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August 2012

Big Screen Debut

Buying a Projector Picasa, iPhoto & More

Organise Your Photos Like a Pro!

Fantastic Supreme Smartphone Round-up

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R14.95 incl. VAT

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Reviews Printers LAPTOPS CAMERAS Tablets SOFTWARE cellphones GAMES


Ultimate Portability.

Ultimate Power.


Sony recommends Windows® 7.

Sony VAIO range available at Incredible Connection

VPC-Z227 “Beyond the Ultimate” • • • • • •

VPC-SB38 “Power wherever you need it” • • • • •

Windows 7 Pro 64-bit Intel® Core™ i7-2640M Processor 2.80 GHz with Turbo Boost up to 3.50 GHz 750GB HDD 4GB RAM 13.3” Led Backlit Display

Works the way you want.

Windows 7 Pro 64-bit Intel® Core™ i7-2640M Processor 2.80 GHz with Turbo Boost up to 3.50 GHz 256GB SSD 8GB RAM 13.1” Full HD Led Backlit Display Includes Power Media Dock with Blu-ray, and high speed graphic support

VPC-F237 “Dive into 3D” • • • • •

VPC-EH Series “Power and Simplicity” • • • • •

Up to Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit Up to Intel® Core™ i5-2450M Processor 2.50 GHz with Turbo Boost up to 3.10 GHz 500GB HDD 4GB RAM 15.5” LCD Display

Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit Intel® Core™ i7-2860QM Processor 2.50 GHz with Turbo Boost up to 3.60 GHz 640GB HDD 8GB RAM 16” Full HD 3D Led Backlit Display

VPC-YB Series “Mobility to take you places” • • • • •

Windows 7 Home Basic 32-bit AMD Dual-Core Processor E-450 (1.6 GHz) 320GB 2GB RAM 11.6” LCD Display

www.sony.co.za/vaio


www.connectmag.co.za

issue #40

August 2012

16 FEATURES

12

Big Screen Brilliance Go back to basics with projectors

16

Do It Yourself Home software to be a better you

20

What is Ice-Cream Sandwich? Google’s delicious mobile operating system

22

Conquer your Photo Collection How to manage all your digital pics

26

Get to Know Networking Dual-band wireless networking‌ say what?

26

22


REGULARS 04 06 08 68 70 72

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

REVIEWS 30 34 45 52 54 55 56 58

First Look Top 5 Smartphone Roundup Memory Sound Printers Software Accessories

GAMING 60

Reviews


ed’s note

m a e b up me

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Subscribe now and you could win Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX50. See Pg70 for more details.

rojectors – good for home cinema or business, you ask? These big-screen gadgets are no longer specialist (and super-expensive) wish-list items. Today, projectors are showing up in the smartest of designs. Take the new Sony Handycam range. These handheld video recorders now come with built-in projectors. No need for cables or a TV – it’s easy to share and show off whatever you’ve captured on-the-go. Then there’s the Samsung Galaxy Beam, a stylish smartphone that can project bright and clear images up to 50ft. It’s incredible. In this issue of Connect, we go back to basics with projector tech. So if you’re thinking of adding a projector to your tech collection, flip to page 12 for all the info you need, from DLP to LCOS. In August, we’re also talking about doing it yourself with home software. In Deon du Plessis’ feature on page 16, he rounds up a number of titles that teach home and garden design, music skills, memory tricks, and so much more. Let’s be honest, it’s time to conquer that forevergrowing photo collection. Going digital may make it easy to capture moments, but how can you easily store and access all those images? On page 22, we have some quick sharing and sorting tips. Do you have some unanswered technology questions not covered in Connect? Don’t forget, you can always pop our resident tech tannie Tamsin a line. We hope you enjoy the issue.

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

Tiana Cline EDITOR

ART DIRECTOR Jason Palmer jason@connectmag.co.za Junior Designer Jessica Hurwitz jess@connectmag.co.za CONTRIBUTORS Tamsin Mackay Adam Oxford

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

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

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

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in the news... Google Map Maker comes to South Africa Google Map Maker is now available in South Africa. This will allow South Africans to add, update and share details about the places they most treasure, including local hospitals, restaurants, schools, walking paths, dams and more. “We are excited to bring such a dynamic tool to South Africa,” says Luke Mckend, Google SA Country Manager. “Map Maker is also about improving existing information, indicating if streets have become one-ways or if road names have changed. You can also map hiking trails and add gravel roads that aren’t visible on existing maps. Once approved, contributions will appear on Google Maps, Google Earth and Google Maps for mobile.” Users can join with other local mappers and use their local expertise to review one another’s contributions. Subscribe to the Map Maker YouTube Channel, and join the team of citizen cartographers from across the globe as they continue to build the world map. Google Maps was officially launched in South Africa in October 2009, with Google Street View being added in June 2010. Google Map Maker is currently available in over 190 countries and regions.

App of the Month: AMAZING ALEX (iPhone, Android)

The New Lara Croft Camilla Luddington has been named the new Lara Croft in the upcoming Tomb Raider video game. A reimagining of the 1996 game, the 29-year-old British star (who lives in LA) joins Angelina Jolie, Minnie Driver and Keeley Hawes, who have all played the explorer in the past. Luddington’s most recent work includes portraying another well-known British figure – the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton – in the made-for-TV film William & Kate. She has also starred with David Duchovny in the TV series Californication, and is 6 | connect | August 2012

scheduled to appear in the 5th season of HBO’s True Blood. Besides doing the voiceover work for the new game, Luddington is also doing all the motion-capture for the character – making her the first performer to lend both vocal talents and body shape to Lara Croft. After an international search by developer Crystal Dynamics, Luddington was chosen. She said in a recent Comic-Con interview: “What is it like playing her? She’s amazing! She is iconic, she’s sexy, she’s courageous, she’s all those wonderful things and I think it was an honour to be cast as her.”

From the makers of Angry Birds and Cut the Rope, Amazing Alex is a brilliant physics game where you’re challenged to create chain reactions with objects to complete objectives. With over 100 challenging levels, it’s a game that will keep you thinking. Similar to The Incredible Machine (Dynamix’ PC game from 1993), there are many ways to solve the puzzles and they get more complicated as you progress in the game. You can also share your crazy solutions with friends and design your own creative levels using 35 different interactive objects. Rating: 5 Stars Price: US0.99c (Apple), R8.16 (Android)


techno jargon // by Deon Du Plessis

This month, we bring you a random sampling of words you’ll find in the magazine, on the Internet, and anywhere techies gather.

Pixel Every screen ever made uses tiny dots to create images. These dots are called pixels, or “picture elements”.

Pixel density This refers to the number of picture elements to be found in a square inch of screen. The higher this number is, the less noticeable individual pixels become to the human eye.

Retina display A screen with a pixel density so high, it’s impossible for the human eye to see the individual dots that make up the picture. This results in images that are sharp and realistic-looking – far more so than other screens with lower pixel densities. This is currently an Apple trademark and refers to the technology used in the screens of several of their popular products.

Hibernate A power-saving mode for portable computers. When hibernated, the computer saves everything that was open to its hard drive, and restores it when the computer is woken up. It’s faster than booting up from scratch, and lets the user resume whatever they were doing when the computer was hibernated.

Heat sink Heat sinks keep hot things (like computer components) from overheating by drawing heat away and disposing of it, usually by having air blown over their surface by fans. Without them, computers would overheat and stop working altogether within minutes of starting up.

Netiquette This word combines “etiquette” and “net”, and refers to rules on how to behave on the Internet. Good netiquette is respecting others and making constructive, intelligent conversation with other Internet users. Bad netiquette, unfortunately the far more popular choice, involves teasing, bullying, mocking and generally being a nuisance to other Internet users in creative ways.

NFC Near-field Communication. This technology is only now starting to appear in products, and refers to the ability to communicate and send data back and forth between 2 NFC-enabled devices by simply holding them close together, or touching them to each other.

8 | connect | August 2012


Intelligent printing

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Kodak All-in-One Printers offer intelligent features and deliver many important features that consumers need in a home or home office printer.

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The Kodak HERO 5.1 All-in-One Printer, retail at a recommended price of R1299, is Google Cloud Print Ready and Kodak Email Print Ready, and allows consumers to print from anywhere, for less.

outh African consumers now have access to intelligent printing systems that are easy to use, and offer high quality photos and documents with the lowest average cost-per- page. Kodak All-in-One Printers offer something very unique in the industry – high quality printing with affordable ink – backed by more than 100 years of leading Kodak Image Science.

The Kodak ESP C310 and C110 Allin-One Printer is an entry level wifi printer retailing for a recommended price of R999.

The Kodak ESP Office 2170 All-inOne Printer for the home office, offers four great functions, print, copy, scan and fax in a compact design and retails for a recommended price of R1 499.

The Kodak ESP C110 All-in-One Printer is the entry level non-wifi printer with similar features as the C310 at a recommended retail price of R799.

All Kodak All-in-One Printers use Kodak 30 Series Inks that deliver exceptional quality and cost-per-page ink value. The system uses a one size fits all philosophy across its all-in-one range, meaning they all use the same model black and colour ink cartridgesa, available in either standard or XL sizes.

High Quality Printing with Great Ink Value! The big obstacle for home printing in South Africa has been the high cost of ink. Kodak has solved this problem by providing consumers with affordable ink that delivers long lasting, high quality photos and documents. Kodak’s proprietary pigment-based inks provide richer, more vibrant colors, and significant fade resistance and instant dry advantage over dye-based ink systems. With Kodak, consumers get crisp, sharp text documents, brilliant graphics and Kodak Lab-Quality Photos that are smudge, and water and fade resistant and last a lifetime. Colour: R149

Black: R99


back to basics //by Christo van Gemert

big-screen brilliance Projectors are fantastic bits of kit for both business presentations and entertainment, but each use requires a specific kind of projector. Let’s take a look at what’s right for you.

12 | connect | AUGUST 2012


Business vs home: the differences

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n the movie industry, projectors are the only cost-effective way for a large audience to see a film. There’s simply no other hardware technology that comes close: a plasma or LCD television big enough for a movie theatre would use far too much power, aside from being impractically heavy to install. For home use, using a projector comes down to value rather than practicality. Most big lounges can have a 55”, 60”, or 100” plasma TV – which will have fantastic image quality – but a projector capable of throwing a 100” image will cost about half as much as a high-end 55” LCD TV. For businesses, it’s about cost and practicality: it’s cheaper to get a business projector for a large boardroom than having a TV gathering dust. Aside from having a larger image, you can get tech such as wireless projection, where you don’t need to run a cable between a laptop and the projector.

LCD

Business projectors are machines that are ideal for presentations, and they’re also very affordable. For a company that needs to have a professional image in the boardroom, a projector is the perfect solution. Unfortunately, they do have serious drawbacks for anything but use in the boardroom. Where home-entertainment projectors will need to deal with high-definition media, running at resolutions of up to 1 920 x 1 080 (also known as Full HD or 1 080p), a business projector is more likely to have a native resolution of 800 x 600 or 1 024 x 768. The components required for higher resolution (and consequently more advanced image processing) are more expensive, and when you’re just showing off slides in PowerPoint, the image quality won’t really be a deal-breaker. The image quality isn’t just down to resolution, though. The type of content a home theatre projector is used for will require better colour and contrast, as well as superior brightness control. Business projectors are generally quite bright, simply because they are often set up in less-than-ideal environments with lots of ambient lighting, while things can be more controlled in the lounge – so don’t be swayed by the bigger brightness numbers when you’re shopping for a projector you want to use at home.

This is one of the more common technologies used in projectors. It employs a tiny LCD screen in front of the projection lamp, and everything gets magnified by the lens. Imagine your desktop LCD screen with a huge light behind it, projecting onto the wall – that’s about it. Of course LCD projectors are plentiful because the technology is cost-effective and has already been mastered. Epson has 3LCD projectors, where a beam of white light gets split into red, green and blue beams, each of which is then projected through a separate LCD before being combined. It’s costly, but the ultimate quality is worth the outlay in home theatre applications.

LED As is the case with LCD computer screens and televisions, LED projectors still use conventional projection technologies, but have a powerful LED bulb as the light source. This leads to less heat, lower operating temperatures and noise, and extremely long service life, because LEDs have service cycles of 40 000 hours or more, but the downside is that this is still only available in very compact pocket-style projectors. Technology exists to have an LED light source in a larger projector, but those models are still very expensive due to lower demand for entertainment-focused projectors.

www.connectmag.co.za | 13


back to basics

Get connected Business projectors might not be all that when it comes to image quality, but they do have specific features that make them indispensable in the office environment. A home theatre projector will require a long, fat HDMI cable linking it to a home theatre receiver, but a modern business projector can have built-in wireless capabilities. Cables are no longer a problem when you can just set up the projector as a wireless display, and beam your presentation without tethering yourself to a podium or desk. This isn’t an option for home projectors purely because the wireless display technology in use today isn’t capable of transmitting a high-definition signal. You’ll need a proper HDMI cable, one that’s long enough to run from the mounting point all the way to your AV receiver. An HD TV has built-in speakers so it’s possible to directly connect a games console or a Blu-ray player, but a projector has no means of supplying its own audio, so an external sound source will be required.

DLP Digital Light Processing, a trademark of Texas Instruments, is a projector technology that uses a DMD (digital micromirror device). This is a special chip that has an array of millions of tiny electromechanical mirrors, each of which is used to reflect light independently. The image produced by a DMD is greyscale, but colour is added when the monochrome image is projected through a colourwheel. This is literally a circular wheel with an array of colours which, when spun quickly, blends all the colours into white. When a greyscale image is projected through the wheel, the scene gains colour as per the source material.

14 | connect | AUGUST 2012

LCOS This is an exotic solution for projectors, and only a handful of home theatre projectors use this technology. Like DLP, this uses a single chip to produce the image, but instead of mirrors, it has 3 separate liquid crystal displays – one for each colour (red, green and blue). Once all 3 displays have processed an image, the colours are projected through a prism, and eventually the lens. Sony also has its own version of this technology, called SXRD, but it’s only used in the company’s high-end 1080P home theatre projector.

