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Welcome To 2018 I

Managing Director Noor Azman Head of Department YK Cheah

t seemed like just yesterday when we’re talking about CES 2017 and looking forward to a year of HDR TVs. Now it’s 2018 and CES 2018 will be running while you read this. Of course, this means that we’ll be doing our best to keep up with updates from CES 2018, which you can look forward to in our following issue. Aside from that, we’re starting the year with a piece on the vulnerabilities of Android. Many of you have antivirus software on your Windows PC, but what about your mobile devices? We’ll be talking about why you need to better protect your smartphone in page 66. Another write up that many of you might be interested would be in page 57. If you’re deciding between a new Intel or AMD-based PC, do read up on some of the suggestion we have. We’d also like to introduce a new series in our Lite ‘n Leisure section, which we have named “Analogue’. Analogue looks to talk about fun activities we can do without a screen or electronics, and we’re starting off with a mini-series on Tabletop games. Check that out in page 98. It’s the start of a new year that would hopefully bring many good things and we’re glad you can be with us on the ride. Three cheers to a great year ahead!

Matthew Yap Deputy Editor

EDITORIAL Deputy Editor Matthew Yap Writer Nixon Ng Writer Rikco Shim Contributors Andreas Th. Fischer, Felix Knoke, Christoph Schmidt, Ibrahim Altiparmak, Markus Mandau, Jorg Geiger, Fabian Von Keudell, Patrick Hannemann, Alastair Jennings, Julia Schmidt Design & Layout Halijah Ismail Cover Design Halijah Ismail SALES & MARKETING Senior Manager YK Cheah Account Manager Connor Tan Consultant Muffadzlee Dato’ Sufian ADMINISTRATION Admin Manager WP Lim ONLINE www.chip.com.my @CHIPMY CHIP Malaysia PUBLISHER Online Dynamics (M) Sdn. Bhd. A-5-07 Block A, Neo Damansara Bandar Damansara Perdana, Jalan PJU 8/1 47820 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia Tel: (03) 7727 6554 Fax: (03) 7727 3554

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DISTRIBUTED BY MPH Distributors Sdn. Bhd. Ground Floor Warehouse, Lot 2, Bangunan TH, No. 5, Jalan Bersatu, Section 13/4, 46200 Petaling Jaya, Selangor Tel: (03) 7958 1688 Fax: (03) 7956 5995 © This edition of CHIP is a publication of Online Dynamics (M) Sdn. Bhd. licensed by Vögel Burda Holding GmbH, 80336 Munich, Germany. © Copyright of the trademark ‘‘CHIP by Vögel Burda Holding GmbH, 80336 Munich, Germany. No part of CHIP magazine / shall be reproduced without the publisher’s written permission. All views expressed in the magazine are solely those of the writer and do not necessarily represent those of CHIP magazine / the publisher. All information in the magazine is provided ‘as is’ and ‘as available’ and CHIP magazine / the publisher makes no representations and gives no warranty of any kind, implied, express or statutory as to the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, non-infringement of 3rd party rights, title, merchantability and / or suitability / fitness for a particular purpose with respect to the said information. Under no circumstances whatsoever shall the CHIP magazine / the publisher be liable for any direct, indirect, special or consequential damages whether in contract or in tort arising out of or in connection with the use of the information made available in CHIP magazine. All prices, product versions and URLs’ are correct at the time of printing.

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COVER STORY NEWS & TRENDS

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062 Dear Android, You’re Vunerable! Many don’t realise it, but Android smartphones are as vulnerable as Windows systems these days 006 Local News Coverage of the latest news and events right on our shores

024 World Wired Web All the latest tech happenings around the world

020 Security Reports Monthly dose of security news

FEATURES

040 A Economy Base On Trust When a business is all about getting others to trust it, betraying that trust lead to dire consequences

044 The SSD Revolution SSDs have long been faster than magnetic disks, but now they’re bigger too!

057 Next Gen: Intel & AMD PCs New PC platforms are firmly establish and you want to upgrade. Here are some ideas on what to get

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TEST LAB

057 073 Test Lab: The Tools Test Labs’ tools of the trade

074 Test Lab Contents Take a pick and get started!

082 Reviews Professionally conducted reviews following our stringent tests and benchmarks

LITE & LEISURE

98 Pandemic Our new mini-series see us go on a Tabletop spree. Check out what we think of the one called Pandemic

102 E-Sports Express What’s the latest gossip in the e-sports world?

108 Made By The Masses A look at some interesting crowdfunded products you should know

PRACTICE REGULARS 082

114 DIY Light Tent Buying your own light tent could cost you a pretty penny, but what if you made one yourself?

001 Welcome Note 116 Tips and Tricks

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CHIP Downloads January 2018 We’re back with our monthly dose of interesting, free and handy tools for you to enhance your PC experience. If you want to know how you can get these files, follow the instructions below: 1. Head on our website @ www.chip.com.my and right at the top, click on the ‘‘Downloads” tab 2. After that, click on the respective month’s post. You will then be prompted for a password. The password can be found on this page monthly. 3. Navigate using the tabs and pick the categories you want to download the files from. Once you find the file you want, just click on it and you’re good to go! And it’s as easy as that! PASSWORD FOR JANUARY2018 - newyearnewstart

Featured Tools Ninite Ninite is a website that builds an installer based on their list of the latest updated software. These software include useful ones such as Chrome, Winrar, and many others. Just pick the apps you want and Ninite will do the rest

Launchy Launchy is a free cross-platform utility designed to help you forget about your start menu, the icons on your desktop, and even your file manager. Launchy indexes the programs in your start menu and can launch your documents, project files, folders, and bookmarks with just a few keystrokes!

MusicBee Play your music the way you want and turn your computer into a music jukebox. Enjoy a great music experience with MusicBee, which has auto-tagging to clean up your messy music library. Whether you play your music on an audiophile setup or on a laptop, MusicBee is designed with features to fulfill all your needs.

Essentials

Our list of essentials consists of programs and software such as graphics drivers, browsers, compression software and even Cloud storage software that will improve a PC user’s experience. The links on our website won’t provide you with the files, instead it will lead you to the developers’ official website, where you can find the right file for you. 004

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The Monthly Downloads VRMark Operating system: Win 7, 8, 10 You’ve just built a computer and are now wondering if it has what it takes to become a VR rig? Well, VRMark has two benchmarks that will test your PC and let you know how far off you are.

Shotcut Operating system: Win 7, 8, 10 Shotcut is a free, open source, crossplatform video editor with a wide support of formats, device and transport options, and a sleek yet intuitive interface.

FontView Operating system: Win Vista, 7, 8, 10 FontView lets you demo a certain font directly from the font’s file so you’ll know what you’re getting into before using it. It opens .ttf, .otf, .ttc, .pfa, and .pfb files.

Rainmeter Operating system: Win7, 8, 10 Unleash your creativity with Rainmeter, or even just use someone else’s idea and turn your desktop into something you usually see in the movies.

Stacer Operating system: Linux Stacer is a light and portable tool that is made specifically for the Linux platform, acting as a system monitor and optimiser. It will give you all the information you need on your Linux to keep it healthy.

Universal Media Server Operating system: Win XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10 Universal Media Server is a media server capable of serving videos, audio and images to any DLNA-capable device. It also streams to many devices, including PS3, PS4, Xbox One and 360 and much more.

WizTree Operating system: Win XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10 Finds the files and folders using the most space on your hard drive quickly with Wiztree, which reads the Master File Table directly from the NTFS formatted hard drive and gives a visual treemap to easily distinguish file and folder sizes.

Stickies Operating system: Win XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10 The goal behind Stickies is to be small and simple. Stickies will not mess with your system files, or write to the registry. A great replacement for the Windows Sticky notes if it doesn’t work.

Foxit PDF Reader Operating system: Win XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10 Foxit Reader is the PDF Reader that enables you to become part of the connected world. It provides authors with the ability to comment on documents, be notified when new document versions become available, discuss interesting topics right in the document, or securely open protected documents. chip malaysia

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Meizu Reveals M6 & M6 Note Smartphones with swift performance and swift dual cameras

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eizu is back in Malaysia with two brand-new smartphones for the budget-centric Malaysian. The M6 and M6 Note are both priced under RM1,000, giving them an edge over other budget-like devices in the market right now with great looks and great specs. First up, the regular M6 variant. It comes with a 5.2-inch HD display, a front-facing fingerprint scanner for easy access to your device, and it runs on a MediaTek 6750 processor, as well as 3GB RAM and 32GB of internal storage. It is also powered with a 3,070 mAh battery, allowing you to use your phone for longer before requiring a top-up. For cameras, it has a 13-megapixel rear shooter, and an 8-megapixel front camera. The larger sibling - the M6 Note - sports a larger 5.5-inch Full HD display and runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor. It comes with a choice of 3GB RAM plus 32GB of storage, or 4GB RAM with 64GB of storage. You can also pair up the device with a microSD card of up to

helps with better pictures overall. Meizu has also announced a price reduction for the previous models, the Meizu Pro 7 and Pro 7 Plus. They are now priced at RM1,499 and RM2,399 respectively. As previously mentioned, both devices are affordable – the M6 is priced at RM599, while the M6 Note is priced at RM899 for the 3GB RAM variant; pricing for the 4GB variant will be announced on a later date. Also, the M6 Note comes with four colour options in Moonlight Silver, Champagne Gold, Blue and Obsidian Black. Meizu devices can be purchased from authorised dealers and stores, and can even be purchased online via Lazada and Shopee. https://www.meizu.com/

128GB. Camera wise, it features a 12-megapixel + 5-megapixel with f/1.9 aperture dual rear camera setup, as well as a hefty 16-megapixel front camera for your selfies. This device also has a front fingerprint scanner and a large 4,000 mAh battery with mCharge fast-charging technology. Both devices run on Flyme 6 OS, which is based on Android 7.0. Dena Bahrin, a social media influencer was also invited to attend the launch of these devices. She talked about her life as an influencer and how the M6 Note is the perfect device for her. With its 4,000 mAh battery, it can keep up with her posts on a daily basis, and the dual rear cameras All black lineup for Meizu devices – M6 Note, M6, Pro 7 and Pro 7 Plus

From the Left to Right: Amanda Soo (Senior Manager of Dynamics Distribution Sdn Bhd), Joan Hu (Country Manager for Meizu Overseas Sales & Marketing Department), Dena Bahrin (Social Media Influencer) and Steven Tan (Managing Director of Dynamics Distribution Sdn Bhd)

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honor 7X Made For The Bold Brand-new devices from honor for the year 2018

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n early December 2017, we got to witness honor’s latest unveiling of its new devices for the year 2018 at KLPAC. At the event, SonaOne, a singer, rapper, graffiti artist and more, was introduced as honor’s very first local brand representative in Malaysia. One of the devices announced was the honor 7X, a powerful device with a very competitive pricing. It comes with a 5.93-inch

FullView Display with 18:9 ratio. The new 18:9 ratio enables you to now consume your media on a larger screen and now see stuff that you usually miss out on a smaller screen. For the cameras, it comes with a dual rear camera setup of 16-megapixels + 2-megapixels and an 8-megapixel front camera. On to specifications, this smartphone sports a 2.36GHz Octa-core Kirin 659 processor, 4GB

of RAM and 64GB of storage space. It also has a 3,340 mAh battery and runs on EMUI 5.1, which is based on Android 7.0. honor immediately followed up with the announcement of the new honor view series - the honor View 10. This is honor’s first smartphone with AI built into the device. With the built-in AI, it can help you with navigating your phone to navigating your daily life. The View 10 uses the powerful Kirin 970 chipset, with a built-in NPU (Neural-network Processing Unit) that learns your behaviour, so it can assist you with various tasks. It also comes with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage space. In addition, this smartphone is capable of face-recognition unlock, so you can simply unlock your device without needing to touch the fingerprint sensor on the front of the device. It also has a dual rear camera setup of 20-megapixel + 16-megapixels and a 13-megapixel front camera. As for the display, it comes with a 5.99-inch display based on the new 18:9 aspect ratio, with a 3,750 mAh battery to keep it running for many hours. The honor 7X is priced affordably at just RM1,099, with Blue and Black variants being sold through honor authorised resellers and stores. As for the View 10, honor has given us a sneak peek saying that it will be made available on the 15th of January, and more details will be given out soon, so stay tuned! www.hihonor.com/my

The honor 7X, priced at a low RM1,099 and comes in two colour variants

Zhao Zhiwei (Head of honor Malaysia) with SonaOne (Local Brand Representative for honor) posing with the new devices

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The W1700 – BenQ’s Latest Projector For The Home Cinema Project movies and videos in 4K all within the cosiness of your own home

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ecently, BenQ introduced the W1700 4K HDR Home Cinema Projector with style by giving us a short taste of a 4K movie and short beautiful sequences made to show off its 4K and colour reproduction capabilities, like the ones you see on TV showfloors. Firstly, the W1700 is a projector that is made for homes, allowing you to watch films, videos and shows in 4K Ultra HD format in the comfort of your home, wearing a onesie and sipping on hot chocolate. Conway Lee, President and Chief Executive Officer of BenQ Corporation said: ”We are excited to be able to introduce BenQ’s stateof-the-art home cinema projector. The new W1700 brings home the magic of big-screen 4K digital cinema to a broader audience, at a very affordable price.” The W1700 is capable of producing 4K

which will help give you a mind-blowing viewing experience with its Pixel Enhancer that automatically detects the changes in colour between objects and its background to produce sharp edges, Colour Enhancer to modulate saturated colours, fine gradients and Flesh Tone to prevent the discolouration of skin tones. It also comes with auto keystone correction and 1.2x zoom, so you can place the W1700 almost anywhere in the room. You can also connect a HDMI dongle to the projector, allowing you to instantly stream with it using Google Chromecast or Amazon Fire TV Stick. The CineHome W1700 4K UHD HDR Home Cinema Projector can now be purchased from BenQ authorised dealers and is priced at RM7,999. http://www.benq.com.my/

Ultra HD 3840x2160 resolution with 8.3 million distinct pixels and uses a 0.47-inch single-DMD DLP technology to keep the projector lightweight and sleek. It only weighs 4.2 kgs, so you to easily transport the projector to different rooms without needing any special tools to move it around. It is also equipped with BenQ CinematicColor Technology, which delivers Rec.709 HDTV colour accuracy. The W1700 can reproduce images immaculately with precious colour accuracy, in just the way the director wants to show it off. It also built with CinemaMaster Video+ and The W1700 with a gold ring! CinemaMaster Audio+2,

(From left) Leroy Low, Malaysian Film Director ; Eason Lu, BenQ Malaysia Country Manager APAC Region ; Brian Lee, BenQ Malaysia General Manager; Sasha Huang, BenQ Asia Pacific Region Business Line Manager ; Alex, Managing Director, Creative AV Sdn Bhd

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Kang Lee, ZOWIE Customer Engagement Team

ZOWIE Product Workshop There’s a lot more thought put into ZOWIE products than we thought

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OWIE, a brand by BenQ, invited retail and media partners for a product workshop recently to give us a rundown on their latest products, as well as their presence in the gaming scene. If you don’t already know, ZOWIE is a brand that is quite well known in the CS:GO professional scene. Even before merging with BenQ, ZOWIE has been a huge name when it comes to

gaming peripherals. Their mice in particular are used by almost 80% of professional CS:GO players, which is a number you can’t really argue with. ZOWIE only has three mice in their product line-up, but each of them of them come in different sizes, so instead of tossing extra features you don’t need, they aim to give you the best fit and comfort while competing. ZOWIE draws

a fine line between eSports and regular gaming, insisting that what is needed in a competitive environment is not the same as in a casual environment. The three series of mice (EC Series, FK Series, ZA Series) have not been updated in a while, yet professionals are still using them over newer mice. This is a testament to their products meeting the needs of eSports competitors. It’s the same for ZOWIE monitors, which are designed with a specific game in mind. The monitors are mostly built for CS:GO competitors to ensure that hardware won’t become their weakest link. Combining a 240Hz refresh rate and their DyAc technology, the professional gamers that ZOWIE invited also gave their accounts on how much of a difference ZOWIE monitors had on their gaming experience. Also making an appearance was the ZOWIE Celeritas II optical keyboard, which uses optical switches with high quality iron springs for accurate keystrokes, and greater control over intricate movements. Due to the nature of the switches, double key presses are avoided for more consistent keystrokes. All ZOWIE mice and keyboards do not require driver installation, so you’ll have more time to warmup pre-game. zowie.benq.com

ZOWIE Celeritas II

ZOWIE EC2-A

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ZOWIE FK2

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ZOWIE ZA13


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ASUS Max Plus Introduced As New Series

While its name has changed, the device remains largely the same

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SUS recently declared the ZenFone Max as a series of its own - the ZenFone Max Plus. As the first device in the new series, the ZenFone Max Plus M1 aims to impress by being the smartphone with the largest battery capacity in the world for now. Following a lot of popular trends in 2017, the Max Plus M1 comes with a 5.7-inch Full-View Display, stuffed into a body that’s barely larger than the regular 5.2-inch device. It also has dual-rear cameras, a fingerprint sensor and face recognition functions. To give users a longer runtime on the device, a 4,130 mAh battery is installed inside as well.

Of course, a key feature of this smartphone is its large battery capacity, which guarantees a much longer runtime. According to ASUS, the Max Plus M1 will be able to last 26 hours on standby/3G talk time, 21 hours of web browsing on Wi-Fi, or 13 hours of video playback. Being a Max series device, it can also be used as an emergency power bank, so you can charge other devices like MP3 players or tablets. Using the software suite called ASUS PowerMaster, it’s also able to better optimise battery life, ensure longterm performance, and more. But what’s a midrange phone without

Tronsmart, Not A Tron Sequel Coming for your mobile devices in IT retailers near you!

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alaysians are crazy for smartphones, so Tronsmart decided to release its range of smartphone accessories locally. This includes products from chargers to powerbanks and so on. Goh Thih Liang, Country Manager for Qualcomm Malaysia and The Philippines said: ”I would like to congratulate Tronsmart on entering the Malaysian market with their innovative mobile charging products that feature Qualcomm’s Quick Charge technology. Qualcomm Quick Charge has long been the trusted fast charging solution adopted on smartphones, using our Qualcomm Snapdragon system-on-chip, we are continuously working with partners like Tronsmart to produce mobile charging products with the highest quality and safety

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standards.” Tronsmart’s penetration into the Malaysian market is led by products like the Titan Plus 90W Multi-Port USB Charger, BRIO 20,100 mAh PD Power Bank, AIRAMP Dual Coil Wireless Charger and W2DT Wall Charger, to name a few. The Titan Plus 90W Multi-Port USB Charger allows you to charge up to five devices at the same time, and it supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 fast charging technology for zippy charging. In 2018, Tronsmart will be

some mainstream features? The Max Plus M1’s rear dual-camera is a combination of a 16MP f/2.0 lens with 0.03s Phase Detection Auto Focus and 8MP 120-degree wide-angle lenses. Together, the users gets to capture shots using wider angles, or perform better when snapping pictures of moving subjects. One of the few ZenFone devices with the Face Unlock feature, the new ZenFone Max Plus M1 will retail for RM899 and has been available since 20th December 2017. asus.com/my

unveiling more mobile charging products that are equipped with Qualcomm Quick Charge 4.0 technology, along with a line-up of Amazon Alexa integrated portable speakers. Tronsmart products can be purchased from online stores such as Lazada, 11street, Shopee and Lelong, and you can find their products at major IT and consumer retailers such as All IT Hypermarket, Mac Studio and so on. http://malaysia.tronsmart.com/ https://www.lazada.com.my/tronsmart/

The Titan Plus 90W Multi-Port USB Charger


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MasterBox Lite Series Refreshed Cooler Master brings tempered glass to their MasterBox Lite series with additional features

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ooler Master has announced a new RGB Edition of their affordable MasterBox Lite 5 along with the MasterBox Lite 3.1 TG, which comes with a new tempered glass side panel. The diminutive dimensions of the MasterBox Lite 3.1 TG and MasterBox Lite 5 RGB can easily take DIY liquid cooling loops and massive GPUs in their stride. You can also fit huge air coolers of up to 158mm tall in the MasterBox Lite 3.1 TG and 160mm tall in the MasterBox Lite 5 RGB. The MasterBox Lite 3.1 TG can also accommodate 120mm fans, while the MasterBox Lite 5 RGB fits four. With the new 4mm thick edge-to- edge tempered glass side panels on both the

MasterBox Lite 5 RGB and MasterBox Lite 3.1 TG, these cases are meant for you to showcase your hardware. Whether it’s a minimal Micro-ATX build with the MasterBox Lite 3.1 TG or an ATX motherboard loaded to the gills in the MasterBox Lite 5 RGB, these cases lets you put your build on display. There’s even an all-black motherboard tray

and PSU cover to be the background to your jaw-dropping build. The DarkMirror front panels on both cases also allow you to stand out with the translucent sleekness they offer. The MasterBox Lite 5 RGB and MasterBox Lite 3.1 TG are both now available, priced at RM299 and RM199 respectively. www.coolermaster.com

Malaysia’s First And Largest VR/ AR Park Lose yourself in virtual worlds

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ate in December 2017 saw the launch of The Rift; the first and largest Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) adventure park in Southeast Asia has officially opens its door to the masses. Located on the third floor of Mid Valley Megamall, the Rift offers plenty of world-class attractions. ‘‘Enter The Rift, Exit Reality” is The Rift’s tagline and it boasts roughly 25 virtual worlds, along with augmented reality and physical activity attractions, all within the confines of The Rift, which houses a space spanning 40,000 square feet inside the mall. Dato’ Simon Foong, the Group Executive Chairman & Managing Director for The Rift said: ”The Rift brings the latest high-tech

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entertainment experiences to Malaysia, and is the future of family mall entertainment. Our goal is to allow Malaysians of all walks of life to experience the very best in digital immersion and entertainment, and this adventure park is the perfect place for your thrilling adventure beyond reality. On top of that, it is something that the entire family can enjoy. We are sure that The Rift will be able to positively impact the tourism structure here in Malaysia, as this is truly a unique and innovate adventure park.” The Rift houses top attractions such as Zero Latency, the world’s best free-roaming, fully immersive VR shooter game. When dropped into the game, you get to try different scenarios

ranging from surviving a zombie apocalypse to interstellar rescue missions. Other attractions such as TerminatorX, a Terminator-themed laser tag game and VR Adventure that pits you against a Minotaur’s Maze, can also be found in The Rift. A plethora of other games such as Motion Blaster, Holodek, Dao PVP, The Leap, Hurricane VR and so on, give you a chance to test your skill against AI or other players. The Rift is open from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm daily, and will come with different price packages. www.therift.com.my


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A Day Out With Philips Monitors

Giving underprivileged kids an opportunity to learn more

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hilips Monitors Malaysia did something nice for 33 children from Good Samaritan Home in Klang recently, treating them to a day of learning and exploration at the ESCAPE Room and Petrosains, which are both locations within the city. The company believes that young minds can be stimulated through multiple different hands-on activities. Rica Tan, Marketing Manager for Philips Monitors Malaysia said: ”It was wonderful spending the day with these children. We wanted to give them an opportunity to have fun while opening their minds to innovative learning, as well as build on their problem-

The children, guardians and crew from Philips Monitors posing for a picture outside Berjaya Times Square before spending the day in the ESCAPE Room

solving skills. We really hope this experience will inspire them to reach for the stars!” But that wonderful day would not have happened if not for the collaboration of Philips Monitors Malaysia with the members of the public who managed to raise a total of RM11,910 for the Good Samaritan Home. There were also plenty of gifts that were donated to

the kids by well-wishers from the campaign. Good Samaritan Home is located at No.2, Lebuh Jelutong, Taman Selatan in Klang and was founded by Rev Albert Ong and his wife, YM Ong, in January 1999. There are currently 35 children in the care of GSH, aged 3 and above coming from varying family backgrounds. https://www.philips.com.my/c-m-pc/monitors

Countering Crime For Schools With ASUS And Gamma Solution Helping local schools to prevent crime with Surveillance Systems

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arlier this year, Gamma Solution, a distributor of security systems, launched a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) campaign on the 4th of May 2017. They also sponsored a complete set of Intel Embedded Megapixel IP Surveillance System installed on a ASUS commercial motherboard, the H110T, for 100 qualified primary schools in Malaysia. Gamma Solution has utilised ASUS motherboards for their surveillance systems for a few years now and know that their motherboards are hassle free and easy to set up. The H100T is a perfect choice for DIY AIO PCs and ultra-slim systems, since it is equipped

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with 5X Protection II for dependable The TITANUS Megapixels IP Surveillance System installed stability, plus it has DDR4 support and and ready to go EZ Flash 3 for quick and easy BIOS updates. mentioned, Gamma Solution Sdn Bhd initiated The campaign of 6 months was deemed the ‘‘Fight Crime for Schools campaign”, which successful, and the closing ceremony was was funded by Gamma Solution, Intel and officiated by YB Senator Datuk Chong Sin WD Purple to secure 100 primary schools in Woon and representatives from Polis DiRaja Malaysia by installing TITANUS Megapixels Malaysia (PDRM), as they hand over the system IP Surveillance Systems. These systems are to the respective schools. The campaign was installed at school entrances, student pick-up organised to reduce and prevent crime that and drop-off areas to capture important and has been rising over the years, such as the crucial footages for reference. rising trend of students being kidnapped, https://www.asus.com/my/ amongst other crimes happening in schools. As http://www.gamma.com.my/


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Digital Transformation And The Rise Of Smart Hospitals At look into the importance of modernising healthcare delivery and keeping healthcare provider and patient data safe in the face of cyber threats By Dirk Dumortier, Director of Healthcare & Hospitality Sales for ALE APAC

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onnected healthcare has seen increased investment in recent years across the Asia-Pacific. Healthcare, and more precisely hospitals, are undergoing full scale digital transformation. The underlying benefits are compelling – from improved patient health outcomes to reduced overall costs and increased competitiveness. This is partly fueled by the rise of IoT, which offers new connectivity opportunities in the healthcare industry. IDC figures predict the AsiaPacific IoT scene will see a dramatic expansion over the next five years, with the number of connected ”things” increasing from 3.1 billion in 2014 to 8.6 billion by 2020. While these developments bring huge patient benefits in terms of real-time and accurate patient records for up-to-the minute care, the number of connected devices entering healthcare environments also means hospitals must continue to prioritise security. As the number of connected devices in the network increases, so does the number of potential vulnerable points for unauthorised access or the spread of cyber-attacks. There are three major areas where healthcare is seeing the positive benefits of this digital disruption: 1. Healthcare Information Systems: Digitising patient records and moving from paper-based to Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) is now standard practice. There is a seven-stage roadmap defined by the Healthcare Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) that hospitals must follow to become a ‘paperless hospital’. This removes the need for time consuming paperwork transfer between hospitals, so the relevant care provider can view a patient’s up-to-date information, regardless of location. 2. Medical devices: Hospitals are moving from unconnected, relatively immobile or room-bound equipment toward medical sensors, BioMed devices, medical wearables and even surgery robots. With a major growth in the medical devices and applications market comes new opportunities for automation, data collection and analysis. With connected devices helping ease the burden on hospital staff and reporting key patient observations, providers

can efficiently increase the quality of care delivered for every patient. 3. Collaboration: Patients, doctors and staff are collaborating in new ways with interactions over instant messaging, multimedia and voice. These ‘telemedicine’ interactions can be fully integrated and become part of medical applications with cloud-based solutions. This can vastly improve the experience of patients in remote locations who may have to travel long-distance to receive treatment and therapy. Hospital staff can also seamlessly collaborate across sites, promoting knowledge sharing and better hospital decision-making.

Digital transformation works – unrivalled end-to-end care Last year the National University of Singapore piloted an IoT-based tele-rehabilitation program for stroke patients. Wearable sensors monitored the patients, while care providers guided them through exercises via a tablet device. The program helped maintain the regular therapy required of patients to benefit from rehabilitation, while saving them the cost of traveling to a medical center, as well as hospital time and money by negating the need to send therapists on house calls. Ultimately, the aim is to build tightly integrated information ecosystems that connect patient and caregiver through a combination of wearable technology, linked databases and highly secure communication portals. This integrated ecosystem will minimise errors and give patients and physicians rich databases of information with which to deliver medical care more efficiently.

Three key technologies – one contained network Smart healthcare needs smart network infrastructure to support all the new technologies securely. A network needs to provide ”secure openness” as healthcare professionals should always receive a high quality of service (QoS) and reliable connectivity at the point of care. Unified Access: Whichever site a caregiver connects from, with whatever devices, they need to be quickly up and running with access

to the resources they require. With a single network as a base, unification of wired and wireless is already done on the network level. Unified Access (UA) can control network access, identify the ‘‘device” or ‘‘user behind the device” and map it to the correct virtual network while ensuring QoS, bandwidth and security. Intelligent Fabric: New treatments, equipment and applications are adopted in healthcare environments on a regular basis, bringing with them potential network modifications. Intelligent Fabric technology can quicken any installations, moves and changes, thus reducing workload for IT departments because of the automation it provides through self-configuring of the virtual chassis, self-attaching servers or any additional LAN switches or access points as networks expand. Smart Analytics: IT need to be able to determine if a certain application, such as EMRs or BioMed apps – or even Netflix – should be permitted, and then assign a certain QoS to the application based on priority. With smart analytics, IT departments are able to view all the applications that are running over the network in real-time, allowing staff to control them if needed. Next to the real-time usage, smart analytics provide IT departments with all the information they need to operate hospital networks efficiently and plan for new technology roll-outs and expansion.

One network to rule them all – future-proof and secure With a single network as a base and the right infrastructure approach, EMRs, new devices and enhanced collaboration tools can be introduced, managed and contained in the hospital environment. Any patient record, employee device or sensor can be given the right network resources in a controlled and secure way. At the front-end, patients benefit from a truly connected healthcare experience. The frontline caregivers can share information on demand, connected equipment can help monitor, report and analyse patient health quicker than ever before, and wherever they enter the hospital environment their updated medical records can be instantly delivered to those who need it.

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Google Offers More Encryption More and more websites are using HTTPS, but that’s not good enough for Google, which has chosen to rely on the secure HSTS technology

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TTPS-encrypted websites are all the rage these days. This can be attributed to initiatives like Let’s Encrypt, which make it quite easy to protect sites with the help of HTTPS. However, Google has contributed to this phenomenon as well, by letting encrypted sites receive bonuses in the ranking scheme. This has also spilled over to the Chrome browser. Since the beginning of the year, Chrome has been issuing warnings for insecure sites. But there’s yet another step in this long-running saga: The company now wants to make the use of HSTS (HTTP Strict Transport Security) part of its standard operating procedure, so that secure domains would then be found in the HSTS preload list. This list can be found in all major browsers (including Chrome, Firefox, Edge/IE and Safari) and lists the domains for which the browser will never accept an insecure connection. For example, if a user types in gmail.

com, the browser automatically changes the address to https:// gmail.com. This ensures that attackers won’t be able to jump into the communications stream before the encrypted connection has been set up. Google’s plan is to bring entire top-level domains (TLD) into the HSTS preload list and is already operating the Google domain in this manner. Next, Google will move on to the .foo and .dev domains. The major advantage for developers and providers is that they can automatically gain an entry in the HSTS preload list by operating their sites on one of these TLDs and using a corresponding SSL certificate. Consequently, each one of these entities would automatically be able to force the use of a secured connection without making it necessary to carry out complicated configuration procedures or manual inclusion procedures. The latter option continues to be available free of charge and Google offers the site hstspreload.org for this purpose. However, several months may pass before this data is updated.

Google’s Chrome browser was one of the first major web tools to support HSTS-based secured connections

Data Theft Of The Month YAHOO: THREE BILLION SETS OF CUSTOMER DATA LOST

CONSULTING FIRM DELOITTE HACKED

ADOBE ACCIDENTALLY BLOGS PRIVATE PGP KEY

As it turns out, 2016’s Yahoo hack was even worse than we thought. It was initially claimed that ‘just’ 500 million – and then a billion – user accounts were stolen (CHIP reported on this at the time), but it has now been revealed that three billion sets of customer information were pilfered in 2013. According to reports, these sets of information were probably pieces of customer information that were in the company’s possession at the time.

Deloitte’s cloud-based mail system has been cracked by unknown hackers. These hackers were able to access e-mails, some of which contained confidential conversations with clients. Numerous Deloitte servers could simultaneously be found on the web for quite a long time and several of these systems use outdated security measures. Deloitte itself has released a statement claiming that the attackers have been chased away.

Although not a data theft, Adobe’s big slip is just as much of a danger. The company’s Product Security Incident Response Team accidentally disclosed the private PGP key on its blog recently. This key was released to the Team for decrypting mails, but it has now been withdrawn and replaced.

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Loophole In DNSMasq Threatens IoT Devices S macOS High Criminals Sierra: Zero Digging Up Crypto-Coins Day Right At The Outset In Browsers C S

even security loopholes in the free DNSMasq DNS server solution may end up compromising Linux, IoT devices and smartphones, allowing attackers to run malicious code on the affected systems. Some of these hacks have already surfaced on the web, but manufacturers have responded by rolling out the respective updates.

rypto-currencies like Bitcoin and Monero are attracting criminals like magnets. While Bitcoins tend to be used for ransomwarebased blackmailing, Monero is more often used to misuse the resources of external systems. These scams make use of JavaScript, first by planting one on people visiting certain sites, then making the infected computer’s CPU do the mathematical calculations; such an approach becomes particularly profitable when large numbers of PCs are used. According to security service provider ESET, the people behind such schemes make use of so-called ‘malvertising’. When this method is used, the scripts are smuggled in via entities providing advertising services.

Danger Barometer A zero-day vulnerability on the latest macOS could have allowed attackers to read the data in Keychain and pass it along. The loophole has since been patched.

ecurity expert Patrick Wardle released a zero-day vulnerability affecting Apple’s new operating system as soon as the OS became available for download. An unsigned application - that the user downloads off the internet and runs locally - makes it possible for attackers to read the Keychain, copy passwords and transfer them to other attackers. Keychain is the password manager that has been integrated into macOS. In addition to login details, it can also be used to save PINs or banking information. According to Mr Wardle, the attack can be executed using either signed or unsigned apps. Apple subsequently responded to this situation and plugged the security loophole in question.

Android once again less secure than iOS iOS had the most vulnerabilities in 2014 and 2015, but Android regained its position at the top of the table in 2016. This finding came from one of Symantec’s latest annual reports.

High risk

Number of known vulnerabilities 2014 10

178

Blackberry iOS Android

12

Medium risk

2015

463

89

2016

290

0

Number of the Month:

100

SOURCE: SYMANTEC

Low risk

316

200

300

400

3,000,000,000

500

600

Google’s big leak in 2016 was much bigger than we initially thought. Six times bigger, to be exact

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Kaspersky Lab Identifies New Malware R

esearchers from Kaspersky Lab have found a new malware that has multiple modules, allowing it to execute all kinds of malicious activities like crypto currency mining and DDos attacks. In addition, this malware is modular and thus can have new functions added to it. This malware has been given the name ‘Loapi’. The reason Loapi is so unique is exactly because of this modularity. Unlike the typical Android malware, such as banking Trojans or cryptomining Trojans that only perform a single action, Loapi can perform multiple, almost an unlimited number of actions on compromised devices. According to Kaspersky Lab, the new form of malware is primarily being spread through advertising campaigns under the guise of antivirus solutions or apps for adults. When downloaded and installed, these apps will request for admin rights, then begin to quietly communicate with command and control servers that will subsequently install additional modules. Below is a list of the modules that Kaspersky said are found: Adware module – used for the aggressive display of advertising on the user’s device. SMS module – used by the malware to perform various operations with text messages. Web crawler module – used to subscribe users to paid services without them knowing. The SMS-module will hide messages from the user, respond to them as needed, and then remove all the ‘‘evidence”. Proxy module – allows attackers to execute HTTP requests on behalf of the device. These actions can be performed for DDoS attacks. Monero miner module – used to mine the crypto currency Monero (XMR). Not only does it have multiple functionalities, the Loapi malware is able to protect itself. Should a user try to revoke admin rights to a device, once given, the malware will block the device’s screen and close the window. It can also detect security apps that are designed to remove malware and send false pop ups ‘warning’ the users of those apps.

