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FEATURES 10

MAY 2010

16

VOL02 ISSUE #01

Get to know the Tablet Trend Apple’s iPad is here ...

12 Portable Computing in a Flash Should you buy a notebook or netbook? We help you choose

16 What’s the Buzz? Google’s own social networking service

20 Uncapped ADSL All you need to know about this new Internet connectivity

24 How to Not Break Your PC Sick of computer crashes? Follow our simple steps

28 Get Tech Fit From Wii to YouTube, working out has never been better

28

12


04 06 08 68 70 72

Editor’s Letter

36 44 45 46 48 0 50 52 56 7 57 58 60

Top 5

News Trouble-free Technobabble abble Tamsin the Tech Tannie ie Competition Disconnect

Screens Printers Accessories Cameras meras Music players Peripherals Game consoles e-Book reader Software Books oks

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PUBLISHER Brett Haggard brett@connect.co.za EDITOR Tiana Cline tiana@connect.co.za CONTRIBUTING Johann Barnard EDITOR johann@connect.co.za

TECHNOLOGY Deon du Plessis EDITOR deon@connect.co.za JUNIOR WRITER Tamaryn Watkins tamaryn@connect.co.za CONTRIBUTORS Peter Dawoud,Tamsin Mackay,Adam Oxford ART DIRECTION Infiltrate Media www.infiltratemedia.co.za

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SUBSCRIPTIONS subscriptions@connect.co.za connect.co.za ADVERTISING Dorothy Haggard dorothy@connect.co.za CONTACT Hypertext Media Communications (011) 023-8001 info@hypertext.co.za

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4 | CONNECT | MAY 2010

an you believe it’s been a year already? With 12 fantastic issues of technology made simple to look back on, Connect is officially 1! And what a tremendous year it‘s been - we’ve managed to cover every facet of your digital life. From laptops to Internet connectivity, gaming to printing – Connect magazine has been your helpful source of workshops, buying advice and so much more. This is our one-year anniversary issue and, as you’ve come to expect, it’s packed with lots of great content. The one thing about living in the technological age is keeping up with the lingo – sometimes new words pop up faster than you can know what is happening around you. First there were laptops, but some called them notebooks. And now there are nettops… but also netbooks. What is what? And if you’re interested in buying a portable computer, what’s the best mobile option for you? In this issue on page 12, we look at exactly that in our buying advice feature. There was a time where playing video games had a bad stigma. You had to be an antisocial geek eating takeaways who would spend hour upon hour in the basement. Today, we know this is far from the truth. Never mind the fact that with the Internet, most games have a multiplayer component where you can literally play against hundreds of people, Nintendo’s Wii console has introduced movement in a new way

thanks to games like Wii Fit and EA Sports ACTIVE. In this issue of Connect, on page 28, we look at being tech fit – there are so many great ways to keep healthy and exercise with a technological twist. Another key feature this month (see page 20) is an update on Internet connectivity – with the announcement of uncapped ADSL offerings in the market, we explain it all from scratch so you’ll know what you’re getting and why in terms of bandwidth, speed and more. If you’ve had enough of your computer crashing, resulting in you losing all your important data, this month we’re going to tell you how to not break your computer. There are some really simple steps you can take to keep your PC perfect – see page 24. In the games section, we’re taking a look at the upcoming Prince of Persia game as well as other great games. Be sure to look out for the Battlefield Bad Company 2 giveaway. Tamsin the Tech Tannie is back, dishing out lekker advice and answering all your questions and you, as always, up your tech know-how learning new jargon. And we didn’t forget! Our first birthday issue is crammed with helpful reviews that promise to make you an informed shopper. Here’s to a great 12 issues of the only technology magazine in South Africa that speaks your language. Enjoy the issue. Tiana Cline EDITOR


news

NO BLACKBERRY? YOU CAN STILL TEXT FREE!

GOOGLE EARTH – A PALEONTOLOGIST’S BEST FRIEND Google has become synonymous with ‘search’, but the discovery of the fossil remains of a previously unknown species of hominid gives new meaning to ‘googling’. The scientists who found the treasure used Google Earth to locate unexplored cave sites and fossil deposits in South Africa. Scientists announced the discovery of a new species of hominid, thanks to fossils whose whereabouts were located with the help of Google Earth. Dating back almost two million years, Australopithecus sediba was discovered in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site in South Africa. The species appears to have had long arms, like an ape; short powerful hands; and long legs capable of striding and possibly running like a human. Lee Berger, a palaeoanthropologist from the University of the Witwatersrand, began using Google Earth back in 2008 and initially used the technology primarily to map the 130 or so caves and 20 fossil deposits he and his colleagues had already identified over the past decades. Scientists around the world are touting the discovery as an extremely significant one and it seems likely that Google Earth and other technologies will continue to play a role in such discovery. (Source: Katherine Noyes for TechNewsWorld)

For those who don’t own a BlackBerry, but still want the free, instant messaging service for their smartphone, look no further. WhatsApp is a smartphone-to-smartphone messenger/chat application that allows you to carry on a conversation in real time with your mobile contacts without having to pay for SMS. WhatsApp Messenger is currently available for iPhone and BlackBerry and yes, iPhone and BlackBerry owners can message each other! In addition to basic chat functionality, iPhone users can also enjoy unlimited MMS features that let you share images, video and audio media. This instant messaging application and chat service works over your existing Internet data plan - because WhatsApp uses the same Internet data plan that you

PAYPAL LAUNCHES LOCALLY PayPal and First National Bank have joined forces to bring full PayPal functionality to the South African e-commerce environment. This new service allows clients to top up and move funds to their qualifying FNB accounts from their PayPal accounts. This newly available service will also enable international businesses and individuals to transact with South African service providers via a secure and convenient payment service, without having to divulge any potentially risky confidential information. The service is currently limited to FNB account-holders, who can open a PayPal account, link it to their FNB account and receive payments in 21 different currencies, which will be automatically converted to Rands.

POWER TO THE PEOPLE Since its inception in 1994, the South African cellular phone market has been nothing short of prolific, with an impressive 30 million handsets in circulation. With figures like these, it is obvious that these cellphone users would require battery chargers for their phones… but what happens when you need to urgently recharge your cellphone when out and about? Mobile Juice gives South Africans the answer to that question. A Mobile Juice was started by Bongani Tshabalala in response to the need for out T of home cellphone battery recharging. The company is set to establish units across South Africa that will provide

6 | CONNECT | MAY 2010

use for email and web browsing, there is no cost to message and stay in touch with your friends. And if you have an iPhone, WhatsApp automatically works with your existing contacts – there is no hassle of adding friends, creating accounts, or memorizing and sharing PINs and login name. There are a million applications available… but WhatsApp is definitely one of the most useful. For more information, go to www.whatsapp.com

battery charging in high traffic public areas. Mobile Juice is compatible with 95% of all cellular handset models, including devices used abroad. This allows one to recharge one’s phone when it is required, where it is required. The best part? This service is free of charge to users. Each Mobile Juice unit is able to recharge two cellphone batteries simultaneously. The battery is removed from the handset and deposited into the machine and secured by a user chosen pin code. The process is simple with voice prompts that will guide the user through the process. The unit is able to fully charge the majority of mobile phone batteries in 20 minutes. For further information about Mobile Juice, please call 011 783 2661/7 or visit www.mobilejuice.co.za

THE END OF BARCODES AND SUPERMARKET QUEUES? A new tag that seeks to replace barcodes has been designed by Researchers from Sunchon National University in Suncheon in South Korea and Rice University in Houston. The RFID (radio frequency identification) tag that can be printed directly onto packaging and uses ink that’s laced with carbon nanotubes to print electronics directly onto paper or plastic packaging. RFID tags are already commonplace in passports and library books, but the problem with these is that they’re made from silicon, which is more expensive than paper. The best part about these new RFID tags is that you can run your trolley past a sensor, and it can detail the inventory of your shopping cart, instantly. No more queueing, no more having to deal with incompetent cashiers and barcodes that won’t scan – turning every supermarket into a convenience store.


Because it’s always better on the big screen!

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Do you speak BlackBerry?

For more information, visit www.blackberry.co.za Š2010 Research In Motion Limited. All rights reserved. BlackBerry Ž, RIMŽ, Research In MotionŽ, SureTypeŽ, SurePress™ and related trademarks, names and logos are the property of Research In Motion Limited and are registered and/or used in the U.S. and countries around the world. E&OE.

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techno jargon // BY DEON DU PLESSIS

8 | CONNECT | MAY 2010


WITH ALL THE EXCITEMENT SURROUNDING THE LOCAL INTERNET LANDSCAPE, WE THOUGHT WE’D THROW IN A WHOLE BUNCH OF SA-RELEVANT TELECOMS TERMS, AND DE-JARGONISE THEM. SHAPING This is the act of prioritising Internet protocols. For example, a shaped connection will ensure that data associated with common activities like general web browsing and e-mail is processed ahead of less-common protocols associated with newsgroup browsing, peerto-peer programs. While network traffic from these de-prioritised activities still gets through, it gets through at a much slower rate than other, prioritised traffic. The net result is that a shaped connection will be better for some tasks than others. Luckily, most companies that offer shaped Internet connections remove all shaping overnight, giving you an unshaped ‘at night’ Internet experience.

usage. You do, however, need to watch out for words like ‘shaped’ and ‘throttling’ in the terms and conditions of the Internet package you choose to purchase; the rule of thumb here is if you want uncapped Internet with no penalties for using it 24/7, the really affordable ± R200 uncapped packages will not satisfy your needs.

THROTTLING Throttling is a slightly more drastic tactic; whereas shaping merely lowers the priority of certain network traffic, throttling reduces the effective size of your Internet connection. If, for example, you have a 4mb Internet connection and you are throttled to speeds of up to 512k, that means you can only surf, browse or whatever at speeds one eighth the total capacity of your connection. Fortunately, this is only used in drastic circumstances by most ISPs to limit the usage of people who are not using their Internet connections according to the ‘fair usage policy’ most ISPs make you agree to before providing you with service.

ADSL Stands for “Asynchronous Digital Subscriber Line”, and is a method for delivering Internet access to a home via copper cables. It requires a physical telephone line which can only be obtained through Telkom, and then for the service to be activated on that line. This can be done through Telkom directly, or via many of the bigger ISPs. Our advice is to arrange for the telephone line, and only once it is installed to arrange for ADSL to be activated.

UNSHAPED An unshaped internet connection treats all data on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. This is preferred as your Internet connection will then behave according to how you’re using it, rather than being good for some activities but not so good for others. UNCAPPED This word technically means that there is no limitation as to how much data an Internet connection can download. In practical terms, it means that you no longer need worry about data caps, or restrictions on your data

CAP In South African Internet terms, a cap is a data limitation. Until early 2010, South African Internet users had to purchase their bandwidth in Gigabytes, and typically in very small amounts. The ‘cap’ was the number of gigabytes that could be downloaded before Internet access became unavailable.

ADSL ROUTER A router is the piece of hardware that your phone line plugs in to, which then distributes the Internet access this affords to PCs and notebooks, either wirelessly or over wired Ethernet ports. ADSL LINE RENTAL This is the amount paid to your ISP or Telkom for the privilege of getting ADSL delivered over your telephone line. As of May 2010, there is no way around this charge, although it is rumoured that local ISPs are lobbying quite aggressively for this to change. ADSL LINE SPEED For ADSL access in homes, South African ADSL line speeds come in three flavours: 384k, 512k and 4mb.

The theoretical speeds attainable on each are 48KB/s, 64KB/s and 512KB/s respectively, but of course this depends on several factors and is not always achievable. While a 4mb line is preferable, casual users will be more than satisfied with a 384k ADSL line and account. GB A Gigabyte is 1024 megabytes (MB). It might sound like a lot, but with the average music file at around 4MB, that’s only 250 songs. A respectable Internet cap is, in our opinion, closer to 10GB than the paltry 3 or 5 most South Africans have been forced to live with. BANDWIDTH This arcane-sound word can refer to an amount of data that can be copied from one location to another over a given time period (usually one second). This is often used to describe the speed of an Internet connection, or how much data capacity an Internet account has left. An example is “How much bandwidth do we have left for the month?” referring to the number of Gigabytes still available for downloads, whereas “What sort of bandwidth does your business have” refers to how fast the speed of the business’s Internet connection (ADSL Line Speed) is. “LAST MILE” This term refers to the fact that the last portion of physical connectivity between the local Telkom exchange and fixed-line customers is entirely in the control of Telkom. LOCAL LOOP UNBUNDLING This odd term refers to the act of allowing other companies to build their own physical access lines from the local telephone exchange to a customer’s premises. It is widely considered the last big obstacle to truly competitive telecommunications in South Africa, and negotiations are currently underway to make this a reality. The date for this momentous event has tentatively been set for November 2011.

WWW.CONNECT.CO.ZA | 9


tablet preview //BY BRETT HAGGARD

Slated for

A Dominance Tablet PCs are here, and they’ve come to take on your netbook and smartphone …

pple’s long awaited release of the iPad and all of the noise HP and Google have been creating around the upcoming release of their respective tablet computers, make it clear that the next big thing is connected, thin, light and usable-for-a-wholeday-on-nothing-but-battery-powered, touchbased computers… or tablets, slates, pads. This new category of devices, as Apple’s CEO, Steve Jobs is quick to point out, will seriously decrease the appeal of netbooks, mainly because tablets do the important things so much better than a netbook. They might even put pressure on the cellular phone market, making the ‘must-have’ functionality available on smart-phones fade away. THE ‘IN-BETWEEN’ CATEGORY

For the longest time, technology companies have been convinced that the world needed a new category of devices that fits squarely between the mobile phone and the notebook. That’s because mobile phones are just too small to do many of the things the market needs them to (screen and keyboard-wise) and notebooks are either too heavy, don’t offer enough battery life or are just plain and simple ‘too big’ to carry around everywhere. The most recent attempt at a solution resulted in what we call the netbook – essentially ‘smaller notebooks’ that were kitted out with 3G Internet connections. (See our feature on page 12.) Great for on-the-go usage, but if you need high performance, a netbook can mean less disk space and battery life as well as tiny keyboards and compromised screen resolution. Cheap and very good-looking devices, sometimes netbooks aren’t always the smart choice. However, the solution is not smarter a cellphone or a smaller notebook, but something entirely new and different and in-between! INSPIRED BY STAR TREK

The answer to this new technology has been staring us in the face for decades – fiction is proving to be an excellent hunting ground for ideas. And looking at some of the designs for this new category of devices, it’s clear that the inspiration for the iPad and Android Tablet and HP Slate comes straight from Sci-Fi cult movies and T.V. series.

10 | CONNECT | MAY 2010


Game changing It’s a little visionary and out-there, but if you want to know what this kind of device looks like – look at the iPad.

Common Tablet Factors: Hyper-connectedness: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 3G/HSDPA

1GHz or better processor

High-resolution, touch-screen display

Coming soon ... Google and HP’s upcoming devices also look great. While they may look different to Apple’s iPad, they will have a handful of things in common like a great battery life, a touch screen and an ecosystem that provides users with the software and applications required to make their device fit into their lives perfectly. Thin and light; and Competitive pricing.

Multiple GBs of storage space for high definition video, audio and applications; 10 hours+ battery life;

The recipe for a perfect tablet PC? Expect a device that’s light and small enough to be carried most places comfortably, while offering its user a quick connection to the Internet, a big enough screen to comfortably view and interact with all of their content and a powerful enough processor to cope with decoding, transcoding displaying all of that content, which is increasingly prevalent as video and audio, but also text and images. Battery-life must also far exceed the 10-hour mark, since the device should get its user through a workday and a little, in between charges. And memory capacity should be sufficient to cram the device with enough high-quality content to last through at least one battery charge.

Keyboards and mice are also not obligatory peripherals when it comes to interacting with media, since they take up space in the overall design of such a device. Touch-screen technology has gotten so good that it gives you the best of both worlds – a compelling text input and navigation mechanism, that can be hidden away when you want to enjoy content with a device’s entire screen. It must also look good and be durable enough to withstand the everyday knocks and bumps of life. What about applications and content? Well, as Apple, Google and Nokia have proven, online application stores are the way forward.

WWW.CONNECT.CO.ZA | 11


PC buying advice //BY DEON DU PLESSIS

BUYING ADVICE

PORTABLE COMPUTING

IN A FLASH

Netbooks, subnotebooks, notebooks – they all sound like they could be the same device, but are they really? Connect takes a look at these popular portable computing devices and breaks down what you need to know to help you buy the right device for your needs.

12 | CONNECT | MAY 2010


NETBOOKS

What is a netbook, really, and can it do the same job as a notebook? The answer is that it’s a smaller, far more lightweight version of a notebook in every way imaginable – its specifications are lower, its form factor is smaller, it weighs less, and yes, it’s far cheaper. It’s also a lot less powerful, and while its battery generally lasts longer than that of a full-blown notebook, it can’t handle the kind of tasks a notebook can. With a battery life of anything upwards of three hours, a netbook is a great travel companion – it’s small and light, will allow you to browse the Internet wirelessly, lets you check and respond to e-mails, and you can even communicate with friends and family courtesy of a built-in webcam, microphone and speakers. They are also great portable music players. Netbooks are well-suited to light office productivity tasks, such as creating documents, editing very basic spreadsheets, and accessing remote services through Microsoft’s Terminal Services Console as this last task doesn’t rely on the power of the netbook in order to work efficiently. What a netbook is not suited to is heavy workloads involving complex applications, using multiple applications at the same time (multi-tasking), playing 3D games, video and photo editing, or anything that demands lots of memory and a powerful CPU. Netbooks oks are also pretty horrible at playing back movie files, especially ially High Definition files that require significant CPU power to run smoothly. This is because manufacturers nufacturers have had to use low-cost, low-power CPUs such as Intel’s Atom processor to improve battery life and lower the he cost of the machines. Up until

recently, netbooks have also had to make do with less memory than notebooks, which also impacts overall system em performance. Lastly, storage is taken care of either by Flash sh memory, or small notebook hard drives that offer significant ant power savings. Capacities are not big, typically maxing out ut at 160GB. What you get for your money is a travel companion, on, able to keep you in contact with friends and family while you’re away or chilling in a coffee shop. Netbooks are simple ple portable computers able to handle basic productivity tasks, ks, but they are not powerful number-crunchers that can rivalal the performance of a full-blown notebook computer. If your needs are even remotely serious, a netbook is not the way to go. If all you need is a basic computer for communication and some music when you’re on the go, a netbook is just the ticket. WHAT MAKES A NETBOOK, A NETBOOK?

Netbooks are defined by their hardware, and secondly by their size. If you find a book-sized portable computer with a screen smaller than 10 inches running an Intel Atom processor with 1GB of RAM and a small hard drive of 160GB or less and costing less than R3000, you’ve found a netbook. Windows XP is a popular choice for a netbook’s operating system due to its overall power efficiency and responsiveness nsiveness even on slower hardware.

GREAT FOR: • Long battery life (4 hours and more) • Music playback on the go • Light office productivity • Portable communications via Wi-Fi NOT SO GREAT FOR: • Serious work involving complex applications appli • Resp Responsive Responsiv Windows pperformance • HD movie file playback • Multi-tasking

OUR ADVICE Get one if youu like to browse the web and chat too friends online at airports andd coffee shops,, but you don’t run complex applications and your perform mance needs are quite low.

WWW.CONNECT.CO.ZA | 13


PC buying guide

OUR ADVICE Get one if you’re looking for a faster and bigger netbook, but if your needs are for a business machine, hold off and get a proper notebook instead.