Bigger might not be better We’ve already pointed out why a projector might be a great big-screen solution at home, but there are some disadvantages too. There’s the lack of audio, as already pointed out, but projectors also aren’t a solution for everyday viewing. Even if you have a home theatre room, it’ll be best to have a regular display as a backup for everyday broadcasts, while the projector can be fired up for special occasions, like movie nights and big sports occasions. Current projector technology still relies heavily on metal-halide lamps, which get very hot. Running them for hours on end can cause the cooling fans on the projector to get noisy, and the limited life of these lamps (between 2 000 and 3 000 hours) means that daily running can become costly. You’re looking at R2 000 to R4 000 for a replacement lamp.


www.phoenixsoftware.co.za sales@phoenixsoftware.co.za Telephone No: 0861 7463649

Now Available at Incredible Connection


super software //by Deon Du Plessis

16 | connect | AUGUST 2012


Be a r e t t Be you! All manner of software has been written to enhance your life and help you be a better you. We take a look at some of these products found on store shelves today.

3D Home Designer Deluxe Price: R129.95

If you’ve ever wanted to design your dream home on your computer and see what it would look like in 3D, this is the software for you. It features a user-friendly interface and a huge selection of objects with which to furnish and decorate your creation. Once you’re done, you can walk through it in beautifully-rendered 3D to see what it would look like from the inside! System requirements are not steep, and the software should easily run on most modern computers.

www.connectmag.co.za | 17


super software Musicalis Guitar Universal Workshop Price: R129.95

Learning to play the guitar can be a fun challenge, and this package will help you on your way to stardom. It’s not a standalone teaching tool, but it will show you a lot of useful things about the guitar that will enhance your understanding of any lessons you might be taking. It explains tablature, staves and chords, shows finger positions on the guitar’s fret board and even has a digital tuning facility that lets you tune the guitar. A great place for beginners to start.

Test and Improve Your Memory R129.95

By presenting you with various exercises, this software teaches new ways to memorise things, develops logic and language skills and improves your mental dexterity. It’s not just about today, either – by spending just 20 minutes a day honing your mental skills with these exercises, you can discourage the brain deterioration that can take place as we age, or even avoid it altogether. The software also builds a Mind Profile of you, an invaluable tool that illustrates where your strengths and weaknesses are and also shows how well you’re developing over time. In all a great tool for learners of all ages keen on staying sharp.

Create Your Own Labels 2nd Edition Price: R129.95

We all know someone who loves labelling everything, and this is the software for them. It has over 25 000 templates and 5 000 clip art images for you to get creative with. Create labels for everyday objects like files, CDs, luggage, spice bottles and much more using the step-by-step wizard that walks you through the process, and add touches like images imported from your camera or scanner. The software handles things like barcodes, incremental serial numbers and also lets you get creative with fun text art. It’s only meant for home use, though, so no creating labels for sale to the public (or friends and relatives).

18 | connect | AUGUST 2012

Learn to use Microsoft Office Word/Excel/ PowerPoint/ Access 2010 Price: R129.95 (each)

Intimidated by Office 2010? Don’t be! Learn everything you need to know to get around Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and Access with GSP’s excellent range of Office 2010 tutorial software. Thorough but interesting video tutorials take you through what you need to know, and your newfound knowledge is tested in simulated Office environments. Choose the topic you’d like to explore, and sit back and absorb!

DK 3D World Atlas Price: R129.95

Dorling Kindersley’s 3D World Atlas is an incredibly useful tool for anyone interested in Planet Earth. It presents Earth as a 3D globe that can be rotated and zoomed into, up to a map scale of 1:250 000, with over half a million place names and road networks rounding out the details. In addition, there are several views – a general topographic map, a satellite map, a physical map and, most interestingly, bio-geographic and night-time maps that show off the Earth in ways you probably haven’t seen before. Exploring each is as simple as navigating the globe using keyboard and mouse and looking closely at whichever area of the planet interests you. The package also presents educational information on topics like natural hazards and the environmental issues we’re facing today, making it a useful and upto-date reference tool.


Select Photo Studio 3rd Edition Price: R129.95

Select Photo Studio 3rd Edition is a cheap and effective alternative to more expensive photoediting software if all you need are basic imageediting and enhancement tools. It opens and edits Photoshop files and RAW files from a number of popular camera models, has a Macro mode that applies an effect to more than one photo at a time, and even has a handful of new filter effects like Lens Distortion and Depth of Field Blur to make your snaps more interesting. Basic functions like cropping, rotating and red-eye removal are here too, and if you’re feeling lazy, a QuickFix Photo Studio function will perform automatic corrections on images. It might not be the most complex software available, but it offers some pretty neat functionality for the price.

Select Web Design Studio 3rd Edition Price: R129.95

By using customisable, professionally-designed Web page templates, it’s possible for inexperienced users to create fantastic-looking pages with only a small amount of effort using this software. As you grow more accustomed to the interface, you can polish your creations further and enhance them with Flash videos (you’ll have to create those yourself using other software, though), customised banners, RSS feeds and customised Web forms for visitors to fill out. It even has an e-commerce wizard that walks you through the process of setting up your own Web store using various well-known shopping-cart providers. Not bad for 130 bucks!

Teaching You Music Theory Skills Price: R129.95

Music is a language all of its own, and understanding its structure and rules is vital to being able to play an instrument and write your own songs. This software lays it all bare for the learner with interactive tutorials, step-by-step guides, music clips and videos in a smartly-structured way that will take you through all essential concepts in an easy-to-follow, engaging manner. The friendly, accessible style makes the software suitable for adults and kids alike interested in making music a part of their lives.

Your 3D Garden Designer Deluxe Edition Price: R129.95

Planning on having your garden landscaped? Consider saving yourself a bit of cash by visualising everything beforehand with this excellent 3D landscaping software. Drag and drop elements like paths, rocks, fences, hills, ponds and much more onto the screen with your mouse, and see the garden take shape before your eyes in glorious 3D. It’s also possible to see what your garden might look like over time, helping you to plan for the future by planting the right flora today!

www.connectmag.co.za | 19


android 101 //by Brett Haggard

Getting to know...

Android 4.0 P

rior to the arrival of version 4.0 (code-named Ice Cream Sandwich), Android tablets and smartphones ran completely separate operating systems. Now they run the same operating system and, as such, can make use of exactly the same applications. There have also been a number of changes to the basic architecture of the underlying Android operating system that make devices using it faster, more user-friendly and prettier.

Hey, good-looking

Ice Cream Sandwich is the latest version of the mobile operating system that’s taking the world by storm

20 | connect | August 2012

Ice Cream Sandwich has been designed around the goal of making common actions more visible. To this point, the new home screen allows you to group your apps and shortcuts logically (i.e. all of the social apps together, etc.), make use of new gestures for answering calls or, instead, quickly responding by text messages, and widgets that can be resized to your preference. It also features a new typeface that’s been optimised for high-resolution screens and in doing so, improves the readability of on-screen text.

Perfect for speed demons Because 4.0 has been designed to work on devices with powerful processors and fast data connections, 2 integral features are the ‘recent apps’ button, which lets you instantly jump from one task to another with ease, and the data usage panel in operating system setting, which allows you to view the total data usage on each network type (mobile or Wi-Fi) and set warning levels or limit data usage on an application-by-application basis.

Easy to use Another of the engineers’ considerations when building Ice Cream Sandwich was accessibility. To this end, 4.0 introduces a powerful new voice input engine that offers something Google calls its ‘continuous open microphone experience’. That means you can dictate the text you want, for as long as you want, using the language you want. Another innovative feature is ‘Face Unlock’, which, as its name suggests, lets you unlock the device with your face.

Visit www.android.com/about/ice-cream-sandwich for more...


www.phoenixsoftware.co.za Tel No: 0861 746 3649

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conquer your photo collection //by Christo van Gemert

picture

packrat

You have a big camera and lots of hard drive space, but all those photos need some organising. We’ve put together a handy guide with tips for sorting and sharing your digital memories. 22 | connect | AUGUST 2012


T

hat old shoebox of photos stuffed under the bed has evolved into a modern conundrum. Digital cameras have made photography easy and accessible. At the same time, there is no cost associated with taking digital photos: both the batteries and memory cards are reusable. If film photography were as cheap and easy, we would have warehouses full of developed photos. Fortunately, hard drives are compact, and very cheap to upgrade. We don’t think anything of dumping 4GB to 8GB of photos after a holiday abroad, but the problem of rifling through them and sharing them with others is one that remains.

Consolidate To master that photo collection, you’ll have to bring everything together in one place. Back in the day, it was not uncommon to have multiple folders strewn across a hard drive, each with a selection of photos from a different event. Things could be more organised if those sub folders were all in a single, main photo folder, but that’s still too old-tech. What we need here is a software solution. Thankfully, both Windows computers and Macs have a variety of applications for the job. Mac users can use iPhoto, while Windows users can utilise Windows Live Photo Gallery. Users of either platform can access Google’s Picasa (www.picasa.com), which is free and extremely powerful. These photo management applications will import your photos and visually present them all in a single place where it’ll be easy to sort out albums, apply enhancements, and add relevant tags.

Quick tip Picasa will not modify your original files. When it imports photos into the gallery, it will not move them, either. It’s still wise to put all photos in a single location, though, to prevent file system clutter.

A home for your photos The reason we’ve mentioned Google’s Picasa at length in this how-to guide is because it really is a brilliant piece of software. It came along way before most apps on Windows, it’s free, and on the Mac platform it’s just that bit better than iPhoto. Picasa has many of the features we’ve mentioned: it will share photos on Google+, via email, and Picasa web albums; photos that have location data will be shown on a Google map; and there are some nifty ways to export your photos, including creating collages and video presentations. Most importantly, Picasa has powerful editing capabilities. You can retouch blemishes on your photos, adjust colour and contrast, straighten up skew shots, and apply various creative filters to achieve different effects. Finally, there’s a “people manager”, to detect faces and help you tag photos appropriately. This also plugs into the Google+ integration, so when you upload those photos they’re automatically tagged online.

Take no prisoners When we’re snapping away, we’re blissfully unaware of the sorting process that follows. After centralising everything, the second step to conquering your photo collection is removing the rubbish. Picasa and other photo management tools make it easy to quickly sift through large photo albums in a few minutes, which is handy for deleting the terrible photos. All those blurry shots need to go – they can’t be saved. The same goes for anything that’s too dark or too bright, or photos where you forgot to remove the lens cap. Just get rid of the bad photos and leave the good ones that are worth printing or sharing online.

Quick tip Some photo management apps have their own trash cans, so even though you’ve deleted the photo from the album, you will still need to empty the trash can in the app to delete the actual files.

www.connectmag.co.za | 23


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conquer your photo collection Names and faces

Sharing is caring Once you have everything sorted, people named, and photos touched up, you can bring the snaps out of the virtual shoebox. Social networks make it easy to share those memories that would usually only be shared when folks came to visit, and it only requires a few clicks. You don’t even have to worry about resizing photos you upload, since the applications will automatically resize the photos to prevent uploading large files. Picasa, iPhoto, and Windows Live Photo Gallery have integrated support for sharing photos to most of the popular photo-sharing services and social networks. No longer do you have to manually upload albums through your Web browser; it’s now as simple as selecting the photos you want shared and clicking the “share” button.

Zoom and enhance Once you’re left with the photos you actually want to keep, it’s time to start fiddling. You can share them right away, but the built-in features in many photo management applications will let you retouch, sharpen up, and recompose your photos. Picasa, specifically, has great photo filters to automate any enhancements on your photos, in addition to tools for fine-tuning those snaps. It’s also worth resizing the photos you plan to e-mail to friends: Facebook resizes photos to about 2 megapixels, so it’s no use uploading an 8- or 16-megapixel photo. Thankfully, your original photos are kept intact: none of the changes you perform are permanent. It’s easy to revert to the original.

Quick tip Sometimes your not-so-straight photos can be levelled out using tools in the photo manager. The straighten tool will even crop your photo to make sure you don’t end up with unwanted black borders.

Hitting the high-end

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12.12929"

Arranging photos into albums is automatically done according to the date they were taken – that’s the easy part. Where you’ll have to do a bit of manual work is on the tagging of those albums. You can add the location where photos were taken, as well as a description of the event. It’s also possible, but not necessary, to add captions for each photo. Recently we’ve been blessed with facial recognition technology that’ll detect the faces in your photos. At first, this will require you to identify the faces, but after a while, the software – armed with names – will start automatically tagging the people in photos. It’s remarkably accurate, too, and when you share your photos online, those tags will be retained when publishing to social networks.

While there are a few alternatives to Picasa and iPhoto, the most powerful commercial package is Adobe’s Lightroom. This will keep your photos in one place and let you manage them, but it swaps the consumerfriendly approach for a hard-core photo editing experience. Lightroom offers extremely powerful features such as brushes for selective colour and contrast enhancement, blemish-removal brushes, and advanced colour adjustment. It also has professional-level tools that will let you correct perspective on your photos, adjust photos for lens distortion, and remove noise from shots taken in low-light conditions. Basically, Lightroom has everything you’d need to turn a good photo into a masterpiece that’ll be worthy of printing on a billboard or magazine cover. Of course, where other options might be free, this will set you back close to R2 000 – so you’ve got to be serious about your photos before using this to manage them.

*1 24 | connect | AUGUST 2012


Samsung recommends WindowsÂŽ 7.

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what is it? //by DEON DU PLESSIS

What is... Dual-band Wireless

Networking? If you’ve ever wondered what “dual-band wireless networking” is, read on, for we have the answer!

A

wireless router operates similarly to a radio – it “tunes in” to a certain frequency band (also called a channel) and uses it to send and receive information to other wireless networking devices that are set to operate at that same frequency. Today, most wireless routers found on store shelves operate at a frequency of 2.4GHz. This particular frequency was chosen because it’s low enough to cover a wide area, and high enough to provide respectable transfer speeds between devices. The problem is many other wireless gadgets use it too, and this produces what DID YOU KNOW? Your microwave might be the reason your wireless network drops connections, performs poorly or both if it uses the 2.4GHz band to heat your food and your router is positioned near it.

26 | connect | August 2012

scientists call “interference”. When a wireless networking signal experiences interference, its range and speed drop, and connections between devices can be lost entirely – not what anyone wants in their wireless network.

The solution The solution is to use a higher band which, when it comes to Wi-Fi, means the 5GHz band. The advantage here is that 5GHz is a “clear” band because far fewer devices use it than 2.4GHz. Going this route is essential when operating a wireless network around equipment known to generate interference.