Latest Fortinet Cybersecurity Report Shows Rise In Botnet F

ortinet recently released its latest Global Threat Landscape Report, in which numbers show a high number of botnet and automated malware attacks. In the current cybersecurity landscape, there are no security teams that are capable of handling the sheer amount of attacks with manpower alone. In order to learn more about what’s happening in the landscape, Fortinet has offered views in its latest report, focusing on three central Gavin Chow - Network and Security threats typically faced today: Application exploits, malicious software, and botnets. Strategist, Fortinet APAC Fortinet commented that the findings in this Q3 2017 report confirmed many of the company’s predictions for 2018, and that the trend shows that new forms of attacks will be coming in the near future. This is because cybercriminals are also quick to adopt modern techniques and technology, such as AI and automation, to create new forms of malware or search for new exploits. ‘‘Whether it’s WannaCry in May or Apache Struts in September 2017, long-known and yet still-unpatched vulnerabilities serve as the gateway for attacks time and time again. Remaining vigilant of new threats and vulnerabilities in the wild is critical, but organisations also need to keep sight of what is happening within their own environment. There is an incredible urgency to prioritise security hygiene and embrace fabric-based security approaches that leverage automation, integration, and strategic segmentation. Our adversaries are adopting automated and scripted techniques, so we need to raise their price of attacking to combat today’s new normal,” said Gavin Chow, Fortinet’s network and security strategist. To learn more of what’s revealed in Fortinet’s report, visit https://blog.fortinet.com/2017/11/28/fortinet-quarterly-threat-landscape-reportthe-battle-against-cybercrime-continues-to-escalate.

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ESET‘s 2018 Cybersecurity Trends E

very year, cybersecurity firms release reports on what the companies believe will be the cybersecurity landscape for the next year. Below are what ESET believes to be the top five trends that will be prevalent in 2018

The rise of attacks on critical infrastructure — Cases of cyberthreats affecting critical infrastructure made major headlines in 2017. One of the most significant was Industroyer, the infamous malware responsible for the 2016 attack on Ukraine’s power grid. Attacks on critical infrastructure can also affect much more than just the power grid and could include the defense and healthcare sectors, water, transportation, and both critical manufacturing and food production. Organisations are working hard on security but ever-changing conditions mean that threats are likely to continue through 2018. Supply chain issues — Large companies are waking up to the threat of cyberattacks with security teams receiving increased backing to improve measures. But SMEs continue to struggle with these new concerns, and since they may also supply goods and services to larger organisations, security gains are often negatively impacted. These types of supply chain problems affected the entertainment industry earlier in 2017; among the incidents included was the attempted extortion of Netflix over a new season of the series ”Orange Is the New Black.” This should remind us that supply chain security can affect any industry, something that will also continue in 2018. Increased cooperation between law enforcement and cybersecurity experts — Malware research has proved useful to law enforcement in the war on cybercrime. A key example is a recent collaboration between ESET, Microsoft, and law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and Interpol, working together to take down a major botnet operation known as Gamarue. Increased cooperation will lead to more arrests and fewer active cybercriminals. As authorities continue to gain experience working with private cybersecurity specialists, we can look toward further successful investigations and a potentially safer 2018. Democracy hack: Can electoral processes be protected? Recent elections have raised numerous cybersecurity questions – the most important being to what extent a cyberattack can influence the electoral process. Evidence suggests we must look toward a hybrid system using both paper and electronic records if we are to mitigate fraud by cybercriminals. Our privacy in the new age of tech — Data is the new currency, with consumers expecting to enjoy software at little or no cost. This has led vendors to enter the data-collection business, increasing the risks connected with data privacy. Advancements in IoT can lead in a similar direction with every device capable of telling a story and producing a full picture of the user’s life if multiple connected devices are combined.

Over 2 Billion Personal Records Leaked In 2016 A

recent report by InfoWatch Analytical Center showed that there was a massive 30% increase in data leaks from high-tech companies. These companies were responsible for the loss of 75% of all globally compromised data (2.3 billion records), 87% of which were personal data. ‘‘We are witnessing more and more leaks and compromised data in the high-tech companies, where information, including customer data, is usually a key asset, and therefore any leak can have a disastrous impact on business,” said Sergey Khayruk, Analyst at InfoWatch Group. According to the report, a total of 31 big leaks caused more than 95% of the data leaks in the high-tech sector. In each case, more than 10 million records were leaked. The cybercriminals typically targeted personal data, while data regarding payment details, trade secrets, and know-how have become less of a focus. ‘‘IT market players aggregate huge volumes of user data and thus are eager to use Big Data to analyse structured and unstructured information and other tools, which dramatically evolved in terms of technology and functionality,” noted Sergey Khayruk. ‘‘However, the more data is being generated, processed, and stored, the higher the risk of external attacks on corporate resources. At the same time, internal offenders gain more ground, forcing IT companies to use not only effective tools to combat attacks, but also advanced multi-functional DLP systems. Moreover, the soaring number of skilled leaks calls for adding User Behavior Analytics (UBA) to the existing cybersecurity toolbox.”

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Oculus Go Announced

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acebook’s Oculus is using the Oculus Go headset to target newcomers to the world of virtual reality. With a price tag of about RM964, the VR goggles are essentially self-sufficient, since they require neither PCs nor smartphones. The device features an LCD with fast refresh rates and a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels, whose high fill rate is supposed to minimise the screen door effect. However, the Oculus Go only registers head movements and doesn’t register the user’s position in the room. The Go is expected to hit shelves at the beginning of 2018.

X

torm is claiming that the Waterproof Power Bank Limitless 10,000 (approx. RM434) is ‘the most powerful powerbank of all time’. The resilience of the dustproof and waterproof charging device complies with a US military standard and can be used to recharge mobile devices like mobile phones or GPS navigation systems several times, thanks to its battery capacity of 10,000 mAh. In addition, the integrated torch offers an SOS function.

Comfort Headphones With A Gigantic Frequency Range

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hanks to its exchangeable earpads that are made from synthetic leather and velour, the Ultrasone Pro 780i (approx. RM964) is even more comfortable than the previous model. The S-Logic-Plus technology of the closed-coverage-type over-ear headphones results in very threedimensional surround sound, and the device can transmit frequencies lying in the range of 10-Hz to 26kHz, far beyond the spectrum of human hearing.

Little Interest In Smart Voice Assistants

A

pple, Google and company aren’t going to be too happy to hear that users are largely uninterested in the voice assistants that have been installed on several smartphones. This conclusion was drawn after the Deloitte Global Mobile Consumer Survey. According to the survey results, only 18 percent of the more than 53,000 people throughout the world who were polled use voice assistants and mostly for car navigation only.

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Photos: Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik; Hersteller (Produkte)

Extremely Robust Battery For When You’re On The Go


world wired web

Hard 10-Gigabit Switch For Drives To Home Users Hold 40Tb N By 2025

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agnetic hard drives can currently hold a maximum of 14-Terabytes (TB) of data, but that’s not the end. Western Digital now wants to increase the storage capacity of HDDs to 40TB by 2025. This is to be done using the Microwave Assisted Magnetic Recording (MAMR) procedure, which doesn’t require new materials.

etwork hardware manufacturer Netgear is launching switches for the new speed levels of 2.5, 5 and 10 GBit/s. These devices feature multiple 10-GBit interfaces (which also support the 2.5-GBit/s and 5 GBit/s intermediate levels), as well as the usual gigabit ports. Thanks to decreasing prices, these high-speed switches should appeal to home users as well. For example, Netgear’s offering the GS110MX model for about RM1,157. This device has two 10-GBit interfaces – that can also be used in conjunction with the level of 5 GBit/s (NBase-T) – and eight gigabit ports. With a price tag of about RM2,313, the MS510TX is twice as expensive. It boasts two 2.5-GBit/s ports, two 5-GBit/s ports, four gigabit ports, one 10-GBit port and one SFP+ port.

The New Fire TV Now Streams HDR Videos In 4K

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he 2017 version of Amazon’s Fire TV streaming box can now display UHD contents with high dynamic range (HDR) images. In terms of the device’s design, Amazon has decided to part ways with the stick shape and house the technology in a square box with HDMI cables, which can be used to connect the Fire TV to a TV set. The casing contains a quad-core processor with a clock frequency of 1.5 GHz and it has wireless-AC but no Ethernet port. On the bright side, the Fire TV 2017 now supports Dolby Atmos sound. As expected, you can control the device with a remote control, which offers the user a choice between pushing buttons and communicating with the help of the device’s voice control facility. The latter is possible using the microphone that Amazon has installed in the remote control can be used to give instructions to the Alexa voice assistant. This new version is now available for about RM386.

Mobile Phones Communicating With The Manufacturer

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hose who own OnePlus smartphones must assume that they’re going to be spied on. After a British blogger revealed that the Chinese mobile phone sends lots of user data back to the manufacturer, OnePlus indicated that it intends to limit this practice. The company claimed that it does this to make it possible for it to improve its support services.

Tap-Proof Quantum Telephony

R

esearchers from Austria and China have managed to exchange quantum-encrypted information between two continents. He who tries to spy on a quantum channel ends will up revealing himself instantly, because his measurement affects the transmitted data. Such a communication link is thus effectively tap-proof.

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Archos Diamond: High-End Mobile Phone At A Low-End Price

A

rchos is a brand in Europe that produces inexpensive smartphones and tablets. While not considered a premium brand, but its flagship Diamond Omega is currently set to change opinions. The device’s Snapdragon 835 is currently the most powerful chip in the market, and it makes good use of the chip’s quick-charging capabilities. Furthermore, the device is also in line with the current trend of edgeless displays. This device has officially launched but is unlikely to reach Malaysian shores.

Oath LG Replaces Deactivating Samsung As A AOL Messenger Partner Of Apple

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ince 15 December 2017, AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) has become a thing of the past. This was announced by Oath (a subsidiary of Verizon), which took over AOL two years ago. AIM users can visit https://help.aol.com/articles/aim-discontinued to find out how they can back up their data.

A

pple will now partner with Samsung’s competitor LG in the development of foldable OLED displays for the iPhone. However, the finished products probably won’t be seen before 2021.

Nintendo Experiences Production Delays

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intendo has delayed the release of their 64GB game cards for the Switch, and their delay has been set to 2019. These game cards are important for developers who require larger capacity game cards to fit in more content. With this delay, gamers will have to wait till 2019 to get content with richer software and graphics. Nintendo has made a statement claiming that the delay was due to ”technical issues”, but exactly what happened isn’t fully explained.

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Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Mobile Platform Introduced

Q

ualcomm has recently introduced its new Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Mobile Platform. Thoughtfully designed with tech savvy consumers in mind, Snapdragon 845 utilises Qualcomm Technologies’ industry leading wireless heterogenous compute expertise to design a platform for immersive multimedia experiences, including eXtended reality (XR), on-device artificial intelligence (AI), lightningfast connectivity, and the new secure processing unit (SPU) for vault-like security in premium, flagship mobile devices. Snapdragon 845 bring with it the integrated Qualcomm Spectra 280 image signal processor (ISP) and Qualcomm Adreno 630 visual processing subsystem. These brand-new architectures aim to deliver high-performance, true-to-life cinematic video capture, as well as superior photography to flagship mobile devices. Snapdragon 845 will be able to capture 64x more high-dynamic range color information for video capture and playback on Ultra HD Premium displays, compared to the previous generation — a first in the mobile industry. This massive boost in color information includes 10-bit color depth, for over one billion shades of colors that can be displayed to the wide Rec. 2020 gamut. This should result in amazing 4K/Ultra HD videos, ensuring that your precious video memories can be viewed with a billion shades of brilliance. In addition to advancing the video capture experience, the new Adreno 630 visual processing subsystem architecture will transform entertainment, education and social interaction, making them more immersive and intuitive. It is designed to deliver innovations for new XR experiences that span virtual, augmented and mixed reality. Snapdragon 845 is the first mobile platform to enable room-scale 6-degrees of freedom (6DoF) with simultaneous localisation and mapping (SLAM) — for features such as wall-collision detection. Additionally, Snapdragon 845 introduces ”Adreno foveation”, which substantially reduces power consumption, improves visual quality and boosts XR application performance, as compared to the previous generation. Through heterogenous computing, the Snapdragon 845’s new architectures are being built to transform the user experience while providing significant improvements in performance and battery life. The new camera and visual processing architectures will help Snapdragon 845 deliver up to 30 percent power reduction for video capture, games and XR applications compared to the previous generation. Graphics performance and power efficiencies will also garner up to a 30 percent improvement as a result of the new Adreno 630, compared to the previous generation. The new Qualcomm Kryo 385 architecture, built on Arm Cortex technology, will see up to 25 percent performance uplift across gaming, application launch times, and performance intensive applications compared to the previous generation. Qualcomm’s upcoming new platform is currently being sampled to customers and is expected to begin shipping in commercial devices in early 2018. It will power devices such as smartphones, XR headsets and always connected PCs.

Facebook Messenger Mining Cryptocurrency

A

malware called ‘‘Digmine” has recently surfaced and what it does is mining cryptocurrency. To be specific the malware spreads itself as much as possible and starts mining the cryptocurrency Monero on unsuspecting victims. This could lead to larger repercussions in the future, as it may only start as mining cryptocurrency but could lead to the hijacking of your Facebook account. It is known that users on Google Chrome and users of the desktop version of Messenger are being targeted.

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Freedom To Lisa In 2018

A

ccording to Business Insider, Apple’s Lisa will be made free as open source, so you can get your hands on it and tinker around with the operating system if you wish. Lisa was one of the first computers in the world to be equipped with a graphical user interface and was originally known as an abbreviation for Local Integrated System Architecture, but was later debunked by Steve Jobs, as he claimed it was named after his daughter. In 1983, it was reported that Apple spent as much as $150 million to develop Lisa, which when calculated amounted to about $371,053,278.69 in 2017. However, Lisa was a project doomed to fail from the start, as it cost $10,000 just to buy it. At that time, you can get a cheaper machine from IBM. Lisa, at that time, was a leaps and bounds ahead of what other PCs could do then. It had icons, windows, and documents can be sorted into folders, which are normal things that we could do with our PC now. However, it only took Apple three years to stop the Lisa project after its launch. For those who are interested in checking out the Lisa operating system, you can do so this year.

Freedom Slowed Down

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f you are an iPhone user, then this news is not fresh to you. Whenever Apple releases a new device, older devices tend to slow down. Coincidence? Well, not really. Apple recently confirmed that they have been doing this since last year, specifically the iPhone 6s and iPhone 7. Well, this news came about when Geekbench developer, John Poole jotted down the performance of the iPhone 6S and iPhone 7 over time, and ran into the conclusion that the Apple iOS updates of 10.21 and 11.20 throttles the older phones. Some reddit users even chimed in and said that by replacing the battery of the older device, the throttle disappears, making your phone as fast as it used to be. When asked, Apple mentioned that their goal is not to push consumers to purchase a new phone, but to stop the older batteries from acting up, as batteries do age over time and in some cases, will unexpectedly shut down your device. However, Apple devices are not built to have removable batteries, so changing the batteries yourself will prove to be an uphill battle. Conspiracy and controversy aside, it is good to know that Apple is taking their battery safety precautions. But now that the truth is out in the open, it doesn’t look to be an easy fight for Apple as they are raking in multiple lawsuits for this controversy.

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Power Overwhelming

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f you think a regular NVIDIA Titan is already expensive and an overkill for most PCs, think again. The Titan V is out to shatter that illusion in style, with gold. All hail the Titan V, which was announced at the 2017 Neural Information Processing Systems conference. The Titan V is built on NVIDIA’s Volta GPU architecture and sports 110 TeraFLOPS of horsepower. It’s capable of deep learning via Tensor Core architecture, has 12GB of HBM2 stacked 3D memory, 16-phase DrMOS power supply with integrated real time current and thermal monitoring capabilities. Its cooling solution uses copper, which we rarely see today, and a quiet fan, all encased in a gold aluminium body. NVIDIA’s site lists the Titan V to have a base clock of 1,200 MHz and a boost clock of 1,455 MHz. It also recommends at least a 600W PSU to power the GPU alone. On the I/O side, it has three DisplayPorts and one HDMI port. NVIDIA has mentioned that despite being its most powerful GPU ever made for the PC and for the masses, the Titan V is mainly to be used for workstation PCs. It is currently priced at $3,000 (approx. RM 12,210) and fits prosumers more than consumers. You will definitely feel the effects of this gold card on your wallet if you are thinking of purchasing one anytime soon.

Woof, Woof, Aibo

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t is a dog-eat-dog world out there. Sony has recently announced a new version of the Sony Aibo, your friendly robotic dog partner. The previous version of the Aibo dates all the way back to 2005, as the Aibo ERS-7M3 was the last one to be released in 2005 before the project screeched to a halt in 2006. This new version of Aibo, the ERS1000, comes in White, and is equipped with a 64-bit Quad-Core processor, a speaker, four microphones, a variety of sensors ranging from pressure sensors to light sensors and four paw pad sensors. The eyes of the Aibo sports two OLEDs, and there is a total of 22-axes that can be moved on the Aibo. The Aibo is just like your regular dog, or well – it tries to imitate a real dog. It can be seen scratching a fake itch just like a dog, try to take a leak like a dog, and can sense where you are with the two cameras built into the body. The Aibo communicates via Wi-Fi and LTE as there is a slot for a SIM card. It also weighs 2.2kgs, and takes about 3 hours to fully charge, allowing you 2 hours of play. Each Aibo is also unique, and depending on how you take care of it, will form its own traits and tricks, just like an actual dog.

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feature

The HEIF format requires only half the memory of JPEG for the same quality. Apple believes in this smart format and is using it in iOS 11, while others are believed to follow suit soon By Robert di Marcoberardino

W

hen the Internet found its feet 20 years ago, the image formats from that time such as Windows Bitmap quickly became too big and cumbersome for the slow modem web. Only JPEG, with its then revolutionary compression, and the graphics format GIF paved the way for graphics, animations and images on the Internet known to us. But two decades later, the erstwhile trailblazers have evolved into problem children. JPEG has reached its limits, especially since the image format can only use the computing power of modern processors in a limited manner. If JPEG is highly compressed, it is always accompanied by a huge loss of details, which is not really ideal with photographs. The animation format, GIF, which is currently celebrating a comeback in social networks, was also never a proven compression specialist.

A new format for a more portable web In times of bandwidth excesses, poorly compressed images would not have been worse off. However, inefficient file formats automatically bring about high costs to the booming mobile web and Cloud storage services. The new High Efficiency Image File Format, HEIF, breaches this gap. This format was defined by the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) and is based on the video codec H.265. Simply put, a HEIF image is a still image of an H.265 video. The format with the suffix ‘‘heic” reduces the file size by 40 to 50 percent in comparison to JPEG or GIF, while maintaining the level of detail. One can get an idea about the performance on the project website: nokiatech.github.io/heif.

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HEIF was brought into the limelight by Apple, as the company of experts announced the use of the file format for image storage in the macOS High Sierra and iOS 11. However, not every iPhone or iPad can generate images in HEIF. For mobile phones, it works only the iPhone 7 and onwards. The rule of thumb is that if the device generates 4K videos and supports H.265, it can also create HEIF images.

The compression specialist HEIF is designed in a completely different manner as compared to JPEG (see graph), since it uses the compression of H.265 or HEVC, which again constitutes a direct continuation of the predecessor codec H.264. Technically, the formats are siblings, except that all essential compression procedures have been improved as compared to H.264. Both codecs use an image projection for pixel regulation. For example, in an image of an area of blue sky, entire chunks of pixels are combined and assign the value ‘‘blue” to them as a whole, rather than for each individual pixel. While H.264 packs blocks of maximum 16 x 16 pixels size, H.265 can now project blocks six times bigger, or a maximum of 64 x 64 pixels. When it comes to image contents with static and same-colour surfaces – such as clouds, shadows or meadows – a lot more can now be condensed, which ultimately reduces the file size by a considerable extent.

HEIF can replace several formats As HEIF can also combine multiple images in one file, it can also technically replace the GIF format in its entirety. Moreover, apart from GIF, a HEIF file can also include short videos

Apple stands alone With HEIF support, Apple has taken a bold step with its solo effort, which is not unusual for the company, but is posing problems for its users at the moment. This is because no other device apart for the current iPhones, iPads and Macs can support that file format yet. A HEIF image is thus unreadable on a Windows PC and there is also no commercial software available that could enable this. HEIF is currently supported only in the preview App and a few pictures viewers on Macs as well. Even Adobe has not yet announced any plug-in for its suite of software, which makes the processing on a PC practically impossible. Mind you, Apple seldom announce something so traditional, but releases it directly. It is also known to Apple that most of the users can use HEIF only on new iPhones, which is why there is now only one option in the camera settings with which the images can be converted to JPEGs before they are sent.

Ideal for cameras and the web With its flexibility and performance, HEIF would also be an ideal storage format for digital cameras, camcorders and action cams. This is because the format has one more advantage. Even if the file sizes are the same, HEIF files will show more level of detail than JPEG files. However, there hasn’t been any concrete info regarding this topic from manufacturers yet. Even web developers are beginning to grow curious of the format. As it is a genuine all-rounder, HEIF can replace almost all conventional formats and make the websites more streamlined, which is not an unimportant factor for Google ranking. However, no browser has been able to feature HEIF images without the help of a JavaScript decoder – including High Sierra’s Safari browser. Having said this, JPEG and GIF did not become standard formats overnight either, so it might be some time before we see HEIF rise into prominence.

Photos: Apple (products); Karsten Würth (Landscape)

Technilexicon: HEIF Format

with audio. The same applies to the PNG format, whose strength lies in its transparent Background, a feature that HEIF provides as well. The new format supports simple image processing also, such as rotation or cropping without using additional tools (see table to the right).


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This is how HEIF works The new image format, HEIF, is only being used by Apple at the moment. With current iPhones (7 onwards) and iPads with iOS 11 as well as Macs with High Sierra, HEIF is supposed to save half the storage space while delivering the same image quality. However, the new format can allegedly do a lot more.

JPEG

HEIF

HEIF (H.265)

JPEG

HEIF is a still image of an HEVC video and uses H.265 compression. This baseline makes the format very flexible.

The image format is relatively inflexible in terms of pixel compilation. The quality and compression is determined by the quantisation.

max. block size 64 x 64

Block size 8x8

Image projection

Image projection

Using image projection, pixels of the same colour are collected in blocks. HEIF’s block sizes range from 4 x 4 pixels to 64 x 64 pixels.

JPEG uses blocks that are 8 x 8 pixels in size, for image summarisation.

1 Decoder : The image is decrypted using the table properties. It is sorted linearly or in a zigzag pattern depending on the image property.

1 The decoder builds a pixel accurate image from the H.265-coded image, which now exists in an uncompressed manner 2 The image is either forwarded immediately or supplemented by other image files (animations). 3 Transformative image properties include rotation, trimming or superimposing image files. These changes make HEIF out-of-the-box without external Apps.

2

3

1

1

Decoder

Decoder

2 Quantisation (Signal processing)

Recovered image

Application of transformative image features

4 Output: If all image properties (including thumbnail) are converted, the image is displayed.

4

Table properties

3

4

Output

3 Compression : The discrete cosine transformation (DCT) is used for lossy compression and the reverse for the output (IDCT).

IDCT

Output

4 Output : The decompressed image is outputted including the thumbnail.

Display

Display

2 Quantisation : The data reduction is controlled via a matrix that is stored in the table. Quantisation determines image quality and compression rate.

HEIF (.heic) combines the advantages JPEG, PNG and GIF HEIF

JPEG/EXIF

PNG

GIF

Basis container

ISOBMFF

TIFF

Compression (with loss) Compression (without loss)

ӑ(HEVC) ӑ;HEVC)

ӑ;JPEG) ӑ(TIFF)

Compatible metadata formats

EXIF, XMP, MPEG-7

EXIF

• • ӑ •

• • ӑ •

ӑ ӑ ӑ

Audio (Riff WAV)

• •

• • •

• ӑ ӑ

ӑ ӑ ӑ ӑ ӑ

ӑ • • • ӑ

• • • ӑ •

• • • • •

The iOS options

Formats & multi-picture

Compatible media types (Audio, text, etc.) Multiple images in a file Image sequences and animations

As the format is barely popular, Apple offers the users the option to choose between High Efficiency (HEIF) and Most Compatible (JPEG)

Image processing Rotation (90 degree interval) Cropping Superimposing images (tiling) Transparency (Alpha Plane) Thumbnail image

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Razer Phone

Finally, a smartphone made for gamers by a newcomer in the scene, but not a strange face within the electronics industry. Here, we take a look at the Razer Phone – hot off the press and build to impress gamers who are looking to invest in a smartphone that can be the best By Rikco Shim

Better than your gaming monitor The 5.7-inch IGZO LCD is equipped with UltraMotion technology to deliver 120 Hz refresh rate, making it better than some of the gaming monitors you find in the market right now. This allows you to experience a much faster and smoother gaming experience on a mobile phone.

Grip vs Screen In 2017, most devices are sporting a bezel-less, edge-to-edge look. Not Razer. They decided to go for a look that most would say ‘‘Classic”, sporting front-firing speakers on the top and bottom chin. Razer has also mentioned that by going for this design, it allows the user to have more space to grip the phone and not have fingers blocking game interfaces.

Louder and better As mentioned, the device comes with front-facing speakers that are paired with Dolby Atmos capabilities, giving you immersive audio all around you. And if you want to zone out alone, Razer bundled in a THX-certified DAC adapter to give you the best quality audio, all for yourself.

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tech spelunk Capture more Not wanting to be all different, this device comes with a dual rear camera setup of 12-megapixel + 12-megapixel cameras, one with f1.75 wide aperture and one with f2.6 zoom capabilities. With dual tone flash, the colours of your photos will always be natural. Now you can capture far and wide without any issues.

Top of the line components The Razer Phone is also powered with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor and comes bundled with 8GB of RAM to power all your games and multitasking desires. Along with the help of Game Booster, you can ensure that the device can run the most demanding mobile games out there in the market right now.

On and on and on Mobile games consume a phone’s battery like no tomorrow and to tackle that, Razer padded the Razer Phone with a hefty 4,000 mAh battery. This is much larger than the average smartphone, allowing you to play for longer without having to worry too much about battery life. Even when you do, with Qualcomm Quick Charge 4+, charging the device to full is a breeze.

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498 of the Top 500 supercomputers of the world use Linux as an operating system, the other two use Unix

1985

Free Software Foundation Founder Richard Stallman wishes to promote FSF "free software� as a social movement

1980

1983

GNU Project

CHIP TIMELINE Open Source Software Firefox, Gimp and VLC are examples of open source software installed on billions of devices all over the world, allowing lots of people free access to tools that would be prohibitively expensive as commercial software By Patrick Hannemann

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ince its inception, open source software has evolved from an alternative to paid software, to a stand-alone comprehensive solution. It is used not only in

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a private environment, but also in professional settings. Of course, getting to this stage has been a long journey. In the 1970s, hacker culture was blooming

in US universities like MIT, Berkeley or Stanford. It was self-evident for students and employees to disclose their code in order to share improvements and ideas with each

Photos: Sam Williams/Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 3.0 (l.); Reuters/Lou Dematteis (r.)

With the project, the loose ideas about the hacker movement start taking shape


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1998

2017

Open Source Initiative

Central to society Open source tools are installed a million times every day and simplify life for so many users

The initiative is considered as a splinter group of FSF, but quickly establishes itself as a flagship for the entire movement

1990

2000

2010

1912

The first Linux On the basis of GNU, Linus Torvalds writes his own operating system, "Linux” under the GNU-GPL license

other. Richard Stallman played a central role in these circles, when he founded the GNU project and introduced the ''General Public Licence” in 1983, under which a major portion of free software is carried out. Two years later, he founded the Free Software Foundation (FSF), which was meant to stand up for the freedom of computer users. Subsequently, the term "free software” came about. The idea behind it was less to offer free programmes and more to allow the entire society to participate in the new technological developments. Another pioneer of the movement was Linus Torvalds, the driving force behind

Linux, which was first released in 1992. Today, its free operating system has several spin-offs such as Ubuntu, Debian and more, widely used in educational institutes across the world. Only in 1998 did the coining of the term "Open Source Initiative” (OSI) take place, which stands for open source software today. While the terms "Free software” and "Open source” can be used almost congruently, the FSF sets great store by the differences in the philosophy. Free software can be understood as a social movement, whereas Open source is more about development methodology and practical

uses. The latter term has pushed through though, so much that the ideas of open source and free availability have been carried over to other areas of life as well. The term "Open Content” more or less means freely available knowledge, as is offered by Wikipedia. Even OpenSpaces such as FabLabs, in which every John and Jane gets access to 3D printers or CNC milling machines, are included in this. It becomes clear that technological and social progress are closely intertwined. On specialised platforms such as GitHub or Source Forge, millions of tools are downloaded daily and thousands jointly developed.

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Stress-free Fall Creators Update On 17 October 2017, Microsoft fired the starting pistol for the next version of Windows 10. This is how you can install the Fall Creators Update with zero stress, and respond appropriately when errors are encountered By Jorg Geiger

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reparation is everything, so do yourself a favour and back up all your data before you go anywhere near the Fall Creators Update. This can be done using the system image function that has been built into Windows, but the whole thing will be even easier if you use a tool like Macrium Reflect to save an image of your current Windows system on an external hard drive. If the Fall Creators Update fails to work for some reason, you will easily be able to fall back on a functioning system.

you exactly where your Windows system has problems - if there are any. Take a look at the report and use the device manager to update your drivers and use the software administration facility to take a look at the installed programmes. Ideally, you should get rid of the tools that you’re definitely not going to use anymore, and the final Updates will take care of all the others. Many users rarely restart Windows, but this would be a good time for a reboot.

Free Up Memory Space Check Windows – And Root Out Problems You should only proceed with the Fall Creators Update if your existing Windows system is free of major problems. In situations involving blue screens or other Windows problems, you should solve them before you install the Update. You can run a system check with the help of the ‘Run’ command, which can be called up using the [Windows] + [R] shortcut. All you have to do now is type in the command ‘perfmon /report’, and Windows will take care of the rest. The result of this command shows

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Depending on the version, the downloads in the Fall Creators Update could weigh between 2.5 and 5 GB. However, these figures don’t really tell the whole story when it comes to the amount of space you’ll need. If you really want to be on the safe side, you should have at least 20 GB of free memory space. The Windows disk clean-up tool will help you reach this number, but remember to click on the ‘‘Clean up system files” option, so that the tool will also take parts of previous Windows installations into consideration. After all, these things can really take up


feature 1 quite a lot of space. On the CHIP test system, about 25 GB of space was taken up, for example. If deleting temporary files doesn’t do the trick, you will have to get rid of data elsewhere as well. In such a case, you could take a look at the data in the download folder, as well as music, photo and video collections that can be moved to external storages.

Prepare Drivers Most of the problems associated with the installation of large Windows Updates revolve around defective drivers. This kind of problem can cause other minor ones (such as missing details in sound settings), but they could also completely paralyse your system. For example, if it involves a broken network card driver or incompatibilities in graphics card drivers. You should at least keep a second computer handy, so that you will be able to use it to reload drivers and tools in case you run into difficulties. Also, you could also visit the websites of the companies that manufactured your PC or notebook, to check whether drivers are already available for the Fall Creators Update and download them in advance.

A brief 1 system command checks the current health of 2 Windows and shows you where the problems are

2

Install The Fall Creators Update You are now ready for the Fall Creators Update and can pick from three ways of installing it. If you want to use the simplest method, you should run a Windows Update to get your hands on the newest version of Windows 10. However, the problem is that there are around 500 million devices running Windows 10. Since all of these devices are capable of receiving the Update, the server congestion can be quite heavy during the first few weeks. That’s why Microsoft decided to step on the brakes and move the Update onto its Update servers in instalments. Many users are complaining that the Windows Update remains silent for days and weeks on end, refusing to display the Fall Creators Update. However, this isn’t a defect in the system; it’s exactly what Microsoft wants. The Update can be made to do what it’s supposed to do easily and immediately using the Windows 10 Update Assistant. The Windows 10 Update Assistant checks the system for compatibility, gets the Fall Creators Update and installs it. Those who want more options can use the Media Creation Tool instead. Although the Media Creation Tool can deal with the Update, it also offers you the option of downloading the entire Fall Creators Update as an ISO file, a step that is necessary in situations involving new installations. The tool can also burn a DVD for you, or create a bootable USB stick containing the newest version of Windows 10.

1

2

The 1 disk clean-up facility can create space, especially if you can free up the space 2 occupied by previous Windows installations by clicking the ”Clean up system files” option

Troubleshooting For Update Problems While installing an Update, you will find that Windows is only too happy to object to the presence of system tools. These could be third-party virus scanners, tuning tools, encryption tools etc. In fact, this group might contain just about anything that burrows deep into Windows. Do you absolutely have to remove all these tools? If you want to play it safe, then the answer is yes. However, you will definitely have to remove hard drive encryption software. Also, when it comes to other special variants like dual-boot systems featuring both Windows and Linux, you can safely assume that the Fall Creators Update will not inherit your configuration. According to Microsoft, the list of exotic configurations also includes transferred user folders. Such folders should be copied back onto the ‘‘C” drive before you run the upgrade. Sometimes, the small things are the things that end up getting in the way of large Updates. For example, Microsoft recommends that you remove external data storage devices before you install the Fall Creators Update.

You can install the Fall Creators Update immediately using either the Windows Update Assistant or the Media Creation Tool

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Defense Against BlueBorne Billions of Bluetooth devices are vulnerable to BlueBorne, which allows attackers to unobtrusively attack smartphones, notebooks or PCs, then take control By Andreas Th. Fischer

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most important hardware and software manufacturers, so that they would have enough time to develop security updates. Among the players contacted by the company were Apple, Google, Microsoft, Samsung and important Linux developers. Not all of them responded.

Data theft and Man-in-the-Middle attacks Armis then made its knowledge public a few months ago. Updates for some operating systems – like Windows – have already been available since September 2017 and most are installed automatically. Google and Samsung have also released security patches for some of their products. For example, the Galaxy A5, S5, S6 Duo, S7 and Note 8 have already been updated. Apple has also plugged this particular loophole with iOS 10.0. The effects of the eight vulnerabilities in Bluetooth that were uncovered differ quite significantly from each other depending on the operating system. With several unpatched Android devices whose

Photos: Hersteller

I

n April 2017, employees working for the security company Armis found several serious loopholes and errors affecting Bluetooth. This wireless technology is widely used in several areas involving shortrange connections for distances of up to ten metres. According to the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, which looks after the further development of the wireless standard, more than 8.2 billion devices already use Bluetooth. In addition to smartphones, tablets, wearables, portable and (increasingly) stationary computers and IoT (Internet of Things) devices, this group also includes systems that are used in cars and other vehicles. Approximately five billion of these devices are supposed to have been affected by the ‘BlueBorne’ loophole, regardless of whether they have been equipped with Android, iOS, Windows, Linux or some other Bluetooth-friendly system. Consequently, your devices are quite likely to be included of this group as well. However, Armis didn’t disclose the loophole immediately as soon as it was discovered last year; instead, the company first informed the


feature Bluetooth facility has been switched on, the damage can be done whenever an attacker is within a maximum distance of ten metres. When in range, the attacker can plant and run his own code, steal data and basically execute a ‘man-in-the-middle’ attack. In other words, the attacker is able to insert himself into external connections and modify transferred data. Bluetooth can also be exploited to execute such man-in-the-middle attacks under Windows. However, Microsoft’s OS has, at the very least, ruled out the risk of third-party code being inserted and executed. According to Armis, the same thing cannot be said about Linux. With Linux, attackers can allegedly read data from a distance and plant code. Once done, the code can be executed in conjunction with the rights associated with the Bluetooth process that is currently running on the system. This flaw also affects older Apple products, specifically iOS devices running anything up to iOS version 9.3.5, causing related devices to be vulnerable to the execution of external code.