SUBNOTEBOOKS

Subnotebooks offer even more confusion than netbooks, fullas they occupy the tiny space between netbooks and full blown notebooks. They are typically slightly smaller than a notebook and a only wee bit bigger than netbooks, with pricing to match. Confusing? Definitely. The problem is that as netbooks have grown in popularity, manufacturers have tried to gain an advantage over each other in terms of the specifications on offer. This has resulted in portable computers far more powerful and bigger than entry-level netbooks, yet not as powerful as a full-blown notebook, and hence the term ‘subnotebook’. When netbooks first launched in 2008, they had tiny 7-inch screens, 8GB of storage and small, cramped keyboards and very long battery lives. Over time, the subnotebook enlarged the screen to 10 inches and above, increased storage to 160GB, enlarged keyboards and reduced the device’s battery life to around 4 hours. The processor has also evolved, from Intel’s entry-level Atom CPUs to Pentium M, Celeron M and even Intel’s Core Solo and Core 2 Duo Ultra Low Voltage processors, all in an effort to squeeze out more performance. Prices have also increased, resulting in the R5000+ price tag seen on store shelves today. The result is a portable computer that performs significantly better than a netbook, lasts longer than a notebook, but not as long as a netbook. If you’re paying more than R5000 for your portable computer, but less than R7000, chances are it qualifies as a ‘subnotebook’. These machines are better-suited to more intensive applications and can play HD movies better than netbooks can. They are still not great for serious business tasks,

14 | CONNECT | MAY 2010

but you could get away with using one as your primary business machine. You will notice general sluggishness in Windows performance, and you will never think “Wow, that was quick” as it completes the tasks you throw at it, but it will run faster than the average netbook. WHAT MAKES A SUBNOTEBOOK?

It is the hardware under the hood and the resultant price that defines a portable PC as a subnotebook. If you’re paying more than R5000, but less than R7000 for a small portable PC, it qualifies as a subnotebook. More than 1GB of RAM, but less than 3GB, a hard drive bigger than 120GB but less than 160GB and a screen around 10” are also dead giveaways. GREAT FOR: • Good battery life – expect between 3 and 7 hours (model-dependent) • Portability – subnotebooks are still smaller than notebooks • Improved multimedia playback capabilities • Better overall performance than a netbook NOT SO GREAT FOR: • Intensive business applications • Desktop-like Windows performance • Bang for buck value • 3D games


NOTEBOOKS

These beautiful machines, also known as laptops, offer the best bang-for-buck if you’re interested in raw performance. While many of them won’t perform at the same level as a properly kitted-out desktop PC, they will at least get you close enough that you won’t be waiting all day for your programs to load. A notebook is defined by its lack of compromise on hardware, so expect proper CPUs like Intel’s Core 2 Duo and Core i3/i5/i7 chips, oodles of RAM (3GB and up), operating systems like Windows 7 and Windows Vista, writeable optical drives and even Blu-Ray players and big screens. Of course, this comes at a price premium, resulting in costs easily twice that of a netbook or subnotebook, but also performance that leaves those two in the dust. Your first clue that you’re investigating a notebook is size – these machines do not compare favourably to books in terms

O R AD OU ADVVIIICE ADVI CE CE Iff ggoo ood mo ood mobi bile bi le per erfo form fo rman rm man ance cee is a muusst, if you yoou ruun bu busi s ness neess a pllic ap icat atio ioons ttha hatt ch chal alle leng ngee ev even en a desk de skto top’ p’ss pr proc oces esso sorr an andd yo youu wa want nt e tr ex t as a likke a wrriti eaabl b e DV DVD dr d ivve or even ev en a BBlu lu-R -Ray ay ppla laye yer,r, a nnot oteb eboo ookk is youur be b stt bett. Here r , we hig i hl hy recommend you spend a bit more than the average notebook costs to experienc n e the benefits of their supe su peririor or hhar ardw dwar are. e.

of their girth, and they can be quite heavy, sometimes as much as 5kg, although the average is closer to 3kg. Your second clue is the large screen – notebook screens are available in sizes ranging from 11 inches all the way up to 17, supporting a range of resolutions up to and including full HD: 1920 x 1080. This makes them far more versatile as multimedia playback devices, as their screens are not only big enough, but their powerful processors ensure that playback is smooth. We’re very fond of Intel’s Core i3, i5 and i7 processors for their energy-efficiency compared to Intel’s older CPUs (Core 2 Duo, Core 2 Quad, Pentium M), and they are significantly faster. Notebooks also have far superior graphics capabilities compared to netbooks and subnotebooks. This is not to say they can play every game on the market, but they will at least be able to load most modern games. Just be aware that the games’ detail and resolution settings will need to be quite low in order to be playable.

The average price for a notebook worth owning is around R12 000. You can pay up to R20 000 for a top-of-the-line notebook, but the features and performance on offer are worth every cent. At that price point, you’ll probably not notice any performance discrepancies between your notebook and a desktop computer. This means multitasking is possible, processor- and memory-intensive applications perform properly, and you can do pretty much anything a desktop can. WHAT MAKES A NOTEBOOK, A NOTEBOOK?

Price, performance and size. A notebook’s performance can challenge that of a desktop in some cases thanks to mobile versions of popular processors, it’s generally quite a large device with a generous screen, and you’re going to pay easily upwards of R7000 for a decent one. GREAT FOR: • Replacing your desktop computer • Great mobile performance • Entertainment on the go, even HD • Running complex applications NOT SO GREAT FOR: • Very long battery life • Light travelling • A happy wallet

Buying Tips GOOD COMPONENTS Processors: Intel Core 2 Duo/ Core 2 Quad/Core i5/Core i3/Core i7 RAM: 3GB for 32-bit operating systems, 4GB+ for 64-bit Hard Drives: 250GB SATA-II Operating Systems: Windows 7 32-bit/64-bit Graphics: - ATI Mobile Radeon 4000-series/5000-series - NVIDIA GeForce 300M Series

PASSABLE-YET-NOT-GREAT COMPONENTS Processors: Intel Celeron M, Intel Core 2 Solo ULV, AMD Turion RAM: 1GB (get 2GB as an absolute minimum) Hard Drives: 8GB (insist on 160GB as a minimum) Operating System: Windows Vista (Windows 7 is far better) Graphics: - ATI Mobile Radeon 3000-series/2000-series - Intel GMA4500

WWW.CONNECT.CO.ZA | 15


social networking // BY JOHANN BARNARD

So, Buzz? WHAT’S THE

16 | CONNECT | MAY 2010


ONE GOOGLE TO RULE THEM ALL

Internet giant Google has put its considerable weight behind social media with the introduction of its own social networking service – Google Buzz. Connect walks you through the buzz.

W

hile there is little new or different from what is offered by other social media services such as Facebook, Twitter, Friendfeed etc, Buzz is a decent alternative for people who’ve adopted a Google way of life. This is because Buzz is integrated as an add-on to Google’s web-based e-mail service Gmail, thereby allowing your to centralise your social networking in one place. This ability is enhanced if you choose to integrate other social media services like Twitter and Facebook into your Gmail environment. (See the sidebar for more on this). The idea behind social networking is to quickly and seamlessly share thoughts, photos, videos and so forth with people who subscribe to or ‘follow’ you on each of these many systems. Google Buzz does so quite competently, even though its hasn’t yet built up the same kind of following or usage levels seen in more mature services. Buzz hasn’t been without its controversy, however. Concerns were first raised when the service automatically added the people you e-mailed most-frequently from Gmail to your contacts list for everyone to see. Also, there are privacy concerns over the mobile version automatically geo-tagging posts (basically showing on a map where the message was posted from). And while this is useful, Google’s assumption that users would be happy to share this information by default was clearly mistaken. WHAT’S THE BUZZ?

As with Twitter and Facebook, you need to create a public profile on Google Buzz through which other people interact with you online.

If you already have a Gmail account, Buzz should automatically be available in the left-hand navigation bar under the Inbox. If you do not find it there, go to Settings (top right corner) and find the Buzz tab to activate the service and select who you would like to ‘follow’ from your existing Gmail contacts. Buzz automatically builds this list from your contacts – you merely select the people you wish to follow. These contacts are limited to people who also have a Gmail account, which is one of the limitations as you’ll have to convince everyone you wish to share with to migrate to or sign up with Gmail. Once you’ve activated the service and wish to post your first Buzz, you’ll be asked to edit or publish your profile, which is based on the information under the ‘General’ settings tab, but that you can customise for your Buzz account. Once your profile has been made public, you are given the option to add more details including where you live, where you grew up, your profession and who you work for, and so on. You will find that Google prompts you to do so in order for your profile to be eligible to appear in Google web searches. This is great if you crave attention or enjoy a public profile, but is also one of the areas of concern around how Google safeguards your information, and for what purposes it stores this information. Unless you need a public profile or aren’t concerned about possible privacy invasions, you

One of the advantages of Google Buzz is that it doesn’t isolate you from many of your other social media activities or platforms, and is able to aggregate a host of different online services such as Twitter, Flickr and some of Google’s own properties such as Picasa and its RSS service Google Reader. Admittedly this does take some extra effort from your side to get to work as you like, but the effort is worthwhile if you intend using Buzz as your primary social networking platform. The integration that is built-in and requires little more than entering your username for Twitter, Flicker, Google Chat, Picasa, or Google Reader is really quite simple. You will find these services under the ‘Connected sites’ option in Google Buzz. Simply select them from the available selection, and any actions you perform in these services thereafter will be reflected in your Buzz stream. There are also third-party solutions that bring other social web services directly into your Gmail environment allowing you to have access to Twitter and Facebook without leaving Gmail. In order to activate these services, you first need to enable the Google Labs functionality – which you will find under Settings. Find the ‘Add any gadget by URL’ under the ‘Labs’ tab at the top of the settings page, and click on the ‘Enable’ button. This now creates a Gadgets tab, under which you have the option to add the URL for the necessary Twitter or Facebook add-ons.

TO ENABLE TWITTER – which is added to the left navigation bar and from which you can quickly and seamlessly post updates, or which opens the Twitter stream in the Gmail environment – type in this URL in the space provided under the Gadgets tab: https://twittergadget.appspot. com/gadget-gmail.xml TO ENABLE FACEBOOK integration, simply enter this URL: http://hosting. gmodules.com/ig/gadgets/ file/104971404861070329537/ facebook.xml

WWW.CONNECT.CO.ZA | 17


social networking

TAKE THE BUZZ WITH YOU You can set up your phone to log into your Buzz account, thereby keeping you connected all the time. As mentioned, you can elect to geotag your posts so that other users – not necessarily those following you – can see where you were “Chugging down the coldest beer in town”, and hopefully enjoy the same levels of satisfaction. Access to Buzz is dependent on your phone and operating system, with Google Android mobile system and Apple’s iPhone being the simplest to use. You can choose to view your followers or ‘Nearby’ – which shows public buzz that has been tagged with a location near you. Alternatively, you can access a new Buzz layer on Google Maps for mobile. This allows you to see buzz near you or anywhere on the map. You can also post public buzz directly from the layer, and even attach a photo from your phone.

18 | CONNECT | MAY 2010

should minimise the amount or personal data you make available – even to the company that promises it won’t do evil. From here on in, using Google Buzz is essentially the same as other social media services that allow you to share all kinds of content – text, photos, video or links to other sites. You can also easily disable Buzz by entering the Settings panel and clicking on the ‘Disable Google Buzz’ button under the Buzz tab. HOW TO … BUZZ

So, does Google Buzz do social networking any better than other services. In a word … no, but it is

appealing for its ability to present you with a single entry point into this and a wide range of other (even non-Google) services. The one advantage it has over Twitter is that you aren’t limited to messages of only 140 characters. Also, you can essentially embed images, video and other content directly into your Buzz stream so followers don’t have to be redirected to the source of that content. This is because of the Gmail framework in which Google Buzz exists, giving you access at a single location to Google Calendar, Google Docs, the company’s RSS Reader, Maps, blogs and so forth. Currently, the typical actions you can perform within Buzz include posting a status update, commenting on others’ updates, forwarding any posts via Gmail, or extracting the static URL so that you can embed that in any other documents or communication. You can also select any comment/update with which you want to stay current and choose to have these sent to your Gmail inbox so that you’re notified the minute anyone has contributed to the conversation. Lastly, you have the ability to delete or ‘mute’ a post if it is no longer relevant. All of these actions are within easy reach in the Buzz window by way of a drop-down menu on the far right of each post.


internet connectivity 101 // BY DEON DU PLESSIS

CAPPED N U

ADSL In late March, MWEB surprised South Africans with affordable, uncapped ADSL Internet packages. In the following weeks, every other ISP – big and otherwise – brought their own deals to market in order to remain competitive. But are they what consumers were hoping for, or has ‘uncapped’ just proved to be a marketing term to lure customers in? Connect investigates.

20 | CONNECT | MAY 2010


WHAT

MWEB’s new products offer unlimited data-only packages on 384k, 512k and 4mb ADSL lines for R219, R299 and R539 respectively. If you choose to rent your ADSL line through MWEB as well, the packages will be charged at R349, R599 and R839 respectively.

U O Y O T D E E N KNOW

I

n Internet-starved South Africa, using a term like ‘uncapped’ to describe an ADSL account is similar to chumming shark-infested waters – consumers, hungry for unlimited bandwidth are likely to descend on such offerings with vigour, and a huge appetite for data. This is exactly what happened when MWEB launched its basic ‘uncapped’ ADSL accounts in late March. As the news broke, many South African ASDL users dumped their existing Internet Service Provider (ISP) in favour of MWEB and its low prices. The overriding perception was of unrestricted downloads, limitation-free surfing, unlimited YouTube videos, all delivered at the full speed of the customer’s chosen ADSL package. This perception is based on the description of the accounts as being ‘uncapped’, a term which implies there is no limitation on the amount of data that can be downloaded. For South Africans accustomed to watching their Internet usage closely so as not to exceed their usage thresholds and therefore their budgets, this appeared to be the opening of the Internet floodgates. Other ISPs have since followed suit by offering their own low-cost ‘uncapped’ ADSL products. Leading the pack is MyISP, with a 384k data-only product for R159 and a 4mb data-only product for R459. As you might imagine, this new glut of customers placed strain on the existing networks thanks to the congestion caused by new subscribers, as well as old subscribers making their ADSL lines work harder than ever before. According to feedback on local telecommunicationsfocused bulletin-board MyBroadband.co.za, as well as our own practical experience, the performance of

Help!

What do all these techie words mean?

Tech Jargon de-jargonises the following buzzwords on page 9: > Shaping > Throttling > Unshaped > Uncapped > Cap > ADSL > ADSL Router > ADSL Modem > ADSL Line Rental > ADSL Line Speed > 384k > 4mb > GB/gig/Gigabyte

Other options Carefully innovative ISP Cybersmart has not brought an uncapped ADSL product to market. Instead, they offer a 10GB account with free browsing and downloading on weekends if you’re on a 384k line for R299, which includes your ADSL line rental.

most of these new, affordable ‘uncapped’ accounts sits somewhere between ‘atrocious’ and ‘acceptable’, particularly from the smaller ISPs. Even MWEB, with its upgraded network, does not sustain full-speed, 24/7 performance of its affordable ‘uncapped’ accounts, although feedback on the forums suggests that MWEB’s performance is still better than anyone else’s. To handle the extra load, many ISPs have implemented a scheme whereby the new, affordable ‘uncapped’ accounts are limited in some way in order to keep the overall performance of the networks within acceptable parameters during the day. These limitations have come in the form of ‘shaping’ and ‘throttling’. The former is a technique that prioritises more common activities like general surfing and sending and receiving e-mail, while the latter is a matter of reducing the line speed of an account, thereby ‘throttling’ the amount of data that it can process. These techniques are only applied at peak times (i.e. during office hours), when the networks are at their busiest; after hours - typically from 9pm onwards during the week and on weekends - all of these entrylevel ‘uncapped’ accounts operate far faster, and much closer to their specified maximum speed. This helps ISPs deliver a service that is worth paying for, but that is still a far cry from the perception of Internet access with unlimited data usage, delivered at the full speed of your ADSL line. The problem, then, is with the man on the street, who has come to associate ‘uncapped’ with ‘unlimited’. Technically, the ISPs can shape and throttle your ‘uncapped’ ADSL connection to their hearts’ content as long as you are never cut off, or a limit on the amount of data you can download is implemented. As WWW.CONNECT.CO.ZA | 21


internet connectivity 101

*Kindly note, prices were correct when we went to print; for the most accurate, up-to-date pricing, please contact the service providers directly. **Please note that in order to make use of any of these uncapped accounts, it is necessary to have ADSL activated on your telephone line, as well as an ADSL modem or router. These services are extra, and not reflected in the price of the accounts listed below.

long as you have Internet connectivity through your ‘uncapped’, ISPs can shape and throttle you as much as they like, so long as there is no set data limit. Unfortunately, ISPs also don’t specify in their advertising that a ‘384k uncapped account’ is actually an account that is shaped during business hours and that operates as fast as they can manage to deliver after hours, which is not guaranteed at 384k; rather, this important information is buried within the legalese that accompany the service. What these entry-level ‘uncapped’ accounts are good for, then, is browsing speedily at any time of the night or day, light downloading, remaining connected to the Internet, and easing the minds of South Africans accustomed to limiting themselves to a few gigabytes of data each month. They are not intended for people who like to download great amounts of data, but they are great for budget-conscious families, and people with light connectivity needs. This means that for Internet downloads at the full speed of your ADSL line, at any time of the day or night, you are still required to purchase bandwidth by the gigabyte, or opt for a more expensive ‘uncapped and unshaped’ account. While the price per gigabyte has fallen recently thanks to the efforts of an ISP called Afrihost, you are still looking at paying around R30 per gig. There are various options that reduce that cost, but they require buying in bulk or waiting until mid-month, which many home users aren’t prepared to do as that is quite costly or inconvenient. So, what South African ADSL users are left with, is choice. They can either pay up front for bandwidth that downloads at their full ADSL line speed, or they

can purchase cheap but cap-free bandwidth that downloads at variable speeds, according to the time of day. The third choice is to pay for an account that is neither shaped, nor throttled, at a cost of over two times that of an entry-level ‘uncapped’ account. OUR ADVICE

If you’re not on the Internet all the time, but you do like to hang out on Facebook, Tweet, watch YouTube videos, send e-mails and communicate with friends and family overseas, an entry-level uncapped account is a great idea. It will cost you close to (or less than) what you’re currently paying for 3 gigs of ADSL data, and you’ll never have to worry that you might reach your ‘cap’ ever again. The best ISP in the entry-level ‘uncapped’ world is MWEB, according to our research. If you like to download lots of multimedia content, you’re on the ‘Net day and night and you want guaranteed performance, rather buy your bandwidth up front, or spend more on a premium ADSL account. A basic uncapped account is only going to annoy you with its varying speeds and poor weekday download performance. Afrihost offers a great per-gig price of only R29, and mid-month they have a “Buy 1GB and get 2GB!” special that effectively halves the per-gig cost to R14.50. Alternatively, MWEB has an unshaped and uncapped data-only 384k account for R499.

What’s on off er? Here you will find a list of the more well-known ISPs and the prices of their 384k and 4mb data-only services. ISP

Uncapped 384k data only

Uncapped 512k data only

Uncapped 4mb data only

Uncapped, unshaped 384k

Uncapped, unshaped 4mb

Website

Afrihost

R 197

R 297

R 497

N/A

N/A

http://www.afrihost.co.za

Axxess

R 196

R 296

R 496

R999, after hours only

R 2,699

http://www.axxess.co.za

Imagine

R 199

N/A

R 499

R979, after hours only

N/A

http://www.imagine.co.za

MWEB

R219, plus 300 Wi-Fi minutes

R299,plus 300 Wi-Fi minutes

R539, plus 300 Wi-Fi minutes

R 499

R 1,999

http://www.mweb.co.za

OpenWeb

R 219

R 299

R 539

R 489

R 2,499

http://www.openweb.co.za

22 | CONNECT | MAY 2010


computer maintenance //BY TAMARYN WATKINS

Tired of having your computer crash on you and losing all your important work documents and family photos? Your computer is a sensitive creature and needs to be loved and looked after, just like your spouse or your pet. Treat it right and it’s less likely to be temperamental and far less inclined to crash stunts … we promise.

