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MINI-APP MAGIC N WIDGETS? GET GADGETS! ANT WA W
REVIEWS MONITORS LAPTOPS CAMERAS PRINTERS SOFTWARE CELLPHONES GAMES
FEATURES 12 Keeping up with Keyboards Wired, wireless, ergonomic, flat? Modern keyboards can be all these and more
16 Widgets and Gadgets Those small, extra applications that adorn your desktop or dashboard
20 Time Management Tips Bring order to your diary today
24 17 Windows 7 Shortcuts Get the most out of your shiny new MS operating system
26 Find Your Way! How to navigate the information superhighway
30 Net Vacancy How to find the perfect job online
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PUBLISHER Brett Haggard firstname.lastname@example.org EDITOR Tiana Cline email@example.com CONTRIBUTING Johann Barnard EDITOR firstname.lastname@example.org
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4 | CONNECT | FEBRUARY 2010
ave you ever had a keyboard catastrophe? Accidentally tipping over a cup of tea only to shortcircuit a number of keys or getting something stuck only breaking a component when using a kitchen knife to get it out? How about travelling overseas and finally locating an Internet café only to come across keyboards in a completely different layout? They may seem like inconsequential peripherals – especially considering laptops are common occurrences in most households – but there really is so much to the keyboard. Take into account mobility, ergonomics, back-lit keys, being right or left handed and other quirky considerations and you’ll soon realise that buying one isn’t as simple as you think. In the February issue of Connect we tackle this exact issue by rounding up popular keyboard designs and making recommendations as to the benefits of each. From hardware help to software simplified, in this issue of Connect we’re also delving into Microsoft’s shiny-new operating system and revealing 17 very useful keyboard shortcuts. If you use the social networking site Facebook, there is a good chance you’re already familiar with the mini-applications that adorn your page both customising and enhancing your experience.
On a Windows desktop (or Mac Dashboard) these widgets and gadgets can be a great way to simplify the usability of your computer but also bump up the fun-factor. From media players to RSS feeders as well as calendars, calculators and statistical information, it is great to have everything you need in one place. Read all about this on page 16. Google may be the king of searching on the Internet but did you know there are really other useful and specialised services that can enrich and speed up your search queries? Our feature (see page 26) takes a look at all of this and more. In the reviews section, we’ve rounded up a number of great products. If you’re shopping for a printer, this is the place to go. Of course, there are also routers, laptops, cameras and books in the mix as well. If you own a PS3, then the one game you have to buy this month is Heavy Rain. A unique type of adventure with mature themes, it really looks like a cinematic masterpiece. Add some more gaming (Splinter Cell Conviction launches this month), our resident tech tannie and some other bits into the mix and you’ll find the February issue of Connect to be packed with everything you need to make more sense of your digital world. Enjoy the issue and stay connected! Tiana Cline
INTRODUCING THE NEXUS ONE Not yet available in South Africa, Google – king of the net – have released their own phone. The Nexus One is a smartphone from Google that uses the Android open source mobile operating system. The device is manufactured by Taiwan’s HTC Corporation and became available for the first time in January 2010. Cool features of the phone include the ability to transcribe voice to text, noise canceling dual microphones, and voice directions while driving. The phone is soldd via Google’s website, at a price of $529.
GET YOUR EYES CHECKED BEFORE BUYING A 3D TV The blockbuster 3D film Avatar has instigated a desire to create 3D televisions for home use. Just think about the visual experience when watching sporting games in 3D! But before rushing out to purchase these sets when they hit the shelves, best get your eyes checked, or risk headaches and eyestrain. The reason for this is that each eye sees things at a slightly different angle, in normal vision, the brain processes this input and this is where the perception of depth is created. The illusion of 3D that is created in the movies is not the same calibration as your brain and eyes, which places strain on both. So if there was a slight weakness before, it’s worsened by the 3D illusion, making it worthwhile to make a call at the optometrist, before investing in 3D home entertainment technology.
BLACK AND WHITE BLUES At the Consumer Elecronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, there were many, potential e-reader in competition to E-Ink – the official “electronic ink” brand behind Amazon’s Kindle. What’s interesting is that the current market leader in e-book displays is greyscale-only, and it takes a long time to change the display (“turn the page”), so video applications are not possible. Although E-Ink says that they will have a colour display shipping by late next year… it will be dimmer than the current greyscale and its response time will still be too slow for video. Want to add some colour to your reading? The wannabe competitors (like Pixel Qi, Qualcomm MEMS Technologies, Liquavista, and Kent Displays) all do colour and some of them can do video (Pixel Qi, Qualcomm, Liquavista).
PERSONALISE YOUR BLACKBERRY’S WORLD
ONLINE VOICE BANKING A voice biometric system for authorising banking transactions was launched last week. Called ‘Voice Transact’ it works on the WorldPay remote payment system and uses a vocal signature that is then matched against a patter stored on file when an account is opened. Designed to reduce fraud, the user can select the ‘cardless transaction’ option and type in their cell phone number. Effectively, the bank will call them back and ask them to repeat a random string of numbers. Once the voice pattern has been matched, the ATM will dispense the requested amount of money. 8 | CONNECT | FEBRUARY 2010
SKYPE FROM YOUR COUCH Towards the middle of the year Panasonic and LG will be releasing new Internet-enabled, high-definition televisions featuring Skype voice and video calling, allowing you to chat with loved ones from the comfort of your recliner. Both LG and Panasonic plan to offer specially designed HD webcams, along with the HD televisions, intended to pick up sound and video from couch-distance. Skype calls are free as the standard telephone network is bypassed by providing voice and video calls over the Internet.
Blackberry App World is now available to South African users, and brings together a diverse mix of free personal and business applications for users to discover by download.Downloadable by visiting www. blackberry.com/za/appworld from your handset and you will automatically be supplied with a relevant list of applications available for your specific BlackBerry smartphone model. BlackBerry App World is available for BlackBerry handsets that include a trackball, touchsensitive trackpad or touch-screen running BlackBerry OS version 4.2 or higher and requires an active Blackberry service plan.
techno jargon // BY DEON DU PLESSIS
TECH JARGON JARGON ISN’T FUN WHEN YOU’RE NOT PART OF THE INNER CIRCLE OF GEEKDOM... DEON DU PLESSIS PUTS HIS INNER CIRCLE MEMBERSHIP AT RISK BY DEMYSTIFYING SOME OF THE TERMINOLOGY FOUND IN THIS MONTH’S MAGAZINE.
10 | CONNECT | FEBRUARY 2010
SATELLITE SPEAKERS- This refers to the smaller speakers that form part of any multi-speaker setup. They’re called satellites because, like spacebound satellites that orbit around far bigger objects, these speakers are always attached to larger subwoofer speakers, and seem to orbit around them. GEFORCE- In a tech context, GeForce is the brand name of a company called NVidia’s graphics card range. It denotes speed and acceleration, which is apt as another word for a graphics card is ‘3D accelerator’ since its sole function is to make 3D graphics go faster. The GeForce range of cards is rather large, with the current crop having the additional moniker of GT230/250/260/280/295. The higher that last number, the faster the card. RADEON- ATI is the company that competes directly with NVidia in the graphics card/3D accelerator market. Their graphics cards are branded with the “Radeon” name, and the current generation is referred to as the HD5000-series. In terms of performance, NVidia and ATI are pretty much neck-and-neck, but it could be argued that Radeon cards offer superior overall image quality. ON-BOARD GRAPHICSSome computers have the graphics chip integrated onto the motherboard, which is regerred to as onboard graphics; while this saves on overall costs, the performance of these on-board graphics chips for games is dismal. All they really do is output 2D visual data to a monitor, allowing the user to see the Windows graphical user interface and interact with the computer. They also tend to use system RAM as their video memory, which takes away from memory that could be used to run your programs, resulting in lower overall system performance. DISCRETE GRAPHICS- Any add-on graphics card that needs to be physically installed into a computer can be called a ‘discrete graphics solution’. These are far better than their on-board siblings, as they are dedicated to producing graphics and have their own graphics processors and video memory with which to do that. DEDICATED VIDEO MEMORYThis is memory that is physically located on a graphics card, which is used to store graphics data that can be
passed to the graphics processor - also on the card - for extremely quick processing. ‘Dedicated’ means that all memory in question is designated for the video card only, and will not be used for any other application. Video memory is necessary to store data like textures, shapes, programs and other things necessary to create the visuals you see in games. DUAL-CORE- Fifteen years ago, a computer’s processor had only one core, meaning it was a single processor, on its own, doing all the work. Dual-core processors came along in the early 21st Century, providing an additional core all wrapped up in a single processor package. These new ‘dual-core’ processors delivered up to twice the power of a single processor, at a very competitive price point. QUAD-CORE- In the mid-2000s, four-core processors hit the market with four times the power of a single processor. Theoretically, anyway – it took a few more years for software to catch up with the power of two and four-core processors, and even today, not all software is programmed to take advantage of more than two cores due to the complexities involved. Four-core processors are currently very popular in high-end home computers and servers. LITHIUM-ION BATTERY- This is a type of rechargeable battery in which the positive electrode contains Lithium. It’s often abbreviated as “Li-ion’; not all Li-ion rechargeable batteries are exactly the same, however, and the term refers to a technology rather than a particular battery with set performance, cost and safety characteristics. MACRO PHOTOGRAPHYYou’ll notice many cameras have ‘macro’ as a scene mode. This means the ability to take clear close-up photographs of any chosen subject; often the distances involved are mere centimetres, allowing for the creation of truly spectacular images. Insects are very popular subjects of macro photography, as their appearance is fascinating to behold up-close. HP VIVERA INK- This is the name for HP’s proprietary inks that have been designed to not only make printed photographs mirror their real-life colours perfectly, but also to be fade-resistant. Photos printed
using Vivera Inks can last up to 108 years, if proper care is taken to preserve them. OPTICAL ZOOM- This is the magnification of objects by the physical lens of a camera, and is a far better indicator of actual zoom performance than digital zoom. Digital zoom is, essentially, cheating, as it uses electronics to artificially enlarge the images captured by the camera, whereas optical zoom is a physical process performed by the camera’s lens. A high optical zoom rating means the overall quality of the camera’s zoomedin imagery will be excellent. MINIDVD- These miniscule discs are 8cm in diameter, and they fit into the inner circle of DVD player trays and DVD drives. They work just like regular DVDs in terms of how they store data; they just store far less information. Their compact size makes them ideal for direct-to-DVD video recorders, and it’s very useful to be able to put them directly into DVD players the second they have been finalised in the camcorder. RAW IMAGE FORMAT- This is information about a captured photographic image in its rawest format (pun intended), before the image has been processed in any way to make it printable. The RAW format is to digital images what a negative is to old-school photographs – it contains all the data necessary to put the picture together, but it is not a usable picture in and of itself. It is so useful because the RAW data contains absolutely everything about the conditions of the shot, and may contain more colour data than is eventually on display once the image has been processed. This gives perfectionist photographers more data to work with, but producing the final image requires an additional step, i.e. the actual processing which is then done by the photographer, on a computer, to his or her own standards. ISO SENSITIVITY- This is a measurement of a camera’s sensitivity to light, and the higher the number, the more sensitive the camera. Light sensitivity is good, as it means better shots in darker environments. With high light sensitivity, the camera’s shutter needs to be open for less time in order to capture the scene the camera is pointing at, giving it the added capability of capturing high-speed scenes clearly, with no motion blur.
WWW.CONNECT.CO.ZA | 11
keyboard buying guide // BY DEON DU PLESSIS
essentials Wired, wireless, ergonomic, flat? Modern keyboards can be all these and more, making the process of buying a new one a little challenging. In this buyerâ€™s guide, we look at the available options with an eye towards making your next keyboard purchase a painless one.
WIRED VS WIRELESS
The only question that needs answering here is ‘Do you want another cable on your computer desk?’ If you don’t mind another cable, great, go for a wired keyboard as they are generally more affordable. If you hate wires, there are plenty of wireless keyboards to choose from. Your only concern from here is the size of the USB dongle that accompanies all wireless keyboards. There is no discernable performance difference between a keyboard with a large dongle and one with a small one, it’s really just a matter of convenience – smaller dongles can be left in USB ports indefinitely and tucked into the keyboard when travelling, whereas larger ones are clumsier and can be bumped easily which can potentially damage the USB port.
OUR RECOMMENDATION: A wireless keyboard with a small dongle is the neatest option. Microsoft’s Wireless Desktop 3000 has a mini USB dongle, making it a good choice.
OUR RECOMMENDATION: Go curved, it offers the best of both worlds (comfort and familiarity). Logitech’s Wireless Keyboard K350 is curved, comfortable and nicely laid out.
This is the most important consideration when buying a new keyboard – is it comfortable to use for hours on end? You have three options here – curved, straight or ‘ergonomic’. Ergonomic (or ‘natural’) keyboards are curved with their keys separated into two halves to accommodate the natural pose your arms and hands rest in when placed on a desk. This reduces long-term strain on your hands and wrists. Straightedged keyboards are the design you’re probably most familiar with, and they offer no real advantages beyond their familiarity. Curved keyboards offer a higher degree of comfort than straight-edged keyboards as the key layout is slightly curved; this is a nod towards the natural layout of ergonomic keyboards, without actually separating the keys into two individual halves.
TO LIGHT OR NOT TO LIGHT
If you’re feeling flush, we highly recommend a keyboard with back-lit keys. This is nothing more than a light underneath the keyboard that makes each key light up in the dark, but it is very useful when typing in poorly-lit rooms. It’s usually found in more expensive keyboards, but it’s well worth the expenditure if you find yourself in the dark a lot.
OUR RECOMMENDATION: Keys that light up the darkness rule! Logitech’s Illuminated Keyboard is an excellent choice for a backlit, yet subtle keyboard.
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keyboard buying guide
Some keyboards have large Enter buttons, small Backspace keys, and worst of all, one or more tiny Shift keys. If you’re used to Microsoft keyboards, for example, such changes may not appeal. We urge you to closely examine the keyboard layouts of prospective purchases to find out whether the new keyboard has old keys in new positions, or sized differently to what you’re used to.
OUR RECOMMENDATION: We really like Microsoft’s tried-and-tested keyboard layout with its large \ key, wide Backspace key, slender Enter key, the / key positioned to the left of the Right Shift key, and two full-sized Shift keys. Microsoft’s Wireless Keyboard 6000 is a great example of this finger-perfect layout.
SPECIAL FUNCTION KEYS
Modern keyboards can handle many functions on top of their regular duties. New buttons include controls for your media, dedicated volume knobs, and even shortcuts for popular office productivity applications. The question here is, do you want these functions, and if so, would you prefer them to be included as alternate functions of existing keys, or separate from your F1 through F12 keys? OUR RECOMMENDATION: Keep ‘em separate. Alternatives to Function keys are, in our opinion, the better way to go.Take a look at the DiNovo Edge keyboard from Logitech, doesn’t that look just so much neater?
14 | CONNECT | FEBRUARY 2010
accessible apps //BY TIANA CLINE
No matter if you use a PC or a Mac, you’ll come across those small, extra applications that adorn your desktop or dashboard. If you’re already using iGoogle or even Facebook, you’ll already understand the convenience of having all the information you need on one, fully accessible screen. Less of a frill and more of a functional feature, in this issue Connect looks at the workings of Widgets and Gadgets.
WIDGETS & GADGETS 16 | CONNECT | FEBRUARY 2010
WHAT ARE WIDGETS?
If you use an Apple computer, you’ll know the term “widget”. And if you are using a PC, they’re called gadgets. Either way, these are stand-alone applications designed to run on your computer, on the Internet and on mobile phones. These miniature programs are downloadable applications that span across many genres, be it business, gaming or utilities. And no matter what you choose to download, it’s all about enhancing your computer’s interface or web environment. Want to know the weather? You could download a widget that reports today’s weather by accessing data from www.weather.com and this would appear on your desktop, dashboard or mobile phone, updating when you connect to the Internet. Widgets and gadgets are all about customising the content you crave and placing it, in the form of applications, in one accessible place.
Do you have something you need to jot down that you don’t want anyone else to see? Use the Secret Notepad that will require your unlock-key (password) to edit and view the text. Language Translator
If you’re linguistically curious, this is great tool that translates any text between 41 different languages using Google’s language translation service. It can even detect the source language. iStat
The first download for any new or existing Mac user. iStat is for checking all of your system resources such as CPU, memory, hard drive, battery, fans etc. Very useful!
HOW TO ADD WIDGETS TO THE DASHBOARD DO IT ON YOUR DASHBOARD
Dashboard is a feature of Mac OS X, Apple’s operating system. With Dashboard you get many “widgets” that have a wide variety of uses, such as checking share prices, finding local or global weather information, looking up words in the dictionary, and so on. Widgets speed up many everyday tasks. Dashboard comes with many widgets already installed, but you can download additional widgets if you’re connected to the Internet. Some widgets are linked to larger applications, with the Address Book widget, for example, allowing you to search for a contact without opening the full Address Book application. Other widgets, such as Weather, provide web-based information without opening a web browser. TIP: To see Dashboard and the widgets, press the F12 key. Press it again to hide Dashboard.
> Press the F12 key to open Dashboard. > To view the widget bar, click the Open (+) button at the lower-left corner of the screen. > Use the arrow buttons on the bar to see all the widgets. > Click any widget in the bar to add it to the dashboard. > You can leave widgets open or click their Close (x) buttons when you’re done using them. > If you don’t see a Close (x) button, press the Option key and move the pointer over the widget you want to close. > To reposition widgets, drag them around. > Click the Close (x) button to close the widget bar, and click the desktop to close Dashboard. WWW.CONNECT.CO.ZA | 17
3 WONDERFUL WIDGETS
accessible apps HOW TO UNINSTALL A GADGET:
> Right-click the desktop, and then click Gadgets. > Right-click a gadget, and then click Uninstall. TO ADD A GADGET TO THE DESKTOP
> Right-click the desktop, and then click Gadgets. > Double-click a gadget to add it to the desktop. TO REMOVE A GADGET FROM THE DESKTOP
> Right-click the gadget you want to remove, and then click Close gadget.