Secret snapshots of the user Armis has used several YouTube videos to demonstrate how powerful these BlueBorne loopholes are. For example, the company has showcase how an Android mobile phone can be taken over from a distance, and how it can then be used to discreetly take photos of the owner. These photos are then sent to the attacker over the internet. Apart from all this, attackers can also steal other data that has been stored on the device or install additional malware that goes hand-in-hand with other malicious functions. The man-in-the-middle attacks that can be launched against unpatched Windows computers also hide several dangers. For example, Armis has demonstrated how such attacks can be used to smuggle in a fake login site, which is then displayed to the PC user under the genuine web address. If the user then enters his user name and password, both of these pieces of information land directly in the hands of the attackers. Such attacks are very hard to detect, because the URL looks like it’s genuine. The examples given by Armis merely outline relatively simple methods of attack, all of which have to be used individually by an attacker. However, according to the experts, a band of criminals could conceivably develop a Bluetooth worm that would automatically spread from one infected device to another. If a case like that happens, the damage would be far greater.

However, the situation is somewhat more complicated when it comes to Android. Some smartphones that have received patches have been named on the previous page. However, many other models that are no longer up-to-date are not likely to receive these updates. This is a wellknown problem, where most of the companies that manufacture Android smartphones, tablets and wearables, only look after updates for their latest products. Nevertheless, Armis has provided a free app that allows you to at least find out whether your device has been infected by BlueBorne. All you have to do is to get this app through the Play Store on your Android smartphone or tablet, then run a search for ‘BlueBorne Vulnerability Scanner by Armis’. After you have installed and launched the app, tap the ‘‘Tap to Check” option. The app will then run the test, which only takes a few seconds, before displaying the result. You also have the option of checking whether BlueBorne has infected other nearby devices with Bluetooth activated. Tap ‘‘Check Devices around me” to do so. If your device turns out to be vulnerable to BlueBorne, you should at least ensure that you always deactivate Bluetooth when you’re in a public space. However, this obviously doesn’t offer foolproof protection against Bluetooth-based attacks. Such all-encompassing protection can only be obtained if the manufacturers provide patches quickly.

Armis demonstrates in a YouTube video how an attacker would secretly use the mobile phone on the right to take the photo on the left and steal it

1

2

Remedies and security patches This might sound like a banal suggestion, but it really is the easiest way to protect yourself from BlueBorne. If there’s no critical need for it, deactivate Bluetooth. Once this back door has been closed, no attacker will be able to use Bluetooth to sneak into your hardware. Other than that, you should also check whether security patches are available for your Bluetooth-capable devices. If they are, you should go ahead and install them. Microsoft has already released updates for Windows 7 through 10; these updates are installed through the automatic update system. iOS devices are safe, provided that they are running version 10.0 of the operating system at the very least. Moreover, many Linux distributions are gradually receiving anti-BlueBorne updates, because completed updates are already available for the kernel. Providers like Ubuntu and OpenSuse have also already distributed new patches that are supposed to plug these loopholes in September 2017.

Only newer Android smartphones and tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 receive patches that provide protection against BlueBorne loopholes 2 Owners of older mobile phones can use an app to find out whether their devices are infected

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feature

A Failure Of Trust The Equifax hack is a scandal that must absolutely carry consequences. Companies that hoard data on a massive scale have a special responsibility, but have they earned our trust? By Felix Knoke

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he worst hacking case in American IT history happened in September 2017, when credit reporting agency Equifax revealed that hackers were able to use a security loophole to gain access to the personal data of up to 145.5 million Americans. Names, birth dates, addresses, social security numbers, driving license numbers and credit card numbers may have been copied. The sheer magnitude and scale of the damage was absolutely incalculable at the time of going to press.

Unprecedented loss of data The pilfered data is highly controversial indeed. Equifax happens to be the largest of America’s three credit reporting agencies and assesses the creditworthiness of almost 50% of all Americans. Attackers could use the data that has been stolen to establish credits under other people’s names, apply for home loans or social services, make purchases based on credit cards and go to the post office to claim postal deliveries by posing as the legitimate recipients. They could even use

reputations to blackmail people or sabotage companies. Regardless of whether or not the data ever pops up, there will now always be a certain amount of doubt regarding whether a given person really is the person he’s claiming to be on the basis of identification data. However, Equifax’s behaviour is what really raises this matter far above the level of a mere data catastrophe. Not only was the company incompetent, shameless and irresponsible, what it did was outright criminal. It isn’t just the fact that three employees apparently offloaded company shares worth 1.8 million US dollars shortly before the hack was announced, the company’s management also thought it would be a good idea to saddle the victims of their sloppiness with a service subscription and simultaneously divest them of their right to file a suit. Even though both of these measures were withdrawn after the company came up against a firestorm of criticism, the whole episode left a bitter taste in everyone’s mouth, especially since the company didn’t exactly do a wonderful job in other departments either. For

7 September Dollar 150

Equifax goes public and sets up a buggy emergency website

7 March Apache Software Foundation releases a patch for the security loophole in Apache Strut

11 September

140

Chronology of a crisis

130

In the week after the leak became known, Equifax’s share price collapsed from 143 US dollars to 93 dollars.

Three managers sell off company shares worth 1.8 million US dollars

15 March 120

Equifax looks for the security loophole – But to no avail

110

9 March The US Department of Homeland Security warns Equifax about the security loophole

100 90

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Two US senators call for a catalogue of questions to be answered

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Mid-May to July 2017: Hackers use the security loophole to get into the company servers

01.04. 2017

01.08. 2017

8 September The rumour: A security loophole that was plugged a long time ago was exploited

01.09. 2017

12 September Equifax CEO Richard Smith issues an apology in USA Today


feature The Equifax hack – a comparison There have been larger data spills, but the Equifax hack stands out because of its explosive nature, with 145.5 million identities now ready to be copied.

August 2017:

Audacity or incompetence

Photos: Reuters/Brendan McDermid (l.), Kevin Lamarque (r.)

However, all of this pales in comparison with the spectacular failure of the company’s IT department. Even though it was aware of the security loophole for months on end, it didn’t do enough to plug it. In fact, the company was warned by both the US Department of Homeland Security and software manufacturer, but the task of protecting the customer nevertheless ended up getting sidelined. Equifax is going to have to pay for all this. If it’s proven that data protection regulations were violated, the company would have to pay a financial penalty of 16,000 US dollars (approx. RM65,080) for each dataset. Thirty different authorities are already investigating the company, while insider trading proceedings have been initiated against three managers. The people in charge of the IT and security departments have already been forced to resign, along with CEO Richard Smith. To top it all off, the threat of public hearings and class-action lawsuits worth billions is looming large on the horizon. However, all of this is outweighed by the lack of trust on the part of the people whose data is collected and sold by Equifax, as well as the companies that rely on the legitimacy of this data. All of these players are going to have a whole lot of questions, and there aren’t too many good answers. In fact, the answer to ‘‘Why?” might just turn out to the simplest of the lot. Only a handful of these entities will receive compensation, with the question of whether and how the data is going to be misused set to be up in the air for a very long time.

September 2016:

Spambot 700 million

Yahoo! 3 billion

November 2016: Friendfinder Network 412 million

June 2016:

Source: Own research

example, when people affected by the problem started asking for help, Equifax used Twitter to direct them to a phishing site (which luckily belonged to a well-intentioned hacker). Also, a hastily-assembled emergency service turned out to be defective during the initial stages.

September 2017:

River City Media 1.37 billion

Equifax 145.5 million 06 2016

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08

09

10

11

12

01 2017

02

03

04

05

06

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‘‘Equifax made millions of dollars off its own screwup” Elizabeth Warren, US Senator (D), In a hearing of former Equifax CEO Richard Smith

One-sided break-up However, Equifax’s failure also constitutes a massive betrayal of trust. Credit agencies essentially create trust between two business partners by accumulating data, which is then used to determine creditworthiness. They use their SBTs to wrest the right to collect data from the entities that are being provided with information. There can be no good credit without a good score and, likewise, this modus operandi also means that the entities being provided with information are placing a certain amount of trust in the credit agency. After all, the customers are placing their data in your hands. Such mutual trust is the basis of all online social relationships, regardless of whether the relationships involve trade, communication or cooperation. Digitalised trust can thus be handled in a proper manner.

26 September

13 September Smith confirms the rumour and is called in for questioning

14 September

The price of the data Former Equifax CEO Richard Smith at a senate committee hearing: ‘‘I accept full responsibility”

CEO Richard Smith is dismissed

20 September Equifax sends Twitter users to a phishing site

The FTC investigates the episode. The CIO and CSO resign

2 October

10 October

12 October

First forensic report: Another 2.5 million victims

Equifax website spreads malware

US tax authorities check contract worth millions for Equifax

3 October Hearing of Richard Smith before a committee of the House of Representatives

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feature safe with us” – even when you’re forced to trust them. After all, you will simply get no credit whatsoever without a good score! However, the system has a catch. There is no such thing as absolute security, because computer systems can be hacked and data can be stolen. The task of doing everything possible to prevent this from happening must be as important to the data companies as the endeavour to prevent accidents is to the automobile industry. But the Equifax episode and all the other data spills from recent years show that the trust brokers cannot be trusted. And this particular finding is as explosive as a bomb.

Between wobbling pillars

What to do Trade in stolen identities is booming and digital identities are especially valuable in the black market. In 2016, almost 400,000 cases were reported in the USA. > Where is the Equifax data? Even if the data has already been copied, it’s likely that nothing much will happen at first, because the hackers would have been scared off by the media frenzy. However, individual pieces of data could potentially pop up in coming years, their origins a total mystery. In any event, the data is bound to get lost in the online black market’s ocean of stolen identities. Over nine billion datasets have allegedly been stolen since 2013, while 1.9 billion sets

have already been snatched in the first half of 2017. > What can affected parties do? Citizens of the US have the option of changing their social security numbers. The only problem is that this procedure is so complicated that only 249 out of 450 million numbers were changed in 2014. With that said, the wiser thing to do would be to remain calm, vigilant and promptly report any potential misuse or theft.

Crisis management slip-ups In addition to being defective, the hastily-assembled emergency website also tried to saddle victims with malfunctioned protection

The internet has given rise to nothing short of a full-fledged trustbased economy, which is supposed to lead to the formation of new economic and social relationships. However, all of this begins with the trustworthiness of the data collectors. If this trust is absent, the whole construct collapses. This is why companies like Equifax have to constantly legitimise themselves in terms of their integrity. They say, ‘‘Your data is

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Under CEO Smith, Equifax turned itself from a credit reporting agency into a modern data company. It collects as much data as possible and tries to sell it in new and innovative ways. According to a report that appeared in the New York Times, Equifax keeps dossiers with hundreds or thousands of pages on individual citizens. The company itself allegedly scours billions of public Twitter messages for keywords, in an effort to provide retailers with early details about the creditworthiness of a potential shopper. At the same moment, Equifax was supposedly also trying to legitimise itself as a data protector and trustworthy data administrator. In a nutshell, the mask of a venerable manufacturer of trust is nothing but a façade. There’s really nothing you can do about this, because those who want to have a share in the digital world are going to have to give up privacy and control. The political sector is the only domain that’s promising improvements in this regard. For example, the imbalance in power could, from next year onwards, become somewhat less lopsided as a result of the new European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Self-awareness as a storage medium But is that enough? We will also have to make some changes in ourselves, our relationship with our data and our role as storage medium. Personal data has a certain value, capable of doing harm and develop an uncontrolled life of its own. Identity data in particular is quite precious. In addition to being particularly robust, such data offer many opportunities for misuse. Those who make use of such data have a special responsibility towards the storage media and society at large. However, every single individual also has to be aware of his data, protect it and insist upon the right to do so. This also includes protecting other people’s data. Data spills do take place and we’re just going to have to brace for such incidences. However, everyone needs to demand that such things never happen at all. Maybe it has become necessary to rethink the entire topic of the administration of trust and identity on the internet. There are approaches that can be used to overcome the dichotomy between privacy and identity verification, but the data industry has no interest in the matter. After all, they make money on the basis of the very connection between the two. In any event, according to the latest update on the Equifax episode, the IRS (i.e. the American tax authority) has decided to pause and examine a contract - said to be worth millions - that was supposed to be awarded to Equifax without a bidding procedure. The company was supposed to help the authorities verify taxpayer identities and it was allegedly the only player that would have been capable of doing so.

Photo: Getty Images/nevodka (symbolic image of credit cards)

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS


feature

Timeline: Ten Years Of iPhone

Average price of each app 2 US dollars

The legacy of Steve Jobs: How the iPhone turned Apple into one of the world’s largest IT companies

Revenue generated in 2016 through the App Store 24 billion US dollars

By Ibrahim Altiparmak

Most popular categories in the App Store Development time preceding the completion of the first iPhone 28 months At the time of launch [Q3/2007], the sales volume of the first iPhone was 5 million US dollars Number of devices that went over the counter during the launch weekend 270,000 The time it took for a million devices to be sold 74 days The number of iPhones currently being used 720 million The current revenue (in Q2/2017) being earned by Apple through the iPhone 24,846 million US dollars

Stock market value of Apple in US dollars... ...before the launch of the iPhone [2006] 72.9 billion ...after the launch of the iPhone [2007] 173.43 billion ...on the 10-year anniversary of the iPhone 801 billion

Games 25.06 % Business 9.81 % Education 8.48 % World’s highest-selling apps in September 2017 (in US dollars)

Share of smartphone sales...

Netflix 2,000,000

...worldwide [Q2/17] 12 %

Pandora – Music & Radio 1,020,000

...in the USA 44.9 %

Tinder 720,000

...in Malaysia 13.1%

Number of Apple Stores The iPhone’s global revenue in US dollars for the year 2016 136.7 billion The share of iPhone sales in Apple’s total revenue 62.86 %

Apps available in the App Store 2,200,000

worldwide 492 in the USA 270

Total number of apps downloaded 180 billion

in Great Britain 38 in Germany 19

Share of the iPhone in the company’s global revenue The iPhone has become Apple’s most important product, as it generates more than half of the company’s revenue

Average number of times users unlock their iPhones daily 80 times

80 % 70 %

Period of time for which Linksys was using the name ‘iPhone’ before Apple 9 years

60 % 50 % Source: Statista

40 % 30 % 20 %

Minimum price that Apple paid for the domain www.iPhone.com 1,000,000 US dollars

2/09 4/09 2/10 4/10 2/11 4/11 2/12 4/12 2/13 4/13 2/14 4/14 2/15 4/15 2/16 4/16 2/17

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feature

The SSD Revolution Thanks to the ongoing development of 3D flash, SSDs can now multiply their storage capacity. The old storage formula of ‘either a fast SSD or a large magnetic disk’ no longer applies

O

nce a year, the heavyweights of the flash sector have a rendezvous in always-sunny Santa Clara, California. The Convention Centre then plays host to the Flash Memory Summit, where these industry titans show off their newest achievements in the realm of SSDs. In addition to ever-larger and faster SSDs, the whole event primarily revolves around the unveiling of new flash chips, memory chips and controllers. At 2017’s event, the latest technological developments unveiled by the four major flash producers – Samsung, IMFT (Intel/Micron), Flash Forward (Toshiba/Western Digital) and Hynix – were focussed on the topic of storage density. This trend of ever-larger SSDs was triggered a few years ago by the changeover to 3D-NAND. Before this event took place, the memory cells were normally arranged right next to each other in a layer. However, in the new flash-type, the memory cells are also piled up in the form of cubes. Thanks to the 3D-NAND optimisations that were unveiled at the Summit, the flash chips’ silicon dies (which are cut from wafers) could gradually drive the magnetic disks - that store information on rotating aluminium disks - out of the market.

Stagnation in rotating magnetic disks SSDs with capacities lying in the range of 30 to 50 Terabytes (TB) were

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exhibited when the Summit took place at the beginning of August 2017, and Samsung even announced a 128 TB SSD. However, the maximum size of magnetic disks remained at the relatively low level of 12 TB, though data volumes of up to 14 TB can currently be made to fit into a 3.5-inch casing. What’s more, the technological progress for magnetic disks is also beginning to stagnate. Technical innovations that were announced years ago - such as Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR), which could double the storage density - are not yet ready for the market either. With HAMR in particular, a laser is used to heat the metal track, which in turn makes it possible to magnetise sections that could be smaller than ever before. The key word here is ‘could’. The agile flash sector is meeting the challenge of the higher developmental speed. One example of this dynamic was provided by Samsung at the Summit. This particular example involved an SSD featuring the Next Generation Small Form Factor (NGSFF) and a storage capacity of 16 TB. This SSD fits onto a small printed circuit board that is ten centimetres long (see right). However, since such disks cost a small fortune and are meant to be used in data centres, a normal PC user won’t be able to get access to it. In any event, the magnetic disks are still in the lead when it comes to price per Gigabyte.

Photos: Micron (lead story, portrait); manufacturers (products)

By Markus Mandau


feature

Nevertheless, industry experts at the Summit did raise the question of whether the era of the magnetic disks is slowly drawing to a close. For example, this particular sentiment was expressed by Currie Munce, who is responsible for SSD development at Micron (see right). What’s also significant is the fact that Western Digital and Seagate – the last two major companies manufacturing magnetic disks – have been trying for years to gain a foothold in the SSD market. The former is currently falling behind, after a consortium of investors featuring the participation of Seagate and flash manufacturer Hynix recently purchased Toshiba’s memory division. This is bad news for Western Digital, which had previously been cooperating with Toshiba in the development of new flash technology. At the Summit, Seagate showed off a statistic that indicated that in the future, only five percent of the investments made by data centres would involve the domain of magnetic disks. According to forecasts made by analysts working for Gartner, when it comes to the saturated PC market, SSDs are set to register an annual growth rate of about 20 percent over the course of the next five years. Under such circumstances, magnetic disks would end up losing the same amount of market share. Furthermore, this particular trend will speed up even further if the price per GB falls by about 75 percent in the next five to six years, which many experts predict will happen. Once again, this phenomenon can be attributed to the fact that the storage density per chip is going to increase, but not the price.

Decreasing sales of magnetic disks Market leader Western Digital’s figures show that magnetic disks are being installed in fewer and fewer notebooks and PCs Magnetic disks sold by Western Digital (in millions) 22.0 16.5 Source: wdc

Rejections in the memory sector

11.0 5.5

2015 Q2 Q3 Notebook

Q4

2016 Q1 Q2

Q3

Q4

2017 Q1 Q2

Q3

Q4

Desktop

Advantage of SSDs: More memory in a smaller space When it comes to storage densities, magnetic disks can no longer compete with SSDs. Western Digital’s 3.5-inch WD Gold 1 can store 12 TB, but Samsung’s first NGSFF-SSD 2 can accommodate 16 TB on a narrow-printed circuit board

1

Flash In 3D

The consequences of the changeover to the 3D architecture of flash memories will become clear next year. Now, the prices of SSDs haven’t started falling yet. Along with the strong demand for these devices, this can also be attributed to the fact that the manufacturers have to finance the ongoing switchover to the production of 3D-NAND. Although 2D-NAND is still being produced, from the point of view of technology it is beginning to run up against its limits.

Overcoming Flash’s technical limitations In principle, 2D flash cells are made up of completely normal transistors, which are also used to construct things like PC processors. The cell also has a memory element that absorbs electrons – the so-called ‘floating gate’. The magnitude of the charge in the floating gate reveals the bits that have been stored in the cell. Here’s the simplest example of this: An absence of charge corresponds to ‘1’, while a full charge corresponds to ‘0’. However, the storage mechanism can become somewhat complicated, because there are also more complex types of cells that contain up to four bits (see page 47). In situations involving the current overall size of about 16 nanometres, it is quite expensive to shrink 2D flash cells in order to increase the storage density, especially since these expenses also lead to a massive increase in production costs. The approach of stacking flash cells in multiple layers – otherwise known as 3D-NAND – heralds the end of the era characterised by the elaborate development of ever-smaller structures. Instead, it’s now going to be about piling up an ever-increasing number of layers. When the firstgeneration 3D-NAND was unveiled by Samsung in 2012, it had 24 layers of flash cells. The first actual SSDs featuring the 3D-NAND technology had

2

10 cm

‘‘Our new flash memory will make magnetic disks irrelevant” Currie Munce, Vice President SSD Engineering Micron Technology


32 layers, while current SSDs feature 48 layers. In July 2017, Intel released the 545s, which was the first 3D-NAND SSD that contained 64 layers. Market leader Samsung is scheduled to follow in Intel’s footsteps by releasing its 64-layer 3D-NAND device in the second half of the year. The increasing number of layers goes hand in hand with a dramatic rise in storage density (see left). Even the newest 2D flash device is only capable of extracting a little more than 1 Gigabit out of each square millimetre of area, the newest generation of the 3D-NAND technology raises this figure to the level of almost 4 Gigabit.

Intel’s 545s is the first SSD with 3D-NAND in which flash cells are piled up in 64 layers. The previous limit was just 48

6 Gigabit on one square millimetre And the progression doesn’t look to be stopping. A 96-layer arrangement is set to become part of the new norm next year and the two largest flash manufacturers, with Samsung and Toshiba the first to have already announced the changeover. This arrangement would translate to a storage density of more than 6 Gigabit on one square millimetre. Nevertheless, industry experts believe that the process of piling up flash cells in a silicon die wouldn’t simply keep moving in the same direction from this point onwards. ‘‘The technical challenge involves the task of drilling uniform holes through the many layers (in order to then fill in the flash cells). Only then would all the cells reach the same level of performance,” explained Jeff Ohshima, who is a senior developer at Toshiba. However, an expert from Lam Research believes that it would even be possible to create a stack of more than 100 layers. For those who are not aware, Lam Research develops the machines that are used to etch uniform holes into the flash wafer. However, flash manufacturers don’t just put the individual cells in layers one on top of the other to form a 3D-NAND block, they also stack up several of these blocks as well. The storage density can thus be multiplied once again. For several years now, manufacturers have been using the ‘wire-bonding’ technique (see left) to connect individual block layers or dies to each other. Nowadays, the standard technical arrangements usually involve wire-bonding schemes with 8 or 16 dies.

Higher storage density with 3D flash As can be seen from the flash types developed by Samsung, the changeover to 3D-NAND has led to a continuous increase in the storage density. A 3D arrangement with 96 stacks is scheduled to appear at the end of 2018

Storage type

Storage density (GBit/mm2)

SSD example

Market launch

2D-Flash (16 nm TLC)

1.11

Samsung 750 Evo

April 2016

3D flash 32 stacks

1.86

Samsung 850 Evo

December 2014

3D flash 48 stacks

2.56

Samsung 850 Pro

March 2016

3D flash 64 stacks

3.97

Samsung 97x/98x

January 2018 (forecast)

Piling up Flash cells The photo 1 reveals the inner workings of 3D-NAND, where several layers of flash cells are stacked-up

1

Source: Techinsights

4 TB fit onto a single memory chip

1

2

Stacking up piles of cells The storage density multiplies when several dies are put in layers one on top of the other using the 3D-NAND technology and connected through lines (e.g. via cables in case of wire-bonding 2 ). The TSV method is more effective, because the lines run through the 3D-NAND 3

The 128-TB SSD that was announced by Samsung at the 2017 Summit was expected to feature an arrangement in which 32 dies will be stacked up – a new record. Samsung would thus be accommodating a total of 4 TB of data on an area the size of a fingernail; the size of such a chip normally lies in the range of 11 to 20 millimetres. When it comes to the wire-bonding technique, the dies are connected to the printed circuit board with the help of thin filaments that are located at the outer edges. However, this method does have its limits, because it ends up using a lot of energy and space. It also proves to be error-prone in terms of signal integrity. These negative effects intensify significantly as the number of layers increase. This is why Toshiba decided to switch over to a new connection technology and presented it at the beginning of July 2017. This technology allowed for flash chips that have its 3D-NAND layers connected using through-silicon vias (TSV). When it comes to this particular procedure, metal lines with a diameter of 50 micrometres pass directly through the individual layers, all the way up to the printed circuit board. According to Toshiba, this halves the flash memory’s power consumption, while simultaneously increasing the transfer rate. The chips introduced by Toshiba connect 8 or 16 layers with the help of TSV, with the goal of reaching 32 layers in the future.


feature Storing multiple bits in a single flash cell

Revolution In Flash

The goal of increasing the storage density in SSDs even further has cause attention to be focused on a well-known method where flash cells that can hold four bits are being built. Previously, it was only possible to reach a maximum level of three bits in practice. This increase is also related to the changeover from 2D-NAND to 3D-NAND, with the latter being more robust and able to store a higher number of bits without breaking down after a handful of writing processes.

determines which bits are stored in a flash cell. However, the more bits you try to depict, the more error-prone the technique (see below). That’s why there are hardly any SSDs with QLC cells SLC Cell

MLC Cell

TLC Cell 000

00 001 0 010

Storing several bits in a single cell A flash cell depicts information regarding which and how many bits have been stored through the voltage level. The voltage level depends on the number of electrons that have been captured in the floating gate. However, the problem is that the functioning of the floating gate becomes more and more unreliable as data is written onto a flash cell more and more frequently. This results in the insulating layer around the gate becoming weaker, eventually unable to confine the electrons in a reliable manner. If a flash cell only depicts a single bit, this wouldn’t really turn into a major problem, because it only contains two voltage levels for the values of 0 and 1. Such a single-level cell (SLC) can withstand around 100,000 writing processes. However, manufacturers prefer to install triple-level cells (TLC) in order to attain a higher storage density. These flash cells must provide eight voltage levels in order to store three bits (see right). When it comes to 2D flash, a TLC can only withstand around 1,000 writing processes. This low value is also related to the fact that the flash manufacturers have developed ever-smaller structures for 2D flash in order to increase the storage density. This process of contraction – which has led to the current size of 16 nanometres – also ends up reducing the maximum number of electrons that can be absorbed by the floating gate. The voltage levels keep moving closer together as a result, which in turn leads to an increased susceptibility to errors.

Voltage level

01 011 100 10 101

1

110 11 111

QLC Cell 0000 0001 0010 0011 0100 0101 0110 0111 1000 1001 1010 1011 1100 1101 1110 1111

3D flash cells last longer The changeover to 3D-NAND has also led to the introduction of a new and more robust type of flash cell that can be overwritten more often. This will ultimately make it possible to assemble new SSDs with QLC cells Cell type

Maximum number of writing processes

2D-SLC

100.000

2D-MLC

3.000

2D-TLC

1.000

2D-QLC

100

3D-TLC

7.000

3D-QLC

1.000

Fortunately, this is where 3D flash comes in. A 3D cell is larger than a 2D cell, since it has a diameter lying in the range of about 50 to 70 nanometres. This means that it can absorb a significantly larger number of electrons, which in turn makes it more robust. Samsung claims that its latest 64-layer 3D-NAND is capable of sustaining at least 7,000 writing processes. Toshiba was the first flash manufacturer to go a step further and has unveiled memory chips with 3D-NAND devices made of quadlevel cells (QLC), which use 16 voltage levels to store 4 bits. According to Toshiba, these cells are supposed to be able to sustain a total of 1,000 writing cycles, more than enough for the years-long use of a desktop SSD. Samsung and Micron are also scheduled to release QLC SSDs in 2018 and these devices are expected to contain 3D flash units with 96 cell layers. All of this makes it clear that even though these innovations may have been developed for the server market, they will quickly find their way into next year’s consumer SSDs. The TSV chips might end up being the exception, because their manufacturing procedure is relatively expensive. As a result, making SSDs using TSV chips would only make financial sense in use cases involving large and fast SSDs that are required in data centres. Of course, the innovations described here don’t mean that magnetic disks are no longer going to be manufactured in the future. After all, when it

Source: Toshiba

4-level cells through the third dimension

Toshiba’s already producing flash chips with 3D-NAND devices made of QLC cells. The first SSD models are expected to hit shelves next year

comes to the foreseeable future, the global SSD production capacity simply isn’t going to be able to quench the digital era’s ever-growing hunger for data. This also applies to cloud service providers. However, home users who want to be able to use notebooks or PCs with storage capacities lying in the range of 4 to 8 TB might have to get ready to say goodbye to the magnetic disk and hello to the SSD.

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Alibaba family tree

feature

Alibaba.com

Alibaba Group

Something for everyone

B2B

The Alibaba Group is an ecosystem for online trade which features trading facilities for business-to-business, consumer-to-consumer and business-to-consumer transactions; it is supported by cloud, payment and logistics services. Some of these compete directly with US firms, while others don’t.

Taobao.com

Competes with

Aliexpress

Alipay

Aliyun.com

Competes with

Competes with

PayPal

Amazon

eBay

1688.com

Tmall & Tmall Global

Cainiao

International competition The Alibaba Group competes with international firms in specific business sectors. However, taken as a whole, Alibaba is still unassailable in China. This makes the e-commerce giant’s international expansion that much more exciting.

C2C

Payment service

Cloud

Ultimate Middle Man The Alibaba Group is taking the world by storm and the Chinese internet giant can definitely be compared to Amazon. In fact, the company and its founder Jack Ma actually have a lot more to offer

H

igh-tech products for a handful of cents, a search engine for the universe of electronic devices in Shenzhen, and boundless wealth of goods, this is the tech-bazaar that dreams are made of. Those who are shopping at Alibaba.com for the first time could be forgiven for believing that they have discovered a better and wilder Amazon. After all, that’s exactly the impression you’ll walk away with after you encounter a marketplace that really does offer everything that anyone could possibly need for just about any endeavour in existence, from tiny little screws to gigantic industrial facilities.

companies can deal with each through Alibaba or do business with private customers using Tmall, while private customers can deal amongst each other using Taobao.com. The Group also operates the marketing company Alimama, the Alipay payment service and the Cainiao logistics service. Altogether, these constitute what Alibaba describes as ‘the infrastructure for the business of the future’. That’s the opposite of Amazon’s goal, which is to be ‘the most customer-oriented company in the world’, where ‘people will be able to find and discover everything they want to buy’.

No cheap copy of Silicon Valley

Two approaches to the hypermarket

No wonder Alibaba’s often called the ‘Chinese Amazon’. However, this particular comparison is phenomenally inappropriate, considering that the two companies don’t just follow vastly different business models but also function in entirely different ways. In fact, this divergence begins with the difference between founders Jack Ma and Jeff Bezos. What’s more, the technological approach adopted by the Alibaba Group is also representative of a powerful, vibrant and insanely modern China – representing an alternative to the monotony of Silicon Valley. It would be best to have a clear understanding of these differences, and not just because Alibaba is also pushing its way into various other markets. The Alibaba Group runs a dozen internet companies under one roof, covering various segments in the domain of online trade. Within it,

It’s actually quite easy to picture the difference between the two companies. Amazon is a mammoth retailer for new and second-hand articles that helps traders sell their products, but this always happens under the Amazon banner. The structure is similar to that of a supermarket that offers products associated with many different brands, but which also sells its own goods and services. On the other hand, Alibaba runs a huge marketplace and rents materials, organisational aids and means of transportation out to retailers who want to set up shop there and offer their products under their own names and shop designs. Everyone from private tripe sellers to wholesalers are welcome in Alibaba Group’s various marketplaces. In other words, Amazon wants to reach as many end-user customers

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Photo: Reuters/Mark Blinch

By Felix Knoke


as possible, while Alibaba wants to reach as many retailers as possible. That’s the difference between the two. Both companies were founded during the internet boom phase at the end of the 90s, then grew exponentially by riding the wave of digitalisation. However, the core businesses of the two companies are now different from each other. The cloud business (AWS) is Amazon’s most important source of money, while Alibaba’s principal source of cash involves sales of advertisements and paid search hits within its own range of products.

1999 Founding year

Hangzhou, China Place of foundation and company headquarters.

57,302 Employees in June 2017

A company for a little Aeon Alibaba has set itself the goal of enabling small and medium-sized companies to access the online business sectors in China and the rest of the world. According to the company’s credo, the internet allows small companies to take on even the biggest ones and the more companies that participate, the better. The networking and scaling effects in Alibaba’s gigantic range of products are absolutely enormous. Alibaba wants to be indispensable and thinks that retailers are supposed to ‘‘meet other companies, work and live” under the roof of the Group, instead of being wary of the competition. It makes this possible by entering the equation in the form of a trustworthy partner. One of the company’s goals is to reach the age of 102 years and if this happens, Alibaba will have been around in three different centuries (1999 to 2101). Stability and substance is the company’s goal, which in itself is one thing that separates Jack Ma, at least in a rhetorical sense, from his competitors in Silicon Valley. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that he lived through the end of the nineties and experienced the implosion of his tech-dreams and the entire IT sector. However, it’s obviously also an age-old business model. Those who make others successful end up scaling the peaks of success themselves. It’s just that this simple formula is downright explosive in the age of the internet. From Jack Ma’s point of view, it was a massive stroke of luck that ensured that when the critical moment came, he didn’t follow in everybody else’s footsteps and lunge for the end-user customers and web users. Instead, he made a beeline for small companies, which only realised what the internet could offer them at a much later stage.

Inspiration from the madness of bureaucracy Jack Ma’s not your typical tech-businessman, but he’s only too happy to flirt with it. He owned his first computer at the age of 33 and understands nothing about programming. Despite this, he founded a web design agency for companies in the mid-nineties and briefly managed an IT firm at the behest of the Chinese ministry of commerce. During this time, he realised how bureaucratic matters ended up thwarting aspiring traders. However, unlike Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, he didn’t identify this as a market flaw to be exploited. Instead, Ma saw a need from all the traders who craved a functioning infrastructure for online trade, as well as all those who had yet to stumble upon the idea of approaching a China-wide or worldwide customer base by taking their products onto the internet. This was when e-commerce was just getting started. The idea that a mini-stall could approach an audience of millions was a revolutionary concept. And the notion of a start-up that doesn’t address an audience of millions, but approach a small group of non-networked traders instead, was unheard of. The risk obviously paid off. Ever since then, Ma’s primary goal has been to expand this ecotope and continue being indispensable. While Amazon follows the strategy of ‘growth with a vengeance’ and

158,273,000,000 Revenue in fiscal year 2017 (Chinese RMB)

‘‘I’m no techie. I see technology through the eyes of my customers.” Jack Ma, Founder and chairman of the Alibaba Group

invests in any and all internet sectors that promise expansion, Alibaba wants to set up an ecosystem that is designed for sustainable development and healthy growth. Little by little, the company is taking over its supply chains, expanding into associated markets and buying into companies for which it was previously a service provider. This is how the Alibaba Group is increasingly taking control of its business segments and expanding its profit margins. Thus, the middleman is beginning to displace and replace the other middlemen. All the economics strategists who want to decipher the secret of Alibaba’s success call it vertical backward integration, expertise-oriented diversification and forward integration. They also use the phrase ‘growth with substance’.

Everyone wants to know how Ma does it However, none of these attempts at explanation can afford to overlook Alibaba’s founder. Jack Ma is a pally visionary, an uncompromising businessman and a sophisticated philosopher in equal measure. On one occasion, he appeared in front of his employees dressed as Lady Gaga, and he’s only too happy to publicly talk about his frequent setbacks and humble beginnings. The other facet of Jack Ma is the one who appears on the global scene and is celebrated by heads of state and economics

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Alibaba has everything from industrial facilities to gaga gadgets. This image shows a bottling plant that is worth 30,000 dollars

Revenue isn’t everything Although Alibaba’s revenue is just a fourth of Amazon’s, it achieved a profit of over 150 billion Yuan (approx. RM92.7 billion) in fiscal year 2017 with a workforce that’s only a seventh of Amazon’s 200

Global company turnover in billions of yuan

150

100

0 2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

Alibaba’s future > Equal rights: Alibaba has been successful in a field that’s still giving Silicon Valley a tough time. Women represent 50 percent of the company’s workforce and their share is 30 percent at the managerial level. A third of the founding members were women, including Jack Ma’s partner. According to chairman Ma, Alibaba wouldn’t have been successful without women. He once said: ”Women are going to be very powerful in the 21st century.” > Artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, user interfaces, Fintech,

SOURCE: ALIBABA

50

data analysis, quantum computers: At the beginning of October 2017, Alibaba announced an investment of 15 billion dollars (approx. RM61 billion) in the technology of the future; the company is planning to set up laboratories throughout the world for this purpose > The big goal: Alibaba is aiming to reach 2 billion customers and 10 million companies, and create 100 million jobs, in twenty years. From a purely economic point of view, the company would then be equivalent to a small country.