Here’s how. 24 | CONNECT | MAY 2010


Y

our laptop or desktop machine requires regular maintenance and prevents your system from experiencing program crashes, slow performance, system freezes and a variety of other unexpected and unpleasant problems. There are a number of things you can do regularly to make sure that you get optimum performance from your computer. Let’s take a look.

HAVE A DISASTER PLAN READY

It’s always smart to plan for the worst, and you can do this by creating System Restore Points regularly. It’s a way to undo system changes to your computer without affecting your personal files, such as e-mail, documents, or photos, its not intended for backing up personal files, so it cannot help you recover a personal file that has been deleted or damaged, but if you install something that’s broken your PC, or something goes wrong, it can sort the problem out.

CREATING A SYSTEM RESTORE POINT: • Click Start > Programs > Accessories, System Tools, System Restore. • Click ‘create a restore point’, and then Next and in the ‘restore point description’ box, type a name to identify your restore point and you’re done. • To finish creating this restore point, click Create.

USING A SYSTEM RESTORE POINT: You can apply the System Restore Point you created by clicking the Start button >All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > System Restore and following the prompts.

WWW.CONNECT.CO.ZA | 25


computer maintenance

KEEP IT CLEAN, INSIDE AND OUT

On the inside Remove unwanted files. There are files that accumulate in your computer without your knowledge, these files take up space and slow down your system. Typical examples include Windows temporary files and temporary Internet files and cookies. These are unnecessary, and you can remove them. You might also want to go through your document folders and all the other folders on your computer and delete anything you’re not using. Deleting is as easy as right-clicking on a file and selecting ‘remove’ or ‘send to Recycle Bin’. Once you’re done cleaning up, be sure to empty your Recycle Bin by rightclicking on it and selecting ‘Empty’. Also keep your desktop clutter-free – the more icons you have on your desktop, the slower it becomes. You can clean your hard drive by running Disk Defragmenter. Files on

your hard drive tend to get moved around bit as you’re d a fair f i bi ’ using i your computer, which results in files being fragmented and this causes your computer to slow down, and will increase wear and tear on your hard drive that may lead to loss of data, which would be catastrophic. Running Disk Defragmenter is easy, all you do is click Start > All Programs > Accessories >System Tools and then click Disk Defragmenter and set it to run. This would also be a good time, once you’ve started running the defrag, to go make yourself a cup of tea and read the rest of this article. It’s a lengthy process that requires patience, but it is absolutely necessary.

On the outside Don’t stop at keeping merely the inside of your computer clean, it’s just as important to keep the outside clean as well. Always keep it dust-free inside and out to avoid the CPU, power supply and case fans being clogged. Cover your computer with a soft dustproof cloth when not in use. If it’s a laptop or netbook, keep it in a sleeve to prevent dust build-ups and unnecessary spills, bumps and other accidents. REMOVING UNWANTED FILES WINDOWS TEMPORARY FILES: Windows creates temporary files whenever you install new programs to your computer and these are stored in the directory C:\Windows\Temp. How do I remove these? All you have to do is run Windows Disk Cleanup utility. Do this by clicking Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Cleanup and then click Start > Run and in the Open box type cleanmgr and click OK. TEMPORARY INTERNET FILES: When you visit web pages on the Internet, they create new files on your computer and are saved in Temporary Internet files folder to help your computer remember these pages so they load quicker if you visit them again. HISTORY FILES: This is the folder on your computer’s hard drive in which a history of the web pages you visited is stored. COOKIES: these very small files that are stored onto your hard drive by many web sites and are used to collect statistical information about their websites. How do I remove these? From your Internet Explorer window, select Tools from the menu bar and click on Internet Options. You can delete temporary Internet files, history files and cookies here.

26 | CONNECT | MAY 2010

STAY UP TO DATE

Regularly update your PC with the latest drivers, operating system and software upgrades. Doing this will improve the efficiency of many of the programs running and improve your overall performance. You can either check for updates manually, or with a little help from us, set it so your computer searches for all necessary updates when you’re connected to the Internet and does all the hard work for you.

WINDOWS UPDATE CHEATSHEET: Click the Start menu and open the control panel. Click the Security Centre option and open Automatic Updates and a window will pop up that will allow you to manage your Windows updates. You have some choices here:

1. Automatic: (Recommended option) When you’re connected to the Internet, Windows finds and downloads updates in the background. Unless you change the default schedule, updates that have been downloaded to your computer will be installed at 3 A.M, when it’s least likely to interfere with your life.

2. Download updates for me, but let me choose when to install them: Updates are downloaded in the background, while you’re connected to the Internet. When they’re done, a little notification box will pop up asking you if you want to install the updates. You can click on the box to begin installing the updates.

3. Notify me, but don’t automatically download or install updates: When Windows finds updates an alert will pop up, letting you know that updates are ready to be downloaded. After you click the icon or the alert, you can select some or all of the updates to download, and once they’re downloaded, you’ll be notified it’s time to install.

4. Turn off Automatic Updates: (not recommended) You will never be notified when important updates are available for your computer, and you will never be asked to download or install them.


In case of technical emergency call

0860 ONSITE and we will come to you

YOUR COMPUTER NEEDS BACK UP

To make sure you don’t lose important files if your computer does decide to pop its clogs, you should back up your computer on a regular basis. The backup process copies your files to a safe place so that even if your computer fails, you won’t lose them. You’ll want to get an external hard disk drive and you need to choose one that is at least as large as the hard disk drive inside your computer. For example, if your computer has a 100GB hard disk drive, choose a 100GB or larger external hard disk drive. Then connect the external hard disk drive to your computer. Make a note of the drive letter (such as E:, F:,, or G:)) assigned to your new hard disk drive. g y

HOW TO BACK UP YOUR FILES TO AN EXTERNAL HARD DISK DRIVE:

START DIFFERENTLY

• Click Start > Accessories > System Tools and then click Backup and the Back Up Wizard will open and you need to click Next. • Select the ‘back up files and settings’ option and click Next. • On the ‘What to Back Up’ page, select ‘all information on this computer’, and then click Next. • On the Backup ‘Type, Destination, and Name’ page, click ‘Choose a place to save your backup’, and select your external hard disk drive. Then click Next. • On the Completing the ‘Backup or Restore Wizard’ page, click Finish and then when the next window appears and back up has been completed click Done.

The programs that open automatically after your computer starts up, can affect how your computer runs – the more there are, the slower your computer will be.

PROTECT YOUR COMPUTER PRO

The importance of virus protection for Windows computers cannot be emphasised enough. Make com sure you set your virus protection to scan often (if not daily, then at the very least, weekly) and let it do its i thing, uninterrupted, so as to keep your healthy. PC h IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR VIRUS PROTECTION, WE RECOMMEND: PR

Kaspersky Internet Security 2010 Kas The software that will protect you from cybercrime identity theft as well as protect your family from online predators. the It also a makes your online banking and shopping perfectly secure and keeps your PC running smoothly and quickly. sec

HOW TO CHANGE YOUR START-UP:

• Click Start > Run and type msconfig into the box that appears. Select Startup and you will see a list of programs that start with Windows, then decide which ones you don’t want to start and untick the boxes next to them. • SHORTCUT: Click the Services tab and tick the box that says ‘hide all Microsoft services’. • When you have finished click on Apply > OK which will prompt you to restart your computer. Once your system has restarted, you will be presented with a screen that informs you that msconfig has been used to make changes and then all you need do is, tick the box that says ‘do not run on startup’ and then OK.

WWW.CONNECT.CO.ZA | 27


get tech fit //BY TAMARYN WATKINS

PUT TECH INTO YOUR

Fitness Routine Getting tech fit isn’t about brushing up on your PowerPoint skills or learning how to build a website, it’s about learning how to use the latest technology to shape up, fill out and trim down, the easy way. PLAY YOURSELF FIT

The traditional gaming experience has shifted focus from the individual couch-potato experience that does nothing, but exercise your thumbs. It’s now all about the get-up-and-go, full-body workout adventure that bring children, parents, friends and relatives together in a fun, competitive environment intended to improve health, fitness and general wellbeing. 28 | CONNECT | MAY 2010


WII FIT NOT FAT:

YOUR HEALTH COACH?

In the battle of couch versus the gym, the couch usually wins. So if you’re looking to make some healthy changes to your lifestyle that don’t extend to leaving the house to sign a gym contract, Nintendo Wii Fit is a good place to start. It comprises two parts: the balance board and the Wii Fit software that goes in your console. The Wii Fit test gives you two crucial measurements: your Wii Fit age (a representation of how old the Wii thinks your body is), and your BMI, which tells you whether you’re overweight (or not) and how much you need to lose. Wii Fit is perfect for all ages – from kids to grandparents, there’s a fitness game for everyone and the exercises are split into four categories of workouts: Yoga, Muscle, Aerobics, and Balance Games. The Wii Fit keeps tabs on how much exercise you’re doing and with a huge variety of exercises to try, you’ll be kept motivated and the more you work out, the more new exercises you unlock.

My Health Coach for the Nintendo DS focuses almost entirely on health. Packaged with a pedometer that’s used for recording the number of reallife steps you take, this is an experience aimed at helping you to make small but beneficial lifestyle changes. The ‘game’ consists of four core elements: the Pedometer, Challenges, Physical Activity and Food Balance. The Pedometer must be worn during the day and records each and every step you take. The Challenges are small, short-term targets that are set for you on a daily basis and you can choose up to six challenges a day that range in style and complexity. For the Physical Activities portion of your game you must perform push-up and sit-up type exercises and for Food Balance you need to enter your daily food intake and the My Health Coach: Weight Management functionality will let you know if you’re eating the right portions of food for the amount of exercise you’re doing. The strength of this game is that it offers you measurable challenges and an interactive health manual. You read the tips, choose which, if any, you want to incorporate into your lifestyle and tick them off when complete.

CONNECT RECOMMENDS

Sports Activated

QUUICK FIT TIP:

ge anndd engge en ra chaallllen xtra Forr an ext Fo ourr b bi ombine you om ety,y, ccom et v ririet d d va addde thee th h ith it wit w it k ve A titive rtts Ac porrts EAA Spo d d. r ard. ar Boa Bo e nce nc lanc Wiii Baala Wi

EA Sports Active for Nintendo Wii is a customisable fitness program/game that works with you to help you reach your goals, at home and on your own terms. Dancing, skating, tennis and volleyball are just some of more than 25 exercises and activities that combine fitness and fun to let you break a sweat in minutes by targeting your upper body, lower body and cardio - it’s hard to be bored with a workout plan that’s so diverse. To help you really feel the burn, use the included resistance band to increase the intensity of exercises like bicep curls and shoulder presses and create a virtual gym or workout studio right there in front of your television. Use the specially designed leg strap that allows the Wii controls to track your moves and bring them to life on-screen for feedback on your technique.

WORK THAT YOUTUBE:

YouTube (http://www.youtube.com) has an excellent collection of exercise, fitness, and dance workout videos online to help you stay in shape. You can download and burn these fitness videos on a DVD and exercise anywhere you have a DVD player. If you’re in a rush to get going and don’t have time to wade through the search results, check out our hand-picked favourites.

Quick fitness flicks: 1

Fitness Instructor Nicole Nichols posts a series of full-length exercise videos - all you need is a mat, and you’re ready to go. http://www.youtube.com/user/sparkpeople

2 eHowFitness is a series of videos featuring exercise tips, weight

loss programs, yoga work outs and workout routines. http://www.youtube.com/user/eHowFitness 3 DietHealth gives you videos like the ‘Gym-Free Butt Shape-Up’

and ‘Train Like an Olympian’ and teaches you valuable exercise skills like how to get the most out of your exercise ball. http://www.youtube.com/user/diethealth WWW.CONNECT.CO.ZA | 29


get tech fit PARTY YOURSELF FIT Dance Dance Revolution A game made for the Wii console; Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party lets you dance your way to fitness, without the need for a dance studio. This is a rhythm game that will have you stepping all over a mat to hit arrows that match the corresponding arrows flowing up the screen, all in time to the fast-paced beat of a popular dance track. WHEN YOU BEGIN, YOU HAVE THREE PLAY OPTIONS: free play, groove circuit, and workout mode. Pick your mode and simply groove the kilos away. ALSO TRY BOOGIE SUPERSTAR

Mobile health and fitness unit: Your iPhone or Blackberry is your pocket health guru. Learn to utilise the best apps to keep you on the road to better health.

Online Health Resources: http://www.health24.com

- offers useful online A-Z medical diagnostic resource, and covers all areas of healthy living for men, women, teens and children, including diets and holistic eating plans. http://yourdiagnosis.com

- a virtual doctor that asks you a range of questions aimed at diagnosing possible health problems, the answers that you give are compiled into a report with advice on what medical attention you need to seek. http://www.heartfoundation.co.za - The Heart and

Stroke Foundation website that offers healthy eating plans and weight-loss programmes aimed at promoting a healthy heart and body.

30 | CONNECT | MAY 2010

For iPhone WEIGHT TRACKER: A simple (but powerful) application for tracking fluctuations in your weight and challenges you to set some weight-loss goals, with the app assisting you to chart your progress day to day. Need additional motivation? Synch with a number of other weight loss websites and update those sites with your progress as well.

For Blackberry TOTAL FITNESS: Allows you to establish a nutrition and exercise plan that can help you optimise your health and lets you enter food as you eat it and exercise as it’s completed so you won’t have to fill in logs or make manual calculations.

CALORIE CHECK: Calorie counting is a big part of today’s fitness craze, but it can get pretty annoying to manually scan the nutrition labels before you eat anything. This app lets you call up detailed nutritional information from over 7 500 foods at the touch of a button.

DISTANCE METER: If you enjoy cycling, walking, or running, and have thought of buying an expensive pedometer, save your money. The magic lies in the iPhone’s built-in GPS receiver, which DistanceMeter uses to track how far and fast you are traveling by bike or foot. Just be sure to take your iPhone every where you go! ABSOLUTE FITNESS: Like a personal trainer that sits in your pocket, this is based on the dietary goal(s) you set and your exercise and food intake. It charts your day-to-day progress and through continued use, you will eventually be able to review weeks or even months of your living habits right on your iPhone. POINTSCALC: The simplest way to decide whether you should be eating something. Instead of waiting for charts or graphs to accumulate over time, the app assigns a number of ‘points’ to a food based on its calories, fat, and fiber. And if you go over a certain number of points, this app tells you that you probably shouldn’t eat it.

WEIGHT TRACKER: An important ally in fighting the battle of the bulge. It’s easy to use and just requires you to enter your weight daily. The date is automatically entered so you don’t have the opportunity to add dates you’ve missed or historical data you may have kept.

ASCENDO FITNESS: a useful tool for tracking what you do, the food you eat and the amount of exercise you do whether it’s running, lifting weights, or cleaning the house. Your app automatically computes things like ideal weight and Basal Metabolism Rate so that you get instant comparison of the ideal and the way things really are and then allows you to track your progress toward that ideal

GYM TECHNIK: Think of it as a pocket gym trainer that’s useful. Whether you’re just getting started on a fitness plan or are a seasoned gym buff this app will assist in planning your workout routines and keeping track of them on the spot. BEST DIETS, PLANS, RECIPES AND NUTRITION ENCYCLOPEDIA: Isn’t intended to help you record and analyse your own exercise and nutrition patterns, rather, it is a serious encyclopedia of health knowledge presented in an easy to use, mobile electronic format.


HP: SPOTLIGHT ON INNOVATION Hewlett Packard has long been known for innovation when it comes to printers, both in terms of functionality and the technology they’re equipped with. There’s an entire range of printers and print features dedicated to making the life of the photographer much easier and much more colourful. Today we take a look at two features of HP printers that are essential if your printing needs lean toward high volumes of photographic materials.

I

f you have a digital camera, you’ll need to know about PictBridge, and if you’re wanting to get the most out of your photo prints, then you’ll be looking to HP’s PhotoREt technology to do so.

PICTBRIDGE - PRINT WITHOUT A PC: PictBridge is a universal standard that allows a digital camera to be connected directly to a printer, without having to use your computer. Most new printers should be PictBridge compliant, so it’s not something you’ll have to pay extra for. So, if you’re a shutterbug and like to print your snaps, make sure the printer you shop for has the PictBridge logo on it. Printers designed to print photos often feature a large LCD screen that can be used to select a picture and edit the image (for example, removing red-eye, adjusting colour levels, etc). But even printers that lack the big LCD screen can be PictBridge compliant. If you want to check if your printer has the facility, simply attach the camera to the printer with a USB cable and then use the camera itself to select the pictures to be printed and any available options. How does PictBridge work? Once your camera and your printer have established a connection, the camera will communicate with the printer and enquire as to which PictBridge functions the printer has. Once the printer has returned options, the camera will display a menu on its LCD screen or viewfinder and show you what’s on offer. After you’ve selected a print function and your print job is completed, the printer will send confirmation back to the camera. Printing direct using PictBridge couldn’t be easier, and if you get yourself a mobile HP photo printer you can print on the job, wherever you find yourself with your camera. PHOTORET TECHNOLOGY: MORE COLOUR, BETTER PRECISION If you’ve ever used an Inkjet printer, you’ve probably not given much thought to how the inks are mixed to produce colour. If, however, you were inclined to wonder how a handful of colours and a single black ink are used to mix millions of shades and colour tones, then the technology you’re wondering about would be HP’s original PhotoREt technology.

How does HP PhotoREt Color Layering technology work? HP PhotoREt technology is the process whereby multiple drops of ink in a dot are layered in order to product photo-realistic prints. Intended to help make your prints as perfect as your photos, technology has been incorporated into HP’s Colorsmart driver software and is standard in most HP Inkjet printers. There is a common misconception that dpi (dots per inch) is the single most important factor influencing print quality. In reality, there are two ways to obtain photo-quality: increase the dpi or increase the levels of colour available. The problem with increasing dpi is that it means that more information needs to be sent to the printheads, which means prints take longer to spool and even longer to print out. HP PhotoREt Colour Layering technology avoids this dilemma as it uses more colour levels to deliver higher quality printing without the disadvantages of higher dpi by creating small file sizes that are possible because its multidrop per dot method creates accurate colour with fewer dots-per-inch. The result is photo-quality colour without the wait. Traditionally, most high dpi printers only deliver optimal colour output on coated papers that cost a fortune. That is because regular paper soaks up ink like a sponge during the print process, this causing ink to spread unpredictably and paper to warp from excess ink. This problem is resolved with PhotoREt Color Layering technology as it uses smaller ink drops and places the drops more precisely. These small dots blend together to create richer colours, smoother shading gradations, and sharply defined colour boundaries on any kind of paper. If you’re wondering whether your HP printer uses PhotoREt technology, the answer is simple. Any HP product that can use the HP 58 ink cartridge is PhotoRET IV capable. PhotoREt IV is the latest version of the technology and it uses six ink colours and very tiny drop sizes to precisely place up to 32 ink drops per dot, which generates a wider range of directly printable colours and translates directly into more than 1.2 million possible colours per dot. This allows up to 289 levels of shades of colour to be produced rather than the one to eight shades that can be produced by printers not using PhotoREt technology.


