones. Another reason to like these headphones involves the cord. It’s thick without feeling brittle, is highly flexible and feels like it won’t break or fray easily. It’s a wee bit on the short side, though, at only 1.5m. However, the headphones are not without their share of flaws. While they do really well on the sound front, they have a tendency to slip out of position. On a few occasions, they almost fell to the floor, and we weren’t even head-banging at the time. While it has an adjustable headband to accommodate different head sizes, regardless of the adjustments made, they still threatened to fall off at the first sign of vigorous movement. If you’re trying to decide between these and Skullcandy headphones, do yourself a favour and go with the Ronin. Despite the brand’s low price, iFrogz put out a very decent product, and Ronin headphones are incredibly easy to recommend based purely on the sound quality you’re getting for the cash. Just don’t shake your head or head-bang wildly while wearing them. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • Driver unit: 50mm • Impedance: 32 ohms +/- 15% • Sensitivity: 105 dB +/- 3 dB • Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz • Cord length: 1.5m • Plug: 3.5mm

Pros

Cons

• Sound quality is a lot better than the price hints at • Foldable design makes for easy travel • Very comfortable to wear • Confidence-inspiring cord

• Easy to shake off • Cable is a bit short

Overall rating


More than you imagined

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18x Optical Zoom

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26x Optical Zoom

30x Optical Zoom


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Dell Alienware M14x Gaming Notebook NEED TO KNOW • Gaming notebook • 14” WLED HD+ display • Intel Core i7 processor • Dual graphics cards R17 999.95

As we also featured a Dell Alienware notebook in our July issue, you might suspect we like the brand. You’d be right, but that’s because Alienware notebooks are the bee’s knees when it comes to gaming, productivity, and any other task you care to perform with a PC, and they’re totally portable. The only real challenge they present is on the affordability front, but in terms of the looks, performance and functionality they offer, Alienware notebooks more than justify the price. The 14” model we received for review, the M14x, is a lot smaller than the M17x, making it a far more portable option than that behemoth of a machine. While we initially suspected users would be worse off with a 14” screen than a 17” screen, a few hours of use had us reconsidering. The smaller overall build is pleasantly compact; it’s much easier to pack into a bag, doesn’t weigh nearly as much as the M17x and is a better option to take to a LAN. If a huge screen is a musthave, you can connect the M14x to an external screen by way of the HDMI, VGA or DisplayPort outputs. A smaller build does mean a handful of sacrifices, however. The first is a keyboard with no keypad, and the second is a screen that does 46 | connect | September 2011

not support the full HD resolution of 1 080p, as its native resolution is 1 600 x 900. A side effect of this is the absence of a Blu-ray optical drive – the M14x only has a DVD rewritable drive. Still, this shouldn’t be a deal-breaker as what the M14x does offer easily makes up for these concerns. The main reason anyone would or should buy an Alienware notebook is for gaming, and in this area, the M14x does very well. The underlying hardware will comfortably run all but the most demanding games with settings turned to high thanks to the nVidia GeForce GT555M mobile graphics card. It’s supported by a quad-core Intel Core i7-2630QM processor and 4GB of DDR3 RAM; the RAM count could be higher, but even at “only” 4GB, the system performs well enough that we don’t feel we can take points off for it. To test it out, we fired up Battlefield: Bad Company 2, one of 2010’s most popular games and one that supports Microsoft’s DirectX10 graphics. We were very happy with the M14x’s performance when graphics were set to “High” as there was no noticeable mouse lag (a hallmark of a PC struggling with a demanding graphics workload). But we noticed a definite lowering of performance when all the Advanced settings were enabled. While this may seem like it should be better, it’s well within the bounds of what can be considered to be good graphical performance from a mobile PC. The end result is a notebook that gives players a very good gaming experience without sacrificing much in terms of overall visual quality. When it’s not gaming, the M14x has a secondary graphics card that powers 2D visuals. That’s because the M14x uses nVidia’s Optimus


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Dell Alienware M17x Gaming Notebook

Whoever said bigger isn’t better hasn’t owned an M17x Alienware gaming notebook. This monster of a portable gaming notebook is not only huge, but it displays games and movies in 3D as well.

perfect companions

technology, which intelligently switches between the 2 graphics chips, depending on the use the notebook is being put to. If you’re just surfing the Web, writing e-mails, creating documents or listening to music, the M14x uses the Intel HD Graphics 3000 chip. As it uses far less power than the GeForce GT555M, this results in improved battery life. Graphics and performance aside, the M14x is a beautiful machine to behold and touch. Looks-wise, it incorporates Alienware’s typical aggressive style, with lots of sharp-looking edges and lights on the front of the unit making it appear, well, alien. The feel of the rubberised finish makes it a real pleasure to run your fingers over the notebook’s surface, and the Alienware badge adds another element of style and sophistication. The keyboard feels just as good to type on as previous Alienware models we’ve used, with a rubbery, not plastic, finish and pleasant tactile feedback. The touchpad is smooth and the cursor is very responsive to touchpad input. The notebook has a single USB 3.0 port that facilitates really, really fast data transfers to and from USB 3.0-capable storage devices. It also has another two USB 2.0 ports, a LAN port and a media card reader, in addition to built-in Wi-Fi capabilities. Windows 7 Professional is the operating system Alienware has chosen for the M14x, which is great news for professionals as it has the right features to make it enterprisefriendly. Battery life is surprisingly good for a notebook not intended for regular on-the-go usage. Looping a video file to intentionally drain the battery yielded a battery life of just over 2.5 hours, which is fantastic

for a performance-oriented notebook like this one. We really like the M14x. It’s a great gaming notebook and is fast enough for everyday use, and even has enough battery life to be useful on the occasional trip. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • Processor: Intel Core i7-2630QM @ 2.00GHz • Operating System: Windows 7 Professional 64-bit • RAM: 4GB DDR3 • Storage: 750GB 7200RPM SATA-II • Optical drive: DVD-RW • Ports: 2 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB 3.0 • Connectivity: N-class Wi-Fi, Gigabit LAN • Display outputs: HDMI, VGA, DisplayPort • Card reader: Multi-in-One • Weight: 3kg

Pros

Cons

• Beautifully-constructed notebook • Great gaming and everyday performance • Good battery life

• Heavier than the average nongaming notebook • Screen does not support 1 080p

Overall rating

Logitech Wireless Gaming Mouse G700 Complement the M14x’s good looks and performance with this stylish, highlyresponsive wireless gaming mouse from Logitech.

Logitech G930 Wireless Gaming Headset Talking to friends when gaming online is vital, as is surround sound that provides proper spatial awareness in games. Get both of these and wireless freedom with Logitech’s excellent G930.

www.connectmag.co.za | 47


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products

TomTom Via LIVE 125

If it’s just a GPS device you need, TomTom’s new Via Live 125 is a great choice. It’s got live traffic feeds that help you plan your commute more effectively.

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Windshield Mount The best way to make the most of the Cha Cha’s GPS function is by mounting it on your windshield. This handy accessory will help.

Universal microUSB Car Charger GPS navigation can be a drain on a phone’s battery, so we strongly advise you buy a car charger to ensure you’ve always got enough power to get you home safely.