The difference Jack Ma at 2017’s annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos: ‘‘The difference between Amazon and us is that Amazon is an empire. They control, buy and sell everything by themselves. We, on the other hand, want to be an ecosystem. Others should be able to sell something with our help; we want to be useful and always ensure that the other party is stronger than us.

tycoons. For example, ex-US president Barack Obama interviewed him at an APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) meeting. He was also one of the first to meet Donald Trump two weeks before Trump was sworn in as the new US president, in order to promise him a million new jobs in the USA (for some observers, this represented both a deft stroke and the prelude to a new competition between the IT titans in the USA). No wonder everybody’s courting Jack Ma. After all, the Alibaba Group is phenomenally successful and Jack Ma is very powerful in China. Those who want to do online business in the Middle Kingdom aren’t going to be able to get around his Alibaba Group. His websites are responsible for almost 80 percent of all e-commerce transactions that take place in China and he does business with 423 million shoppers a year and 507 million mobile users a month. Not only that, 520 million Chinese citizens use his Alipay payment service as well. In fact, with 600 million active users, China’s WeChat Pay is the only company that’s remains much larger than both these players and the same thing applies to the international scene. As far as the global stage is concerned, the total value of the goods exchanged through the Alibaba Group occasionally ends up exceeding the combined value of the goods exchanged using Walmart, Amazon and eBay. With a seventh of Amazon’s workforce, Alibaba does this very efficiently. What’s more, the group is continuously growing. Its revenue in the third quarter of 2017 shot up by 60 percent in comparison with the same quarter of the previous year and its cloud-based business segment alone more than doubled during this time. Take a look at the following figures for the purposes of comparison. In 2016, Amazon was only able to seize less than 1 percent of China’s 2.5 trillion Yuan (approx. RM1.54 trillion) internet market. Alibaba’s Tmall.com – which can be compared to Amazon – occupied 56.6 percent of the market when it came to B2C business.

To the world Jack Ma and his Alibaba Group are a key to success in China. But now, this dominant position might be in danger in China. Some of the Group’s business fields are under attack from competitors, especially JD.com (which can truly be called ‘China’s Amazon’), Tencent, Baidu and the e-payment initiatives of Chinese banks. However, the Group’s supremacy is still a fact of life as far as the rest of the world is concerned. This image is the one that Alibaba is trying to sell throughout the world. After all, even business experts are often unaware of exactly how the Chinese market works and what role Alibaba plays in it.

Everything from milk powder to cosmetics In fact, many countries and companies understand this concept well. Germany’s Rossmann has begun offering Alipay as a payment option in 2017, with the goal of attracting Chinese tourists in Germany who are particularly eager to buy its products. ‘‘The well-funded Chinese middle class is very interested in German products,” reads a comment sent from Alibaba. The reason given is that German brands stand for quality and a high degree of consumer protection. Perhaps Alibaba will soon start exhibiting brands from different countries at Home Times, which represents a reinvention of a boutique supermarket. At Home Times, the most successful products from an online division of Alibaba’s Tmall market are offered for sale in a fullfledged shop made of concrete, wood and glass. This means that at least one of Alibaba’s futures clearly lies in the here and now.


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Secure And Anonymous Web Browsing How to deactivate aggressive tracking, avoid geo-blocks, or use insecure wireless networks? Our plan lets you surf any network securely and without any interruptions By Fabian Von Keudell

T

hose who use a virtual private network (VPN) to surf the web expect the service provider to protect their anonymity. However, some don’t care and will log the user’s actual IP addresses and analyse surfing behaviour in order to display relevant advertisements in their browsers. Our advice is to pick a service provider that doesn’t record any data. Regardless, VPN users are divided into three categories. Those who only use VPNs sporadically (e.g. to access the web securely through a public WiFi), those who use it on a daily basis, and those want constant web anonymity. Below are some tips for all types of users.

will have to activate the VPN function. To do so, open a browser window and press the [Alt] + [P] key combination; the ‘‘Data protection & security” section will contain the ‘‘Activate VPN” point. Tick this option and close the tab. Next, click the VPN symbol on the left (next to the URL bar) to enable the connection. Select ”<country name>” as the ”Virtual location”, so that the browser will connect to a server in the country you’ve set. This ensures that all web services will work properly. Note that some providers like Google consider a login attempt emanating from a foreign country to be an attack, and deny access accordingly.

Tier 1: VPNs For Public Wireless Networks When it comes to unencrypted wireless networks, hackers can use man-in-the-middle attacks to intercept logins. In fact, even httpssecured data are vulnerable. But an encrypted VPN prevents this.

Desktop: Using Opera Browser as a VPN In order to ensure that you’re well-equipped, you should install secured browsers like Opera (www.opera.com) on your computer, which will enable you to protect your connection with a single click. However, ensure that your usage data isn’t transferred during the installation procedure. To do so, click ‘‘Options” after you reach the first installation screen, and then deselect the ‘‘Share usage data in order to make Opera better” option. After the programme has been installed, you

No mobile phones come with VPN-capable browsers, so you will have to install one yourself. One option is again Opera, which offers its own VPN app for iOS and Android. You won’t have to worry about data usage, because the Opera service doesn’t impose any such restrictions. But note that while the connection is perfectly-suited for the task of gaining secure access to the web, its anonymisation capability is quite basic and devices can be identified uniquely through the device IDs allocated by Opera. Apart from this, you will have to manually activate the VPN before you can access the web securely, though this can be done by anonymisation tools.

Tier 2: Daily Use Of A VPN Always using a VPN connection to access the web doesn’t just ensure that the data is always encrypted. Such an arrangement also ensures

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Photo: Getty Images/kieferpix

Smartphone: Use the extra App


Almost half of those queried didn’t have an encrypted internet connection. This can be particularly harmful in situations involving insecure networks Yes

24 %

No

44 %

I don’t know what a VPN is

32 %

Source: GlobalWebIndex

Only a few are aware of the benefits of VPNs

Anonymity is what’s most important to VPN users

Making a decision about the origin of the provider and the data volume

31 %

Removing geo-protection from films

30 %

Using social networks worldwide

27 %

Surfing anonymously at the workplace

26 %

Communicating securely

25 %

Source: GlobalWebIndex

A third of the users use the concealment of IP addresses to surf the web anonymously and avoid personalised advertisements Always surfing anonymously

Using VPNs sporadically Do you want to quickly get online to check your account even though you’re using an unsecure public WiFi? If so, you should use the VPN service offered by the Opera browser. This service protects your

that you won’t be using a personalised IP address. Under such circumstances, you will receive fewer advertisements that are specifically geared towards you. Furthermore, you will even be able to circumvent the geo-blocks associated with certain web services.

data, but only if you use this specific browser. Other applications and their data are not protected by the VPN. If you want to protect those as well, you will have to use the tier-2 tools.

1 Free VPN tool The current Opera browser contains a free VPN solution. However, you should make sure you opt-out of the transfer of user data 1 during the installation process 2

2

Hidden setting You will first have to activate the virtual private network in the settings, before you can enable the feature with the click of a mouse button

If you’re going to be using a VPN on a daily basis, you should pay close attention to the manufacturer’s location when you’re selecting a VPN service. After all, depending on the country in question, the service providers may have to hand the log data over to the authorities. In the best-case scenario, the provider wouldn’t create any records at all. Avira is one such provider. However, the free version of the company’s VPN tool only offers a monthly data volume of 500 MB. Although this limit might be enough for mail retrievals, it definitely wouldn’t be able to handle a video download. The American company Windscribe (https://windscribe. com) is a good alternative, as it doesn’t create any logs and offers a data volume of ten GB per month. In fact, the coupon code ‘SOS60GBS’ makes it possible to reach 60 GB per month. You should go ahead and give the code a try now, because there’s no telling how long the provider will allow the code to remain valid.

Optimise network settings Both of these services offer a Windows client and the corresponding apps for iOS and Android. The set-up procedure is quite simple, but you will have to make a handful of important configurations. After the Avira Phantom VPN has been installed, you should access the ‘‘Settings” to deactivate the transfer of diagnostic data. Furthermore, the Windows version allows you to use the ‘‘Connect to VPN automatically in WiFi” point to specify the wireless networks in which Avira is automatically supposed to set up a secured VPN connection. Use the ‘‘Nearest location” point in the main menu to select the VPN server and you can now choose to circumvent geo-blocks by establishing a connection in a foreign country. The subscription-based version of Avira’s service is the only one that offers the convenient option of blocking all network traffic when there is no VPN connection. Alternatively, you can choose to go for the software known as Windscribe, which provides that feature for free. For Windows, you will be able to find this feature under the ‘‘Firewall” option in the Windscribe window. However, you will have to go a little deeper into the programme if you want Windscribe to set up a VPN link automatically. To do so, click the three lines in the main menu and select the ‘‘Settings” option. Go to the ”General” section and tick the ”Auto-connection to previous location” option. This feature is activated automatically on smartphones.

Tier 3: Get A Professional Solution

VPN use as the standard If you want to protect your entire system, you will have to install extra software. Such VPN programmes directly pick off the data stream heading towards the network card and send it to a VPN server in an encrypted form. If you want to use a setup like that for emails and more, you can go for the free Avira VPN tool, which offers free data volume of 500 MB per month.

Those who want even more can go ahead and use the US-based Windscribe service, which offers a data volume of 10 GB. Although the speed is at a reduced level, it manages to be adequate for things like HD videos. An even higher degree of performance and a much higher level of security against attacks are offered by tier-3 commercial solutions.

When it comes to tier 1, the encryption arrangement will ensure that you are well-protected against data attacks. In tier 2, a changeable IP origin enables you to bypass geo-blocks. However, true anonymity can only be attained at tier 3. But the unfortunate part of total anonymity is that you will have to make some compromises in the convenience department. You will also have to spend money if you want to use a professional VPN service. However, doing so ensures that nobody – not even an intelligence agency – will be able to trace your IP back to you.


2

1

Data protection With Avira VPN, you should first deactivate the transfer of diagnostic data 1 . You can then specify where 2 you want to get an IP address from

Set up an anonymous professional VPN service The Swiss ProtonVPN tool (protonvpn.com) provides secure and anonymous surfing. Its major advantage is that it logs almost no information whatsoever. This security comes with a subscription price from 5 to 30 euros a month (approx. RM24 to 144). You can even use the bitcoin crypto-currency to pay. In exchange for this fee, the data is channelled into the web through specially-protected servers. Furthermore, this arrangement doesn’t just involve the use of a single VPN, but two successively-tripped VPN networks. The ProtonVPN website offers a convenient software application for Windows as well. However, the set-up procedure is somewhat more complicated when it comes to iOS and Android. You will have to use the OpenVPN app instead, which can be found in the respective app stores. After the installation procedure has been completed, you will have to use a desktop PC to log into your ProtonVPN account and download a configuration file. To do so, access your account and go to the ‘‘Downloads” tab. Select the operating system and click the ‘‘Secure Core Config” option. Now, select the country from which you would like to receive an IP. Right next to this section is a download button that can be used to download the file. Send this file to a mail address that you can access on your smartphone. Open the file using the mobile phone’s mail app and select the OpenVPN app, which should then complete the configuration procedure. The final step now involves setting up the permanent connection. Under Android, you will have to do this by accessing the settings of OpenVPN and clicking the ‘‘Connect at device start-up” option. The app takes care of everything else. Under iOS, you will have to access the OpenVPN settings and activate the ‘‘Seamless Tunnel”, ‘‘Reconnect on wakeup” and ‘‘Layer 2 reachability” options. Due to the restrictions associated with the iOS operating system, the VPN connection might get interrupted in situations involving long stand-by periods or restarts. In that case, you will have to manually reestablish the connection.

VPN under Android When it comes to Android devices, you can ensure that a VPN connection is established automatically. The app then connects to the VPN provider in the background

VPN under iOS You will have to optimise the VPN tunnel settings of the OpenVPN app. The correct data settings will then provide you with an interruption-free connection to the VPN service of your choice

Use anti-snooping programmes Your IP isn’t the only thing that enables the authorities and various services to identify you. Identification can also be made using login data or an analysis of keystroke dynamics. You can prevent this from happening by using the virtual BitBox (cybersecurity.rohde-schwarz.com/ en/products/secure-endpoint/browser-box) browser. This browser launches in a virtual environment, which in turn means that the programme cannot access the main computer’s data. However, this feature has to be explicitly selected during installation. Once this has been done, you can go ahead and install the Keyboard Privacy plug-in, which can be found in the browsers’ respective plug-in stores. This addon relays your keystrokes to the website in conjunction with a random delay. This helps eliminate the possibility of identification through keystroke analysis. In addition, you don’t have to worry about the delay either as it’s in the millisecond range, which is enough to get the job done. Now, you just have to make sure you don’t log into accounts containing your real name. You can use a throwaway address like 10minutemail.com for logins that require a mail address. By doing all of the above, you can help ensure that you have web browsing anonymity, avoid personalised advertisements when you’re surfing and have a highly secure web connection.

Professional VPN solution If you want the best possible protection and a very high level of performance, you will have to use subscription-based tools. For example, ProtonVPN protects your devices with a twofold VPN. The service sends all the data via two

1

different VPN servers, which are spread throughout the world. Furthermore, since the company is headquartered in Switzerland, it doesn’t have to log any user data at all. However, all of this comes at a price.

2

Optimise data protection Before you start using the virtual BitBox browser, you should rule out data exchanges involving the host PC 1 . You should then deactivate the storage 2 of cookies.


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Deals In The Dark Criminals hide from authorities in the Darknet. With knowledge of advanced technology and a plethora of tricks, they continue to elude the authorities

I

t was the biggest controlled substance process in the history of the Ansbach police department and a blow to the illegal trade in Darknet. An exclusive search commission (EKO) had collected evidences for two months before coming down hard. Now, three Darknet dealers, three customers, kilos of material, a pill factory in the living room and a thriving drug delivery, will no longer operate on the Internet.

Fishing In Troubled Waters Using The QuickAction Method Hermann Lennert, 59, Department Head with the criminal police in Ansbach, narrates of how he deployed the EKO Darknet, a team of six men and women that also included an IT criminalist. All are wellversed with the Internet but only he is the real computer scientist, who trained to be a police enforcement officer in the quick-action method and can now examine confiscated data and computers. His

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expertise decides whether data can be used in court, were possible evidences deleted carelessly, or whether any of it has become unusable. He would also have to prevent an automatic selfdestruction of the computer in question. But the EKO cannot fight against Darknet with just that. A total of 39 kilograms or Amphetamine, 6.6 kilograms of MDMA, 30,000 Ecstasy pills and base materials were seized by the agents. In the weeks before the arrests, hundred kilos of drugs had to be sent to customers in Germany and the neighbouring countries. On the day of the arrests alone, 200 letters and seven packets were ready to be shipped - all drug deliveries which had been ordered via Darknet. Lennert hasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t dealt with such huge volumes before the case, but the success sends a clear message to the illegal Darknet business: You can hide as much as you want, but you will be caught in the end.

Photos i. UZS v. li. o.: Zollfahndungsamt Frankfurt am Main, Zollfahndungsamt Essen, Polizei Dortmund (2) Illustration Auto: Getty Images/Sergey Korotkih

By Felix Knoke


feature Investigation-tactical Silence The Darknet attracts criminals with its promise of anonymity and non-traceability. They use it to communicate without interruption and go about their dealings. Criminals and their organisations have already digitised entire areas of illegality. Drugs, weapons and presentations of child abuse are traded via Darknet forums, as well as vast volumes of stolen identities. ‘‘Slowly everything is being done only via Darknet,” said Officer Lennert of the Ansbach police department. There are even some spectacular cases like when the Hansa Market and AlphaBay (both Darknet forums), or the notorious Silk Route, were ousted by the police. In such forums, you will find everything in huge quantities and at bargain bin prices (see right). But if you wish to know how the investigations are carried out in detail, you will end up getting the silent treatment from the investigators. Reasons range from ‘‘for investigation-tactical reasons” to ‘‘we do not want to comment anything about it”. If the perpetrators find out what methods were used, then they could protect themselves better from being discovered. But this is not applicable for telephone monitoring that has a scope that is universally known - and yet many criminals still use the phone without hesitation? A pattern can be drawn when you look at all the cases in which a Darknet dealer was arrested again: Carelessness. More specifically, they are intelligent enough to know how to use the Darknet, but are not paranoid enough.

Anonymity As A Fragile Protective Armour ‘‘Most of the successful Darknet cases have several common points. There are always sellers, buyers, a communication medium like a forum, money transactions and shipment of goods. And all these points can be attacked by investigators,” explained Todd Shipley. Shipley, the chief of Vere Software, is an American developer for Forensic programs. Since he conducts courses for prospective Darknet investigators, he is very well-versed with real cases. He describes the anonymity of the Darknet as a fragile protective armour. A single gap, a single error and the armour will come crashing down. For investigators, this provides many options. They can sneak in as undercover agents in forums and structures to collect puzzle pieces, from which identities can be put together with the help of openly accessible sources - like forum nicknames, IP address and mail addresses or domain registrations. For example, the administrator of AlphaBay, a huge platform seized in July, made a catastrophic mistake by using an Email address that could be connected with his real name.

Inspecting Coincidence Between The Worlds Investigators often exploit the transition from the virtual to the physical world. Thus, they order drugs from a dealer, analyse the samples during packing or shipping and can monitor packing stations and dead letterboxes. Disguising the payments via Bitcoin itself yields nothing if criminals are not careful - at every step regarding - with the security of their operation. Besides that, Darknet forums can be manipulated and monitored with the help of ‘‘policeware”, which are government hacking tools. If there is information about Darknet, then known forensic resources are used to create fool-proof evidence chains, to connect the perpetrators and their crimes. Confiscated data from the other cases can lead to new procedures.

Bags with Amphetamine from the drug haul by the Ansbach investigators of the EKO Darknet. The powder was pressed into pill

Darknet Market AlphaBay Users 200.000

Turnover since 2014 1 billion dollars

Sellers 40.000

Disclosed consumers 10,000

Ads for drugs 250,000

Day of Shutdown 4th July 2017

….for weapons, skimmers, IDs 100,000

Confiscated From The Operator Lamborghini Aventador 335,000 Euro Porsche Panamera S 115,000 Euro Mini Cooper 16,400 Euro

Crypto-Currencies: 1,605.05 BTC Currently 5.7 million Euro 8.309,27 ETH Currently 2.1 million Euro 3.691,98 ZEC Currently 659,000 Euro

The Most Important Darknet Facts Portal users 2.71 million Darknet domains 47,000

51.5 percent of all illegal Darknet transactions run via 1 percent of all dealers

Illegal contents: 57 percent

Also, dealers often create unprotected lists with addresses of customers and partners, or don’t log out of their Bitcoin wallets and Admin interfaces promptly. This can also happen in some cases, which were not found in the Darknet earlier. Inspector Coincidence plays an important role here. But another important point is that most of the times, these are

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feature international cases that require cooperation between the authorities of many countries. ‘‘The problem of the jurisdiction is a point of dispute in almost all of these cases,” said Shipley. In other words, what is legal in one country may not be so in another. At the same time, the evidence or hints from one country could cripple the processes in another country.

Supermarket For Hacking And Malware

If investigators seize a Darknet market, visitors are greeted by a message that warns them to stay away

The Darknet market ‘AlphaBay’ before its shutdown. Deals here ranged from drugs and weapons to stolen identities

‘‘Investigators capture the clueless” Todd Shipley, CEO of Vere Software Data Forensic Scientist

How Darknet works >Darknet is usually denoted as a port network in which users can communicate with each other securely, meaning that both sides remain anonymous from each other. Basically, anyone who knows the addresses of the hidden services, can participate. >Internet services like Email, IRC or WWW can also be set up within Darknet and then can be accessed via ports. They are termed as hidden services and offer anonymity. >Darknet markets are hidden

services, often forums, where illegal goods are dealt. This includes drugs, weapons, pictures of child abuse, stolen identities and much more. > Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ether are used for payments. Dealers wash their profits with so-called tumblers that mix transactions of many users with each other and make it difficult to trace them. >Darknet is considered as one of the main threats of organised IT crimes, by Europol.

International collaboration is the big topic from Philipp Amann, chief of the strategy department in the European Cybercrime Centre of Europol (EC3). ‘‘We support colleagues in the operative domain and national investigation authorities with tactical and strategic hints, as well as informed political discussions.” The ECs, in this case, serves as a platform for information, cooperation and tools. For Europol, according to Amann, Darknet plays an important role as a ‘‘comprehensive forerunner” for online and offline criminal forms. Here, if you tackle sellers, buyers, forum administrators, hosting and VPN providers, as well as wallets and money exchange services, you can disturb entire criminal domains. This makes Darknet very interesting as a target. This will not work without cooperation - and the ability to cooperate - of the participating authorities. There is a need for international regulations regarding exchange of information, a better harmonised legislation and its uniform implementation, so that investigations do not stop at borders. For Europol, this is termed as Deconfliction. It is to eliminate such conflicts so that international proceedings do not come to a standstill through various permissions of the investigating authorities, such as when deploying undercover agents. ‘‘Lack of uniform guidelines is a general problem,” said Amann. A rogatory letter, for example, could take months - much to long for investigations in the fast-moving Darknet. ‘‘On a broader base, it needs knowledge and tools to be able to counter the misuse of Darknet,” he added. As an example, for need of regulations, the expert pointed to the Avalanche network, which is a type of dark Amazon in the Darknet where criminals offer malware and hacking workflow as ‘‘crime as a service”. To protect themselves from investigators, criminals use the Double-Fast-Flux technology - a procedure that is not prohibited through which DNS addresses can be changed. But should it be permitted? Amann and his colleagues do not see any ‘‘legitimate use case” and wish ‘‘to induce a rule change that could prevent its use”.

No Fear Against Virtual Criminal Activities A lot of cooperation and knowledge is needed to be a master of criminals in Darknet. But the discussion partners for this article did not seem overwhelmed. The Ansbach Chief of Police Hermann Lennert gives a reason, saying ‘‘Darknet does not scare me. I have been in the police for 40 years and have always seen new forms of criminal activities.” Virtual criminals have now become routine, so much that a two-week seminar is no longer enough to deal with the topic due to newer developments. It needs skilled people and profound competency, but criminal developments are always lagging behind, which was also the situation in case of telephone monitoring. And the old IT proverb is also applicable: Attacking is easy, but defending is difficult. And when it comes to the Darknet, the advantage is with the investigator.


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Intel Or AMD PCs At Every Range The old fundamental question has finally returned: Should the PC be integrated with an Intel or AMD CPU? We answer this question for diverse price classes Photos: CHIP Studios/Juliane Weber (Lead image): Manufacturer (products)

By Markus Mandau

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hich would you consider, AMD or Intel? A decade ago, this was almost a question of faith - until the underdog, AMD, effectively bowed out of the race for the best Desktop processor. Since then, processors of the Intel Core i series were unrivalled in terms of performance and PC makers were merely presented with a slightly modified new version year after year. The core setup of the Intel CPUs remained unchanged during that whole time, maintaining two cores for an i3, four for the i5 and the four cores with hyper-threading for the i7. Only the CPUs with the K suffix are overclockable and you obviously have to pay more for them. But since early 2017, the situation has changed drastically. AMD has brought its competitive Ryzen processors to the market and changed the technical rules of the game with it. The CPUs with the Ryzen 7 acronym come with eight cores and have mastered hyper-threading. In addition, all Ryzen CPUs can be independently overclocked without having to pay more for an â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;advancedâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; version. As a result, Intel had to

respond by creating a new series of performant processors under the acronym Core X.

The sweet torture of CPU selection All those who have toyed with the idea of putting together a new PC have to first make a choice: AMD or Intel CPU. The other components such as motherboard and fans are dependent on this answer. Only the casing, power supply unit, hard disk and graphics card remain largely unaffected by the above choice. Most of the time, budget is the only thing that is limiting the individual. In the following article, we present a design for an AMD PC in comparison with an Intel PC for each price class respectively. The range extends from robust office computers that cost less than RM2,000, to low-priced all-round PC and high-performance machine that will cover almost every user needs. Those left unfulfilled can look to our recommendations for High-End Desktop (HEDT). The HEDT concept

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feature targets prosumers, who require the biggest possible processing power for their profession or their hobby. With respect to the budget, we will discuss advantages as well as disadvantages of each of the AMD and Intel platforms, starting with the Office PC.

Economical Office Assistant The requirements of a PC for office work, web surfing and videos aren’t much of a burden when considering the efficiency of modern processors. At most, they are quickly used to their capacity while opening extremely big Excel documents. Therefore, other factors become more important when considering how to build such a PC. One of it would be size, as the PC should be as small as possible and be placed on a desk. For that purpose, the MicroATX form factor is recommended when it comes to the motherboard. The good news here is that you don’t need to set a high budget for a good office PC; around RM1,800 should more than suffice, without having to compromise on the quality of the components. Once, AMD had an advantage with economical processors, but that changed upon arrival of the new Pentium CPUs, which were introduced into the market by Intel together with Kaby Lake. These Pentium processors have two cores, but can process four threads using hyper-threading, so that their performance is almost equal to that of the more expensive Core i3. Even the integrated HD630 graphics unit is identical to the Core i3, except it operates at a lower clock rate. For the office PC, the most powerful Pentium G4620 is recommended, which is at the same position on the CPU leaderboard, with the lowest-end Core i3, the 7100.

Intel’s Pentium, a generation apart AMD’s A10-9700 is about the same as the price of the G4620 and certainly fits an AM4 motherboard just like the Ryzen processors. But it’s from the previous generation, which explains its poor performance values (see right). The CPU is not on equal footing with Intel’s Pentium and has inferior energy efficiency as well. This is because the A10 is manufactured in the old 28-nanometer procedure and not with the currently common 14nm. The G4620 as well as the A10-9700 support the current chipsets, Intel LGA1151 and AMD AM4, respectively. Affordable beginner boards of the MicroATX size are recommended for both, with options such as the ASRock A320M-DGS for AM4 and the MSI B250M Pro VD for LGA1151. These two provide all necessary standard connections such as DVI, USB 3.0 and LAN. For those who really want to, they can add a M.2 SSD to the board later. However, a medium-sized magnetic disc drive that can store 2TB of data makes more sense for everyday office use. It should be noted that the ASRock board does not support the fastest USB mode 3.1 Gen2, even though the function is directly integrated in to the AM4 chipset. Those who want it must top up more cash (estimated around RM300400) for a higher-end A320 motherboard. Being a lean case that will fit writing desks, the AeroCool CS-101 is a good option, as it can either lay down flat or be placed upright. However, you can’t use a normal power supply unit and must use a flat SFX model instead. For that purpose, the Inwin IPP300CN72HT with a power of 300 Watt ensures more than sufficient power supply. Those who would like to integrate a small PCIe graphics card later should go for a stronger and

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Micro PC on the writing desk Quiet and able to do almost everything except gaming, such office PCs can be built using reasonably priced CPUs

Office PC model A decent office PC can be assembled with a budget of around RM1,800. The Intel variant is slightly more power efficient Platform

CPU (Price approx.)

Pentium G4620 (RM428)

AMD A10-9700 (RM400)

boxed (FOC)

boxed (FOC)

Motherboard Price approx.)

MSI B250M Pro-VD Mikro-ATX (RM385)

ASRock A320M-DGS (RM225)

RAM (Price approx.)

Crucial Ballistix Sport LT 1x4GB DDR4-2400 (RM170)

Crucial Ballistix Sport LT 1x4GB DDR4-2666 (RM195)

Graphics card (Price approx.)

integrated (RM 0)

integrated (RM 0)

Hard Disk (Price approx.)

Seagate BarraCuda Compute 2TB (RM295)

Seagate BarraCuda Compute 2TB (RM295)

Casing (Price approx.)

AeroCool CS-101 (RM145)

AeroCool CS-101 (RM145)

Power supply unit Price approx.)

Inwin IPP300CN72HT 300W (RM220)

Inwin IPP300CN72HT (RM220)

RM1,815

RM1,480

Fan (Price)

Total price

CPU performance: Intel Pentium versus AMD A10 The power of the Pentium G420 is as good as the normal mid-range CPUs of the Core-i series. The A10-9700 stands no chance there PCMark 8 Creative Score (in points) Intel Pentium G4620

3,082

AMD A10-9700

2,127

Graphics performance: Intel Pentium versus AMD A10 AMD’s low-priced processors used to have an edge in terms of the graphics performance. But Intel’s new Pentium takes the lead even here 3DMark Cloud Gate Score (in points) Intel Pentium G4620

7,556

AMD A10-9700

7,104

Thanks to the floor bracket that is provided, the AeroCool CS-101 can also be placed on the writing desk


feature

Low-priced all-rounders

also more expensive power supply unit of around 400 Watt. Overall, Intel A PC with a four-core processor, SSD and good graphics card can effortlessly has the better platform for office use. However, this could change quickly deal with routine tasks and is good for occasional gaming as Ryzen APUs with integrated graphics are expected to appear soon. They are supposed to be more competitive against the Pentium G4620.

All-rounder PC model

A PC with good components costs and modern configuration costs around RM4,000. The CPUs by AMD and Intel are equally strong Platform

CPU (Price approx.)

Core i5-7400 (RM750)

Ryzen 3 1300X (RM560)

Fan (Price, approx.)

boxed (FOC)

boxed (FOC)

Motherboard (Price approx.)

ASRock B250 Pro4 (RM450)

GIGABYTE GA-AB350-Gaming 3 (RM450)

RAM (Price approx.)

Crucial Ballistix Sport LT 2x4GB DDR4-2400 (RM370)

Crucial Ballistix Sport LT 2x4GB DDR4-2666 (RM370)

Graphics card (Price approx.)

ASUS Dual GeForce GTX OC 1060-3G (RM1,190)

ASUS Dual GeForce GTX OC 1060-3G (RM1,190)

SSD (Price approx.)

Samsung SSD 850 Evo 500GB (RM800)

Samsung SSD 850 Evo 500GB (RM800)

Casing (Price approx.)

Sharkoon VS4-V (RM145)

Sharkoon VS4-V (RM145)

Power supply unit (Price approx.)

be quiet! Pure Power 10 400W ATX 2.4 (RM240)

be quiet! Pure Power 10 400W ATX 2.4 (RM240)

RM3,945

RM3,755

Total price

The GIGABYTE AB350 Gaming 3 has the new Realtek sound chip ALS1220, which is normally reserved for expensive motherboards

Mid-range CPUs: AMD and Intel at par At base clock speeds, both are in a head-to-head race. However, the Ryzen 1300X can still be overclocked, while the i5-7400 cannot Cinebench R15 i5-7400

548 points

Ryzen 3 1300X

555 points

PCMark 8 Creative Score i5-7400

3.412 points

Ryzen 3 1300X

3.356 points

Moderate PC For All Purposes There is probably at least one midrange PC in several households, because it’s relatively economical in price. At the same time, it has so much power that it can play modern games and run demanding software, such as Photoshop or video editing ones. For this category, we’ve set a reasonable price target of RM4,000. This budget must be sufficient for a good graphics card and an SSD, so that the limit for the CPU remains tight. We have decided to go for the strongest Ryzen 3, the 1300 X, and a moderate i5, the 7400. Both processors have four cores each, but are unable to execute multithreading. They perform similarly on our leaderboard, though the Intel processor scores a tad bit better. But the AMD processor can be overclocked, whereby it overtakes the i5 again in a few scenarios in terms of performance. The clock speed can be easily elevated using the Ryzen Master Tool in Windows, boosting it from 3.4 GHz to 3.8 GHz without the system losing stability. As the Ryzen 3 is cheaper by about RM190, you can use the savings to spend on other components. For example, the savings can be used to get a better graphics card or motherboard like the GIGABYTE GA-AB350Gaming 3. Besides having a socket for an M.2 SSD and two jacks that control the fast USB 3.1 Gen 2, the board has an excellent sound chip in the Realtek ALC1220, while the most other options will have a lower-end version of Realtek chip installed. The LED bar, which can be configured through software, also gives those into gaming some extra features. For instance, you can set the LED colour to change based on the CPU temperature. As for the Intel platform, we have to pick a more (for Intel) affordable option like the ASRock B250 Pro4. The ASRock limits itself to the normal USB 3.0, including a modern USB-C connection. It does have two M.2 sockets, although only one of them will supply the maximum speed. Having said that, an NVMe SSD for the M.2 is more of an upgrade option for the future, since current prices will easily overstretch the budget limit.

Install efficient components Within the strict limits that the budget has set for the all-rounder PC, an affordable SATA SSD makes more sense. A look at some of the top options shows that buyers do not really have much of a choice; the Samsung 850 Evo with 500GB of capacity is easily the most cost-effective SATA SSD. Even for the graphics card, there really isn’t a good alternative to Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1060 3G with 3GB video RAM, because no other graphics card can perform as well in the sub RM1,500 range. If you want one that can perform even better than it, you would have to at least fork out RM500 more. The sole disadvantage of the GTX 1060 3G is its comparatively low amount of VRAM, which makes gaming problematic at the highest levels of detail. The AM4 platform with the Ryzen processor is the better choice for an all-rounder PC. Not only will the AMD CPU perform as fast – if not better – as its Intel counterpart, but it also costs less. The AM4 platform

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feature here also has an integrated USB 3.1 Gen 2, while the LGA1151 one doesn’t; individual board manufacturers must integrate a chip if they want to add the feature. Its future upgradability speaks for AM4, as AMD wants to capitalise on this platform in the coming years, so that even the next Ryzen generation CPUs will fit into the sockets. On the other hand, Intel’s 8th generation Core i CPUs don’t work on Kaby Lake motherboards.

Drilled Power Machines For a home PC created to have strong performance, we have drawn the line at around RM8,500 for the budget, where both the eligible CPUs have a street price of about RM1,600. The Ryzen 7 1700 is collectively cheaper as the fan is included in the package, while Intel’s i7-7700K is sold without a fan, thus incurring additional costs. We have decided to go for the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Turbo, which dissipates a lot of heat when required, but isn’t too loud in normal operation. The CPUs by AMD and Intel each possess their own various strengths. Even though Intel’s best 1151 chip has four cores, they deliver much higher clock speeds of up to 4.5 GHz. Equally as expensive, the Ryzen 7-1700 comes with eight cores instead of four and performs significantly better than the 7700K in multi-core benchmarks. However, most games cannot max out so many cores, which is why Intel scores more points in this case. Still, this could change in favour of Ryzen in the future as Microsoft’s current gaming interface, DirectX 12, has better multi-core support incorporated, compared to earlier versions. DX12 is asserting itself too slowly for it to take a definite lead, however, despite it being the first choice for the development of graphically complex games due to its efficiency. For normal tasks on the PC, it hardly makes sense to install RAMs that run at higher speeds than what is actually supported by the platform – irrespective of compression and encryption. AMD Ryzen reckons that 2,666 MHz is enough, while 2,400 MHz is more than sufficient for Intel Kaby Lake systems. But if it’s for gaming, then having RAMs that run at more than 3,000 MHz can help squeeze out a couple more frames per second. Thus, we decided to pick memory modules with the appropriate speeds, taking overclocking compatibility into consideration.