HP PHOTOSMART A826 The HP A826 printer offers an attractive design and is easy and fun to use. It works better without a PC than any other photo printer because it is designed for standalone, PC-free use, which means most of its features are packed right into the huge touch screen. While you can set up the A826 to print from a PC, the four memory card slots and PictBridge port make it easy to print from a memory card or PictBridge device like a camera or camera phone. When it comes to editing and printing your photos, the A826 offers a host of options, making it unnecessary to use a PC at all – add frames, change contrast and orientation, add clip art and captions – the possibilities are as astounding as print results.

HP LASERJET M1522-NF An affordable all-in-one solution for your on-demand photo handling tasks tasks. Print directly from your PictBridge enabled camera, scan photos and send them as email attachments or make use of the device’s copy and fax functions. HP LaserJet printers are all about speedy prints that are smudge-proof, waterproof and high-volume printing jobs. If you don’t need the high quality of Inkjet for your photos, this LaserJet is perfect for the job and with a variety of wireless connectivity and user-sharing options, this device is sure to feel at home in any workspace.


PRODUCT REVIEWS // BY DEON DU PLESSIS

LET THE INTERNET PRICE WARS BEGIN!

W

hat an interesting time we are living in! For everyone who has been patiently waiting for affordable uncapped Internet to arrive in South Africa, the past few months have been fantastic! Thanks to MWEB and its cheap, entrylevel uncapped ADSL accounts, worrying about using up all your data before the end of the month is a thing of the past! Of course, now we have to worry about not getting the use of our full ADSL line speeds thanks to the ways in which these new accounts work, but hey, it’s at least a step in the right direction. By the time you read this, chances are good that the price wars have heated up even further, so here’s hoping that affordable, full-speed and uncapped Internet accounts are just around the corner. We’ve got tons of tech for you in the reviews pages, which I am sure you’re itching to get to. Of particular interest to me this month was Nintendo’s new, enlarged DSi XL, which Tiana has reviewed for your reading pleasure. Enjoy! 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 | MAY 2010

36 38 39 40 42 44 45 46 48 50 52 53 56 57 58 59 60

Dell Studio XPS16 Samsung CLX-31 3175FNN Sony Vaioo VPCW21 216AG/W PS3 Co Controlllleer + 2 Games HP A8226 Home Photo Cen enttre tr Samsung SyncMastter PP27770H Sa HP OfficeJet 70000 Logitechh Pre remi miuum Notebook Heeadset Cano noon IXUS US 95 is Sony So ny 22GB Wearable MP MP3 Playyer Shox iPig Shox Airdooc Ninten enddo DSi XL COOL-ER eR CO eRea eader Belkkinn NNoteboook Sleeve Kit Office 20007 Home & Student Offi Bookks


STINGRAY AD STILL TO COME


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SONY VAI0 VPC-F117

This incredible notebook from Sony is a bit more expensive, but it boasts more powerful hardware in a super-slick chassis, and is a dream to use for both work and play.

PERFECT COMPANIONS

Built notebook bag Carrying your XPS16 around in a business bag is boring – rather choose from Built’s extensive range of colourful, fun bags instead.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day on Blu-ray The finest movie ever made is only done justice on a big screen, with big sound. Hook your XPS16 up to your HDTV and let rip!

36 | CONNECT | MAY 2010

Dell Studio XPS16 Notebook NEED TO KNOW • Performance 15.6” notebook • Sturdy build with stylish looks • Great for entertainment and work R17 999.95

THE Dell of yesteryear was often criticised for producing notebooks that performed well, but that were about as exciting in the looks department as an old tree stump. The company has taken that criticism to heart, and produced the very good looking XPS range of notebooks, which are both powerful and super stylish. The XPS16 on review today is one of the nicer notebooks you can buy. Sure, it’s not cheap, but you are certainly getting what you pay for – its luxurious leather touches and metallic smartness only hint at the potent beast that lurks at its heart. The XPS16 of 2010 is a powerful, highperformance entertainment-geared notebook that will also let you to work wherever you are, and even play the odd game and watch high-def movies smoothly. One of the first things you’ll notice about the XPS16 is its screen; while pleasantly large at a generous 15.6”, it is also very glossy. Glossiness results in a high degree of reflectiveness when viewed in very bright rooms and outside, which may put some buyers off. When viewed indoors in rooms not inundated with light, the screen is crystal clear, very bright, and doesn’t appear as reflective. Watching HD movies on the XPS16, something you will definitely want to do as it comes with a slot-loaded Blu-ray drive, is an absolute pleasure. The screen is more than big enough, and it supports Blu-ray’s highest resolution, 1920 x 1080, which makes for razor-sharp visuals. This is complemented by a solid sound system that produces audio good enough to keep you watching all movie long. You can even take things further, and output the visuals to an HDTV using the integrated HDMI port (HDMI cable not provided). Immediately following the screen, your eyes will be drawn to the LED-backlit keys of the XPS16’s keyboard. It’s not full-sized, so no keypad, but the keys that are there light up well enough that you can easily see them in the dark. They press easily and pleasantly, too, so typing on them is a pleasure. Under the hood, this notebook is powered by Intel’s Core 2 Duo P8700 processor clocked at 2.53GHz, 4GB of DDR3 RAM and comes with a 500GB hard drive as well as the usual assortment of Wi-Fi, multiple USB ports and a card reader. On paper, this is excellent, and thankfully this

is backed up by the notebook’s real-world performance. With ATI Mobility Radeon HD4670 graphics in the mix too, you can game quite happily on the XPS16. Performance is simply brilliant for a notebook, able to make even fussy users happy. You’ll be using Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit to navigate around the XPS16, which is good, but not ideal for business users as they won’t be able to join a domain or access ever-useful Remote Desktop Services. Our final observation centred around the XPS16’s ability to attract fingerprints. If you’re even remotely sensitive to dirt, you may spend a lot of time cleaning the XPS16’s chassis of fingerprints and other assorted marks that will probably appear through general use, but if not, it won’t be a train smash. The Studio SPX16 is a fantastically-engineered, powerful notebook computer that can work almost as hard as it plays. It appears to be configured for more play than work, but don’t be fooled, all that power can just as easily be used for everyday work activities, making the Studio XPS16 a versatile notebook indeed. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • • • • • • • • • •

CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo P8700 @ 2.53GHz RAM: 4GB DDR3 Storage: 500GB SATA-II Screen: 15.6” Full HD (1920 x 1080) Optical: Combo Blu-ray/DVD writer OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit Ports: 2 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB 2.0/e-SATA, VGA, FireWire, HDMI Networking: Wireless IEEE802.11b/g/n, Gigabit Ethernet Graphics: ATI Mobility Radeon HD4670 - 1GB Card Reader: 8-in-1

PROS

CONS

• Beautiful engineering and build quality • Built-in, slot-loaded Blu-ray drive • Excellent performance for work and play

• Attracts fingerprints quite easily • Can get a bit warm over time • Screen is reflective in bright light

OVERALL RATING


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Samsung CLX-3175FN Colour Laser all-in-one NEED TO KNOW SAMSUNG CLX-3175

The smaller brother of the FN, the CLX-3175 is only missing fax capabilities and the automatic document feeder.

SAMSUNG SF375TP

If your needs are a little more fax-focused, perhaps consider a machine devoted primarily to faxing.

SAMSUNG ML-1640

If all you need is a reliable, fast and high-quality laser printer without any frills, the ML-1640 is a great choice.

38 | CONNECT | MAY 2010

• Compact footprint • Very quiet operation • Scan, fax, print, copy in colour • Laser printing engine R3 499.95

AS far as multi-function printers go, Samsung’s CLX-3175FN is pretty compact. It’s quiet, too, as it makes use of Samsung’s ‘NO-NOIS’ print engine that significantly reduces the sounds of printing. It’s a colour laser printer that can also fax, scan and copy, making it a rather appealing purchase for workers in small businesses and home offices. The primary appeal of this particular product is its compact size and quiet laser printing engine. Samsung goes so far as to boast that it’s the smallest colour laser all-in-one printer in the world, and on looking at it, you’d probably agree with them. It’s made of pretty sturdy materials too, and the finish is matte black, so no shininess or fingerprint-attraction here. Its printing capabilities are nothing special, with colour prints emerging at a rate of 4 per minute and up to 16 black and white prints per minute. This is not bad by any means; it does mean that the CLX-3175FN is best at general black laser prints than as a photo printer. Black quality is easily as good as you’d expect from a laser printer, while colour prints are only ‘okay’. You may need to touch up the colour balance on the printer itself and on the drivers before producing colour prints you’d be happy to show your friends. The quietness of the prints will definitely please you, though. Rather than the clanking and shucking that is often heard from laser printers as they ready themselves for action, the CLX-3175FN is pleasantly noise-free. No, it’s not silent, but neither is it going to make you think it’s having difficulties getting it together. The other functions are easily performed with one-touch buttons, and the quality of scans and copies are not identical to the original, but close enough that the differences won’t matter. Scanning is also not lightning fast. For the sake of convenience, documents can be scanned directly to USB drives or to a computer; setting this up is easy using the included software. Setting the printer up is likewise rather simple. You can connect it directly to your PC via USB (although the USB cable necessary is not included), or via

your office or home network. The CLX-3175FN is not wireless, but you can use the wired Ethernet port to connect it to your wireless router via a cable, after which all wireless devices can access it. Document handling options are good, but not fantastic. While there is a 15-page automatic document feeder that works well when scanning or copying multi-page documents, there is no way to easily print onto envelopes and the input tray could really use some more capacity, as 100 pages is a bit on the low side. Practically, this means you’ll find yourself re-filling the input tray regularly, which might annoy some. Lastly, if you want to print on two sides of the same page (duplexing), it is possible but it’s a manual process. As a general small office printer/fax/scanner/copier, Samsung’s CLX-3175FN is a solid choice. It’s not perfect, but it gets most of what it’s supposed to do right, and that’s important. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • • • • • • • • • • •

Print speed (black): Up to 16ppm Print Speed (Colour): Up to 4ppm Print resolution: Up to 2 400 x 600 Duplex Mode: Manual Copy resolution: Up to 600 x 600 Scan Resolution: Up to 1200 x 1200 Paper handling: 150-sheet input capacity, 80-sheet output Operating system compatibility: Windows, Mac, Linux Automatic Document Feeder: 15-page capacity Interface: USB 2.0, Ethernet Weight: 14.5kg PROS

CONS

• Very small, compact footprint • Black prints are laser-sharp • Very quiet operation

• Input tray is a bit small if you print a lot • Manual duplexing is not ideal • No feeder tray for envelopes

OVERALL RATING


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Sony Vaio VPC-W216AG Netbook NEED TO KNOW • Well-specced netbook • Compact size, stunning looks • Runs Windows 7 Starter Edition R4 999.95

SONY’S Vaio VPCW216AG is, in our opinion, a netbook as netbooks were meant to be – it’s not only tiny and attractive, but the hardware that powers it is good enough that the usual annoyingly slow performance of the common netbook is now less of a factor. Sony has always known how to make very appealing (dare we say ‘sexy’?) products, and in this case, has nailed virtually every aspect of what makes for a netbook worth owning. Firstly, the size and look of this new Vaio netbook is just amazing – apart from being available in different colours (including pink), they are small, shiny, and metallic, and best of all, they weigh only 1.19kgs. The keyboard follows the popular ‘chiclet’ design craze started by Apple, and as a result the keys are nicely spaced, and a joy to touch. Feedback is just right, and the only potential annoyance is the small size of some keys, particularly those located on the bottom right of the keyboard and specifically, the tiny right Shift key. A slight adjustment period may be required to get the hang of typing without hitting the wrong key. The netbook’s screen is about as big as a netbook will allow, at 10.1”, and it runs at a native resolution of 1366 x 778. It’s crystal clear and LED-backlit so colours are vibrant; basically, it’s a typical Vaio screen, and therefore amazing to behold. Where we feel Sony has really upped its game is in the netbook’s hardware configuration; this particular Vaio runs the fastest Intel Atom processor we’ve seen at 1.66GHz, it has 2GB of system RAM and a very large (for a netbook) 320GB hard drive. The resultant performance in Windows 7 Starter is far better than even XP offered on netbooks with weaker hardware. The included battery only allows for up to 1.5 hours of use, however. There is an optional battery that raises this to 5+ hours, but of course that is extra. This default battery configuration is somewhat disappointing, as netbooks should have better battery life than only 1.5 hours, but we

ACER ASPIRE ONE D250

think it’s a relatively small sacrifice for what is otherwise a very well-equipped netbook. With the built-in webcam, and Intel’s HD audio solution, you can communicate with friends and relatives, and the slew of software included is just good enough to get you started. Sony’s standard 60-day trial of Microsoft Office 2007 and a 30-day trial McAfee’s PC Security Centre are here, as well as Acrobat Reader and some fun content creation tools. As far as an overall package goes, Sony has nailed it. This is a fast, responsive netbook that is also small and light enough to slip into a handbag or laptop bag, and the price strikes just the right balance between ‘netbook cheap’ and ‘a bit too much’. If you’ve always wanted a netbook, but have been holding out for something slightly more polished than an entrylevel product, this is definitely the netbook you’ve been waiting for. NOTEWORTHY SPECS: • • • • • • • • • •

CPU: Intel Atom N450 @ 1.66GHz RAM: 2GB DDR-667 Hard Drive: 320GB 5400rpm SATA-II OS: Windows 7 Starter 32-bit Keyboard: 82-key, Chiclet-style Battery: VGP-BPS18 Lithium-ion, 1.5 hours Ports: 2 x USB 2.0, VGA, card reader Audio: Intel HD Audio Webcam: 1.3MP, 640 x 480 video Networking: Wired 10/100 Ethernet, wireless 802.11b/g/n

PROS

CONS

• Small size, appealing looks, light weight • More powerful than the average netbook • Great Windows performance for a netbook

• Default battery only offers 1.5 hours • Right shift key is tiny • 30-day trial version of security product

OVERALL RATING

Acer’s Aspire One D250 is a sleek version of the popular netbook; it runs Windows XP, has a 10.1” screen, and is powered by the ever-popular Intel Atom N270 processor.

ASUS EEE PC

The original netbook is still going strong. Not as strong as the Vaio above, but it’s worth a gander nonetheless.

HP MINI 1000

HP’s Mini 1000 is a stylish netbook for fashionconscious technologists. All the functionality of a netbook is packed into a very attractive chassis, perfect for staying in touch while looking great doing it.

WWW.CONNECT.CO.ZA | 39


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PS3 Controller, Infamous and MotorStorm: Pacific Rift bundle NEED TO KNOW

250GB SONY PS3 CONSOLE

Built on the new, slimmer PS3 chassis and equipped with ample storage and a Blu-Ray drive, this is the ultimate gaming console and the ideal way to enjoy these two immersive games.

2010 FIFA WORLD CUP SOUTH AFRICA (PS3)

Get into the mood for the upcoming world-cup games with this popular football game. Take your tem through qualifying and through to the final and enjoy playing at the 10 official stadiums.

40 | CONNECT | MAY 2010

• R1500 worth of value for R999.95 • Includes standard wireless PS3 controller; • inFamous; and • MotorStorm: Pacific Rift. R999.95

NEXT generation console gaming is a great pursuit, but one that can break the bank if not carefully controlled. That’s because month after month, the games development houses continue to raise the bar, releasing ever more immersive role-playing titles, action-packed first person shooters and stunningly rendered motorsport titles. While most new releases cost upwards of R600 a title, titles that have been around for a little over a year tend to become available for somewhere in the region of R400. If you do the math, this can become an expensive pursuit. That ‘s the primary reason, when a bundle such as the one in question here comes along, we should take notice. Apart from the usefulness of having a spare PS3 controller (in fact, no PS3 is complete without more than one controller), the games in this bundle are stellar choices. Aside from the noise both of these titles created when they were launched a couple of years ago (these titles are about a year to 18 months old), they both scored well above 80 on the super-respected Metacritic (www.metacritic.com) site, which takes the mean average of the reviews conducted across a variety of different online publications. They’re also from vastly different genres, giving players relatively new to the PS3 environment (else they wouldn’t need a second controller) exposure to a wider variety of content. Getting players revved up in the action/adventure genre, inFamous follows the path of the survivor of a massive explosion that literally obliterated six square blocks of the fictional Empire City. His survival of the blast seems to have gifted him with special powers that are revealed as the

storyline progresses. Along the way he’s presented with choices like meting out revenge or using his special powers for good. And since life carries on in the city regardless of your choices, it brings an interesting ‘anything’s possible’ direction to the game. The second title in the bundle, namely MotorStorm: Pacific Rift plunges the player into the thick of an intense off-road racing festival. Building on the intense racing action introduced with its predecessor, simply named ‘MotorStorm’, Pacific Rift brings new terrain, new race tracks, new vehicles, and a number of new multiplayer options that spice up the competition. This game also broke new ground by allowing players to build a custom soundtrack out of the music stored on their PS3 hard disk. Overall – even if you consider that these titles are a couple of years old – this game/controller bundle is excellent value for money. Both of the titles are still top-end games even by today’s standards and will undoubtedly be enjoyed for years to come. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • • • • • •

Completely wireless Charges over USB Force-feedback Motion-sensitive Sleek design Great value

PROS

CONS

• Excellent value for money • Two top games and a controller for two thirds the price

• Games are between a year and 18 months old

OVERALL RATING


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CANON PIXMA MX860

This is a more traditional photo printer, but without the fun design or PC-free functionality.

PERFECT COMPANIONS

HP Photosmart A826 Home Photo Centre NEED TO KNOW • All-in-one portable photo centre • Print and edit photos without needing a PC • Touchscreen for editing and navigating • 64MB internal memory R1 499.95

HP Advanced Photo Paper For the best prints and longest-lasting colours, you can’t go wrong with HP’s Advanced Photo Paper.

HP 110 Tri-colour Inkjet print cartridge Each cartridge can print up to 55 10cm x 15cm colour photographs.

THERE are photo centres, photo labs and photo printers. Each of these will give you photographs if you hand over a USB drive containing your latest snaps, but they all take either time, or lots of money and, in some cases, both. HP has brought out a product to specifically address these issues, in the form of the Photosmart A826 Photo Printer. It’s a combination photo printer and photo lab that allows you to preview your pictures, do some light editing, and then print them on the spot. It also looks like a tiny retro TV, which is a great conversation piece and adds a certain flair that is lacking in similar devices. If you’re price-conscious, you’ve probably glanced at the asking price already and thought “that’s actually pretty good”, and you’d be right. The A826 prints great-quality 10cm x15cm photographs from USB drives, directly from your camera and a variety of memory card formats. You can also hook it up to your PC if you wish, but the point of the A826 is that you shouldn’t have to. A suggested use of the device is to print your photos out wherever you are (once you’ve located a power outlet, of course), ensuring that you don’t have to send any good ones you took to a long list of e-mail addresses afterwards. This of course raises the question of the printer’s economic viability, and the answer is that doing so would be rather pricey since ink and paper are not exactly cheap consumables. The A826 works far better as a photo printer for the home. Once the pics are taken, editing them is easy as pie on the 7” touch screen, which can be pressed with fingers or the included stylus. We found that the screen was more responsive to the stylus than our fingers, but responsiveness either way is still very good. The menu is nicely laid out, and a snap to use. Editing options include cropping, adjusting the brightness and any visible red-eye in your subjects, moving cropped areas around the image

and rotating just that cropped area into portrait and landscape positions. The fun stuff is hidden in the “Get creative!” menu that lets you add captions, frames and even draw on your image with the stylus. While fun to use, with relatively quick prints and great quality, it will still prove rather pricey to do this yourself rather than leave the job up to a professional lab. The right paper is highly recommended, and the A826’s ink cartridges only produce around 55 prints. If you take lots of pictures, the costs will undoubtedly add up. For those fortunate enough not to worry about such trivialities, the A826 is an excellent purchase. It’s fun to use, prints excellent quality photos, and has tons of options to make each print memorable in its own right. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • Print Speed: Heavily dependent on print conditions, but ‘as fast as 39 seconds’ • Onboard memory: 64MB • Memory Card Compatibility: CompactFlash Type I and II, Magic Gate, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, SD/MMC, SmartMedia, xD-Picture Card • Supported Media: Photo Paper • Recommended Media: HP photo papers • Connectivity: USB 2.0, PictBridge, memory card slots • Ink Cartridges: 1x HP Vivera 3-ink colour • Display: 14.2cm Colour LCD

PROS

CONS

• Print photos with no need for a PC • Edit photos before printing, add creative touches • Very responsive touchscreen

• Professional-level printing is still superior • Ink and paper costs mitigate the advantages on offer somewhat • Up to 55 prints per ink cartridge

OVERALL RATING

42 | CONNECT | MAY 2010

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Samsung P2770H LCD Monitor NEED TO KNOW

LOGITECH MX3200 WIRELESS DESKTOP

Plug and play keyboard and mouse combo that’s design for maximum comfort with its ergonomic curves and minimised clutter with its wireless communications capability.