HTC Cha Cha Smartphone NEED TO KNOW • A smartphone for social media addicts • Physical QWERTY keyboard and touchscreen • Runs Android 2.3.3 R2 999.95

The Cha Cha is a beautifully engineered smartphone with a physical QWERTY keyboard and a small touch-sensitive screen, and it’s classed as a “Facebook phone”. This means it enjoys out-the-box Facebook integration, and has been designed to make updating your status, posting comments and adding pictures to the world’s most popular social networking service as easy as possible. That particular feat is achieved with the dedicated “Facebook button”, a small key situated below the keyboard with Facebook’s famous logo on it. Any time the phone detects that you’re viewing content that can be shared on the social networking site, the button glows to let you know that it can be shared. It’s not a single-button process, but it does make it easier than manually navigating to Facebook and uploading content over multiple steps. The Cha Cha has a full QWERTY keyboard and a touch-sensitive screen; both make navigating the phone’s interface simple and intuitive. Typing is especially noteworthy for being easy and comfortable because of the beautifully engineered keyboard. Keys feel solid beneath fingertips, and it’s not as easy to accidentally hit the wrong key as with other phones because each key is actually quite stiff. Big-fingered folks may battle, though, as the keys are rather small. The screen is a wee bit on the small side (2.6”), but necessarily so because the phone also needs to accommodate a full keyboard. It’s incredibly responsive to touches, which more than makes up for its size. Despite the screen’s small size, browsing Websites is a pleasure as multi-touch gestures make zooming in and out a simple task, and text and graphics are nice and sharp. A consequence of phones doing more is that some phones’ batteries don’t last very long. Happily, this is not an affliction of the Cha Cha – HTC has included a generous 1250mAh battery that yields a 2-day supply of power even with everyday use. Turn on Wi-Fi, browse the Net for hours on end and play music all at once and it’ll drop, but it’s a safe bet that sensible use will net you around 2 days of up-time.

48 | connect | September 2011

As with every Android phone, there is plenty of Google integration too. Gmail, Google Maps, Google Talk and more Google services are available on the Cha Cha. Google Maps means the Cha Cha can be used as a personal navigation device; it even accepts voice input to make hands-free navigating a possibility. While the package doesn’t include a windshield mount, the option exists to buy an aftermarket windshield holder and cigarette lighter charger to make the Cha Cha your full-time GPS device. The only real gripe we can level at the Cha Cha is its 5MP camera not being up to scratch. Sure, it’s okay for casual use, but it suffers in low-light situations and doesn’t like the indoors much. But really, we’re nit-picking here. HTC has done well. Not only is the Cha Cha a competent Android smartphone in its own right, its social networking service integration and incredibly pleasant keyboard provide further motivation for Facebook-obsessed social networkers to buy it. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • Display: 2.6” touchscreen • CPU: 800MHz • Network: HSDPA, Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE • Storage: 512MB ROM, 512MB RAM, microSD slot • Connectors: 3.5mm stereo audio jack, microUSB • Platform: Google Android 2.3.3 • Camera: 5MP • Battery: 1250mAh • Connectivity: N-class Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, • Location: Internal GPS antenna Pros

Cons

• Excellent Google services and Facebook integration • Very pleasant keyboard in both feel and feedback • Good battery life for a smartphone

• Keys may be a bit small in big hands • Screen is only 2.6” wide • Unimpressive camera

Overall rating


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5

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Apple iPhone 4

Norton Mobile Security NEED TO KNOW • Security software for Android devices • Wipes, locks and locates your phone remotely • Blocks calls and SMSes from bothersome numbers R299.95

For many people, their lives are contained in their mobile phones, and losing them would have disastrous consequences. Mobile phones are also becoming a popular target for cyber criminals because of the rich data they contain, so it’s vitally important to protect them. Symantec, the company behind the excellent Norton Internet Security series, has developed a security software solution for mobile phones that run Google’s Android operating system (version 2 and up). It’s called Norton Mobile Security, and it has all the features needed to keep your data safe, protect you from spam and malware, and also locate your phone in case it’s ever stolen. There are also several remotely-activated features that let you lock, locate or wipe the phone’s data by sending it commands by SMS. To install it, you need to navigate to a Web address provided to you on the card that comes in the box, download the application – it’s very small – and enter the product key (also in the box). Instructions are very clear, and it was and up running on our test phone, the HTC Cha Cha (reviewed on page 48), within only a few minutes. It’s fairly simple software, so the interface is not complicated at all. You can manage your anti-theft options, perform a malware scan on the phone’s built-in storage and memory cards, choose which numbers to block calls or SMSes (or both) from, and see how many days of your subscription remain. The software’s real value comes through when testing the features. Remotely locating the phone is fun – send an SMS to your number with the “locate” command and the password you set up initially, and within seconds you receive an SMS with GPS co-ordinates and a Google Maps link to your phone’s location. Blocking a specific number (in our case the office land line) and then calling from it revealed that annoying callers get told you’re not available. Blocking SMSes from specific numbers simply means no SMSes from them get through to you.

Apple’s iOS operating system has several security features built in – including remote locate and wipe.

Remotely locking the phone by SMS means your security password has to be entered by whoever has the phone, and if they remove your SIM card to insert their own, the phone locks immediately. An option exists to activate an emergency wipe of all data on the phone if the password is incorrectly entered 10 times, so you’re covered from all angles. We really liked the idea of being able to locate a stolen phone, so we sent the Cha Cha the “locate” command. When we clicked the Google Maps link that came back via SMS, we were shown the general area the phone was in, which had a margin of error of just over 700m. This seems to be what happens when the phone is inside a building, because when we tried the same thing when standing outside, the phone’s position was pinpointed with a margin of error of only a few metres. Impressive stuff. Overall we really enjoyed Norton Mobile Security as it’s not a demanding application and its functions work brilliantly. If you’re worried even just a little bit about your Android phone’s security, we suggest you grab a copy. NOTEWORTHY FEATURES • Remote Locate: Shows the physical location of your phone to make finding it easier • Remote Lock: Lets you lock down the phone by sending it an SMS • Remote Wipe: Wipes all data from the phone using an SMS command • Call and SMS blocker: Prevents annoying callers and texters from getting through • SIM Lock: Immediately locks the phone when your SIM card is removed • Web Protection: Protects your online information using a privacy guard • Malware Scans: Scans all storage media for malware and eliminates it if found Pros

Cons

• Remote lock, wipe and locate functions work well • Secures your phone without inconveniencing you • Location service is particularly wellexecuted

• Smartphone malware is not a huge problem yet • The Android Marketplace has free security applications

Overall rating

Norton Internet Security 2011

NIS2K11 protects your PC better than any other Norton package before it. It boasts a slick interface, an awardwinning level of protection and won’t impact on system performance.

perfect companions

Samsung Galaxy S II Smartphone One of Samsung’s best smartphones to date runs Google’s Android operating system. It’s a highly desirable device, so locking it down is a good idea.

www.connectmag.co.za | 49


product reviews

related

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HTC Flyer

HTC’s 7” tablet is a finelooking device that scratches an itch for a device that’s bigger and more powerful than a smartphone, but can still fit into a pocket if necessary.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1”

Samsung’s new Galaxy Tab is as slim and attractive as that other tablet, and comes with a gorgeous screen and all the Android goodness fans of the OS have come to know and love.

Apple iPad 2

Apple’s iPad 2 is still the definitive tablet device that, so far, nobody else can beat. As good as Android devices are, the iPad 2 is still smoother, nicer, and has a better underlying app ecosystem.

Acer Iconia Tab A501 Tablet PC NEED TO KNOW • 10.1” tablet PC from Acer • Google Honeycomb-powered • Now with 3G connectivity R6 999.95

Acer takes a second bite at the apple with a slightly revised version of its popular Iconia A500 tablet PC, the unassumingly-named A501. The primary difference between the 2 models is the A501’s ability to accept SIM cards and connect to the Internet using 7.2mbps HSDPA. It’s great news for people who’d been looking at the A500 and been put off by the fact that it was Wi-Fi only. The addition of Internet access through cellular networks means the A501 is far more portable than the A500, and will allow users to connect wherever there is cellular network coverage as opposed to only at places where a Wi-Fi network exists. The only limitation, then, becomes the maximum speed of the supported version of HSDPA, which is 7.2mbps. Considering that many local cellular providers offer Internet access at much higher speeds, 7.2mbps may sound disappointingly slow, but it’s not. When you’re consistently getting over 4mbps, which we did, it’s easily fast enough even for high-end users. Also, download speeds are affected by the quality of the cellular signal in the area the A501 is being used, which is not the responsibility of the device, but rather of the service provider. We used the Iconia A501 with a Vodacom SIM card, but we have been assured the device also works with SIMs from the other 2 providers. Since not much else has changed, the Iconia Tab A501 is the same size, shape and weight as the A500. This is bad because it’s still a thick, chunky tablet (when compared to others like Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1” and Apple’s iPad 2), but also good because it has a pleasant heft, and its metal chassis feels very sturdy in the hand. Something that wasn’t mentioned in our original review of the A500 is the micro-HDMI port that is located on the bottom of the device’s bezel. Acer doesn’t include a micro HDMI cable with the A500 or A501, but it’s a nice option to be able to connect the tablet to an HD TV using a standardised cable instead of requiring a proprietary “media link adapter”, like the HTC Flyer does. Connecting to an HD screen outputs everything that’s on the Iconia’s screen to the HD TV or monitor, minus the control buttons. It’s a great

