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I S S U E 2 7 / Vo l . 3 January 2013

www.gladgetmag.com

Samsung offers new content for mobile users

Content King

Telkom speeds up SA internet services

Charged Up

R evie w s inc luding R aze r, M SI, Tos hiba, B elkin, S t eelS eries and more. . .

Quick Fix

The best in mobile games

The Protea The state of the South African eSport arena

Capturing the essence of Ferrari

Free Online Mag


Inside 6 From the Editor 8 Did You Know?

More fun facts from the world of tech 10 Tshabablabber

World domination, one phone at a time... 12 Like Minds...

Ferrari and Logic3 work together... 18 Wi-Fi Security Know How

Keeping safe on the go 20 Content is King

Providing Africa with the content it craves 26 Fast is Slow

Faster internet? Maybe not... 28 The Games People Play

Some mobile games to get 30 Lookng Back: 1962

The big bang... 32 Reviews

Some items you may need in your life

This Month’s Cover The perfect marriage of style and sound in Ferrari by Logic3. See our feature on page 12...

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Competition 45 Razer Chimaera 5.1 Wireless Gaming Headset

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Reviews

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Ferrari by Logic3 T350 Noise Cancelling Headphones

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Cooler Master CM Storm Quick Fire TK Keyboard

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Thecus N5550 NAS

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Razer Chimaera 5.1 Wireless Gaming Headset

GLADGET Volume 3 Issue 30 April 2013

Editor: Katia Taliadoros katia@1337-media.com

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Canon Ixus 132 Digital Camera

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Canon Pixma MX524 All-In-One Printer

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Cooler Master CM Storm Sirus S 5.1 Gaming Headset

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Nashua Ricoh Ultra Short Throw Projector

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Razer Deathstalker Ultimate Elite Gaming Keyboard

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Asus Xonar Essence One USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier

Newsletter Subscriptions: www.gladgetmag.com

SanDisk Cruzer Pop 8GB USB Flash Drive

Design & Photography: 1337 Media

FujiFilm FinePix X100 Digital Camera

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Ferrari by Logic3 P200 Overear Headphones

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Bioshock: Infinite (PS3)

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Gears of War: Judgment (X360) Tomb Raider (X360)

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God of War: Ascension (PS3)

Letters: letters@gladgetmag.com Competition Entries: competitions@gladgetmag.com

Razer Naga Hex Gaming Mouse

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Writers: Alex Scanlon Andy Taliadoros Charlie Fripp Iwan Pienaar Lein Baart Pippa Tshabalala Rob Edwards Suvesh Arumugam Walt Pretorius

Marketing Contact: Katia Taliadoros katia@1337-media.com

technology. simply. All rights reserved. No content may be reproduced, copied or transmitted without the express permission of the publishers. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the editors and publishers. All Trademarks and Registered Trademarks are the sole property of the respective owners.

GAMECCA is published by 1337 MEDIA

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Copyright Š 1337 Media CC 2009 - 2013

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Berries&H20

by Katia Taliadoros

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From the Editor

s consumers, we are all researchers looking for the right tools to make our lives easier; if you consider that when we go out to purchase a product, most of us will read the packaging of the different brands, assess the cost, weigh up our pro’s cons and hopefully will make the right choices. Or do we? Most of us begin our research the minute we walk into a store and much of the time we are bombarded by a salesman who is going to want his commission on what we purchase, so one has to wonder if their motives are not always noble. Beyond this, you have millions spent on advertising, packaging and promotional material… carefully used as a means to “help” you make that correct choice. We all know that, to a degree, this mass consumer brainwashing does exist, even though it only affects ‘everyone else’. Ask yourself this: have you ever in your lifetime purchased something you didn’t really need? Ladies and gentleman, most of the time we don’t need the stuff that we buy! We buy the stuff that we want. See, marketing is based on making sure that we, as