LOGITECH Z2300 SPEAKERS

Consisting of two satellites and one woofer, this good-looking speaker set has a remote control and some serious power to push out. Perfect for transforming this monitor into a mini-home theatre piece.

44 | CONNECT | MAY 2010

• 27” Widescreen LCD • Super-slim design • Full HD Resolution • High contrast, fast response rate R3 499.95

AS monitor manufacturers have gotten better at working with the raw materials involved in building liquid crystal displays (LCDs), so it’s become more viable for larger monitors to become available in the mainstream. And Samsung’s new 27” SyncMaster LCD is the perfect example of this. Housed in an attractive rose-black gradated bezel that’s supported by a tapered, see-through desk-stand, this piece of hardware is really easy on the eye. The rose-black bezel is more than an eye catcher however. It also houses all of the controls for the monitor, accessed via touching the bezel at its bottom right corner. The buttons shine through the bezel, are touch sensitive and disappear the moment adjustments to the monitor’s variables have been made. This adds a nice futuristic, modern feel to the monitor and adds to the minimalist design Samsung has employed from an aesthetic perspective. Unfortunately, in chasing that minimalist design Samsung has left users without a way to adjust this monitor’s height and minimal ability to tilt it into a viewing angle that’s both comfortable and easy on the eyes. Delve into the specs and the P2770H truly shines. The LCD panel natively delivers excellent colour reproduction and features an ultra-high 70000:1 dynamic contrast ratio, resulting in an extremely rich and crisp image reproduction most of Samsung’s competitors would kill for. Throw the P2770H’s sub 2ms response time into the mix and this monitor becomes an all rounder that’s capable of delivering both brilliant picture quality and super sharp full motion video playback. The monitor’s

range of inputs add even further credibility to its capabilities as a jack-ofall-trades. The P2770H accepts both DVI-I and HDMI video signals, meaning it can be used as a desktop computer monitor, an extension to a notebook monitor or as the display for any of the next-generation games consoles (Xbox 360 and PS3),a Blu-Ray player or Multichoice HD PVR. Because the monitor doesn’t have built-in speakers however, if it is connected up via HDMI (a connector contains both video and audio signals) there’s going to be no audio by default. Samsung has catered for this perfectly by equipping the P2770H with both an audio out and an optical out, allowing users to ether connect the monitor to a home theatre amplifier or a set of powered speakers. Perfect for web-designers, graphic designers, photographers, gamers and the odd multimedia enthusiast, the P2770H is great value for money, comes from one of the most respected names in consumer electronics and hits the current sweet spot in terms of size and resolution. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • • • •

27” LCD 1080p resolution 70 000:1 dynamic contrast ratio Sub 2ms response time PROS

CONS

• Great size, great resolution, great price • Aesthetically pleasing • Native 1080p resolution

• Lacks built-in speakers • Desk stand not height adjustable.

OVERALL RATING


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HP OfficeJet K7000 Wide Format Printer NEED TO KNOW • Variety of print sizes, maximum A3 • Monthly duty cycle 7000 pages • Ethernet connectivity and sharing • Uses 40% less energy than regular laser printers R2 999.95

WHEN it comes to printing, size is always an issue. One of the biggest problems with home or office printing solutions is that you’re constrained to printing, at most, an A4 sized photo or document. And if you want anything bigger than that, you’re left to awkwardly attempting to stick the pages together yourself and it just never looks right. The OfficeJet K7000 is a large-format printer, and can print anything from credit-card sizes to A3 photos and documents. If you think about it practically, it’s not just graphics professionals that need wide-format printers. There are good reasons for small businesses to use them too. Being able to print your own posters or A3 spreads for brochures or price lists makes the extra width more than a luxury and the OfficeJet 7000 Wide Format can handle everyday A4 printing tasks as well. Imagine being able to print all your own marketing materials, like posters, signage and brochures, as well as taking care of all your documentary needs, in-house and using one device. This saves you time and money, as you won’t have to outsource printing any longer or spend valuable time out of the office collecting your prints. Actual physical set-up involves lifting the printer’s lid and clipping the semi-permanent print head into the carriage, before pressing each of the four ink tanks into place. It’s straight forward, and the individual ink tanks also translate into savings, as you only have to replace the individual colours when they run out, there’s no need to throw away the entire cartridge, if for example, the yellow ink has run out. This makes the ink solution costeffective and when combined with adjustable print qualities, you have total control over ink expenditure and costs. In terms of setting the printer up with your computer, we found the software installation to be very simple, with drivers provided for both Windows and Mac OS X. It is intended to be a

high-performance unit that can be utilised by multiple users on a network. Controlling the printer from the device itself is also simple enough, using the four buttons along the curved front edge. These control network, job cancel, paper feed and power and indicators show you ink cartridge status and alert you when levels are low or when you need to change one or more of the cartridges. Commendable print resolutions, high-volume paper handling – this device can handle 150-sheets and has manual duplexing, as well as a monthly duty cycle of 7000 pages – all mean that this printer delivers on its promises. Not to mention print speeds of 33ppm for mono prints and 32ppm for colour, this printer delivers results that are snappy, useful and flexible. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • • • •

33ppm mono/32ppm colour print; USB 2.0, Ethernet Networking; 150-page input tray, monthly duty cycle 7000pages; Variety of print sizes, max A3;

HEWLETT PACKARD CP1215

A colour laser printer designed for either an individual workaholic, or a small business work group if print requirements involve a lot of text documents, with the occasional colour presentation thrown in.

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS • Compatible with: Windows 7, Vista, XP, 2000 • 512 MB RAM, 225MB free hard disk space • Compatible with: Mac OS X v 10.4.11, Mac OS X v 10.5.6, Mac OS X v 10.6, • 256 MB memory, 500 MB free hard disk space

PROS

CONS

• Does all your wide-format printing in-house at a fraction of the price • Prints a variety of sizes and on a variety of paper media • Easy to troubleshoot

• Printing is a bit time consuming, but quality is worth waiting for • Would have been nice if this device handled more than 150 sheets at a time

OVERALL RATING

SAMSUNG CLX-3175

This is a seriously compact solution for the serious home office. Featuring print, scan and copying capabilities, this printer enables you to complete your documentation tasks with minimal hassle.

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Logitech Premium Notebook Headset NEED TO KNOW

PHILIPS SHC 2000 WIRELESS HEADPHONES

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

HEWLETT PACKARD MINI 210-1000 NOTEBOOK

This slim, attractive and almost-tiny device is a third-generation netbook with a 10.1” display and it’s more than adequate for surfing the Internet, browsing through photos, and watching SD movies.

46 | CONNECT | MAY 2010

• Behind-the-head wearing style headset • Independent mute button and volume control • USB-powered means it’s perfect for travel • Consists of earphones and microphone R549.95

THE Logitech Premium Notebook Headset consists of headphones and a microphone, so it’s a convenient computer headset that allows you to listen to music, take part in voice chats, and make use of speech-recognition software. This headset gives you all the functionality you need when you’re mobile and folds up into a plastic travel case. Unfold the headset into a pair of behind-the-head earphones with a pivoting microphone below the left earpiece – the earpieces are nearly rectangular in shape and slide back and forth on the frame so you can adjust their placement for comfort. If you’re accustomed to over-the-head headphones, you’ll have to adapt to Logitech’s behind-the-head design. And if you wear glasses, you’ll have to be careful when removing and replacing the headset. Once a few minor adjustments are made though, you should find the headset and the generously-padded headphones are quite comfortable for extended wear. Though the headset folds, it feels far from flimsy, and both headphones and microphone produce full, clear sound. Setting up the headset is dead simple. You can connect by plugging it into your notebook’s headphone and microphone jacks or by using the included adapter to connect via a USB port. This is a somewhat superfluous feature, but some may prefer connecting via USB. There’s no software needed, so once it’s plugged in you can start using the headset right away. An in-line control includes a convenient switch for muting the microphone as well as a wheel-shaped volume control and there’s also a small clip on the back of the control that lets you attach

it to your clothing for easy access. When tested with Sound Recorder on Windows XP and on Windows 7 and used for giving voice commands and dictating a letter using 7’s built-in speech recognition tools, the microphone gave clear vocal sound while minimising background noise. Using this headset meant that Windows 7 was able to ‘hear’ and understand nearly all voice commands, and on the first try. In terms of sound quality, it’s pretty good. Contacts on the other side of the planet reported excellent audio quality, and their voices were realistically reproduced on our end too. This headset is perfect for frequent travellers who need to place VoIP calls or use speech recognition software on the road and ideal for listening to music and gaming as well and is compatible with both Windows and Mac OS X. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • • • •

Mono microphone Stereo output for headphones 20 - 20000 Hz response bandwidth 1 x Headset cable - 6 ft, 1 x USB adapter

PROS

CONS

• Noise cancelling functionality on mic works exceptionally well • Behind-the-ear wearing style is very comfortable once you’ve adjusted to it • Not limited to notebooks

• It’s not Bluetooth, which means its not mobile while you’re wearing it • Behind-the-ear wearing style interferes with glasses • Slightly expensive, but worthwhile if you make lots of VoIP calls

OVERALL RATING


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Samsung Super Writemaster SE/S084 NEED TO KNOW • USB-powered portable DVD writer • Very small and lightweight • Perfect for carrying with your netbook R749.95

IN the past few months we’ve reviewed several external, portable DVD writer drives; this month that trend continues with the newest and cheapest portable drive we’ve yet to see. Samsung’s Super Writemaster SE/S084 portable DVD writer is probably one of the best options out there due to its lightweight build and shiny exterior, which makes it perfect for carrying around with you without adding significantly to your overall carry weight. The reason for this kind of device’s newfound popularity undoubtedly lies with the netbook explosion we’ve experienced over the past several years. Optical drives have been removed from netbooks to save space and increase battery life, but of course that has served to inconvenience people who’ve wanted to install CD and DVD-based programs. The solution has been to purchase a separate optical drive that connects via USB and does not require an external power source. With the price drop introduced by this particular device, no longer will you have to shell out almost a R1000 for the added convenience of installing applications easily, and burning CDs and DVDs wherever you happen to be. That is probably the first thing that will catch your eye about this product, and luckily, that’s not all it’s good at. Since it is essentially the same DVD writer drive you’d find in a full-blown notebook, it can handle most optical media, from CDs to DVDs to those tiny DVDs you see that are about the size of an old 1.44MB floppy disk. It also works in the same way; touch the eject button, and the drive hesitates for a second before popping the lock and ejecting your disc. The drive is powered by a USB connection that has a mini-USB connector on one side and two full-sized USB plugs on the other. Thankfully, you don’t need both in order to power the drive; the reason for the two plugs is in case you connect the drive up to a USB port that can’t supply enough power over one connection, in which case you just plug the second USB plug in for that extra power boost. Samsung has included useful software like Nero 8 in the package so that you don’t have to go looking online for a handy CD/DVD burning

application. Unfortunately it is PC-only, so Macs are left in the cold a bit, but that is no real problem as the drive will work with whatever disc-creation software is Mac-compatible, you just have to source it yourself. In terms of performance and ease of use, the Super Writemaster SE/S084 is about as easy to use as can be without the entire process being carried out by a robot. Install software, plug it in, run software, choose files to burn, insert disc into drive, close drive, select Burn, and you’re done in less than 4 minutes for CDs and less than 8 minutes for a full DVD’s worth of data. It just can’t do any of that fancy Lightscribe stuff, so you won’t be able to burn your own designs to the tops of your CDs. It’s a small sacrifice in the grand scheme of things, really. If you’re a fan of netbooks, but you’ve disliked the fact that you have no optical drive for programs and for burning data, this affordable and practical drive is the solution to your problems. Mac users will need to go an extra mile or two to get full value from it, but PC users are, as usual, in the pound seats, and will gain the most benefits from this useful device.

LG EXTERNAL DVD DRIVE

Same concept, different design, different company. Does the same thing, though, but it’s a wee bit more expensive.

PERFECT COMPANIONS

NOTEWORTHY SPECS • • • • • • • • • • •

Connectivity: USB 2.0 Supported Disc Types: READ: MASTERED DISC, CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-ROM, DVD+R 4.7GB, DVD+R DL 8.5GB, DVD+RW 4.7GB, DVD-R 3.95GB, DVD-R 4.7GB Authoring, DVD-R 4.7GB General, DVD-R DL 8.5GB, DVD-RW, DVD-RAM 4.7GB WRITE: DVD4.7GB(DVD±R/RW, DVD-RAM), DVD±R DL(8.5GB), CD-R/RW Lightscribe: No Write Speed: CD 24x (3.6MB/s), DVD 8x (10.8MB/s) Buffer memory: 2MB

PROS

CONS

• Completely portable DVD drive • Uses no mains power • Fast read and write speeds

• No ability to etch designs on discs • Included software is PC-only

OVERALL RATING

Roxio Toast Titanium 10 This is a good g CD and DVD burning application app ecifically for Macs. specifi

Sony Vaio VPCW216AG Sony’s amazing mazing netbook is just the ticket for owsing, responsive on the go browsing, communicating, and now DVD and CD burning!

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Canon IXUS 95 IS NEED TO KNOW • 10MP entry-level compact camera • New Smart Auto mode with scene detection functionality • Anti-blur and face detection technologies • 3x optical zoom R2099.95

CANON LEGRIA FS306 SILVER

Not only does the FS306 shoot great looking movies, but its tiny size means you can take it with you wherever you go; plus it records straight to memory card so you can quickly and easily share your movies.

NIKON COOLPIX P100

So much more than just a point-and-shoot, this bridge camera packs some of the best features of an SLR, but with an attractive price tag and the same user-friendliness you’d expect from a compact camera.

48 | CONNECT | MAY 2010

IF you’re looking for an easy-to-use, simple point-and-shoot compact that snaps awesome pictures, is capable of video recording and will do all the thinking for you when it comes to optimising settings – then this camera will be perfect. It’s compact like you won’t believe, and is probably about the same size as a standard bar of household soap, and weighs a mere 120g – perfect to slip in your handbag or pocket. This compact sports a 3x optical zoom lens and along with optical image stabilisation and anti-blur technology, your snaps are guaranteed to be snappy and crisp. This camera features a ‘Smart Auto’ mode functionality, which means it will analyse the particular scene or subject in detail, by checking subject brightness, contrast, and distance from the lens as well as colour hue and will then select the most fitting of 18 potential modes to ensure the best possible results. Explaining what Smart Auto mode does is the lengthiest part of the feature as its operation is almost instantaneous, thanks to a Digic 4 processor – the same processor also found in the DSLR range from Canon. So with Smart Auto mode enabled, all you really have to do is point and shoot. In addition to Smart Auto you can switch the camera to a number of advanced presets that are designed to deliver quality shots in a variety of conditions. There are 17 shooting modes to choose from as well as 12 special scene modes - so no matter what you’re shooting, you’ll always be prepared. In addition to all the shooting and scene modes, there’s also a ‘my colours mode’ that lets you customise colour settings before shooting and then correct individual colours on the LCD screen while you’re shooting. This feature has more than a few choices to pick from and includes a ‘positive film’ mode that makes all the reds, greens and blues really vibrant and ‘colour accent’ allows you to hang on to a single colour in your image whilst the other colours turn to monochrome. There’s even a ‘colour swap’ mode where you can select one colour and replace it with another for special

effect. These modes work with both still and video – so you’ll be able to get creative, impressive results all-round. Firm favourites in the user-friendly package are automatic red eye correction (activated through the onscreen menu settings) and motion detection that automatically boosts ISO levels as necessary and avoids blur that happens when your subject moves. That’s not all; this compact also packs i-Contrast, a feature that adjusts exposures to bring out shadow detail without impacting on your photo’s highlight details in the process. Most cameras these days seem to come with some kind of facial recognition faculty or another, and this compact is no exception. Here you’ll find Face Detection and Motion Detection technology that locates and tracks moving subjects until you’re ready to shoot, adjusting the camera settings for you. This is one of those devices that proves that you don’t have to have a complicated DSLR camera to have access to a range of creative options, and if you’re simply looking for pixel-perfect photos and a slim, compact camera to carry with you wherever you go, you won’t go wrong with this one. Well, not if you use the Smart Auto mode, anyway. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • 3x optical zoom, 4x digital zoom • ISO sensitivity: AUTO, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600 • Shooting modes: Auto, P, Digital Macro, Portrait, Night Snapshot, Movie, Special Scene (Kids & Pets, Indoor, Sunset, Foliage, Snow, Beach, Fireworks, Aquarium, Underwater, ISO3200, Long shutter) • Internal memory: 32MB/ Supports: SD, SDHC, MMC, MMCplus, HC MMCplus cards.

PROS

CONS

• Perfect travel companion • Loads of shooting modes and colour options to choose from • Smart Auto mode takes the guesswork out of photography

• Only comes with 32MB internal memory, so you’ll have to buy additional storage • Manual comes on a CD, which means you can’t take it with you

OVERALL RATING


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Sony Wearable Walkman MP3 Player 2GB NEED TO KNOW • • • •

MP3 player fits securely on your head, for total wireless listening 2GB storage holds up to 500 tracks Battery life of up to 12 hours Quick charge feature: 90 minutes playback time from a 3 min quick charge R999.95 SANDISK CLIP 2GB BLACK

A portable compact mp3 player that plays MP3, WMA and audio book file formats, as well as featuring a voice recording function.

SONY WALKMAN X-SERIES

The original Walkman has evolved; it now plays audio and video files, and has plenty of storage available for both.