Maximum performance on the Desktop Up to eight cores, high-speed RAM and a fast NVMe SSD ensure that the PC carries out challenging tasks speedily

High-end PC model Going high-end means you might need no less than RM8,500. The Core i7 scores with gaming, but AMD’s 8-core handles software more effectively Platform

CPU (Price, approx.)

Core i7-7700K (RM1,499)

Ryzen 7 1700 (RM1,599)

Fan (Price, approx.)

Noctua NH-U9S (RM240)

boxed (FOC)

Motherboard (Price, approx.)

ASUS ROG Strix Z270F Gaming (RM729)

MSI X370 Gaming Pro Carbon (RM900)

RAM (Price, approx.)

Corsair Vengeance 2x8GB DDR4-3200 (RM949)

G.Skill Trident Z 2x8GB DDR4-3000 (RM899)

Graphics card (Price, approx.)

GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 1080 G1 Gaming (RM2,899)

GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 1080 G1 Gaming (RM2,899)

SSD (Price, approx.)

Samsung 960 Evo 512GB (RM1,249)

Samsung 960 Pro 512GB (RM1,249)

Casing (Price, approx.)

Corsair Carbide 300R (RM345)

Corsair Carbide 300R (RM345)

Power supply unit (Price, approx.)

be quiet! Straight Power 10-CM 600W ATX 2.4 (RM420)

be quiet! Straight Power 10-CM 600W ATX 2.4 (RM420)

RM8,330

RM8,311

Total price

With the power of eight cores The Cinebench test upscales well on four cores, so the Ryzen eight-core fares much better than Intel’s four-core here Cinebench R15 (in Punkten) Ryzen 7 1700

1,406

Core i7-7700K

971

Strong fan The Noctua NH-U9S is a bulky fan, but cools so efficiently that the Core i77700K can be significantly overclocked

Tightly calculated: PCIe channels on the motherboard Fast memory and better graphics card As with the all-rounder PC, there is not much of a choice of graphics cards even in the high-end range. At the sub RM3,000 range, the already somewhat older Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 has the best price-performance ratio and allows for smooth gaming even at 4K resolution. As an alternative, we tried a crossfire solution using two AMD Radeon RX 580. The cost is approximately RM3,000, but this setup still doesn’t manage to reach the level of a GTX 1080 – unless they’re being used for special tasks, such as mining for cryptocurrency like Ethereum. Furthermore, this kind of setup requires a more powerful and expensive power supply unit. In regards to maximum performance, ambitious PC-makers should familiarise themselves with the PCI Express layout (see right) of both platforms, because when it comes to future upgrade, it can become quite tricky. The AM4 platform by AMD supports fewer PCIe connections, but has the advantage of having its M.2 slot connected directly to the CPU. Users can therefore plug a fast NVMe SSD, such as the Samsung 960 Pro, and enjoy maximum transfer capacity. Both platforms have support for

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PCIe lanes are required in order to connect fast SSDs (4 lanes) and graphics cards (at least 8). Having said this, the capacities are limited. With the AM4 platform, support for an SSD is present directly on the CPU

2x8 PCI Express 3.0

1x16 PCI Express 3.0

1 x16 PCI Express 3.0

oder 2x8 PCI Express 3.0 oder PCIe 3.0 x4 1x8 and 2x4 PCI Express 3.0

24x PCI Express 3.0

PCIe 3.0 x4

PCIe 3.0 x4

Intel LGA1151 Chip set

AMD AM4 Chip set

8x PCI Express 2.0


feature

Quad-core at the performance limit CPUs with ten cores and more, the best graphics card and the fastest SSDs in RAID add to the PC superlative

Design suggestions for the High-Efficiency Desktop Without a price limit, prosumer PCs easily cost over RM15,000 for the best PC components available. The 16-core AMD CPU makes a difference here Platform

CPU (Price approx.)

Core i9-7900X (RM4,269)

Threadripper 1950X (RM4,799)

Fan (Price, approx.)

NZXT Kraken X62 (RM759)

Noctua NH-U14S TR4-SP3 (RM340)

Motherboard (Price approx.)

MSI X299 Gaming Pro Carbon AC (RM1,954)

ASUS ROG Zenith Extreme (RM2,650)

RAM (Price)

Corsair Vengeance LPX 4x 8GB DDR4-3600 (RM1,650)

Corsair Vengeance LPX 4x8GB DDR4-3466 (RM1,650)

Graphics card (Price approx.)

Zotac GeForce GTX 1080 Ti AMP Extreme (RM3,699)

Zotac GeForce GTX 1080 Ti AMP Extreme (RM3,699)

SSD (Price approx.)

2x Samsung 960 Pro 1TB (RM3,220)

2x Samsung 960 Pro 1TB (RM3,220)

Casing (Price approx.)

Cooler Master MasterBox 5 (RM289)

Cooler Master MasterBox 5 (RM289)

Power supply unit (Price approx.)

Corsair RM850i (RM695)

Corsair RM850i (RM695)

RM16,535

RM17,342

Total price

Threadripper is the biggest Desktop CPU. It comes in one frame during the assembly and is subsequently folded on the motherboard

dual-GPU setups or two NVMe SSDs using RAID 0 configuration, but can’t do both simultaneously. For that kind of capability, HEDT chipsets by AMD and Intel are required.

The Desktop Maximum Of The Pros Prosumers are users who have professional needs when it comes to a computer. For such people, a processor of the High Efficiency Desktop (HEDT) category is required. Technically, these are CPUs that could handle server workloads, but are optimised to run consumer applications in normal PCs. The small but excellent target group of video and music producers to 3D artists has solely been the domain of Intel until now. But with AMD’s Threadripper series, the company now has a powerful competitor into the market. In size, the Threadripper is currently the biggest CPU that can be installed into a PC – this makes a new CPU holder necessary. The flagship Threadripper 1950X comes with a whopping 16 cores and 32 threads, compared to the Intel’s Core i9-7900X, which only has ten cores. AMD’s new prosumer-centric chip does extremely well in our benchmarks, though not every software can take advantage of the available 32 threads, unlike modern benchmark applications. For example, the 7-Zip packer is stretched to its limit and even the coding tool Handbrake is unable to completely utilise all 16 cores; the 3D programme Blender is one of the few that actually profits from the 32 threads. On the other hand, if a software uses only a few cores, the Intel CPU performs faster by virtue of its higher clock speed. However, tests have shown that the i9 processor can get extremely hot when running for long at overclocked speeds. In such cases, a water cooling system such as the Kraken X62 will be needed.

Complex configuration for the RAID operation

For the Threadripper, fans like the Noctua NH-U14 are needed to properly cover the entire chip

AMD versus Intel: Flagships in comparison The benchmarks of the strongest CPUs show that the 1950X is better equipped. But the i9 has the higher maximum clock speed 1950X

i9-7900X

Socket

Photos: CHIP Studios

Cores/threads

LGA2066

TR4

10/20

16/32

Basis/cycle

3.300 MHz

3.400 MHz

Maximum cycle

4.500 MHz*

4.200 MHz**

10/14

8/32

L2/L3-Cache (in MByte) PCI-Express-Lanes

44

60

RAM channels/bars

4/8

4/8

TDP 140 Watt *For max. 2 cores In case of more than 4 cores: 3,700 MHz

For the HEDT category, Intel’s LGA2066 and AMD’s TR4 offer more efficient platforms than the LGA1151 and AM4. They have essentially integrated more PCI Express lanes, which helps them operate dualgraphics cards and two fast NVMe SSDs in parallel. In practice, it isn’t that simple when it comes to LGA2066. This is because transfer rates of over 4 GB/s can only be achieved in RAID 0 configuration and it must run directly on the CPU in the ‘‘Virtual RAID on CPU” mode, which Intel has activated for the individual SSDs. For the Samsung 960 Pro we’ve selected, a PCIe extension card Hyper M.2 x16, which ASUS has only just introduced into the market, will be needed. On the other hand, an extension card for two M.2 SSDs that can be connected directly to the CPU as RAID 0 is already included with our Threadripper board. Both motherboards have the oversized EATX format and require suitable tower chassis like the Cooler Master MasterBox 5. For the power supply unit, the Corsair RM850i with 850 Watt should suffice for such high-end configurations, especially when factoring in the Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti. However, those who want to upgrade to two graphics cards later will have to choose a PSU with over 1,000 Watt. Overall, AMD is also currently the better choice when it comes to HEDTs. Intel’s intends to put the pressure on its competitor with its new 18-core processor, but it unfortunately costs nearly twice as much as AMD’s Threadripper 1950X.

180 Watt

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Doubling Your Battery Life The battery of your mobile phone will often run out too early for your liking, because Smartphones waste a lot of energy. Here‘s some tips on how to fine tune these power guzzlers

C

onnecting the phone to the charger is a mandatory daily activity for many and intensive usage even reduces the battery runtime to such an extent that charging the battery more than once daily becomes a necessity. This can often become stressful, especially when travelling, where charging options are scarce. Apart from that, a high amount of continual use reduces the service life of the battery, which is only designed for a limited number of charging cycles. Because batteries are permanently installed nowadays, getting them changed in old mobile phones is hardly worth the while, since a battery defect usually means an expensive new purchase. Let’s not get started on what these smartphones often like to run in the background with the scarce battery power left, which are often not to the advantage of the user. For instance, one thing it could be doing is monitors the user’s activities and sends data to Google & Co.

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Unfortunately, there is no individual, straightforward solution to all these problems. And indeed, the Internet is full of tips for runtime extensions. However, blindly following as many of these tips as possible doesn’t always mean it’s the best idea, as it could reduce the functionality of your device. Even optimisation Apps promising miracle cures seldom strike a good compromise, or worse - hide energy-consuming spyware within instead. If there is a general formula to save your battery in Smartphones, one could sum it up as follows: 1. Try to keep your display brightness as low and as brief as you can, since it’s easily the biggest battery drinker. 2. Deactivate all unnecessary hardware and software. The saving potential is tremendous as compared to poorly configured setups. For example, if you turn the automatic brightness function on, you can extend battery life by almost up to

Photo: Getty Images/martin-dm

By Christoph Schmidt


feature 70 percent (see top right diagram) more than if you have the brightness set very high. If you also minimise CPU activity and data transfers, a normal Smartphone can easily last for more than a day. Using Android 7.1.2 as the base, we will show you how to put this into practice (the names and menu options might differ slightly according to the version and manufacturer). The first section is about the display. We will be pointing out what constitutes an ‘‘unnecessary deactivation” in the sections below. The basic idea is the same for iOS as well.

Dark displays have almost double the runtime Our runtime tests simulate web surfing with various brightness settings. To economise here would really pay off Huawei Y7 (5,5"-LC-Display) 50 cd/m² (Living room lighting)

17:24 h

100 cd/m² (Artificial light)

15:57 h

200 cd/m² (Weak daylight)

13:47 h

554 cd/m² (Max. brightness)

Adjust The Display

9:04 h

OLED displays require less power if they display dark contents. Browser add-ons help you with this and can display websites with a bright font against a dark background

The display is the biggest energy consumer in mobile devices. This is why each milliwatt saved will extend overall runtime to significantly, more so as the size of the display increases. There are three modifiable factors that will cause the energy consumption rate to increase. The first is leaving the display on for too long; a high brightness level; and – depending on the technology – when the contents displayed are either extremely bright or extremely dark.

Display timeouts A display that is switched off requires no power, so it should be promptly switched off when not in use. You can configure a timeout under ‘‘Settings l Display l Standby mode”. A period of 30 seconds is suitable, especially if you select the ‘‘Screen lock” option under ‘‘Settings l Security” and set the ‘‘Lock automatically” option to 5 or 15 seconds. A prematurely switched off display can then be reactivated quickly without having to key in your PIN or password again.

Brightness in moderation The screen is often not bright enough in glaring daylight. But that same brightness level might be too bright in a living room instead and is a waste of battery power (see graph to the right). To alleviate this issue, most – if not all – mobile phones have an automatic brightness feature. If it doesn’t, you can activate it and test whether you can lower the variable brightness level via the slide control (‘‘Settings l Display l Brightness”). In most cases, around 33 percent is sufficient. For most devices, sliding down from the top of the device with one (or two consecutive) swipe(s) should reveal the aforementioned setting, allowing you to quickly adjust it if required. We also have an energy-saving tip for (AM)OLED displays, which is what most of the Samsung Galaxy and many other high-end mobile phones have. Since OLED displays generate the image through individually-lit pixels, a darker display is naturally more power efficient. Thus, consider selecting a black or dark wallpaper and dark display in Apps. For the latter, you can use the Firefox Addon ‘‘Dark Background and Light Text” to display websites with a bright font against a dark background. On the other hand, LCD displays use continuous background lighting, which requires a lot of power depending on the brightness setting, while darkening individual subpixels also need a bit of additional power. In that sense, a pure white or extremely bright image saves more energy, but the efficiency is way lower than black/dark contents on an OLED display.

Consumption analysis Which components and Apps have used up how much energy is described in detail by Android under Settings l ‘‘Battery”

These are the most energy-consuming Apps The software manufacturer Avast annually draws up a study of powerhungry Android Apps Apps operated upon system start

Apps started by the user

1

Samsung AllShare

Samsung WatchON

2

ChatON Voice & Video Chat

Google Docs

3

Samsung Push Service

Samsung Media Hub

4

Google TalkBack

SHAREit

5

Google Play Music

Video Editor

6

Google Maps

Flipboard

7

Google Play Kiosk

Google Test-to-Speech

8

Google Plus

Clean Master

9

ChatON

LINE: Free Calls & Messages

10

Hangouts

Adobe Acrobat Reader

Source: Avast Android App Performance & Trend Report, 1st quarter 2017


feature

Analyse Apps Some Apps are notorious energy guzzlers, as shown by the software producer, Avast, in an annual study (see previous page). A list under ‘‘Settings l Battery” will show you which Apps and components use up most of the energy. The display is usually at the top of this list – notwithstanding the optimisations mentioned above. It is then followed by the Android OS, the standby mode and the system (hardware). Even Google Play services often emerges at the top. The consumption share of all these points can only be lowered via the some general data and GPS adjustments (see below). Intensively used and demanding Apps such as Browsers, Videoplayers, Navigation Apps or games may claim 5 percent or more of the capacity. However, if you find simple apps eating up a lot of battery as well, then background activities are to blame. In that case, you should deactivate those App functions in the settings such as Synchronisation and Location features. With ad-supported free Apps, it could help to buy their ad-free version, since it then ensures it no longer tries to load and show you animated advertisements. Otherwise, replace the App with another one. The open-source App store f-droid.org is a good source for practical and streamlined Apps. If the culprits are pre-installed system Apps, such as those by Samsung in the Avast study (see p. 81), you can still deactivate them. To do that, click on ‘‘Settings l Apps”, then on ‘‘Force Stop” and ‘‘Deactivate”, then click the warnings away.

The maps and navigation App OsmAnd (above) can use huge, preinstalled offline maps and Wikipedia information instead of online data, which saves transmissions in the process. This in turn results in energy being saved

The Opera browser reduces data transfers and the requirement for energy by scaling down images on a proxy server

Shut down unnecessary hardware

Switch hardware quickly You can go to the Quick Settings section on Android by double swiping from above into the display

Some hardware components in the mobile phone require power, although they are not actively used. Bluetooth and Wi-fi modules will actively look for devices or wireless networks, even if no known modules are within reach. This means that the device will keep using power when doing so. The same issue applies to the GPS module, which can be used for energy-intensive position sensing. In order to save energy, switch off everything that is not needed at the moment. Having said that, if you’re mostly using WiFi at home and at work, deactivating WiFi on the way to work is not worth it. Deactivating it only makes sense if you are away and lack WiFi connection and a place to charge your phone. You should avoid the ‘‘Keep Wi-fi on during sleep” option, which maintains the default setting at

Saved too much: Harmful and pointless tips In the process of running tests for this article, we found out that some energy-saving tips could render the mobile phone almost unusable. > The energy-saving App, Greenify (Screenshot on right) sends other Apps into deep sleep, which thoroughly increases runtime. But in our test, the alarm rang only after we manually unlocked the mobile phone. This overeagerness can be particularly difficult to bring under control. Moreover, the App can only function at its best with root rights; casual users are better off without the App 064

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> The developer options by Android enable in-depth system changes, many of which help save up energy. They are activated when you click on the ‘‘Build number” entry under ‘‘Settings l Via the phone” multiple times until the Activate option appears. It is safe to set the developer options ‘‘Window scale” and ‘‘Transmission options” as well as ‘‘Animator time” to ‘‘Off”, but the savings potential is low. On the contrary, if you reduce the ‘‘Background processing limit” option, it saves energy and enables smooth operation of old devices, but some

things will suddenly stop functioning. > For charging phones, there are risky tips that are being circulated: For instance, that one should never charge the battery to a full 100%, in order to increase the battery life. Actually, the charge curves are tuned such that the battery is carefully charged to a level that is optimal for you before the charging electronics shut down.


feature ‘‘Always”. Having this on means that the mobile phone will constantly restore the WiFi connection every time the phone is unlocked in a rather lengthy procedure, which in itself takes up energy and extends the (inactive) time with an activated display. Bluetooth should also remain switched off, as long as it is not connected to any device. The mobile phone needs the GPS only if you need it for navigation. With other Apps that need your location like Uber, you can even enter your location manually. In areas with edge or 2G reception, or if the highspeed data volume is not available, you can save a few percent of battery life by using the 2G service of the mobile phone network by going to (under ‘‘Settings l [Wireless & Networks] … More l Cellular network settings / Preferred network type = 2G”. You can activate and deactivate the other hardware components via the Quick Menu settings (swiped down twice from the top in the display). Other battery guzzlers are the vibration alarm and the haptic feedback while typing, which is generated by an electric motor. The former can be deactivated by going to ‘‘Settings l Sound l Also vibrate for calls”, while the latter’s setting is found in the sub-menu ‘‘Other sounds / Vibrate on tap”.

In the energy-saving mode, background activities are somewhat limited. But when it is automatically activated, battery runtime increases drastically

Photos: Motorola, Anker, IKEA (v. o. n. u.)

Battery-sparing usage How the mobile phone is used in daily life can significantly affect battery runtime. Whether you need to recharge daily or only every other day, could easily be determined by the use of the flight mode. If this mode is switched on at night, the mobile phone barely requires power, as it does not collect and process any new data (messages, updates, etc.). You can also use the energy-saving mode to deactivate several background activities. Although doing these impacts user convenience, it can help to squeeze out those last minutes of runtime when you’re running low on battery; the earlier it is active, the longer the mobile phone can run. To use it, click on ‘‘Settings l Battery l Battery saver and performance”, and set ‘‘Automatic batter saver: 25%”. There are many that suggest to end unused Apps or to use a ‘‘Task killer” to save energy as well. However, this is rather counterproductive when it comes to Android, because an App that lies dormant in the main memory requires a lower amount of energy, while deactivating the App requires a restart. It is more energy-efficient to let Android manage the Apps. Furthermore, it is effective to switch off energy-consuming operating system features. An example is the automatic upload of photos to Google Photos, which costs energy and data volumes, depending on the setting. You can deactivate this in the menu of the ‘‘Photos” App under ‘‘Settings l Secure and synchronise”. Another feature, which is seldom used but always requires energy nevertheless, is the voice input of Google Now, which always keeps the microphone active and analyses whether the ‘‘OK Google” command is uttered. In order to deactivate this, open Google App and click on ‘‘Settings l Language l ‘‘OK Google” identification” in the menu and deactivate the ‘‘Via the Google App” and ’’On every screen” options. If you feel you’re still not getting enough runtime in spite of all the tips, you can upgrade your user setup with a handful of inexpensive USB devices and cables that can be placed at home, in the office or in your car (12 –V USB adapter), possibly supplemented by a powerbank. This may be the most expedient option, rather than overshooting the mark with all the optimisations.

You should go to the system for termination of Apps, as it is the one way to ‘‘properly” end the Apps

A powerbank can be the last resort on the go, as it can completely charge a phone multiple times. Big models also cater to Notebooks via ‘‘USB Power Delivery”

Charging stress might soon come to an end, but only if more mobile phones start supporting wireless charging by means of the Qi standard. Imagine having all these charging stations installed inside cafes, cars and you’re your furniture


cover story

Vulnerable Android Android users are targets for the cyber mafia, as the open platform makes it easier for criminals to infiltrate malware. Google has taken steps against this and to show how you can protect yourself By Andreas Th. Fischer

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cover story Android security risk From the point of view of safety experts, Android is especially interesting for hackers. This is due to the fact that Google has created a comparatively open platform, on which it is easier to implant malware than on an iOS device. Apple runs a more restrictive policy and separates Apps from each other via sandboxing. This is why iOS is basically the more secure system of the two. However, this division leads to even security solutions by renowned providers of being unable to access other Apps under iOS, which in turns makes it hard for them to identify and remove malware. An antivirus institute has pointed out in a security report that the development of malware for mobile platforms other than Android is "simply not worthwhile." The amount of malware for the Google system has doubled from 2015 to 2016 and it has continuously been on the rise in 2017, as displayed in the graph on the following page. In August 2017, the institute had already discovered more than 22 million Android malware since it began counting in the year 2011. Contrary to this, the proportion of malware for iOS and Windows Mobile in the overall development is "still under representable percentage quantities," said the security researchers in their annual report.

Infected Apps In The Play Store But where does the malware come from? The most frequent propagators are manipulated websites, which exploit a security loophole that has not yet been closed and secretly install a malware virus, spam mails and their infected attachments as well as malware that the users themselves download from the App Store – all because of one visit using a mobile browser. Cases with dangerous Apps, which actually occurred in the official Google Play Store, are now coming to public attention too. For instance, in-house security researchers of the search machine giants removed about 20 Apps infected with spyware from the Play Store in mid-2017. Among those are espionage Apps from the Lipizzan family that are capable of stealing SMSes, emails and photos, among other data. However, there are less than a hundred phones around the world that have been infected by it. At least that is what Google claims.

Photos: Getty Images/Blablo101 (Aufm.); Hersteller

Downloaded a million times

U

nder Windows, the installation of antivirus software is an everyday occurrence. Only a few people have the courage to forego it. The situation appears different – as of now – with smartphones. By way of comparison, only a few mobile phone users have installed software for protection against malware. This could have negative effects, however. Modern Smartphones are now in the crosshairs of cyber criminals, because more users have started saving personal data on their phones and are using the gadgets for online banking, or to make payments with their credit card.

In contrast, an employee at the Kaspersky Lab detected a malware in Play Store, which was hidden inside several Apps and is supposed to have already been downloaded more than a million time. According to Kaspersky, the Trojan named Ztorg was used as a malicious code and criminals ran a very nasty trick with it. They promise money or points, upon installing certain other Apps, to the users of originally harmless Apps. Many of those who fall for this spurious proposition have then downloaded a dangerous Trojan on their Smartphone. Even the safety provider Lookout warned about approximately 4,000 espionage Apps that it had detected. A part of it appeared in the official Play Store, disguised as allegedly harmless messenger Apps. The number of times they were downloaded is believed to be in four figures.

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cover story Evolution of Android malware In the past years, the number of malware for Android that has been traced has sharply increased upwards. Currently, the number of new malware programmes is increasing by half a million every month 25 Mio.

20 Mio.

SOURCE: AV TEST INSTITUTE

15 Mio.

10 Mio.

5 Mio.

0

08/2013 02/14 08/14 02/15 08/15 02/16 08/16 02/17 08/2017

1

2

Criminals behind the Hiddad malware group use another kind of trick. In this case, they copy unfamiliar Apps with functions interesting for the user, package them anew, attach their own malicious code and then upload them as new Apps in third-party stores. Many of these alternative providers have lower safety barriers than the official App sources. According security experts, the Hiddad malware is mainly used to display advertisements and bring in money for its creators, without them having to really put out any special creative effort of their own. But it is only a matter of time before even that malware becomes capable of other things. At this rate, it should already be in a position to steal personal data and to extract it.

Caution with new Apps The examples show that the installation of Apps from an allegedly secure App store is not a guarantee that there are no hidden functions or another malicious code inside these Apps. Even if a majority of the offered Apps are benign by far and at least do not intentionally cause damage, Android users must still exercise caution while installing Apps and not try out more or less free offers. When it comes to security, less is often more.

Danger Of Android Malware

Nasty trick Criminals implant malware onto other people’s Smartphones using an especially nasty trick. 1 Allegedly harmless Apps promise the user a reward for installing other Apps. 2 The new software contains a trojan

Danger through alternative stores In Android, you can permit the installation of Apps from unknown sources, which sounds very appealing. These are Apps, which are generally nowhere to be found in the official Google Play Store. Sometimes, these could also be applications, which are fee-based in the official store and are supposedly free of cost in a third party provider store. However, it is not uncommon for these Apps to be illegal copies, which are infected with malware in some cases. Many third party

068

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provider stores do not have the means that Google has to identify dangerous features and to remove the corresponding Apps from their repository. This is why cyber criminals prefer using these Apps to spread applications infected with malware. As per an investigation carried out in 2015 by G Data, up to 25 percent of the Apps from the third party provider stores are infected with malware, or at least with unwanted functions.

Android users are not just facing a problem with one particular type of malware. Instead, they also have to deal with spyware, adware, Trojans and more. There’s also the mobile equivalent of the ransomware that are running rampant under Windows, called lock screen malware. According to a survey by AV test, the spyware family ‘Agent’ was the most active in the year 2017. This malware mostly spread via infected websites, then secretly sets up a backdoor on the Smartphone, steal personal data and sends expensive SMSes – naturally at the expense of the mobile phone owner. The Trojans of the Shedun family are also particularly nasty, landing on third place of the AV test statistics. They gain access to the supposedly barrier-free function of Android, then make use of them to spy on the data displayed on the screen and to persuade the user to click on buttons that have been manipulated and on advertising banners. The Shedun example shows that the main concern of cyber criminals today is how to rake in a lot of money with minimum effort. Simply doing damage or deleting data isn’t that big of an objective for them anymore.

On the hunt for money It’s all about the money even for the agents of the BankBot category of malware. Banking trojans camouflage themselves as completely functional Android games in the Play Store, but which actually include hidden malicious codes. Security researchers at ESET have already traced agents of BankBot in the Play Store several times and have subsequently had them removed from Google. The latest variant discovered only in September masquerades as the Jewels Star Classic game. It has supposedly been downloaded over 5,000


cover story

Top 10 Android malware of 2017 Security researchers have already netted several million new malware variants in 2017

SOURCE: AV TEST INSTITUTE

times before it could be removed. About twenty minutes after installing the manipulated game, the malware fades in a persuasive remark about an alleged "Google service”, which the user is supposed to install. The criminals have even made up license conditions that the user must nod through in order to give it the legitimacy of a certificate. In the following dialogue, the malware requests for very extensive permissions, which enables it to secretly install other malicious codes, and steal and extract data. Furthermore, it can manipulate financial transactions and steal credit card data. As already mentioned, ransomware has only appeared relatively rarely on Smartphones. However, the damage can be devastating when it strikes. For example, the extortionist malware called Lockscreen literally locks your screen, then demands for ransom money for the release of the device. Apart from that, Lockscreen also proves that criminals are continuously refining their malware. The first discovered agents had a fixed PIN, which could be used to unlock the affected mobile phone. This PIN could be traced by security researchers in the programme code of the malware, but more recent versions could no longer be outwitted as easily. Even worse is that Lockscreen has evolved, now capable of obtaining root rights and secretly change the configuration of the Smartphone.

Name

Number

Description

Agent

1,320,343

Spyware, which spies on and steals personal data

Lockscreen

355,994

Ransomware, which blocks the screen

Shedun

345,477

Trojan, which inserts ads and steal data

Triada

165,280

Trojan, which particularly hides in the RAM

Boogr

124,746

Trojan, which secretly steals data

Congur

117,194

Smforw

67,471

Trojan, which secretly steals data

Fakeapp

63,142

Trojan, which steals data and inserts ads

Smsspy

60,737

Malware, which intercepts and redirects incoming SMSes

Fakeinst

52,534

Trojan, which sends expensive SMSes

Ransomware, which changes the access PIN of the phone

1

2

More Security For Android The described malware would not be so successful if it were not for Android Smartphones with outdated operating systems. According to a survey carried out by Google at the beginning of September 2017, only 1.6 percent of Android mobile phones are currently equipped with version 7.1 (the latest version at the time); at least 14.2 percent still had version 7.0 installed. The remaining 84.2 percent are operating with older operating systems and normally have very few chances of getting current security updates.

Multi-level attack by banking trojan

Oreo brings improvements – only one problem persists

BankBot gains access to the system in multiple steps. 1 First, the malware disguises itself as a Google service. 2 Then, it attempts to steal credit card data

With the launch of Android version 8.0, Codename Oreo, things are no different. There are an increasing number of devices that are estimated to receive the Oreo update, but that number obviously doesn’t include a lot of older devices. In addition, there are many manufacturers that are still trying to familiarised themselves with the new operating system. Even though they promise an update, it is often only for the flagship models. Owners of older mobile phones are always left out. Here, some of the new features that have been announced are also interesting for many users in terms of the security aspect. Google especially plans on tackling the update problem with Project Treble. This part of Oreo should continue to ensure that hardwarespecific drivers and firmware are no longer directly related to the operating system. As a result, Google can stop holding back on any new patches until the manufacturers can guarantee the compatibility with their hardware. This in turn means that the manufacturers will be able to roll out updates much faster. In this way, it might even be possible for Smartphones to receive updates

Security loopholes in Android Just by watching an apparently harmless video is enough for an Android user’s Smartphone to be infected with malware. For the last several years, Google has been trying in vain to find and close all the security loopholes in the media framework of Android, which is necessary for the presentation of video files. The company had to release a series of patches in late 2017, which were supposed to seal critical security gaps. Apart from the media framework, even the Android

accessibility functions have been the target of criminals time and time again. These accessibility services are actually supposed to simplify the operation of Smartphones for physically handicapped people. However, hackers exploit this technology to spy on screen contents, imitate them and modify user entries. The latter method is called Clickjacking and is used for soliciting advertisements without the knowledge of the user.

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cover story that are no longer supported by the manufacturer in the future. However, even in this case itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll be for mobile phones that have the Oreo update, meaning that currently outdated models will not benefit from these improvements.

Division of Android systems As per evaluations of Google, approximately every seventh Smartphone was equipped with an up-to-date operating system version at the beginning of September 0.6 % Version 2.3.3 to 2.3.7 Gingerbread

0.6 % Version 4.0.3 to 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich

15.8 % Version 7.0 to 7.1 Nougat

Lower scope for attack

22 % Version 4.1 to 4.4 Jelly Bean/KitKat 28.8 % Version 5.0 to 5.1 Lollipop

1

SOURCE: STATISTA

32.2 % Version 6.0 Marshmallow

2

Updates mean more security The more updated Android is, the more secure the system. 1 But only 1.6 percent of all Android mobile phones have the current version 8.0.0. 2 The new Google Play Protect protects against malware

In the media framework of Android, Google has already had to repair several critical security gaps

Another significant measure to continuously increase the security under Android is a segmentation of important components from each other. This allows the system to easily restrict security loopholes and minimise the scope of attacks. Even severe incidents such as Stagefright are said to have been prevented in the year 2015 using such a method. At that time, there were companies that momentarily reacted by restricting the MMS service in order to protect its users. Google, however, claims that the loophole has never been exploited in practice. Regardless, Stagefright was a huge PR loss to the company and must not be repeated. In addition to this, Oreo includes what is called the Seccomp filter. This should be useful in limiting unwanted and dangerous system call right at the core. Apart from that, Oreo is expected to continuously prevent malware form misusing the barrier-free functions of Android and from manipulating buttons, among many other features. Other measures planned in Oreo ought to restrict installation of infected Apps from the Play Store and stores from third parties. The user must explicitly release every installation of an unknown App in the future. With this, Google has said its goodbyes to the ''All or nothingâ&#x20AC;? principle that was valid before. The company will also block annoying pop-up windows henceforth, which is another avenue through which criminals use to force payments. With Oreo, Apps no longer gain any access to system alarms used for this purpose.

Outlook And Immediate Measures Until now, the installation of Oreo has been allowed on only a small number of Pixel Smartphones. However, the major mobile phones of big manufacturers are expected to get the Oreo update in the coming months. It will probably take years before a majority of Android users benefit from the new functions. But until that stage is reached, users need to ensure that they exercise caution before trying out new Apps on their Smartphone and that they install a modern antivirus solution for Android. To provide a list of good security suites on the market, the AV test institute has tested the ones available for Android in the areas of protective function, usability and other functions. On the whole, there were no glitches. However, in our evaluation, we tried our best to highlight even the slightest of shortcomings, such as those found in Kaspersky.

Play Protect: Protection for old Android systems The installation of Android Apps of unknown origin should not be easily activated

With Play Protect, Google has at least developed a new safeguard that is available to many users of old Android Smartphones as well. It has extended its security verifications, which it already runs in the in-house Play Store, to the mobile phones of end users. With Play protect, all installed Apps, even those from the third-party provider


cover story stores, are verified and removed if and when necessary. Google has provided a lock even for downloading the code through an App, which must now be unlocked by the user each time. However, it’s safe to assume that cyber criminals will also come

up with new tricks to worm themselves in or to provoke unassuming Android users into installing malware, so users should never drop their vigilance in this respect.

The vexing update question One of the biggest security problems in Android is the inadequate supply of patches by Google as well as by Smartphone manufacturers. They would rather bring out new Smartphones than update old mobile phones with the current software. Also, the new Android version, Oreo, is now in the market. Many manufacturers are holding back information, so we still don’t have a confirmed number on how many devices will get the update. Of course, Google devices like the Pixel Smartphones by Google as well as the Nexus 5X

1

and 6P are supposed to receive the Oreo Update. HTC has also announced an update for the 10, U11 and U Ultra models. OnePlus plans on updating its 3 and 3T devices, while ASUS has announced an update for its Zenfones 3 and 4. On the other hand, Samsung will be providing the update to its S, J and A series devices.

2

Antivirus software for Android The AV test institute has tested antivirus programmes for Android. 1 The scanner by Sophos could identify current malware at 100%. 2 The software by Kaspersky experience a clear dip in the CHIP evaluation due to minor shortcomings.