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consumers, are enticed and seduced into parting with our cash for those delectable products that we desire. Why? Because it is easier to sell a product to a public that has an emotional attachment to a brand than a logical one. Need may certainly come into the picture but not always, not really and we know that. Or do we? So what can we do about it? We live in a society where being influenced by our environment is part and parcel with life, so short of moving into an Ashram where you can fast on berries and water for the rest of your days while humming your way to another plane of existence, I say face desires with clarity! Seriously, simply be aware by doing your research beforehand and knowing what you need, knowing what you want, and knowing what you don’t want. Enough said! As far as this issue of Gladget Magazine is concerned, take a look and see if there is anything you think can improve your existence… If you are looking for the right headphones, you may want to take a look at the four headphone reviews in this issue as a heads up

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(pun intended) towards your own personal research. Additionally, we also spoke to Miles Abrahams, the product manager for Ferrari by Logic3 at Apex Interactive, about their range of personal audio products, and the different markets that they focus on. Speaking of interviews, Thabiet Allie, Samsung Electronics Africa’s Head of Contents and Services, speaks to Walt Pretorius about four exciting new mobile content offerings. Also, did you know that Nokia’s ringtones are actually Morse code? Charlie Fripp reveals more. Pippa talks to us about mobile gaming, while Lein takes us through a historical view of 1962. Iwan opens up the subject regarding the security of WiFi and some questions are raised in the world of internet, where Telkom’s official big launch of the VDSL has made news; Suvesh sheds light on the matter. It seems I have run out of space so I leave you with this: be aware of your own power as an individual consumer within a society that, in truth, cannot function without you. On that note, enjoy the Mag, no purchase required!


DID YOU

KNOW? 1

…that Nokia’s ringtones are actually Morse Code? Nokia was once the powerhouse of mobile phones, and while they have somewhat lost their crown a bit, there are still some pretty interesting things about the Finnish mobile manufacturer. The company is fairly creative when it comes to their ringtones, and many of them have hidden meanings. For instance, the Ascending SMS tone is actually Morse code for Nokia’s slogan, which is Connecting People. The Standard SMS tone is also Morse code for the letter M (short for Message), while the famous Nokia ring tone is actually based on a 19th century guitar work named Gran Vals by Spanish musician Francisco Tárrega.

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…that Damon Baird’s actor voiced over 320 roles? Fred Tatasciore isn’t a name that many people would instantly recognise, but mention some of his work, and gamers will immediately know who is being spoken about. Tatasciore is a voice artist, and can currently be heard as Damon Baird in Gears of War: Judgment. While he featured in all the previous Gears title, his resume spans over 320 voice credits – in games as well as films. While he mostly voices a villain, his credits include the troll in Enchanted, Brian in The Princess and the Frog, and did a couple of voice for Tangled. In terms of video games, he can be heard in Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Bulletstorm, Tron: Evolution, God of War III, and a good number of Superman and Spiderman games. At one stage he did the safety narration for the Disney theme park ride Space Mountain, and actually started his career as a stand-up comedian.

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Regular

…that there is a secret minigame in Pokemon Yellow? Pokemon was one of the biggest games in the 90’s when it made its first appearance, with millions of players trying to capture all the creatures and battle other for their animals. It is still played today by loyal gamers, and a range of new titles have been popping up every year. But what many Pokemon players might not know, is that there is a secret minigame in Pokemon Yellow, accessible only by going through a number of actions. The minigame is called Pikachu’s Beach, and can only be reached by first having a Surfing Pikachu.

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Hidden messages, hidden games and famous voices... by Charlie Fripp

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…that MIT built the first robotic bird? Michigan’s Institute of Technology (MIT) is regarded by many as one of the best places to study innovation and technology – and they have that reputation for a very good reason. Over the last couple of years, the institute has been at the forefront of some of the leading technological and scientific breakthroughs. MIT was the first to create an acrobatic robotic bird, developed a new form of wireless power transmission, invented a way to duplicate photosynthesis in order to store solar energy, and they are even re-engineering viruses to produce both ends of a lithium ion battery. But it’s not all technological: they achieved the first chemical synthesis of penicillin and vitamin A, and genetically reprogramming skin cells to cure a mouse model of sickle-cell anaemia.

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…that Bluetooth was invented in 1994? Bluetooth technology can be found in almost every electronics device that is capable of connecting to other devices. It’s found in mobile phones, computers, televisions, and even fridges. And while the technology also started to gain traction over the last couple of years, the tech is already 19 years old. Electronics manufacturer Ericsson was a big driver of Bluetooth technology as it’s many inventor in 1994, and in 1998 a group of companies got together to form the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG). By forming a group of companies, it meant that Bluetooth technology wasn’t owned by a single entity, and they all work together to better a way to connect their products.