50 | CONNECT | MAY 2010

THE new all-in-one Sony Wearable MP3 Player gives you music that you can wear and experience in total freedom - this distinctively different MP3 player fits compactly around your head so you can be free to move without the constraint of headphone wires. There’s also none of the audio-fidelity/clarity issues you experience using headsets with technologies such as RF and Bluetooth – probably the main reason why Sony decided to take this route with its new wearable Walkman. When we say this device will fit securely around your head, we mean it. The snug-fit design means it will stay on your head no matter what physical activity you’re involved in – be it running, cycling, gymming or exercising – you’ll hardly even know it’s there. This is due to the fact that Sony departed completely from the traditional design of MP3 players as this device actually builds the MP3 player into the headphones for ultimate portability. The earphones clip together for storage, for even further convenience. The earphones themselves have built-in 13.5mm Sony EX drivers for amazing sound quality and powerful bass – something not usually found in portable earphones. They are made from a hybrid silicone structure that gives you the bass range of larger headphones and the sound isolation of smaller, in-ear headphones – giving you the best of both worlds. Bearing in mind the total redesign Sony made with form factor, it’s not surprising that the device’s interface is rather non-traditional too. Of course, there’s no screen as this would be rather difficult to view on a device that’s attached to your ears anyway, so music plays straight through in alphanumeric order by default. If that’s not what you want, you can activate the shuffle switch on the inside of the right earpiece to randomise playback on up to 500 songs. The bottom edge of the right module contains the remainder of the controls - a volume rocker and a jog dial that can be swiped to move through your track list. Given the limits of the Walkman design, it’s inevitably light on extras, but Sony does its best to integrate a few exceptionally useful features. The first is something they’ve called ‘Zappin’, and it lets you browse through

songs by ear and plays a snippet of the chorus of each song, so you can identify and settle on a song of your choice. You can toggle between long (10 sec) and short (4 sec) settings for these mode, and once you’ve settled on your song, press the jog button and it will play from the beginning. An audio-only device, the Walkman can play back MP3, AAC, and WMA files. As it’s aimed at those who lead an active lifestyle we were puzzled by the lack of an FM radio tuner, but we put this down to size limitations. This player also offers a quick-charge feature that will give you 90 minutes of playback from a single 3-minute charge - this is particularly handy if you’ve forgotten to recharge, but you desperately need to work out and don’t want to be without your MP3 player. The only caveat about this device is its tendency to dislike sweat; it may not last long if you don’t wipe it down with a tissue after a workout. This seems to be a rather glaring oversight, so we advise buyers to make the wipedown a regular part of the wearable Walkman’s usage pattern. Included with the device is a sticky-bottomed stand/docking station for charging the device and transferring songs and that’s all done using standard Mini-USB. Finally, each earpiece is magnetized and when you stick them together, the player automatically powers down. 12 hours of battery life means the player will probably work out harder than you do, but at least you’ll be sure that your activities will always have the perfect personal soundtrack. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • • • •

2GB of memory: 500 songs 12 hours playback 3minute quick charge function Weighs a mere 35g

PROS

CONS

• No cable clutter or wires to restrict movement • Quick charge functionality is very convenient • Easy to transfer music files to your device

• No FM radio tuner • Not very sweat-resistant • Battery indicator is on the inside – only way to check battery status is to remove device

OVERALL RATING


Logitech Cordless Desktop Laser MX 3200 NEED TO KNOW • Completely wireless mouse and keyboard • LCD display along top edge of keyboard • Regular and bonus-function keys • Treated with an anti-bacterial substance R1 199.95

LOGITECH’S MX3200 Cordless Desktop set is among the more expensive you’ll see, but it is worth every cent. The quality, first and foremost, is up to Logitech’s typically-high standards, and both the keyboard and mouse have the kind of heft usually associated with class products. The keyboard, in particular, is beautifully designed, with curves in all the right places, and a number of additional keys for multimedia and application functions. What really sets this keyboard and mouse set apart from other products - other than its exceptional quality and functionality - is its ability to resist turning into a haven for germs and microbes and other nasties that transfer from your hands to its nooks and crannies courtesy of a special anti-microbial coating Logitech has applied to its surfaces. It prevents germs from building up on the keyboard, which helps keep users healthier. It also features a “Zero Tilt” design that keeps keys at the exact same level when the keyboard is flat on a desk. This has been done to prevent any strain that may be cause by keys being different heights; some keyboards are designed with taller keys towards the top of the keyboard, which, Logitech claims, has the tendency to force hands into unnatural positions, which then leads to strain. The feel of the keys is spot on; they provide the perfect balance between tactile and audio feedback, meaning they don’t click too loudly, and at the same time give your fingers force feedback that is ‘just right’. The delete key has been enlarged and angled down the keyboard, making for easy presses once you’ve grown accustomed to it (this may take a week or so). The large, soft palm rest also offers all-day typists some relief from the strain that typing causes. The only thing we didn’t like about the regular keys is the fact that the Escape key is very small, making it easy to miss. The keyboard’s extra keys and functions are arguably reason to buy the set all on their own. They include a touch-sensitive slider pad on the left for zooming in and out of documents and webpages, multimedia controls at the top for easy access to play/pause/stop/next and previous track functions, as well as a range of alternate functions to the F-keys.

On the bottom right corner there are even buttons that let you initiate and end voice calls received over IM programs like Skype and Windows Live Messenger. There is also an LCD panel at the top of the keyboard that displays battery levels, the time and date; this last feature is a bit unnecessary, but it does at least make the keyboard look very smart. The mouse is just as versatile and feature-packed. While not suitable for left-handed people, right-handers will probably really enjoy the feel and the fit of the mouse. In addition to the usual three buttons, it has buttons for Forward and Back (like on your Web browser), the ability to scroll sideways through documents and web pages, and buttons for zooming in and out of documents. The mouse’s motion is smooth, and it tracks on anything other than glass and marble. Best of all, everything just works. You won’t even need to install the accompanying SetPoint software before inserting the USB dongle in order for the set to work with Windows, although if you want finer control over the various functions, this is recommended. With a very easy installation, excellent build quality and the ability to control handy, useful everyday functions, the MX3200 Cordless Desktop is a great buy, and is well worth the asking price. NOTEWORTHY SPECS

PERFECT COMPANIONS

Acer Z5600 All-in-One This stylish all-in-one PC that looks like a giant screen is wonderful to use, but for those times when a mouse and keyboard are absolutely necessary, the included set isn’t anywhere near as excellent as the MX3200 keyboard and mouse.

• • • • •

Interface: USB Motion Device Type: Laser Connectivity: Wireless, USB dongle Keyboard Special Features: Detachable palm rest, Internet buttons Mouse Buttons: 2 Buttons and four-directional scroll wheel, forward and back • Mouse Special Features: Tilt Wheel, zoom • Customisable buttons: Both Mouse and keyboard

PROS

CONS

• Excellent build quality • Comfortable design and responsive keys • Tons of useful functions mapped to extra keys • 6xAA batteries are included

• Escape key is very small • Position of Delete key may take some getting used to • LCD panel is a bit unnecessary

OVERALL RATING

Sony Vaio VGN-FW57GH VGN FW57GH Notebook Notebooks are great for travelling, but they can be uncomfortable to use for extended office work and most don’t have keypads. Our advice: grab the MX3200 set and kiss any typing and mousing discomfort goodbye.

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ShoX iPig iPod Docking Station NEED TO KNOW

LOGITECH PURE-FI EXPRESS PLUS IPOD DOCKING STATION

If you’re looking for a portable sound solution, but aren’t willing to compromise on sound quality, then this product is what you’ve been looking for – omni-directional acoustic technology, 10 hours of playback time and a built-in clock, charging dock and alarm clock gives you more than you bargained for.

PHILIPS DCM 250 IPOD DOCKING STATION

This docking system has more than the iPod/ iPhone on its mind and features a CD player, an AM/FM radio, an alarm clock, and a USB port for plugging in a non-iPod MP3 player, which is a lot of functionality in one device.

52 | CONNECT | MAY 2010

• Battery-powered mobile docking station • 5 speakers and a 4” subwoofer • Comes with remote for easy iPod navigation • Compatible with most iPod’s, MP3, MP4, and game consoles • iPod not included R1 799.95

THIS device might look like a piggy bank, but it’s not. Don’t let the cutesy looks deceive you – it’s a pretty powerful iPod docking station that performs surprisingly well. The reason it’s pig-shaped? We’re guessing so that shoX could call it the iPig. All jokes aside, when you’ve got an item as popular as the iPod there’s bound to be a slew of accessories for it hitting the market – what’s needed to differentiate the product from others is something that’s unique, something that’s both practical and desirable. Which the iPig is if you’re a bit like us, and are a wee bit jaded with the no-nonsense, practicable iPod docking stations that are out there. So now that we’ve moved past the fact that this is a pig, let’s talk about functionality and performance, which are just as important as looks. This iPod speaker system comes with a strong pedigree for a pig, by virtue of the fact that it’s made by shoX, a brand that has come to hold a lot of clout when it comes to small, portable sound systems. This means it’s more than capable of handling everything in your music collection – from heavy rock, to metal, to classical and hip-hop and even kids’ music. It’s called the ‘iPig mobile’ and that’s another thing about this device that’s no joke – it’s fitted with a built-in lithium battery, and can be charged by plugging it into the cigarette lighter in your car. It’s light enough to carry with just one hand and its holdfast rubber feet mean that you can place it pretty much anywhere, without worrying about stability. It’s the ultimate road-hog. (Ba-dum-dish). To use it with your iPod you just need to plug it into the dock on the back of the iPig, and turn it on. We noticed that it even works with a nano 4th generation iPod, which is a bonus as most devices out there seem to be problematic with other 4th gen devices. And just to ensure that the iPig fits your needs perfectly, there are multiple cradles available, and all you need do is fit your music device with the right one. A 3.5 mm stereo audio-in connection allows you to hook up to other MP3

or MP4 devices or plug in your PSP, Wii, your laptop, or your cell phone. The possibilities are almost endless, and the versatility of this device is sure to make you wonder how you survived without it before. In terms of sound the iPig has a total of 5 speakers including a 4” subwoofer, with a total output of more than 23 watts of music power. It also has a super Hi-Fi amplifier, an interior dynamic airflow optimiser, and an interior dynamic cooling exchange system with high sound stabilisation – all of which work together to make the acoustics what they are. In terms of operation, the iPig comes with a remote control to browse through the different iPod features and functions and you can control settings like volume, bass and treble from the remote as well. If you’re more of a hands-on person when it comes to your devices, then you’ll be pleased to know that the iPig has heat/touch sensitive ears, and to turn down the volume, all you need to do is push down on the left ear, while the right ear raises the volume. There’s a knob at the back (where the pig’s tail should be) that allows you to adjust bass control. The iPig will give you 10 hours of playback on a single-battery charge, and a lots of happy, quirky listening pleasure. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • • • •

23 watts of refined power 10 hours of playback Aux input - play MP3, MP4 & cell phones 5 speakers and a 4” subwoofer

PROS

CONS

• Also charges your iPod while it’s docked • Power indicator – it’s in the iPig’s smile • Fully compatible with a range of audio and gaming devices • Good sound quality for such a small device

• No basic function buttons (play, skip, shuffle, random etc) on device itself • iPhone sometimes a bit iffy with this docking station • Doesn’t do much more than charge and play.

OVERALL RATING


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IPOD NANO

The standard in enjoying digital content on the road, the new Nano has a built in FM radio, video camera and vivid colour screen. Capable of storing between 2000 and 4000 songs with new 8GB and 16GB capacities.

ShoX Airdoc Speakers NEED TO KNOW • Wireless speakers • 40m range • Compatible with iPod • Auxiliary input R1 499.95

ANYONE with an iPod will testify to just how addictive the various accessory purchases for these awesome devices are. But once you’ve bought a cool pouch for your music player, pimped it out with more powerful headphones and filled it with content, what’s next? The simple answer is a ‘dock’ of some sort, allowing you to not only enjoy your music while moving around your home or office, but at the same time top your music player’s batteries up for the next stint out and about. The ShoX Airdoc – made by the same people famous for the original ‘concertina’ fold-up-and-go Shox mini speaker – does everything you want from an iPod dock and then some. The features you’d expect from any iPod dock, namely the ability to connect your iPod to power and external speakers using nothing more than the aptly named ‘dock’ connector and to control all aspects of the music player from a distance are catered for more than adequately. A docking slot is neatly positioned in between the Airdoc’s two 12-watt speakers and provides access to the speakers and a charging facility. The orientation of the iPod in the dock is an important consideration, since the Airdoc has no screen, so you’re constantly relying on the iPod’s display for feedback on menu navigation, what’s currently playing and volume levels – variables that are adjustable from the speaker system’s neat and compact remote control, which has a range of 40 metres. Sound quality from the orb-shaped speakers is fair to good and pretty commensurate with the unit’s R1 499.95 price tag. It’s not in this department where the Airdoc really shows its remarkable nature though. Instead of simply allowing iPod enthusiasts to enjoy their music from a distance, each of the Airdoc’s 12-watt speakers unclip from the base unit and can be carried around the home or office, while all the time providing

the user with good quality, voluminous sound. And providing their distance from the base unit does not exceed 40 metres (like the remote control) and they’re returned to the base every five or so hours for a recharge, these little speakers will continue to function like champions. Since each speaker has an independent volume control, adjustable from the remote control, there’s a ton of granularity and configurability to this system. Other features include the ability to connect the system to an auxiliary input (supporting a wider range of music sources) and add more than the standard two speakers to the mix. While the former is convenient (albeit a little baffling since the Airdoc is clearly created to be used with an iPod) the latter is a seriously great idea. Since we didn’t have access to more than one of these units, we weren’t able to test the ‘more than two speakers’ theory. Overall, the ShoX Airdoc is another really impressive piece of kit from Tevo and something we believe any futuristic, gadget-laden household shouldn’t be without.

IPOD TOUCH

An iPhone without the phone, this unit benefits from a massive range of downloadable applications and games, the best touch screen in the business and between 8GB and 64GB of storage.

NOTEWORTHY SPECS • • • • •

12-watt speaker system iPod compatible 40 metre wireless range Remote controlled Winner of 2009 IF design award

PROS

CONS

• Support for wide range of iPods • Up to 40 metre range • Remote controlled • Independent speaker volumes

• Can be troublesome with older iPods • Fair sound quality • 12 watt power rating too small for some

OVERALL RATING

IPOD CLASSIC

The proverbial big brother of the iPod family, this beast features 160GB of storage (up to 40 000 songs or 200 hours of video) and enough battery life for a ton of listening pleasure.

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PRODUCT REVIEWS

RELATED

PRODUCTS

Philips DC570 Docking Entertainment System NEED TO KNOW APPLE IPOD SHUFFLE 4GB

No docking station needed with this product, it’s so small you can take it anywhere. While claiming the title to the world’s smallest music player, it also happens to be the world’s first talking one. The VoiceOver feature announces song title and artist name, and can even tell you the name of the playlist you’re listening to.

APPLE IPOD NANO 16GB

The new iPod nano now features a video camera, a polished anodised aluminium finish, and a larger screen. Allowing you to listen to music, capture and watch video and listen to broadcasts from your favourite radio station on this device.

54 | CONNECT | MAY 2010

• Designed to take up minimal space • Charge and play simultaneously • Wake up to music with the alarm clock function • All-in-one remote control for the system and iPod R2 999.95

THE most important thing to consider when buying a docking station speaker system for your iPod/iPhone is placement. Where are you going to put it and how much space does it take up? The awesome thing about the Philips DC570 is that it has a vertical design that’s intended to take up as little space as possible, while still producing excellent sound output. So if space is at a premium in your office or lounge, this is the perfect speaker system for you – it will occupy that corner space that all other docking stations seem to shun. No matter how cramped or cluttered your room is, you’ll still want to fill it with your favourite iPod tunes, and that’s exactly what this device does. It’s a 2.1 system with a built-in subwoofer, boasting 100W output power, which really puts the doof in your doof-doof music. There are four Digital Sound Control presets, namely rock, pop, jazz and classical, as well as Dynamic Bass Boost (on/off ) and your iPod’s EQ settings take preference, so there’s plenty of room to fiddle with sound levels. Dynamic Bass Boost maximises your audio experience by emphasising the bass notes throughout the entire range of volume settings, from low to high, at the touch of a button. This is a great thing because bottom-end bass frequencies are usually sacrificed when the volume is set at a low level. To counteract this, Dynamic Bass Boost can be switched on to boost bass levels, so you can enjoy consistent sound even when you turn down the volume. Arrived at home and realised that you’ve left your iPod at work? No problems as you don’t even need an iPod to use this speaker system. It has a USB port from which you can play MP3 or WMA tracks by plugging a flash drive in; the DC570 then scans for supported playable files that are then played. One drawback here is that you lose the Digital Sound Control when playing songs off a USB device. There’s also a 3.5mm auxiliary input that allows you to plug just about any audio source into it, making this a flexible, variable audio solution for wherever you choose to use it. Use it to rock with

your PlayStation, Xbox, notebook or television - it’s more useful than you can imagine. Even more choice in music is given by a programmable FM tuner. Tune into your favourite radio stations and be entertained. Set the alarm clock if you’re using the DC570 at home, and wake up to your radio station or playlist of choice. If you’re using the DC570 to play music to put you to sleep, you wont be woken up at 2am by your playlist kicking into some loud AC/DC, as the device has a sleep timer function that you can set. Although the product specifications listed compatibility with a variety of iPods and made no mention of the iPhone, we had zero problems with docking our iPhone in this device. It did everything it was supposed to, including act as a charging dock. There’s also a variety of plastic inserts available, to ensure you get the right cradle for your iPod. The cherry on top of this package is the remote control that is used to manage both the DC570 and your iPod. So to sum up: if you’re looking for a speaker system for your iPod that has a small footprint and big sound, and a reasonable price tag, then you’ll definitely be pleased with the Philips DC570 Docking Entertainment System. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • Compatible with iPod mini; iPod nano 1G, 2G, 3G; iPod classic 4G, 5G, 5.5G, 6G; iPod touch 1G • 2.1 system with a built-in subwoofer • USB Direct for MP3/WMA music playback • Dynamic Bass Boost with Digital Sound Control

PROS

CONS

• Can sit in the corner of the room, takes up minimal space • Remote control works for both the speakers and your iPod • Compatible with the iPhone, even though not listed

• If not using iPod, can’t make use of Digital Sound Control Presets • Stand wobbles a little bit if you’re handling your iPod while docked • Remote needs to be perfectly aimed to work

OVERALL RATING


Iomega® eGo™ Portable Hard drive USB 2.0 Take files anywhere in style!

Sleek aluminum enclosure >> Drop Guard™ feature >> Available in 3 colours (Red, Blue, Silver) >> Up to 500GB capacity >> Includes Iomega Protection Suite Software, a comprehensive suite of anti-virus and backup software (via download) >> 3-year limited warranty >>

www.iomega.com Copyright © 2010 Iomega Corporation. All rights reserved. Iomega and the stylized “I” logo, eGo and DropGuard 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 may be trademarks or designations of their respective owners.


PRODUCT REVIEWS RELATED

PRODUCTS

SONY PSP GO

This UMD-free version of Sony’s portable features 16GB of memory to download and store games, videos, pictures and more.

PERFECT COMPANIONS

Nintendo DSi XL NEED TO KNOW Professor Layton And The Curious Village You’re a sleuthing Professor who must solve over 130 puzzles to unravel the mystery of St. Mystere.

Cooking Guide: Can’t Decide What To Eat? Pick from over 250 delicious recipes from across the globe and learn step-by-step how to cook them. From making a shopping list to prepping ingredients – it’s all here.

The Legend Of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass Up for an adventure? This role-playing game will take you on a memorable quest – perfect for Zelda newbies and hardcore fans dating back to ‘87!