50 | connect | September 2011

way to share photos and videos with family and friends, and even share whatever game you happen to be playing with them. The Iconia isn’t the best HD video playback device, though – HD video files don’t play as smoothly as we’d like – so it’s best for standard definition video and music playback. The A501 runs version 3.1 of Google’s Android operating system, but by the time you read this, chances are that an update to version 3.2 will be available. Version 3.2 adds a few new optimisations that provide a better user experience across a variety of tablets, as well as an alternative zoom that makes applications designed for phones look better on tablets. The new Iconia A501 might be a slight revision on the original model, but with 3G network capabilities, it’s now a more rounded, capable device than ever before. Should you choose to go the Iconia route, we’re confident you won’t be disappointed with what is on offer. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • Processor: Dual-core Tegra 250 @ 1GHz • Memory: 1GB • Storage: 32GB built-in, microSD card expansion slot • Operating System: Google Android Honeycomb • Screen: 10.1” capacitive LCD touchscreen @ 800 x 1 280 • Display: nVidia GeForce GPU • Multi-touch: Yes • Camera: 5MP with flash (rear-facing), 2MP (front-facing) • Video capture: Yes, VGA-quality (640 x 480) • Connectivity: Bluetooth, n-class Wi-Fi, HSDPA (7.2mbps) • Speakers: Yes (Stereo) • Ports: Micro HDMI, microUSB • Battery: 3260mAH Lithium-ion, lasts up to 8 hours Pros

Cons

• Connects anywhere there is cellular coverage • Mini HDMI output is a nice touch • Android refinements for a better overall experience

• No mini HDMI cable included in the box • Not the smoothest HD video playback device • Only supports 7.2mbps HSDPA

Overall rating


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TomTom XXL

The XXL is TomTom’s largest device yet. Its 5” screen provides an expanded view of TomTom’s excellent interface, while also making it easier to navigate the device’s menu system.

TomTom Start NEED TO KNOW • Simplified interface • 3.5” touchscreen • Slimline windscreen mount R1 199.95

TomTom iPhone App

If you own an iPhone, you don’t need to buy a dedicated GPS device. Simply buy the TomTom application for the phone, which costs about half as much as a standalone device.

Garmin Nuvi 3970

Garmin calls its flagship unit the Masterpiece, and when you see its sexy, slim design, you’ll know why. It’s also fast and responsive, with 3D maps, a glass touchscreen and Bluetooth connectivity.

Over the last few years, we’ve seen a lot of new technology being put into personal navigation devices from TomTom, Navigon and Garmin. The companies have packed their various models with Bluetooth, allowing them to act as handsfree kits, and even traffic receivers, to get information on what the roads are like. Combine these advances with cheaper prices, and there’s never been a better time to get one of these digital map books. Of course, some people might be a bit overwhelmed with all the extras. And even though they’re a lot cheaper than the R4 000 and R5 000 price tags from a few years ago, people might still not feel comfortable with a piece of kit they’re not sure they are going to use all that often. Thankfully, TomTom is aware of this, and its TomTom Start – the most affordable model in its lineup – is the perfect solution for people who want “just a GPS”. No frills, no extras, and no complicated interface. In fact, it’s possible to get going with the Start within 5 minutes of unpacking it. All of the on-screen prompts are self-explanatory and as long as you have a city or suburb, and street name, you’re well on your way. Dig deeper, though, and there are a few nice additions. The voice prompt will read out street names, rather than giving generic “turn right in 300 metres” instructions. The device will detect when it’s dark and adjust the colour scheme accordingly, so you’re not left blinded by the glare from a white map screen. It’ll even automatically rotate the map,

52 | connect | September 2011

depending on how you’ve mounted it. The universal suction mount allows it to be mounted in a variety of positions – even upside down – and in this case it can rotate the map. Unless you desperately need traffic information (you probably will if you’re on the road a lot) or Bluetooth (if you don’t already have a handsfree kit), the Start is perfect. It might be a bit basic, but that’s what makes it affordable. One unfortunate downside, though, is its slow response to touch input. Entering an address requires a little patience, with each touch of the on-screen keyboard requiring about two seconds to register, but that’s something we’re willing to live with at this price point. For the money, and ease of use, it’s hard to beat the Start – unless you have a smartphone, where navigation apps can be a bit cheaper than a dedicated device. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • Display size: 3.5” • Display resolution: 320 x 240 pixels • Memory: 1GB internal flash memory • Weight: 125 grams

Pros

Cons

• Affordable navigation • Easy to use • Compact design

• Low resolution display • Short battery life • No expandable memory

Overall rating


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Lenovo IdeaPad B560 Notebook NEED TO KNOW • Budget notebook • Good as a first-time notebook for home use • Performance suited to everyday computing R4 999.95

Buyers looking for a competent notebook for basic home use will find a lot to like in Lenovo’s IdeaPad B560. It’s not what we would call special, but for the purpose it’s intended for, it’s a worthwhile purchase. The quality and build of the B560 are about what you’d expect in the budget segment. It is made almost entirely out of plastic, but it’s good-quality plastic and doesn’t feel like it’s going to break at the slightest mistreatment. The B560 is also not massively heavy, but is a nice size – the screen is a 15.6” LED-backlit display and the rest of the notebook is quite large to accommodate it. The screen’s native resolution is 1 366 x 768, and a side-effect of this is that the on-screen text is a pleasant size. Notebooks with full HD screens (1 920 x 1 080) tend to present very tiny text and require some adjustments to the operating system to be comfortably visible to some people. That’s not a problem here. The B560’s keyboard includes a number pad (albeit one without its own Enter key). Its keys feel plasticky to type on, but the feedback of each is pleasant enough that any awareness of plastic-ness won’t prevail for long. The layout will take some time to get used to, though, as it features minor annoyances, like the Function key being located on the lower left corner of the keyboard, making it very easy to accidentally press when in search of the Control key. There are two USB ports to connect a keyboard and mouse, in case personal preferences turn against the notebook’s builtin keyboard and trackpad over time. Reasons to get this notebook instead of a similarly-priced netbook include the bigger screen, the better operating system (Windows 7 Home Premium), the built-in DVD writer and the superior performance on offer. An Intel Core i3-2130 and 3GB of RAM outperform any netbook hardware on the market today by a significant margin, ensuring the B560 offers a far superior Windows, application and entertainment experience. It also has

more storage than the average netbook – 500GB – which makes it better for people with a lot of music and video files. Where the B560 isn’t wonderful is on the gaming front. It takes a lot for a laptop to pull off gaming successfully and, unfortunately, the B560 only has an Intel HD graphics chip. So 3D games played on the notebook are more of a slideshow than anything else. If you want to game, it’s best to stick to casual titles that don’t tax the notebook’s hardware too much. Big Fish games, for example, work extremely well on the B560 as they don’t require any special 3D graphics hardware to run. The best use of the B560 is undoubtedly in the home. It’s great for surfing the Internet as it can easily connect to any wired or wireless home network (N-class Wi-Fi comes standard), and its DVD drive means programs can be loaded quickly and easily. Lenovo have also included handy software titles like Cyberlink’s Power2Go, a disc-authoring tool, and a security suite that offers a selection of tools to keep the notebook safe.

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Logitech M305 Wireless Mouse This small and inexpensive (yet good-quality) mouse is just the thing to replace any notebook’s trackpad.