So what is dual-band wireless networking already?!? Dual-band wireless networking makes use of routers capable of operating on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency bands, thereby giving the end-user the best of both

worlds. They can also automatically switch between the 2 in order to maintain network performance as conditions change. Dual-band routers can be expensive, and signals operating at the 5GHz range aren’t as good at passing through walls and objects as their 2.4GHz cousins are. This results in a slightly smaller coverage area, but the trade-off is better reliability. Just note that any PCs you wish to connect using 5GHz networking tech must be able to support it too.

The bottom line If your wireless network regularly lets you down by dropping connections, get yourself a dual-band router and a Wi-Fi dongle that supports the 5GHz band. If not, stick with your old 2.4GHz router for now.

www.connectmag.co.za


product reviews // by Deon Du PLessis

Product Progression

Contents

I

t’s nice to see products being released that are a genuine evolution of their underlying concept, as opposed to “just another printer/phone/monitor, etc.”. Many of the products you’ll see in this month’s reviews pages are fascinatingly different from the norm. Take the new Mede8er media player as an example. It looks different to any we’ve seen before and is so packed with features – including 3D movie playback – that it’s hard to imagine where the design will go next. Hard drives can now be accessed over Wi-Fi, Apple’s Wi-Fi-capable iDevices can stream music wirelessly to AirPlay-capable speakers, and printers can scan 3D objects and turn them into 2D images. Who’da thunk it? We’ve also done a roundup of 4 of the most popular smartphones available today, so there’s a lot of interesting stuff to read. We hope to bring you even cooler product reviews in the future. Enjoy! Cheers! Deon NOTE: In last month’s issue, we reviewed the excellent Spector Pro parental control software, but we made a mistake. We listed the inability of the software to track both sides of an Instant Messaging conversation in the software’s “Cons”, which is not true – it can. We apologise for the error.

While we make every effort to ensure pricing is accurate before we go to print, sometimes through circumstances we have no control over, the prices in Connect may differ from those you’ll see on store shelves. In all cases, shelf pricing takes precedence. 28 | connect | August 2012

30 32 34 36 38 40 42 45 52 54 55 56 58

First Look – Lenovo A720 All-in-One PC First Look – Philips IPS Monitor Dell Alienware X51 SFF PC Kaspersky ONE Security Software Mede8er MD1000X3D Media Player Dell Inspiron 15RSE Notebook Lenovo IdeaCentre B520 All-in-One PC Smartphone Roundup Seagate Satellite 500GB Wi-Fi Hard Drive iHome iW1 AirPlay Speaker System HP TopShot LaserJet Pro M275 Colour Laser Printer Magix Movie Edit Pro MX Accessorise!


product FIRST LOOK

Lenovo IdeaCentre A720 All-in-One Touchscreen PC NEED TO KNOW • High-performance all-in-one family PC • Control the action with 10-finger touch • Screen can fold into various positions • Powered by an Intel Core i7 processor ETA: August 2012

We were recently given the opportunity to see the new IdeaCentre A720 all-in-one family PC from Lenovo in action, and we must say, it’s a superb machine. It comes with enough gigabytes, megahertz and wireless goodies to titllate our inner geeks and it boasts a smart and adjustable design that even Apple should be jealous of. But what really sells it is its massive 27” touchscreen. You read that right. Not only does it have a touchscreen, but it’s huge. Twenty-seven inches is a fair amount bigger than the size we consider to be the sweet spot when it comes to monitors – 24” – and those extra 3” make a considerable difference to the amount of screen space to which you get access. And that’s fantastic! Lenovo has also shipped a bunch of fun touchscreen software with the A720 that makes great use of the extra space. Highlights include the iconic Angry Birds, the brilliant Fruit Ninja and Microsoft’s almost-as-addictive “Cut the rope” games, all of which require touching the screen to play. If you’re worried that touching the screen means holding your 30 | connect | August 2012


Product

Specs

arms out in front of you for hours on end, you’d only be half-right. Touchscreen interfaces do require more physical exertion from you, but Lenovo has invented an ingenious way of getting around that – a collapsible stand that lets you adjust the position of the A720’s screen. It’s so flexible that you’re able to position it parallel to the surface it’s standing on. As in, completely flat. This gives the user tremendous freedom to position it exactly as they want it, be it flat against the desk or at a slight angle so they can rest their arms on the desk, while touching the screen with their fingers. We were able to watch the A720’s support for simultaneous 10-finger touch in action, too. Basically, it means you can place all your fingers and both thumbs on its screen, and it will detect every one of them and respond accordingly. That’s amazing for any touchscreen, but particularly impressive for one as large as the A720’s. That might be because Microsoft’s new operating system, Windows 8, is just around the corner and it makes heavy use of touch-friendly features. We’re not entirely sure which operating system it will ship with, but even if it only comes with Windows 7, we do know that it qualifies for an upgrade to Windows 8 if purchased before 31 January, 2013. The upgrade will cost the equivalent of $15, which, at the moment, is around R125. If you take a look at the images at the top of the review, you’ll notice just how striking the A720 is, even on paper. Its aluminium body gives it a nice silver finish that’s made all the more impressive by its compact

size. The stand appears to be quite sturdy, too, and the demo unit we saw looked to be rather heavy. That’s mostly because of the screen, but also because the base is packed with the hardware that drives the visuals. The A720 will come with a choice of Core i5 and Core i7 Ivy Bridge processors, will support up to 8GB of system RAM, up to a Terabyte (1 000GB) of hard drive space, and up to an NVIDIA GeForce 660M graphics card. Interestingly, Lenovo hinted at this machine being surprisingly affordable, but, of course, come print time and we didn’t have anything more concrete to go on. So while we haven’t been able to spend quality one-on-one time with the A720, what we saw of the demo unit was enough to blow our hair back. If this is the future of all-in-one PCs, and this particular model won’t require the sale of a first-born child or vital organs when it launches, it will be a bright future indeed. Pros

Cons

• Huge 27” capacitive touchscreen • 10-finger touch is future-proof • Promising potential hardware configurations

• We don’t have one yet

Excitement Potential

Lenovo IdeaCentre A720 All-in-One Touchscreen PC • Processor: Intel Core i5 and i7 CPUs • Operating system: Windows 7 Home Premium or Professional • Graphics: Configurable up to NVIDIA GeForce GT 660M with 2GB of graphics memory • Memory: 2GB to 8GB of DDR SDRAM @ 1 600MHz • Hard drive: 500GB to 1 000GB @ 5 400RPM or 1 x 64GB SSD • Optical drive: DVD writer or Blu-ray combo • Networking: Gigabit Ethernet • Wireless networking: 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, optional Bluetooth • Ports: 2 x USB 2.0, 2 x USB 3.0, 6-in-1 card reader, headphone and mic jacks, HDMI-out • Weight: 11.6kg • Dimensions: 658 x 224.8 x 490.5 (mm)

www.connectmag.co.za | 31


product FIRST LOOK

Product Philips Brilliance Blade 2

Specs

Philips Brilliance Blade 2 23” IPS Monitor • IPS LED wide-view technology for true-to-life image and colour accuracy • HDMI-ready for Full HD entertainment • SmartContrast 20 000 000:1 for incredible, rich black details • SmartImage: Optimised user-friendly display experience • SmartTxt for an optimised reading experience • SmartKolor for rich, vibrant images • Design that complements any interior • Stylish, ultra-slim design for modern looks • Superb glossy finish with distinctive features • Modern touch controls • Energy Star for energy efficiency and low power consumption • Ecologically-friendly materials that meet international standards

32 | connect | August 2012

23” IPS Monitor

NEED TO KNOW • New ultra-thin PC monitor from Philips • Uses superior IPS panel technology • Designed for designers ETA: Q3 2012

The Philips 239C4QHSB “Blade 2” IPS LCD monitor is one of a new line of screens coming from Philips, a company with its fingers in many pies, including the computer monitor market. What’s special about it is that it uses IPS LCD technology, which offers far better image quality, colour reproduction and viewing angles than traditional TFT LCD screens do. It also has a slew of Philips-specific technologies thrown in to make everything look even better. Firstly, there’s SmartImage, a Philips technology that analyses what’s on your screen and optimises the display’s settings to make everything look as good as possible. It features selectable modes that can be set via a user-friendly interface to accommodate whatever you’re doing. Modes include Office, Image, Entertainment and Economy, and based on what you choose, the monitor adjusts the contrast, colour saturation and image sharpness to suit the situation. Then there’s SmartKolor, a feature that intelligently adjusts the intensity of red, blue and green in a way that makes your videos and photos look particularly colourful and rich. Next, we have SmartTxt, a feature that works some proprietary Philips magic that makes text sharper and easier on the eyes. This next feature should be taken with a pinch of salt: Philips claims the screen has a “SmartContrast” ratio of 20 million to 1, which is a rather large figure. What this actually means in relation to other screens is unclear, but the message they’re trying to get across is the screen should

accurately depict dark areas and bright colours, and that this ability is attributed to whatever technical wizardry goes into their SmartContrast technology. So, basically, Philips is taking the advantages provided by IPS technology and enhancing it further with a few proprietary tweaks of their own. That’s not bad news at all as IPS screens are gorgeous to start with, and now they’re being made better and packed into a super-thin body that should inspire desire before it’s even turned on. The peripheral features of this monitor are thus: it’s a 23” screen that runs at a resolution of 1 920 x 1 080 (also known as Full HD), it connects to video sources using VGA and 2 HDMI ports, and instead of buttons, it has touch controls with which to navigate through its on-screen user interface. It boasts the best viewing angles available today of 178°/178°, so whatever is showing will be clearly visible from any angle you might reasonably be looking at it from. And the price? We have been assured it’s actually a lot more affordable than you’d think, and that it should cost only slightly more than a 24” TFT LCD screen, which is about R3k in real money terms. Not bad, hey?

Pros

Cons

• IPS screen technology looks amazing • Philips has tweaked it further with their own tech • Amazingly thin build • Down-to-earth pricing

• We don’t have one of these, either

Overall rating


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product reviews

Alienware X51 Small Form Factor Gaming PC NEED TO KNOW • Powerful gaming PC the size of a console • High-end Intel processor • Supports multiple monitors • No monitor included Q3 2012

Alienware is, as regular readers know, one of the world’s best-known gaming PC brands and one we’re quite fond of. Based in Miami, Florida, the company produces some of the best-looking gaming PCs and notebooks available today that deliver performance in line with their aggressive looks. We were pleasantly surprised when we were offered the X51 to review, as it’s everything Alienware gaming PCs have come to be known for, but packaged in what’s known as a “small form factor”, which basically means a very compact case. It’s the size of a gaming console, and the reason we’re so impressed is that despite its small size, it packs in far more power than either the Xbox 360 or PS3 can offer. This gives owners the performance needed to enjoy modern games at their highest graphical settings, as well as the added extras that PCs are capable of that consoles can only dream of. Things like multimonitor setups, access to game modifications (“mods”) and the ability to create and edit videos and photo albums are part and parcel of this system. 34 | connect | August 2012

The packaging contains the PC itself, a wired keyboard and mouse, and a large power brick. The power brick is necessary to keep the PC’s insides from being cluttered up by a full-sized power supply. The tradeoff is a good one as the compact PC case looks fantastic. Alienware’s signature alien head decoration adorns the front, and there are several LED lights present that light up in colours of your choosing. These complement the matte black plastic with its chrome accents beautifully, resulting in a PC case that genuinely inspires envy. On the inside, you’ll find Intel’s 3rd-generation Core i7-3770 processor, a Terabyte hard drive and 8GB of system RAM. The optical drive is a slot-loading Blu-ray reader/DVD writer combo drive that’s a thousand times more attractive than cheaper tray-loading drives, and it gives the PC a definite air of superiority. Most important is the full-sized desktop graphics card, NVIDIA’s mid-range (yet still excellent) GTX 555, with 2GB of video memory. It is this component that provides the raw muscle to keep 3D games playing at high frame rates and in fantastic detail, which is the whole point of the machine. On the rear, there are enough ports to satisfy any PC user’s connectivity needs. The X51 has USB ports (both 2.0 and 3.0), an Ethernet port, surround-sound outputs, an HDMI port that can be used to connect the machine to a TV and, of course, 2 DVI ports for connecting to PC monitors. We were most surprised to discover the X51 also has a built-in wireless LAN card, which makes it incredibly convenient to place in a lounge without needing to run network cables to it.


perfect companions

Dell S2330MX 23” LED Monitor An ultra-slim 23” monitor like this one complements this system well. It supports Full HD and has VGA and DVI ports, plus it looks amazing – just what any imageconscious gamer will love.

There isn’t a lot of software included in the package, but this isn’t a big problem. You get Cyberlink PowerDVD for DVD playback and some Alienware utilities that let you update the machine or set the colour of the LED lights that decorate its exterior. A recovery DVD is also included in case you need to return the PC to its factory defaults. We fired up a few benchmarks, and the X51 performed admirably. The most important test was Battlefield 3 – it is one of today’s most popular and most graphically-demanding games, and we were pleased to see it running at maximum detail at a very decent frame rate on our test monitor at a resolution of 1 920 x 1 080. Basically, if the machine can handle that, it can handle any other game you care to throw at it. Are there any downsides? If we’re being picky, yes: the keyboard doesn’t light up like the Alienware gaming notebook keyboards do. This is just a mild disappointment and not a deal-breaker, but because it looks just like Alienware’s gaming notebooks’ keyboards, we were kind of hoping. The 2nd issue is price – this is a lot of money for a gaming PC with no monitor, and even though the Alienware brand is known for its premium quality and accompanying high prices, the projected, but not final price of R18k is a lot of cash for anyone in today’s economy. These quibbles aside, this is a truly great gaming PC because it’s not a half-hearted entry-level machine and it can easily play modern games smoothly. Should a future game come along that causes it to underperform, you can always upgrade the graphics card to something more powerful. Overall, we loved this PC and highly recommend it to

gamers looking to buy a pre-built, compact, brand-name gaming PC with enough performance to back up its fantastic looks. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • Processor: Intel Core i7-3770 @ 3.4GHz • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 555 2GB • Memory: 8GB DDR3-1333 • Storage: 1TB 7200RPM • Optical: Slot-loading Blu-ray reader/DVD writer combo drive • Operating system: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit • Networking: Built-in 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi card, Gigabit Ethernet port • Ports: USB 2.0/3.0, HDMI Out, surround-sound, headphone & microphone

Pros

Cons

• Performance good enough for modern games • Appealing, aggressive alien looks • Blu-ray drive • Surprisingly tiny build • Built-in Wi-Fi card

• Keyboard does not illuminate • No included monitor • Price

Overall rating

Logitech MK260 Wireless Desktop If you absolutely must have a wireless keyboard and mouse, but don’t want to spend a lot, Logitech’s excellent sub-R400 MK260 is just the ticket.