56 | CONNECT | MAY 2010

• 93% larger screens • Wide viewing angle • Play instantly with pre-installed games R2 099.95

THE original Nintendo DS remains the world’s bestselling portable video game console. The second iteration, the DS Lite, was a slimmed down, more stylish version of the clunky first edition. The DSi (not yet released locally) took this and added a camera, music-editing abilities and internal memory. Nintendo’s exclusive DSiWare service opened up a world of downloadable games… so what could Nintendo do next? Meet the DSi XL, the “all the better to see you with” gaming system. Many say the key to Nintendo’s success is its dynamic range of familyfriendly games. But if you’re struggling to see the screen when training your brain, you’ll be delighted with this jumbo gamer. Sporting two, 4.2-inch screens that are 93% bigger than those of the the DS Lite, the DSi XL also has a wider viewing angle which means that friends will be able to see the action easier from over your shoulder. From solving puzzles like Sudoku or having a competition to see whose brain age is lower, you’ll be able to share the DSi quite easily. What’s really nice about the DSi XL handheld is that it comes pre-loaded with some useful and fun software: Dr Kawashima’s Little Bit of Brain Training: Arts Edition (to draw and remember pictures while keeping your grey matter perky) and Dictionary 6 in 1 with Camera Function – this really is an amazing language tool. All you need to do is enter a word or take a picture of it (like a sign, for example) and you’ll receive an instant translation in six different languages. Perfect for globetrotting. One of the problems of using a smaller DS was misplacing the stylus. Luckily for those using this extra-large handheld, bigger screens also mean touch capability: Instead of searching for that tiny stick, you can easily use your fingers and this makes the gameplay far more intuitive. If that’s not enough, you can also grab hold of the (included) DSi XL touch pen, a fully-sized, comfortable writing apparatus that is perfect for games that require you to write notes or quickly jot something down. One of the best bits of the DSi XL is the built-in Nintendo DSi Browser

which, as the name suggests, enables you to easily access the Internet from anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection. (Connect to the DSiWare Store to download unique games and useful applications using Nintendo Points Prepaid Cards). Available in wine red and dark brown, the colours say it all – this DS is definitely more mature, but not less fun. Is bigger necessarily better when it comes to handheld gaming? Yes and no. While it may be easier to slip a DS Lite into your handbag or comfortably use it on an airplane or the Gautrain, the DSi XL has many impressive features that make it perfect for home use, especially when looking at all the added features. A world of gaming awaits…. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • • • • • • • • • • • •

4.2” screen, TFT color liquid crystal (260,000 colors) 2 VGA (0.3) Megapixel cameras RAM: 16 MB Flash Memory: 256 MB CPU Clock Speed: 133MHz Wireless 802.11 b/g connectivity Weight: 314g Battery life: 4-5 hours maximum brightness, 13-17 hours minimum brightness Charging time: three hours (when fully depleted) Input: DS card slot SD memory card slot Stereo headphone/Microphone connected terminal

PROS

CONS

• Longer battery life • Pre-installed games and web browser • Touch-screen and handy, full-sized pen stylus

• Same resolution on bigger screen can be pixellated • Not comfortable for long periods of gaming • No GameBoy Advanced Slot • Glossy finish leaves fingerprints

OVERALL RATING


RELATED

PRODUCTS

Cool-er eBook Reader NEED TO KNOW • Potential Kindle-killer • Supports both PDF and MP3 files • 1GB storage with SD card slot expansion to save loads of e-books • 6-inch screen makes reading pleasurable R2 999.95

KINDLES are great eBook readers if you can fork out a hefty amount of cash. If not, then you might want to consider the Cool-er eBook Reader. It has a much more attractive price tag and even though it lacks built-in wireless functionality and a hardware keyboard, it makes up for these deficiencies by adding music, an SD card slot and PDF/MP3 support. In terms of “reading” on this device, the Cool-er has the same 6-inch screen as the Kindle, but displays text with a proprietary computer-screenlike font face instead of looking more like print, as does the Kindle typeface. This doesn’t make much of a difference to legibility, and the display is size-adjustable. You can also flip it 90 degrees to read in landscape mode. It’s also quite a bit lighter than the Kindle, so you can easily hold it with one hand while you’re eating, lying in bed or in the bath. One of the smartest things about this device is the fact that it uses power only for button clicks, so merely reading the book doesn’t drain power - a single charge can last for up to 8000 page turns. There’s a slight problem with the iPod-like interface and design in that the D-Pad scrollwheel acts as both a menu selector and a page turner, which really isn’t the best way to read a book. Meaning, you can only turn pages with either your right or left hand (if it’s in landscape mode), making reading slightly more awkward. We soon got used to this, however, and it didn’t really concern us much more than an initial annoyance. The online bookstore (http://www.coolerbooks.com ) associated with the device featured more than 750,000 titles available on launch and is apparently likened to the “iTunes of online bookstores”. Titles can be downloaded from the store, borrowed from friends or downloaded from a variety of online libraries. The Cool-er is compatible with both Mac and Windows and to get a book or file onto the device, you simple connect it to your computer via USB and drag and drop files to the Cool-er as you would

NINTENDO DS LITE

any mass USB storage device, or you can insert an SD card instead. There is no software included or even necessary - you simply drag and drop your publications. This is fine for books that don’t feature any DRM (digital rights management), but if you want to read the latest blockbuster purchased from an online store, you’ll need Adobe’s Digital Editions program, which can also be downloaded online, to handle the rights management. One of the biggest bonuses about the Cool-er is that its supports PDF, EPUB books, and text files, and there are masses of free e-books floating out there on the Internet in these file formats. Another thing we really liked was the bookmark/placeholder function. When we picked up the device to read, after taking a break to do something else and powering off, the book ‘opened’ to the last page read. All in all, there’s a lot more going for this eBook Reader for South Africans than the Kindle. You might want wireless connectivity, but it’s not supported here anyway so you can’t really miss something you never had. It has oodles of space for storing e-books and you can expand up to 4GB using SD cards. You can also listen to music on this device. The Cool-er eBook Reader is very impressive and affordable. Well, at least in comparison to the Kindle, anyway.

If reading isn’t your cup of tea, then you might want to consider a hand-held gaming device to keep you entertained. The DS Lite gives up to 19 hours of play on a single recharge and with wireless connectivity, you can join your friends’ games too.

PERFECT COMPA COMPANIONS

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS • • • •

Microsoft Windows: 2000, XP, Vista Intel Pentium 500MHz processor and 128MB of RAM Mac/PowerPC: OS X v10.4.10 or v10.5 PowerPC G4 or G5 500MHz processor and 128MB of RAM

PROS

CONS

• Supports a wide variety of file formats • Battery lasts for 8,000 page turns • Easy to load e-books onto the device

• Interface could do with some refinement • No wireless connectivity • Build quality feels a bit cheap and not very durable

OVERALL RATING

Sandisk 2GB SD memory card Maximize your Cool-er’s potential with the SanDisk Standard SD Memory Card – 2GB of space will allow you to store enough eBooks that you’ll not have to worry about running out of things to read, for a very long time.

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PRODUCT REVIEWS

PERFECT COMPANIONS

Belkin Netbook Sleeve with USB Mouse Bundle (F5Z0160EA) NEED TO KNOW • Neoprene and leather sleeve • Fits netbooks up to 10.2” • Comes with a USB Mouse R499.95

D ll Inspiron Dell I i Mini 10 Netbook What’s a netbook sleeve without a netbook? Just a sleeve. Dell’s Inspiron Mini 10 is kitted out with the latest tech to make your netbook experience really fly.

LG Slim External DVD writer Want to load programs, listen to CDs or burn data when you’re out with your netbook? This slim external DVD burner from LG is one possible solution.

58 | CONNECT | MAY 2010

BELKIN has designed a small sleeve specifically for a netbook, made out of neoprene and faux leather. It has a sturdy zip and a fake leather side pouch, presumably for A5 (or smaller) documents, and can accommodate netbooks up to 10.2”. As a bonus, Belkin has thrown in a tiny USB mouse so that you don’t have to rely on your netbook’s small touch pad. Neoprene is the same material that a diver’s wetsuit is made of, so it will feel rather rubbery and springy under your fingers. This is where the sleeve gets its protective properties from, as any bumps or encounters with scratchy surfaces or objects will have their ability to damage your netbook completely absorbed by the spongy neoprene. Practically, this is very good at keeping the surface of your netbook scratch-free and is a great choice as material for constructing a protective sleeve. The fake leather portion of the sleeve is slightly less practical, as it seems too small to be of much use as anything other than a small-document holder. It does go a long way toward making the sleeve look good and business-like, so it’s not entirely useless, just don’t expect to store your netbook’s power adapter and cables in here. Belkin has included a small and wired USB mouse with the sleeve, in an acknowledgement of how awkward netbook touchpads can be to use. It’s not an amazingly-built mouse, but it is laser-driven so its sensitivity is high and can therefore be used on most mousing surfaces. It is also wired. Large-handed people may not like its diminutive dimensions, though; everyone else should find it just big enough to be useful and just small

enough to be good for travel. Something that bears mentioning is that this sleeve fits rather tightly on netbooks approaching the 10.2” size limit. It also means that netbooks with thick batteries may end up being a bit snugger than you may be comfortable with, as in these situations it does feel as if the neoprene is under duress, and may split at any minute. Netbooks definitely need their own protective sleeves. While it may be convenient to slip a netbook into a notebook bag, or into hand-luggage, there is a lot to be said about the protective qualities of a specificallydesigned sleeve. If you’re at all worried that your shiny new netbook might not retain that look for long, a product like this is the way to ensure its shine remains untarnished for years to come. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • • • •

Dimensions (mm): 275 x 190 x 35 Made with durable neoprene Care instructions: Hand-wash with mild soap and water Ships with a wired USB notebook mouse

PROS

CONS

• Neoprene protects from bumps and scratches • Compact mouse is good for travel • A great way to preserve your netbook’s looks

• Fit can be too snug for some netbooks with thick batteries • Large-handed people may find mouse is a bit small • Leather pouch not big enough to store power adapters and cables

OVERALL RATING


Free upgrade to Office 2010 with qualifying Office 2007 purchase! If yyou buy Office 2007 today and before September 30, 2010, you can upgrade SSeptem to Office 2010 for free when it releases! All you will need is your 25-character Product Key and your Product ID, and you will be eligible to download the 2010 version of your software when it releases. Qualifying products: • Office Home and Student 2007 • Office Small Business 2007 • Office Professional 2007 • Office Publisher 2007

Microsoft Office 2007 Home & Student Edition NEED TO KNOW • Includes 2007 versions of Excel, PowerPoint, Word, and OneNote • Improved automatic Document Recovery tool • User-friendly operation and plenty of online tutorials • Nothing like previous editions of Microsoft Office • Special student price R999.95

IF you were expecting a mere upgrade from Microsoft Office 2003 with the 2007 Edition, you’d be wrong. The 2007 Edition of Microsoft Office is a total rebuild, practically from scratch and it presents drastically different and improved interfaces and new file formats. So different is it from its predecessor, the 2007 Edition might provoke love-hate feelings in new users. But once you’ve familiarised yourself with all the updated, souped-up features and you’ve spent a bit of time getting to know each program, you’ll soon see the benefit in having made the switch to 2007. What you’ll be getting with the Home & Student Edition is 2007 versions of Excel, PowerPoint, Word, and OneNote. You can use this system of programs to do research, compile documents, lay out assignments, create spreadsheets and presentations and organise your notes, research and manage every aspect of your academic or work life, in one place. The primary appeal of this version of Office, however, is its vastlydiscounted price. Expect to pay over R2000 for a non-student edition; if you produce your student card, you can snap it up for this excellent price. The 2007 versions of Microsoft’s popular Office applications have a new streamlined ‘Ribbon’ interface and an improved Help system; with these new functions, help is easily at hand, and the new interface ensures that common tasks are located somewhat more intuitively, making using the program just that much easier. Microsoft Word is where you’ll notice the new Office interface the most. It’s called Office Fluent and is often referred to as the ‘Ribbon’ interface; it’s supposed to give you all the right tools when you need them, making it easy to create and format your documents quickly. Using Quick Styles and Document Themes, you can quickly alter the appearance of text, tables, and graphics and other elements right through your entire document to match your selected style or colour schemes and you’re given more stable bullets and numbers, SmartArt diagrams, and graphics and charting galleries to provide you with a wealth of other formatting choices. The improvement in picture and chart options and new graphics tools help you produce visuallypleasing documents, spreadsheets and presentations with less hassle.

For more info, visit http://www.office. com/techg

This version of Office also includes enhanced reliability, security and document recovery options. If you’ve ever experienced a system crash and lost an entire document, you’ll be pleased to know that you’ll be getting more reliability and security with the new document inspector tool (that helps keep your confidential and personal details secure) and improved automatic document recovery constantly backs up your documents while you’re working. You’ll also be pleased to know there’s a whole lot more choice when it comes to saving options. Word 2007 offers you a choice for sharing documents by converting your Word documents to Portable Document Format (PDF) or XML Paper Specification (XPS) format without the addition of third-party tools, meaning you can send your documents to anyone without worrying about them being opened and discovering that all the formatting has been lost. Excel and PowerPoint are useful for spreadsheets, calculations, workbooks and presentations. OneNote will be any student’s dream research assistant as it functions like a digital notebook that helps you gather, organise, and search across many types of information, all in one place. All in all, this package offers great value for students and noncommercial home users alike. SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS • • • • •

CD-ROM or DVD drive 256 MB RAM or higher 1.5 GB free hard disk space 1024x768 or higher resolution monitor Windows XP or later PROS

CONS

• Automatic document recovery gives peace of mind that you won’t lose your work completely • Interface is helpful, uncluttered and useful • You can still save files in Office 97-03 format and PDF, XPF and others • Special price for students with legitimate student cards

• Coming to grips with all the changes to the interface can take some time • Documents saved in the new formats are not compatible with earlier versions of Office without downloading and installing a ‘compatibility pack’

RELATED

PRODUCTS

BRITANNICA 2010 ULTIMATE EDITION

This software is the equivalent of a university library on your desktop, with over 100 000 articles (depending on the version) and 166 000 links to online content. OPENOFFICE.ORG

OpenOffice.org is still the best, freely available office application out there. It might not be as streamlined as Office 2007, but it is free to download.

OVERALL RATING

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book reviews

COMPTIA A+ COMPLETE STUDY GUIDE

NEED TO KNOW • By Toby Skandler, Quentin Docter and Emmett Dulaney • 1152 Pages

THIS rather large tome is the essential study guide for anyone looking to write - and pass - the CompTIA A+ exam. Aspiring computer technicians, despite having lots of practical knowledge, will need to know the nitty-gritty of the insides of the modern computer in order to pass this all-important exam, and that’s exactly what this book aims to impart. Since it’s a study guide, the book is laid out systematically, starting with the basics and progressing all the way up to the more complex aspects of the modern computer. Each chapter is clearly presented, and includes the necessary information with real-world scenarios to give the reader examples of what can be expected on the job, and review questions at the end to highlight the chapter’s most important information.It also includes a CD with a test engine on it, which helps students prepare for the final exam by presenting questions in the A+ exam’s format. The CD also contains other bonus content to further aid the avid student.

MCTS SELF-PACED TRAINING KIT – CONFIGURING WINDOWS 7 (EXAM 70-680)

NEED TO KNOW • By Orin Thomas and Ian McLean • 912 Pages

ANYONE on the path to becoming a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist will need to write exam 70-680, on how to configure Windows 7. Passing that exam is a lot easier with this self-study book, which includes not only the material necessary to familiarise yourself with the subject matter, but a CD jam-packed with practice tests so that potential candidates can assess their skills. The material covered in the book is written by examcertified writers, and along the way they give exam tips, examples of problems that will need to be solved taken from real-world situations, and all manner of lab exercises designed to prep exam-takers with the best possible tools with which to approach the Configuring Windows 7 exam. The language is - of course - very technical, but the systematic approach along with the 60 | CONNECT | MAY 2010

many opportunities for review will brief candidates comprehensively on not only the inner workings of Windows 7, but on the best ways in which to approach the final exam. It is an essential tool for MCTS-hopefuls.

COMPUTING ESSENTIALS 2011

NEED TO KNOW • By Timothy J. O’Leary • 320 Pages

THIS introduction to the world of computing does a great job of striking a balance between the theory of computers and applied learning. It provides students, or anyone looking for information, with an introduction to the most essential concepts surrounding modern Information Technology. If you’ve been incarcerated with nothing more than a Zen book for the last 12 years, this book will bring you up to speed on concepts like the Internet, e-commerce, basic and more advanced application software, the ins-and-outs of the modern computer, networks, databases and other important information technologies that many of us take for granted today. O’Leary’s style is straightforward, and even the most tech-agnostic among us will easily be able to relate to the subject matter. For people looking for an introduction or even a refresher on modern Information Technology concepts, this is a great read.


COMPTIA NETWORK+ STUDY GUIDE FOR EXAM N10-004

NEED TO KNOW • By Todd Lammie • 888 Pages

ONCE you’ve passed the A+ exam, the next stop on the road to being a certified computer technician is passing the Network+ exam. This is particularly useful for people aspiring to a career in computers, and is often the place youngsters start when they’re just out of school. Bestselling author Todd Lammie, very conversationally, takes readers through the information necessary to firstly know what a computer network is, and secondly how to approach the N+ exam. His approachable style outlines, in considerable detail, the incredibly complex and highly technical world of modern networks, from their basics all the way into nitty-gritty details of IP addressing, routing protocols and even Network Address Translation (NAT). This complex information is very well-presented, and the accompanying CD with all the tools necessary to prepare for the upcoming exam makes this an excellent purchase to aspiring network administrators, and is an essential tool for passing the all-important N+ exam.


game reviews //BY TIANA CLINE, PETER DAWOUD, DEON DU PLESSIS

PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE FORGOTTEN SANDS R699.95 If you know anything about the action-adventure series that is the Prince of Persia, you’ll be used to the Persian protagonist’s bendy physique and his ability to alter time. Ubisoft’s game franchise has been around since 1989 and the newest release, The Forgotten Sands, promises to bring even more to die-hard Prince of Persia fanatics. And even though this is the official next chapter and an all-new game, the storyline takes place in the mysterious seven-year gap between The Sands of Time and Warrior Within. The story begins with the Prince visiting his older brother’s Kingdom in Azad. He arrives to find the royal palace under attack from a mighty army. He fights his way through the masses only find it’s too late – his brother is about to use the ancient power of the Sands in a desperate gamble to save the kingdom from total annihilation. From this point on, the Prince embarks on an epic Arabian journey. His quest? He must fight the mythical Sand army in order to seal them back into their vault – this is no easy task! What’s new to PoP? Gamers can expect much larger battles with more enemies to fight off at once – this requires a brand new combat system in the game with dynamic rolling, jumping and really fun sword combos. In addition to the new combat system is element-based magic. Along with his acrobatic prowess, the Prince will possess supreme mastery over his environment by being able to manipulate nature. This new feature means you’ll uncover new areas to explore. For example, turning water into ice means you’ll be able to climb a previously unreachable wall or get over a treacherous path. In the Wii version of the game, the Prince will wield three new powers and experience combat that makes use of the motion-sensitive Wii controller. The source of these three new powers is a magical phial discovered by the Prince and will help with both combat and puzzles. Built on the Assassin’s Creed engine, expect breath-taking graphics, sprawling locations, fantastic action and a little bit of Persian pizzazz. Fans will be pleased come 18 May.

62 | CONNECT | MAY 2010

NEED TO KNOW • Classic adventure gaming reinvented • A blockbuster experience • Take on the power of nature


MAKING G A MOVIE OV The upcoming Prince of Persia movie (starring Jake Gyllenhaal) is based on the 2003 PoP video game, The Sands of Time. It tells the story of a street urchin in sixth-century Persia who, after showing valor in battle, is adopted by the king as his heir. The Prince teams up with Princess Tamina to rescue the Sands of Time, a gift from the gods that controls time, from the hands of the villainous nobleman.