NOTEWORTHY SPECS • Processor: Intel Core i3-2310 @ 2.10 GHz • Memory: 3GB DDR3 RAM • Storage: 500GB hard drive • Operating System: Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit • Optical drive: DVD writer • Ports: 2 x USB 2.0 ports, 1 x eSATA, VGA • Connectivity: N-class Wi-Fi, Ethernet port • Media reader: SDHC card reader

Pros

Cons

• Good performance for the price • A better choice for home computing than a netbook • Generous hard drive capacity

• Keyboard quality and layout could use some revision • Not ideal for 3D gaming

Overall rating

If you’re going to go the netbook route, it’s hard to go wrong with Sony. This small device is a high-quality product that offers very respectable performance for a netbook.

Microsoft Digital Media Keyboard 3000 As nice as a notebook’s keyboard may be, there is no beating a dedicated typing device for room, comfort and quality. This media keyboard from MS satisfies all three criteria.

www.connectmag.co.za | 53


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Sony Ericsson Xperia Play (Coming soon)

For the Sony Ericsson lover who also happens to love gaming, the Xperia Play features incredible graphics, great sound and a real game controller. It also supports multiplayer gaming.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc NEED TO KNOW • Stylish, sleek and simple to use • A 4.2” Bravia screen • Customisable Android interface R4 999.95

Samsung Galaxy S2

The Galaxy S2 is a high-end, standout Android device with unmatched features and specifications – perfect for the power phone user.

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Universal Micro USB Car Charger Using all the Xperia Arc has to offer will significantly decrease the already-short battery life. Keep it plugged in wherever you are, even if it’s in the car.

Sony Ericsson’s Xperia Arc is an unbelievably slim Android smartphone that runs Android 2.3.3 (Gingerbread). Sleeker than most of its mobile competitors, the Xperia Arc is one of the latest Sony Ericsson phones on the market and the successor to the (not-so-successful) Xperia X10. With chrome finishes and a big 4.2” screen, this is a really goodlooking handset. The Xperia Arc’s dimensions are impressive as well, considering the phone only weighs 117g. Focusing on the actual design, the buttons have been scaled down to fit the overall look of the phone and while they may appear small and neat, they’re quite fiddly and take a while to get used to. A nice touch on the phone is a ‘Micro HDMI’ port for outputting visuals to an HD TV (cable not included). Integrating everything the Sony brand has to offer, the Xperia Arc has an in-built 8-megapixel Cybershot camera (complemented by an LED flash) and a 4.2” multi-touch “Reality Display” that uses Sony’s Mobile BRAVIA Engine. It’s fantastic for budding photographers who like to use their phone to take pictures as there are a lot of integrated features that make the Xperia Arc worthwhile as the phone-come-camera of choice. Another Sony technology enjoyed by the Xperia Arc is Exmor R – it uses a mobile CMOS sensor that ensures you take high-resolution images, no matter the time of day. It also makes a difference when using the HD video-recording. The screen is big, bright and clear, which makes the Xperia Arc great for multimedia use. It is important to note, however, that having the screen at its optimal brightness level will significantly diminish the phone’s already-short 7-hour battery life expectancy. When surfing the Net, Web pages are clear and in-built flash means advanced Websites load smoothly. Text is displayed with precision and typing on the touchscreen display is easy. We did, however, find it a bit frustrating when trying to direct the cursor to the right place when

54 | connect | September 2011

correcting a message. The same problem happens when you try to copypaste, for example – the phone is just not as responsive at times as you would expect it to be. The Xperia Arc is an Android smartphone and that means you’ll have access to fantastic apps via the Android marketplace. The Xperia Arc has five home screens that are completely customisable. It’s easy to change the widgets, add or delete apps and personalise anything and everything. The Sony Ericsson-exclusive applications make the handset’s interface even more functional. One of these widgets is Timescale, a social application that connects all your conversations, Tweets and Facebook messages in one place – handy for avid social networkers. Available in Midnight Blue and Misty Silver, the Xperia Arc is a goodlooking smartphone that features all the bells and whistles and then some. Unfortunately, though, using all these features will significantly decrease the phone’s battery life, meaning you’ll need to carry a spare USB charger/car adaptor to really enjoy everything the phone has to offer. Luckily, the Xperia Arc has more than enough features to make up for this detail and keep any smartphone user satisfied. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • Display size: 4.2” • Display resolution: 480 x 854 pixels • Memory: 320MB storage, 512MB RAM • Card slot: MicroSD, up to 32GB, 8GB included • Output: Mini HDMI • Weight: 117g

Pros

Cons

• Big and bright screen • Completely customisable and fast interface • Sleek design

• Small, fiddly buttons • Unresponsive at times • Short battery life

Overall rating


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Iomega eGo 2TB Desktop Hard Drive

This 2TB drive can be had for the same price, but it’s not USB 3.0-compatible and it requires an external power supply. Sometimes bigger is better than faster.

Verbatim Store ‘n Go SuperSpeed USB 3.0 1TB Portable Hard Drive NEED TO KNOW • Fast data transfers with USB 3.0 • 1TB of portable storage • Requires a computer with a USB 3.0 port R1 299.95

Verbatim GT 500GB Portable Hard Drive

For a more entry-level portable hard drive, this drive from Verbatim offers 500GB of storage in an attractivelystyled case with GT stripes.

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Samsung Series 9 Notebook To take full advantage of this external hard drive, you’ll need a PC or a notebook equipped with a USB 3.0 port, like this stunningly-styled one from Samsung.

This review is going to be more on USB 3.0 technology itself than on the Verbatim drive, but this is done to provide the reader with the appropriate context with which to evaluate their need for a USB 3.0 portable hard drive. USB 3.0 is a new standard that governs the “how” of information transfer to and from USB devices. It’s not a total replacement of the old USB 2.0 standard, however – motherboards are still being made with USB 2.0 ports on them – but USB 3.0 is slowly being phased in to brand-new PCs and notebooks. USB 3.0 ports look very similar to USB 2.0 ports, the only visual difference being that they have blue plastic bits in them, not the black of the old standard. There are 2 benefits of USB 3.0: speed and power. USB 3.0 ports can provide more power to connected devices, which means we may one day see USB 3.0 desktop hard drives that don’t require a separate power cable. More importantly, USB 3.0 is a lot faster and can copy data to and from devices very quickly and at the same time. If you look at the raw technical specifications of the standard, USB 3.0 is theoretically 10 times faster than USB 2.0, but real-world performance varies dramatically because the system it is being tested on must be taken into consideration. For the average user, it’s far more realistic to expect performance that is 3 times the speed of USB 2.0, which is still very impressive. To take advantage of USB 3.0, you’ll need a PC equipped with a USB 3.0 port. All Intel-based computers and notebooks made this year should have them; if you’re not sure, check with a salesperson or look up the model you’re interested in on the Internet to confirm. As for the Verbatim drive, it’s as attractive a drive as Verbatim has

56 | connect | September 2011

made. Its casing is entirely plastic, with a nice piano-black finish, and it’s a pleasantly thin device. Since it uses a 2.5” hard drive, it only needs a single cable to provide power and a connection to a computer, and it works with both USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports. In our USB 2.0 testing, transfer speeds averaged around 34MB/s, which jumped to over 100MB/s when we hooked it up to a USB 3.0 port. The drive comes with Nero BackItUp software (to help with backups) and a trial of Norton’s Online Backup service that gives you 5GB of online storage. The only real issue we can honestly raise is its capacity-to-price ratio – for this amount of money, it may be smarter to opt for a 2TB drive and simply wait longer for file transfers to complete. If speed is a must-have feature when it comes to external storage and you have the necessary hardware to support it, the Store ‘n Go SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive from Verbatim will certainly satisfy your need. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • 1TB capacity • Compact, portable and sleek hard drive with a piano-black finish • USB 3.0-capable • Backwards-compatible with USB 2.0 ports • Includes Nero BackItUp & Burn Essentials software (Windows only) • 7-Year limited warranty • Also works on Mac (format required)

Pros

Cons

• Easily faster than any USB 2.0 hard drive • Has Verbatim’s typical classy looks • Backup software is a nice bonus

• More (albeit slower) storage can be had for the same price • USB 3.0 port is needed to take full advantage

Overall rating


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Shox Mini

The original portable speaker, and the better option. Double the battery life, better sound quality and can be used while charging. Everything the Headphonies should’ve been.