Performance (30 %)

False alarms (10 %)

99.9

99.8

100

100

99.6

100

98.5

99.0

94.9

Usability: 3rd-Party Apps

ӑ/ӑ/ӑ ӑ ӑ ӑ ӑ •

100 %

100 %

99.0 %

0.2 % 0.2 % 0.2 % 2.1 %

100 %

100 %

26,0,5,cf469a72

100 %

100 %

96.8 %

0.3 % 0.2 % 0.3 % 0.1 %

100 %

100 %

3,2,94,177

100 %

100 %

90.6 %

0.0 % 0.0 % 0.0 % 0.2 %

100 %

100 %

1,4,0,505

99.9 %

99.9 %

96.4 %

0.0 % 0.0 % 0.0 % 1.4 %

100 %

100 %

3,1,11,4

100 %

77.8 %

0.2 % 0.0 % 0.2 % 0.0 %

100 %

100 %

3,20,0,3291

100 %

98.6 %

1.1 % 0.8 % 1.3 % 3.3 %

100 %

100 %

38025

Tested version

Usability: Google Play Apps

100

CPU-Last: idle

7,0,2288

CPU-Last: PDF

37743

100 %

CPU-Last: Video

100 %

100 %

CPU-Last: Web

Identification of potential unwanted programmes

100 %

0.1 % 0.0 % 0.0 % 0.7 %

Data backup

0.0 % 0.0 % 0.0 % 0.0 %

100 %

Parental Control

99.8 %

100 %

Safe-Browsing

100 %

100 %

Message-Filter

100 %

100

• / •/ • ӑ • ӑ • • ӑ/ӑ/ӑ ӑ ӑ ӑ ӑ •

Call Blocker

Identification of Android malware – Real-Time

97.8 15.95*

Identification of Android malware

Antiy AVL Sophos Mobile Security G Data Internet 3 Security BitDefender Mobile 4 Security 5 Tencent WeSecure AhnLab V3 Mobile 6 Security Symantec Norton 7 Mobile Security Trend Micro Mobile 8 Security McAfee Mobile 9 Security Kaspersky Lab Internet 10 Security for Android

Anti-Theft (RemoteLock/RemoteWipe/Locate)

Identification (60 %)

1

2

Overall rating

Price (Euro)

CHIP TOP 10: ANTIVIRUS PROGRAMMES FOR ANDROID

96.7 9.99*

96.8

95.6

100

94.3

90.6

99.8

100

93.3

89.6

98.4

100

ӑ/ӑ/ӑ • • ӑ • • • / •/ • ӑ • ӑ • ӑ ӑ/ӑ/ӑ ӑ • ӑ • •

93.3 29.99*

90.0

97.6

100

ӑ/ӑ/ӑ

ӑ • ӑ • ӑ

100 %

92.0 19.95*

98.0

77.3

100

ӑ/ӑ/ӑ ӑ ӑ ӑ ӑ •

100 %

87.6 29.99*

87.8

83.0

100

ӑ/ӑ/ӑ ӑ • ӑ • ӑ

100 %

100 %

83.2 %

0.7 % 0.2 % 0.8 % 6.4 %

100 %

100 %

4,9,1,440

87.2 14.95*

78.8

99.8

100

ӑ/ӑ/ӑ

ӑ ӑ ӑ • •

99.8 %

99.9 %

85.8 %

0.0 % 0.0 % 0.0 % 0.0 %

100 %

100 %

11,13,4,835

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071

* Price of the tested version includes in-App purchases

Excellent (100 – 90.0) Good (89.9 – 75.0) All ratings in points (max. 100) ӑ yes • no

Satisfactory (74.9 – 60.0)

Average (59.9 – 45.0)

Not advisable (44.9 – 0)

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test lab

TEST LAB: The Tools Here at the CHIP Test Labs, we adhere to the high requirements set by the CHIP International Testcenter standards. This means that everything here -- from our own personal knowledge and to our trusted tools of the trade -- are meant to provide the most optimised, unbiased and comprehensive review to every product that comes through our doors. As thus, our test bed tools are specifically picked to get the most out of every test we perform

Intel Platform Motherboards Intel DZ77GA-70K MSI Z87 MPower

Processors Intel Core i7-3770K Intel Core i7-4770K

Graphics Processing Unit MSI GeForce GTX 980 GAMING 4G

CPU Cooler Cooler

Power Supply

Memory

Cooler Master Silent Pro Hybrid (1300W)

Kingston HyperX HX424C15FBK4/16

Western Digital Black² Dual Drive Western Digital My Book Live Duo

Motherboards ASUS Crosshair V ASUS A88X-Pro

Graphics Processing Unit ASUS Radeon R9 290X

Processors

CPU Cooler

AMD Ryzen 7 1700

Cooler Master Hyper 212 Turbo

Cooler Master Hyper 212 Turbo

PSU, Storage & RAM

Storage

AMD Platform

Benchmark Software Operating System Windows 10 Pro (64-bit)

Futuremark PCMark 10 3DMark

Industry Standard Benchmark Tools AIDA64 SiSoftware SANDRA Speccy Unigine Heaven

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test lab

TEST LAB 13

4

6 12

2 1

5 10

9

8 14

074

3

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test lab

CONTENTS 15

1 2 3 4 5 6

7

7 8 9 10 11 12 13

11

14 15 16

082 083 084 085 086 087 088 089 090 091 092 093 094 095 096 097

ASUS FX503V ASUS ROG Strix Z370-I Huawei Mate 10 ASUS XG27VQ vivo V7 MSI Z370 GODLIKE GAMING D-Link DAP-1325 Sony WH-1000XM2 Logitech M720 Triathlon Logitech G610 Orion Blue Epson EB-X41 Acer Predator Tritron 700 BenQ ZOWIE XL2546 iKANOO K5 Brook X One Adapter Sony WI-1000X

CHIP Awards CHIP Editorsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Choice Award

Ratings Each product review is rated on a scale of 1 to 5 for different key parameters:

Awarded to products that receive unanimous endorsement from all CHIP editors for its overall brilliance

CHIP Outstanding Award Reserved for products that combine astute technical performance with good quality and design

CHIP Recommended Award Given to products that possess singular quality worthy of a recommendation

PERFORMANCE : Refers to the efficiency of execution FEATURES : Rates the abilities and unique characteristics available DESIGN : Varies according to product. Finished products - form factor and build quality. Hardware components - layout, size and cooling solution. Software - user interface VALUE : Calculated from the performance and features of the product in relation to the price

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first looks

Be The White Mice Gaming mice comes in different shapes and sizes, but usually they come in black. However, BenQ ZOWIE is determined to be different by releasing a special white edition of the FK & ZA series. Following the massive following and high praise of the EC White series, you can now purchase the FK1, FK1+, FK2, ZA11, ZA12 and ZA13 in Glossy White. In addition, you are now spoiled with different size choices to fit your hand. The mice can be used for both right and left-handers, and is your perfect gaming companion. It is also driverless, allowing you to plug and play almost anywhere. BenQ ZOWIE Special Edition White Series FK & ZA Mouse Contact: BenQ Service & Marketing (M) Sdn Bhd Phone: (03) 7954 7800 Info: www.benq.com.my

Be One With The Elites The Jabra Elite 25e is Jabraâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s latest wireless pair of in-ear headphones to be used on the go or in the office. According to Jabra, it can last up to 18 hours with a single full charge, allowing you to listen to your tunes everywhere you go all day. The Elite 25e is also water-resistant and can operate in temperatures ranging from -10 degrees to 50 degrees. For office calls, you can use the built-in microphone and with intuitive audio control, you can easily have access to calls or redials. The neckband of the 25e will vibrate whenever you have a call, alerting you without needing you to turn your phone. Jabra Elite 25e Contact: Advance Digital Solutions Sdn Bhd, Ingram Micro Sdn Bhd Phone: (03) 8076 4833, (03) 7952 8084 Info: www.jabra.com

Ultimate Speaker For Parties Sony recently unveiled their latest high-powered audio system, the MUTEKI MHC-V90DW, a colossus of an audio system 170cm tall! It is also equipped with party lighting and a total of 10 horn-shaped speakers, enabling it to deliver music from the front to the back with its wide sound area. For the people behind the speaker, worry not, as it is also equipped with open-back speaker cabinet to allow listening from any angle. Moreover, you can be an impromptu DJ on the spot with its built-in Gesture Control, so you can easily make sound effects with a single swipe or flick on the wheel. The MHC-V90DW also has microphone and guitar inputs, allowing you to sing and play along with your tunes. Sony MUTEKI MHC-V90DW Contact: Sony (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd Phone: 1 300 88 1233 Info: www.sony.com.my

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first looks GEAR Up The Elite Way ILLEGEAR’s latest laptop, the S7 Elite, is a laptop that is made with top-notch ingredients for the aspiring gamer. It comes with a gigantic 17.3-inch Full HD IPS or 4K QFHD Display, Intel 7th Gen i7 processor, a choice of NVIDIA GTX 1060 or 1070, up to 32GB of DDR4 RAM, multi-colour programmable backlit keyboard, SoundBlaster X Pro-Gaming, Smart Charging, Built-in fingerprint reader, triple-fan cooling, VR Ready, 120GB of SSD and 1TB of SATA that can be upgraded and much more. All this built into a 419 x 287 x 24.89 mm device. ILLEGEAR S7 Elite Contact: ILLEGEAR SDN BHD Phone: (03) 2858 7399 Info: www.illegear.com

Oh So Fast Yet another record – the world’s fastest DDRM4 SO-DIMM at 4,000MHz (CL18-18-18-38) 32GB at 4x8GB. G.Skill’s latest Ripjaws model combines high frequency with low-timing, and utilises hand-binned Samsung B-die DDR4 IC components. Using AIDA64 Benchmark, it was able to reach an incredible 101,106 MB/s reading speed, and 89,037 MB/s writing speed. G.SKILL has also mentioned that this memory kit is equipped with the latest Intel XMP 2.0 technology for easy overclocking, and will be available very soon. G.SKILL Ripjaws DDR4 SO-DIMM 4,000 MHz Contact: Eternal Asia (M) Sdn Bhd, IDEAL TECH PC Sdn Bhd Phone: (03) 5613 5600, (03) 9202 3137 Info: https://www.gskill.com/en/

An Eighth Of A Galaxy In Your Hands The latest smartphone from the Korean conglomerate, Samsung has unveiled the Galaxy A8 and A8+ for the year 2018. The A8 comes with a dual front camera setup of 16-megapixel + 8-megapixel and a 16-megapixel rear camera setup. As for the screen, it comes with a Full HD+ Super AMOLED 5.6-inch and 6-inch display for the A8 and A8+ respectively. Memory wise, it sports a 4GB RAM with 32GB of storage for the A8, with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage for the A8+. As for the battery, the A8 has a 3,000 mAh battery, while the A8+ dons a 3,500 mAh battery. Samsung is planting itself firmly in the USB Type-C port camp and now also supports fast charging for the two devices. Additionally, the devices will be IP68 rated, to keep your phone safe when using it in the rain. Samsung Galaxy A8 / A8+ Contact: Samsung Malaysia Electronics Sdn Bhd Phone: 1 800 88 9999 Info: www.samsung.com.my

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first looks Lighter Than Gram When your job requires you to move around 90% of the time, then you should be investing in a laptop that is light, portable, powerful and stylish. This is where the LG gram comes in. The LG gram is a lightweight laptop that maximises portability without sacrificing performance. LG claimed that the new gram series will be equipped with a 72Wh battery, which can last almost a full day just on a single charge. They will be equipped with the latest 8th Gen Intel Core i7 or i5 processors and fast SSD storage, allowing your laptop to boot up in less than 10 seconds. The new gram models are also durable, passing MIL-STD 810G standards, and will come with Thunderbolt 3 for zippy transfer speeds. LG gram Laptops (2018) Contact: LG Electronics (M) Sdn Bhd Phone: (03) 7962 7777 Info: www.lg.com/my

Be The Master Of The Keys Cooler Master has announced the arrival of its latest keyboard, which aims to bedazzle with its RGB capabilities â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the MasterKeys MK750. It comes in three variants with different CHERRY MX switch options of Blue, Brown and Red. The MK750 is a full-sized keyboard with four dedicated media keys and a removable magnetic wrist rest. The board itself is equipped with a 32-bit ARM Cortex processor that provides seamless performance without a hitch. Aside from that, it features antighosting technology, with N-key rollover that works alongside with 6-key rollover to ensure that every single keypress is detected. Game precisely and accurately, while staying stylish with the RGB capabilities of the keyboard on all keys. Cooler Master MasterKeys MK750 Contact: Ban Leong Technologies Sdn Bhd, Build Technology Supply Sdn Bhd Phone: (03) 7956 6300, (03) 7955 3699 Info: www.coolermaster.com

Gaming On Ultra-Wide The Samsung CHG90 is a gigantic 49-inch QLED Gaming Monitor with Super Ultra-Wide Screen. Despite being a mouthful, it is also powerful. Equipped with 144Hz of refresh rate and 1ms of response time, this massive monitor is the perfect companion for your gaming needs. It also comes with AMD FreeSync 2 and a super ultra-wide 32:9 aspect ratio screen, so you will not miss any action while gaming or watching a movie. The monitor is also tweaked right out of the box for improved black gamma levels, contrast ratios, sharpness and colour value for any game genre. Some physical lighting is also available on the back of the monitor, to help boost the ambient lighting while you game. Samsung 49-inch QLED Gaming Monitor CHG90 Contact: Samsung Malaysia Electronics Sdn Bhd Phone: 1 800 88 9999 Info: www.samsung.com.my

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january 18

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first looks Made For The Brave Recently, honor unveiled the honor 7X locally in Malaysia. It comes with a 5.93-inch Full HD+ display with a 18:9 ratio, which honor dubs it as FullView display. Besides that, it’s powered by a Kirin 659 Octa-Core processor with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. Camera wise, you can spot a 16-megapixel + 2-megapixel rear camera setup and a singular 8-megapixel front camera, while a healthy 3,340 mAh battery ensures that it will comfortably last you a day. Additionally, the fingerprint sensor on the 7X can unlock the device in as fast as 0.25 seconds, and it runs on EMUI 5.1, which is based on Android 7.0. honor 7X Contact: Huawei Malaysia Mobile Hotline Phone: 1 800 22 0086 Info: www.vmall.my

Wireless Beauty Have you ever wondered what life would be like without annoying headphone wires? You can make that a reality now with the JBL E55BT. It is a pair of wireless over-ear headphones that is equipped with powerful 50mm drivers and can last up to 20 hours on a single charge. It only takes two hours for you to completely charge up the headphones as well. Available in Black, Blue, Red, Green and White, it comes bundled with a wired cable with built-in mic for easy access to volume controls and so on. JBL E55BT Contact: Hot Gadgets Distribution Sdn Bhd Phone: (03) 5162 7318 Info: www.jbl.com

A Powerful Shot This month, Canon announced the availability of a brand-new PowerShot camera in the form of PowerShot G1 X Mark III. The latest and greatest in their range of compact cameras, it is the first Canon compact camera to have Dual Pixel CMOS AF and a 24.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor - the largest sensor in their compact camera line-up. It also utilises DIGIC 7 image processor, allowing the camera to handle data faster. If that’s not good enough, this camera is equipped with a 24-72mm f/2.8 – f/5.6 IS lens with 3x optical zoom, a 3-inch LCD touchscreen, and can be connected to other devices via Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth. Plus, it only weighs 399 grams. Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III Contact: Canon Marketing Malaysia Sdn Bhd Phone: (03) 7884 6000 Info: www.canon.com.my

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first looks The Sleek Spectre The HP Spectre 13 is a beautiful machine to water the eyes with. Thin, sleek and light, it is a device that plenty aspire to be. The latest version comes with an 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8550U processor, a 13.3-inch Full HD IPS display with touchscreen capabilities, 8GB of DDR32133 RAM, and 512GB of NVMe M.2 SSD. For graphics, it uses Intelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s UHD Graphics 620, while top-notch audio performance is delivered by its Bang and Olufsen speakers. In addition, the display of the Spectre 13 uses Corning Gorilla Glass NBT and its battery will ensure it lasts up to 10 hours, with Fast Charge to quickly top up the battery when necessary. The keyboard on the Spectre 13 is also nice to the touch with its full-sized island-style backlit keyboard. HP Spectre 13 Contact: Hewlett-Packard (M) Sdn Bhd Phone: 1 800 22 6998 Info: www.hp.com/my

A-Meizu-ing Phone The Meizu M6 Note is the latest device coming from one of the more well-known brands in China, Meizu. This time, it is here to impress the masses with an even more affordable price on a souped up device. Housing a Snapdragon 625 processor, a massive 4,000 mAh battery with 4GB of RAM and 64 GB of internal storage, this 2017 also comes with a dual rear camera setup of 12-megapixel + 5-megapixel, along with a 16-megapixel front camera. As for the screen, it is fitted with a 5.5-inch display. It also comes with different colours to fit every lifestyle. Meizu M6 Note Contact: Dynamics Distribution Sdn Bhd Phone: (03) 8024 2100 Info: https://www.meizu.com/

RGB Pro Cooler Master has done it yet again. This time with an improved version of the MasterBox in the form of the MasterBox Pro 5 RGB. The Pro 5 RGB comes with three preinstalled 120mm RGB fans, so you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have to waste time looking for one. You can set the fans to a few modes, which includes Breathing and Cycle modes. It also comes with a see-through tempered glass side panel to show off your build. This case can even fit an E-ATX board for those who need it, and sports plentiful cut-outs for you to slot in your storage drives. If you want, you can also fit a GPU size of up to 410mm long! Cooler Master MasterBox Pro 5 RGB Contact: Ban Leong Technologies Sdn Bhd, Build Technology Supply Sdn Bhd Phone: (03) 7956 6300, (03) 7955 3699 Info: www.coolermaster.com

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first looks Professional Gaming Board If you are in the market for a X299 board, look no further than this one. The GIGABYTE X299 AORUS Gaming 7 Pro comes with built-in RGB lighting for the memory slots, PCI-E slots, and much more, making your build shine like a diamond, or like any colour you wish. Even the Rear I/O is equipped with RGB lighting. As mentioned, it fits the Intel Core X-Series processors, can fit up to 8 DIMMS of DDR4, is Intel Optane Ready, has the Smart Fan 5 feature for precise airflow monitoring and tweaking, and is built with anti-sulphur resistors. You can also have up to three GPUs on this beast of a motherboard. GIGABYTE X299 AUROS Gaming 7 Pro Contact: Nation-Tech Sdn Bhd, Ban Leong Technologies Sdn Bhd Phone: (03) 4280 6636, (03) 79566300 Info: www.gigabyte.my

Max Your Battery ASUS is swinging out with yet another new device in the ZenFone series with the ZenFone Max Plus. It comes in three colours – Sunlight Gold, Azure Silver and Deepsea Black. Along with its 5.7-inch HD display is 4GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage that can be increased with a 256GB microSD card, an Octa-core processor, a dual rear camera setup of 16-megapixel + 8-megapixel, and a 16-megapixel front camera. But the main selling point of the device is that it is equipped with a gargantuan battery of 4,130 mAh and can last up to 26 days of standby time. With ASUS PowerMaster technology, your battery will last longer than others. ASUS ZenFone Max Plus Contact: Dynamics Distribution Sdn Bhd, ECS Astar Sdn Bhd Phone: (03) 8024 2100, (03) 6286 8222 Info: www.asus.com/my

Inspire To Be The Best The Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming is the next great budget gaming laptop for the masses. It comes installed with a 7th Gen Intel core i7-7700HQ processor, up to 32GB of DDR4 RAM, 128GB of SSD + 1TB HDD, which can also be upgraded. On the GPU side, it uses NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1050 Ti to power all your gaming needs. The chassis of this laptop is lathered in Black with Red accents throughout the build, to give you that premium feel without looking too tacky. In addition, the speakers are powered with Waves MaxxAudio Pro for immersive and powerful audio. With the 74 WHr battery, you can game to your heart’s content! Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming Contact: Dell Asia Pacific Sdn Bhd Phone: 1 800 88 0301, 1 800 88 2888 Info: www.dell.com.my

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ASUS FX503V

Price: RM4,599 Contact: Build Technology Supply Sdn Bhd, Servex (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, ECS Astar Sdn Bhd Phone: (03) 7955 3699, (03) 80246688, (03) 6286 8222 Info: www.build.com.my, www.servex.com.my, www.ecsm.com.my Operating System: Windows 10 Home Display: 15.6-inch Full HD Processor: Intel i7-7700HQ Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Memory: 8GB DDR4 Storage: 128GB SSD + 1TB HDD Ports: 2x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0, 1x HDMI, 1x 3.5mm Audio Jack Dimensions: 384 x 262 x 24 mm Weight: 2.5 kg PCMark 10: 4,153 points 3DMark Time Spy: 1,916 points 3DMark Firestrike Ultra: 1,268 points

By Rikco Shim

Performance: Features: Design: Value:

Gaming In Disguise A gaming laptop with top of the line specs and some premium design to boot The keyboard of the FX503V, topped with red accents

F

irst up, the design of the laptop. It comes with an angular brushed metal design that feels good to the touch, all the while looking premium. It does look like a laptop with that made-for-professionals look to it, but hidden underneath are some great specs for gaming. With it, you can be a professional by day and a gamer by night. Another good thing about its design is that it does very well in hiding fingerprints, so it won’t highlight smudges on the laptop. It comes with a 15.6inch Full HD display, illuminated keys, healthy amount of USB ports and a card reader. At the heart of this laptop, a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 graphics card gives it more than enough power for you to run the latest games without hitting a snag. In order to see how it fares, we tested it with our regular test game in – Battlefield 1 and Witcher 3. Using FRAPS, it was able to run on a stable 60fps with minor drops only when loading graphics heavy sceneries. The fan does get louder when

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gaming, but is unquestionably quiet during regular use. With plenty of ports available on the laptop, you can plug in a mouse, external keyboard, LAN cable and external drive. However, you do have to use an external mouse if you are planning on gaming, because the trackpad will not work if you have multiple keys pressed together. ASUS allows you to customise some components on this laptop and all you need to do is to remove a screw located at the back of the laptop, pop out the cover and voila. You can replace the storage drives or upgrade them easily without having the need to be extremely tech savvy or breaking the warranty. With Anti-Glare display, it allows you to watch your movies, shows, videos and browse the internet without having the sun reflecting all its rage-inducing rays onto your eyes, so you can use it almost anywhere. The keyboard is tactile, and the battery life is enough for you to keep going throughout your daily use.

The back of the laptop – removing a single screw grants access to storage removal

+

Some modularity Design

None

CHIP CONCLUDES Overall, the FX503V is a great laptop that can be used to game and work on, and is designed to look premium, without looking too gaudy.


test lab

ASUS ROG Strix Z370-I Price: TBA Contact: ASUSTek Computer Malaysia Phone: (03) 2131 6650 Info: www.asus.com/my Socket: LGA 1151 Chipset: Intel Z370 RAM Slots: 2 Memory: 4333(O.C.)/4200(O.C.)/4000(O.C.)/3866(O.C .)/3600(O.C.)/3333(O.C.)/3300(O.C.)/3200(O.C.)/300 0(O.C.)/2800(O.C.)/2666(O.C.)/2400(O.C.)/2133(O.C.) MHz DDR4 Ports: 1x HDMI, 1x DisplayPort, 1x LAN, 1x ASUS 2x2 WiFi Module, 1x USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-C, 3x USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A, 4x USB 2.0, 5x Audio port, 1x Optical (SPDIF), 1x PCIe 3.0 x16, 4x SATA 6Gb/s, 2x M.2 PCMark 10 Essentials: 8,140 points PCMark 10 Productivity: 5,736 points PCMark 10 Digital Content Creation: 7,097 points

By Matthew Yap

Performance: Features: Design:

Quality In Small Packaging Getting the right balance of performance and components is hard for a smaller form factor, but ASUS does it well

T

he mini-ITX form factor is really getting a lot of attention from brands like ASUS. One of the models is the successor to one from 2016 – the ASUS ROG Strix Z370-I Gaming. As a mini-ITX motherboard, the ROG Strix Z370-I Gaming is quite compact. This means that there are less components on board and they’re cramped into a limited space. For instance, there’s two RAM slots instead of the four we’d normally see in a standard ATX motherboard. In addition, the board has a single x16 PCIe slot that will likely be used for a GPU, so you won’t be able to use an internal sound card or other PCIe add-ons. What ASUS didn’t cut out was option for fast storages. Two M.2 slots can be found on the board, with the front slot covered by a unique two-layer heatsink and thermal pad, allowing you to quickly cool your NVMe M.2 SSD. Another M.2 slot can be found at the back, but it only supports SATA speeds. Since this motherboard is meant to be used with ITX cases, it doesn’t have much support for fans. It has three headers in total, with one for the CPU fan, the second for a chassis fan, and

the last for an AIO pump. In addition, you get one addressable RGB header on this board, which you can use with the Aura Sync feature to synchronise every component you have – including your gaming keyboard and mice. When it comes to setup and installation, some users like to attach the motherboard to their chassis first then install their components, but it’s better not to do so here. For example, the AIO pump header can be hard to reach since it’s squeezed into a tight area, so it’s best that you plug your AIO’s cable in first before attaching the motherboard to your case. If you intend to use the second M.2 slot at the back, the same thing applies. After benchmarks and tests, we can safely say that this motherboard that this board won’t lose to ATX boards in terms of CPU overclocking. It’ll overclock relatively well and stay stable, but Coffee Lake chips will use more power and generate more heat, which means the standard Intel CPU fan won’t be ideal at all; you’ll definitely need at least a good air cooler for the setup, if not an AIO liquid cooling solution.

Some headers (like the AIO pump) are a bit hard to reach, so make sure to install those components first

This M.2 slot is covered by a dual-layer and a thermal pad to keep your high-speed NVMe SSD cooled

+

Compact Can overclock well

Less USB ports

CHIP CONCLUDES If you’re looking to have a top-notch gaming PC with a small footprint, this motherboard will provide you with a good platform to start.

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Huawei Mate 10 Price: RM2,699 Contact: Huawei Malaysia Mobile Hotline Phone: 1 800 22 0086 Info: www.huawei.com/my Operating System: Android 8.0 Oreo System on Chip: Kirin 970 Memory: 4GB Storage: 64GB, expandable with microSD Display: 5.9-inch 1440 x 2560 IPS Camera: 12+20MP (dual-rear), 8MP (front) Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.2 + A2DP + LE + aptX, 802.11ac, Wi-Fi Direct Dimensions: 150.5 x 77.8 x 8.2 mm Weight: 186g Antutu: 174,326 points PCMark for Android: 7,011 points 3DMark Sling Shot Extreme: 955 points

By Matthew Yap

Performance: Features: Design: Value:

Solidly Premium Huawei has always introduced interesting new features and it’s the same this time A dual camera setup as usual

H

aving firmly established its brand presence and fixed range of products, the next natural step for Huawei was to improve on their smartphones. In comes the Huawei Mate 10, which not only has superior specs than its predecessor but also some handy tricks up its sleeve. As a phablet, the Huawei Mate 10 is a relatively large device with a screen measuring about 5.9 inches diagonally. Layout has slightly changed from the Mate 9’s, with the Huawei logo moved to the back, while the finger print sensor replaces its spot and also doubles as the Home button. There’s also two speakers now, one is placed at the top near the front camera and another at the bottom. Besides that, the device also has a USB Type-C port, a 3.5mm audio jack, SIM tray, and dual rear cameras. In this model, Huawei uses the upgraded EMUI 8.0 interface, which now allows you to make your apps all appear in an app drawer, instead being dumped on your screen. There’s also a few interesting features like the App Twin, which allows you to have two instances of supported apps (usually chat or social media apps). Also, by using a HDMI-to-USB-C cable to connect the device

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to a display, you can turn the device into an Android PC of sorts – operable via mouse and keyboard! You don’t need an expensive dock, which is great, but the cable is not pre-included so you have to purchase one separately. Also, certain apps won’t run in this mode and it’s not really going to replace your PC. Overall, the Mate 10 proves to be quite energy efficient, more so than its predecessor, likely thanks to its new 10-nm Kirin 970 chip. It can last up to 10 hours of video playback and even more than a day if you’re just using it normally. This is on top of delivering greater performance, both on the CPU and GPU, compared to the Kirin 965. Those who enjoy mobile games or watching videos will love that the 1440p screen here supports HDR10. It’s sharp, got fantastic colour accuracy and high brightness levels. The speakers are decent and can be quite loud, but as expected it doesn’t wow us in the quality department. Camera performance on the Mate 10 isn’t visibly better than before, but that’s because it’s already very good. Photos taken are sharp and have great dynamic range, despite not using the HDR mode.

You can now use an app drawer instead if that’s your preference

+

Pseudo PC feature Excellent screen

Can feel bulky

CHIP CONCLUDES The new features – AI chip and Projection – certainly help make this smartphone standout, more so considering that its camera, battery life, and overall performance are all good.


test lab

ASUS XG27VQ Price: RM2,234 Contact: Build Technology Supply Sdn Bhd, Servex (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, ECS Astar Sdn Bhd Phone: (03) 7955-3699, (03) 8024 6688, (03) 6286 8222 Info: www.build.com.my, www.servex.com.my, www.ecsm.com.my Panel Type: VA Display Size: 27-inch Resolution: 1920 x 1080 Connectivity: HDMI, DVI-D, DisplayPort Refresh Rate: 144Hz Response Time: 4ms Viewing Angle: 178/178 Dimensions: 620 x 524 x 269mm Weight: 6.9kg Performance: Features: Design: Value:

By Nixon Ng

Be In The Game

144Hz is definitely the way to go, and if you don’t want to compromise on viewing angle, then the XG27VQ hits the spot

D

isplay technology has improved exponentially and along with that comes different panel types to choose from. The most popular ones are IPS and TN panels, but hidden in the back alleys of the of the display world is the VA (Vertical Alignment) panel. It’s a jack of all trades with great contrast, viewing angles and response time, but also a master of none. The ROG STRIX XG27VQ is a 27-inch curved gaming monitor that has a refresh rate of 144Hz and uses a VA panel. The curvature of the display is 1800R, which provides a natural and comfortable curve when sitting right in front of the monitor. Combine that with the smooth height adjustment available on the monitor, you’ll be able to find the sweet spot for your viewing preference easily. The overall build of the monitor is great. It feels solid and the only thing that felt off was the red LED shining through the bottom of the stand; there isn’t really a need for it.

Getting to the display, since the XG27VQ uses a VA panel, it provides wide viewing angles, good colours and contrast along with low response times and high refresh rates. It also features an ASUS-exclusive feature, which is the Extreme Low Motion Blur that - when combined with AdaptiveSync - results in gameplay without tearing and stuttering. Testing it with games such as CS:GO and Overwatch, we were able to take full advantage of the 144Hz refresh rate that gave us an incredibly smooth visual experience. The jump from 60Hz to 120-144Hz is instantly noticeable and immediately adds to your gaming experience. At the back, you are provided with a range of input ports such as HDMI 1.4, DisplayPort 1.2 and Dual-link DVI-D. There’s also a 3.5mm audio jack if you want to connect an audio device to the monitor. Finally, the OSD has large buttons and a joystick to make tuning and tweaking the settings of the monitor fairly easy.

A solid and well designed stand

Take advantage of ASUS AURA Sync to colour your world

+

Great performance VA panel Curved monitor

None

CHIP CONCLUDES If you are in the market for a gaming monitor the XG27VQ is a sound and solid choice.

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vivo V7 Price: RM1,299 Contact: vivo Technologies Sdn Bhd Phone: (03)-2856 9530 Info: www.vivo.my Operating System: Funtouch OS 3.2 (Android 7.1.2) System on Chip: Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 Memory: 4GB Storage: 32GB Display: 5.7-inch Camera: 16MP rear camera, 24MP front selfie camera Battery: 3,000mAh Dimensions: 149 x 73 x 7.9mm Weight: 139g Antutu: 55,180 points PCMark for Android: 4,750 points 3DMark Storm Extreme: 7,923 points

By Nixon Ng

Performance: Features: Design: Value:

Selfie Galore

Not too expensive, yet has all the makings of a great phone

O

ne of vivo’s latest addition to its line of V-smartphones, the V7 was launched with a bang awhile back in Pavilion Kuala Lumpur. Now, here it is in our hands to be scrutinised. The V7’s main selling point is with its front cameras – a 16-megapixel rear camera coupled with a 24-megapixel front selfie camera. Together they offer your selfies much more than just filters. Instead they are now capable of capturing selfies with depth-of-field, as well as bokeh effects. So if you’re the type to go crazy on those selfies with your friends, the V7 would be your kind of device. Aside from that, the V7 sports a Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 processor, which is a great mid-range chipset. It provides all the performance and features that keeps the V7 smooth and operational. Wrapped in a Matte Black colour variant, the phone looks good. It easily reminds you of phones that are in the market right now, but manages to stand out from the rest with

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the use of an 18:9 display on its 5.2-inch screen. Additionally, while the resolution is not Full HD, the V7’s screen still looks great regardless. The body is shaped nicely and sits comfortable in our hands, but it doesn’t stop there - single hand usage of the V7 is just as pleasant. Performance wise, thanks to the midrange processor along with 4GB of RAM, your games, multimedia and everyday use are handled well. The menus are quite snappy, as vivo’s FunTouch OS 3.2 does provide a good user experience. Based on Android’s 7.1.2, the OS seems to be stable as well from our experience using it. Finally the V7 comes with a storage of 32GB. While that can be quite small considering the smartphone is targeted towards those who have trigger fingers, but there’s always the option to expand your storage with a microSD of up to 256GB. Also, if you’re not a fan of black there’s also a colour variation of Crown Gold.

The Matte Black colour way is elegant and exudes minimalism

Thin and great for single hand operations

+

Overall performance Minimalistic design

None

CHIP CONCLUDES Click, Click! The sound of happy selfie takers. The vivo V7 is in a tier where it is affordable and caters to the current trend of selfie taking, but doesn’t too much compromise on performance.


test lab

MSI Z370 GODLIKE GAMING Price: RM2,720 Contact: JW Power Marketing Sdn Bhd, Mediaforte (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, Adventure Multi Devices Sdn Bhd, Build Technology Supply Sdn Bhd Phone: (03)-2148 1307, (03)-7960 6868, (03)-7955 7788, (03)-7773 0399 Info: my.msi.com Socket: LGA1151 Chipset: Z370 RAM Slots: 4 RAM: 4133+(OC)/ 4000(OC)/ 3866(OC)/ 3733(OC)/ 3600(OC)/ 3466(OC)/ 3400(OC)/ 3333(OC)/ 3300(OC)/ 3200(OC)/ 3000(OC) /2800(OC)/ 2667/ 2400/ 2133 MHz Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth, LAN Ports: 6x USB 3.1, 1x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A, 1x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C, 5x audio jack, 1x 6.3mm headphone jack, 3x LAN, 1x Optical S/PDIF Size: E-ATX PCMark 10 Essentials: 7,928 points PCMark 10 Productivity: 5,637 points PCMark 10 Content Creation: 6,539 points Performance: Features: Design: Value:

By Nixon Ng

G..G..GODLIKE

There will always be something for enthusiasts out there, but not even the most hardcore of gamers would be able to resist this one

T

he flagship model for MSI’s Z370 line of motherboards, the Z370 GODLIKE GAMING, promises extreme performance and great build quality. Using Military Class 5 components, this motherboard is set to give overclockers stable and optimised overclocks. There is also a slew of features to help them further push the limits of their rig. The Z370 GODLIKE GAMING has four DDR4 DIMM slots, which support up to 64GB’s of DDR4 RAM. Overclockers rejoice, because it also supports speeds of up to an extreme 4,133MHz. For those in need of extreme graphics performance, SLI and CrossfireX support is also available. MSI’s CLICK BIOS 5 here replaces the usual low res BIOS with a sharp, high resolution BIOS for greater readability. It also comes with an EZ-mode for those who just want a quick dash of overclocking, but if you’re feeling adventurous you can always explore the Advanced mode. There’s also hardware monitoring inside the BIOS, which keeps you up

to speed with your rig’s situation at all times. The motherboard is also equipped with an M.2 heatsinks that can be removed with a screwdriver. To insert an M.2 SSD you’d have to remove the heatsink, which also has a thermal pad under it to ensure that optimal heat dissipation for cooler M.2 SSDs at full performance. If you don’t have an M.2 and want to speed up your boot speeds you can consider using Intel Optane memory, which is supported by the motherboard, allowing you to speed up your PC boot up times without spending tonnes more on a high capacity SSD. If you’re a modder, then this motherboard is for you. It has the makings of a modders board, sporting 3D printing friendly mounts. In addition, RGB headers allow use to make use of MSI’s Mystic Light technology to control LED strips even without an RGB controller. Mystic Light can also be remotely controlled through your smartphone with the MSI Gaming App, and provides 17 different LED effects.

Beautiful M.2 Shields to keep your SSDs’ performance high and temperatures low

Easy to use buttons and LED’s for debugging

+

Design Performance 3D-printing friendly

None

CHIP CONCLUDES The high performance and amazing looking motherboard has once again popped out from the MSI womb.