For PC users, Gadgets, like Widgets, are mini programs that give you information at a glance – they also provide access to frequently used tools. Windows Sidebar (a pane on the side of the Microsoft Windows Vista desktop where you can keep your gadgets organised and always available) helps you to arrange your gadgets. You can customise the Windows Sidebar to suit your preferred location — always on top or resting below maximised windows. Like the Mac Dashboard, Windows Gadgets have a variety of possible uses. They can connect to web services to deliver business data, weather information, news updates, traffic maps, Internet radio streams, and even slide shows of online photo albums. Gadgets can also integrate with other programs to provide streamlined interaction. Windows comes with an essential set of gadgets to get you started, like Calendar, Clock, Feed Headlines, Slide Show and Picture Puzzle, but you can also download more. To get more gadgets that meet your needs, visit the Windows Gadget Gallery. Here, you can customise desktop gadgets by changing their settings, resizing them, keeping them on top of other windows, moving them anywhere on the desktop, and making other changes. You can find more gadgets on the Windows website.
A small, customisable gadget that gives you a heads-up display of your system’s internal readings. This includes CPU, RAM, IP, Battery, Wi-Fi and time monitor - network tools in separate tab.
3 GREAT GADGETS
GO GO GADGET
With this gadget you can View your current playing track from Windows Media Player, iTunes, Winamp, foobar, Quintessential Media Player, mediamonkey or Audioscrobbler as CD art or as text only using either the local album name or one obtained from a web database. This gadget shows album art for the song currently being played in your media player and including a lot of skins. Simple Search Bar
As the name implies, this search gadget is truly the most simple and clean search gadget out there that lets you search the web using Google, Yahoo and Live Search.
18 | CONNECT | FEBRUARY 2010
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calendars //BY TAMARYN WATKINS
BRING ORDER TO YOUR DIARY TIME MANAGEMENT TIPS
20 | CONNECT | FEBRUARY 2010
THE INSIDE SKINNY ON THE TOP 3 HELPFUL CALENDARS
Keep your work, relationship, social and personal life organised and running like clockwork using a simple calendar application to effortlessly manage every detail of your life.
Juggling a job, a relationship, a family and a social life can be a little hectic at times. You generally try keeping everything written down and carry your page-a-day diary with you everywhere, but sometimes events, birthdays and important meetings slip through the cracks. Ditch the paper diary, save some trees and hook yourself up with a calendar application that manages every aspect of your life, all on your computer. Access your calendar from anywhere or share it with your spouse and loved ones, create events and invite people to them, and sync your calendar with your phone thereby ensuring you have your agenda with you, always. More simple than you can imagine, Connect will show you how to use calendars and take the effort out of being a compulsive networker and serial socialiser. PROGRAM YOUR CALENDAR
Windows users are probably already conversant with Microsoft Outlook for e-mail management, but might not be aware that Microsoft Outlook contains a powerful time-management tool in the form of Outlook Calendar. There’s no need for Mac fans to download an application, as iCal contains everything you’ll need. Let’s have a quick glance at both of these programs.
1. GOOGLE CALENDAR http://www.google.com/calendar This is a web-based calendar that allows you to share your schedule with family, friends and co-workers as well as viewing their schedules in return. You can get your calendar on your phone, either by syncing your phone to your computer or with a mobile app, giving you access to your agenda on the move. Customisable messages keep you on schedule and you can choose to be notified by email or by text message. You can send event invitations and track RSVPs and sync this calendar with other desktop applications like Microsoft Outlook, Apple iCal and Mozilla Sunbird. 2. RAINLENDAR http://www.rainlendar.net Rainlendar is a desktop application, with a highly customisable look and feel. You can view multiple months simultaneously and can edit or view multiple calendars (eg: school, business, sport and TV schedules). Rainlendar allows you to import and export events to and from other applications and is compatible with iCal and Microsoft Outlook. This application creates separate to-do lists to complement your schedule, allowing you to micro-manage tasks, create recurring events/tasks and an alarm notifies you of all the important things. 3. MOZILLA SUNBIRD This desktop application is a standalone project from the makers of the popular Firefox browser and is a work in progress. As such, updates and new features are frequently added. This calendar application could be very handy for workgroups using webDAV technology. It allows you to view calendars weekly, multi-weekly and monthly and assists in event planning and task management.
WWW.CONNECT.CO.ZA | 21
A SUNNIER MICROSOFT OUTLOOK
The 20 version is 07 a standalon vailable as a e, or as pa rt of Microsoft Outlook pa the cka and the 20 10 version ge will available s ome time be after June 2010 .
This email and calendar application has Microsoft Exchange server support, email integration, Windows Mobile syncing, and great collaboration tools, making it plain to see that Outlook really earns its place as a killer desktop calendar. Be as OCD about organisation as you like: Adding categories and labels to calendar events is simple. Once you’ve created a new calendar event, on the Appointments tab select Categories/Labels. Add as many categories/labels as you like with the Add to List function and click OK to save. You can customise labels by assigning them specific colours, making it visually easier to cross-reference and track your calendar and task lists by colour. Share your calendar: With the Calendar open, under the Navigation Pane click Share My Calendar. To grant anyone access in the Name box click Default. Under Permissions, in the Permission Level list, click the permission level that you want. You can create custom permissions by selecting the check boxes and options under Permissions.
You can view a day, week, or month at once. With Calendar you can: SCHEDULE MEETINGS: In the Calendar on the Actions menu click Plan a Meeting. Then click Add Others or Add Contacts From Address Book. Once that’s done you can click a time when all invitees are available or even use AutoPick Next to find the next available free time for all invitees. Click Make Meeting and in the subject box type a description for your meeting. If you want to make the meeting a regular thing, select Recurrence and then select the recurring pattern.
YOU CAN ALSO: make changes to a meeting request you have sent, schedule conferencing rooms and other resources, see and share multiple calendars, automatically process requests and responses, set reminders for meetings as far in advance as you’d like.
SET ANNUAL REMINDERS FOR BIRTHDAYS AND ANNIVERSARIES: Use the Details Tab, under any specific contact, and enter information for the birthday or anniversary that applies to that person. An all day event will be created for the relevant date and you will be notified as you’ve requested. To create an annual reminder without starting with an Outlook contact, right-click any day on your calendar, select Recurring Event on the shortcut menu and follow the prompts.
CALENDARS IN A SNAP WITH ICAL
iCal is a simple, easy-to-use program that comes standard from Apple. It’s divided into two panes, the calendar and a to-do list. Here’s a quick howto to get you cracking: Schedule meetings: Making a new event is as easy as doubling-clicking on the day you want to make the event, edit the time, add attendees and make notes and set an alarm to remind you of the meetings and any other events you need to attend. Create a note on your To Do list: Simply double-click in the to do list and add information about your task. You can change the priority levels in order to make sure your time is being utilised best. Set annual reminders for birthdays and anniversaries: double-click the date and add all the relevant information, and select how you want to be notified. Share your calendar: iCal’s calendars are printfriendly or you can share your calendar online at http://icalshare.com and send recipients your calendar URL to view. iCal is also compatible with Google Calendar, making it easier to share planning with others. 22 | CONNECT | FEBRUARY 2010
Mobile synchronicity Sync the calendar on your computer, with the calendar on your phone, share information, reminders and other events and ensure that you have access to all your planners and agendas, wherever you are. MAC –MOBILEME: (http://www.apple.com/mobileme) Use this to sync your email, contacts and calendar events with all of your devices. Keep your iPhone, Mac and PC in perfect sync, without having to dock. MAC/WINDOWS – GCAL MOBILE VERSION: (go to http://m.google.com/calendar on your phone) Use this to keep on track with your Calendar on your phone, without having to sync your phone with your computer and easily stay in the loop by setting up mobile phone notifications. multi-weekly and monthly and assists in event planning and task management.
learning windows 7 //BY DEON DU PLESSIS
17 handy Windows shortTcNuOTtsKNOW
Windows 7 launched internationally in October last year, and we’re very excited about the direction Microsoft has taken with its new operating system. To help the thousands of people who’ve already grabbed a copy of this awesome new release, we thought we’d go through a few of the operating system’s lesser-known, but very handy keyboard shortcuts.
1 WINDOW SNAPPING
Click and drag any window to the sides or top of your screen and watch the window automatically resize itself. Dragging to the left or right snaps the window into place on that side of the screen, but at half its width; this is excellent for positioning windows sideby-side. Pressing the Windows key and the up, left and right arrows does the same. 2 MINIMISING WINDOWS THE EASY WAY
Click on the title bar of the window containing your application and hold the mouse button down. Now, when you vigorously shake your mouse back and forth, all other application windows will be minimised. Repeat to maximise. 24 | CONNECT | FEBRUARY 2010
3 3D APPLICATION SWITCHING
Hold down the Windows key and press Tab. This brings up a screen containing all your open windows in three dimensions. Keep holding the Windows key and press Tab or scroll your mouse wheel to switch between them. Press Control, Windows key and Tab to open this same view, but that remains on-screen if you release the keys.
4 PINNING PROGRAMS TO THE TASK BAR
Right click on any program shortcut or .EXE and select “Pin to task bar”. This creates a permanent shortcut to the application on the task bar, next to the Start button. 5 TASK BAR SHORTCUT SHORTCUT
Press the Windows key and any of the number keys 1 – 0 to launch the corresponding shortcuts on the task bar.
13 CLOSE THE OPEN APPLICATION
This is a common shortcut from previous versions of Windows, but that many people aren’t aware of. By pressing Alt and F4, you’ll end the program you’re looking at – it is a shortcut to the Exit command. 14 CYCLE THROUGH PROGRAMS ON THE TASK BAR
By pressing the Windows Key and T, you can cycle through each of the applications open on the task bar.
6 MAKE ALL WINDOWS TRANSPARENT
Press the Windows key and the spacebar to reveal the desktop by making all your windows transparent. 7 MINIMISE ALL WINDOWS BUT THE ONE YOU’RE WORKING IN
Press the Windows key and Home to minimise all other windows except for the open one. 8 MOVE UP A LEVEL
Press Alt and the Up arrow at the same time to move up one level in Windows Explorer. If you’re in the Pictures folder, for example, and you press Alt and Up, you’ll go to the Libraries folder. 9 MOVE BACK ONE PAGE
Press the Backspace key to go back to the last window you looked at. This works in both Windows Explorer and Internet Explorer. Alternatively, use Alt and the left and right arrows to go Back and Forward respectively. 10 RIGHT CLICK USING THE KEYBOARD
To the right of your space bar, between the Alt and Ctrl buttons, is the right-click key. Press it if you’d like to open up the same menu that would open if you right clicked on the spot your cursor is occupying with your mouse. This works with all Windows operating systems since Windows 98.
15 WINDOWS MOBILITY
Windows Key and X opens the Windows Mobility Centre. This is a small control panel designed specifically for mobile computers that controls functions relevant to using a laptop computer on the go, or in a presentation room. 16 OPEN THE JUMP MENUS OF YOUR PINNED APPS
Open the Jump menu (the menu you’d see if you rightclicked on a taskbar icon) of any of the applications pinned to the task bar by pressing Alt, the Windows Key and the application’s corresponding number.
11 SPECIALISED WINDOW SWITCHING
If you have a lot of windows open belonging to just one application (Internet Explorer, for example), it’s possible to switch between just those windows. Press Control on your keyboard and click the application’s icon on the task bar, and each click will bring up the next window belonging to just that application.
THE WINDOWS KEY
12 CYCLE THROUGH ALL OPEN WINDOWS
17 PROJECTION MENU
Press Alt and Escape. It’s similar to pressing Alt and Tab, except it switches to the next application without giving you a visual indicator.
To choose how you’d like to output your video signal, press Windows Key and P. This is very useful when you need to connect to a projector quickly. WWW.CONNECT.CO.ZA | 25
internet search //BY JOHANN BARNARD
FIND YOUR WAY The information superhighway, as the Internet was dubbed in its early days, is exactly that and can lead you on a circuitous, unsatisfying journey unless you know which on-ramps and offramps to take. We haul out our handy Internet GPS system, comprising the most useful search engines and services, to help you correctly plot your route to your destination.
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Everyday Essentials WEATHER
To see the weather for many local and worldwide cities: type ‘weather’ followed by the city and country. TIME
To see the time in many cities around the world: type in ‘time’ and the name of the city.
Reference Tools CALCULATOR
To use Google’s built-in calculator function, simply enter the calculation you’d like done into the search box. For example: 5*9+(sqrt 10)^3= UNIT CONVERSION
oogle is the undisputed king of Internet search and therefore dominates this exploration of tools that add value to your Internet experience. It is not the only resource, however, and we delve into other useful and specialised services that will enrich and speed up your search queries. GOOGLE IT!
Seldom has a noun been converted into a verb as quickly as Google has assumed mainstream usage. Using unique mathematical algorithms to rank the searches that best match your request, www.google. com is an invaluable tool and starting point. The strength of this search service is that you are able to quickly access anything from general information, through to the time or weather anywhere on the globe, do unit conversions, check word spelling and definitions and even translate text. These search entries can be entered directly into the Google search bar in your web browser or on the Google website, so you don’t have to go looking for that specific function before entering your query. Google has become even more South Africafriendly in the past year or so, with content automatically ranking local sites and information higher when the search is entered into the www. google.co.za domain. This localisation of data is a tremendous help as we no longer have to sift through irrelevant results that apply to other countries and regions.
You can use Google to convert between many different units of measurement of height, weight, and volume: enter your desired conversion into the search box and Google does the rest. DICTIONARY DEFINITIONS
To see a definition for a word or phrase, simply type ‘define:’ followed by your search query. SPELL CHECKER
Google’s spell checking software automatically checks whether your query uses the most common spelling of a given word. If it thinks you’re likely to generate better results with an alternative spelling, it will ask “Did you mean: (more common spelling)?”. You can then click the suggested spelling to launch a search using that spelling. CURRENCY CONVERSION
Quickly and simply do a currency conversion by entering the conversion you’d like done into the Google search box. For example: 29 USD in ZAR – which in English means convert the value of $29 into Rand.
WWW.CONNECT.CO.ZA | 27
DEFINITIVE VS GENERAL Another public service launched last year that takes a slightly different approach to the concept of search is Wolfram Alpha – found at www.wolframalpha.com – which styles itself as a computational knowledge engine. This powerful service draws on nearly 30 years of providing mathematical and computational software to the maths and science fraternities, with this expertise now directed at making public information accessible and computable. The vast array of information that can be search and accessed include everything from mathematical calculations, data analysis, quantum and nuclear physics through to metallurgy, geology life sciences. Less scientific data such as people and events related to a specific date, current and historical weather for a region, unit conversions and many many more subjects are open for interrogation and exploration. Wolfram Alpha is not relevant or applicable to everyone, but is a resource in which it is easy to become totally absorbed as it would seem no question or query will remain unanswered.
No discussion on the art of sifting through reams of data on the Internet can be complete without mentioning Wikipedia – the free online encyclopedia. This service has sprung to prominence over the past number of years, having been launched as far back as 2001. The service is based on the concept of providing a free resource for all users, with the database of information provided common users and moderated by experts in the respective fields. While it is undoubtedly a good reference point that provides more than 14 million articles in hundreds of languages, it shouldn’t be considered a definitive source for all subjects. Moderators indicate in the articles whether they are sufficiently referenced and credible. The value is that most articles reference the sources so you can easily see the origins and other related articles and web pages.
Google Maps is another service that has received a localisation upgrade in the past year, with the company launching maps.google.co.za. This means that finding local addresses, businesses or landmarks is now far more accessible and intuitive. This service can be accessed by entering the desired address, or business service and suburb, into the Google search bar or by navigating to the Google Maps address listed above. In either event, the results will bring up a listing of entries that match your query, with a mini map showing an overview of where the search result is located. Clicking on the map tags indicating where the different results are located, will then launch Google Maps, while the website related to the search result launching if you click on the text related to the search query. Business queries are returned with contact details, as well as the ability to write a review on a business or
service provider. Other useful options that are now available to South African users include the ability to get directions to or from the destination, and also looking for other services or locations located nearby. So if you are looking for a pizza outlet in Greenside Johannesburg, for example, but discover that it is closed you can easily find alternative stores in the vicinity by using the ‘Search nearby’ option. Another boon for local users is that Google Maps will be launching its Street View service of major cities by the middle of this year. This revolutionary service provides a 3-D view as if you are physically in that location. This is achieved by compositing millions of photos captured by its specially-rigged cars that are currently traversing the streets of cities and suburbs in South Africa. This will bring unprecedented access to local and international visitors who will be able to view locations as if physically there.
NEW, OLD KID ON THE BLOCK
Microsoft launched its revamped search service, Bing, last year and is growing in popularity and use. By all accounts it still has a long way to match Google’s breadth of sources and services, but is a useful tool for Microsoft users as it integrates well with Microsoft’s MSN and Hotmail services.
The Google Book Project is a demonstration of the value that Google brings to users throughout the world by making available full-text versions of more than seven million books. A recent settlement with book publishers will broaden the number of books made available in the coming years. Simply navigate to books. google.co.za and enter the
name of the author, book, magazine or story you are looking for. You can search fiction, non-fiction and specific subject categories, and in many cases read the publication on-screen. Whether you wish to read Gulliver’s Travels or the November 10, 1958 copy of Life magazine, it is mostly there for your reading pleasure.
28 | CONNECT | FEBRUARY 2010
WHAT YOU NEED You HAVE:
You will NEED:
N150 Enhanced Wireless Router N+ Wireless Router
FEATURES: 4 Ethernet ports for reliable high-speed wired connections Easy Setup Assistant and troubleshooting with Network Status Display Security options include Wi-Fi Protected Setup, WPA/WPA2, and 64-bit and 128-bit WEP encryption Network Status Display Lifetime Warranty
FEATURES: USB Storage Port for easily connecting USB Hard drives to your network Gigabit ethernet ports for reliabel high speed wired connections Download speedometer bar that measures the download speed of your network Push Button Security (Wi-Fi Protected Security) Lifetime Warranty
Wireless G Universal Range Extender
FEATURES: Lets users share files and an internet connection amoungst computers without using networking cables Features 802.11g technology that makes accessing files, hard drives and printers easier than ever Networking speeds five times faster than the current Wi-Fi standard Lifetime Warranty F5D7132
Wireless N+ USB Adapter FEATURES: A Wi-Fi Protected Setup Push Button is included on the Adapter Desktop Stand for convenient placement Wireless Networking Utility software included Lifetime Warranty F5D8055
N150 Enhanced Wireless USB Network Adapter FEATURES: USB 2.0 connection for desktop or laptop computers Protective cap for USB connection Wireless Networking Utility Software Lifetime Warranty F6D4050
For more information and our products visit www.belkin.com All of these products carry a lifetime warranty.