Headphonies Micro Speaker NEED TO KNOW • External speaker • Battery-powered • Rechargeable R199.95

For the most part, mobile devices with built-in speakers don’t tend to get the party started. Unless the manufacturers or designers have aimed specifically at delivering high-quality audio from a built-in speaker, you’re left investing in an aftermarket solution to get better quality audio. Mobile phones, laptops, portable game consoles and even tablets – all of these usually need a bit of a boost when it comes to audio. Thankfully, the audio accessories market is thriving. Many companies are turning a profit by providing specialised solutions that give better audio, sometimes with a bit of style thrown into the mix. British manufacturer Headphonies has aimed for something more stylish. Its range of Headphonies toy-themed speakers is based on the popular Dunny dolls, with the major difference being that the Headphonies dolls all wear, you guessed it, a set of headphones. Design cuteness aside, the Headphonies have a single speaker built into their heads, with a rechargeable Lithium Ion battery also hidden in the body. When it comes to either charging the battery or piping audio into the Headphonie, you have to plug a cable into… let’s just say a not-that-comfortable spot. Sure, it’s just a toy doll, but it’s still perhaps a bit inappropriate. There’s also only a single socket for this, so if the battery is depleted, you’ll need to go without your fix of music while it recharges using a separate USB cable.

Audio quality is, to be honest, average. Most music sounds flat, with neither treble nor bass frequencies impressing in the least. It’s louder than your iPhone’s built-in speaker, for example, but it’s mostly just noisy rather than quality audio. So, while battery life is a respectable 3 hours at moderate volume, you might not want to torture your ears for that long. The Headphonies try to play on their cute factor, but when it comes down to functionality and audio quality – especially if you’re paying a not-insubstantial R200 for a mono speaker – you could do a lot better. Shox have their range of rechargeable mini speakers and there are bigger, dedicated audio docks from companies like Logitech and Bose. Junior might enjoy this for playing music that’s on his phone, but beyond that it’s nothing more than a novelty.

Logitech S125i

With a built-in iPod dock, the Logitech S125i is one of the cheapest and best batterypowered external speakers money can buy.

NOTEWORTHY SPECS • Size: 8cm high • Connector: 1 x 3.5mm audio jack • Cables: Audio cable and USB recharging cable • Battery life: 4 hours Pros

Cons

• Better than most built-in speakers • Decent battery life • Cute designs

• Can’t be used while charging • Average sound quality • A bit gimmicky

Overall rating

Bose MIE2i

If keeping your sound to yourself is more to your tastes, the Bose MIE2i is one of the best in-ear modules on offer from this American audio expert.

www.connectmag.co.za | 57


product reviews

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Kaspersky Internet Security 2012 1-User NEED TO KNOW AVG Internet Security 2011

While AV Comparatives doesn’t rate AVG as highly as KIS2K12, AVG Internet Security 2011’s pricing of R299.95 makes a compelling argument for purchase.

BitDefender Total Security 2012

AT R599.95 for a 3-user package, BitDefender Total Security 2012 offers some serious value for money.

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Samsung Series 9 Notebook With ultra-slim looks and very impressive hardware under the hood, Samsung’s Series 9 notebooks are as much a treat to use as they are to look at.

• Comprehensive PC security software • Offers protection against even unknown threats • Monitors social networking services for potentially dangerous content R399.95

Kaspersky Labs have come a long way since last year’s edition of their popular security software. Criticisms levelled at Kaspersky Internet Security 2011 included a noticeable system performance impact and a somewhat over-complicated interface. We’re glad to note that this year’s edition, the aptly-named Kaspersky Internet Security 2012 (hereafter referred to as KIS2K12), enjoys improvements to both of these aspects, which effectively address last year’s issues. Given Kaspersky’s already-excellent reputation for malware protection, fans of the brand should be happy to hear that this year’s version is even more effective – so much so that independent testing lab AV Comparatives awarded KIS2K12 its highest rating. Users are also protected by Kaspersky’s massive online security network that analyses unfamiliar software and computer behaviour (relayed via the network made up of all PCs running Kaspersky software) as it’s happening, and deploys fixes within minutes of new threats being detected. It’s clear from this dual-layered protection approach that any attack designed to cripple Kaspersky-protected systems has to be pretty special in order to do serious damage. New to this year’s edition is a social networking monitoring service that helps users identify potentially dangerous links on Facebook and Twitter and avoid launching dangerous applications by accident. Also new is an extra layer of “reputation-based” security that lets users check any file’s security based on its reputation among other Kaspersky users. Both of these work very well. Installing the program is not a fast process, though, and neither is the initial update that has to take place before all malware definitions are 100% up to date. Updates are released regularly, at least, but still not as regularly or in the kind of small, manageable chunks offered by some competing packages. Once it’s installed and updated, KIS2K12 offers a high level of security provided by the default settings of the firewall, antivirus and anti-spam engines. It’s even possible to install it and forget about it and still enjoy a high degree of protection. For tinkerers, the software offers a great level of customisation, and this year’s improved interface makes it easier than ever to find what you’re looking for. Perhaps best of all is Kaspersky’s newfound commitment to not bothering users with annoying pop-up messages –

58 | connect | September 2011

pop-ups only occur when absolutely vital events have taken place that need to be communicated. Another improvement is the ability to roll back any changes that unidentified malware has made to a system. This means that if any malware discovered “in the wild” (i.e. before any fixes can be deployed to neutralise it) somehow manages to damage a system, any changes it makes can be reversed by KIS2K12. Areas of disappointment were the software’s only okay-ish ability to accurately filter spam, and its so-so scanning speed. While KIS2K12 didn’t stop any legitimate mail from getting through, it did allow a relatively large number of spam mails to arrive unimpeded too. Overall, this is another good effort from Kaspersky and one well worth purchasing. KEY FEATURES • Kaspersky URL Advisor marks Web links with a colour-coded tag that shows their danger level • Kaspersky File Advisor checks file safety using a reputation evaluation service • System Watcher monitors suspicious application activities and allows you to roll back system changes made by malware • Application Control restricts program access to personal data and system files according to the level of danger that each program presents • Two-way personal firewall protects against hacker attacks • Anti-Phishing and Anti-Spam technology • Parental Control provides flexible and effective settings to keep children extra-safe when they use computers and the Internet • Redesigned interface makes navigating around security settings inside Kaspersky Internet Security 2012 quick and easy Pros

Cons

• High level of protection offered even on default settings • Polished interface looks even nicer this year • Very useful social networking service protection

• Scan speeds are only average • Spam filter could be a little tighter • Installation and initial update takes a while

Overall rating


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Eurotalk Talk the Talk Xhosa

Eurotalk Talk Now! Xhosa NEED TO KNOW • Learn basic Xhosa words and phrases • Teaches using lessons and games • For Mac and PC R149.95

Computers are wonderful learning tools, and when they are paired with software like the Eurotalk range of language learning packages, picking up a new language becomes not only easy, but fun, too. The package we received for review teaches the very basics of speaking and understanding Xhosa. It’s a very easy-to-use program that teaches in ways that are more fun than merely listening to a tape or reading out of a book. The interface is simple enough to understand, with big icons and clear instructions to keep users clicking. There are no lectures on the structure of the language; instead, the software presents words in nine categories in written and spoken form, which are reinforced with images representing them to make remembering everything easier. The overall presentation hasn’t evolved much in the last few years, however, and the software has a definite “retro” feel to it, with its window resolution of only 1 024 x 768. In each category there are two games, one easy and one hard, that people can play to test their knowledge of the words covered in the section. Points are accumulated in every category, and the objective is to amass 1 800 points in total. The point tally serves to give learners an indication of how far they have progressed through the software’s material. Separate from the main body of the learning on offer is a card game that uses everything covered in all 9 categories to challenge the user’s understanding. There are two difficulty levels, easy and hard, in which cards are used to encourage users to remember the spoken words associated with the images presented on them. It’s a neat touch. The software supports multiple users, so a family can have a profile set up for each member. This allows the progress of each person to be tracked separately. There is even an option to export all the audio to iTunes, and load an iPod full of Xhosa words for later listening. Unfortunately, this is not a South African product – it’s entirely