Logitech Z506 Speakers There’s nothing like surround sound to really give you the edge in games, and this powerful yet affordable set from Logitech will pound sound at you from 5 directions at once!

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product reviews

Kaspersky ONE Universal Security related

products

Norton Internet Security 2012

For PC security that’s fast, effective and user-friendly, NIS2012 is a great choice.

Kaspersky Internet Security 2012

If all you need is PC protection, grab a copy of the PC portion of Kaspersky ONE, available as a standalone product.

36 | connect | August 2012

NEED TO KNOW • Protection for PCs, Macs, non-Apple smartphones and Android tablets • Secures up to 5 devices for a year R749.95

Kaspersky is moving with the times. The company has recognised that many consumers own more than one type of Internetenabled gadget, and that all of those gadgets need protection from an ever-growing number of online threats. As a result, Kaspersky ONE was born – a modern-day security package that offers protection for up to 5 devices at a cost that works out to only R150 each. The beauty is that Kaspersky doesn’t care how you divvy up that protection. You can have 5 home PCs or smartphones protected, or even a PC, 2 smartphones, an Android tablet and a Mac, or any of a number of other configurations – the choice is yours. The protection on offer is top-notch, too. PCs get Kaspersky Internet Security 2012, which has an incredibly clean and simple interface, plus every kind of protection you might conceivably need. This includes highly-configurable Parental Controls, comprehensive virus, malware, identity-theft and browser protection, application activity, a detailed network monitor, a rock-solid firewall, the option to run Websites in a “safe” environment, and more. Accessing it all is made easy by the nice-looking interface, rendering it friendly even to those unfamiliar with security software or PCs in general. Protection is available to all Android tablets running versions 1.6 to 2.3 of Google’s mobile operating system. Installing it is a matter of using a QR-code reader app (available for free from the Google Play store) to read the Kaspersky app’s QR code found in the installation guide, installing it, and then connecting the tablet to your PC or Mac over USB and running the installation from the CD. The app is installed on smartphones in a similar fashion. BlackBerries, Symbian-based Nokia devices, Android phones and Windows Mobile devices (versions 5.0 to 6.5) are all supported. Apple’s iOS isn’t supported, but that’s because Apple doesn’t allow developers to access many of their systems’ deepest functions, which is required by security software. That same tight control is part of the reason Apple devices are more secure than most, which on its own offers pretty good protection against malware.

In addition to its quality malware protection, Kaspersky protects smartphones and tablets by giving users the option to delete all data remotely in case of theft, and can even help to find it again if GPS and Wi-Fi was enabled on the devices when they went missing. On our test PC, Kaspersky installed quickly. It downloaded about 100MB of updates, and then recommended a full system scan, which we did. The full scan pushed our poor test notebook to its limits, often using the full power of the processor and hard drive and causing the system fan to go ballistic. Fortunately when not scanning, the software ran quietly in the background and didn’t impact much on system performance, which is what you really need in a security package. Kaspersky ONE is not perfect, and we’re convinced at least 1 other security package impacts on system performance even less, but nowhere else will you find such comprehensive protection for so many devices at such a great price. SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS • PC: Windows XP/Vista/7, 1GHz CPU, 2GB RAM, 180MB free storage • Mac: Mac OS X 10.5, 10.6 or 10.7, 512MB RAM and 180MB free storage • Tablets: Android 1.6 to 2.3 • Smartphones: Android 1.6 to 2.3, Symbian ^3 or Series 60 versions 9.1 to 9.4, BlackBerry 4.5 to 6.0, Windows Mobile 5.0 to 6.5

Pros

Cons

• Affordable protection for up to 5 devices • Very user-friendly interface • Comprehensive protection from all kinds of threats • Advanced security techniques adapt to new threats quickly • Anti-theft features for smartphones and tablets

• Quite resource-intensive during full scans • Security software leads to extra battery use in mobile devices • No support for Android 3.0 and above or Windows Phone 7

Overall rating


Print more, pay less. It’s pretty easy maths.

up to

2X

the pages for the same cost HP Deskjet Ink Advantage Print more of what matters. All with brilliant HP quality. The new generation of affordable printing. Compared to printing with other HP Deskjet ink cartridges. Based on comparison of HP published page yield of HP 364 / HP 178 vs. HP 655 and HP 301 / HP 122 vs. HP 650 original cartridges and recommended retail price. Actual prices may vary. Actual yields vary based on printer used, images printed and other factors. See: www.hp.com/go/learnaboutsupplies for more information. Results for other cartridges will differ.


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product reviews

Mede8er MD1000X3D 3D Media Player NEED TO KNOW • The most feature-packed Mede8er media player yet • Plays a huge number of video and audio formats, including HD and 3D • Robust all-aluminium fan-less design • Supports drives of up to 3TB in size (no hard drive included) R2 999.95

Mede8er is a local company that has been hard at work developing media players for the local and international markets. Their latest effort is the Mede8er MD1000X3D, the company’s best-looking and most feature-packed media player to date. We’ve reviewed several of their players over the years, but each time we’ve found a few things to gripe about. This time, things are different. For starters, the player’s design has been radically overhauled. Instead of the boxy, brick-like design that most media player producers stick with, the guys at Mede8er have gone for something very different – an oblong, flying saucer-like design that’s made almost entirely out of die-cast aluminium. It looks fantastic, and will easily fit into any home entertainment setup and even serve as a conversation-starter when guests visit. The reason for the metal design is to keep the player cool without 38 | connect | August 2012

needing to resort to noisy fans that might otherwise spoil the viewing experience. Aluminium is a versatile metal that stays cool to the touch at room temperature, and when placed against a warm object, is able to conduct that heat away from the object quite effectively. Hard drives don’t last very long if they operate in hot environments, which is why keeping them cool is so vital. The aluminium design of the MD1000X3D solves that problem, and quite elegantly, too. Installing a hard drive is easy: simply pop open the lid of the MD1000X3D with the press of a button on its front, and slide a SATA drive into place. Any drive up to 3TB with a SATA connection will work, even small 2.5” laptop drives. Once installed, the hard drive must be scanned before any movies and music files it contains appear in the player’s library. What we liked so much is the fact that the player can accommodate other storage devices too. It has multiple USB ports so you can plug in flash drives and external hard drives, and it even has a memory card reader that accepts SD cards. The MD1000X3D offers a full complement of output ports, and even supports Dolby True HD audio and 7.1 speaker setups. Support for HDMI 1.4 (the latest HDMI standard) is probably one of the most important features, because this is what allows it to play 3D movies on


Product

Specs

Mede8er MD1000X3D 3D Media Player

any 3D-capable TV. It also has a Gigabit Ethernet jack that plugs the player into any wired home network; this allows users to copy files to and from a PC and even play files shared on any PC connected to the same network. In terms of file compatibility, the MD1000X3D can play back anything you care to throw at it, whether it’s the raw file structure of a DVD or Blu-ray disc, a high-definition .MKV file, or any movie, photo or music file format that’s become even remotely popular in the last 5 years. A lot of work has been put into making interacting with the MD1000X3D a polished, intuitive experience, evidenced by the slick interface and its useful features. We’re big fans of the way the player downloads movie posters and CD covers automatically for files that are accurately named. The jukebox function that lets you create, save and play playlists of your favourite tracks quickly and easily is very cool too. The remote is another well-executed aspect: it has a subtle blue backlight that can be activated with the press of an easy-to-reach button located on the side of the remote. Even the lights on the unit itself are subtle, ensuring they’re visible but not so bright that they’re a distraction. If you own a 3D TV, this player will knock your socks off! We were decidedly sock-less after spending time acquainting ourselves with

the player’s 3D capabilities; the only challenge for the average user is getting 3D content onto the MD1000X3D, which requires a PC with a Blu-ray drive and knowledge of how to rip a 3D Blu-ray movie disc into a format the player recognises. We are thoroughly impressed with this new player from Mede8er. It has everything a high-end media player needs, is incredibly easy to use, and it looks fantastic. We encourage anyone with an interest in media players to snap one up a.s.a.p.

Pros

Cons

• Rounded, UFO-like looks • All-aluminium design keeps everything cool • Plays back just about any type of media file • Extensive array of video and audio outputs

• Getting 3D content onto the drive can be a bit complicated • No bundled hard drive

Overall rating

• Plays 3D Blu-ray disc content via HDMI 1.4 • Aluminium die-cast casing, fan-less design • Supports SATA hard drives up to 3TB in size • Backlit remote with customisable function button • Database-driven music and movie jukebox • Support for various Web services, including YouTube XL • Built in Mede8er Favourites Manager • User-customisable skins and backgrounds • Supports HD Audio, 7.1 DTSMA & Dolby True HD • Fast USB 3.0 & Gigabit network ports • Near-soundless operation • Video Formats Supported: AVI / BDMV Light / BDISO Light / MKV / TS / TP / TRP / M2TS / MPG / MP4 / MOV / M4V / VOB / ISO / IFO / DAT / WMV / ASF / RM / RMVB / FLV resolution up to 720p / 1080i / 1080p • Outputs: HDMI 1.4, Component Video, Composite Video, Stereo RCA, SD, SDHC, Sony Pro Duo Card Slot, S/PDIF Optical, Co-Axial Digital, Slave Port USB 3.0, HOST Port x 2 USB 2.0, Infra-Red jack

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product reviews

related

products

Dell Inspiron 15RSE Special Edition 7520 Notebook NEED TO KNOW • High-powered multimedia notebook • 15.6” Full HD LED-backlit screen • Great for games and watching Blu-ray movies • Suitable for both work and play R13 999.95

Dell Inspiron 17RSE Notebook

Take everything that’s great about the 15RSE and throw in a 17” 3D screen and a faster graphics card, and you have the 17RSE.

Samsung Series 5 14” Ultrabook

Easily one of the best Ultrabooks around, the Series 5 14” is larger than most and has a built-in DVD drive that sets it apart.

40 | connect | August 2012

Dell’s Inspiron 15RSE makes the choice between buying an Ultrabook or a full-sized notebook quite a lot easier. For starters, the 15RSE is not that much more expensive than the average Ultrabook, something that’s made even sweeter by the fact that it can do so much more. Sure, the Inspiron 15RSE doesn’t have an 8-hour battery (it’s more like 5), and it’s quite a bit bigger, thicker and heavier than an Ultrabook, but how many Ultrabooks have a Full HD screen, Blu-ray drives or graphics cards able to play 3D games at 1 920 x 1 080? None, that’s how many. You should also be asking how many Ultrabooks have full-voltage Core i7 processors that can fly through complex business applications and tasks like video- and photo-editing, or have a Terabyte of built-in storage space? Again, the answer is none. And while the speed of a system’s RAM isn’t nearly as important as its processor is to its performance, the mere fact that the 15RSE has 8GB of DDR3-1600 RAM means that even if an Ultrabook hits the shelves that has a comparable Core i7 Ivy Bridge processor, it’s more likely to be paired with 4GB of DDR3-1333 RAM, which will hold it back in a head-to-head performance test with the 15RSE. And that’s even before we come to ports. Ultrabooks are forced to compromise on port selection because they are so thin, leaving you with only a handful of the most essential ports, whereas a thicker machine like the 15RSE can afford to have them all. And it does – the 15RSE has USB 2.0, USB 3.0, HDMI-Out, VGA-Out, an 8-in-1 card reader and a full-sized Gigabit Ethernet jack. This should be good news for people who like to do work with their notebooks. By now we’ve established that the 15RSE is the machine to go for if you need performance and accessibility instead of looks from your portable PC. That isn’t to say the 15RSE is ugly or anything; quite the opposite. Dell calls the default finish “Stealth Black”, and it makes it look rather sophisticated, but if that’s not your cup of tea, then Dell also offers a selection of optional coloured “SWITCH by Design” lids to spruce things up.

So where does an Ultrabook have the edge over the 15RSE in the performance department? In how long it takes to boot up, resume from sleep and load applications. That’s it. This is because some Ultrabooks have Solid State hard drives, which are a lot faster than the 15RSE’s spindle-based drive. In everyday use, however, the Inspiron 15RSE’s full-power processor, faster RAM and better graphics card deliver superior overall performance, with the added benefit of more storage space. The question of whether you should buy the 15RSE comes down to what you want to use a portable PC for. If you need uncompromising performance, a full selection of ports and a Full HD screen on which to enjoy silky-smooth HD movies and games, then definitely go for the 15RSE. If you’re more interested in a thin and ultra-portable notebook that won’t weigh you down during travel, and you don’t need the heaps of raw processing power on offer from the 15RSE, go for an Ultrabook. Either way, you win. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • Processor: Intel Core i7-3612QM @ 2.1GHz • Operating system: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit • RAM: 8GB DDR3-1600 • Storage: 1TB 5400RPM • Display: 15.6” LED-backlit, Full HD @ 1 920 x 1 080 • Graphics: AMD Radeon HD7730M 2GB • Sound: Waves MaxxAudio 4.0 and Skullcandy speakers (2 x 2W) • Connectivity: Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi • Ports: HDMI-Out, VGA-Out, 1 x USB 2.0, 3 x USB 3.0, headphone, microphone Pros

Cons

• Brilliant work and play performance • Full complement of ports • Full HD screen • Looks like it means business • Blu-ray drive

• Thick and chunky compared to Ultrabooks • Boot and resume times also lag behind Ultrabooks • OS not suited to a corporate environment

Overall rating


&

14

Megapixel

5x

Optical Zoom

1.5m

Shockproof

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Freezeproof

5m

Waterproof

Dustproof

CMOS-shift Image Stabilisation

Natural Light & with Flash

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Red-eye Removal

Image Search

YouTubeTM/ FACEBOOK Uploader


top

5

product reviews

perfect companions

Microsoft Wireless Desktop 5000 This wireless keyboard and mouse set feels great under your hands and fingers, and has a decent 10ft range and a tiny USB dongle.