PC00321 - Belkin Connect advert 1 1
2009/12/11 03:06:30 PM
online job-hunting //BY TAMARYN WATKINS
When one office door closes, you need to find another one to open and walk through, and fast. While the perfect job isn’t exactly going to land in your lap, there are a few things you can do to make the search easier and the Internet is where it’s at. Connect looks at where you should be job-hunting, what you should be doing with your résumé and how to extend your online professional presence to secure the ideal job. WEBSITE SAVVY
NET VACANCY! FIND THE PERFECT JOB ONLINE
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There are a number of websites out there, all dedicated to helping potential employers and employees find each other. We took a look at a few, and picked some to recommend for your use. • Career Web: (www.careerweb.co.za) Specialising in the ICT sector, find IT, engineering and financial jobs. Signing up is easy and completed in a few steps, merely select to register as a job-seeker. First, fill in personal information, then add skills to your CV, detail your educational history and select which employment options should show along with your CV. Set options like notice periods and means of being notified of opportunities. Once you’ve registered, you can search jobs by location and category, and email in response to any placements you might be interested in. • Career Junction: (www.careerjunction.co.za) search thousands of fresh jobs online, and find jobs by sector and location. Build your Resume4Life in less than 10 minutes and be notified of job opportunities that match your CV. Find out who’s hiring, set up job alerts and track your job applications. Must be a member to search or apply for jobs.
• Biz Community: Use (www.bizcommunity.com) to find marketing and media jobs that are updated daily. Browse by category and location, and apply by e-mail for jobs you think you’d be suited to. You don’t have to be a member to search jobs. • Pnet.co.za: (www.pnet.co.za) One of the only sites to offer truly practical career-oriented advice like how to answer the most dreaded interview questions, how to write the perfect cover letter for every job scenario and deals with your rights and obligations under labour law. Register as a user, find out which companies are hiring, search for jobs by industry and location and create job alerts. • Job Mail: (www.jobmail.co.za) Find jobs across every industry sector and in all locations, search current vacancies and apply for them online, and because recruiters offer positions free for immediate response, you’re more than likely to be head-hunted here.
Résumés: USING ONLINE RESOURCES TO CREATE THE PERFECT CV
Once you’ve found some potential jobs on the Internet, you’ll need to apply for them. To do so you’ll need a résumé and a covering letter. It’s easy to create a professional CV and covering letter using the right online tools. Résumé templates are available for Microsoft Word, taking the guesswork out of formatting and content. All you need do is open File | New Document and scroll down through the template options and select Résumés and CVs. If you can’t find a template you like there, merely choose to search the Microsoft Office Online template gallery, which should give you hundreds of options, from job-specific templates to introductory cover letters for you to choose from and download.
LinkedIn: WHO ARE YOU ON THE NET? LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) is an online network for professionals. Use it to build relationships, meet new contacts, market yourself and find a new job if you need one. Before you connect with others, you’ll
need to register and spend a bit of time creating a compelling profile. While your page will detail your work history, don’t assume you can copy and paste your resume and be done with it. Your profile page should reflect your professional interests, passions, and ambitions. The site will walk you through filling in the blanks, but you’ll want to think ahead about two areas: first, defining yourself and secondly, what you’ve achieved and what you’d like to achieve. Define yourself through a few words that will appear as a sub-heading under your name. Choose carefully, as this is the first thing potential employers and networkers will see. When discussing your achievements, don’t merely list your past experiences, instead talk about what you’re passionate about, and what you learnt from each job. The next step is to build your network. LinkedIn will allow you to search for people you know to see if they’re already members and once you connect to someone, you can also look at the profiles of anyone they know, and in turn anyone those people know, and that’s how your network can grow exponentially. Once you’re connected, it’s time to put that network to use. There are three main things your network can do for you: answer business-related questions, make recommendations and introductions, and provide company information. Searching for jobs using LinkedIn is easy. Search rch by location, industry, job level and function and view results from hundreds of job vacancies as posted by other LinkedIn members. Apply for jobs in just a few minutes through the site, no CV required and introduce yourself to potential employers through common connections. Get satisfied clients or colleagues to write recommendations to really help your profile stand out from the rest, showing you’re reliable and a potential valuable asset. LinkedIn also gives you vital statistical information, showing you when your profile turns up in search results and how many times your profile has been viewed. Once you’ve found an ideal vacancy, one of the h cinchers is usually remuneration. But how do you check that, or get an idea of what you should be earning in that position, when potential employers are so reluctant to talk money in the interview? Use an online salary checker, and it couldn’t be easier. With a little bit of time and effort spent polishing up the old CV, searching useful online job classifieds and some serious networking, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be well on your way to finding the perfect job.
LinkedIn profile checklist Make sure you include: 1. A solid headline with keywords relevant to your industry. 2. A picture so potential employers can be sure you’re a real person. 3. How you prefer to be contacted — through LinkedIn, by e-mail, or over the phone. 4. What you want to be contacted about - you can select interests like reference requests, consulting offers, or career opportunities.
SALARY RY SORTERS Mywage.co.za is an online project that provides users a unique tool to check their salaries according to industry and position, as well as receive information on working conditions and pay and source informative articles on labour law.
WWW.CONNECT.CO.ZA | 31
GET THE MOST FROM YOUR HP PRINTER Most computer users don’t give their print devices a second thought, until they run dry or give up the ghost completely, in which case they need to be replaced post-haste.
is trying to change perceptions about printers and how to get the most out of them. Bottom line (and this makes perfect sense really) is that a printer is like any other team member: a happy worker is a productive worker. Here’s how, using a few simple common-sense tips and tricks, to ensuring the best results from your printer and get the most bang for your buck, by. Be practical about your printing needs: Don’t expect more from your printer than what it’s capable of delivering. Before buying a new printer, do some research into what’s out there and what will suit your needs best. Invest in a four-in-one multifunction that prints, scans, copies and faxes and make sure all your bases are covered that way.
PRINT ONLY WHAT YOU NEED: It’s tempting to press ‘print’ for just about anything, but if you don’t need to keep it, or you can keep an electronic version of the file, don’t print it. If you want to print only a portion of a page, then print just that. It’s as simple as selecting the text and selecting the ‘print selection’ setting in the print dialogue. PREVENT PRINT-HEAD CLOGS AND PAPER JAMS: Optimise your printer environment by using a humidifier, if you live in a low humidity area, to prevent the print nozzles from clogging and impacting on print quality. Prevent paper jams by ensuring the paper is loaded correctly into the input tray and that it is stacked squarely and is properly aligned. Use the correct paper for your printer.
ALLOW YOUR PRINTER TO TAKE POWER-NAPS: Most inkjet printers need to be turned off when not in use. This is because they use a shutdown routine that parks the print heads and caps them. This restricts air-flow to the heads so that they don’t dry out. Powering off when not in use also saves electricity and ensures the device doesn’t ‘burn out’. KEEP YOUR PRINTER BODY IN SHAPE: cover your printer when it’s not in use to prevent dust collecting and interfering with performance. Use a soft, dry cloth to clean it. Run the printer alignment and cartridge diagnostic test cycles regularly to make sure everything is in perfect working order. FEED YOUR PRINTER ONLY GENUINE HP CONSUMABLES: HP ink and toner cartridges are designed specifically with HP printer devices in mind, whereas generic consumables aren’t. HP consumables are designed and manufactured to deliver maximum performance at maximum quality, if used correctly. TAKE TOTAL CONTROL: Learn your printer settings and how to work everything properly, read the manual and learn how to adjust print quality settings to save on ink and toner. HP printers can be set to print in Draft, Normal and Best, with a few other lesser or higher quality options in between and make your ink or toner go much, much further. Print colour only where you need it, and when printing text documents print in black, instead of monochrome in order to save on your colour inks.
YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR While generic consumables might seem like a cost-effective solution, they’re only a shortterm, per-purchase fix. Quality HP ink and toner cartridges are worth paying for, and by using only genuine consumables, you reduce the risk of something going wrong with your printer in the long run.
DOUBLE UP: While only certain models of HP printers come with an automatic duplexing function that allows you to print on both sides of the page, all of them are capable of manual duplexing. All it requires is following the print driver’s instructions and usually involves re-inserting printed pages into the input tray, so the printer can use the other side of the page too. GET SNEAK PREVIEWS: Most programs have a ‘print preview’ function, allowing you to see how a document or photo or website is going to print, which allows you to make changes before you print, and saves you having to print something more than once because you got it wrong the first time. FIX A SMALL PROBLEM BEFORE IT BECOMES A MAJOR ONE: If something seems wrong with your printer, or it’s not printing as well as it used to, get advice on how to fix the problem and avoid it becoming an expensive disaster later on down the line. PS: CHECK YOUR POSTSCRIPT: it’s a handy printer control language that ensures that line breaks, page breaks, placement of graphics, and the like don’t change when you print on a different PostScript printer.
REVERSE TO SAVE TIME While the way laser printers print, means pages so they come out upside down (and as a result when you pick up the print stack and turn it over, the pages are in order) most inkjet printers print pages so they’re facing up. This means you have to then manually put the pages in order. Use the print settings and select the ‘reverse print’ option. The printer will then print its pages backwards, so all your pages are in order.
Prolong your printer’s lifespan by ensuring you maintain it properly. In short, take care of your printer, and your printer will take care of you.
PRODUCT REVIEWS // BY DEON DU PLESSIS
HOT ENOUGH FOR YA?
i everyone, February is the hottest month of the year, and this one is no exception! Every year in February I find myself lamenting the fact that all my lovely gadgets emit heat, as it makes staying cool in the sweltering temperatures of the South African summer while still remaining connected and switched on very, very difficult! Such is the price of my gadget-laden lifestyle, I guess! This month we review a wide range of technology, from PCs to laptops to projectors and more. Astute readers will notice not one, but two new-fangled all-inone home PCs with touch-sensitive screens in this issue, one from Acer and the other from Packard Bell. This is an interesting trend, made popular by the arrival of Windows 7, Microsoft’s latest and greatest operating system that comes with some lovely features that really let touchscreens come out and play. Expect to see even more home-friendly touchscreen PCs from other manufacturers in the coming months as the trend gains momentum. We hope you enjoy the reviews this issue; here’s hoping February passes really quickly, leaving more moderate temperatures in its wake. March, are you here yet? Until then, stay cool! Cheers, Deon While we make every effort to ensure pricing is accurate before we go to print, sometimes through circumstances we have no control over, the prices in Connect may differ from those you’ll see on store shelves. In all cases, shelf pricing takes precedence.
34 | CONNECT | FEBRUARY 2010
REVIEWS 36 37 38 39 40 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 58 59 60
Acer AAspiire Z5 Z560 6000 Packard Bell iXtreme X8211 SA Netgear DGNB2100 ADSL Router & USB Adapter Appl Ap plee Ma Macb cboo ookk 13 13” PS3 Accessories Lexmark S305 & S405 Lexm Le xmar arkk S6 S605 05 Lexmark S705 HP Phooto tosm s ar a t C4 C 68 6833 HP CP1215 Laser Printer HP OfficeJet 470WBT Acer Asppire 5542G Notebbook Packard Bell One Two 20”” Touch Canon PowerShot SX120 Digital Camera Olympus mjju550 Ol 550WP WP Watterprooff Camera Canon DC310 Camcorderr Samsung WB5000 Digitaal Camera Acer X1130 Projector Samsung SyncMaster 2233SWN Netg Ne tgea earr WG WG31 311G 1GEE Wi Wire rele leess PPCI CI AAda dappter pter Logitech ClearChat Stereeo Headset Roxio Toast 10 Titanium Books
IOMEGA® SCREENPLAYTM PRO HD MULTIMEDIA DRIVE It’s showtime! Enjoy a high-definition theatre experience with the new Iomega® ScreenPlayTM Pro HD Multimedia Drive USB 2.0/ AV/Ethernet, available in 500GB and 1TB. This multimedia player connects to your home network to store & access your videos, music and photo collections. Record video from a camera, cable box, or VCR with a one-touch record button. The ScreenPlay Pro Multimedia Drive supports native HD and is compatible with the latest media formats such as MP3, AC3 (Dolby® Digital Encoding), WAV, WMA, MPEG-1, MPEG-2 (AVI/VOB), MPEG-4 (AVI/DiVX 3.11, 4.x, 5.x, 6.x/XViD) and JPEG, plus supports USB WIFI adapter for wireless access (adapter sold separately). EMC® Retrospect® and MozyHomeTM Online backup software (2GB free) available via free download.
Iomega ® offers a suite of multimedia players to let you enjoy your media collections. ScreenPlayTM TV Link Multimedia Adapter
ScreenPlayTM HD Multimedia Player USB/AV
© 2009 Iomega Corporation. All rights reserved. Iomega, ScreenPlay and the stylized “i” logo are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Iomega Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. Certain other product names, brand names and company names maybe trademarks or designations of their respective owners. For information on iomega’s current product requirements and supprot policies, please visit www.iomega.com. Product in photos may vary slightly from product in package. Product capacities are specified in gigabytes (GB), where 1GB = 1,000,000,000 Bytes.
Acer Aspire Z5600 Q9400 PC NEED TO KNOW • 24-inch multi-touch display • Full 1080p graphics support • Windows 7 ready • Built-in Blu-Ray player R17 999.95
Microsoft Wireless Desktop 3000 For the ultimate in laziness, consider a wireless keyboard and mouse so that you can control the Z5600 without having to get up or be close to it, or in those times the remote control is out of reach.
Logitech Z4 Speakers Get an even richer sound experience with two satellite speakers and one sub-woofer.
WHEN it came to touch screens having their foundation in Windows, there was something about Vista that didn’t feel and respond exactly the way it should have. Touchscreen technology has finally found the fix with Windows 7, and this Acer Aspire Z5600 does everything right to make you want to touch it. It sports optical touchscreen technology; this means the screen control feels highly responsive and accurate. It offers two-finger multi-touch control, which allows you to zoom, scroll and rotate images with your your fingers in applications that support it. In terms of appearance, it strikes all the right aesthetic notes with its eyecatching design. Two chrome struts support the screen panel, which is encased in glossy silver-grey materials. Deep-maroon accents provide an attractive contrast. The panel itself is bright, boasting realistic colours with no sign of backlight bleed. Aside from the scrolling and panning support built into Windows 7, the majority of the Z5600’s touchscreen-specific features are cocooned in Acer’s take on the TouchPortal interface, which hides Windows 7’s bog-standard desktop beneath a pleasing wood-effect tabletop laden with icons. Featured applications include Windows’ own Touch Pack tools, like Lagoon, Globe and Collage, and here Acer has boosted this selection with some of its own applications. These include an image-sharing tool for Facebook and Flickr, a number of games, as well as basic note-taking and drawing tools, the likes of which remind us of what we’ve seen in HP’s TouchSmart systems. In terms of specifications, Acer managed to impress with an Intel Core 2 Quad Q9400 processor, 4GB of RAM and a massive 1 Terabyte hard disk. Also intended to impress is the built-in 802.11n wireless adapter, and a decent pair of stereo speakers that pump out clear sound at good levels of volume. We’d still recommend an add-in speaker set to really enhance the Z5600’s entertainment potential, though. Acer has also integrated a Blu-ray drive into the Z5600’s inner workings, turning the unit into an awesome entertainment device on which you can watch high-definition movies. If you’ve never seen a
36 | CONNECT | FEBRUARY 2010
Blu-ray movie, take our word for it that they are spectacularly detailed and far superior to DVD, making this a very appealing purchase. We were a bit disappointed by the mediocre graphics power offered by the ATI Radeon HD 4530 graphics card, though, as its middle-of-the-road performance delivered only acceptable – not fantastic – gaming. Happily, the card easily handles non-gaming graphics like Windows’ attractive Aero theme rather well, and dragging windows across the desktop proved suitably smooth. For the cynics who can’t see the usefulness of a desktop touchscreen PC when a mouse and keyboard are always on hand, the Z5600 opens up new dimensions of accessibility to those users with dexterity limitations and disabilities. Furthermore, once you’ve realised the convenience a touchscreen offers, you’ll find yourself using the included keyboard and mouse less and less. All in all, we were well impressed with the direction taken by Acer with the Z5600. It’s stylish, sexy and has all the cool entertainment-centric features necessary to make it a must-have addition to any modern household. While Apple’s iMac might still edge it out in the style stakes, it at least has a touch screen and Blu-ray player which the iMac doesn’t. Take that, Apple. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • • • • • • • • •
1920x1200dpi screen resolution Intel Core 2 Quad Q9400 processor @ 2.66GHz 4GB of DDR3 RAM 1TB Hard Drive Integrated Blu-ray drive 2 x 5W stereo speakers Acer wired keyboard and mouse, ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4530 graphics card Realtek HD Audio sound card PROS
• Easy to use, responsive touch screen • Built-in Blu-Ray player • Fantastic eye-catching design
• Graphics might disappoint hardcore gamers • Screen will need constant cleaning due to fingerprints
PACKARD BELL IMEDIA D5311
Packard Bell IXTREME X8211 SA Gaming PC NEED TO KNOW • Complete gaming PC • Includes a Viseo widescreen 23” monitor • Keyboard and mouse included • Runs Windows 7 Home Premium R9 999.95
LOOKING for a family PC can be a rather daunting task. You have the choice to build it yourself, ask a friend to build it for you or pick parts from a list and get a shop to do it for you. The last choice, and arguably the best one, is to buy a complete PC from a reputable retailer so that you have the peace of mind that comes from knowing exactly where to take it should you require future upgrades, troubleshooting or repairs. With this in mind, Packard Bell’s IXTREME X8211 is the kind of storebought PC that fulfils that last criteria. It’s also complete, so you don’t have to buy a monitor, keyboard and mouse, it’s priced really well for what you’re getting, and it has the kind of looks that will raise the eyebrows of friends and relatives when they come to visit. More importantly, it’s packed with powerful components that will ensure your Windows experience is a smooth and responsive one. Anyone who has used an old computer and spent more time waiting for it to respond than anything else will know just how frustrating it can be when performance is less than stellar. Fortunately, the X8211 does not, and will not suffer from this affliction thanks to a very fast, four-core Intel Core 2 Quad processor that was designed to chew through any task you care to throw at it. Just as crucial is the amount of available system RAM, as more memory means better and faster handling of programs as well as determining the time that Windows 7 Home Premium takes to load. With 4GB of RAM, the X8211 is a very fast performer indeed. It’s not just Windows that performs well; the X8211 is well-suited to gaming due to the graphics card Packard Bell has included – NVIDIA’s GeForce GT230. In addition to having 1.5GB of its own dedicated video memory, it’s a respectably quick card that will be able to run most games at the 23” screen’s native resolution of 1920x1080 without any need to lower the overall detail. It battles a bit on the most recent titles, but it’s nothing a bit of tweaking of the games’ settings can’t solve. Throw in a full Terabyte (1000 gigabytes) of storage space, easily accessible USB ports and
If you’d prefer to start off smaller, the iMedia D5311 is a great alternative. It comes with a 19” screen, 2GB of RAM, a dual-core processor and a 320GB hard drive.