European-made, which ends up adding an element of unintended humour. It’s hilarious to watch the 2 very obviously European actors “speaking” the words and phrases being spoken by Xhosa-speaking voice actors. These are the same two actors found throughout the Eurotalk Talk Now! software range, so leaving them in rather than replacing them with localised actors is likely a cost-saving measure on Eurotalk’s part. It’s not just African languages that get the treatment, though – it’s all languages in the Talk Now! range. If you can get past the dated presentation and European actors, there is still a lot to like here. If you’re after a basic introduction to some common Xhosa words, you will certainly learn a lot by spending a few hours with this software. The way the words are presented is actually quite effective, and the games that accompany each category are a good way to help people remember what was taught. However, the phrases included in the software are extremely basic and there are only a handful of them, so if you’d like to learn more than just the basics, you should rather look at one of the more advanced packages. SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS • Windows 2000/ME/XP/Vista/7 • Mac OS X 10.3.9 or higher • Colour screen with a resolution of 1 024 x 768 • CD-ROM or DVD drive • Quicktime 6 or higher • Microphone for speaking sections Pros

Cons

• An effective way to learn basic Xhosa words and phrases • Games are a great way to test and reinforce your knowledge • Interface is very easy to use

• Not the most modern-looking software • Focuses more on words than phrases • European origins add unintended hilarity

Overall rating

This software is targeted at under 18s with a basic knowledge of Xhosa who are looking to expand their vocabulary. It covers over 200 phrases that include “I’ll text you later” and “We won the game on penalties!”

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Lenovo B560 Notebook All that’s needed to take advantage of any learning software is a basic notebook with a DVD drive. This one from Lenovo is nicely priced, with hardware powerful enough to get the job done.

Logitech Stereo Headset H250 You’ll need this headset (or one just like it) to listen to and repeat the words and phrases in this software.

www.connectmag.co.za | 59


book reviews

Alternative Energy for Dummies

NEED TO KNOW • By Rik DeGunther • 384 pages

This book serves as a great introduction to the concept of alternative energy. It uses plain English to tell readers all about its benefits, why it’s so necessary in the 21st century and ways in which they can adopt it in their homes, businesses and even cars. DeGunther outlines the basics behind the concept, highlights where we are now in terms of how we provide and use energy, and how much longer it’s expected to last. He covers many related subjects around alternative energy, and readers will learn about global warming, the benefits of clean energy and even what the future may hold. The book forms a great introduction to a complex subject, and is thus recommended as a place for beginners to start their exploration of the topic.

WordPress for Dummies

NEED TO KNOW • By Lisa Sabin-Wilson • 408 pages

Renewable Energy in Power Systems

NEED TO KNOW • By Leon Freris and David Infield • 300 pages

Anyone involved in modern-day power-generation would do well to read this book. It is concerned with the integration of renewable power sources into the distribution network of existing power schemes, and is specifically aimed at highly technical folks like engineers and designers. Renewable energy sources are generally smaller and cannot be scheduled, which requires plenty of consideration before integrating them into existing electricity networks. The book deals with the complexities of this challenge and addresses economic issues, and even tackles demand-side management. It’s an excellent reference for scientists and engineers

working in the field, while also covering the subject matter in a way regular readers can relate to. In all, this is a very good book and well worth the read.

WordPress is an online blog-publishing application that can help people create and maintain their own blogging Websites. It’s meant to be easier than coding a Website from scratch, but help is needed to discover exactly how it works, as some of it is quite technical. Author Lisa Sabin-Wilson takes readers through much of what they need to know to make WordPress work for them, but she does assume quite a deep level of computer knowledge in order to communicate the tips and tricks she knows. This Dummies book is a little more advanced than the title suggests, but if you have worked with WordPress before and you know your way around a computer, Sabin-Wilson’s information should come in handy.

60 | connect | September 2011

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game reviews

Deus Ex Human Revolution R399.95 (PC) R599.95 (PS3 & XBOX 360) Most PC gamers will have the original Deus Ex in their collection – after all, it’s widely regarded as a modern classic even though it’s over 11 years old. Those same gamers will roll their eyes when thinking of the game’s official sequel, Deus Ex: Invisible War. While it wasn’t terrible, it lacked a lot of the elements that made the original game so enjoyable. Thankfully, for both existing fans and newcomers, Human Revolution manages to not deal with the second game by being a prequel to the first. It’s set in 2027, some 25 years before the events in the original Deus Ex, and follows the life of Adam Jensen. He’s been hired to take care of security on a project run by a large biotechnology company. After an attack on the company, Adam is left wounded. His life can only be saved by having mechanical augmentations fitted to his body – an older version of the nanotechnology we see in the first two games. Human Revolution carefully balances role-playing and action. Players can choose which skills and abilities they’d like to advance during their play-through, making it possible to use skills that are more suited to a certain playing style. Whether you’d like to use brute force, stealth or smart combat skills, you can tweak your character accordingly. How your character evolves and the way you choose to play the game will also have an impact on how the story unfolds. Each mission is open-ended, and completing it stealthily, for example, changes how things happen further down the line. Alternatively, you could go in guns blazing. But bringing death is not the only option, and the game never forces players to be killers. This also highlights the moral and ethical themes the game presents, sort of like a videogame version of Blade Runner. On the surface, it is just a game with guns and characters that have special abilities, in the same way Greek myths are just Mediterranean fairytales. Dig a bit deeper, though, and the game’s creators have left strong messages of humanity’s ethical struggle with machines and artificial intelligence. It is what you make of it, though, but will ultimately be a very mature and enjoyable gaming experience. It’s all wrapped up in a story with intriguing twists and turns, involving secret societies, powerful corporations and conspiracy theories. As such, this is a single-player-only experience, with no multiplayer component to speak of. If you appreciate a bit of storytelling genius, DEHR is a game for you. Don’t get it if you’re expecting a Michael Bay experience, with lots of explosions and special effects – the graphics may be good, but that’s not what this is about. Call of Duty it ain’t.

62 | connect | September 2011

NEED TO KNOW • Open-ended gameplay • Mechanical augmentations for your character • Science-fiction roleplaying


>>Get this<< Deus Ex (PC) The original Deus Ex might be hard to come by on store shelves, but a few online download services still sell the game to those who want a classic futuristic RPG experience. It’s quite dated by today’s standards, so will run on almost any computer, but the story is well worth the play-through.

>>Consider this<< Bioshock (PC, PS3, Xbox) It’s a completely different take on the action role-playing experience, but Bioshock is also all about the story and contains strong social commentary. After one play-through, you’ll be left wanting more – so it’s a good thing there’s an even better sequel.

www.connectmag.co.za | 63


game reviews

Driver: San Francisco

F1 2011

With fully licensed cars and drivers, Codemaster’s latest racing release has better gameplay and improved multiplayer options. There also tracks to look out for, like the Buddh International Circuit in India. Last year, the focus was on a “life-the-life” single-player experience, but this year’s title is about competitive online racing, with up to16 players going head-to-head in the Grand Prix mode (add in 8 AI cars to simulate the full grid of 24 drivers). There’s also an innovative new co-op Championship Mode that enables two players to

lead their favourite F1 team to victory. From the Pirelli tyres down to an advanced weather system where rain affects ontrack grip, F1 2011 is the official game of the sport. Fans won’t be disappointed. R599.95

Coming >> soon <<

NEED TO KNOW • Multiplayer online racing • 19 circuits • All the cars and the drivers

Forza Motorsport 4 We can’t wait for the Kinect capabilities, social features using Xbox LIVE and a landslide of new content, cars and ways to play in the upcoming Forza.