Microsoft Xbox 360 Games Console A huge library of truly excellent games, comfortable controllers and the greatness that is the Xbox Live online service await anyone keen on dabbling in the world of console gaming.

Hidden Mysteries Series Hidden Mysteries games were made for touchscreens! Find hidden objects and solve puzzles in this fun, touchfriendly PC game series.

Lenovo IdeaCentre B520 All-inOne Desktop Touch PC NEED TO KNOW • Compact, all-in-one home PC • 23” full HD touchscreen • Bluetooth keyboard & mouse • Powered by Intel Core i5 processors R12 999.95

It’s always gratifying to see companies “getting it”. Lenovo is one such company, and the “it” it’s getting is what people really want from an all-in-one desktop PC. Their B520 is a fine example of this – it has everything required to provide a family with a desktop PC that performs as well as it looks, with the kind of touches needed from a modern home computer. That means a touchscreen that responds to 10-finger touches, a fast processor, enough RAM for a lag-free Windows experience, plenty of hard drive space, and all the ports and wireless connectivity necessary for convenient, everyday use. What makes the B520 so awesome is that all of this hardware goodness is housed in a genuinely attractive, free-standing casing that only needs a power cable to grant it life. That free-standing quality is what gives the B520 appeal that goes beyond its respectable hardware. Being able to position it anywhere that has easy access to power (or a cleverly-hidden extension cable) means it can occupy the centre of a room, or perch on a desk without cluttering up the place with cables you might trip over. The inclusion of Angry Birds, one of the most popular games of all time for devices with touch-sensitive screens, is a stroke of genius on Lenovo’s part. Nothing sells the idea of a touchscreen PC quite like an application that keeps you playing, level after level – and boy does Angry Birds do that well. The graphics card Lenovo chose for the B520 is NVIDIA’s excellent mid-range card, the GeForce GTX 555, a card powerful enough to play most modern games at a decent clip, including the ultra-demanding Battlefield 3. Sound is also very good – the B520 has integrated 5.0-channel surroundsound capabilities featuring SRS Premium Sound, and it produces some fantastic audio in games, movies and music as a result. A feature not often found on PCs, but present here, is an HDMI input. That means a games console or Blu-ray player can be connected directly to the B520, expanding its multimedia capabilities and cementing it as a viable choice as the centrepiece of any household’s entertainment area. When you’re not using the touchscreen, the action is controlled by the

system’s Bluetooth keyboard and mouse set, which do what they need to, without being too fancy. They feel a little plasticky, but they are wireless at least, maintaining the B520’s cable-lessness. While future models will probably use Intel’s 3rd-generation Ivy Bridge processors, this particular model is kitted out with a 2nd-gen Sandy Bridge chip. It’s by no means a huge issue, but newer is better, even if only marginally so. In the time we spent with it, the B520 really impressed us. It’s a goodlooking machine that performs like a home PC should, with enough power to play games and get everyday tasks done without frustrating you with poor performance. It sounds great, too, and watching movies and listening to music on it is a real pleasure. The touchscreen adds that little extra something that pushes it into “must-have” territory if you’re thinking of buying a home PC to last you for a good few years, especially with the launch of Windows 8 and its manifold touch-friendly features just around the corner. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • Processor: Intel Core i5-2310 @ 3GHz • Operating system: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit • Memory: 4GB DDR3-1333 • Storage: 1TB 7200RPM • Optical: Tray-loading DVD writer • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 555 1GB • Display: 23” touch-sensitive LED-backlit @ 1 920 x 1 080 • Connectivity: Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi • Ports: USB 2.0/3.0, 1 x HDMI in, 1 x HDMI out, card reader Pros

Cons

• Only needs 1 cable – power • Big and responsive touchscreen • Very good all-round performance • Support for Windows 8’s touch features • HDMI input expands its multimedia capabilities

• Keyboard and mouse could be better • Doesn’t use a 3rd-gen Intel Ivy Bridge processor

Overall rating

42 | connect | August 2012

4401


1THREAD_4401_HYP

Power to get closer Ideal for every family occasion, the PowerShot SX240 HS boasts an impressive 20x zoom lens and advanced Full HD movies in a compact body. HS System with DIGIC 5 and Intelligent IS give superb results.

For more information call 0800 004 937 or go to www.canon.co.za.

canon.co.za/PowerShotZoom

4401_HYP.indd 1

18/07/2012 09:58


product roundup

Supreme Smartphones Today’s smartphones are so clever and so desirable, that it can be hard to choose between them. In this roundup, we have gathered together 4 of the best phones available today in an effort to make that buying decision a little easier. By Deon du Plessis

Smartphones have come a long way from their humble beginnings as the “feature phones” of 5 years ago. Today’s models are tiny computers that can be carried around in our pockets, can access the Internet from just about anywhere, and their screens are big enough that we don’t have to squint when surfing our favourite Websites on them. Speech recognition, music and video playback, touchscreens and better cameras than were available in the early 2000s are the kinds of features considered normal for smartphones nowadays. These, along with advances in modern mobile operating system design and the increased power of the underlying phone hardware, mean that owning a smartphone gives you many high-tech capabilities that would have required carrying around multiple devices in a big suitcase just 10 years ago. In this month’s roundup, we take a look at 4 of the best smartphones available today, each representing 1 of the most popular mobile operating systems – Android, BlackBerry, iOS and Windows Phone 7. We will give you the lowdown on what they can do, where they are strongest, and where they could use further refinement. By the time you finish reading this, you’ll have a better idea of what each offers prospective owners. Happy reading!

www.connectmag.co.za | 45


product roundup

Samsung Galaxy S3 Overview

Weaknesses

The Galaxy S3 is Samsung’s best smartphone to date. It runs Google’s Ice Cream Sandwich operating system, version 4.0.4, and its hardware is fast enough to make the phone incredibly responsive. It is phenomenal in many areas, including its gorgeous SuperAMOLED screen, but where it shines brightest is in the huge number of tweaks Samsung has implemented to make it, as they say, a “more human” phone. It is these that shoot it to the top of many “Best Smartphone Ever” lists.

Samsung’s S Voice feature is not as accurate or useful as Apple’s. The phone is made out of plastic so it lacks the premium feel found elsewhere, and there have been a few quibbles about the way it handles brightness for different apps (although fixes are in the works, apparently). These are pretty much the only complaints, though.The Galaxy S3 is otherwise a fantastically feature-packed and fast phone and one that should be at the top of the list of anyone looking to upgrade soon.

Strengths

R7 499.95

The phone responds to your actions more naturally than ever before. You can change from texting a contact to calling them simply by raising the phone to your ear. A front-facing camera monitors your eyes and keeps the screen lit up while you’re looking at it, ensuring you’ll never be rudely interrupted by the screen turning off while you’re still busy. Samsung’s clever use of Near-field Communications technology, called S Beam, lets you share files, URLs and more with other S3 phones simply by bumping them up against each other. Battery life is really good – even under heavy load (screen on brightest, Wi-Fi with app updates enabled, etc.), you should get 8 hours of real-world use from it. The 8MP camera is another highlight, taking excellent-quality pictures really, really quickly. LTE is also present – it’s the fastest mobile data connection available today. 46 | connect | August 2012

Get it if:

Don’t get it if:

• You love the Galaxy S2 and want better version • You love big smartphones with lots of features • You need super-fast connectivity • Rich colours and smooth touchscreen responsiveness are a must

• You desire a phone with a metal body • You believe voice control must be perfect • You view a cellphone only as a thing with which to make phone calls and send texts • You loathe Google’s Android operating system

Overall rating


iPhone 4S 16GB 3G Overview

Weaknesses

Apple’s iPhone 4S has long been the darling of the smartphone world. Its pretty looks, amazing Retina screen and thoroughly impressive overall performance have kept it as an object of desire among phone-seekers for as long as it has been around. Jaw-droppingly good features like Siri (Apple’s voice-recognition app), excellent multimedia playback facilities and the phone’s super-smooth ultra-high resolution display have kept it in best-selling lists worldwide ever since its 2011 launch.

The iPhone is limited somewhat by the absence of LTE connectivity (it only has 3G), and managing and maintaining music and video collections using Apple’s iTunes software can be a frustrating experience to first-time users. Depending on individual usage, the battery can drain quite quickly, but this can be managed by limiting how many extra services are enabled. Apple also locks users out of things they probably shouldn’t be touching anyway, but this does limit the appeal of the phone for those of us who like to fiddle with under-the-hood settings.

Strengths

R7 999.95

Apple’s trademark commitment to quality, ease-of-use and speed characterise the iPhone 4S. It’s a beautiful phone that feels really good in the hand, and its screen has to be one of the nicest ever made. The number of pixels Apple crams into every square inch of the screen is so high that the human eye is incapable of detecting individual pixels, resulting in super-smooth visuals that almost defy belief. Apple’s App store is a strong reason to get an iPhone, expanding the phone’s functionality and usefulness. The really good 8MP camera is another, as is the faster processor than the one seen in the iPhone 4. iCloud, Apple’s online storage and sync service, offers access to your data from wherever you happen to be.

Get it if:

Don’t get it if:

• You love beautifully-engineered gadgets • You’re a fan of apps • A top-quality screen is a priority • Previous experiences with Apple devices have been good

• Using iTunes raises your blood pressure • You don’t like being forced to do everything Apple’s way • You expect your phone’s battery to outlast the work day with heavy use

Overall rating

www.connectmag.co.za | 47


product roundup

BlackBerry Bold 9900 The Bold 9900 was one of the first BlackBerry smartphones to make use of RIM’s brandnew OS7 operating system. It was also the first Bold to incorporate a touchscreen into the range’s familiar design., a move that has proved popular with BlackBerry enthusiasts. Basically, the Bold 9900 is the most refined, powerful, feature-rich and easy-to-use smartphone ever released by RIM.

the BlackBerry OS, plus the screen is quite small. The camera is likewise a bit backwards – sure, it shoots decent-looking photos and captures HD (720p) video, but it’s also “only” a 5MP shooter, which, in the age of 8MP phones, is a bit of a disappointment. We also weren’t wild about the browser – while it is certainly better than the browser in OS6, it’s still a little slow at times. Furthermore, it still doesn’t support Flash-based Web content. Lastly, BlackBerry’s App World store doesn’t have very many applications in it compared to other mobile stores.

Strengths

R6 999.95

Overview

The phone’s combination of a touchscreen and a physical keyboard is the key to its userfriendliness. Swiping, pressing and pinching-to-zoom are supported, as is controlling the phone as you would any other BlackBerry by using the touchpad. The phone’s “Liquid Graphics” interface is incredibly fast, and its built-in e-mail capabilities and business-friendly security features are second to none. It’s pretty thin, too, at only 10.5mm at its thickest point. It’s the affordable Internet bundle and free instant message chatting via BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), though, that really elevates BlackBerry above other manufacturers in the South African context: R60 per month gets you unlimited browsing, Tweeting, Facebook, several e-mail addresses and BBM. Not bad at all. Weaknesses

The interface, while nippy and responsive, isn’t much of an update over previous versions of 48 | connect | August 2012

Get it if:

Don’t get it if:

• You need enterprise-friendly security features and excellent e-mail facilities • You love cheap Internet access and chatting to friends over BBM • You believe a touchscreen will perfect an already-great BlackBerry experience • You love classy-looking, functionality-packed smartphones

• You surf the Web on your phone a lot • You demand a massive selection from your chosen app store • Screens smaller than 3.5” are just a tad too tiny for you • Music and video are important to your mobile experience

Overall rating


Nokia Lumia 800 Overview

Weaknesses

The Lumia 800 is the first phone to come out of the partnership between Microsoft and Nokia that was announced last year. It enjoys a sleek, rounded design and runs Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango) operating system. It sports a beautiful 3.7” AMOLED ClearBlack screen (built with Corning’s Gorilla Glass) that emphasises colours and produces impressively deep blacks. On the software front, it comes standard with Nokia’s excellent Drive navigation software as well as access to the Nokia Music service.

You can’t have video chats using the Lumia 800 as it has no front-facing camera. On the storage front, it only has 16GB of internal storage and no microSD card that could be used to expand that. Lastly, everything from music- and video-syncing to updates has to be managed with Microsoft’s Zune software. It might not be as frustrating as iTunes, but it’s not as easy as simply dragging and dropping files from your PC to the phone either. R5 999.95

Strengths

The look and feel of the phone is rather unique. Its rounded edges and pleasant weight feel great in the hand, and the screen is particularly nice to look at with its intense colours and very dark blacks. The Windows Phone 7 interface is genuinely intuitive and fun to use, and it responds well to touches. Active tiles change as the applications they represent are updated, and being able to link an Xbox Live account with the phone and unlock achievements that go towards your Xbox Gamerscore is a neat extra that other operating systems can’t offer. Most impressively, Microsoft and Nokia have managed to get the same version of Internet Explorer 9 found on PC desktops onto the phone, making Web-browsing a particular strength of the Lumia 800.

Get it if:

Don’t get it if:

• You’re a fan of Windows Phone 7’s slick interface • You enjoy using phones with a high-quality look and feel • Browsing the Internet on your phone is a regular event • You are an Xbox gamer

• Video-chatting is something you’d like to do at some point • You dislike the idea of managing your phone with Zune • 16GB isn’t enough mobile storage for your needs

Overall rating

www.connectmag.co.za | 49


product roundup

E di t Choor’s ice

All of these phones are very good in their own right, and choosing any of them will deliver a world-class smartphone experience, a fact that stacks the odds firmly in the consumer’s favour. That said, as much as we like and respect the iPhone 4S, as much as the Lumia 800 showcases Microsoft and Nokia’s ingenuity and the Bold 9900 wowed us with its new operating system and solid build, the new kid on the block is such an impressive device from nearly every perspective that right now, in the preiPhone 5 world, it’s the best smartphone available. Samsung has gone above and beyond the call of duty and delivered a phone experience that simply outshines all competition. Android 4.0.4 is the fastest and most stable version of Google’s mobile operating system yet, and the tweaks and changes Samsung has made to it work extremely well. Despite our natural scepticism of PR-speak, we have to agree that Samsung’s engineers have, indeed, made the phone “more human” by tweaking it to respond naturally to your actions and needs, and once you’ve learned all of its ins and outs, the S3 will prove its worth time and time again. The only complaint we can lay at the S3’s feet is its plasticky build. Apart from that, it is easily the best smartphone currently available and the deserving winner of this month’s roundup.