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test lab

D-Link DAP-1325 Price: TBA Contact: Advancenet Technology Sdn. Bhd., Ingram Micro Sdn. Bhd., Lab Seven (M) Sdn Bhd Phone: (03) 8070 3633, (03) 7952 8188, (03) 80758811 Info: www.dlink.com.my Ports: Ethernet WiFi: Yes Standards: Wireless b/g/n/, 10/100 Mb Ethernet Encryption: WPA/WPA2 Antenna: Yes (foldable) Dimensions: 97.9 x 50.7 x 48.7 mm Weight: 97g

By Matthew Yap

Performance: Features: Design:

Easy Network Coverage Routers with massive coverage area tend to be very expensive, so WiFi extension devices like these can be great alternatives

T

rying to ensure that larger premises are fully WiFi covered isn’t really too hard, especially if you’re willing to splash the cash for high-end routers. But when sticking to a lower budget is important, it’s better to go for range extenders like the D-Link DAP-1325. Inside the box, you’ll find the extender itself, which comes with a basic design that’s mostly white, with a grey strip around the sides. No other accessories were included, except for the standard documents like the quick installation guide and a configuration card with the default configurations. This means that you’ll need to have your own Ethernet cable handy if you want to use the port. Unlike dedicated WiFi access points, the DAP-1325 is made to be compact and blend in. Being small also makes it portable, so it can be used in multiple locations if you need to. Designed to work as a homeplug, the local version uses a 3-pin plug and will fit our local wall sockets without needing an adapter. There are two slightly adjustable antennas on both sides, as well as Megabit Ethernet port at the bottom that are the main connections points. For fast setup, a WPS button can also be found at the top, along with two LED indicators and a reset button. As usual, this should be connected

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directly to a wall socket and not a power strip, to ensure quality of the connection and consistency of data rates. However, it should be noted that since it doesn’t have a passthrough, using it means you won’t be able to use that wall socket for other electronics. We had no problems setting up the DAP-1325, especially with the WPS button available. Of course, it’s better to set it up normally through a browser or the mobile app for more control over settings like the password and SSID. Once connected, the LED strip on top provides a visual indication of the signal strength. Since it’s a basic WiFi extender, the obvious drawback to its portability is that it lacks highspeed capability. While it can provide extended WiFi coverage for most household or small offices easily, it won’t be able to deliver enough bandwidth for things like HD content streaming or environments with a large number of users with its max speed of only 300 Mb/s; the limited bandwidth will be insufficient, leading to lowered speeds for users. In a setting more suitable for it, like an office, we find that it does provide a stable and consistent WiFi coverage. Of course, this stability requires there to not be other overlapping wireless networks.

There’s an Ethernet port for wired connection instead

Like any WiFi extender of this type, some air ventilation is required

+

Easy to setup

None

CHIP CONCLUDES A very basic WiFi extender, but one that can provide rather stable coverage, as long as it’s setup properly.


test lab

Sony WH-1000XM2 Price: RM1,599 Contact: Sony (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd Phone: 1 300 88 1233 Info: www.sony.com.my Driver: 40mm, dome type (CCAW Voice Coil) Impedance: 14 Ohm (power off), 46 Ohm (power on) Frequency: 4 - 40,000 Hz Others: Touch sensors, detachable audio jack Weight: 275g

By Matthew Yap

Performance: Features: Design: Value:

Cable-Free Quality More flagship smartphones are beginning to ditch the audio jack, but Sony’s ready for that trend with a great headphone

A

s our lives become more mobile, there’s an increasing demand to go wireless. Audio headphones are one of the first products to head in this direction, with Sony being one of the prominent brands in this field. In 2016, Sony released the excellent MDR-1000X bluetooth headphone and now it’s back with a successor – the WH-1000XM2. In terms of design, you won’t see a lot of difference in the WH-1000XM2 with its predecessor. You’ll find the same dark grey coloured body with comfortable black earcups and earpads. It also has a leather headrest attached to the adjustable headband completes the overall look. The headphone can also be folded to make it more compact, so that it can fit into the carry case that’s included in the box. Moreover, an airplane jack converter and detachable cable are also part of the package. This makes it travel-friendly and also flexible, as you can use it for in-flight entertainment systems. Also, it can be used as a standard wired headphone this way so that your music listening experience won’t be interrupted by possible connection drops, which does happen once in a while. Getting this headphone to pair is a simple process: Press the power button for 5 seconds till it attempt starts to connect to

the Bluetooth, then look for ‘‘WH-1000XM2” on your device and click on that entry to pair the headphone to your device. Once that’s done, you will be able to use it without much issue. For some extra functionality, you can download the Sony ‘‘Headphones” app. This new app has the Adaptive Sound Control, which can detect whether you’re staying in place or walking, then adjust the Ambient Sound Control dynamically. This is useful if you’re in a situation where you might still want to hear certain things, like the airport announcer reminding you to head to the boarding game. Another useful feature of the WH-1000XM2 is the onboard playback controls. Using swipes and taps on the right earcup, you can play/pause, adjust the volume, or skip tracks. You can also pick up calls and answer it normally, without needing to pick up your phone. Of course, there’s not much point if the sound quality is poor. But the WH-1000XM2 is anything but poor. It has a rather balance sound signature, allowing you to enjoy punchy bass and clear vocals. Combined with its incredible battery life. which can easily go for days of regular use before needing a recharge, you’ll be enjoying great music for hours even through long-haul flights.

A nice carry case is part of the package

The Headphones app allows some flexible noise cancelling adjustments

+

Long battery life Comfortable

Occasional connection drops

CHIP CONCLUDES Excellent audio quality to go with an amazing battery life and has flexible noise cancelling, this headphone is a good choice if you travel a lot.

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Logitech M720 Triathlon Price: RM259 Contact: Ingram Micro Sdn Bhd, MCL Sdn Bhd, M-Link Sdn Bhd, Kaira Technologies Sdn Bhd Phone: (03) 7955 8188, (03) 8023 3800, (03) 7728 9003, (03) 7955 3669 Info: www.logitech.com/en-my DPI: 1,000 Wireless Range: 10 metres Programmable Buttons: 6 Max Battery Life: 24 months (1x AA) Dimensions: 115 x 74 x 45 mm Weight: 135g

By Rikco Shim

Performance: Features: Design: Value:

Try To Catch This Running Mouse The latest wireless mouse to land on our laps, which we took for a good run

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he Logitech M720 Triathlon is one of Logitech’s wireless mouse in their repertoire. But this one is built to last, to match up to its name. Logitech claimed that with a single battery, the mouse can last up to 24 months - a whopping two years! The mouse is easy to grip, albeit on the smaller side of things, and sports a sleek black design. However, fingerprints, oil and grime will stick onto the mouse easily and will easily show whenever you’re not using it. So, it is advisable to clean it every now and then to keep the mouse from being too dirty. Onto the specs of the device – it sports a 1,000 DPI sensor and has six buttons, all of which can be programmed using Logitech Options, Logitech’s proprietary software. You’ll be able to program nearly all the buttons, with the exceptions being the Hyper-fast scroll button and computer swap button. For the latter, clicking it lets you swap to another device, allowing you to use the mouse on that computer. However, we could not manage to try this out as we did not have another

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Bluetooth connector handy. During our testing, we’ve not noticed any issues with the mouse, and the buttons were all very responsive. We also liked how you can swap from scrolling indefinitely to scrolling normally with the use of the hyper-fast scroll button on the mouse; Logitech has added this button to a few of its computer mice, including the gaming variants. This button really helps whenever you need to scroll down the infinite number of pages of your social media sites, or the long work sheet that you’ve been working on over the weekend. There is also a programmable button on the thumb rest of the mouse, allowing instant access to some of the Windows Options without you needing to reach far on your keyboard. The default use of the button is programmed to gestures, which allow you to perform different tasks based on you navigate the mouse. Holding the gesture button while moving your mouse up will bring up the Start Menu of Windows.

The Logitech Options program allows you to program the buttons

The back of the mouse, with the removable cover shrouding the battery and Bluetooth dongle housing

+

Not too weighty Wireless

Fingerprint magnet

CHIP CONCLUDES Overall, a great mouse that can last for ages with a single AA battery, and can be paired with multiple devices seamlessly.


test lab

Logitech G610 Orion Blue Price: RM479 Contact: Ingram Micro Sdn Bhd., MCL Sdn Bhd., M-Link Sdn Bhd., Kaira Technologies Sdn Bhd Phone: (03) 7955 8188, (03) 8023 3800, (03) 7728 9003, (03) 7955 3669 Info: www.logitech.com/en-my Keyboard Switches: Cherry MX Blue NKRO: 26 Interface: USB Others: Multimedia keys, volume control Dimensions: 444 x 34 x 153 mm Weight: 1.26 kg

By Matthew Yap

Performance: Features: Design: Value:

Back To Cherries Preferences for mechanical keyboards have changed, but Logitech shows that it knows how to adjust to the gaming market

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n the days when mainstream gaming was mostly MMORPGs, a good gaming keyboard was a keyboard that looked fancy and had a bazillion of dedicated macro keys. However, most mechanical gaming keyboards these days prefer the more minimalistic look. Logitech has transition its gaming keyboards from the former to the latter, with one of the more recent models being the G610 Orion Blue. Similar in design to the G413 Carbon we’ve reviewed before, the G610 Orion Blue sports the same black body. In fact, it’s almost identical if not for the extras at the top-right of the body. It comes with easy access media controls, which includes the standard play/pause, mute and a volume controller. There’s also a Windows key lock button and a button to control the intensity of the keyboard’s backlighting. These buttons aren’t mechanical, but they require solid presses to register, so you won’t have to worry about accidentally pressing one. Aside from that, this model retains the same slim profile and solid build that is typically found with its mechanical keyboards. It has the standard set of four feet to keep it firm on any surface, as well as

a pair of feet that has two tiers of elevation. There’s no USB passthrough on this model, nor any cut-out to route cables. Backlighting on this keyboard is very basic, as it only has white LEDs instead of the RGB lighting that’s so prevalent these days. Some might not even want to have it on, so the backlight brightness button is there to let you quickly adjust it. There’s not much else you can do with the lighting, except use the Logitech Gaming Software to change lighting patterns. On the other hand, you can still use the software to customise macro keys and even use Game Profiles to assign specific actions/functions in different games to the F1-F12 buttons. Unlike many of its current keyboards, Logitech decided to fall back on Cherry MX Blue switches for the G610 Orion Blue, while the keycaps are made using doubleshot ABS. The keys require more force to actuate, making them a bit less ideal for gaming. However, this does mean that they won’t easily register keystrokes if your fingers are just resting on the keys. Also, the keys are the loud clicky type, so your friends will be able to hear how noisy the keyboard is over VoIP programmes.

Having dedicated media keys is always good

+

Great tactile feedback Easily accessible media keys

Very basic backlighting

CHIP CONCLUDES A good keyboard with all the buttons you need and hard tactile keys that are great for typing work.

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test lab

Epson EB-X41 Price: RM2,120 Contact: Epson Malaysia Sdn Bhd Phone: (03) 5628 8288 Info: www.epson.com.my Light Source: UHE, 210 W Lamp Native Resolution: XGA, 1024 x 768 Contrast Ratio: 15,000:1 Light Source Lifespan: 6,000 hrs Connectivity: Wireless LAN 802.11 b/g/n Ports: HDMI, VGA, USB 2.0 Type B, USB 2.0 Type A Dimensions: 302 x 237 x 82 mm Weight: 2.5 kg

By Rikco Shim

Performance: Features: Design: Value:

Projecting Your Views

One of Epson’s latest projector that is sure to wow your guests either in your living room or office space Removable dust filter

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his month, we managed to get our hands on one of Epson’s new projectors. The EB-X41 is built to be used almost anywhere – ranging from the comfort of your home as a home projector, or to being carried around for use in business and office presentations. Possessing a white body with some black accents at the front, it’s clear that the EB-X41 isn’t trying to go out of its way to be tacky. Instead, it’s designed to look simple and professional. In addition, this projector is light at only 2.5kg and comes with a carrying case, so you can transport the projector without worries. However, we do wish that the carrying case had more pads for extra protection for bumps during transportation. On the side of the projector, you can find a flap that you can remove to expose the dust filter for easy cleaning. It also comes with a A/V slider on top of the projector, allowing you to easily cut out

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the projection feed without needing to find a piece of paper, saving you some potentially embarrassing moments during presentations. With auto keystone correction, setting up the projector is a piece of cake. Simply use a HDMI cable, plug it to your computer or laptop, turn on the projector and you are done. Some manual tweaks can also be done via the controls located above the projector. Epson mentioned that the projector can project up to 300-inches, but we couldn’t confirm that, due to lack of space. The colours for this projector are vivid, especially in Cinema mode, and can be tweaked in the settings. Quality is good overall, while also ensuring that the fan wasn’t weird or extremely loud, which would destroy your movie experience. The projector uses a 210 W lamp, and can last up to 10,000 hours if you are using it in economy mode. The fan also makes even less noise in that mode.

The ports at the back of the projector, with the controls right above it

+

Lightweight Portable

None

CHIP CONCLUDES Overall a great projector if you are not looking to do any 4K viewing. Can also be used to game, binge-watch movies, or taken to the university or office for presentations.


test lab

Acer Predator Tritron 700 Price: RM13,999 Contact: Acer Sales and Services Sdn Bhd Phone: 1 800 88 1288 Info: www.acer.com.my Operating System: Windows 10 Processor: Intel Core i7-7700HQ Graphics: NVIDIA GTX 1080 with Max-Q Memory: 32GB Storage: 512GB PCIe SSD RAID 0 Dimensions: 17.78 x 393.7 x 266.7mm Weight: 2.4kg PCMark 10 Essentials: 7,973 points PCMark 10 Productivity: 5,055 points PCMark 10 Digital Content Creation: 3,821 points 3DMark TimeSpy: 5,561 points 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra: 4,031 points

By Nixon Ng

Performance: Features: Design: Value:

Spearhead The Gaming World Bring your new best buddy out for a spin, because you’ve definitely got a winner with the Triton 700

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cer has been perfecting its lineup of notebooks throughout the years, especially its line of Predators laptops in recent months. Now, it seems it has a winner in the Acer Predator Triton 700, which is the culmination of its efforts. The Triton 700 is powered by a seventhgeneration Intel Core i7 processor, while also sporting up to 32GBs of DDR4 RAM, and two 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD’s running in RAID 0 configuration. But what makes it stand out over the competition is the graphics card used in this machine - the NVIDIA GTX 1080 GPU. Using the Max-Q design, Acer managed to retain up to 90 percent of the performance of a full fledge card kept it in a slim and light profile. Sporting a 15.6 inch Full HD IPS display, one of the major plus points of the Triton 700 is that it is incredibly thin. At just 17.8mm in thickness and weighing in at 2.4kg, this gaming notebook is a gaming monster on the go. You rarely see notebooks with so much power in a size like this, but the Triton 700 is more than capable of

replacing deckstops. In terms of performance, Triton 700 is an amazing gaming laptop. Thanks to its CPU and GPU combination, we were able to play pretty much every game in the market at 1080p and at very high settings. Not making full use of all its power is a waste, so Acer also threw in a 120Hz refresh rate and NVIDIA G-SYNC for a smooth and blur-free gaming experience. The speakers are also quiet decent, combining Acer TrueHarmony and Dolby Atmos surround sound, which makes gaming and watching movies on the Triton enjoyable. The Triton also comes with new AeroBlade 3D fans and five heat pipes, which do a great job of dissipating heat. In addition, one of the fans has a glass plate over it that doubles as the Precision Touchpad. The fan glows a light blue through the glass and it looks gorgeous. Finally, it has to be mentioned that the keyboard has great tactile response and the clicks are satisfying to listen to. The keys are also RGB backlit and can be individually programmed to your imagination.

The Triton is incredibly thin

The glass window doubles as the mousepad

+

Performance Portability Overall aesthetics Keyboard

Bulky power brick

CHIP CONCLUDES The Acer Predator Triton is definitely a gaming notebook to look out for if you’re in the market of getting one, it has so much give and very little to take from you, other than your wallet.

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BenQ ZOWIE XL2546 Price: RM2,699 Contact: BenQ Marketing & Services Sdn Bhd Phone: (03) 7954 7800 Info: www.benq.com.my Panel Type: TN Display Size: 24.5-inch Resolution: 1920 x 1080 Connectivity: HDMI, DVI, DisplayPort, USB Refresh Rate: 240Hz Response Time: 1ms Dimensions: 515 x 570 x 226mm Weight: 7.5kg

By Nixon Ng

Performance: Features: Design: Value:

A Smooth Criminal A down to earth monitor aimed towards the professional gamer who can truly take advantage of its features

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icking a monitor nowadays has become a bit of a chore, especially since there’s so many options and features available to the consumer - ranging from better colour reproduction to higher refresh rates for smoother and faster gameplay. Then of course comes the size of, which comes in an even wider variety. If you know that you’re in the market for a 24.5-inch gaming monitor, the ZOWIE XL2546 that we received to review seems to be an easy pick. It comes with a TN panel, which allows for a low response time of 1ms (grey-to-grey). Unless you’re watching from an acute angle, then ZOWIE XL2546 should be fine, but a gamer would always be in front of his monitor anyway. When it comes to connectivity, the ZOWEI XL2546 comes with DisplayPort 1.2, HDMI, and DVI ports, which covers quite a nice range. Apart from that, there’s also a headphone jack that can double as an audio out, as well as built-in speakers. This makes the XL2546 a good choice if you’re planning to use it for console gaming, since you won’t need to spend extra on speakers. But don’t look down on these built-in speakers,

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because they actually pack quite a punch in a small room or living room. Performance wise, you can truly appreciate the high refresh rate of 240Hz while playing games, especially while playing FPS. Everything was just so incredibly smooth, some of us who are a bit prone to motion sickness didn’t feel as sick easily, though the experience might vary for each user. Let’s also not forget their unique Dynamic Accuracy technology, usually stylised as DyAc. DyAc takes the monitor’s 240Hz refresh rate and unleashes its true potential by making full use of it for even greater smoothness. Combine that with the Black eQualizer and you’ll be able to see your enemies better than ever. After all, you can’t shoot what you can’t see. At this price point, you’re getting a thoroughbred eSports gaming monitor with good colours and incredible fluidity, while the speakers are just a bonus. The stand itself is also well designed, built to be simple and easy to carry around. It took us less than 5 minutes to setup the entire thing and to adjust the monitor’s height and tilt according to our tastes.

Switch between your profiles quickly depending on your game

The monitors adjustable stand is probably one of the best designs we’ve seen

+

Smooth visuals Solid build Easy setup

None

CHIP CONCLUDES An eSports gaming monitor that just puts everything into doing what they set out to do perfectly, and they honestly pulled it off.


test lab

iKANOO K5 Price: RM145 Contact: ICMD Company Ltd Info: www.icmdworld.com Impedance: 32 ohms Ports: 1x microUSB, 1x 3.5mm jack Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0 Transmission Range: ~10 m Frequency Response: 50Hz – 20KHz Dimensions: 189 x 168 x 75.5 mm Weight: 500 g

By Rikco Shim

Performance: Features: Design: Value:

Life In Audio Without Wires

Portable and comfy, a decent offering for iKANOO’s latest pair of wireless headphones

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he iKanoo K5 is a pair of wireless headphones that is built as it is – without much bells and whistles. It is fairly sturdily, with a combination of metal and plastic wrapped around the body. Similar to other wireless headphones, you have your audio buttons on the right side, a micro USB port to charge the device, and a 3.5mm jack to plug in the cables in case you wish to simply have a wired connection. In addition, it sports leather earcups and a leather headband to improve overall comfort when wearing it. Note that the earcups are on-ear, meaning that they don’t wrap around your ears, so expect some audio leaks if you are listening to music on a louder volume. However, this headphone is comfortable to wear, because the cushions and headband don’t produce much tension around the head. The extender for the earcups are made of metal and it shrouds the critical wires behind it, making it close to impossible for you to accidentally pull out the wires. However, the extender is slightly on the short side of things, so if your ears are unnaturally further down your face, you might face some issues using the headphones. Since it uses leather pads, you might you sweat more in warmer weather.

The set-up process was easy to go through. Simply hold down the power button and the LED ring around the buttons will flash, indicating that it is waiting to pair. Connect the headphones with your intended device, and it will mention ”Bluetooth connection is successful”. Do note that the voice instructions or memos are in Mandarin. Once connected, your played audio can be heard through the headphone. The left and right buttons act differently depending on how you control it. By holding down the button, the volume on the headphones are tweaked gradually. So, if you wish to turn down the volume by 60%, simply hold it until your desired volume. Meanwhile, tapping the button will change the song. Double tapping it automatically calls your last called number, while holding it will bring up your device’s voice assistant. We found that this headphone has decent audio quality with good voice clarity and bass, while battery life is also pretty decent throughout our testing. The iKANOO K5 is a bargain for its price, and if you failed to get your special someone a gift for the holidays, then this is the perfect gift for Valentine’s Day. It comes in Silver and Gold, to complete that chic look.

The buttons on the right earcup, with a ring around the buttons

The metal extender

+

Wireless Price

Audio instructions only in Mandarin Slight noise/hum in low volume

CHIP CONCLUDES Overall a great pickup if you wish for a cheap and decent pair of wireless headphones, but don’t expect ear-popping levels of audio quality.

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Brook X One Adapter Price: TBC Contact: GameOn.com Sdn Bhd Phone: (03) 7662 5406 Info: http://www.brookaccessory.com Platform: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, Nintendo Switch Ports: microUSB In/Out Audio Out: PlayStation 4, Xbox One Motion Control: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch Wireless Control: Yes Battery: 800 mAh Battery Life: 5 hours

By Rikco Shim

Performance: Features: Design:

X Giving It To Ya Brook’s latest accessory to fit onto your Xbox One controller

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he X One Adapter is an accessory that can be added onto your regular Xbox One controller. To do so, simply remove the battery cover of the controller, and plug the adapter in its place. During our tests, it did take some force to combine the two together, so you will need to have some patience while doing so. We then connected the device to the PlayStation 4 via USB cable and all it needed to work was to just click the button on the adapter. To test whether it actually works with Sony’s console, we tested it with games such as FIFA and Nier Automata. It was quite amazing to see it work flawlessly, without any hiccups or input lag. Ultimately, the X One Adapter is quite a niche device. For one, it requires you to have an Xbox One controller and a different console. In return, you can use that one controller for multiple consoles. Imagine just switching from gaming on the PlayStation 4 to gaming on a Nintendo Switch, without needing to drop the controller. Brook chose the Xbox One controller, because it has some advantages over other controllers, such as

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weight and Button Placements, which are more familiar and comfortable for some people. It’s commonly purchased to be used as a controller for the PC, despite the user not having their own Xbox One. Now with the X One Adapter, you can convert that controller to be used with other consoles. After we managed to test the device on PlayStation 4, we switched to PC without any issues. But once we swapped it to the Nintendo Switch, it started to become slightly buggy when swapping the controller to other consoles. At one point during our testing, the device failed to register button presses on the PlayStation 4, and it took us a few resets to get it back on the PlayStation 4. The adapter, as mentioned, took us some time to fiddle around and to fit properly onto our Xbox One controller. From that experience, we would advise you to not remove it constantly as the microUSB connector of the adapter could be bent from the pressure. With the adapter on the controller, it does gain a little extra weight, but not to the point that it would affect regular usage.

Fits snugly on top of your Xbox One controller

The back of the adapter, etched with a Brook logo

+

Device Switching One controller to conquer all

Hard to get it snugly onto the controller A new version with better fit will overall improve the issue

CHIP CONCLUDES Overall, a great product that helps you control a few consoles with just a single controller, potentially saving you money and space.


test lab

Sony WI-1000X Price: RM1,499 Contact: Sony (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd Phone: 1 300 88 1233 Info: www.sony.com.my Driver size: 9mm Frequency range: 3Hz-40,000Hz Ports: Micro USB Connectivity: NFC, Bluetooth 4.1 Weight: 71g Performance: Features: Design: Value:

By Nixon Ng

Drown Out The World

Take it with you anywhere and everywhere, the WI-1000X will be your best travelling partner starting from the time you purchase it

W

hen someone asks you how do you enjoy your music, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Would it be you sitting in a room with speakers blasting tunes, or in your reading corner with headphones on and a good book, or even on your evening jog with earphones pumping adrenaline inducing beats into your eardrums? With the Sony WI-1000X you’ll easily get whisked away to music nirvana when you place them in your ears. It sits comfortably around your neck and the earpods extend out of the device just enough to reach your ears, with some leeway. The WI-1000X is incredibly portable, although it doesn’t collapse on itself like many of Sony’s other headphones. But there’s no real need to fold it when it’s so thin that you can slip it into just about any nook and cranny of your bag. It also comes with a bag, so you can safely put it in together with your other things. It uses microUSB port to charge and connects to your devices using Bluetooth or NFC. A great feature found on the WI-1000X would be its Smart Listening by Advanced

Sound Control, which can automatically detect activities such as travelling and walking, dynamically adjusting the ambient sound settings for you as you go. It’s perfect for everyday use as well, allowing you to do hands-free calling with a decent mic built into the device. Having all these features doesn’t mean Sony skimped on sound quality. It comes with the company’s digital Sound Enhancement Engine HX, which upscales your compressed digital music files, thus improving those low quality tunes you might have downloaded from the internet. Jumping into the sound quality of these headphones, we thought the headphone sounded outstanding. We listened to songs across different genres from Charlie Puth’s ‘‘One Call Away” to some heavier tunes like SwankyDanks ‘‘Sink Like A Stone” and of course some slow and sweet tunes like Lukas Graham’s ‘‘7 Years”. All the songs above and more sounded great, bass hitting deep and punchy, with the mids and vocals not sounding too forward, so you won’t get fatigued easily.

You might miss the controls at first, but they’re placed rather conveniently

+

Comfortable Feature packed Sound quality

None

CHIP CONCLUDES One of the best portable headphone devices we’ve seen in a while, truly hitting all the right notes when it comes to noise cancelling and travel-centric features.

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lite & leisure ANALOGUE

The Tabletop Report Tear your eyes away from the screen for a moment and let your imagination be set free. Welcome to the world of Tabletop By Nixon Ng

Pandemic

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andemic casts you into a world where four different diseases have started to rampage the world, you and your fellow friends are highly qualified disease specialists and it’s your job to save humanity from the brink of extinction. But

first you have to assemble a team, where each of you choose a "Role” that allows you pick your specialty. Your special abilities will help you pull life back from the brink or plunge it further into the depths of despair. Each turn, you are given four actions. Though it may seem a lot at the start, as you get deeper into the game, you will realise that those four actions are always just short of what you need. After your actions you’ll have to draw cards from the Player Deck and then draw cards Flip those Infection cards according to the Infection Rate at the end of each from the Infection

turn

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desk according to the rate of infection shown on the board. The Player Deck provides players with the cards necessary for curing the disease, as players have to gather five cards of the same colour and spend an action to research a cure. But the Player Deck isn’t all about helping, a number of Epidemic cards are added into Player Deck at the start of the game according to the difficulty everyone has agreed on. Epidemic cards increases the game’s infection rate, which will cause


lite & leisure

Just a few of the roles provided in the game

more cities to be infected at the end of each players turn. But that’s not it, when an Epidemic card appears, an additional city will have three disease cubes placed on it, and the entire infection discard pile is shuffled and placed back on top of the infection deck. This means those cities shuffled back are in

Will you be able to save humanity?

danger of being infected once again, which just might cause an outbreak. However, this also means you can predict what cities could be infected again, since each card reveals itself at the end of players turns. The game is won once you successfully research all four cures. Here's the kicker: There’s only one way to win but so many ways to lose. Take "Outbreaks”, each city can only hold a maximum of three disease cubes and if an additional disease cube can’t be

The dreaded Epidemic card will keep players on their toes

Outbreaks are nasty things, so always think a step ahead or even two, maybe three

placed, an outbreak happens. What happens when an outbreak occurs? Players will have to place a single disease cube according to the disease that couldn’t be placed on each connected city. Yes. This also means that outbreaks can cause chain reactions and cause multiple outbreaks, but on the bright side previous cities that have already had an epidemic can no longer be affected by outbreaks, or this would cause an infinite outbreak. Pandemic is a game of luck and skill. But the luck factor can be mitigated by skill, because although certain parts of the game are random, there are still elements of predictability that players can use to think ahead. It's in no way a complicated game and is fairly easy to pick up, but every time you take it out to play you’ll always have a new scenario and aren’t always guaranteed a win. If you’re just getting into board games and haven’t already tried Pandemic, you should go to your nearest board game café now and play it. It’s something players like to call "Gateway Game”, because it acts as a gateway for new players to join the tabletop world. Pandemic is a game where everyone should work together and voice their opinions, or it would turn into another episode of "Let’s Play” on YouTube. It promotes interaction between players, so everyone will be involved. It's also well designed and the quality of the provided accessories are pretty decent, though over the years there have been changes like certain pieces now being produced with plastic instead of the much preferred wood. If you have exhausted the lifespan of the game, Pandemic also has a variety of "Expansions Sets” that add new content and mechanics to breathe fresh life back into the game.

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lite & leisure PLAY

The Not-So-Original Sin The sequel to Divinity: Original Sin, comes pre-packed with better graphics, overall improvements and a compelling story By Rikco Shim

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ivinity: Original Sin 2 takes place about 1,200 years after Original Sin, and stands within the same Divinity Universe. It is a turn-based RPG that will eat up most of your time. For the best experience with the game, we recommend you playing the game with a few friends. In this game, you can roleplay, mass steal or mass murder everyone along with your friends if you wish. The game does not constrict you in playing a single role in a playthrough. In this game you are Godwoken, Sourcerers that are chosen by the gods and are given a chance to become Divine. The gameplay takes the heroes on a journey,

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where up to four characters in your party will be with you. For RPG fanatics, this game allows you to spec them however you desire. For example, if you want a female Dwarf that runs around stabbing everyone in their ankles as a Rogue class character? You can do just that. The game plays extremely well when you have a modest number of enemies on the screen. But it starts to lag when the party was trying to save an unfortunate soul from an enemy, and when we got ambushed by a gang of blobs that kept spawning more and more blobs. Other than that instance, we only encountered the odd crash, but never had any game

breaking issues. Combat revolves around Status Effects, Environmental Effects and Elevation. For example, if you cast a fire skill on a rainy area, the area will turn into smoke, shrouding the character within the smoke, but reducing their chance to be able to land a hit. Elevation works best for Archer classes as they have a skill that grants more damage when they are on a higher elevation compared to the enemy. Aesthetic wise, the game is beautiful in its own right, but not to Skyrimâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s or Horizon: Zero Dawnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s level, it passes as one of the better looking isometric RPGs. Effects are beautiful, while the characters and maps surroundings are colourful. Also, the UI is


lite & leisure

Talking to a character with tags such as ”Undead” can open up different dialogue options

designed to assist even the freshest players on the block for RPGs. The game comes with a few difficulty modes getting progressively harder: Explorer, Classic, Tactician and Honor. We played at Classic Mode, because our first dive into Tactician Mode took too long for us to navigate as the game is indeed much harder on that mode. In Tactician mode, every spell and every move needs to be carefully considered. Honor mode is probably known as horror mode for most. When a character

dies in Honor mode, they are dead and the game autosaves, effectively nullifying your ability to quick load. You are only allowed a single save slot, and if the party is wiped out, it is game over for you. Aside from that, you get a wealth of customisations that can be applied to each character, ranging from stats and skills to hairstyles and so on. You can also play your character however you like, and come up with remarkable concoctions. As previously mentioned, this game can be played solo or

with friends, and instead of just your regular ”lets-all-get-along” co-op, you can declare war against the other party and make it a competitive gameplay, to see who gets the best loot and so on. Divinity: Original Sin 2 is a game that should be played by RPG lovers out there. It doesn’t cost too much, and the story is compelling early on, but sadly falls short in some areas.

Divinity: Original Sin 2 Genre: RPG Developer: Larian Studios Info: https://divinity.game/ System Requirements Platform: PC

+

Plethora of customisations Interesting characters with great storyline

-

Some fights can drag long with turn-based combat Main storyline loses its spark overtime Can’t skip tutorial area

Gameplay: Sound: Replayability:

Fighting enemies in town, with cursed fire and fire littered around the battlefield

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lite & leisure E-SPORTS NEWS

E-Sports Express Latest E-sports updates from the region and around the world

By Matthew Yap, Nixon Ng & Rikco Shim

Dew Challenge 2017 concludes The annual Comic Fiesta event often plays host to many sub-events and one of it this year is the Dew Challenge 2017, an amateur Dota 2 tournament that once unearthed talented wonders like Yeik ‘MidOne’ Nai Zheng, who is now playing for Team Secret and is one of the best players in Europe. This year, the tournament was opened to player from Singapore as well. Team "TenTwenty” emerged as this year’s champion, beating out 35 other teams for the biggest chunk of the SGD50,000 (approx. RM151,501) prize pool.

Virtus.pro records hattrick at The Summit CIS powerhouse team Virtus.pro proved that it has a strange fate with The Summit tournament, scoring its third straight Summit winner's crown at the eighth season. The two-time defending champion delivered strong performances throughout the event, going unbeaten all the way to the finals where they beat Fnatic 3:1. As a result, the team flies home with USD120,000 (approx. RM488,880) and 112.5 Dota Pro Circuit points (25% point penalty due to not playing with registered full roster).

Frostivus is back After an absence of about three years, Valve is finally adding the in-game event ‘Frostivus’ into Dota 2 to celebrate the Christmas and winter season. This time, the event features all-new treasures and community-created sets, such as a new headpiece for Twin-headed Dragon, a very rare Puck set, and more. Players will earn one free Frostivus gift by winning three games. They will also be able to enjoy a series of mini-games that are designed just for this season.