If you enjoy action blockbuster games, or a bit of sci-fi and fantasy, you’ll feel right at home with Space Marine, the latest 3d-person shooter set in the established Warhammer universe. Years of rigorous training have made you into a Space Marine, one of humanity’s most elite soldiers. Using the most powerful weaponry mankind has, you’re in a battle to defend an Imperial Forge World from an invasion by the savage and brutal Orks. Fans of the series will appreciate the finer details, while those looking for great multiplayer combat (melee and shooting), an epic story and a lengthy single-player campaign won’t be disappointed. R599.95

Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine • 3rd-person action shooter • Experience life as a Space Marine • Character customisation • Multiplayer gaming 64 | connect | September 2011

>>Get this<< Gears of War 3 Fight on as Marcus Fenix, the grizzled war hero and leader of Delta Squad. Eighteen months after the fall of the last human city, the war against the Locust rages on, but a new enemy has emerged.

NEED TO KNOW • 13 different vehicles • 330km of roads in San Francisco • 120 real-world vehicles Players take on the role of Tanner, an undercover cop offering his services as a wheelman. After a near-death experience, he gains the unique ability to shift his consciousness to other people, and take control of them. This makes for cool storytelling, but it’s the Hollywood-like vehicle physics and fantastic graphics that render this game so good. It feels just like the PlayStation classic from 1999, with a soundtrack to match. San Francisco’s roads are great fun, the vehicle selection is top-notch and the many challenges make this well worth getting. R599.95

>>Consider this<< Test Drive Unlimited 2 This is also a free-roam driving game, but it focuses a lot on racing, both against computers and online friends. It’s something different, in case the idea of an undercover cop is not your style.

>>Get this<< Grand Theft Auto 4 It’s a bit older, and includes a lot of on-foot sections, but this is the quintessential free-roam driving game. It’s quite heavy on violence, though, so don’t let the kids get hold of it.


www.girlguides.co.za

Girls with technology on the brain 24/7


game reviews

Resistance 3

Dead Island

NEED TO KNOW

NEED TO KNOW

• A fully loaded arsenal of innovative weapons • Smarter and more agile Chimeran enemies • Two-player online and local/split-screen co-op gameplay • A 16-player multiplayer mode Humanity is on the brink of extinction! Set four years after Resistance 2, Joseph Capelli (the last surviving Sentinel from a secretive military program) has been living underground with his family, safe from the invading Chimeran race. But when Dr Fyodor Malikov arrives with a desperate plan, Capelli must journey from Oklahoma to NYC in a heroic fight for survival. A

weapon-wheel and health bar in tow, it doesn’t matter if you tackle the singleplayer story or get hooked on some online multiplayer action, this PS3-exclusive features some exciting and innovative weapons, smarter (and deadlier) AI, and Chimeran creatures like you’ve never seen before… R599.95

A tropical island and zombies – probably not the most common combination, but Dead Island’s open-world paradise Banoi is overrun with the undead. No longer a happy holiday resort, you’ll have to hack and slash your way through missions. There are 4 main characters in the game and you’ll pick one to play – each has a unique skillset. With firearms and ammo on the low, it’s more about melee combat,

Coming >>soon<<

>>Consider this<<

• First-person melee and 4-player co-op combat • Weapons customisation and character development • Set on an open-world tropical island with hordes of zombies

Bodycount Become ensnared in a clandestine global power struggle as a powerful combat asset with a green light to eliminate enemies known only as “Targets”…

which means you’ll find yourself creating interesting makeshift weapons in order to survive. What’s really great is the added RPG elements in Dead Island – you’ll level up, gain experience and complete gory missions. It’s zombies like you’ve never seen them before. R599.95 (PS3 & XBOX)

Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D Featuring re-mastered stages from Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5, it’s a race against time as you try to defeat as many enemies as possible before the countdown reaches zero

>>Pre-order this<<

Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Get locked and loaded for the next iteration of the co-op sensation Special Ops. As each soldier finds themselves stranded, with only one colleague for company and no hope of back-up, one lone objective becomes clear... survival. Can you hold off the numerous waves of enemies and secure the biggest guns, best vehicles and perks using your cunning and teamwork? Or will the enemy forces sabotage your valiant attempts?

66 | connect | September 2011

FIFA 12

Battlefield 3

FIFA 12 brings to the pitch the game-changing new Player Impact Engine, a physics engine built to deliver real-world physicality in every interaction on the pitch. Revolutionary gameplay innovations inspired by the real-world game make FIFA 12 deeper and more engaging. All-new Precision Dribbling delivers a higher fidelity of touch on the ball for attacking players, while Tactical Defending changes the approach to defending by placing equal importance on positioning, intercepting passes and tackling. Plus, CPU players have been infused with Pro Player Intelligence, the next generation of player intelligence and performance.

In Battlefield 3, players step into the role of the elite US Marines. As the first boots on the ground, players experience heart-pounding missions across diverse locations, including Paris, Tehran and New York City. In the field, periods of tension and anticipation are punctuated by moments of complete chaos. As bullets whiz by, as walls crumble, as explosions force players to the ground, the battlefield feels more alive and interactive than ever before. To complement the single-player campaign, Battlefield 3 delivers 10 massive co-op maps and multiple multiplayer modes.


tech tannie

When seasons collide, Tech Tannie is there to give you and your pc warmth, comfort and sarcasm. For free! A recession-proof deal if there ever was one…

issue of the month: Q:

What is Android? I thought it was a type of robot and now it’s being linked to food like ice-cream and honeycomb… Has the world gone mad? Mental in Uitenhage

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 | September 2011

Android is a giant scary robot that will destroy the planet, but it is also an operating system from Google. Yes, the giant company that brought you a lekker search engine has moved into pretty much every area of technology. They’ve had the Android system out for a while now. Android is actually more than just an OS, though. It is a combination of operating system, middleware and applications for mobile devices. You most often would have seen it on some smartphones like those from HTC, but now (and this is the Honeycomb you’ve been hearing about), it is available on tablets too. Android 3.0 is the tablet interface that allows for touchscreen pads and is soon to be updated to Android 3.2, with some extra features built in. Android Ice Cream is actually Android Ice Cream Sandwich and will be their next bit update to the Android platform out at the end of 2011, and will work on both mobile phones and tablets. One of the things that really gets me waving my Klippies is the fact that it apparently has a holographic user interface. How utterly brilliant is that? Essentially, it’s another upgrade that adds even more features to devices that have the platform installed, and all of them are for free. It’s a good alternative to the iPad actually, even if the Android Market (where you can find all their apps) isn’t very good or easy to search through. The names you keep hearing is just Google’s tendency to name their tech after delicious food. Which is hard to read about when you’re on a diet, let me tell you.


Q:

My wireless router is downstairs in the lounge at the back of the house. My office is upstairs at the front of the house. My connection drops to 3 bars when I’m up there, but otherwise there are no problems. However, it seems like most days I’ll be working in my office when smackon at 10h00, I lose my wireless connection. I can move back downstairs and work there, , and at some point I can start working upstairs again (I’ve never noted when, though). Please help! Anonymous, over e-mail

A:

I too have had this thorny issue and for a while was moerse irritated. However, my enormous brain immediately kicked into high gear and I got to working on a solution. The problem is often caused by interference from other wireless networks, and one way of tackling the issue is to manually set the channel on your router to something like 11 or 12. Go to the router’s set-up menu either through a desktop application or your browser (you should have this information in the box the router came in) and look for the wireless settings. In the menu option for Channel, change it from “auto”, which is the common setting, to 11 or 12. Let me know if this helps! Remember, you need to be connected to the Internet to make these changes so do it when your router lets you back online. And if you are still stuck, just give Tech Tannie a call.

Q:

I want to control which movies my child watches on my computer but can’t figure out how without sitting next to her the entire time. Can you help? Movie Mad in Umtata

A:

Both Windows Media Center and Windows Media Player have built-in controls to help you limit what your child views and interacts with. When it comes to Windows 7 Media Center, you will need a TV tuner to play and record TV. To set the Parental Controls in Windows Media Center, go to Tasks>>Settings>>General and then select Parental Controls. You’ll be taken to a screen asking you to insert a four-digit pin number. This is your special code that will manage your access. Make sure you keep the number somewhere safe in case you forget it! Once you have completed this, you are taken to the main screen. Here you can adjust TV ratings, DVD ratings, change the access code or reset the Parental Controls. Under TV Ratings, click on Turn on TV Blocking. Under the heading Maximum Allowed TV Rating, click on the plus sign until you hit the ageappropriate section. This goes from age 2 to age 21.