Quick look...

Samsung Galaxy S3 • Display: 4.8” SuperAMOLED capacitive touchscreen @ 1 280 x 720 • Screen: Corning Gorilla Glass • Operating System: Android Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0.4 • CPU: Quad-core 1.4GHz Exynos processor • RAM: 1GB • Connectivity: 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and LTE connectivity, Bluetooth • Storage: Available with 16GB or 32GB (64GB “coming soon”) • Expansion: MicroSD card reader • Camera: 8MP camera & 1 080p video, 1.9MP front-facing camera & 720p video • Technologies: S Voice, S Beam, SmartStay, Smart Alert, Direct Call • Sensors: GPS, accelerometer, ambient light, gyroscope • Battery: 2100mAh battery (user-replaceable) • Services: Google Mobile Services

50 | connect | August 2012

iPhone 4S 16GB 3G • Display: 3.5” Retina display @ 960 x 640 • Operating System: Apple iOS 5 • Storage: Available with 16GB/32GB or 64GB of onboard storage; no SD card slot • Camera: 8MP iSight camera with autofocus and LED flash, 1 080p video recording, front-mounted camera • Connectivity: 3G and 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth • Sensors: GPS, accelerometer, ambient light, gyroscope, proximity • Battery: 1 432mAh battery •Sim card: Micro SIM • Services: iCloud

BlackBerry Bold 9900 • Display: 2.5” capacitive touchscreen @ 640 x 480 • Operating System: BlackBerry OS7 • CPU: Dual-core 1.2GHz processor • RAM: 768MB • Connectivity: 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and 3G, Bluetooth • Storage: 8GB internal storage • Expansion: MicroSD card reader • Camera: 5MP camera & 720p video, no front-facing camera • Sensors: GPS, accelerometer • Battery: 1 230mAh • Services: BlackBerry Internet Services with BBM

Nokia Lumia 800 • Display: 3.7” curved AMOLED ClearBlack display @ 800 x 480 • Screen: Gorilla Glass • RAM: 512MB • CPU: 1.4GHz • Operating System: Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango) • Storage: 16GB internal storage • Connectivity: 3G and 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity, Bluetooth • Camera: 8MP Carl Zeiss camera, 720 videorecording, 2 x LED flash • Sensors: Nokia Drive navigation software (GPS) • Sim Card: Micro SIM • Battery: 1 450mAh battery • Services: Xbox Live


product reviews

perfect companions

Seagate GoFlex Satellite Mobile Wireless Storage Drive NEED TO KNOW • Portable storage for iPads, iPods, iPhones, Android devices • Built-in Wi-Fi network • USB 3.0 connectivity • 500GB of space R999.95

3rd-generation iPad 16GB Grab the bargain that is the 16GB iPad 3, and one of these drives to keep all your awesome movies, photos and music close at hand.

iPhone 4S 16GB 16GB sounds like a lot of space, and it is, but it’s still nice to have an extra 500GB of storage at your disposal.

Seagate has developed a pretty clever portable hard drive that works over Wi-Fi, as well as over USB. It has been designed to work with PCs, Macs, Android and Apple smartphones and tablets, but users of smartphones and tablets will find it most useful. That’s because storage on these devices is limited to a maximum of 64GB, and the more storage capacity a device has, the more expensive it becomes. Seagate’s GoFlex Satellite Mobile Wireless Storage device offers a way around this by giving you 500GB of storage that can be accessed over Wi-Fi. That means you can have up to 500GB of your photos, movies and music files and stream them to your smartphone or tablet any time you want. A built-in battery gives you up to 5 hours of continuous playback, and up to 25 hours of standby time before a recharge is needed. How does this help you? Well, as the drive is accessible over Wi-Fi and has its own battery, it doesn’t need to be plugged in anywhere – it only needs to be charged. Once you’ve set it up, copied the music, photos and videos you’d like to take with you to the drive, all you need to do is turn it on, run the Seagate GoFlex app on your phone/tablet, and you can play your files through your phone/tablet. It also works as a regular USB 3.0 portable hard drive, and copy speeds are in the 80MB/s-plus range over USB 3.0, and between 25MB/s and 30MB/s when plugged into a USB 2.0 port. Seagate makes using the drive quite simple. You can download their free “Seagate Media” software, which lets you synchronise the drive with folders on your PC or Mac. You’re even able to choose not to copy files that won’t play on an iPod/iPhone/iPad this way, which takes some of the guesswork out of knowing which files will and won’t play on your i-Device.

Setting up the drive can be a challenge if you’ve never done anything like this before, but Seagate has included some very well-done tutorial videos in the package that will walk you through the setup process, covering both Mac and PC usage. They also have quite an extensive support Website that will assist further in case you don’t come right. Our experience of the drive was smooth – we were easily able to set it up, sync various music, photo and video files to it, and play them back on our test phone. We were even able to stream an HD movie file from the drive over Wi-Fi on our test PC. Is this device worthwhile? If you keep running out of space on your phone or tablet, absolutely. It’s highly portable, looks good and is relatively easy to use. The only down-side is its 5-hour battery – we feel it’s a little short. Also, if you don’t need a drive that’s accessible over Wi-Fi, you’re better off with a regular portable hard drive. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • Required Android version: 2.1 and above • iOS: iPod/iPad/iPhone running iOS 4 and above • PC: Microsoft Windows 7, XP and Vista • Apple: Macs running Mac OS X 10.5.8 • Storage: 500GB • Wi-Fi: 802.11b/g/n with WPA security • Interface: USB 3.0 (via dock) Pros

Cons

• Lots of storage space for mobile devices • Accessible over Wi-Fi • Excellent support from Seagate • Up to 3 devices can connect at the same time

• 5 hours of battery is a little short • Overkill if all you need is a portable hard drive

Overall rating

52 | connect | August 2012

A4_M


Memory Card Range

www.verbatim.com Verbatim is part of the Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Group

A4_MemoryCardRange_Advert_SA.indd 1

18/07/2012 16:18


product reviews

related

products

iHome iD50 Bluetooth Docking Station/ Alarm Clock

Dock iPads, iPhones and iPods onto this alarm clock/ docking station, charge them overnight, and wake up to your favourite tunes.

perfect companions

iPod Touch It’s basically an iPhone without the phone bit. Apple’s iPod Touch is one of the nicest media players on the market today.

Trendnet 300mbps Wireless ADSL Router TEW-658BRM You’re going to need a strong Wi-Fi network to support the iW1, surfing the Web and downloading files at the same time. This one from Trendnet will do the job.

54 | connect | August 2012

iHome iW1 Wireless Speaker with AirPlay NEED TO KNOW • Wireless speaker designed for iGadgets • Streams audio wirelessly • Battery-powered R3 999.95 (Mega Stores Only)

You know the future has arrived when it’s possible to stream music wirelessly from a handheld gadget to a speaker that is likewise unattached to anything. Such is the case with the iHome iW1, a wireless, battery-powered speaker that uses Apple’s AirPlay technology to receive music streamed to it by any Wi-Fi-capable iPhone or iPod Touch. Because of this, the iW1 is an impressive piece of kit from which owners of said Apple devices should get a lot of enjoyment. It looks great, its audio quality is easily good enough to please most listeners, and the ability to play music without needing to be physically connected to the iW1 is pretty sweet. All in all, it’s a great 21st-century gadget that makes good use of cutting-edge technologies in a way that truly enhances any high-tech lifestyle. Firstly, looks. The iW1 is a stylish device sporting a mostly-black finish and silver trim, with the top of the speaker occupied by the system’s touch-sensitive buttons that glow with a pale white light when the system is powered on. Other lights indicate power, network connectivity and volume controls. The volume controls are particularly cool. Instead of holding your finger on a certain area to bring volume up or down, you simply touch the level you’d like the volume to go to, and, wham, it goes there. In another interesting move, iHome chose to give the iW1 a tiny stand that serves as the speaker’s charging station, which slots in beneath the unit when a recharge is needed. That means you can set up the charger somewhere convenient, and only return the iW1 to it when it runs out of power. It’s a great idea that works well for the most part, but getting the speaker into the right position for the stand to slot into the hole on the iW1’s underside wasn’t always as easy as we’d have liked. Setting everything up is pretty simple. Download the free iHome Connect app to your iPhone/iPod Touch, run through a few options, and you’re connected. Any app that supports AirPlay will let you select the iW1 as your preferred speaker, and once chosen, you’ll hear your music playing, wirelessly, on the iW1.

And sound quality? It’s good, thanks to iHome’s inclusion of excellent Bongiovi Acoustics DPS audio technology that enhances the iW1’s core audio capabilities. However, we did notice that at high volumes, the system didn’t like bass-heavy music much, distorting quite badly. But at moderate volumes, no such distortion was heard and we were very happy with it, as the sound quality was a lot better than other docks we’ve played with. iHome says the iW1 can last up to 10 hours if music is played at “moderate volumes”, but either our definition of “moderate” is very different to theirs, or their claim is a little on the optimistic side. We suspect the former. Whatever the case, at what we considered to be moderate volumes, we got about 5 hours of play from the iW1 before it needed to return to its charging station. After spending some time with it, we have to say this is a very nice speaker system. It sounds great, looks good and its wireless functionality just works. Fans of iDevices will love it. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • Supports 802.11b/g networks • USB connector included for non-Wi-Fi devices • USB connector works with: iPod Touch (1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th generation), iPod Nano (2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th generation), iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, and iPhone 3G • AirPlay works with: iTunes, iPod Touch (2nd, 3rd, and 4th generation), iPhone (3GS or later), iPad • iHome Apps: iHome+Sleep and iHome+Radio, and iHome Connect apps only work with iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch and requires iOS 4.0 or later • 3.5mm auxiliary jack for connecting up non-Apple music players • 10-hour battery at moderate volumes Pros

Cons

• Good-looking, high-tech, highconcept speaker • Setup is simple • Rich, clear audio at all but the highest volumes

• Heavy bass causes distortion at very high volumes • Getting the iW1 onto the charger can be awkward • Battery life could be longer at our definition of “moderate volume”

Overall rating


HP TopShot LaserJet Pro M275 Colour Laser Printer NEED TO KNOW • Colour laser printer with touchscreen • Scans 3D objects and turns them into 2D images • Wireless, wired and USB connectivity R3 999.95 (Mega Stores Only)

We love companies that dare to innovate. Because of that, we’re tempted to sing the praises of HP’s new TopShot printer/scanner on general principles – it’s really like nothing we’ve ever seen before. At its heart are the inner workings of a solid colour laser printer, but where it gets a little more interesting is in the way that it can scan 3D objects and turn them into 2D images. It does this with a “3D scanner” arm that scans objects placed below it, on a removable scanner bed. We can only presume that it’s called the TopShot because the arm can be raised, and it takes pictures from above the object. The arm has 3 LED flashes on it in addition to a camera, and together, these take 3 pictures of each object you are scanning. The printer then chooses the best of these and, depending on whether you’re performing the scan manually from the printer’s control-panel touchscreen or via a PC/Mac and HP’s Scan software, the image is either printed directly or saved to a file. Images can be saved in JPG, PDF or PNG formats. Our testing included scanning several small items, including A4 documents, and the results were only “okay”. After several tests, we had to conclude that this isn’t the greatest scanner in the world. Even when setting our resolution to 300dpi (dots per inch, more should mean better image detail), the result was not as sharp as we’d like. Even after adjusting the brightness and contrast levels of each image, the end results were just not that impressive. Document scans, on the other hand, were perfectly acceptable. This isn’t the printer to use if you’re after multi-page scans, however, as there is no automatic document feeder, but for the occasional scan of a singlepage document or photo, the TopShot is quite serviceable. Presumably, this product has been designed for making the process of taking photographs of objects to post on online auction sites a little easier. The scanner bed provides a decent white background, and the scanning software does a fair job of removing shadows and producing images that are good enough for online consumption. Its other functions are a bit underwhelming. It takes a while to get going, with the first printout taking about 20 seconds to get there from the time the Print button is pressed. Admittedly, as it gets going, the

subsequent pages in multi-page documents emerge quite quickly. This is also a loud printer that clatters and clicks along more than it hums, plus it’s incredibly heavy. We weren’t wild about its touchscreen, either, as it required fairly strong finger-presses before it responded. HP’s simple setup philosophy remains, and hooking the TopShot up to our Wi-Fi network and getting it printing took about 15 minutes from the time the box was first opened, so that’s good at least. It also has access to a range of HP’s Web Apps that give it extra functionality, plus it’s ePrint, AirPrint and Google Cloud-Print enabled, which give you some good mobile printing options. So, this printer is expensive and loud, it’s not particularly fast and its most interesting feature is only “good”, and not the “fantastic” that such a high price might lead you to expect. NOTEWORTHY SPECS

Fujifilm Finepix S2995 14MP Compact Camera

A compact camera is a viable alternative to the TopShot for taking good-quality images of things you’d like to auction off online.

• Functions: Print, scan, copy • Print speeds: Up to 17ppm (black), up to 4ppm (colour) • Monthly duty cycle: Up to 20 000 pages • Scan resolution: 8MP • Print technology: Laser • Print resolution: Up to 600 x 600dpi (black & colour) • Mobile printing: HP ePrint, AirPrint and Google Cloud Print-ready • Connectivity: 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and USB 2.0 • Control panel: 3.5” LCD colour touchscreen • Paper input: 150-sheet tray • Paper output: 50-sheet output bin • Paper types: A4, legal, executive, envelopes • Weight: 13.5kg

Pros

Cons

• Scanning 3D objects to 2D images is a novel idea • Can also scan single-page documents and photos • Document print quality is quite good • ePrint and Google Cloud Print-enabled

• Scan quality could be better • Printer is very noisy • Touchscreen prefers hard presses to light touches • No automatic document feeder for scanning multi-page documents • Expensive

Overall rating

related

products

Samsung CLX-3185 Colour Laser Multifunction Printer

This printer offers goodquality colour laser prints and a flatbed scanner for copies and scans. Network connectivity is provided by an Ethernet port.

www.connectmag.co.za | 55


product reviews

Magix Movie Edit Pro MX related

products

Sony Handycam DCR-PJ5E

We can’t wait for the day when everyone has HD cameras so all YouTube videos look fantastic. This HD video camera from Sony is a good way to ensure your online videos are top-notch.