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...that the first real email was sent in 1971? Email has very much become part of our daily lives, and billions of them are sent all over the world every day. But while today’s technology allows us to contact friends and strangers in far-away places, the first email system wasn’t as easy. When email was first developed, messages could only be sent between two computers using the same local host, which were, for practicality, side-by-side. In 1971 Raymond S. Tomlinson sent the first useful email to an address that wasn’t on the same local host. He did so by adding something extra to the protocol – the @ sign. Tomlinson was once asked why he decided to make use of @ instead of anything else available to him, and he simply replied that the @ sign just made sense. g

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Phones, Phones Everywhere.

Pippa Tshabalala

H

Tshabablabber

ow many of you actually use your phones on a day to day basis? I’m not talking about making calls and texting friends, I mean using all the features that developers tell us will make our lives better. I have, for a variety of reasons, no less than five phones in my possession currently, all of which I use to a greater or lesser degree. Granted, I’m in a fortunate position that I’ve actually only bought one of these devices, my Samsung Galaxy SIII. I’ve acquired a Motorola RAZR and a Sony Xperia U via competition winnings (that rarely happens to me and this was in the space of about 3 months), been given a Huawei Ascend P1 (excellent phone by the way) as payment for some contract work I did, and was fortunate enough to be awarded an iPhone 4 at the launch of the device. I don’t know the capabilities of half of them. I know that the Huawei has an excellent camera and although it began with a few teething problems because it’s a Chinese phone and couldn’t access

Author’s photograph by Adrian Louw

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Google (pointless for an Android phone based on Google in my opinion although there are those Chinese Internet restrictions to think about), overall it’s been rather useful. It’s slim, stylish and durable, but my husband appropriated it and there seems no inclination on his side to return it. The Motorola RAZR is also a rather nice looking phone and it’s currently our backup phone in case anything goes wrong with the ones in use. It’s interestingly made of kevlar, which means dropping it is really not an issue at all. Camera is ok-ish, outstripped by most of the other phones we own, and the screen is bright and easy to read. The phone I’ve used the least has to be the Sony Xperia U. Pretty but girly. And a girl I might be but I’m really not interested in changing the glowing bit at the bottom of my phone, especially when the screen size is so much smaller than my SIII. The phones that I probably know the best, almost inside out in fact, are my iPhone 4, which I used for years before

making the switch to the other phone I use every facet of, the Galaxy SIII. I use my phone for everything. And I do mean everything. Calls, texts, calendar, games, web, social networking, photos, cooking (yes you heard right, I have recipe apps on my phone), banking, navigating, checking football scores, sleeping (binaural beats to encourage sleep), focusing on work (binaural beats to encourage focus), exercising, calorie tracking, baby monitoring – the list goes on… Even my mom, who has recently discovered the wonders of gaming on an iPad at the age of 70, has discovered hitherto unknown uses for her phone because of my son’s inclination to explore this thing called technology. I read somewhere the other day that today’s phones have more processing power than all of NASA in the 1960’s. All of NASA! That. Is. Amazing. Scary, and amazing all at the same time. And I have five of them! I could rule the world! Muhahahaa! g


Distributed Exclusively by Apex Interactive - Tel: (011) 796 5040 www.apexinteractive.co.za Email: sales@apexint.co.za All rights and trademarks and logos are copyright of the respective owners.


Interview

Like Min

Ferrari and Logic3 get on the s of personal audio products

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When two brands meet, there is often a chance that one rides on the coat-tails of the other to achieve success. And when one of those brands is arguably the most iconic motoring brand on the planet, you cannot help but wonder… But the Ferrari by Logic3 range is not simply one manufacturer taking advantage of another’s fame. We spoke to Miles Abrahams, the product manager for Ferrari by Logic3 at Apex Interactive, about the range, and why they’re really something special, for Ferrari fans and audiophiles alike.