audio jacks found on the top of the case and a writeable DVD drive, and it becomes apparent just how capable the X8211 is. We weren’t overly fond of the keyboard and mouse included in the package as they felt a wee bit cheap, but that problem is easily overcome with a more solid-feeling set from Microsoft or Logitech. Microsoft Works 9, the smaller brother of the Office suite, is also included. Looks-wise, we couldn’t fault it – the case’s polished black plastic makes the PC look just like a brand-name PC should, and, that, coupled with the black of the screen, keyboard and mouse makes the whole package look polished and professional when resting on a desk. This PC is offering a lot of value for your money: great performance, awesome looks, and peace of mind. If you’re on the lookout for a family PC, it’s an excellent choice. ACER VERITON X270
NOTEWORTHY SPECS • • • • • • • • • • • •
Intel Core 2 Quad Q8300 processor @ 2.5GHz 4096MB RAM 1TB Hard Drive DVD-RW dual layer drive and separate DVD drive Integrated 10/100 LAN port and memory card reader 8 USB 2.0 ports NVIDIA GT230 graphics with 1536MB dedicated video RAM Video 230W 23” Widescreen Monitor MS Works 9 MS Windows 7 Home Premium 23” screen size with integrated speakers 1-year collect, repair and return warranty
• Excellent Windows/application/ game performance • After-sales service from IC gives peace of mind • Monitor included in price • Gorgeous looks
• Keyboard and mouse are not the greatest • Black plastic might attract fingerprints • Latest games are not silky smooth
If you’re an Acer fan, this X270 will give you much the same the X8211 will (minus 250GB of hard drive space), but you’ll have to buy your own screen.
Microsoft Wireless Desktop 3000 We’re big fans of Microsoft’s Wireless Desktop 3000, and highly recommend you consider it as a replacement for the default mouse and keyboard set supplied with the X8211.
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Netgear Wireless-N Router with USB Adapter (DGNB2100) NEED TO KNOW • Wireless-N ADSL router • Includes Wireless-N USB Adapter • Supports Wi-Fi Protected Setup • Four wired LAN ports R2 499.95
NETGEAR WIRELESS-N USB DONGLE
Every desktop you’d like to connect wirelessly to your network will require one of these.
NETGEAR WG311GE 54MBPS PCI ADAPTER
If you prefer internal PCI cards because you don’t trust that new-fangled USB standard, you’ll need one of these for each PC. Installation can be tricky, though.
IN recent years, Netgear has made a very good name for itself in the home networking world, producing high quality routers, network cards and USB wireless network adapters that are perfect for home and small office use. This particular product, the DGNB2100 ADSL router, occupies an enviable position – it offers everything someone new to home networking needs, at a very reasonable price. It’s an ADSL router, a network switch, it supports the wireless-N networking standards AND it comes with a USB network adapter. That’s a lot of value in a single package, especially considering that a similar amount of hardware from a competitor will easily cost at least R1000 more. The key appeal here lies in its wireless-N support and the included USB dongle that will get you started on the road to wirelessly networking your home computers. Wireless-N is important because it’s the most powerful of the wireless networking standards, offering the greatest range and fastest transfer speeds, with a theoretical maximum speed of 300Mbps. By using a wireless-N router and a wireless-N dongle, you’re ensuring the best possible setup and therefore the fastest speeds. All for a very good price. Setup is easy, too, providing a lot of appeal for beginners – the router supports the Wi-Fi Protected Setup standard, which was developed to help people unfamiliar with wireless network security to easily and safely connect to their wireless routers. All that’s required is to plug the USB dongle in to the computer you’d like to connect, connect the power and phone line to the router and run the Netgear Smart Wizard (it’s on a CD in the box). The instructions are very clear, and they’ll tell you when you need to press the Push ‘n Connect button on the router; once that is done, you’re connected. You will need to know your ADSL account username and password if you’d like to configure the router for Internet access, so be sure to have those handy. The beauty of this router is that all you need to
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connect more computers to your wireless network are additional USB dongles, and to run the Netgear Smart Wizard on each new computer. There’s no real need to mess around with the router’s web interface, which is accessible via a web browser. Here, you’ll find all the settings that techies love to fiddle with buried in a somewhat intimidating interface; know that they are there if you want to dig, but also that, thanks to Netgear’s Smart Wizard, you won’t have to. As a package for beginners, it’s difficult to fault this one. Setting up is as easy as unpacking, connecting the bits with their corresponding holes and following some very clear instructions. Transfer speeds are fast, even fast enough to stream HD videos without missing a beat, and the wireless signal strength is strong, even in a large house full of obstacles. As a result, we can do nothing, but wholeheartedly endorse this bundle as a great place to start a home networking project for both newcomers and old hands alike. SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS • ADSL Broadband Internet service • An Ethernet adapter and cable or wireless-N USB dongle for each computer • Microsoft Windows Vista, XP, 2000, Me, Mac OS, or other operating systems running a TCP/IP network • Internet Explorer 5.0, Firefox 2.0 or Safari 1.4 or higher or higher • Desktop or notebook PC with Intel Pentium 300 MHz–compatible processor or higher • Available USB 1.1 or USB 2.0 slot • Microsoft Windows Vista, XP, 2000 SP4 or 7 PROS
• Excellent value for money • Dongle and router together ensure good speed and range • Setting up wireless security is a breeze
• We’d like more USB dongles, but we’re nitpicking
13” APPLE MACBOOK PRO
The Macbook’s more powerful sibling, Apple’s Macbook Pro is the right choice if you want to optionally add processing power, an SD-Card slot and FireWire 800 port.
Apple Macbook 13” NEED TO KNOW • Polycarbonate unibody design • 13” 1280 x 800 screen • Great value for money R11 499.95
APPLE’S Macbook has for the longest time been the staple of students, home users and budget conscious users with a need for portability and power. With the arrival of the new ‘unibody’ Macbook the company has upped the ante substantially and is likely to add even more momentum to the growing contingent of users making the switch to Apple. So what’s cooking under the hood in Apple’s revamped entry-level notebook? From a horsepower perspective, the new ‘unibody’ Macbook sports a 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB of memory, a 250GB hard disk and an nVidia 9400M graphics processor, which means for all intents and purposes it offers the same performance as an entry-level Macbook Pro. The new Macbook furthermore also features Apple’s popular 7-hour battery, super bright and glossy 1280x800 resolution screen, its multi-touch gesture aware glass trackpad and its famed unibody enclosure – meaning the casing has been tooled from a single piece of material as opposed to multiple bits that have been screwed together. While the Macbook might seem like a Macbook Pro enrobed in a polycarbonate shell rather than Apple’s sleek aluminium casing, there are two notable differences between the two machines. Where the Pro has a FireWire 800 port, which allows users to transfer data to a hard disk or from a digital camcorder at blazingly quick speeds, and SD-Card slot, which makes transferring pictures and other media
PERFECT COMPANIONS to this popular memory card format a breeze, these two nice-to-haves aren’t present on the Macbook. Other than that, the Macbook is essentially a more budget conscious Macbook Pro with a plastic, as opposed to metal casing. What does that mean for the buyer? Well, since it’s kitted out with pretty much the same componentry present in its professionally-focused sibling (the 13” Macbook Pro) and priced extremely aggressively, it’s the most attractive Apple notebook available today. We also wouldn’t be surprised if the new Macbook replaces its aluminium-bodied counterpart as the new de facto standard in mobile Apple computers in the coming months. In a nutshell, if you can get by without the SD-Card slot and FireWire 800 port – this is the Macbook for you.
Apple Magic Mouse Another of Apple’s new additions, this mouse has caused a stir in the market due to its support for gestures, Bluetooth operation and complete absence of buttons.
NOTEWORTHY SPECS • • • •
2.26GHZ Intel Core 2 Duo processor 2GB of RAM 250GB Hard disk 13” 1280 x 800 screen PROS
• Specification identical to the entry-level Macbook Pro • Durable unibody design • Great price
• Polycarbonate unibody is slightly chunkier than aluminium • Missing a FireWire and SD-Card slot.
Apple Wireless Keyboard The other half of the wireless desktop experience from Apple, this keyboard is encased in aluminum, super portable and comfortable to type on thanks to its ‘chicletstyle’ keys.
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Bluetooth Headset and Blu-ray Remote for PS3 NEED TO KNOW • Excellent quality PS3 peripherals • Play Blu-ray movies with an intuitive remote • High-quality wireless headset for online gaming Blu-ray Remote: R399.95 Bluetooth Headset: R599.95
Playstation 3 Slim Bundle The PS3 is proving itself to be the most slick console of the current generation. Playing hi-def games and movies on this beautiful gadget is truly a fantastic experience.
Wireless Keypad for PS3 Controller If you prefer typing to chat, Sony also has a wireless keypad that clips neatly onto a PS3 controller that will let you do just that.
THE official peripherals for Sony’s PlayStation 3 gaming console are just the kind of products you’d expect from the Japanese electronics giant. They are simple in their operation, but fantastically functional, and while other peripherals do the same things these do, they just can’t do them as well. The Bluetooth Headset, for instance, is a work of genius. It’s compact and lightweight, connects to the Playstation 3 quickly and easily, and serves up crystal clear audio. So clear, in fact, that when other headsets are used (since the Playstation 3 supports any Bluetooth headset and not just the official products), there is a noticeable difference in audio quality, especially when using the “High Quality” voice mode. Not only is it clear, but it’s sensitive, too – people talking in other rooms were picked up by the microphone on the unit, leading to questions of “Who said that?” during online game sessions. It’s also very comfortable to wear for hours at a time, but of course even the most comfortable headset will cause pain eventually. These are about the only complaints that can be levelled against the unit, in all honesty. The headset also comes with a charging stand that connects to the PS3 with a short little USB cable. In less than 3 hours, it’s fully charged, and can be used for as much as 8 hours before it needs to charge again. It also has a large mute button that can mute your voice to your chat partners so you can block out non-gaming conversations with the other members of your household. If you spend a lot of time gaming and talking with friends on the PlayStation Network (PSN), there’s no better wireless headset on the market to do that with than this one. The same exceptional quality is evident in the official PS3 Blu-ray Bluetooth remote control. It’s sturdy, pairs incredibly easily with the
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PlayStation 3, and it just works. Anyone who got excited about the ability to watch Blu-ray movies using their PS3 was possibly disappointed by the annoyance of having to select chapters and settings using the PS3 controller. With the Blu-ray remote, movie playback becomes a far more manageable process, as the play, pause, stop, next and previous chapter buttons are nice and big and easily accessible. Eject, subtitle and audio control buttons are also present, as are all the buttons you’ll find on a regular PS3 controller. The navigation wheel is centrally placed, with an Enter button in its centre, and all buttons press easily. Really, this remote makes Blu-ray movie-watching a real pleasure, as its shape and functionality are more in line with a regular remote than PS3 controllers are. If you’re an avid PlayStation 3 fan and you use it a lot, we highly recommend both of these products as they’re sure to add significantly to your overall enjoyment of the console. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • • • • • •
Talk time: Up to 8 hours Standby time: Approximately 12.5 days or 300 hours Charging time: Approximately 3 hours Operating range: Up to 33 feet (10 meters) Bluetooth version: Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR Supported Bluetooth profiles: Bluetooth hands-free and headset profiles
• Excellent design and quality • Headset audio is fantastic • Blu-ray remote is easy to use
• Luxuriously priced • Headset picks up more than just your voice
Lexmark Impact S305 Lexmark Interpret S405
NEED TO KNOW • Entry-level Printer • USB and wireless connectivity • Scans and copies too R999.95
LEXMARK’S latest batch of printers has undergone a fairly serious overhaul. They are all black, they have interesting names rather than just boring model numbers, and each has been designed to serve a specific segment of the printing public’s needs. The new Impact S305 entry-level printer is where your options begin. It’s a basic printer in terms of features, but it does offer the same high quality printing capabilities as the others in the new range. The only significant differences lie in its output speed, the amount of paper it can accommodate, and how it connects to your PC. As the name suggests, this is an ‘impactful’ printer, designed to have an impact in the exact place it is needed. Its ability to meet printing needs is very specific as a result; the S305’s niche is as a printer for individuals in homes or in very small offices. It connects via USB or wirelessly over a wireless network, but its range is not very big due to it only supporting b/g wireless networking, and not the longer-range n. Its strengths lie in its printing abilities; the S305 produces vibrant colour prints and laser-sharp text, although it does so at a rather slow pace. Ignore the marketing materials stating 33 pages per minute – this only happens under ideal circumstances, with significant compromises made to the print quality. In reality, without tweaking any settings and just hitting print on a colourful .PDF document immediately after installation, you can expect around three pages per minute. Text-heavy documents are a little faster, but this is still by no means a quick printer. Even so, it gets the job done, and it can also copy and scan, which is a bonus. This printer is well-suited to light printing demands, and its appealing price makes a great argument for purchase. Just don’t expect great speed, and you’ll get on just fine.
NEED TO KNOW • Prints, scans, copies, faxes • Wired and wireless connectivity options • Slightly faster than the S305 R1 499.95
THE Interpret S405 is a slightly improved printer when compared to the S305. In addition to offering faxing facilities, it has a wired network port, providing a bit more flexibility in terms of its connectivity options. It’s also a bit faster, printing just over four pages per minute when the same .PDF was printed shortly after installation and without any tweaking being done to the print settings. This bodes well for the S405’s usefulness in a small office environment. Not only is it networkable via cables, but its faster print speed and fax abilities make it worth considering for an office that has low- to medium-volume printing needs. Undoubtedly the best feature of the S405 is its print quality. Colours are vibrant and beautiful, graphics are detailed and text is razor-sharp. These are definitely worth paying good money for, as Lexmark has really stepped up its game in terms of the quality the company’s printers deliver. As is becoming Lexmark’s modus operandi, the installation of the S405 is as easy as pie. Easier, actually. Insert the CD, follow the very clear and precise instructions and you can’t go wrong. This is a good buy for a small business; it has all the features needed of a work printer and its print speed is acceptable, if not amazing.
• • • • • • • • •
• • • • • • • • •
Print Technology: Thermal Inkjet Colour Technology: 4 Colour Inkjet - Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black Print Resolution: Black Up to 2400 x 1200 dpi Print Resolution: Colour Up to 4800 x 1200 dpi Paper Input Capacity: Maximum 100 pages Standard Ports: USB 2.0 PictBridge Support: Yes Networking: 802.11g/b Wireless (no wired LAN port) Memory Card Reader: Most major formats
• Attractive price • Very well-documented installation process • Excellent colour quality and text sharpness
• Not the fastest printer • Wireless range is not big • No colour LCD screen
Print Technology: Thermal Inkjet Colour Technology: 4 Colour Inkjet - Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black Print Resolution: Black Up to 2400 x 1200 dpi Print Resolution: Colour Up to 4800 x 1200 dpi Paper Input Capacity: Maximum 100 pages Standard Ports: USB 2.0 PictBridge Support: Yes Networking: 802.11g/b Wireless, wired LAN port Memory Card Reader: Most major formats
• Faster than the S305 • Wired and wireless networking options • Brilliant print quality
• Print speed is not amazing • Basic LCD readout
OVERALL RATING OVERALL RATING
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Lexmark Interact S605 NEED TO KNOW • 4-in-1 Business Printer • Web integration via SmartSolutions • Colour Touchscreen LCD R1 999.95
LEXMARK’S S-series printers get serious with the S605. It’s a no-nonsense business printer that includes a touch-sensitive LCD screen, Wireless-N networking, a built-in energy-saving Econo mode that conserves electricity and a duplex printing mode to save on paper costs. It also makes use of Lexmark’s proprietary Vizix inks that are specifically designed to create brighter, more intense colours making it a capable photo printer as well as a general-purpose document printer. The S605 prints at around the same speed as the S405, but the quality is superb thanks to the Vixiz inks used. Copying and scanning is somewhat of a chore, though, as there is no automatic document feeder present so you can only do one document at a time. Copy and scan speeds are also not the quickest, so it isn’t recommended to copy or scan large documents unless you’re a fan of lots of manual labour as you swap pages. While the S605 is a better printer, feature-wise than the S305 (the S405 is only slightly better thanks to its document feeder), it’s still not perfect. No automatic document feeder (ADF) on a printer intended for business use is a bad idea as it will inevitably be needed for copying and scanning multi-page documents, and the ADF’s absence will definitely be felt. The LCD touch screen is a nice addition, but it’s not as responsive as it should be, often not registering touches and sometimes requiring a concerted push before responding, and the SmartSolutions that can be added to the printer directly from the Web are a nice idea but ultimately gimmicky. SmartSolutions are essentially one-button shortcuts to common tasks; examples include shortcuts that scan images directly to e-mail or fax, econo-mode prints that use less ink and even shortcuts to favourite RSS feeds that are then displayed on the touchscreen. Their appeal lies in their ability to
PRODUCTS expand the printer’s capabilities over time, so we can certainly see the value but we have to ask if it’s a feature worth having over, say, faster printing or an automatic document feeder. Where the S605 works best is as a dedicated printer for a single worker. Speeds are not atrocious, and the copy and scan functions will prove useful as long as there is no line of people waiting to use the printer. Wireless-N networking is nice to have for its range, and duplexing will definitely lead to a paper-saving (even if it does make you wait a bit). SmartSolutions are a nice inclusion, and we’re positive at least some customers will find a use for them; new ones are also released periodically, so there’s hope yet for a ‘killer app’ to find its way into the available solutions. In all, the Interact S605 is not a terrible printer, but it could certainly use more polishing before we recommend it over others in its class. NOTEWORTHY SPECS: • • • • • • •
SAMSUNG CLX-3175 MFP
You might also consider leaving all this inkjet business behind and instead opt for a colour laser multifunction printer from Samsung.