Sony Xperia S Smartphone

The ability to record video at 1 080p, on your phone, is definitely the way to go. Sony’s excellent Xperia S does just that, plus it’s a fun, fast phone.

56 | connect | August 2012

NEED TO KNOW • Movie-creation software for home users • Edit, dub, and add effects to videos • Supports a great many movie formats • Upload videos directly to YouTube R999.95

If you’re after an affordable software package that can help you create movies on your home PC, then Magix Movie Edit Pro MX is a solid option. It has a good selection of editing tools that go from novice-friendly automatic options, to more complicated manual ones. It lets you create your own menus for your videos (like the ones you see on movie DVDs and Blu-rays) and you can export your videos in any of a number of popular video formats. You can even upload your creations directly to YouTube if that’s your thing. Now, what Magix Movie Edit Pro MX won’t do is take awful videos and make them much better (although there are some basic tools for rudimentary adjustments, like colour saturation, improving sharpness, brightness and contrast). What it does best is allow you to turn whatever movies you’ve shot with your camera/cellphone/camcorder into videos you can upload to the Internet or burn to DVD or Blu-ray disc and send to friends and family. The software is not so simple that you can go in blind and expect to produce a masterpiece in an hour, but it’s definitely got enough power that you’ll be able to produce great-quality videos once you’ve learned its ins and outs. During the review process, we found that getting to grips with the software can take a while, especially if you’re new to the world of video-editing. Fortunately, we also discovered that Magix has included a lot of support material like videos and detailed help files that explain things well enough to give first-timers the leg-up they need to get going. Starting out was quite daunting, as the interface appeared somewhat complicated at first glance. The challenge we faced was to get our heads around the way the program works, which is by using up to 32 separate “timelines” to make our movies come alive. We discovered that each timeline contains elements like transitions, captions or audio tracks that affected the movie at whichever moment we chose, and there was a lot to choose from.

Once that idea was firmly in our noggins, we got to work. Our first project was rather simple – adding lyrics to a favourite music video. The process involved adding each line of the song to a timeline and positioning it correctly so that it appeared as it was sung. Within an hour, we were done, and the result was basic, but functional. In the process, we realised that creating any type of video project is a time-consuming process due to the fiddly details that need considering, but also that practice makes perfect and Movie Edit Pro MX is a rather capable package. We didn’t like that Magix tried to sneak in some unwanted adware during the install process. We almost ended up with Ask.com as our homepage, a Magix/Ask.com toolbar installed into our browser, and Ask. com as our default service provider. Sneaky! Then again, without that stuff, chances are good the asking price would be a lot higher than a rather reasonable R1 000. Overall, we found this to be a really good movie-editing program for home projects, and we’re confident it can help determined users create great-looking YouTube and family holiday videos if they’re prepared to invest some time in learning how to use it. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • 32 timelines for picture and sound • Full HD support (HDV, AVCHD) • Dubbing: custom or completely automatic • Custom menu design with professional templates • Universal output options: File, DVD, Blu-ray disc, YouTube, Facebook, etc.

Pros

Cons

• Lots of transitions and effects • Supports a wide variety of movie file formats, including HD • Very useful manual, help files and tutorials • The ability to burn video projects directly to DVD or Blu-ray

• Creating projects is timeconsuming • Quite a steep learning curve for newcomers • Offers to install unwanted adware • Does not always perform well even on a high-end PC

Overall rating


Bold look. Bolder sound.

HP recommends Windows® 7.

HP recommends Windows® 7.

Introducing the HP ENVY 4 Ultrabook.™ It’s the ultra light, ultra tough, ultra responsive Ultrabook™ that’s up for anything. Powered by the Intel® Core™ i5 processor and featuring built-in Beats Audio™, only from HP. For more, go to hp.com/go/envy + Intel® Rapid Start Technology™* + HP ProtectSmart hard drive protection +

Bold look. Starti n g at R9999 Incl. VAT Bolder sound. Introducing the HP ENVY 4 Ultrabook.™ It’s the ultra light, ultra tough, ultra responsive Ultrabook™ that’s up for anything. Powered by the Intel® Core™ i5 processor and featuring built-in Beats Audio,™ only from HP. For more, go to hp.com/go/envy

Ultrabook inspired by Intel. Perfected by HP.

+ Intel® Rapid Start Technology™* + HP ProtectSmart hard drive protection +

Starting at R9999 Incl. VAT

©2012 Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P. Actual prices may vary. *Requires a 2nd gen Intel® Core™ processor, Intel® software and BIOS update, and Intel® Solid State Drive (SSD) or mSATA cache module + HDD. Ultrabook inspired by Intel. Perfected by HP. Depending on system configuration, your results may vary. Microsoft and Windows are trademarks of the Microsoft group of companies. ©2012 Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P. Actual prices may vary. *Requires a 2nd gen Intel ® Core™ processor, Intel ® software and BIOS update, and Intel ® Solid State Drive (SSD) or mSATA cache module + HDD. Depending on system configuration, your results may vary. Microsoft and Windows are trademarks of the Microsoft group of companies.

08.06.2012

09:22

Twist 235


product Accessories

iPad Covers for Africa The best thing you can do for your 2nd or 3rd generation iPad is buy it a nice cover for protection. This month, we have five that will do the job quite nicely. Speck FitFolio Price: R599.95

The FitFolio is a classy iPad cover that’s available in a wide range of great-looking fabrics and colours, including “Vegan Leather”, which looks remarkably like real leather. On the inside, you’ll find incredibly soft “micro-suede” that rests against the iPad’s screen, preventing scratches, and a form-fitting cradle that the iPad clicks into. At the bottom of the cradle is a plastic ridge that fits into grooves on the cover’s underside that let you position the iPad at various viewing angles. This is a classy, upmarket iPad case that’s as versatile as it is hardy. Features

Ozaki iCoat Slim-Y Price: R999.95

The design of the iCoat Slim-Y case from Ozaki sets it apart from other iPad cases. It does a similar thing in that it offers great protection, attractive looks and the sleep/wake function of other cases, but it’s different in how it provides a stand for the iPad to lean against. A Y-shaped crease in the case’s surface shows the lines along which it can fold, and when folded together, the lid forms a solid pyramid-like structure on which the iPad can rest. More impressively, the shape supports resting the iPad in both portrait and landscape positions without needing to be reconfigured. This is undoubtedly one of the nicest cases we’ve seen so far from both a looks and function perspective. Features • For iPad 2/3 • Front and back protection • Slim size, with both portrait and landscape view • Adjustable multi-angle viewing mode for landscape view • With a detachable stylus holder • Sleep/wake function • Stand remains steady even when playing touchscreen games

58 | connect | August 2012

• For iPad 2/3 • Slim and lightweight • 5 stand angles – 4 viewing, 1 typing • Available in a wide range of colours and fabrics (including Vegan Leather) • Sleep/wake function • Soft micro-suede interior


Speck PixelSkin HD Wrap Price: R599.95

Made from TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane), this iPad 2 and 3 cover fits the iPad snugly and offers a whole lot of protection. Holes are where they need to be to allow access to the iPad’s various ports, and the cover snaps closed with a secure clasp. Closing the cover puts the iPad to sleep and opening wakes it up. The striking pixelated design makes for a very grippy surface, and the cover can be folded into 2 distinct configurations to allow the iPad to stand, for viewing, or lie down for typing.

Features • For iPad 2/3 • High-contrast, Low-profile TPU construction • 2 stand angles – Viewing and typing • Pixelated for grip • Sleep/wake function • Variety of colours

Speck MagFolio Lounge Price: R599.95

Speck WanderFolio Price: R899.95 As the name suggests, this is an iPad cover for people who are on the move a lot. That’s because it has several pockets in which to store documents, ID cards and passports hidden away in a sleeve that clips to the front flap. Vegan Leather covers the WanderFolio’s front and back surfaces, great for those who like the look and feel of leather but don’t like the idea of animals being killed in the process. The TPU cradle is the same as the one used in the MagFolio’s design, and it fits snugly around the iPad. Magnets make sure it stays closed and that the iPad wakes and sleeps as it is opened and closed.

The MagFolio Lounge is the cover to get if you find yourself using your iPad on your lap a lot. It has a curved contour that appears when the case is folded into its stand configuration that makes it easier to rest on your lap, providing more support than a straight-edged design would. A magnetic clasp ensures the case won’t pop open unexpectedly, and serves as an anchor point for the case’s stand configuration. It’s also a “smart” cover in that it wakes up the iPad when opened and sleeps it when closed. Fake leather adorns its exterior, and Speck has opted for a soft micro-suedecovered interior that is quite plush and comfortable.

Features

Features

• Protected padded cover with micro-suede interior • Tri-fold design provides 3 pockets for extras • Magnetic closure • TPU cradle secures iPads • Magnets in cover sleep and wake iPads • Viewing and typing configurations

• For iPad 2/3 • Imitation leather exterior, soft micro-suede interior • Magnetic closure • Custom-fit hard-shell cradle • Curved design suits lap use • Magnets in cover sleep and wake iPads • Viewing and typing configurations

www.connectmag.co.za | 59


game reviews

London 2012: The Official Video Game of the Olympic Games R499.95 (XBOX 360) What better way to get into the Olympic spirit than with the official game of the event? Not everyone gets to go to London in 2012 to watch the Olympics live, so the game is a great way to get involved virtually. With reactive commentary, realistic graphics and a TV-style presentation, SEGA’s version of London 2012 is a great gaming compendium. Everyone has their favourite Olympic sport to watch and in the game, you’ll get to try them all out, with over 45 different events. Not only are all the blue-ribbon events in London 2012, you’ll also find some extra events, categorised under “other”, like table tennis and shooting. Long-distance running, judo and a few other activities have been left out, but with so many sports on offer, you won’t notice their absence. There really is a wide range of challenges and game modes in London 2012. All in all, it’s a comprehensive collection that will impress fans of the Olympic Games and casual gamers alike. But if you’re looking for a full-blown, single-player career mode, there isn’t one. London 2012 is more of a collection of mini-games categorised into different events. There are, however, quite a few modes and ways to enjoy the title. If you have a PlayStation Move or Xbox Kinect, for example, these are also a part of the gameplay, which means that some of the sports feature motion control. You can also take the competition online with leader boards tracking personal medal counts, and earn “National Pride points” with each medal you win for your country. (You’ll have to keep playing and improve your nation’s standing!) Looking at the gameplay, some of the events like swimming, racing and rowing depend on timing – you’ll need the skills to win. Other events like diving and gymnastics rely on you pressing the right button at the right time, which is a bit easier. Like any mixed sports collection, some of the events work better than others. Racing on the track, for example, will keep you pressing the same button to stay in the right speed zone, while throwing sports – javelin and shotput – are far more intuitive. Multiplayer adds a lot of longevity to London 2012, no matter whether you’re competing against friends in your living room (split screen or party mode), or playing online. London 2012 – The Official Video Game of the Olympic Games captures all the excitement of the world’s ultimate sporting event.

60 | connect | August 2012

NEED TO KNOW • PlayStation Move and Xbox Kinect support • 8-player online modes • Arcade party play • 45 events


>>coming soon<< FIFA 13 Sadly, soccer is one sport London 2012 left out. Look out for EAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s bestselling game in September, which captures the drama and unpredictability of real-world football and will have Kinect integration.

www.connectmag.co.za | 61


game reviews

The Secret World

NEED TO KNOW • New MMO from Funcom • Requires a monthly fee and constant Internet connection • Real-world locations • No preset character classes “Imagine if your worst nightmare came to life. Imagine a world where vampires hunt for mortal blood in dingy London nightclubs, where werewolves lurk in the sewers beneath Seoul, and where the undead prey on the living in the shadows of New York City.” From the makers of Age of Conan, The Secret World is a massively multiplayer online (MMO) game with a difference. If you’re expecting enchanted forests, elves, secret guilds, fairies and everything else that usually comes along with the genre, guess again. The Secret World is set in a world closer to home but with mysteries unknown. Love conspiracy theories? Vampires? They make up the backdrop for a unique yet modern game setting. The focus in The Secret World is on the deep storyline and each character you meet along the way has their own tale to tell. You’ll be a member of one of 3 powerful factions: the Illuminati, a group bent on attaining power through any means necessary; the Templars, holy crusaders; and the Dragon, a gang that loves to create chaos. Unlike other popular MMORPGs (for example, World of Warcraft) there are no preset classes. You don’t need to pick a path (be it magician or warrior), which makes the game your own for a change. It’s an interesting MMO twist and one that means customising who your character is a lot more fun. There are no levels in the game either, but you still earn “XP” (ability 62 | connect | August 2012

and skill points) and progress in your capabilities – these are used to unlock new attacks and upgrade your character. Also different to other MMOs, you can only queue up a limited amount of quests. This means you’ll never really deviate from the main storyline. And out of the normal “go fight or fetch this” questions, it’s the brain-bending investigations which really stand out – there’s even an in-game web browser to do research. Looking at the gameplay, The Secret World has its glitches. The combat is what you would expect but isn’t timed well which means you’ll often feel disconnected from the action and simple movements like jumping just don’t feel natural. However, the combat is complex and cinematic at times. How you fight is determined by the weapons and abilities you equip. The Secret World also comes with many weapon types and a complex, pattern-based crafting system. There’s both an in-game and real money store to buy armour and other items. The Secret World is a game that takes patience but your hard work will pay off. As an MMO, The Secret World is unique in both gameplay and concept. The modern setting combined with a deep level of customisation make this a weird, but engrossing, MMO perfect for players set on a challenging adventure. R349.95

>>Buy this<< Guild Wars 2 Guild Wars 2 has visceral, action-orientated combat; a gorgeous, living world; customisable personal storylines; intense Player vs. Player combat between small teams or massive armies; and most importantly, a shared online world where players work together as allies instead of as rivals – all with no monthly subscription fee.


game reviews

Risen 2: Dark Waters

NEED TO KNOW • A pirate-themed RPG • Swords, firearms and dirty tricks • Explore exotic islands

Spec Ops: The Line

NEED TO KNOW • An emotional storyline • Single-player campaign and multiplayer co-op mode• Explore the haunted remains of Dubai Inspired by Heart of Darkness, the story in Spec Ops: The Line begins with Dubai in ruins, ravaged by cataclysmic sandstorms. The citizens are forced to create makeshift shelters among the towering skyscrapers. It’s an interesting, almost post-apocalyptic landscape of architecture and survival. You play Walker, one of 3 Delta Force Soldiers in search of Colonel Konrad. Konrad took an American Battalion to Dubai (against orders) with the hopes of saving trapped civilians. It’s ironic – you’re there on a rescue mission but can’t stop killing people. There are no good and evil, or morality choices in this game. Combat in Spec Ops: The Line is your typical cover-based

>>Coming soon<< Borderlands 2 Step into the role of the Gunzerker, whose highly deadly skills allow him to dual-wield any two weapons found in the game.