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lite & leisure

Local Watch eSports is growing exponentially in Malaysia and over the months we will see to it that our community gets the support and exposure they need to keep their motivation kindled

The Family of Geeks Geek Fam is an up and coming DotA team that has actually been around since 2016. Most recently they took the championship spot in the ZOTAC Cup Premier: DOTA2 SEA. This family was brought together by founders Keat and Joseph, who have been friends for over 10 years. After years of bonding over video games, they decided to build a place where geeks can come together as family. The founders are actively involved in their team’s progress to create an environment of mutual support and respect, which involves planning out, analysing strategies, and being there for them when they are needed. This motivates their ”Geeks” to strive harder, aim higher and work better together as more than just a team, but a family. But what makes Geek Fam stand out in the local scene is their personal interactions with their fans and the community. Keat, who is the owner of Geek Fam, has spoken out that fans are there to be interacted with. After all, fans are what keeps the eSports community alive. Without them, eSports wouldn’t be what it is today. Most recently, Geek Fam has revealed the launch of its very own ”Geek Arena”, becoming the first eSports team to establish a physical home stadium where fans and the public alike are given the opportunity to play and interact with their favourite Geek Fam players. The stadium is located in Lot 10 Shopping Mall and will include practice facilities for their players, hopefully serving as an indirect means of encouraging sponsors to jump aboard the eSports wave taking Malaysia by storm. Team Roster: Andrei "Skemberlu” Ong – Carry Ng Kee "ChYuan” – Mid-Laner Thiay "March” Jun Wen – Offlane Prieme "Playhard” Ejay Maque – Support Chan "Oli” Chon Kien - Support

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lite & leisure E-SPORTS NEWS

ROG Masters 2017 Looking Back At An Amazing Year

T

he 2017 season of ROG Masters ended with hurrahs in December 2017. Throughout the whole year, a myriad of offline and online tournaments were held across Europe, America and Asia, with roughly 6,000 teams from a span of 35 or more countries joined the prestigious tournament. The events were a massive success for ASUS Republic of Gamers (ROG), and shows that the company will continue to support the skyrocketing growth and development of eSports as a whole by providing the community with innovative gaming hardware and hosting jaw-dropping tournaments locally and globally. Derek Yu, ROG Strategic Gambit Gaming lifting their trophy after winning against TyLoo in CS:GO Division Director and Global Marketing Senior Director said: "From the inaugural year’s Asia Pacific-only tournament to this year’s worldwide events, ROG Masters has been incredibly successful in enabling seasoned pros and rising amateurs from all corners of the world to make their aspirations a reality and live their eSports dreams. ROG Masters 2017 featured overwhelming participation, with over 6,000 teams competing – ten times more than the previous year – in a series of events hosted in over 35 countries across Europe, the Americas and Asia. It is truly a testament to our shared enthusiasm with the community and the brand’s commitment to eSports.” The Grand Final was held in Kuala Lumpur Convention Center and attracted more than 6,000 fans from all corners of the world. There, they witnessed and basked in the glory of Gambit Gaming and Team Empire. Gambit Gaming closed out their most successful year in Counter Strike: Global Offensive while Team Empire managed to sneak a 3-2 victory, beating OpTic Gaming in DotA 2. Gambit Gaming saw out TyLoo in a decisive 3-0 victory, with some close calls in a few maps. In the first map, Overpass, Gambit managed to eek out a 16-14 win, but dominated the Inferno map (2nd) with a 16-4 win. They then squeezed out an OT when they were down 13-15, before winning taking it 19-16 on the last map, Train. For the DotA 2 side, Team Empire won game 1, but quickly slip two quick games to OpTic Gaming. Fortunately, some great drafts and clutch plays saw Empire pushing out OpTic Gaming from winning their 3rd game, before tying it up and setting up the last winner-takes-all game. In the last game, Empire pulled out a Medusa last-pick and the rest is history, as the series comes to a close after a 65-minute game. With these many exciting games and teams coming into the finals of the ROG Masters, we can’t wait to see what the 3rd year, ROG Masters 2018, has to offer. Will there be more amateurs, or will the pros continue to showcase why they are a cut above? The stage is set in KLCC for Team Empire vs WG:Unity, in which they won 2:0

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lite & leisure TOUCH

Gaming Apps Of The Month These are the apps that we have currently installed on our mobile devices. We think they should be on yours too By Rikco Shim

Idle Sword 2 Android (TBA, Beta)

I

f you are a fan of idle games, then this could just be the next game for you. It shares similar mechanics to most idle games – characters will gain level, experience, items and so on when you are not actively playing the game. But onto the game itself. Idle Sword 2 is a dungeon crawler where you lead a team of three to explore the dungeon. Currently, there are a total of six different character classes in the game and, as mentioned, you can only bring three at once, so you need to decide what team setup you will have. In our game, we have a Warrior, Healer and Archer – the basic and complete team with skills to tank, heal and to decimate from afar. The heroes gain experience, level up and skills to help

speed up the process of dungeon crawling. Luckily for our heroes, they have you. You are ”God” in this game and by tapping the screen, you can heal and damage the opponents, helping your heroes along the way. Like some idle games, you can level up your taps to increase damage and clear the dungeon faster. Along the way you get items, equipment and more to improve your heroes. Equipment that you put on your heroes gain an aesthetic value, so if you wish to make your warrior a tanker rocking that golden armour you found you can do so. In the early stages of your game, you only get to play certain levels. To progress further, you will have to ascend to the next level, unlocking more levels and unlocking

harder enemies. When you ascend, most of your items will disappear and you will usually have to go through the same level to obtain equipment, before moving on to harder levels. The more you ascend, the more floors there will be within a single level, making it harder for you to progress if you are unprepared. The game is fun, has great art and isn’t one that constantly forces you to pay attention to it. You can play whenever you want, or idle whenever you can’t. It is a simple setup that can keep people constantly hooked to the game, especially with the RPG elements of the game. Some IAPs are present in the game but are not intrusive at all. Usually you will be greeted with a video ad whenever you pass a certain amount of levels within a short period of time. This allows you to give yourself a rest after spending time in the game playing God. Changing the equipment of your heroes

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Exploring the dungeon


lite & leisure

object most of the times. You can combine items, which can then be used to do different things. The game does not innovate much, but there’s a certain charm to it. During your investigations/ explorations you get to meet the nfinite Prison is a puzzle like game which granddaughter and it is your task to get takes place in – you her out. You will encounter an guessed it, a prison. You exciting twist in the story, but are a bored/lonely we won’t ruin it for you. salaryman who decided a One thing annoying about change of pace in life this game is that it can obstruct would help you somehow. your progression if you do not But things are not what it purchase the ”No Ads” version. seems like and you The ads that can usually be managed to land yourself found at the bottom of the game in prison. You are tasked to are intrusive, blocking the most save a granddaughter of important button of the game someone who is in prison most of the times. The developer for something that they did knows of this and has no doubt not do. done this on purpose, so that Similar to most puzzle you will purchase the game games on mobile devices, when you are sick and tired of you tap on objects and Gameplay screen, notice the ads popping up and ruining your interact with them, hoping ad covering the "Tap” button game experience. that advances the story that you clicked the right Have some patience (or not) and

Infinite Prison Android, iOS (Free + IAPs)

I

you will be rewarded with a puzzle game with some interesting story elements and plot twists. It will take you some retries and keen eye to pass through the game.

Purrfect Spirits Android, iOS (Free + IAPs)

P

urrfect Spirits is a game about cats. That’s about it. Similar to Neko Atsume, you have cats visiting your ”Home”. You feed them and they stay around for a while, dropping money when they leave, as thanks for feeding them and giving them temporary housing. We wish actual cats would do that, then we’d be swimming in coins! In this game, you start off as a ghost and a cat leads you to your old house, where you feed them and the place becomes your base.

You can upgrade your house with items, such as cat scratchers that grant you extra money from the visiting cats. These items have to be purchased with money that the cat drops, so it’s a relentless cycle of upgrading and obtaining money. Cats in this game are amazingly cute and are well animated. However, unlike Neko Atsume, this game has a story that unlocks the more you play, so there’s more extra incentive to keep you playing. While playing, you will notice floating text flying across the

screen. They do give some information as to what is happening, but sometimes your screen will be so filled with text that you can’t even see what is going on. Luckily, they pass by quickly. If you are a lover of games that eat your time in short bursts, has cute graphics and most important of all - is free to play, then this is a game that you should try. If you don’t mind watching short ads every now and then that is.

The game screen, filled with cats!

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lite & leisure CROWDFUNDING

Made Possible By The Masses Our monthly look at crowd-funded projects that caught our eyes By Matthew Yap and Nixon Ng

Taro Ever felt frustrated trying to capture photos or footage of a sports game with your meagre equipment? Fret no more, for the Taro automatically rotates and tracks your target. It uses a sequential infrared tag and a tracking module that has an infrared camera to quickly identify the object or subject that is moving, then applies an AI pinpointing algorithm to accurately track it. http://kck.st/2CLrIZ7

LattePanda Alpha If you’re looking for a pocket-size PC that can run powerful programmes in a variety of setups, do check out the LattePanda Alpha. It’s called a ”hackable computer” that can be used as a standard PC, turn a remotecontrol toy car into an IoT device, and more. Created primarily for creativity and productivity endeavours, the device comes with Windows 10 Pro and Linux OS pre-loaded. http://kck.st/2B5mPJX

AKITA With the rise of smart home devices comes the need to secure them, because many of these devices don’t have security built into them. In comes AKITA, the smart home security watch dog that can monitor the activity of the devices on your network and make sure they’re not doing anything funny. All you need to get it to work is by plugging it to a LAN port on your router, then you’ll be able to block suspicious devices or call up the Axius customer care support for further assistance. http://kck.st/2BBDJB9

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lite & leisure

The Temperfect Coffee Mug If you want to be able to drink your coffee or tea without worrying about burning yourself and without waiting, savoring it in its temperature sweet spot for hours, this is the mug for you. Fill up your Temperfect mug and within minutes your favorite brewed beverage is drinkable. And it will stay just right for hours. No batteries or cords, nothing to wear it out! http://bit.ly/2Cb4VcL

Yeehaw Wand Yeehaw Wand is the fastest and easiest way to create in 3D without requiring any specialized programming or 3D graphics experience. You can design directly from your phone or tablet onto the real world. Create, edit, and design using the Yeehaw Wand and its free app. You can also print it to any 3D printer. This draw-and-print system allows you to construct designs by sketching your concepts in mid-air. It will simply be the final instrument for 3D creativity. Just wave the Wand in front of your phone or tablet's camera and see your creation taking form right in front of you. Leave nothing to chance by viewing your designs in real life. http://kck.st/2CiG18E

Birdhouse These are no ordinary birdhouses, this is an internet-of-things work of art. All Birdhouses are connected by WiFi to and through the internet. There will be many Birdhouses all over the world, but there is only one bird. It flies from one Birdhouse to another. You never know exactly when the bird will be around your particular Birdhouse, but there is a website with an online map that shows you where all Birdhouses are located and where the bird is at that particular time. Because the Birdhouses are connected to the internet, a lot of information is available to the bird, like weather conditions for instance. http://kck.st/2lamr72

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practice

Light Tent For Product Shots Professional equipment is not necessary needed for high-quality product photos. You can still get very impressive photos with our self-made light tent By Alastair Jennings

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f you wish to sell something on the Internet, then a good product photo can be helpful to get an appropriate price for the product. Fortunately, you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t need to have an expensive light table nor a professionally made cove to get the perfect shot of your goods. In fact, a simple light tent will ensure well-illuminated, shadow-less results. For example, instead of directly illuminating the object with a desk lamp, you can disperse the harsh lamp light by using a light

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tent as a cover. This results in a soft, low-contrast illumination without deep shadows. Thus, you can get very impressive product photos without setting up a professional photo studio. Even better if you just save the money youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d normally need for a light tent and make it yourself. In this article, we will show you how to make such a tent by yourself.


practice

4 1

5 2

6 3

How to proceed

4 Readjust the picture

1 Prepare the light tent box

While sticking the well-ironed cloth pieces using an adhesive tape, you should ensure that they are well-stretched. The opening against the cove should be kept open.

Procure a stable carton and cut out the cover and three sidewalls.

2 Use cove Make a cove using white cardboard paper for a flawless background. Attach the paper to the backwall of the carton and let it run to the front.

3 Prepare the diffusor Cut three pieces to size out of thin white fabric. The cloths should be a bit bigger than the side walls and the top of the cardboard. After that, iron out all the folds.

5 Place the light Now you can you shine lamp through the semi-translucent fabric from the outside, getting that diffused light effect that a soft box provides. This ensures soft illumination of the motif or product you are capturing.

6 Optimise the effect If you work only with one light source, then you will quickly get ugly shadows. More lamps on the left and right of the light tent box will help eliminate shadows altogether.

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practice

Stream VR Games On Your Smartphone You can stream games on your smartphone using tools like Trinus VR, without needing any expensive headset like the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift By Julia Schmidt

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re the Oculus Rift or HTV Vive too expensive for you? If yes, then we have a few do-it-yourself solutions that will give you good results in the shortest possible time. For this, you will need the Trinus VR software (www.trinusvirtualreality.com),

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your smartphone and a cheap headset like Virtual Reality glasses VRB58.3D from Pearl. You can stream the screen contents of your PC on the smartphone with the help of Trinus VR and, thanks to the


practice gyrometer in the cell phone, you can look around very naturally in virtual reality without aligning the camera using the mouse. Furthermore, you can use the usual input devices like keyboard or joystick. In principle, you can display any PC software in VR to the smartphone, because Trinus always transfers the contents of the respectively active window. Software with PC games that work with the ego perspective, are the most fun. But first, you need to reduce the image resolution of the game; it should be half as much as the resolution of your smartphone display. Then, set the format to 4:3. If a game is defined in the 16:9 format on the display, then the VR solution presented in this article won’t be suitable, because your smartphone will show a warped picture.

1

The crux is the control Trinus VR - and the visually pepped up alternative VRidge from the Riftcat company - claim that it can render dedicated contents for Stream VR, etc. But they cannot replace the extensive control options of the VR controller. Instead, it enables the user to transfer the image and calibrate the headset. However, controlling special VR contents using the mouse and keyboard is not possible. For that, VRidge offers support for the PlayStation Move-Motion or Nolo VR controllers. Additional tip: As soon as you use your smartphone in a Samsung Gear VR, it normally switches into the Gear VR mode automatically. This means that you can call only access Oculus contents and the streamed image can no longer be seen. You can prevent this by using the Play Cardboard app on Gear VR, since only the cardboard mode by itself can be used with it.

2

Photos: Huawei (Smartphone); Pearl (VR-Brille); 2K Games/BioShock Infinite (Screenshot)

1 Install Trinus VR on the smartphone and PC Install Trinus VR Lite on your smartphone, then allow it access to your WiFi connection and accept the terms of use. Next, set up the Trinus VR server on your computer. You will find the software on the Internet at trinusvirtualreality.com Trinus VR Lite is a 15-minute long trial version, with different options to extend the time allowed. You can activate the app for 60 minutes via the ”trial period” where only the time period, in which you will actually stream contents on your smartphone, is important. Viewing advertisement videos will fetch you ten more minutes and you can also buy the app for around 8.99 Euro (approx. RM43). As for the server program, you can download it for free.

3

2 Establish connection between smartphone and PC You will get the best VR experience when you connect your smartphone and computer via a USB cable. First, connect them together, then start the app and server software. Also, tap in the middle of the USB icon below in the app to access the settings, then activate ‘‘USB-Tethering” and return to the app. The USB icon in the app should turn violet and bold after some time. Finally, click or tap on the triangle in the server and in the app to start the stream. If the USB connection does not work, then switch the smartphone to the flight mode. If you still cannot get any connection, then you may have to try setting up a WiFi hotspot on the smartphone and connect your computer to it that way.

3 Change settings of Trinus VR server The basic settings of the server are enough for the first test. You can select more presets under ”Head Mount” later on in order to compensate for the distortion of the lenses in different headset models. Make sure to try different combinations to get the best results. The lenses can be customised individually under ‘‘Adjust Lens” via the ‘‘Video” tab, but do note that it can be quite cumbersome. You should be able to get the best picture quality by setting the ‘‘Image Scale” to ‘‘Ultra” and moving the slider to the extreme right for ‘‘Compression”.

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tips & tricks

02

Tips Tricks JANUARY 2018

WINDOWS & OFFICE Windows Deactivate old network protocol for security reasons

01

SMB (Server Message Block) is a network protocol used to transfer files. However, the first version of this protocol is outdated and no longer secure. A few months ago, a weak point in the SMBv1, for instance, made it possible for malware like WannaCry to propagate in the networks worldwide, running under Windows XP. Operating systems from Windows Vista onwards use newer versions of the SMB protocol so you can confidently deactivate SMBv1, if you are not using Windows XP anymore. To do this, open the Control Panel, navigate to the applet "Programs and Features" under "Programs” and click on the link "Turn Windows features on or off". You will now see a list of all Windows

The "0x8e5e03fa" error occurs occasionally during a Windows update. To eliminate it, download the script "Reset Windows Update Agent" from the Microsoft Technet site (https://gallery.technet.microsoft.com/ scriptcenter/Reset-Windows-Update-Agentd824badc). Also, remember to run the script "ResetWUEng.cmd" as Administrator. Otherwise, the changes for repairing the update function will not take effect. After opening, start the required changes on your operating system via the menu option 2 "Reset Windows Update Components". The script works through all components automatically. You can initiate a restart of

features, which are available on your PC. Scroll to the option "SMB 1.0/CIFS File Sharing Support", remove the check mark for it and confirm the action by clicking on OK. SMBv1 will no longer work on your computer. If the option "SMB 02 1.0/CIFS File Downloading the Reset Windows Update Agent allows you to reset your Windows Update errors Sharing Support" is missing, then your computer after running the script, via the network protocol is already no longer the option 16 "Restart your PC". The error active on your system. code "0x8e5e03fa" should no longer appear.

03

01 Easily turn off SMB via ''Turn Windows features on or off” under ''Control Panel”

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Windows Resolve update problems with the help of a Microsoft Script

Windows 10 Remove Action Center from the Taskbar using the slider

The Action Center, that pops up as soon as new messages arrive, belongs to the new system functions under Windows 10. If you do not wish to use it, then it is possible to disable it anytime. To remove the Action Center from the Taskbar, open the "Settings" of Windows 10 using the key combination [Windows]+[I]. In the next window, go to "Personalisation" and then on the left, to "Taskbar". Scroll up to the section "Notification area" and click on the link "Turn system icons on or off". Here,


tips & tricks

03 Easily disable the Action Center button from your Taskbar by just switching this button to Off

move the slider next to the "Action Center", towards the left, to the "Off" position. After this action, the Action Center will disappear from the Taskbar. As soon as you move the slider to the right to the "On" position, you will be able to access Action Center again. If you are working with an older version of Windows 10 (before version 10586) then you have to proceed somewhat differently. After opening the "Settings" with the key combination [Windows]+[I], click on "System" and open the tab "Notifications and Actions". Here, you have to select the option "Activate or deactivate system icons". At the end of the list, you will find the Action Center. If you set the relevant switch to "Off" then the icon will disappear from the Taskbar.

04

Word Change document format manually and utilise Styles templates

04 Clicking on the "Size” tab under "Layout” menu allows you to easily change your document format on the fly

In case of some Word documents, before editing, it is recommended to change the format. For example, switch to Landscape or from A4 to A3. You can make format changes via the "Layout" tab. Press 05 the "Orientation" Changing your equaliser settings can be simply done via Realtek HD Audio button in the Manager "Page Setup" group and select "Portrait" or "Landscape". The "Format" equaliser. button is on the right side next to it. A second option to increase the Next, click on the "Size" button to open a volume, resides in the Windows on-board pull-down menu, where "A4" is selected resources. Click the Windows button on by default. At this point, you can change the Taskbar to open the Start menu, type the format, for example, to "A3" or even a "Adjust system volume" in the Search field user-defined format. and press the [Enter] key. A "Volume Mixer" Formatting changes can be carried out will appear. You can access it by clicking even faster with the help of pre-defined the tiny loudspeaker icon on the left next style templates. In many cases, Word saves to the clock in the Taskbar. Select "Mixer" in you the effort of creating these templates. the following window. If you right-click the After clicking on the "Home" tab, you will icon, the context menu will open. Go to the immediately see a series of ready-made command "Open Volume mixer" from the format templates, like "Title" or "Heading". context menu. Right-click on a format template to open the context command "Modify". In the next window "Modify template", you will now Windows Activate AHCI mode to utilise SSDs have the option to define the colour, font fully type and paragraph spacing.

06

05

You will be able to get the full performance of an SSD only when you activate the AHCI mode under Windows. Otherwise, the SSD

Windows Increase and individually control sound output

If you connect speakers to your PC to improve the sound and they fail to be louder, there are a few steps that you can take to improve the situation. In this scenario, you should increase the maximum volume in Windows. An easy way for a robust sound in deactivating the loudspeaker balance under Windows. If you see the Realtek HD Audio Manager on the bottom right in the Taskbar, open the tool, go to the tab "Sound Effects" and select a random equaliser below. Click on the Equaliser button and you can adjust the individual sliders as you wish till the sound becomes powerful. Click on the "Save" button to create a new

06 Easily check if your SSD is working in AHCI mode via "Device Manager” under "Control Panel”

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tips & tricks will continue working in IDE mode and will slow down your computer. Go to the Control Panel and open the Device Manager to check whether the AHCI mode is activated or not. If you do not see any AHCI Controller under "IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers " then you will need to change it in the registry under Windows 7 and 8. Press the Start button and type "regedit" in the Search window and click on the topmost search result "regedit.exe". In the registry database, go to the key "HKEY_LOCAL_ MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\ services\msahci". The individual entries will now be seen on the right side. To activate the AHCI mode, set the value "Start" to "0". Subsequently, restart your computer and change the SATA mode from "IDE" to "AHCI" in the BIOS. This works somewhat differently under Windows 10. Open the command prompt with Admin rights where you have to type "cmd.exe' in the Windows Search window, right-click on the search result and select the context command "Run as Administrator". Subsequently, type the command "bcdedit /set {current} safeboot minimal" in the console to start Windows in safe mode. While the computer is starting, switch to BIOS and change the mode there from "IDE" to "AHCI". After you have saved the settings, Windows 10 will start in safe mode. Now, open the command prompt with Admin rights again and disable the safe mode with the command "bcdedit /deletevalue {current} safeboot". The AHCI mode will be activated after another restart.

07

Excel Optically sort out sheets with conditional formatting

Thanks to conditional formatting, you can colour every second row in grey or in another colour easily in Excel. First, select the area where you want every second cell to be coloured. Subsequently, click on the tab labelled as "Conditional formatting" in the "Home" menu and go to "New rule" in the collapsible menu. In the "New formatting rules" window, select the option "Use formula to determine the cells to be formatted" as the "Rule Type". Now, type the formula "=REST(ROW();2)=0" or "=REST(COLUMN();2)=0" in the middle of the field - depending on whether you have selected an area spanning several rows or columns. The formula returns "TRUE" when

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07 Clicking on "Conditional Formatting” under the "Home” tab can bring up the settings for it. Clicking on "New Rule” will allow you to customise your own formatting rules

the number of rows or columns is divisible by 2 without remainder. After entering the formula, press the "Format" button. Search for a colour in the "Format cells" window on the tab "Fill" and confirm with "OK". Also, click on the "OK" button in the "New Formatting rule" window. You can change or delete your formatting rules via "Conditional formatting | Manage rules..."

08

Windows 10 Filter and individualise notifications

08 You can customise the notifications in Windows 10 as per your personal requirements, with just a few tricks. For example, you can switch them off temporarily. To do this, right-click on the context command "Quiet hours" on the Action Centre icon. To suppress notifications during a presentation, click on the gearwheel icon and open the Windows settings, go to "System | Notifications and Actions" and activate "Hide notifications on the duplicate screen". If an app is flooding your system with messages then it can be pacified. Search for the annoying app under "Get notifications from these senders" and set the slider to "Off".

09

Switching on the "Hide notifications when I’m duplicating my screen” should hide those embarrassing or annoying emails while you are busy doing presentations

Some file information may be lost during this process, which is why the new file probably looks a little bit different than the initial file. In the browser, go to the PDF file which you want to edit, right-click on it and go to the context command "Open with". In the next "Open With" window, go to Word option and press the "OK" button. After Word has converted the PDF file, you can edit the file. Once you have made the changes, you can convert the file back into

Word Open and modify PDF documents

PDF files can be edited directly in Word. To do this, first convert the PDF into Word format (.docx).

09 You can modify PDF with Word, but PDFs with plenty of images will look wonky most times


tips & tricks a PDF file. Press the [F12] key or go to the menu command "File | Save as". Go to the folder in which you wish to save the Word file as a PDF. Go to "Save As” and click on the drop-down box beside the "Save” button and choose (*.pdf) to save the file as pdf.

10

Windows 10 Replace old account password by a new one

11 You can find your PowerPoint Add-in under the "Developer” tab in PowerPoint

10 Replacing or creating a new password for your Windows account password can be easily done within the "Settings” menu, and you will be prompted with a menu to do so

You should change your log-in password regularly to protect your data. Under Windows 10, open the Start menu and click on the gearwheel icon of the "Settings" on the bottom left. Here, go to the category "Accounts" and open the "Sign-in options" on the left. Click on the "Change/Add" button under the option "Password" and Windows will now ask you for your old password before you type in the new password. Thereafter, type the new password for a second time and press the "Next" button below. Click on "Done" and Windows 10 will replace the old password with the new one and prompts you to test it out by pressing on [Windows] + [L] keys on your keyboard.

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process. If not, then you can let your PC search for updates and install them. If PowerPoint is still encountering issues, an Add-in could be responsible for the problem. To find out, start the program in Safe Mode. Press the shortcut [Windows] + [R], type the command "powerpnt / safe" in the "Run" window and confirm with "OK". PowerPoint will now start in safe mode without Add-ins. If the program works fine now, then it is very likely that an Add-in was the trouble-maker. To identify it, first disable all Add-ins and then activate them individually again. As soon as the problem occurs again after activating an Add-in, remove that Add-in. If none of these solutions help, it would be best to reinstall PowerPoint altogether.

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Windows Control your computer remotely via RDP protocol while travelling

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PowerPoint Identify faulty Add-ins using Windows Safe Mode

When the presentation program is not working, you should first shutdown your PC and then restart it. Since Windows rectifies the temporary errors, this may already lead to resolving the problem during this

Sometimes controlling or maintaining a computer remotely via the Internet or a network is beneficial. The RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) protocol helps in transferring mouse and keyboard inputs on to the target device and to reflect them on the screen. The prerequisite for accessing distant computers via RDP requires Professional, Enterprise or Ultimate version of Windows 7.8, 8.1 or 10. Users with Home Edition must resort to alternatives like TeamViewer (on https://www. teamviewer.com/en/). Activate the remote desktop feature on the computer which you wish to control remotely first. To do this, go to the Control Panel, navigate to the applet "System" and click on the option "Remote settings" in the left column. In the "System Properties" window, set a checkmark in the checkbox for "Allow Remote Assistance connections to this computer" in the "Remote" tab. Release the port TCP 3389 for a connection from the Internet and set the port redirection if needed. You should also install the tool WakeOnLAN (on https://wol.aquilatech.com/), so that you can switch on the computer remotely.

12 Make sure the checkbox is ticked for Remote Assistance in your Windows’ System Properties

Excel Set a checkmark as reminder of completed entries

A checkmark is particularly good to mark entries as completed in Excel tables. You will find it in the font type "Marlett" on the "Start" tab. This font type is installed by default as Windows uses some characters of the font itself. Typing in "a" to insert a checkmark in the document and select it. You can change the "Font" either in the menu group above or by going to the context command "Format cells" after

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tips & tricks "ost" must be activated in the "Advanced Options" window on the "File Types" tab. It can be seen by means of a checkmark in the prefixed checkbox.

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Outlook Solve authentication problem on the mail server

13 Adding crosses or checkmarks can be done easily with the Marlett font within Excel. By typing "a” in Marlett font will give you a checkmark, and typing in "r” will result in a cross

right-clicking on the cell. Open the "Font" tab and scroll to the font "Marlett" in the combination field "Fonts". The checkmark will appear after clicking on "OK". You can format an entire column in this manner: The checkmark will then appear automatically in this column whenever the letter "a" is typed.

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Windows Resolve and stop problems with Windows Search

If you are getting the error message

"Wrong authorisation for Windows Search directories" then first type the term "Search" in the Windows Search and open the tool "Change how Windows searches". In the "Indexing Options" window, look for a "Rebuild” button under "Troubleshooting”. By rebuilding, you can potentially resolve your problem. Another option for solving the problem is to open the applet "Indexing Options" in the Control Panel and to check whether all relevant folders are present. For instance, if you get this error message in Outlook, then go to the "Indexing Options" again and press the "Advanced" button. The option

14 Resolving persisting issues with the Windows Search by "Rebuilding” your search index

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15 System Restore will restore your PC to previously stable build where you were able to access your emails

The error messages "0x800CCC90" or "0x800CCC92" may occur while calling Emails in Outlook. In this case, it is due to an authentication problem on the mail server from where the Emails should be called. The possible causes are many and range from a faulty download up to a virus attack. You can use a virus scanner like Malwarebytes - Malware Scanner (on https://www.malwarebytes.com/), to determine the latter. After that, check whether your drivers are up-to-date. You can use a tool like DriverEasy (on https:// www.drivereasy.com/) to do this. Resetting your PC to an earlier status with the help of "System Restore" is always worth a try "(Control Panel | System | Advanced system settings | System Protection)”. Using the Windows function "sfc" (System File Checker), you can check whether the system files of Windows are working properly. After you have typed the console command "sfc /scannow" as Administrator, the tool will repair faulty files during the scan.


tips & tricks HARDWARE Keyboard Prepare and run a general clean-up

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You should clean your keyboard thoroughly from time to time, not just for aesthetic reasons but because a lot of bacteria get collected over time on the keyboard. The best option to get rid of these pests is the dishwasher machine. Do note that this is a difficult process and should only be used if you a confident that you can reassemble the keyboard again. Remove all the keys first before the washing process. This process can go faster with a small screwdriver used as a lever but a special tool like a key cap remover is preferred. Once this is done, unscrew the keyboard and carefully dismantle the circuits. You can now place the keyboard in the dishwasher. Set a temperature of 35 to 40 degrees and insert a cleaning tab into it.

17 Easily deactivating the SIM PIN request on your Apple device via "Settingsâ&#x20AC;?

there for security reasons. However, it can be annoying that the Apple smartphone regularly prompts you to enter the SIM PIN, luckily you can disable this request. To do this, go to the "Settings" and navigate to the "Telephone" area. Here, scroll down

18 It only takes a few clicks to set your Amazon Fire TV Stick into Standby mode

stick from Amazon, then you have the option to switch it to the Standby mode. However, it can be completely shut down by removing the stick from the TV. The path to the standby mode goes via the Home key on the remote control of the Fire TV. Press this button for a few seconds and select the standby mode. This action will shift the streaming stick into standby mode. In the settings of the Fire TV, you can also set the automatic switching to standby mode after a specific number of minutes of inactivity. However, the Fire Stick might not turn off by just unplugging it out of your TV.

16 You can also clean the keyboard after removing the keys and use a Q-Tip, Air Dust Blower, and Rubbing alcohol, if our suggested process is too difficult

Place the keys in the cutlery basket and affix the lid with something like a bent paperclip. For drying, place the individual parts with the cavities downwards on a kitchen towel. Extra tip: Take a photo of the keyboard layout before you dismantle it. It will be significantly easier to assemble the keyboard afterwards.

17

Smartphone Deactivate SIM PIN request of Apple iPhone

The SIM PIN request on the iPhone is

19

Gaming Console Connect your boxed and stored up Nintendo 64 to your TV

till the option "SIM PIN". You can now set the slider for "SIM PIN" towards the left. Next, iOS will ask you to enter the SIM PIN once again to confirm this change.

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Streaming-Stick Switch Amazon Fire TV to standby manually or automatically

When you are not using the Fire TV streaming

19 Dig out your old Nintendo 64 and replay it on your TV with easily found adapters in the market

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tips & tricks The legendary console Nintendo 64 has already been around for about 20 years. Nevertheless, they are mostly stuffed into boxes or suitcase in your basement. If you are in a mood to play a N64 game again, connecting the unit with the TV is the only thing that stands between you and the joy of gaming. First, connect the power adapter to the "AC/Adapter" port of the console. The stereo/AV cable is plugged into the "Multi-out" port of the Nintendo 64. If your TV has a Composite port, then check the colour coding of the ports (red, white, yellow) while connecting the stereo/AV cable. If only the Scart interface is available, then you will need a Scart Composite adapter that can be bought from your local malls or Hypermarkets. You have to pay attention to the colour coding in this case also. After that, connect the Scart adapter with the TV unit. Now, everything is set up for Super Mario & friends. Insert a game module into the slot on the top side of the console and switch on the TV. Finally, select the game source from ("Scart" or "AV").

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3.5-inch discs Read and recover data from Floppy drives

Some 3.5-inch discs, also known as floppy discs are still present in some peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s drawers and can even be bought off the shelves in some stores. For those who are curious about the contents of these relic data storage devices, you can grab hold of a USB floppy drive. You can get an diskette adapter for about RM100. Insert the diskette to be read in the external drive and connect it to the PC. The diskette will now appear in the Explorer as "Removable media". If you wish to recover the files from the diskette, open the context menu after right-clicking on the respective file and transfer the contents using the commands "Copy" and "Paste" on your computer.

21 Using a marble will allow you to take some unique pictures, but do note that you have to be a certain distance away to be able to take viewable pictures

WEB, TOOLS & PHOTOS Photography Play around with marbles for interesting photography

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You can get interesting effects with your photos using a marble. However, you must set up the camera beforehand. A f-number of f/2.8 is recommended whereas maximum close focus should be selected for the lenses. If you are shooting manually, then an exposure time of 1/250 seconds is ideal. If you use a tripod then longer exposure times are possible. The brightness of your surrounding also plays an important role in the selection of the exposure time. For ISO, you should keep it as low as possible to minimise the image noise. Also, a focal length of 25 to 35 mm is

recommended, depending on the sharpness you desire. Before you begin to experiment with the marble, wipe it using a microfibre cloth. You can prevent it from rolling away by placing it on a bit of salt or light sand. Before shooting, ensure that there are no unwanted motifs on the surface.

22

Firefox Call websites that no longer exist

Everyone knows the famous error message "404 Not Found". It appears when one clicks on a dead link that may be for a website that no longer exists. The add-on Wayback Machine for Firefox automatically pops up in such cases, matches the link with the database on the Internet archive in San Francisco and checks whether

20 Nowadays, if you wish to use floppy discs, you should be able to purchase USB floppy drives instead of digging out your old PC

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22 Using the website, you can access ancient websites that are no longer live


tips & tricks the URL is available in the local web archive. The chances for it are good as the commonly used project Internet Archive has documented almost 300 billion websites. Once the match is positive, you can open the archived website by clicking on it and view it despite it being dead. The Firefox extension, which is also available for Google Chrome, also allows the independent archiving of websites. You can also follow the link https://archive.org/web/ to access the archive without extensions.

23

Streaming Getting Netflix to start streaming again

23 Sometimes by simply closing the app or movie that you are watching on Netflix will restart the stream if it gets stuck

If you come across the error "1002" on Netflix, then there are several solutions available to you. With the error code "1002", Netflix wants to convey to you that there is a problem with the Internet connection that is causing a problem in starting the desired videos. Therefore, first you have to check the status of your online connection and ensure that your network allows streaming. Usually, public networks do not permit streaming for security reasons. In most cases, it is enough to switch your receiver on and off. Another option is to disconnect the router's power for about fifteen seconds and then connecting the power again. If Netflix continues to show the error, then uninstall the Netflix app and install it again.

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achieve a more powerful moving effect, keep a few metres distance from the motif and zoom in with a higher focal length.

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24 A slider can be used to guide a camera through the scene, which is ideal for time lapse photos

end equipment to be successful, since a skateboard or a City scooter are also suitable equipment for tracking shots, at least on flat roads. You can also use skis for filming in winter season. If you wish to invest some money, then a shoulder rig can be considered for a vibration-free support used in tracking shots. It stabilises the camera and the weight distribution allows you to shoot comfortably for a longer duration. The rig is made up of individual parts, so it can be assembled according to your needs. As it is fixed on your shoulders and two hands, every body movement is transferred to the camera. Additional equipment like a microphone or a Follow Focus can be attached to the shoulder rests. A slider gives you the option to integrate slight movement in a quiet scene. The camera can then be led through the scene softly from right to left on a rail. Generally, sliders are at most two metres wide. To

Firefox Shoot screen photos with new browser extensions

The extension Firefox Screenshots makes it possible for you to capture screen photos directly in the browser. To activate the new function, type "about:config" in the URL section of the browser and press the [Enter] key. After confirming the security question, navigate via the Search field to the option "extensions.screenshots.systemdisabled". You can change the value from "true" to "false" after double-clicking on the above option. Next, restart Firefox and the Firefox screenshot icon will appear in the menu bar. This icon will be in the form of a small scissor. Click on the icon to start creating a new screen photo. You can now define the cut section to be captured, using the mouse - either by clicking in the desired area or by selecting a random section up to the entire screen. Once you have defined the section, the "Save" button will appear. Click this button to save the screenshot online. You can now store the link to your screenshot at any place via the context command "Insert" or the key combination [Ctrl] + [V]. You also have the option to download the screenshot. To do this, click on the button "Download" on the left, next to the "Save" button. You will then find the screenshot, saved in the PNG format, in your Download folder. The entire procedure can also be interrupted by clicking on the "Abort" button.

Video Design attractive movie shots using tracking shots

Tracking shots look professional and bring dynamic movement to your movie â&#x20AC;&#x201C; as long as you avoid shaky movement while capturing. You do not need any high-

25 Taking screenshots easily on Firefox with a built-in screenshot taker

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in the next issue FEBRUARY

OLED vs QLED TV purchasers are currently being courted by two screen technologies, each of which promises to deliver the best viewing experience

Are You Addicted To Apps? The name says it all, developers and programmers are reviving a concept that was once reviled as totalitarian

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An Unseen Menace? Is Facebook stealthily listening in on our conversations? It might seem like itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s technologically unrealistic, but this particular rumour has persisted for a while


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