Print Technology: Thermal Inkjet Colour Technology: 4 Colour Inkjet - Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black Print Resolution, Black: Up to 2400 x 1200 dpi Print Resolution, Colour: Up to 4800 x 1200 dpi Standard Ports: USB 2.0 Specification Hi-Speed Certified (Type B) PictBridge Support: Yes Connectivity: 802.11b/g/n Wireless
• Good quality document and photo prints • Wireless-N networking support • Duplexing (two-sided printing) support
• Touch screen not always responsive • No automatic document feeder • SmartSolutions are a bit gimmicky
SAMSUNG ML-1915 MONO LASER
If all you need is basic black printing, a monochrome laser printer will serve your needs perfectly.
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Lexmark Prevail Pro705 NEED TO KNOW • Copy, scan, print and fax • Automatic document feeder included • Includes XL ink cartridge R2 199.95
CANON PIXMA MP630
If you’re a Canon fan, this all-in-one inkjet will address your printing needs in a similar fashion to the Pro705. It prints text neatly, and photos come out beautifully, if a little slowly.
If you’re more interested in speedy printing and you have no real need for colour, seriously consider this laser printer from Samsung.
THIS is perhaps the best-rounded printer of this entire line-up. Lexmark’s Prevail Pro705 has everything a small business needs, from a high-capacity automatic document feeder to printing, scanning, copying and faxing capabilities. It truly does Prevail upon our sense that this might be a printer worth getting to know better. One of the first things you’ll notice is there is no gimmicky touch screen to frustrate you here – the Pro705 has a more traditional control panel, complete with a number pad, direction keys and a few function keys. Using these buttons is really as easy as reading the labels and pressing them accordingly – if you want to scan, press scan, to copy, press copy etc. A small but full-colour LCD display helps troubleshooting and conveys other useful information, and overall, the printer has a no-fuss, frill-free presentation. Because it shares the same print engine as the other three printers here, the Pro705 is also a bit pokey, averaging around 4 pages per minute. This isn’t a deal-breaker, though, as 4ppm isn’t mind-numbingly slow and it does at least arrive with XL ink cartridges, which yield up to three times more prints than the regular cartridges do. Further on the bright side, the Pro705 prints crisp text and delicious graphics and photos, so it’s definitely worth considering. The automatic document feeder that allows multi-page documents to be copied or scanned is another welcome addition absent in the others, especially since it can hold up to 150 pages at a time. A wired LAN port, wireless-N networking support and duplex capabilities are also present; duplexing helps conserve paper by printing on both sides, however it’s not a fast process and will slow your prints down by a few seconds per page. The networking options on the Pro705 are very good, though, providing you with the best of both
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worlds, as in powerful Wireless-N with a good range and also a wired port, handy for people who don’t run wireless networks. Setup is straightforward if your router supports Wireless Protected Setup - press two buttons, one on the router and the other on the printer, and voila, setup is complete. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to run the install program with the printer connected via USB cable in order to configure it for your wireless network, which can be a little tricky. Of the four printers here, this one has the most to offer in terms of features. It’s not a very fast printer, though, but it’s still a good choice for an individual or very small group of people to use as their everyday office printer, scanner, copier and fax machine. NOTEWORTHY SPECS: • • • • • • • •
Print Technology: Thermal Inkjet Colour Technology: 4 Colour Inkjet - Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black Print Resolution, Black: Up to 2400 x 1200 dpi Print Resolution, Colour: Up to 4800 x 1200 dpi Standard Ports: USB 2.0 Specification Hi-Speed Certified (Type B) PictBridge Support: Yes Connectivity: 802.11b/g/n Wireless 150 page ADF capacity
• Automatic document feeder is present • Very good print quality • Pleasant user interface • XL cartridges in the box
• Same print speed as the other three • Non-WPS wireless setup can be difficult • Duplex prints add time to each print job
HP Photosmart C4683 All-in-One printer NEED TO KNOW • Print, copy and scan • Designed for photo printing • Not a network printer R899.95
THIS smooth glossy-black all-in-one device is ideal for the home environment and is suitable for both Windows and Mac OS X users. It’s a crisp printer, a speedy scanner and a handy copier, meeting all photo and documentation requirements. It supports all-in-one multi-tasking, meaning you can use this device to save loads of time. It has a duty cycle of 1000 pages per month and is compatible with a variety of memory cards without requiring an adapter. Delivering print speeds of up to 29ppm monochrome and 23ppm colour, 1200dpi scanning and 1200x1200dpi copying resolutions, this device is about crispness and clarity. The flatbed scanner has a 48-bit scanner depth and is quick to warm up and replicates the original satisfactorily. The C4683 has an 80-sheet input tray and a 150-sheet output tray with manual duplex printing options, allowing printing on both sides of a page, which can halve your paper consumption. Adjustable print qualities means you can control your ink consumption as well, and the Energy Star compliance means you’ll spend less money powering the device too. Furthermore, XL versions of the printer’s cartridges are available, allowing you to print twice as much as a standard cartridge. HP Real Life Technologies such as HP Auto Red-Eye Removal; HP Photo Brightening and HP Smart Focus and Digital Flash mean that even if you didn’t take the perfect picture initially, the end print result is as close to perfect as you’re likely to get it.
In terms of networking, no options other than a Hi-Speed USB 2.0 connection is offered, as the device is intended for an individual user, nor does it offer direct photo printing. This is not the end of the world, however, as the all-in-one device offers support for a Memory Stick, a Memory Stick Duo, a Secure Digital/MultimediaCard, Secure Digital High Capacity Card and an xD-Picture Card. A 3.68cm colour LCD with TouchSmart frame means control is direct and simple. A variety of paper compatibility options including papers, envelopes, transparencies, labels, cards, the HP premium media, iron-on transfers and borderless media means you’re offered a wide range of print choices.
HP DESKJET H470WBT
This portable printer prints up to 22ppm mono & 18ppm colour at a maximum 4800x1200dpi print resolution. It supports both Bluetooth and USB connectivity, and prints up to 480 pages per battery charge.
SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS: • Windows XP (32bit) or higher/ Mac OS X v 10.4/ Linux compatible • 128 MB RAM (256 MB or higher recommended) • Internet Explorer 6 or higher • CD-ROM, USB port
• 29ppm monochrome/23ppm colour print • Easy to install, use and troubleshoot • Compact and useful, doesn’t take up too much desk space
• No networking options • No direct photo printing
COREL PHOTO PAINT PRO X2
This easy to learn and use package includes everything you need to create and edit perfect photos. A full range of makeover tools are included, including ‘Thinnify’, which makes your subject appear thinner.
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PRODUCTS NEED TO KNOW • Colour laser printer • 12 ppm mono/8 ppm colour • Fixed resolution: 600 x 600 dpi (mono and colour) • 25 000 page monthly duty cycle R1 999.95
SAMSUNG CLP315 COLOUR LASER PRINTER
This device prints up to 16ppm mono & 4ppm colour, has an effective output of 2400x600, and is much better suited to high-quality colour print needs. With a 150-sheet input tray and a Hi-Speed USB 2.0 connection it is perfectly suited to the individual user, and is Mac OSX and Windows compatible.
CANON IP 1900
The IP900 offers highresolution photo prints, with a dpi quality of 4800x1200. With Autofix technology, you can print borderless photos up to A4 in size.
THIS no-frills colour LaserJet printer is designed to work as hard as you do. Its unobtrusive footprint, excellent quality colour and black output are wellsuited to an individual workaholic, or as a communal printer among several small-business employees. This printer has the classic HP look, with its grey and white exterior, apart from an LCD display you might expect to see. Instead, there’s a simple control panel on the side of the faceplate that contains all the buttons you’ll need to operate and troubleshoot the device. The notification lights work well enough, but we did find that we found ourselves hankering after even a simple two-line LCD that could display specific troubleshooting help or detailed information about a print job. In terms of actually using the printer, it has a 150 sheet input tray and a 50 sheet output tray. While this is not exactly high-volume, it is perfect for an individual user and adequate for a handful of workers. The CP1215 makes up for this by having a very respectable monthly duty cycle of 25 000 pages. Installing the driver and establishing a connection with a computer is straightforward, since this is a USB-only printer. A direct connection to a computer is necessary as there are currently no networking attachments available for this device – it’s a standalone printer that must be shared in order to be used by a group. HP makes it easy to install the CP1215 and provides foolproof instructions to facilitate this; the driver even automatically runs an installation guide to help you along the way. Within the driver, you’re given the option to change a few settings, but it’s not very comprehensive. In fact, the printer is fixed at a 600X600dpi resolution for both black and colour. The manual colour options let you choose between four colour or black neutral greys to save ink, but there’s no way to adjust the resolution of your prints. While the drivers are formatted for all popular versions of the Windows operating system, there
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is a serious lack of support for Mac OS X, which rules out all Mac fans as potential customers. In terms of ink consumption, expect to have to purchase a replacement toner cartridge shortly after purchasing the device. The CP1215 ships with ‘starter’ toner cartridges that should be enough to get you going, but don’t expect to get too far with them. Luckily, the price tag on replacement cartridges won’t break the bank, and if you’re an individual user, or part of a small workgroup and are sensible about the quality and frequency of your prints, you shouldn’t have to replace the cartridge too often. Despite the fixed resolution and print speeds being less than lightningfast, the overall print quality is impressive. This printer presents sharp black and colour text with crisp edges, and even prints nice shading effects across dense graphics. As can be expected from a colour laser, though, the CP1215 could use improvement in evening out blotchy gradations and could do with elimination of banding in some of the finer details, but the majority of photo elements come out nicely saturated with natural colour. Overall, the HP LaserJet CP1215’s print quality is definitely good enough for small work groups if their print requirements involve a lot of text documents, with the occasional colour presentation or document thrown in. If your print load leans more toward heavy photographic and graphic content, you might prefer the colour quality that only an inkjet printer can provide. NOTEWORTHY FEATURES • • • •
12 ppm mono/8 ppm colour 16MB RAM installed 1 USB Hi-Speed 2.0 port Microsoft Windows compatible PROS
• Easy installation and troubleshooting • Prints high-quality colour • Supports manual duplexing • High monthly duty cycle
• Not compatible with Mac OS X • Lacks LCD display • Fixed print resolution • Only ‘starter’ cartridges in the box
HP OfficeJet H470WBT Portable Printer NEED TO KNOW • Completely portable printing solution • Supports Bluetooth connections • Around 480 prints between battery recharges R3 999.95
FOR professionals on the go, having a portable printer can often be a life-saver, and even more so when it’s completely wireless. For that reason, HP has developed a small, compact colour printer that works off batteries as well as mains, and which can also accept prints via Bluetooth. This means you don’t need any cables whatsoever to print from Bluetooth-capable devices like camera phones and portable computers. The H470WBT is a very sturdy printer, too, able to easily absorb the small knocks and bumps that inevitably come with being carried around. Fortunately, HP includes a carry bag in the deal, which offers some protection against scrapes and scratches. At just over 2kgs, it’s not very heavy either, making it an ideal travel companion. It is theoretically capable of 18 colour prints and 22 black pages per minute, but of course this depends on the density of the colour and black ink coverage, so expect an average of fewer pages per minute for top-quality prints. Still, this is more than fast enough to print reports or presentations on the run, and will easily save your bacon if emergency prints are required before a big meeting. The H470WBT accepts SD/miniSD and MMC memory cards, and can print directly from cameras that support the PictBridge standard. This opens the way to PC-free printing, another boon for highly mobile people. Pairing the H470WBT with a notebook via Bluetooth is a simple operation; all you need to do is plug in the included Bluetooth adapter, search for Bluetooth devices in your immediate vicinity (with the printer switched on, of course), and select it when it appears on the list. This truly is useful technology, simplified, and it’s pleasing to see just how easy HP has made it. The H470WBT uses two cartridges for printing, a black and a tri-colour cartridge. The disadvantage here is, as with any single cartridge containing multiple colours is that you’ll need to replace the entire cartridge even if only one colour runs out. If you print a lot of photos, you can add an additional photo cartridge (sold separately) that contains another three inks to increase your page output before needing to replace cartridges.
Print quality is excellent and up to business standards in both colour and black. Text is laser-sharp, and colours, even on plain paper, are vibrant and long-lasting thanks to HP’s Vivera ink technology. Its print engine is also extremely quiet thanks to the printer’s vibration-dampening design, and the Lithium-ion battery delivers up to 480 prints before needing to be recharged. If there is a downside to this awesome printer, it’s price. While we appreciate the technological innovation HP has poured into it, forking over almost R4000 for the privilege of owning a portable printer seems a bit much. Yes, you get what you pay for, but the price tag might put this printer beyond the reach of the very people that have a use for it. That aside, HP has developed a brilliantly functional portable printer that prints beautifully and wirelessly, and if you have the budget, it will definitely make your mobile lifestyle just that much more convenient.
HP OFFICEJET J3680
If all you’re looking for is a small, low-volume office printer, copier, scanner and fax machine, this affordable all-inone unit is well worth a look.
NOTEWORTHY FEATURES • Print speed black (draft, letter): Up to 22 ppm • Print speed colour (draft, letter): Up to 18 ppm • Print resolution, black: Up to 1200x1200 rendered dpi (when printing from a computer) • Print resolution, colour: Up to 4800 optimised dpi colour and 1200 input dpi • Monthly duty cycle: Up to 500 pages • Ink cartridges: 2 (1 each black, cyan/magenta/yellow) • Connectivity, standard: 1 USB, 1 PictBridge, 2 Memory card slots, 1 Bluetooth
• Completely portable, cable-less printing • Business-quality colour and black prints • Bluetooth adapter and carry case included
• A bit on the pricy side • Does not use individual ink cartridges
SAMSUNG CLP315 COLOUR LASER
It’s not portable, but this versatile office laser printer is quick with monochrome documents and can even handle the odd colour print.
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For more staying power, we highly recommend a 9-cell battery as it will yield far more up-time than its 6- and 3-cell siblings will.
Acer Aspire 5542G-524G32MN Notebook NEED TO KNOW • Value-packed notebook • Large 15.6” screen • 4GB of system RAM R7 999.95
DELL STUDIO T6600 GREEN
This bright green notebook from Dell offers a similar configuration to the 5542G, just with a 320GB hard drive and a processor that is 100mhz faster.
HP DV6-1215EI & HP DESKJET F4583 BUNDLE
For only a thousand rand more than the 5542G, get an HP all-in-one printer and an AMDpowered HP notebook with 500GB of hard drive space.
WHEN looking for a new notebook and budget is a concern, it’s the notebooks priced in the range this Acer model occupies that tend to catch your eye. And for good reason, too – with such an impressive-sounding specification list at such an appealing price, there is a lot to be drawn in by. The question is, does it live up to the promise? The answer, we discovered, was that it depends rather heavily on whether you’re happy going without some of the refinements that make notebook ownership just that wee bit more pleasant. If you don’t like a glossy screen that really attracts glare outdoors or in bright rooms, you don’t like on-screen images to distort when viewed from a fairly wide angle, and if you require more than two and a half hours of everyday operation between charges, the 5542G is not for you. Luckily, most of these are relatively minor issues, and they are far outweighed by the good the 5542G has to offer. This includes a 2.1GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and 4GB of system RAM; together, these two components will ensure that Windows is zippy and responsive, and will also enable you to open many programs at once without suffering any significant performance loss. Since performance should count for more than mere aesthetics, this unit does well here. The rest of the specification list is fairly standard, and the 5542G has everything that is important to notebook users. This includes wireless connectivity, a DVD writer, Bluetooth support for Bluetooth-enabled devices, a comfortable (if a touch small) keyboard, a memory card reader, USB ports and a built-in webcam. Basically, this is a competent notebook computer that will serve your mobile computing needs very well. This is by no means a luxury notebook, however, indicated by the relatively small hard drive of only 250GB and a battery that will last just over 2 hours of normal use. If you’d like to extend your battery life, consider a 9-cell battery that will give you
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easily more than five hours of continuous use. Where the Aspire 5542G really delivers great value is in the graphics department. It comes with a dedicated ATI HD4570 graphics card, which will enable you to play 3D games. You’ll still have to sacrifice a bit of visual quality in favour of speed, though, but doing so is worthwhile for the performance gains you’ll see. With 512MB of its own dedicated memory, and no need to ‘borrow’ memory from your system, ATI’s HD4570 is a very nice addition to the 5542G. It ships with Windows 7 Home Premium, an operating system known to be faster than Windows Vista was on the same hardware. It also comes with a nice Targus carry bag, so the overall package really has a lot to offer. It’s not the fastest notebook, nor the notebook with the most luxurious features, but it is certainly powerful enough to handle the day to day operations a mobile worker will expect of it, and best of all, its price is really attractive. NOTEWORTHY FEATURES • Intel® Pentium Dual Core T4300 processor @ 2.1 GHz • 4096MB RAM • 250GB HDD • Dual Layer multi format DVD writer • Memory card reader • Integrated webcam & 802.11b/g/n WLAN • 15.6” CrystalBrite display • MS Windows 7 Home Premium • 1 Year collect, repair & return warranty
• Packed full of features • Fast performance in Windows 7 • Powerful graphics card
• Screen is glossy and attracts glare • Battery life is not impressive • Viewing angles are not great
HP TOUCHSMART IQ500 HOME PC
Packard Bell One Two 20” Touch NEED TO KNOW • All-in-one Desktop PC • Touch-sensitive screen • Powered by Windows 7 Home Premium R8 999.95
THE home computer market has been opened up quite significantly with the arrival of Windows 7. Not only is Microsoft’s latest operating system leaps ahead of Windows Vista in terms of performance, it’s also been designed from the ground up to be very touch-friendly. This has led to a number of manufacturers bringing out all-in-one desktop PCs with integrated touchsensitive screens, in the hopes of appealing to home buyers. Packard Bell’s efforts take the form of the company’s new One Two range, and they are fantastic machines. The model on review, the 20” variant, looks amazing – the glossy black screen casing houses the machine’s innards and it stands freely on any flat surface with only the power cable, keyboard and mouse protruding from it. It looks like a really large, but really stylish digital photo frame when properly set up. Inside, it’s powered by a dual core Intel processor clocked at 2.1GHz, which is more than fast enough for everyday use, and it’s backed up with 4GB of fast RAM. Its 640GB hard drive is more than big enough to store all the videos and photographs this PC is capable of showing off, and fast enough to keep Windows 7 happily fed with data. There’s a rewriteable DVD drive integrated into the side of the machine, with only a tiny slit to indicate its presence. USB and audio connectors are to be found both on the side of the unit as well as the back. The screen is very clear, and can support resolutions of up to 1600x900. More importantly, it’s sensitive to your touch, enabling you to use all the touch-specific features of Windows 7 easily and without hassle. Dragging files, opening and closing windows, pressing buttons with our fingers was all very easy to do, and the system was notably responsive. Most impressively, the One Two supports multi-touch, meaning two or more finger touches will register at a time. One of the uses of this technology is to enable the enlarging and shrinking of photographs with a two-finger pinching gesture.