64 | connect | August 2012

military shooter with guns, headshots, gratuitous violence and the odd piece of destructive environment (ceilings and walls) becoming a part of the action. The further you get in the game, the better the action gets and you’ll come across in-game moments that will stick with you long after you complete the single-player campaign. Spec Ops: The Line also features a competitive multiplayer mode with maps, a light class system and objective-based modes. R599.95

>>Look out for<< Medal of Honor: Warfighter Inspired by real world threats, Warfighter delivers an aggressive, gritty, and authentic experience that puts you in the boots of today’s most precise and disciplined warrior.

Less of a sequel and more of a reinvention for the series, Risen 2 is a pirate-themed roleplaying game that will have you running around and gathering mystical artefacts in order to destroy an ancient evil. The setting and tone of the game is thematic - treasure hunting, parrots, swords, rum and wooden legs are all a part of Risen 2. But when it comes to gameplay – combat and exploration – things go downhill. Although the game world is visually beautiful, it is broken up into different islands, each with their own quest set. This makes the gameplay more direct and less adventurous at times. The awkward and technically-flawed combat in Risen 2 consists of sword fighting (with the occasional pistol shot), muskets and voodoo magic. If you are a persistent pirate and avid RPG fan, Risen 2 is a well-written game that offers good voice acting and impressive graphics. If you can just look past the clumsy combat... R499.95


advertorial

Logitech puts full gaming power at your fingertips.

Y

ou’ve spent every penny you can afford on buying the fastest, loudest, best looking gaming machine – so surely it’s “The Right Thing To Do” to get the best possible peripherals to make the most of your premium gaming experience? Logitech understands that gaming really is a tactile experience, and it has taken every effort to make sure that these products bring your gaming to life.

The Logitech G27 Racing Wheel

The G27 includes a powerful dual-motor force feedback mechanism with helical gearing that smoothly and accurately simulates traction loss, weight shift, and road feel, enhancing your experience of driving the fastest vehicles in the most extreme conditions. A six speed shifter lets you keep control of the gears, while steel pedals offer heightened realism at every corner, curve or dash.

The Logitech Flight System G940

The Logitech G19 Gaming Keyboard

You’d choose the best weapons for your in-game arsenal, and the G19 Gaming Keyboard is your best weapon when it comes to keeping control. This customizable keyboard includes a tiltable colour LCD GamePanel to show game stats, VOIP communication and other game stats, while two high-speed USB ports and multi-key input make sure you always have all the information you need at your fingertips. Twelve programmable G-keys with three shift states give you a total of 36 programmable macros per game, while multi-key input allows you to use up to five keys at once to perform multiple complex actions.

As aviation gaming gets closer and closer to the real thing, serious pundits deserve the most realistic and precise flight control available. The Logitech Flight System G940’s design is inspired by military and commercial aircraft, with realistic-looking controls that feel and work just like the real thing. A force feedback joystick lets you feel your aircraft’s response to air, turbulence and G-forces, while a dual throttle affords you precise control over multi-engine aircraft. Rudder pedals with toe brakes give you full, true to life control, especially during defensive maneuvers and crosswind landings.

The Logitech Gaming Mouse G400

When your sights are set on victory, you need instant responses from your mouse – and the Logitech Gaming Mouse G400 provides this by communicating up to 1000 times per second with your PC. A 3600 dpi optical sensor provides precision targeting and pinpoint accuracy. Ingame dip switching lets you go from pixel-precise targeting at 400dpi to lightning fast manoeuvres without having to interrupt play.


game reviews

Inversion

NEED TO KNOW • A third-person co-op shooter • Exciting gravity-wielding combat • Fight enemies and solve in-game puzzles Inversion is a third-person shooter with a bit of a difference. You see, on the streets of Vanguard City, the normal laws of gravity don’t apply. This makes the gameplay quite interesting at times with items flying up in the air, sometimes in different directions. Take this element away and Inversion is your typical guns-a-blazing first-person shooter. Similar to Gears of War, the environment, enemies and characters will remind you of Microsoft’s winning Xbox 360 title. As a FPS, Inversion works well, especially when an entire area

NEED TO KNOW • Survival horror • Two modes • Save Mio and Mayu from a cursed village

66 | connect | August 2012

around you is flipped around. Being able to create pockets of zero gravity really adds something new to combat. And when the fight you’re in take places in a gravity-free zone, it almost feels like your soldiers are flying. These “vector shifts” are what makes the game worth picking up. Inversion is one of those titles that is best played co-op with a friend – it’s a linear FPS that’s great in concept, but average in execution. R599.95

Project Zero 2: Wii Edition is a remake of the classic survival horror game Project Zero II: Crimson Butterfly. Originally on PlayStation 2 and Xbox, you take the role of Mio as she explores a mysterious cursed village with her twin sister Mayu. When Mayu follows a butterfly into the woods, Mio has no choice but to follow… This horror game has 2 modes, in the first you’ll explore a seemingly abandoned village whose ghosts can only be defeated by using a mythical weapon that allows you to interact with the spirit world. Project Zero 2 makes excellent use the Wii motion controls, you really feel the haunted environment – it’s tense, overwhelming and genuinely frightening at times. The unnecessary Haunted House mode is made up of less scary mini-missions where you simply have stay calm. Overall, Project Zero 2 is thrilling game that every adventurous horror fan should buy. R399.95

>>Look out for<< Gears of War: Judgment A a riveting gameplay experience that gets back to basics, captures the true essence of “Gears” combat and introduces a new style of combat that’s faster-paced and more action-packed than ever before.

>>Coming soon<< ZombiU For the Wii U, ZombiU is an all-new survival horror that makes clever use of the Wii U GamePad for maps and inventory items.


Record and Play Back Smartpens record everything you write and hear so you’ll never miss a word. Replay your meetings or lectures simply by tapping on your notes.*

Save, Search and Organise Livescribe Desktop saves your notes and recordings to your computer for fast, easy access to what’s important.

Send and Share with Livescribe Connect™ Easily send notes and audio to people and destinations such as Email,** Google Docs,™ ** Facebook, Evernote,® Microsoft® OneNote, Google Sites,™ ** your Computer, MyLivescribe, or your Apple iPad,® iPhone,® or iPod Touch®*** – all from your paper!

Customise with Apps Get more out of your smartpen by adding productivity, education and entertainment apps. Even convert your handwritten notes into digital text. ***Livescribe paper required. Don’t record without permission. ***These connectors are available only with Livescribe Connect Premium. ***Mobile device access requires Pencast Player App or Flash®–enabled web browser. 0811 - Rev. B - EFIGS


tech tannie

Like a snail on a whale, Tech Tannie travels the world to bring you tasty

technology titbits that you simply cannot live without.

issue of the month: Q: A:

If you have questions, gripes or just seek some solace, e-mail Tamsin, our friendly tech tannie at techtannie@connectmag.co.za 68 | connect | August 2012

What are the best fitness apps for the iPhone? Healthy Hermoine in Harrismith

There are quite a number of different apps available for the iPhone that offer you fitness and fitness games. The real question isn’t which are the best, but rather, how much are you prepared to pay? You see, some apps, like RunKeeper, are completely free and offer you superb features. RunKeeper will track your calories, distance and speed, as well as play your music. Then there’s Zombies, Run!, an excellent game that merges the features of a running app with the essence of a game. You listen to a solid storyline that’s interspersed with your playlists and zombies trying to eat you. It’s nervewracking, gripping and addictive, but it will cost you a pretty penny to install. You also need to consider what type of sport or activity you plan to use your iPhone apps for, and then spend some time searching local groups/online forums and chatting to other people in your chosen field as they usually have recommendations or can point you in the right direction. But, for runners or anyone keen on getting extra info as they pound the treadmill, RunKeeper and Zombies, Run! are both excellent choices and can run simultaneously. They do eat your battery, though, so be prepared with a full charge for a long run.


Q:

I recently bought a Kindle but there are no books on the Amazon store that really appeal to me and I wouldn’t mind getting some free books to save on costs. Cheapskate in Centurion

A:

Q:

What exactly is an Ultrabook? Why is it different from a normal laptop? Mobile Matters in Cape Town

A:

The Ultrabook was introduced by Intel, the makers of super-fast processors and other such tasty titbits of technology, in 2011. It is a high-end, super-fast, super-thin laptop that delivers great speeds and processing power, all housed in a chic and sleek shell. It is designed to be portable and powerful so users can work on it while at their desks, and then carry on working while they sit in cars, trains and planes, without seeing any loss of performance or functionality. Some Ultrabooks don’t have as many external ports as the “normal” laptop so as to deliver the ultimate in thinness and minimal weight, but they more than make up for this with their speeds, battery life, looks and features. A laptop has to meet very specific requirements, as laid out by Intel, to achieve the title of “Ultrabook”, such as a Sandy Bridge or Ivy Bridge microarchitecture, a minimum battery life of 5 hours, and a 7-second resume from hibernation. I have to confess that the last feature, the resume from hibernation in 7 seconds, is my favourite. Think I haven’t sat there opening and closing my Ultrabook just to see it perform like a speed monkey? Think again… So, the Ultrabook is a solid tool that delivers ultra-portability and power to the user and is a brilliant choice for anyone who commutes, works from home with limited space, or just wants a light and powerful laptop. They also sit in a reasonable price range, with specs decent enough to make them a worthy desktop replacement.

Well, as you probably know, there are “good” ways to get free books and “bad” ways. I am no advocate of the latter so I’ll tell you where you can go to legally download free books for your Kindle to boost your collection so you can spend some quality time with your device. To start with, try Amazon itself. When you search the Kindle books section, you will likely find plenty of free books. In fact, Amazon.com, the US site, has an article on how to get free books for the Kindle and links to everything you need right here: http://www.amazon.com/ gp/richpub/syltguides/fullview/ R3ND8N6RSXJEV. You can download many of these to read on your iPad, iPhone, PC or Android device, so you’re not limited or ignored if you don’t happen to have a Kindle or if you have issues accessing the books through

a South African Kindle account. One oft-mentioned place to get free Kindle books is Project Gutenberg (always reminds me of Steve Gutenberg from Police Academy), which you can find at www.gutenberg.org. The Website has over 40 000 free books and they are all legally available for you to download or read online, and the site thrives on small donations freely given by regular visitors. You don’t have to pay if you don’t want to, but it is considered good form to do so if you decide to make use of it often. A site that I only recently discovered and really love is Pixel of Ink. Here, you can find free and bargain Kindle books broken down by category, hot deals and bargain bin, among other things. A Pixel of Ink is a fantastic idea that’s worth reading to find some secret little bargains and freebies for your Kindle.

www.connectmag.co.za | 69


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disconnect //By adam oxford

Early

Retirement Built-in obsolescence shouldn’t be tolerated...

W

hen Apple’s CEO Tim Cook stood on stage in California and announced the latest version of his company’s wildly successful operating system, iOS, every gadget geek across the world cheered. The update for iPhones and iPads introduces new features like beautiful 3D maps with hand-drawn models of global cities, free turn-by-turn navigation, Facebook integration, an improved mail and web app, and more. It is, or at least it looks, wonderful. And on top of new features, iOS6 paves the way for the next iteration of the iPhone itself, which many suspect will be a radical break from the existing design. It also, we realised soon after Mr Cook stopped speaking, won’t be available for the original iPad. At just two years old, Apple’s revolutionary tablet is already past it and will again receive an update. The company has deemed its progenitor tablet not powerful enough for the latest features, and thus it will remain as it is, forever more. Is this a problem? Maybe not. It’s not like you upgrade the firmware on your TV or wristwatch that often, and yet you manage with them just fine. At no point did Apple guarantee that every future version of its operating system would be available for the device. What’s more, if you own an original iPad, something which for South Africans might have been a costly and time-consuming mission to procure, it’s not going to stop working tomorrow. You’ll be able to carry on playing Angry Birds, downloading magazines and doing all the iPady stuff you currently do on it. It’s just that you won’t be able to use the new services from Apple, and any future apps that require iOS6 may not work either. 72 | connect | August 2012

I should point out that I use Apple merely as an example here. With the exception of Microsoft, whose Windows software gets less demanding as time goes by, almost every tech manufacturer has this blind spot when it comes to product support. Android phones are notorious for being left in tech limbo – most Android phones are running on the positively ancient 2.3 ‘Gingerbread’ version of the operating system because they can’t be upgraded to the latest 4.1. Really, that’s a bigger issue than the iPad because updates to Android have made significant improvements on the way the software works. Now, I’m not going to deny that gadget envy has never encouraged me to upgrade an old device before its time. Apple’s new MacBook Pro with its Retina screen is astonishing, and it’s a good job I can’t afford one or my current notebook would find itself swiftly out of favour despite being only a year old. Similarly, my Nikon D7000 camera was an investment for photographing a friend’s wedding last year and yet already feels like one of those 19th century box–and-bellows affairs next to the Fujifilm XPro-1 I’m craving. But my attitude, and that of manufacturers, is wrong. And it has to change. An expected lifespan of two years is not enough for our gadgety goods. All it will end up doing is making us poorer and our tech more expensive as resource prices are pushed up. Worse, millions of tons of perfectly serviceable tech is thrown away each year and left to rot in landfills where toxic substances leak out and contaminate local water supplies. According to the UN, by 2016, Africa will produce more e-waste than Europe. So next time you see a gadget that makes you think you want to upgrade, ask yourself if your current one is really past it – and demand that manufacturers build stuff to last.


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