inds…

same page for a range gladget29

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Interview

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GM: Ferrari is an extremely wellknown brand. How did the partnership between Ferrari and Logic 3 come about? MA: Logic3 has always held a deeply inspired passion to produce some of the best audio products on the market. From this foundation, Logic3 wanted to create something even more unique that highlights their capability of producing exceptional, world-class audio products. Ferrari creates products that reflect its customers’ aspirations; cCars that are built for those who strive for and achieve the best in life. Ferrari could see the ambition and passion that Logic3 harboured and selected the company to deliver the excellence it demands. GM: Naturally, this kind of branding means that the product has a strong reputation to live up to. How do Ferrari by Logic 3 headphones measure up in a very competitive personal audio arena? MA: Logic3 worked

with some of the most highly respected audio designers in the world to build this new range of audio equipment. The Ferrari team was also intrinsically involved in the process from beginning to end, to make sure that Ferrari’s iconic Italian heritage was brought to life through excellent design and outstanding audio engineering. The personal audio arena has become increasingly competitive in recent years, so to succeed and to be noticed, a company can’t simply have a worldclass brand and logo behind a product. The product range needs to be of the highest quality, and needs to stand out, which is exactly why Logic3 worked tirelessly on the project from the ground up. From the obsessive attention to detail in design, through to the highest levels of specifications of each item, the Ferrari by Logic3 range matches up to the best on the market, living up to the promise of absolute excellence. GM: With such a wide variety of products within the range, who

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are Logic3 aiming these headphones at in terms of a target market? MA: The Ferrari by Logic3 range is divided into 2 distinct Collections, which appeal to different markets: The Scuderia Ferrari Collection embodies the “racing soul” that underlies the character of Ferrari, reflecting the passion, enthusiasm and desire for victory behind the Ferrari F1 team. The Scuderia Ferrari Collection is targeted at Ferrari F1 fans, and individuals looking to make a distinctive, bold statement in their choice of personal audio. The Ferrari Cavallino Collection is slightly more subtle in its approach, embodying the power and performance of Ferrari’s GT road cars. This is reflected in the perfection of details, quality of materials, and careful craftsmanship to meet the customers’ greatest expectations. The Ferrari Cavallino Collection is targeted at consumers looking for subtle perfection in their audio experience, found through this balance of design and

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Interview

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performance. GM: Beyond the brand association, why should consumers consider purchasing Ferrari by Logic 3 products? MA: The Ferrari by Logic3 range gives consumers some of the highest quality audio products available in the personal audio market. It’s not just about the Ferrari brand and associations. It’s about excellence in audio, making sure that the end-user experiences the sound as perfectly replicated as possible. Ferrari by Logic3 has made a bold statement in the personal audio market, and holds a very strong reputation in comparison to other products available at similar price points. GM: Some may feel that The Ferrari brand association is a cash-in. Why is this not the case? MA: Considering the reputation that Ferrari has to uphold on the F1 race track, on the road, and on anything it puts its brand behind, it is in Ferrari’s best interest to maintain relationships with products and

brands that can stand out as winners among the crowd. The quality of materials, design, and technical performance of the Ferrari by Logic3 audio range set the products apart and uphold this expectation. GM: Will the entire range be available in South Africa? MA: Yes, the entire range will be available in South Africa. There are currently four types of earphones, three types of headphones, and one dock available, with additions to the ranges coming through the course of 2013. GM: What kind of technical specifications can users expect from these headphones? MA: The headphones across both ranges have a frequency response of 20 – 20,000 Hz, with multidevice compatibility including cables and connectors with microphones for Apple, Blackberry, Android, and personal music devices. The Scuderia Ferrari P200 feature 50mm full range speaker drivers with open back design, while the R200 and the Ferrari Cavallino

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T250 headphones both feature 40mm drivers with closed-back design. GM: Will there be warranties and other forms of after sales services for these products? MA: Yes, there is a standard one year warranty on all Ferrari by Logic3 products, with after sales services managed by the retailer from which the products were purchased. GM: Will the Ferrari range be widely available in South Africa, and what kind of pricing can consumers expect? MA: The range will be widely available throughout South Africa at selected mass and online retailers. Furthermore, certain niche and specialist audio and gadget retailers have been selected to carry specific product sets and Collections. GM: If you were heading out to buy a set of Ferrari by Logic 3 headphones, which would you choose and why? MA: I would choose the Scuderia Ferrari P200 because of their iconic Pit-team look and feel. g