>>GET THIS<<

GOD OF W AR IIII II WAR This PS3 exclusive is set in the realm of brutal Greek mythology and lets you step into the sandals of ex-Spartan warrior, Kratos, as he scales through the intimidating heights of Mt. Olympus and the dark depths of Hell to seek revenge on those who have betrayed him.

>>CONSIDER THIS<<

DA DARKSIDERS: ARK RKSI SIDE SI DERS DE RS:: RS WRATH OF WAR W A O WA You play War, one of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, on an epic quest to restore the balance between Heaven and Hell.

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game reviews THE SETTLERS 7: PATH TO A KINGDOM

NEED TO KNOW • Rich gameplay mechanics • Choose your path to victory • Unlock extra challenges • Online multiplayer mode

SONIC CLASSIC COLLECTION

NEED TO KNOW

Supreme Commander 2 Essentially, SC2 is a single-player game that spans over 18 missions… or you could take the battle online for an exhilarating multi-player experience.

around your village is just a delight to behold. If you’ve played any other Settlers strategy game, you’ll know there is a pretty steep learning curve. And for Path to a Kingdom, it’s also important to know that you will need to be connected to the Internet the entire time in order to play the game, regardless of the play mode you pick. If you’re up for a challenge, Settlers 7 is a game worth giving a chance. You’ll learn as you play and soon enough be impressed with the sheer amount of content on offer. R349.95

COMING >>SOON<<

GET >>THIS<<

Ubisoft’s long-running strategy franchise has been providing its fans with rich gameplay that has grown to reward players for their patience as well as their mental muscle. This new incarnation offers gamers a surprisingly involved experience that will test everyone from casual thinkers to hardcore economists. The Settlers series has always been defined by its involved economy structure and number 7, Path to a Kingdom, is no different. The series’ charm returns with colourful visuals and delightful characters. The scenery is littered with wonderful detail and watching your little workers mill

R.U.S.E R.U.S.E is a one-of-a-kind RTS game that allows players to trick their enemies and lead their nation to victory, controlling the action from the heart of the battlefield.

THE original Street Fighter was a true giant of the video game industry. Everyone played this beat-em-up, and for quite a long time it was the king of arcade brawlers. Street Fighter 4 was released last year so it was with some surprise this upgraded version came about. Do you need it? Of course! Capcom’s Super SF is, at its core, just like SF4, but a whole lot more. Its fluid controls are easy to use, but hard to master with the welcome addition of new characters and arenas. The biggest issue with Super though is that it’s online. When Street Fighter 4 was first released, everyone pretty much started out equals, all trying to get to grips with the controls and the new feel of the franchise. Unfortunately, if you are a newcomer to the Street Fighter world, playing online will be rather unfriendly – the same ranking issues that plagued the original are still here, so be prepared to face people with months more experience than you. All that said, Super Street fighter 4 is an amazing arcade fighter. It’s bigger and better in every department that matters and with enough practice, you’ll beat the best in the shoes of E. Honda, Chun-Li, Blanka and Zangief, to name but a few… R699.95

SUPER STREET FIGHTER 4

NEED TO KNOW • 25 Street Fighter favourites like Ryu, Vega and Dhalsim • 8 new characters • State-of-the-art online matchmaking

64 | CONNECT | MAY 2010

>>COMING SOON<< UFC Undisputed 2010 If it’s fighting you’re after, the UFC series is unique – it is the only game that offers mixed martial arts. Get into the action with more than 100 of the best UFC fighters in the world.

• All four original games • Collect the Chaos Emeralds and save the world • You can now save your game!

Sega’s rolling, spiky blue mascot – the loveable Sonic – and all his friends have been around for a very long time. Never mind all the games, the animated hedgehog hero has made his way into comics and cartoons… he even had a feature film! With this in mind, those with Mega Drive memories will be pleased to see The Sonic Classic Collection on the DS. A four-in-one title that offers handheld gamers a bit of retro enjoyment. Even though the package as a whole offers very little other than those core four games and the ability to save your progress, this game offers one sure thing… Sonic! The games were ported directly from their original titles and although the visuals have been dropped slightly to fit and run smoothly on your DS, they still look rather sharp. The speed and gameplay remains untouched and that in itself is a good thing - you’ll still find yourself speeding through loops as you collect rings and discover secret passages. If you loved the original Sonic titles and can’t wait to replay the first four on-the-go, this collection is perfect for you. The Sonic Classic Collection is predictable platform gaming at its best, and this genre of gameplay works well on the DS portable console.   R449.95

>>GET THIS<< Pokémon HeartGold/ SoulSilver Return to scenic Johto for a detailed adventure enhanced with updated graphics and sound, as well as new touch-screen features and a host of surprises.

>>COMING SOON<< Metroid Other M Another classic video game icon returns! Exclusive to Wii, you’ll play Samus Aran in a richly detailed action title that combine 1st-person and 3rd-person gaming.


STER KINEKOR AD STILL TO COME


game reviews

COMMAND & CONQUER 4: TIBERIUM TWILIGHT • The conclusion of the Command & Conquer series • New mobile platforms for added strategic depth • No base-building or Tiberium harvesting

Dawn of War II If gamers want to play real-time strategy, they’ll buy Dawn of War II. This complex and highly strategic game from Warhammer is fast-paced, dark, and tons of fun with friends.

GAMING GIVEAWAY

>>GET THIS<<

EA Los Angeles has attempted to wrap up the final game in the Command & Conquer series to feature Kane with a bang, but has instead given one of the best-loved videogame villains a somewhat mediocre send-off. While the story is pretty decent C&C fare, and Joe Kucan’s Kane is as enigmatic and charismatic as ever, it’s not going to win any Oscars. It is, though, full of the cheese the franchise has come to embrace, which fans of old will appreciate. It’s the gameplay, however, that lets the side down a bit. Gone are bases and Tiberium harvesting,

replaced instead by Dawn of War II tactical play and Ground Controltype unit restrictions, which is far enough removed from traditional C&C-type gameplay that fans might be understandably confused as to which game they bought. It can be fun, especially in multiplayer games, but this is definitely not your father’s C&C. Experience is amassed through the games you play (single player, skirmish, multiplayer), which in turn unlocks more units to fight with. This is fun, initially, as that “just one more battle” feeling takes over in order to make online battles more manageable. It’s a pity EA didn’t stick to the C&C basics; while a solid game on its own, the mechanics of C&C 4 would be better suited to a new game rather than the conclusion of a muchbeloved franchise. R299.95

>>COMINGSOON<<

NEED TO KNOW

Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars This is Command & Conquer at the pinnacle of its popularity, complete with excellent graphics, awesomely fun multiplayer and high quality, yet pleasantlycheesy cutscenes.

DRAGON AGE: ORIGINS – AWAKENING

NEED TO KNOW • The expansion to 2009’s RPG of the year • Adds an extra 15 hours of gameplay • Import your DA character for use in DA:O-A AS one of the last remaining members of the legendary Grey Wardens, you’ve defeated the darkspawn by chopping off the head of the army. Now what? The answer, it seems, is to re-establish the Grey Warden order as an order of formidable warriors, and address the fact that the darkspawn defeat has not led to the total obliteration of evil in the land of Ferelden. This is exactly what Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening lets you do. Carrying on in the same vein as the original Dragon Age, players are tasked with gathering a party of adventurers and venturing forth into the land of Ferelden to investigate, and defeat, the source of this new scourge that is afflicting

the land. New quests and enemies, powerful artefacts, new weapons and more await. You can choose to import your old character from DA:O, or start anew, with new friends, old friends or a combination of the two. With the award-winning Dragon Age gameplay mechanics still in place, but new quests to solve and new enemies to defeat. Awakening extends the DA experience even beyond the 60-odd hours of the original. The original game is required, however, as this is not a standalone title. R299.95

>>CONSIDER THIS<<

>>GET THIS<<

Final Fantasy XIII If you prefer the Eastern approach to computer role-playing games, Final Fantasy XIII is the game for you. Beautiful graphics, turn-based combat and an inventive world await.

EA is giving Connect readers an opportunity to win a copy of Battlefield Bad Company 2 on Xbox 360. In this first-person shooter, thee ‘B’ company fight their way through snowy mountaintops, dense jungles and dusty villages. With a heavy arsenal of deadly weapons e and a slew of vehicles to aid them, the crew set off on their mission and they are ready to blow up, shoot down, blast through, wipe out and utterly destroy anything that gets in their way.

To win a copy of Battlefield Bad Company 2, e-mail your name and address details to win@connect.co.za

66 | CONNECT | MAY 2010

Dragon Age: Origins The original game is needed to play Awakenings. It offers the deepest RPG gameplay of recent years, with fleshed-out characters, epic battles and a fantastically deep story that will engage and enchant.


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Logitech has cleverly anticipated all of your needs and considered everything that’s important to you when designing their audio products. Here are some of our picks –

Music to your ears Logitech audio products are designed with the audiophile in mind. Sound is a very personal experience – from the kind of music you choose to love, right down to the way you want your sound to influence your environment.

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ogitech understands that you want to listen when you want, where you want. You may be working on your computer, relaxing at home, or taking your music along with you – wherever you are, there’s an audio product perfect for you.

What makes Logitech audio spectacular? It’s all about control… Perfect driver control: The aim of speaker design is for you to experience the music, sound effects and dialogue exactly the same way as when first performed or mixed in the studio. Logitech speakers use meticulously-tuned drivers that reproduce the high frequency (called treble), the mid-range sounds, and the low bass tones. Perfect frequency control: An elite technology called Frequency Directed Dual Drivers requires two identical full-range drivers in each speaker, and one contains a specialised filter that senses specific frequencies to gradually mute that driver as needed to prevent the speakers from cancelling each other out. Perfect acoustic control: The same technology that’s used in high-end home theatre designs is used in Logitech speakers to deliver omni-directional acoustics. Within each speaker, one driver faces forward, the other backward to transmit sound evenly in all directions and then a wider range of frequencies can reflect off the walls to provide awesome sound across a bigger listening area.

Desktop listening pleasure – Logitech Z-10: A stylishly designed speaker system that has an LCD screen to display artist and track info. These hook up easily using a digital USB connection that bypasses your computer’s own sound card. Featuring touch-sensitive multimedia control buttons and four Internet radio presets.

Take it with you – Logitech Pure-Fi Express Plus iPod Docking Station: The Pure-Fi Express Plus is a mobile sound solution that makes no compromises on sound quality as it’s equipped with omnidirectional acoustic technology. The device can either be plugged in the wall or run on 6 AA batteries. As well as supporting iPods and iPhones, this docking station supports most brands of MP3 digital music players as well using a 3.5mm auxiliary output cable.

Travel companion – Logitech V-10 Notebook Speakers: The lightweight speaker solution for your netbook or notebook, as the system can be easily packed into the supplied travel bag and connect using a single USB cable. Top-notch sound is made possible by 2.0 stereo sound technologies with matched quad micro drivers and volume levels can be easily adjusted using the easy-access controls.

Conversation starter – Logitech ClearChat Comfort Headset: Getting comfortable with digital sound is what this headset is all about. Perfect for video chats, online gaming and other VoIP conversations, this headset has a rotating microphone and noise-cancelling functionality. It’s plushly-padded and has an adjustable headband, as well as an easily-accessible volume control. It handles music as well as it handles any conversation – perfectly and with absolute clarity.

<<

Choosing the right sound product


tech tannie

Cleaning up your problems faster than the GAUTRAIN to Pretoria, Tech Tannie glides to the rescue If you have questions, gripes or just seek some solace, e-mail Tamsin, our friendly tech tannie at techtannie@ connect.co.za

68 | CONNECT | MAY 2010

issue of the month: Q: 

My computer takes ages to start up into Windows. It looks like it’s in Windows, but then it takes forever to load a program. What should I do? Slow Sibongile in Sandton

A: 

There can be several reasons why your PC is taking its own sweet time to reload. These can be anything from driver issues (ya, them again) to a registry issue to application overdrive. First off, let’s see if your computer starts well in Safe Mode. Click on Start and Restart your PC: as your computer restarts, but before Windows launches, press the F8 key. Select Safe Mode and press enter. If this seems to solve your problem then it’s likely to be a software installation that’s causing the problem. If you’ve recently installed a new software application this could be what’s causing the slowdown so use the Add or Remove Programs tool to completely uninstall it from your machine. Restart your PC (not using Safe Mode) and see how quickly everything boots up. Same problem? Try reinstalling your drivers or, if you happen to have recently installed one, roll back to a previous driver. Restart and try again. Still having issues? Consider using System Restore to roll your system back to a time when it worked properly. Bear in mind that you will have to backup recent documents as this will remove all traces of work and activity after the date of the previous system save. On this “clean” system you can now introduce the new elements one by one (restarting each time) until the troublemaker has been identified. Good luck!


Q: 

Why is computing so full of acronyms and strange sayings? It’s like learning a foreign language. My computer recently stopped working and my geeky mate told me that it had the blue screen of death – what is this? Confused Laurah in Cape Town

A: 

Q: 

I recently bought a game and before I got a chance to play it, my kids scratched the surface. Now it won’t load or work properly and I was wondering if there was some way I could fix it without having to buy a new one. Grumpy Jeffrey Sack in Gordons Bay

A: 

Eish, you must have wanted to moer them, hey? There are a couple of ways you can try and get rid of these scratches, but they are not necessarily guaranteed. You didn’t say how badly the disc was scratched so I’m going to err on the side of hopeful and assume it isn’t that bad. To start with, try and avoid the general Internet chat about toothpaste and Brasso – these are likely to eat the disc or scratch it even more. Although I am sure one of those humans will testify that it saved his life, it isn’t worth the risk. First let me give you a list of the Don’ts ... Don’t use solvents, wipe in a circular motion, use soap, use paper towels or tissues, and don’t use the machines designed to clean discs or remove scratches. Ironic I know, but they may just render your game code unreadable. Get yourself a clean, soft cotton cloth and use straight strokes while you wipe the surface with, wait for it, water. Good old fashioned water. Dampen a part of the cloth and wipe from the centre of the disc outwards. Always go from the middle outwards. Then, using the same straight strokes, wipe a dry part of the cloth on the disc from the inside out. Leave the disc to sit and dry for a while. Check, repeat, and leave to dry once more. Then carefully insert the disc and see if the machine will recognise and run it. If it doesn’t, attempt to clean it this way once more and try again. If this option fails completely and the scratches are too visible, then you have two choices. You can either take a chance on toothpaste (it has light granules that may gently abrade the scratches off ) because your disc is already done for and you may as well try, or you will have to face the possibility that you need to fork out for a new game. Take it from their pocket money...

Of course the world of computers is filled with acronyms and strange sayings (as you so eloquently put it), that’s pretty much the only way you could cope with it. Imagine having to write out random access memory, instead of RAM, every time you wanted to talk about computer components. And how else would you give names to entirely new things that need to have names? What would you have done back in the day? Called them “thingies”? “Oh, this thingy isn’t working.” “Which one?” “The black thingy next to the other black thingy on the left.” Yeah, that could work. So, even though I am filled with an overwhelming urge to klap you over the head with an (easily purchased) book of computer terms, I will answer your question. After all, the Blue Screen of Death (see the caps? It’s that important) is a famous symptom that deserves its place in the sun. The term is actually a colloquialism (I am so not going to explain what that is, ok), for a stop error and is commonly associated with Microsoft Windows. The system encounters a critical error that causes it to shut down to prevent serious damage to the system’s integrity. This wondrous affliction will happen to every PC user at least once. Consider it a rite of passage. A moment to be treasured. Hold that thought in your head as all your hard work disappears and you’re left with a big blue screen smothered in writing you just don’t understand. The problem can stem from your software, hardware or it can be a driver issue. Microsoft has said that on its NT systems (such as Vista and 7) it is likely that such an error is caused by bad drivers. To fix this, reboot your system, check your drivers (we went through this in a recent issue of Connect) and install the latest ones. I also advise you to have a data backup system in place, regardless, and to save your work often. There are some amazing websites that go into a ton of detail as to what each Stop Error code means and what tactics you can follow to fix them. It’s well worth having a read, if for no other reason that to become a BSOD genius who can impress people at parties.

WWW.CONNECT.CO.ZA | 69


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Jargon The language of computing has become simpler over recent years, so why is it so much harder to understand?

W

ords about computers have always been problematic for those not intimately involved with technology, and it’s not because they’re necessarily hard. When pioneers John Vincent Atanasoff and Clifford Berry built the first modern computer, the best name their phenomenally creative brains could come up with was the Atanasoff-Berry Computer, or ‘ABC’. Ever since, the field has been strewn with acronyms and glib terms that aren’t as clever as they think they are, often serving to add mystery where there is none. Some computer jargon is useful. DVD, BIOS and GPS all trip off the tongue and have entered common parlance as nouns in their own right. Some are pointlessly confusing, like Visual Display Unit (VDU) instead of monitor, SERP for ‘Search Engine Results Page’. Some are too clever for their own good, like Y2K or the recursive ‘WINE Is Not An Emulator’. Taking pot shots at computerese would be far too easy a target for this column, though. The subject has been done repeatedly, and much more capably, elsewhere. In the books of Terry Pratchett, for example. Everyone knows that computer scientists have their own secret language of communication with which they shroud their subject in secrecy. They’ll never change. What’s becoming more of a problem is the increasing number of terms being bandied around that are meaningless and have no basis in technical description, or have been abused beyond recognition. Think what you like about jargon, at least it was a useful and accurate tool for professionals who needed a shorthand to talk among themselves. Now that the geeks have inherited

the earth, they’ve hired marketing people to think up new terms for them, and words have become a weapon of obfuscation in the war to sell you more stuff than you actually need. The classic example is ‘megapixel’. Everyone knows how many their camera has and what the term generally means, but far fewer realise that less is sometimes more. A camera with too many megapixels for its sensor size actually produces worse results than one in which the pixels are spread out. Doesn’t matter to the marketing people, for whom a bigger number is always a bigger deal. At least megapixel has a useful technical definition. Who can say for sure what the difference is between a netbook and a notebook, explain why RAM is used as a marker of low-end graphics card performance, or tell me what on Earth ‘unified communications’ means? In any other discipline, the amount of meaningless propaganda that masquerades as clever computing terms wouldn’t be tolerated. The one attempt to try and create a universal performance metric – the Windows Experience Index for new PCs – is too broad to have any real meaning. My PC is a five point four apparently. Does that mean I can play Modern Warfare 2? Computers aren’t something the geeky kids play with in their bedrooms anymore, they’re an essential part of everyday life. It’s time we stopped treating them as exotic and created a suitable language to describe them that everyone can understand. We need a ‘Plain English Campaign’ (www.plainenglish.co.uk) for technology, or a scheme like universal food labelling that’s complex but – if you’ll pardon the pun – digestible. We have to stop assuming that we can’t understand, and demand that the people who make PCs and parts use words that actually have meaning. Otherwise, people will continue to play on our ignorance to pad out their profits, and we’ll become less literate in the one subject that’s essential for everyone.

Copyright © 2010 Symantec Corporation. All rights reserved. Symantec, the Symantec Logo, Norton and Norton 360 are trademarks or registered trademarks of Symantec Corporation or its affi liates in the U.S. and other countries. Microsoft, Windows, Windows Vista and Internet

disconnect //BY ADAM OXFORD

72 | CONNECT | MAY 2010

C


Copyright © 2010 Symantec Corporation. All rights reserved. Symantec, the Symantec Logo, Norton and Norton 360 are trademarks or registered trademarks of Symantec Corporation or its affi liates in the U.S. and other countries. Microsoft, Windows, Windows Vista and Internet Explorer are trademarks or registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the U.S. and/or other countries. Other names may be trademarks of their respective owners. | *Based on Symantec internal data comparing features of competitors all in one security solutions.

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Connect May 2010  

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