Packard Bell’s TouchSuite Portal provides access to some nifty features that really show off the One Two’s touch capabilities. Each is represented by an animated object that can be dragged around a 3D desktop as if they were objects on a table. You can drag music CDs that represent music on your PC into a media player, manipulate photos and videos with your fingers, create reminder notes for yourself and more. There is even a smart air hockey-like game that you can play with friends by using your fingers on the screen. In short, the One Two is a lot of fun to use. It’s not a gaming machine, though, as it’s powered by an onboard Intel graphics processor that is not as powerful as a dedicated graphics card. It is, on the other hand, great at viewing DVDs, performing general productivity tasks, showing off photos and videos and surfing the Internet. It can connect to your home network via a cable, or via its built-in wireless network card. As a home PC, the One Two is a great machine. It’s inexpensive, looks great, has fun touch-screen functionality and it’s fast and responsive. NOTEWORTHY SPECS: • • • • • • • •
Intel Core 2 Duo T4300 @ 2.1GHz 4096MB DDR2 RAM 640GB Hard Drive Windows 7 Home Premium Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 4500M 20” Touch Panel Monitor Recessed DVD-RW Drive 5-in-1 Card Reader PROS
• Touch screen functionality • Fast and responsive performance • Stylish all-in-one design • Great price
• Onboard graphics not good for games • Glossy case may attract fingerprints
HP was the first company to bring these all-in-one PCs to market in South Africa. This 20” model is a stylish alternative to Packard Bell’s One Two, while offering similar features.
PACKARD BELL ONE TWO 23” TOUCH
You will find an extra three inches of screen, a Terabyte hard drive, a Quad Core processor and full HD support in Packard Bell’s 23-inch version of the One Two.
ACER EMACHINE EZ1601
With no touch functionality and sporting a basic configuration, this is an elementary kitchen-top PC, ideal for people just starting out with computers.
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Canon PowerShot SX120 IS NEED TO KNOW • 10MP digital camera • 10x optical zoom, 3.5inch LCD display • Smart AUTO detect, Easy Mode; 20 different shooting modes • AA battery powered R2 999.95 SANDISK MICROSD 2GB MEMORY CARD
If you’re serious about taking loads of pictures, you’ll need loads of storage space. This MicroSD memory card gives you exactly what you need.
AUDIOVOX 9” DPF908 DIGITAL PHOTO FRAME
Change the frame to suit your décor mood. This 9-inch frame comes with black, white and brown interchangeable frames. This simple-to-use digital photo frame also supports most expandable media, including USB storage.
THE SX120 IS is one up on the PowerShot SX110 IS from 2008. The appeal of this camera is that it’s an affordable and compact camera that offers point-and-shoot simplicity with long-range zoom capabilities. At first blush little seems to have changed between the two models, except for a million-pixel upgrade. Physically, they are the same and there’s the same control layout with rather large buttons and dials, which help to keep things simple for the family to use. There’s also the optically-stabilised zoom range equivalent to 36mm to 360mm in 35mm terms. Nonetheless, there are some rather handy attributes that we grew rather fond of, rather quickly, led by the user-friendly control grouping consisting of the shooting mode wheel, on/off button and shutter release button encircled by the zoom lever. The mode dial is almost flush with the top of the body and needs a firm flick in order to produce a distinct click, so you’re unlikely to accidentally shoot past the setting you want. With a half-press of the shutter release button the SX120 is impressively quick to determine focus and exposure and there’s no discernible shutter delay as you go on to take the shot. Operational speed is slightly improved from before, with the new DIGIC 4 processor on-board making a world of difference. In terms of shooting with this digital camera, we enjoyed making use of the new Smart auto mode, which automatically chooses from 18 different scenes. Although auto modes are plenty, there is still a large amount of control offered, and you can choose between settings of program auto, shutter priority, aperture priority and manual. The chosen mode is also shown as a virtual version on the screen, so you don’t need to take your eye off your subject while making adjustments.
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There’s a dedicated VGA-quality video mode that has a long play feature, plus a further 320x240 pixels alternative, a selection of scene modes, including fireworks, snow, aquarium and an ISO 3200 mode, an optimised indoor setting mode, a dedicated children and pets mode, a night scene mode, plus landscape and portrait settings. The ‘Easy mode’ turns the camera into a straight-up point-and-shoot experience, which is perfect for absolute beginners. Image quality is good and the 10x zoom lens offers a multipurpose though not particularly wide-angle focal range. The SX120 IS has an antishake mechanism, which allows you to take sharp photos at slower shutter speeds than other digital cameras. Overall, the SX120 offers more evolution than revolution, but if you’re looking for an affordable camera that offers point-and-shoot usage with long-range zoom capabilities, you can’t go wrong with this one. NOTEWORTHY FEATURES • 10MP camera with 10x optical zoom • Lens (zoom, aperture, focal length) 10x, 10x f2.8-4.3 36-360mm (35mm equivalent) • Macro close-up focus to 1cm • SD/SDHC/MMC memory card compatible, 128MB included
• Point-and-shoot simplicity with long-range zoom capabilities • Easy Auto mode does everything for you • Advanced face and motion detection features and improved red-eye correction
• No option to control shutter speeds • Battery span is rather short-lived • Performance is slightly slower than it should be
Olympus Stylus 550WP Waterproof Camera NEED TO KNOW • 10MP camera with a 3X optical zoom lens, 2.5-inch LCD • 14.8MB internal memory • LI-42B rechargeable lithium-ion battery with charger • Waterproof up to 3 metres R2 199.95
JUMP in the deep end with this waterproof camera from Olympus that’s light and compact and easy to carry around wherever you go. It’s a 10 megapixel camera with a 3x zoom lens that comes in a choice of black or blue, with a 2.5” LCD and basic point-and-shoot operations for easy underwater snaps. The camera comes with just 14.8MB of built-in memory and no memory card. Seeing that the internal memory won’t be able to fit more than two full-resolution photos, you’ll have to get a memory card. You could start with a simple 2GB card, but you’re definitely better off going with something far bigger, say a 4GB or 8GB card, as high-resolution pictures take up a lot of space. The Olympus Stylus 550WP uses the standard LI-42B lithium-ion rechargeable battery, but unfortunately the battery life isn’t amazing and only gives about 140 shots per charge, which is to be expected from cameras in this class. Build quality is good and the camera is quite hardy. You will have to be quite careful with it as it isn’t entirely rugged, however, and it’s advisable to use the camera’s wrist strap when underwater. It’s a pity the camera lacks any sort of ‘real’ image stabilisation as this means that taking sharp pictures is reliant on a steady hand or a tripod. There is, however, a pretty decent flash on this camera, and a built-in microphone and self-timer countdown. In terms of display, there’s a 2.5-inch LCD with 230,000 pixels which means screen visibility is adequate in bright light and good in low-light. One of our favourite features is the panorama mode that allows you to take up to 10 photos in a row, which can be combined later on your computer using the included Olympus Master software. There’s also a rather basic face detection system that will recognise up to three faces in a single scene, which is rather nifty. The 550WP has two macro modes: normal and super. Normal macro mode allows you to go as close as 20cm to a subject at wide-angle and 30cm at telephoto, and super macro that allows a minimum focusing distance of
7cm, but locks the lens at the wide-angle position. This camera is a genuine point-and-shoot camera, with no manual controls over exposure or anything else, really. But not all hope is lost. If you’re a fan of scene modes (pre-sets that automatically change settings to suit the scene you are shooting), the camera does offer a variety of them: portrait, landscape, night scene, night and portrait, sport, indoor, candle, self-portrait, sunset, fireworks, cuisine, documents and underwater snapshot. Along with all those scene modes, the 550WP offers Intelligent Auto mode that detects the scene you’re shooting and automatically picks one of five scene modes for you (portrait, landscape, night portrait, macro, sports). Digital Image Stabilisation mode attempts to compensate for the camera’s lack of real image stabilisation by boosting light sensitivity (ISO settings) to get a sharper shot. When it comes to video recording, the 550WP offers standard VGA movie mode that records 640x480 videos up to 2GB per movie clip. Despite not being able to use the optical zoom while recording, the clips produced were of a satisfactory quality. Overall, this camera is recommended if you’re looking for a basic point-andshoot you can use above and below water, and if manually controlling all the settings isn’t your thing. Above all, be sure you have a steady hand.
SANDISK MICROSD 4GB MEMORY CARD
You’re going to love taking underwater pictures; why not get a big memory card now and save yourself some trouble later? The 550WP ships with a microSD to xd-Picture converter, allowing the use of microSD memory cards.
NOTEWORTHY SPECS • • • • •
10MP image sensor 3x optical zoom Intelligent Auto Mode and Face Detection Slim, compact design Waterproof up to 3 metres
• Easy to use, responsive touch screen • Built-in Blu-Ray player • Fantastic eye-catching design
• No manual controls and limited shooting features • Lacks real image stabilisation • Battery life isn’t very long, no memory card included
LOWEPRO REZO 30 BLK
Perfect to carry your camera, memory card, batteries and small accessories. The shoulder strap with full-rotation hooks eliminates tangling, and includes the SlipLock attachment tab and adjustable shoulder strap.
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Canon DC310 Camcorder NEED TO KNOW • 2.7 inch LCD display • Records to miniDVDs • Digic DV II image processing • 41 x advanced zoom R2 899.95
PINNACLE STUDIO MOVIEBOX PLUS USB
Capture, edit and burn your movies onto DVD and share them on the Web. It’s easy-touse video-editing software, perfect for the first-time user.
SONY DCR-SX40 SILVER
This camcorder comes with 4GB embedded memory and sports 60x optical / 2000x digital zoom, with a Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar lens and is capable of hybrid recording.
MOST people know Canon for optical excellence, advanced image processing and superb performance. Not much has changed when it comes to the DC310. It is an affordable digital camcorder capable of recording to DVD, but not the kind of DVD you might be used to seeing: it records to miniDVD discs, 8cm discs that fit the inner ring of a DVD loading tray. This makes it not only cute and compact, but it also lets you watch what you’ve recorded on your DVD player just about right away. It fits comfortably in your hand and offers a variety of professional features, all simple enough for everyone to use, hassle free. One of the features we were most impressed by is the exclusive Canon 41x Advanced Zoom which makes it easier for you to capture the action from even farther away. Advanced zoom is better than optical zoom because it uses the Digic DV II image processing unit and Canon’s advanced lens technology to maintain image quality across both wide-angle and zoomed-in shots, even when you’re zoomed in all the way. Joystick Control means that all the buttons on the digital camera are easily toggled and easily controlled. Most functions are accessible from the touch of a button, and those that need to be accessed from the menu are easy to find, once you get used to the menu system. The DC310 is powerful and has a long recording time thanks to its high capacity battery and low power consumption. You can also put the camera into standby mode quickly by pressing the Quick Start button instead of powering on and off between shots to save power. The DC310 records widescreen images and videos by using an image processing system that makes use of the entire width of the image sensor. Canon’s image stabilisation technology means you don’t need a steady hand in order to capture the moment, and nor do you need a tripod. It works effectively at maximum telephoto range and even while panning and zooming. The LCD video light allows you to film in low-light conditions and special signal processing technology works to optimise
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colour conditions. Even though video and still images have different colour requirements, the DC130’s digital signal processing technology ensures optimal image quality for both video and still images. Level shot and grid markers are accessible by pressing the Level Shot Control button on the camera itself. This makes a horizontal marker appear in your viewfinder and allows you to line up any horizontal lines in your shot to the marker to ensure your camcorder is level. This means it’s easier to compose your shots, and easier to produce professional-looking results. If you’re not technically-minded but would still like to take creative, arty shots, this camera has a load of Image Effects for you to choose from, such as vivid, neutral, soft skin detail and drive modes. A selection of special scene modes has pre-set automatic exposure modes making it fuss-free to shoot stunning video or photos in any lighting conditions. Wherever you might want to record video, wherever you might want to snap a few photos, take the DC310 along with you and never worry about missing out on a picture-perfect opportunity again. NOTEWORTHY FEATURES • • • • • • • •
41x Advanced Zoom Straight-to-DVD recording Quick Start Joystick controller DVD-R Dual Layer True Wide High Resolution 16:9 recording DIGIC DV II LCD video light
• Great picture quality, impressive sound quality • Little technical expertise required – easy to operate • Straight-to-DVD recording is handy
• Limited edit functions • Reading the manual is not optional to grasp all functionality
This camera also supports the RAW format and full manual controls, giving enthusiasts the ability to do what they wish with the raw image data, as well as full control over every aspect of their shots.
Samsung WB5000 Digital Camera NEED TO KNOW • 12.47MP Image Sensor • Shoots 720p movies • 24x Optical Zoom Lens • RAW Image Capture R4 499.95 (estimated)
SAMSUNG’S new WB5000 digital camera is arguably one of Samsung’s finest efforts to date in the optical imaging gadget category. It boasts a balance between practicality and high-tech wizardry that competes impressively with other manufacturers’ products without compromising too much on feature-set and price. At its most basic, the WB5000 is a 12MP digital camera that takes images at resolutions of 4000x3000, with an optical zoom of 24x. Dig a little deeper, and it’s also a high-definition video camera, able to take beautifully clear videos at 720p, meaning a resolution of 1280x720 at a frame rate of 30 frames per second. This translates into clear videos that you can play on your HDTV without any worry that you’ll see unsightly pixels and blurry motion. Samsung has kitted the WB5000 out with a 26mm wide-angle SchneiderKreuznach lens that is capable of some pretty impressive feats. The company has also, for the first time, entered the ‘megazoom’ fray with the inclusion of 24X optical zoom; this gives the WB5000 excellent zoom capabilities when taking still images. While many digital cameras don’t allow you to make use of the zoom when taking videos, the WB5000 does. If you’re worried that your long-range shots will be noticeably shaky, don’t stress – Samsung has used a combination of both its optical and digital image stabilisation technologies to ensure that the WB5000 takes rock-steady shots even when you’re zoomed in all the way. This works just as well with the taking of still images, too, and is very effective at keeping shaky hands from ruining perfectly good shots. The camera is smart in other ways, too. It features intelligent facerecognition software that remembers up to 20 of your friends and relatives; once you’ve registered them on the camera, any pictures taken of them automatically ensure they are in focus first, before any other element of the image. Smart Auto is another clever feature that takes the think-work out of your shots – the WB5000 automatically selects from 11 pre-set scene settings to ensure that it captures whatever you’re pointing at, perfectly. It works incredibly well, too, and we were happy with the outdoor, mid-day and night-time shots we lined up.
The WB5000 enjoys a high ISO rating of 6400, resulting in great action and low-light photos thanks to its high-speed shutter. While the resolution needs to drop the higher the ISO setting you choose – 5MP at ISO 3200 and 3MP at ISO 6400 – the sacrifice in overall image quality is worth it to capture fast-moving objects with no visible blur whatsoever. While there is a flash, it’s a pop-up flash and its mechanism felt a little fragile; we worried it would damage easily if the camera was ever to be bumped with it out. Luckily this did not happen, but the possibility exists and we’re not sure the flash would fare well if it did. The other concern we have with this otherwise-excellent camera, is the lack of an HDMI output. While it’s nice to be able to shoot videos in 720p, it would be even nicer if we could view them on a big screen TV without having to download them to a PC and convert them into a suitable format first. Another limitation is the 20 minute maximum recording time; we’d have preferred this to be limited only by the amount of storage available. Samsung’s WB5000 is, overall, a brilliant effort. It’s feature-packed, easy to use and has all the technological bells and whistles you’ll need to take dazzling photos, even if you don’t know a lot about cameras. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • 12.47MP Image Sensor • 24X Optical Zoom • Optical and Digital Image Stabilisation • Supports SD cards • 3” 230,000 colour LCD • 11 Pre-set Scene Settings • Shutter speed range of 1/2000 to 8 seconds • ISO 6400 Sensitivity
• Shoots 720p videos • Excellent image stabilisation • Well-implemented optical zoom • Useful and intelligent automatic settings
• No HDMI output • Flash is a wee bit flimsy • 20-min HD movie recording limitation
NIKON COOLPIX P90
Capture images in their 12.1MP glory with this excellent compact digital camera and its 24x optical zoom.