Once you have selected the appropriate setting, click Save and you will go back to the previous menu. Under DVD Ratings, you follow a similar procedure. Select the box that says Turn on Movie Blocking and then under the heading of Maximum Allowed Movie Rating, set the appropriate age limit. This goes from R18 to U??. Click save once you’re done! That’s it for setting up the Parental Controls in Windows Media Center. Now, when your children access it, they will only be allowed to view certain shows and movies. You can adjust these controls inside their Windows 7 log-in so that they are unable to view unsuitable content loaded onto the PC, or access inappropriate television channels. In Windows Media Player 7, you need to adjust individual controls in order to limit a child’s access. Go to Options>>DVD and select DVD Playback Restrictions. Then select the restriction that is relevant and click OK. That’s it! You can’t control music, so it’s advisable to tag and hide any explicit music you don’t feel comfortable having your child listen to.

www.connectmag.co.za | 69


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eavy rains and threats of flooding, not to mention the serious lightning storms and the unpredictable power situation some parts of South Africa have experienced over the past month don’t create all that fantastic an environment for technology to live in. And having just kitted yourself and your children out with the latest and greatest the technology world has to offer, it’s probably an apt time to think strongly about the adequate care of your new technology assets. And as usual, common sense prevails. That means making sure that you avoid eating and drinking around it (since a drinks spill can result in a complete hardware failure), that you unplug it from wall sockets or network/ phone cables during an electrical storm and that for your own comfort, you consider using it in an ergonomic manner. And the same applies for the various components in your home – from broadband routers to televisions, amplifiers

and gaming consoles, if you’re lucky enough to own them – keep them safe from harm, by exercising common sense. While you can do your best to keep your technology well maintained and safe from harm, there’s often something unforeseen lurking around the corner – and that’s why more and more people are considering short term insurance for their technology assets. And with technology becoming a more vital part of our lives – in the same way it’s wise to insure your car or other precious possessions, so it’s wise to make sure your notebook and other computing devices are covered. This is especially relevant if your technology assets are financed. Besides ensuring nothing serious happens to your notebook or desktop computer, basic care and a solid insurance policy will ensure you gain many years of valuable use from your purchases. And that’s surely the whole point of buying right the first time.

Like it? Take it home. Get Connected

Spring is here! It’sof time bring in new. So why not take of ourthe new Take advantage ourto“back tothe reality” upgrades, newadvantage software and softwarenew and technology! technology upgrades! See something youNo like? No problem, hottest See something you like? problem, just just useuse your your Connection Card. fast,convenient, convenient, easy-to-manage way to enjoy all the Connection Card. It’sIt’s thethe fast, easy-to-manage way to enjoy all benefi ts ofts shopping at Incredible Connection. the benefi of shopping at Incredible Connection. Thenew new Connection Connection Card Card gives gives you: you: The R250off* off* aa purchase purchase of of R3 R3 000 000 or or more, more, a R250 a FREE FREE monthly monthly Connect Connect Magazine Magazine discount voucher on your birthday! along with your monthly statement and a along with your monthly statement and a discount voucher on your birthday! If you haven’t got a Connection Card yet, simply apply at any If you haven’t got a Connection Card yet, simply apply at any Incredible Connection store countrywide or visit www.incredible.co.za. Incredible Connection store countrywide or visit www.incredible.co.za. We’ve got some amazing deals up for grabs so make sure you don’t miss out! We’ve got some amazing deals up for grabs so make sure you don’t miss out! Boost your buying power and keep up to speed with the latest in technology. Boost your buying power and keep up to speed with the latest in technology.

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disconnect //By adam oxford

CD RIP? W

The new Mac Mini has no optical drive. Is it the end for DVDs?

hen Apple launched the first all-in-one iMac back in 1998, it split popular opinion. Its radical new design was seen either as a bold attempt to make computers fashionable, or as a brightly coloured plastic toy. But it wasn’t the iMac’s look that was most divisive. Everything you needed was built into the semi-translucent blue shell. Everything, that is, except a floppy disk drive. And since a lot of people were still using floppy disks back then, there was a lot of scepticism about the wisdom of Apple’s choice. History has, of course, proved Apple entirely right. Floppies were obsolete before the millennium was out. In terms of looks, the designer of the Apple Mac – Jonathan Ives – went on to refine and improve the iMac and lend his golden touch to the iPod, the iPhone and every device that has gone on to make Apple the second largest company in the world today. Now, however, Apple has read the last rites for another medium. The new Mac Mini – the best value desktop Apple offers that is regularly purchased by Windows refugees who’ve been wooed away by their iPads – comes without an optical drive. The front of the tiny machine is featureless, save for a small activity LED. The slotloading disc drive is gone. It’s not quite as radical as the iMac was – lightweight laptops and netbooks have eschewed built-in DVD drives for a long time now, and there are plenty of budget desktop PCs that don’t have one either. But it’s still a significant move, especially as it’s arrived almost

72 | connect | September 2011

at the same time as Apple’s iCloud service, which puts all of your music online for you, ready for streaming. In the Apple vision, everything is delivered to your hard drive without you even having to ask for it. Whatever computer, tablet or phone you’re using, all your documents, music and movies will be downloaded and synchronised across everything, direct from Apple’s servers. There’s no need for physical media anymore, because everything is on the Net. Buying a new piece of software or a game is simply a question of downloading it from iTunes or the App Store. Everything is connected now. It’s a wonderful idea, of course, but it does have one slight flaw. Not everyone has the same sort of all-you-can-eat mega-fast bandwidth that’s available in, say, California. In South Africa, while things are certainly a lot better now than they were 3 years ago, it’s still much cheaper and quicker to go out and buy a new program than it is to download it. Games, in particular, can be huge – 10GB or more in a single download. Few of us have the kind of connection that will handle that. I mean, you could wait 3 months to download a game, one 3GB chunk at a time – and blow your entire bandwidth allocation for a quarter of a year – but, for some reason, I just don’t see that happening. It’s the same problem with downloaded movies and music. The Mac Mini handles both so well that it seems churlish not to be able to watch rented DVDs on it. And what about all the great local tracks that are never going to make it to iTunes? It feels a little like Apple has jumped too soon on this one, certainly for an international audience. There are enough people who’ve been wooed by the iPhone in South Africa, not to mention the rest of the continent, to have made the relatively cheap (by Apple standards) Mac Mini a roaring success. But with no disc drive, it’s a no-go. You can buy an external USB drive for all of this, but at upwards of R500, it’s not a cheap option. I could be wrong, of course. After all, I’m merely a–penny-a- line hack who is a little resistant to change, and Apple has more cash in the bank than the US government. Are CDs, DVDs and – by extension – Blu-rays a dead format? Feel free to mail me and let me know.


SPring has sprung! With Spring all around us, it’s the perfect time of year to capture nature’s beauty and splendour with your digital camera, mobile phone or tablet PC. It’s also a good time to experience new things, which is why Incredible Connection and HP have teamed up to show off the power and ease-of-use of HP’s ePrint printing technology with a competition that involves you and your best Spring photographs. Incredible Connection is holding 4 special ePrint days in September, where Megastore customers can send their photos to HP ePrint-enabled printers and stand a chance to win an HP ePrint PhotoSmart printer.

All you need to do is: 1

Take Spring-themed pictures with your e-mail enabled cell phone or tablet PC

2

Go to an Incredible Connection Megastore on September 10/11/24/25

3

Send your best picture to an in-store ePrint printer by e-mail

4

Be amazed as your photo prints, seconds later

5

Write your contact details on the back of the photo and drop it in the competition box

6

Winners will be announced in the November Connect Magazine and directly by phone.

n! Wi

Participating Incredible Connection Megastores: East Rand Retail Park in Boksburg Gateway in Durban Canal Walk in Cape Town The Glen in Southern Johannesburg Clearwater Mall on the West Rand Somerset Mall in Somerset West


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