This compact super-zoom camera from Pentax has a lot to offer budding photographers, like a 24x optical zoom, wideangle image capture and more.
KODAK EASYSHARE Z980
Kodak’s Z980 is a workhorse of a camera, boasting a 24x optical zoom and a 12MP image sensor housed in a compact digital camera chassis.
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DLP PROJECTORS DLP stands for Digital Light Processing, and is a ‘data projection’ technique developed by Texas Instruments that is used to project images onto a surface. The individual pixels that make up an image are positioned closer together in DLP projectors, resulting in sharper images when compared to LCD projection technologies.
Acer X1130 DLP Business Projector ACER K10 LED PROJECTOR
This tiny projector is brilliant for easy transporting, and uses new LED technology to power its projections and keep power consumption low. It’s not very bright, however.
Acer TravelMate 6292 Notebook Acer’s TravelMate notebooks have a sterling reputation in the business world, and for good reason. Grab one and let it handle your productivity and presentation tasks with ease.
NEED TO KNOW • Projector well suited to business • Eco-friendly design • Affordably priced R3 999.95
ACER’S new X1130 projector is a small, inexpensive projector that can be used by both business and home users alike. Its design is modest, compact, quiet and eco-friendly, and while its native resolution is only 800x600, it’s more than good enough for business presentations and watching DVDs at home. In fact, due to its low price, the X1130 would make an excellent first foray into the world of projectors for anyone toying with the idea. Business users looking for an inexpensive way to project meeting information onto a nearby wall would do well to consider this unit, as would movie lovers interested in trying out wall-sized DVD-viewing. The X1130 has three inputs: VGA, S-video and component. This means it can take input from computers, DVD players and even camcorders, and display it on a nearby surface. The X1130 has a native resolution of 800x600, but it can also output images at higher resolutions. ‘Native’ here indicates the resolution the images will look their best at; the higher that number climbs, the more the projected image deteriorates in quality and sharpness. Don’t let that put you off, though. At 800x600, images are crisp and clear, and since the resolution of the DVD standard is 704x576, that is more than good enough for projecting DVD movies without any loss of image quality. The X1130 is also a very quiet projector; it is rated at a maximum volume of 31dB, which means it won’t be spoiling your movie viewing or business meetings with an overly-noticeable hum. Acer has designed the projector with consideration in mind, as it is also very environmentally-friendly – it
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boasts a very low standby power consumption rating that is up to 50% less than other projectors in this class. Perhaps most usefully, the X1130 projector is very capable, even in brightly-lit rooms. Its brightness rating of 2300 ANSI Lumens and contrast ratio of 2500:1 ensures that the projected image remains visible even with curtains open. Acer has done some fine work on its ColorBoost technology, which enhances any image’s colour saturation to really make them really explode off the screen. The X1130, with Acer’s second-generation ColorBoost II technology, produces images that are even brighter and more vibrant than ever before. This is thanks to a new six-segment colour wheel that introduces three secondary shades (cyan, yellow and white) that enhance the projector’s colour reproduction. All of this adds up to a good quality projector that is available at a very appealing price. NOTEWORTHY FEATURES • Brightness: 2300 ANSI Lumens • Contrast: 2500:1 • Inputs: VGA, Component, S-Video • Resolution: 800x600 (Native), up to 1440x900 • Noise: 31dB PROS
• Bright images even in light rooms • Excellent colour reproduction • Suitable for both business and home use
• Image quality suffers as resolution increases • Native resolution is only 800x600 • Not suitable for HD projecting
ACER X233H 23” LCD MONITOR
If you’re looking for an extra inch of screen plus a faster response time, check out this offering from Acer.
Samsung SyncMaster 2233SWN NEED TO KNOW • 22” LCD Widescreen Monitor • 1920x1080 Native Resolution • DVI and VGA inputs R1 699.95
THE great thing about amazing technology is that as it becomes more widespread, prices drop. A few years ago, picking up a 22” widescreen monitor would have cost you well over R2000, but today, these awesome screens can be had for a whole lot less. Samsung’s SyncMaster 2233SWN is a good example of this phenomenon in action. For only R1699.95, it delivers crisp and clear widescreen viewing that will not only make your PC look better and enhance productivity, but it will also grant you access to the world of widescreen gaming. That in itself is worth the price if you’re an avid gamer, but even if you’re not, the prospect of positioning application windows side by side is sure to appeal to those with a more productive use in mind. Thanks to Windows 7, it is dead easy to position two programs side by side with the press of the Windows key and left and right arrow keys. This is made all the better by the generous amount of screen space on offer from widescreen monitors, as now more of each application becomes visible, making them easier to work with. The SyncMaster 2233SWN shows off Samsung’s well-deserved reputation for good-quality LCD screens; it’s bright, colours are vibrant, and when set to its native resolution of 1920x1080, images are sharp and crisp. Its plastic casing is suitably sturdy, if a bit on the thick side around the edges. The only real flaw with the monitor’s casing is the fact that the 2233SWN can only tilt slightly, and not swivel at all. If you want this screen turned a little, you’ll have to rotate it on its base. The monitor has a selection of buttons down the right side that are used to control the menu system that adjusts the screen’s settings. There are presets for movies, games and general use that adjust the colour, brightness
and contrast to suit whatever you’re doing. Accessing and navigating the menu system is easy, as is tweaking the screen’s brightness, contrast and colour saturation to your own tastes. The 2233SWN only comes with DVI and VGA inputs, so you can’t hook it up to a PS3 or Xbox 360 without needing to make an additional plan for sound. A more gaming-centric monitor would include an HDMI input as well as speakers; the absence of these here is lamentable, but forgivable considering the excellent price. That’s really the 2233SWN’s biggest selling point – its price. It doesn’t really stand out above the crowd feature-wise when compared to all the other offerings out there, but it sure is affordable, and that goes a long way towards fostering some good feelings towards it. Add to that performance that is more than good enough for use as a general purpose monitor, and you have a definite contender for your monitor upgrade budget.
SAMSUNG SYNCMASTER T260 26” LCD MONITOR
Bigger is definitely better in the world of LCD monitors. Samsung’s gorgeous T260 is a 26” monster screen that will easily gladden the hearts of gamers everywhere.
NOTEWORTHY SPECS • 21.5” LCD • 300 Nits brightness • 50 000:1 Contrast ratio • 1920x1080 Resolution • 5ms response time • VGA, DVI Inputs PROS
• Excellent price for a widescreen monitor • Displays sharp images, vibrant colours • Handy presets for varied uses
• No HDMI input or speakers • Tilt-only, no swivel motion
ACER X193 19” LCD MONITOR
If your needs are more down to earth, there’s nothing wrong with a 19”, non-widescreen monitor like Acer’s X193.
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BELKIN USB 802.11B/G/N ADAPTER
Netgear WG311 Wireless-G PCI Networking Adapter
This USB adapter offers better range and speed than the WG311 and is easier to install, but it’s also around twice the price.
NEED TO KNOW
PERFECT COMPANIO COMPANIONS
• Wireless networking adapter for a desktop PC • IEEE802.11b/g compatible • 54mbps maximum transfer speed R499.95
Netgear DG834GUK 54mbps Wireless-G ADSL Router This Netgear ADSL router will connect your ADSL line with your home computers using both wired and wireless connections. Netgear reckons you’ll even see speed improvements when using the WG311 adapter with it.
THIS Wireless-G networking adapter from Netgear is the kind of product you’d buy if you were trying to fill particular networking needs. If, for instance, you had a desktop PC that was quite far removed from your wireless router, and using a network cable to connect the two would present a physical challenge, the WG311 PCI adapter would be a good solution. It’s not the fastest wireless networking adapter Netgear has to offer, but is reasonably priced and performs well enough to comfortably connect your desktop PC to your wireless network. Installation is the only really tricky part, especially if you’ve never before opened up your computer case. Doing so is a requirement, but luckily there‘s no need to be intimidated as there’s only one place the WG311 will fit, and that’s in an available PCI slot. This is a white slot that matches the length of the underside of the adapter, and plugging it in is a matter of inserting gently, and pushing down until the card is sitting flush in the slot. Once it’s screwed in tightly, all you need to do is close the case and turn on the PC. The WG311 also comes with an installation CD, which can be used to install the software necessary to make it work with your operating system. Windows XP, Vista and 7 are all supported here, and running through the setup process is as easy as following the on-screen instructions and clicking Next when necessary. When working with wireless networks, even a home one, it’s necessary to familiarise yourself with wireless security protocols, lest you leave your network open to abuse from outsiders. The WG311 adapter supports 40- and 128-bit WEP encryption; while this is not the strongest encryption available today, it is more than adequate for securing a home network. Adding this to your home setup just makes sure only people with access to your
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security key can connect to your network. All you need to do is configure the WEP security settings on your router, and enter the same key your router generated for you into the WG311’s security settings, and you’re set up. Doing this the first time may require outside assistance, so don’t be afraid to ask friends or family for help. On the bright side, you’ll only need to do this once. Netgear recommends using a Netgear wireless router to ensure the fastest possible transfer speeds, but honestly any router that supports the IEEE802.11b/g wireless networking standard and WEP security will be more than good enough to use with this adapter. Where this adapter is not recommended, is in network setups where there is a large distance and obstacles between your router and your PC, as the 802.11b/g standard does not offer signal strength that can overcome thick walls, obstacles and distance. In that case, a wireless 802.11b/g/n adapter is a much smarter purchase. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • • • • • • •
Dimensions (without antenna): 132.8 x 21.8 x 121 mm Weight (including antenna): 115 g Network Speeds: 802.11b: 1, 2, 5.5, 11 Mbps (auto rate capable) 802.11g: 6, 9, 12, 18, 24, 36, 48, 54 Mbps (auto rate capable) Interface: 32-bit PCI bus Frequency Band: 2.412 ~ 2.472 GHz (Europe ETSI) Encryption: 40-bit (also called 64-bit),128-bit WEP encryption PROS
• Basic wireless networking connectivity for a desktop • Cheaper than a USB adapter • Defeats cable clutter
• Coverage area and strength is limited • WEP security not the best • Installation is a bit tricky
LOGITECH CLEARCHAT PRO
Boasting slightly more comfort and with better audio quality, Logitech’s ClearChat Pro headset will set you back over R300 more than the ClearChat Stereo.
Logitech ClearChat Stereo Headset NEED TO KNOW • Headset for IM chats and music • Use comfortably for hours • Boom microphone for easy access R299.95
PLANTRONICS AUDIO 310 HEADSET
This single-speaker headset with a superior noisecancelling microphone is specifically designed for highquality chatting.
WHILE this isn’t Logitech’s latest or greatest headset ever, the ClearChat Stereo headset is the kind of product that does exactly what is required of it. No mess, no fuss, just good, solid performance and excellent value for money. Practical experience revealed that these headphones can be worn for hours before they get even remotely uncomfortable. The foam that covers the speakers is remarkably soft, and the plastic band that goes over your head is easily adjustable to a comfortable fit. Better yet, the sound this headset puts out is very good, suitable for all kinds of music – even songs with a lot of bass. It must be said, however, that the ClearChat Stereo headset is not for people who demand that utmost quality in their audio as it does distort at high volumes. This is not to say the sound quality is bad, though, far from it – this is more for people looking for a headset with which to listen to music, and more importantly, chat to friends using Instant Messaging software. This is where the ClearChat Stereo headset comes into its own. Once you’ve located the headphone and microphone jacks on your desktop or notebook computer and plugged the headset in, it’s ready to rock. This is easy, thanks to the easily-identified headphone and microphone symbols embossed onto the headset’s two 3.5mm jacks. Voice conversations are a true pleasure when using this headset. Audio quality is crisp and clear, and when you get a really clear connection to your
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chat partner, it sounds like they’re in the same room with you. Just be aware that the quality of the connection between you is often dependent on the speed of the respective Internet connections and how busy the Internet is. If it’s not crystal clear right away, try again in a few hours. Another nice touch to the ClearChat Stereo’s design is the lengthy six-anda-half foot cord. This provides the freedom to move around while wearing the headset and not being tethered too closely to your PC or notebook. And that’s all there really is to this headset. Once it’s properly plugged in, it just works, and that’s exactly what you need. It’s also nicely priced and of Logitech’s usual excellent quality, making it a very appealing product and a very good buy for anyone looking for a new headset. NOTEWORTHY FEATURES • Frequency response: Headset: 20-20,000 Hz Microphone: 100-10,000Hz • Sensitivity: -62 dBV/uBAR, -42 dBV/Pascal +/-3dB • 6.5-foot shielded cord with 3.5mm analog plugs PROS
• Good sound quality for music and voice • Sensitive microphone • Long cord
• High volumes distort the sound a bit
Roxio Toast 10 Titanium NEED TO KNOW • Disc-burning software for Mac OS X • Convert audiobook CDs for iPod playback • Convert media, extract clips from DVDs • Capture and tag audio R1 299.95
THE Mac has always capable of burning CDs and DVDs, both data and media discs. Yet Apple has been reluctant to support certain disc formats, like Video CDs, music DVDs, and, most recently, Blu-ray. When you want to burn such discs, you’re most likely to be told by someone to “Toast it”. Like past versions, Toast 10 Titanium does more than just burn discs; it is also a tool for converting media, creating disc images, extracting video from media, devices, and the Web, and streaming content over the Internet. Toast 10 specifically adds the ability to extract clips from unprotected DVDs, save and convert Web-based Flash video, archive AVCHD files from an HD camcorder, convert audiobook CDs for iTunes or iPod playback and capture and tag audio from external sources. Most criticisms of this software in the past have been related to the fact that it was too feature-packed. Surprised? It’s true. Too many features meant that some went unnoticed or were difficult to find. Roxio has solved this problem by making Toast more intuitive by organising tasks into tabs, namely Data, Audio, Video, Copy, and Convert. Click the appropriate tab and you’ll find options for performing jobs that make sense for that category of tasks. The Convert tab facilitates the performance of such tasks as extracting and converting video from an unprotected DVD and converting audiobook CDs to an iPod-compatible form. Toast has been able to convert files for quite some time, but the means for doing it weren’t self-apparent. The new Convert tab now makes the process much clearer. The Audiobook convert option is one cool new feature. With it, we were able to convert a seven-CD audiobook into a single, bookmarkable m4b file that works just like a book purchased from the iTunes Store or Audible.com. As nifty as these improvements are, some features still remain hidden. A quick browse through a few forums and we noticed, for example, that Toast can extract Flash video from a Web site. Yet there’s no obvious way to do this and nor does the manual offer any instruction. It’s a pity that there are so many
incredible features, yet they’re so inelegantly implemented. Some patience and a little bit of time is all it requires to find your way around completely. Toast 10 Titanium has a number of additional applications, such as CD Spin Doctor for capturing and tagging audio from an external source like Internet audio, Streamer for making encoded videos available remotely via a Web browser, or your iPhone or iPod touch. With the disc burning capabilities built into the Mac OS, iTunes, iPhoto, and iDVD, you wouldn’t be alone in wondering if purchasing this software is entirely necessary. If your needs involve merely making discs for another computer, backing up data to disc, and creating audio CDs, photo discs, and DVDs of the movies you make with your Mac, the answer is “not really”. Your Mac lets you create and burn such discs with ease. But when it comes to creating music DVDs playable in standalone DVD and Blu-ray players, enhanced audio CDs, Video CDs, Blu-ray compatible DVDs, and writeable Blu-ray discs, Toast is the way to go. In fact, some might say, it’s the only way to go. SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS: • Macintosh computer with a PowerPC G4, PowerPC G5 or Intel Processor. PowerPC G5 CD, DVD or Blu-ray recordable drive • Mac OS X v10.5.x; QuickTime v7.x • Up to 800 MB free disk space to install all components • Up to 15 GB of temporary free disk space during usage • Internet connection required for some functionality
• Cleaner interface, loads of themes to choose from • Good balance between user-friendliness and more advanced controls • Convert home video footage for watching in HD on a Blu-ray player
• Too much functionality hidden away • Takes a fair amount of time to learn • Error messages are cryptic and not very helpful
APPLE IPOD NANO 16GB PINK
Holds up to 4 000 songs and has 2” colour LCD with LED backlight. Battery life of 24 hours music & 4 hours video playback means you can listen to as much music and as many audiobooks and watch as many videos as you can handle.
The simplest way to keep everything in sync on your iPhone, iPod Touch, Mac and PC.
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LINUX FOR DUMMIES, 9TH EDITION
NEED TO KNOW • By Richard Blum • 456 Pages
IF you’ve been curious about Linux in any way and have been considering buying a book to help you get started, the 9th edition of the excellent Linux for Dummies is for you. The opening chapter of the book goes into some detail about everything Linux, including what Linux is, what Open Source means, and breaks down what the different distributions are and who they are appropriate to. Other pertinent information, including technical tips and hints on how to get Linux running and how to prepare your PC for it, occupy the following chapters. Using the operating system, configuring Internet and e-mail access are also covered. It doesn’t stop there, with chapters on security, basic administration and navigating the graphical user interface too. Blum’s style is typically Dummies: engaging, conversational, and often amusing, but always informative and relevant. This serves to make delving into Linux interesting, engaging and - dare we say it – fun! If you’ve been on the fence about which book to buy, we highly recommend you settle on this one.
PROJECT 2007 FOR DUMMIES
NEED TO KNOW • By Nancy C. Muir • 408 Pages
MANAGING projects is no simple task, and often learning how to operate the software written to make it easier is just another task to master before even attempting a project. Microsoft’s Project 2007 software is undoubtedly a great way to plan and manage projects, but learning how to properly use it can be a rather intimidating task; Nancy C. Muir comes to the rescue with this friendly, easy to use guide that uses an affable, friendly style of writing along with a wealth of knowledge to impart everything you’ll need to know about using Microsoft Project 2007 effectively. Muir covers Project 2007 in considerable detail, taking readers through all phases of a project and discussing the various functions of Project 2007 that make each phase easier. Everything from planning to timing to delegation is covered here, intelligently and logically and in such a way that the reader never feels overwhelmed. Entire chapters are devoted to the efficient use of resources, how costs can be effectively managed with 60 | CONNECT | FEBRUARY 2010
Project 2007’s help, fine-tuning, establishing baselines and what to do when a project falls behind schedule, and lots more. Muir imparts invaluable project management tips and insights along the way, too, making this a valuable resource for beginner as well as intermediate project managers.
HOW TO DO EVERYTHING: UBUNTU – UBUNTU LINUX
NEED TO KNOW • By Jeffrey T. Orloff • 328 Pages
THE perception of Ubuntu Linux, an opensource operating system developed right here in South Africa by Mark Shuttleworth’s Ubuntu Foundation, is of a very complex, nerds-only operating system that the average Joe would probably struggle with. While largely true, that is not to say it’s not an operating system worth exploring, and with the help of Jeffrey T. Orloff, that is exactly what this book aims to help readers do. The title says it all – this book contains all the step by step instructions the reader will need to get a firmer grasp on how to operate Ubuntu Linux, like loading and running applications, installing printers, getting accustomed to the Ubuntu user interface and more. It serves as a good introduction to doing the day to day tasks any computer user might be called upon to perform, as well as all the built-in applications of Ubuntu Linux. It also delves into OpenOffice.org, an open-source office productivity application included with Ubuntu that does most of what Microsoft’s popular (but expensive) Office suite can. The writing is a little technical and the going can be a bit heavy for anyone not familiar with computer operating systems, but there is a wealth of knowledge here to be explored and absorbed. It is a great read for computer enthusiasts looking to broaden their horizons.
HOW TO DO EVERYTHING WITH YOUTUBE
NEED TO KNOW • By Chad Fahs • 208 Pages
YOUTUBE.COM has grown so big that it is as much a part of popular culture today as Coca Cola, Microsoft and Mickey Mouse. But many people still don’t know what it’s all about, and many more have yet to participate in its massive online community by making, exchanging and commenting on its billions of videos. This may be due to a lack of information on what YouTube is, how exactly to participate and what to do with the wealth of videos it generates on a daily basis. Chad Fahs’ book addresses this knowledge gap by taking readers through how to shoot and edit videos, how to insert captions and titles, special effects and more into your home-made videos. He also discusses how to set up a ‘channel’ of your own on YouTube and even how to upload and promote your own creations so that more and more people see them. With a potential global audience of over 20 million people and the only barrier to entry being know-how, this book proves itself invaluable in educating readers about the potential of YouTube. If you’ve ever harboured secret fantasies of being the next Internet sensation, this is the book that will tell you how to put your crazy ideas on-screen, for all to see.
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game reviews //BY TIANA CLINE
HEAVY RAIN R799.95 Exclusive to the PlayStation 3 platform, Heavy Rain is a story-driven title. Promising to capture you with an engrossing plot, Heavy Rain is a breakaway from typical video games that could easily slot into a genre like FPS or RPG. Instead, this noir-thriller (with adventure elements) is based around a cleverly constructed story – the player’s decisions and interactions are rooted in a deep emotional involvement with the plot and the characters as well as the character’s feelings towards certain situations. The story begins with a happy family of four – a successful architect father, mother and two young boys. All looks good until tragedy strikes the Mars family and both sons are hit by a car. One is killed, the other is in a coma for six months. From this point on, things start to get interesting. Two years later Ethan Mars is a mess – he blacks out only to wake up with an origami creation in his hand. Mysterious. And so begins a heavy and emotionally intense narrative that unfolds through the actions you choose to take – the Mars family is a normal one that has landed in an extraordinary situation. Every action has a consequence and you never really know what is going to happen from scene to scene. From a family tragedy to another crime – the origami killer investigation, there is a lot going on in Heavy Rain and from the small amount of information given to future players, you can see that this game dares to tackle subject matter and themes rarely touched upon in video games, making it a genuinely mature game for a new world of adult gamers. And be warned, this title comes with an age restriction for a reason – Heavy Rain is the sort of game where your mind, emotions and human nature will be put to the test like never before. It takes interactive entertainment down a dark, compelling path rarely explored in the gaming world. It’s intense! The main story will revolve around four different characters with the spotlight on their perceptions of what is happening around them. These playable characters include an FBI profiler named Norman Jayden, a private detective named Scott Shelby, an architect named Ethan Mars and a journalist named Madison Paige. The question of what is good and what is evil will be evident, but this is merely the perception of the player and the character they’ve taken the role of. Ultimately, Heavy Rain will be an experiment in interactive storytelling. Those with a PS3 will definitely appreciate the effort the developers put in to make this a unique gameplay experience. How far are you really willing to go to save the one you love?
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NEED TO KNOW • Only on PS3 • An emotional experience • Film quality narrative • Hollywood production values
>>DID YOU KNOW<< Heavy Rain uses a unique control scheme – a trigger button on the PlayStation 3 controller will move the character forward. It takes advantage of the button’s analogue function, allowing the user to control the speed of the character’s movement by pressing harder or softer on the button. The left analogue stick controls the movement of the character’s head and the direction the character moves in relation to where the character is looking.
>>COMING SOON<< ALAN WAKE Alan Wake is a psychological action thriller from Remedy. Players assume the role of Alan Wake, a best-selling suspense author suffering from writer’s block, who escapes to a small town only to experience the mysterious disappearance of his fiancée. Set in the deceptively idyllic town of Bright Falls, Alan Wake is missionbased with a deeply engaging and suspenseful storyline unveiling new twists and profound character revelations at every turn.
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NEED TO KNOW • 1940s occupied Paris • An open-world environment • Steal elements like climbing and sneaking • Exciting and unique missions
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 A heart-racing and epic single-player campaign that picks up immediately following the thrilling events from Call of Duty 4.
NEED TO KNOW • Never-seen-before locations in Rapture • Play as a Big Daddy • Exciting story twists • 5 multiplayer modes
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colour returns – this element is both visually rewarding and a mechanism to keep you interested in the missions. As the name implies, the game is about sabotage, which means you’ll find yourself blowing up zeppelins, derailing trains, imploding bridges, destroying armoured tanks and levelling enemy facilities, all in the name of vengeance. Every mission is tactically different, but contains lots of evil Nazi-shooting fun. Although the story may not be historically accurate, the game is an enjoyable and over-the-top re-enactment of the time period. R699.95
THE Saboteur is another 1940s World War 2 outing for gamers. This time, you’ll be playing Sean Devlin, a streettough Irish racing mechanic seeking personal redemption. The Saboteur is the first open-world action game set in Nazioccupied Europe and Devlin is out for payback, with the help of the French Resistance. The setting of the game is great and you’ll enjoy trekking through a stylised version of Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower, to the riverbanks of the Seine, the cathedral of Notre Dame or the prestigious Champs-Élysées. As Paris changes, so does the scenery and this makes the environment a part of the gameplay. Locations controlled by Nazis are monochromatic, but once that area has been freed,
Assassin’s Creed 2 Ezio Auditore da Firenze is an Italian noble-turned-assassin who seeks vengeance. Against a gorgeous 15th century Italy backdrop, you’ll perform exciting missions.
THE first (and award-winning) BioShock game was a first-person watery utopia set in the fascinating world of Rapture. The second game returns players to this world, adding in first-person shooter combat, a compelling plot and intense multiplayer action. Ten years later, a monster is kidnapping little girls and you play the very first Big Daddy, looking for answers as you survive in the undersea metropolis. Being a Big Daddy comes with its perks – you now have access to heavy weapons like the drill and rivet gun. Unlike the first BioShock game that was heavy with non-stop action, the sequel lets you really experience Rapture by opening up new (and hidden) locations and actually exploring the ocean. All five of the multiplayer modes have been genetically enhanced. Experience points earned during gameplay allows access to new Weapons, Plasmids and Tonics that can be used to create hundreds of different player combinations – your style is your own. Also, there are six characters to choose from as an in-game avatar as your character levels up and progresses through
the multiplayer story their appearance will become more and more deformed due to splicing. If Rapture was one of your favourite gaming destinations, then a second visit is definitely in order! R699.95
>>CONSIDER THIS<< BioShock BioShock, the original first-person shooter, is an award-winning and exciting title that will keep you on your toes as you traverse the deadly water world that is Rapture.
TOM CLANCY’S SPLINTER CELL CONVICTION
NEED TO KNOW • A full arsenal of cuttingedge innovations • Jaw-dropping visuals • New, co-op multiplayer mode
SAM Fisher, hero of the acclaimed Splinter Cell series, is back for a fifth outing. Taking place two years after Double Agent, Fisher has gone rogue from Third Echelon after discovering that the death of his daughter, Sarah, was no accident. While attempting to uncover the truth, he finds himself trying to stop a more serious threat upon Washington DC. On his home, Sam Fisher is a much more aggressive character, stopping at nothing to uncover information. With no one telling him what to do or where to go, Conviction is the most unique Splinter Cell game. Stealth is still a big gameplay element, but added to this is a “mark and execute” option that lets the player select multiple enemies and then quickly take them down in a brutal fashion. Another addition is the addictive multiplayer, co-op mode – this means working together for the most awesome executions, but also getting through some areas Fisher would have died in before. Other exciting bits to look forward to are the merciless hand-tohand combat abilities and the odd interrogation scene. Already armed with all the high-tech weaponry and lethal skills of an elite operative makes Conviction a great way to play the game, especially if justice means making your own rules… and being rogue rules! R799.95
>>COMING SOON<< Mass Effect 2 Number two in Bioware’s sci-fi trilogy, Mass Effect 2 is set to an unforgettable RPG-shooter experience, taking players on a nonstop ride filled with plot twists and no-holds-barred action.
>>CONSIDER THIS<< Army of Two: The 40th Day The tactical two-man military team head into new battlegrounds in a completely organic and rich co-op experience. An action-packed, EA co-op shooter.
DARKSIDERS: WRATH OF WAR
NEED TO KNOW LITTLEBIGPLANET
• Experience the power of War, a horseman of the apocalypse • Open world exploration • An expansive arsenal of weapons • Graphic novel art style • Cinematic gameplay experience
NEED TO KNOW • 30 levels • 7 creative themes • Play, create and share levels
FIRST appearing on PS3, LittleBigPlanet was a delightful platforming experience that combined crazy customisation with really interesting 3D levels. Now on the PSP platform, you’ll once again enjoy the travels of Sackboy; the cute protagonist who can be decorated, dressed and even express emotion at the press of a button. To do all of this, you’ll use your handy Popit, which, in basics, is a menu system that contains material, stickers and tools you’ll need to play the game. Stickers? Yes, LittleBigPlanet is about physics so all materials and objects in the environments behave accordingly. In your Popit, you’ll have a full array of
stickers, decorations, materials (glass, metal, sponge, polystyrene, cardboard and rubber), bolts (springs, motor and wobble bolts), switches, and rods, to choose from. These are all for creating your own level that can be shared on the PlayStation Network. If not, you can simply play through the all the levels that come with the game, avoiding obstacles, solving puzzles and collecting items that can be used to make your own creations. For those in need of a new PSP title, LittleBigPlanet is a great platformer for artistic gamers. R449.95
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>>CONSIDER THIS<< Prototype
NEW Super Mario Bros.
It’s-a-me, Mario! Jump, bounce and power-up through side-scrolling worlds filled with Mushroom Kingdom madness on the Nintendo DS.
Ben 10 Alien Force: Vilgax Attacks Ben 10’s third game takes place in an explorable, 3D world. And for the first time, he can use all 10 of his alien force weapons to stop the ultimate villain, Vilgax, from taking over the universe.
DARKSIDERS is the story of War, one of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. And who wouldn’t like the idea of exploring the world 100 years after the biblical Apocalypse, traveling through expansive dungeons, battling demons and angels and striking deals with unsavory characters in an epic quest to restore the balance between Heaven and Hell? It’s a dark tale with lots of God of War and Zelda parallels. The game is great to look at with a colourful, cartoon fantasy art style. Combat in the game means learning new moves as you progress through the game and performing merciless, devastating and stylish
You’re Alex Mercer, a genetically mutated shape-shifter with no memory. Explore NYC moving with Parkour-style fluidity and consume anybody that gets in your way.
combos. In Darksiders, the gameplay is not only hack-and-slash, there are puzzles to solve as well as platform elements. You’ll also find yourself riding Ruin, War’s phantom steed as you cross the detailed open-world locations. All of this really adds a lot of variety to the gameplay so there is a good chance you’ll stay interested until the very end. Darksiders may not be an original game, but it is a lot of fun and borrows from the best there is for some serious, button-mashing fun. R699.95
>>COMING SOON<< God of War III
Kratos is raining carnage upon the Gods who have betrayed him. Armed with deadly doublechained blades, he’ll take on mythology’s darkest creatures while solving intricate puzzles on his quest to destroy Olympus.
SAW For fans of horror, Saw’s gameplay is a mix of brainteasers and combat. The game really feels like the movies – if you can defeat Jigsaw’s brutal traps and survive, you may just discover the truth behind what drives this twisted serial killer.
MX vs ATV Reflex No matter if you’re looking for a racing or freestyle adrenaline rush, Reflex is a huge game for off-road fanatics. Now you can independently control your rider to shift his weight, perform death-defying stunts and avoid potentially devastating wrecks.
Tech Tannie: As exciting as snow in Jozi, she offers advice like others do Klippies and Cola. IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS, GRIPES OR JUST SEEK SOME SOLACE, E-MAIL TAMSIN, OUR FRIENDLY TECH TANNIE AT TECHTANNIE@ CONNECT.CO.ZA
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issue of the month: Q:
What is an MMO or an MMORPG? It seems like everywhere I turn these names appear? Are they a kind of hardware? Online Albie in Olifansfontein
It seems that 2010 has brought out the gamer in everybody! I’ve about 100 questions on games and what different things mean. I know that in SA we aren’t blessed with the best Internet connection in the world, but it is possible for you to enjoy the wonders of the MMO should you so desire. But first, I need to tell you what these are. I’m a bit worried about you to be honest. I mean, if you’ve seen these words bandied about then you surely have read stuff but, no, it appears that you may be that rare creature that really does live under a rock. MMO is short for Massively Multiplayer Online – that means that lots of people can play online together, at the same time, one such creature is Planetside. The MMORPG is the most common and stands for Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game and includes the increasingly infamous World of
Warcraft. There are tons of these and some new ones, like Star Trek Online, are about to hit the internet soon. These are incredibly entertaining and addictive so if you decide to try one, be warned.
I want to build my own website and I’ve heard of Wordpress. What is this and is it easy to use as I’m not very technical? Wondering Webby in Welkom
Yebo, yes! This is a most excellent decision, creating your own little online haven for wordy frolics and fun. However, you did neglect to tell me whether this was for work or for personal use. This can make a difference to what you do and how you design it. So I am going to assume it’s for personal use and forge ahead. Let’s look at Wordpress first shall we? This is a superb tool and well worth using for your site and, best of all, it’s completely free. It can work for both business and personal use as it’s very customisable. It’s also very easy to use, so is a good place to start for a beginner. But to use Wordpress you need a server and a hosting service. There are lots of options for you to choose from on the ‘Net – just Google domain hosting and a whack will pootle onto your screen. Before you choose your hosting service though, do some research and see what reviews they get. It’s best to know what kind of service you’re getting right from the start. Also check the fine print – some people are a bit kak and throw in all sorts of hidden costs that can really add up. Also make sure that they can run Wordpress properly. Once you’ve chosen your host you’ll need to choose your domain name. This is the name that sits in navigation bar i.e. www.techtannie.com. Some hosting services will help you buy your domain name for you, but you can just go ahead and do it yourself. There are some fiddly technical bits in transferring it to your host so perhaps use your provider’s expertise instead of doing it yourself if you’re worried. The different names will cost you different amounts; so if you want a .com it’s going to cost you a lot more than a .co.uk. You can pay for a year or more in one lump sum. If you went through your host it will all be done and dusted, if you didn’t then you’ll need to work with them in transferring your domain to them. They will then sort everything out. Be warned that it can take a few days, so don’t expect an instant website. Then you just need to install Wordpress, choose the template you like, fill in the details and get going. Expect to take at least two weeks from start to finish. If you don’t rush it you will find the process of building your site, fleshing it out and getting it just right so much fun and extremely satisfying. Lekker building, my friend.
I want to play PC games, but I can’t help but feel a little intimidated by all the technical terms and pieces that seem to go with it. Should I get a PC or should I just get a console instead? Gamey Jeffrey, in Gordon’s Bay
Now, I’m a moerse PC gaming fan, I only like the consoles for racing games and that’s pretty much it. However, the PC takes a lot of loving care and you need to learn quite a bit about all sorts of different things to keep it going nicely. I personally think that taking on the PC learning curve is totally worth it. You get better graphics, superior control and, when the game is designed for the PC and not a mere port, a tighter game. However, it needs money and time to keep a PC running nicely and more and more games are being made for the console first and then being shipped over to the PC as an afterthought. This has meant that lots of people have gone to the console, including die hard PC fans! I’ve not compromised personally, but I do weep when titles like Splinter Cell go from tight, sharp games to the crap control ports of the console. Learning all the different components in a gaming PC isn’t that hard and if you buy a rig all set up and ready to go, then you only need stay on top of your upgrades and maintenance. You don’t need to start out with an in-depth knowledge of every last feature. If you buy a ready-made rig just make sure you tell the sales person exactly what kind of games you want to play so they give you the right specs to handle those games. That said, if you want hassle-free gaming then go for a console and try it out. If the games enthral you, especially the first person shooter genre, then look at getting a gaming PC.
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MINIMUM SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS: • A computer with an Intel Pentium or higher processor or equivalent • Supported operating systems • Windows XP 32-bit Edition with Service Pack 3 • Windows Vista 32-bit or 64-bit Editions with Service Pack 1 • Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 or above • 256 MB of memory (RAM), 512 MB recommended • 500 MB of free hard disk space for application files plus 150 MB working space during installation • SVGA monitor with 256 colours, but preferably 16-bit colour (called Medium Colour in XP) and 800 x 600 pixel resolution • Sound card is optionally required for using the functionality of the supplied Text-To-Speech engine • Windows-compatible pointing device • CD-ROM drive for installation • Web access needed for product registration, activation, and obtaining live updates for the program.
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