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WiFi

by Iwan Pienaar

Security know-How Be clever when out in the open

Feature

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lot has been written about mobile penetration rates in South Africa. From feature phones and smartphones, to those unwieldy-looking hybrid devices that make people look like they have a tablet glued to their ears, everybody is online wherever they go. With this increasing reliance on using a mobile device for settling pub quiz disputes, sharing photos of your lunch on the social network flavour of the month, and (dare we say it) making actual phone calls, people have woken up to the connected benefits that the digital age have for them. But as fast as people started using the online features of their mobile devices, the quicker they realised that paying for their high mobile data usage is not ideal. So, they have turned to the WiFi services (most of them free) of coffee shops, restaurants, fast food joints, and even doctor’s waiting rooms (I kid you not) to satisfy their online surfing habit.

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An international survey has found that most people use their mobile phone for shopping research while out and about. Some even go so far as to view physical items in retail stores and then ordering them online from a competitor while standing there. As you know by now, with every good thing comes something to be wary of. By using freely available public WiFi, people do open themselves up to several security risks. Like walking into a bar, you cannot choose who you are sharing space with. The guy having a beer in the corner could be a hacker, running sniffer software to capture keystrokes and data packets. The very safest option is to check prices in the shop and, if you still want to buy online, wait and do it from the comfort of home. Yes, we know that is absolutely zero fun. Mobile devices are supposed to free us from our home

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computers and offer exciting new possibilities to stay in touch, on the move. Searching for bargains and impulse buying is one of their most satisfying features. In the international survey, one of the most popular uses of public WiFi was looking for offers and specials that could be used directly in store. Just as with anything, you should let common sense be your guide. When joining public networks, choose those with password protection. You know that way you are getting a level of encryption for your data at least. Watch out in particular for fake, phishing networks. Hackers have been known to set up camp with their own hotspots, using enticing network names like “Free WiFi�. If you are in a coffee shop, clothing store, or shopping centre, it is best to check with an employee to make sure you are using the right network details. When making payments, avoid entering your credit card details. Many sites support virtual wallet systems. These

sites use encryption to secure your log-in details and no payment data is transferred over the network. As a base line, you should never buy from a site that does not offer an SSL or TLS secure connection. You can tell because there will be a padlock icon in the address bar. You can improve the general security of your mobile device by running trusted mobile security software that is designed to protect you from phishing sites, many of whom are used by those behind fake WiFi hotspots as a redirect site. If your device is lost or stolen, your mobile security software should be able to lock or wipe data, preventing thieves from accessing any stored or automatically entered payment details. Mobile payment options are developing all the time to a stage where the majority of outlets will soon offer contactless payment by phone, in store. It is a good idea to make sure you are security conscious about mobile payment and public WiFi before that happens. g

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Content is

Interview

Delivering Africa’s content needs

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s King

s...

Last month Cape Town played host to the Samsung Africa Forum 2013. Presenting at the historic Cape Town City Hall, Samsung showed journalists from all across Africa new products and offerings that will be coming to market over the course of this year; ranging from TVs to mobile phones to washing machines, there are a lot of exciting products on the way. Amid the presentations, Thabiet Allie, Samsung Electronics Africa’s Head of Content and Services, took to the stage and told the gathering of journalists about four exciting new mobile content offerings.

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Interview

Last month Cape Town played host to the Samsung Africa Forum 2013. Presenting at the historic Cape Town City Hall, Samsung showed journalists from all across Africa new products and offerings that will be coming to market over the course of this year; ranging from TVs to mobile phones to washing machines, there are a lot of exciting products on the way. Amid the presentations, Thabiet Allie, Samsung Electronics Africa’s Head of Content and Services, took to the stage and told the gathering of journalists about four exciting new mobile content offerings. The first is Kleek, a music delivery solution that will allow Samsung, in collaboration with Universal Music, to deliver rich music content to Samsung smart phones. Next is Ekitabu, a mobile resource that will make text books and education materials available to students and scholars across the continent. Then there’s Smart Trainer, an application that will allow aspirant sportsmen to learn directly from African sports icons in several sporting disciplines. And finally, there is a partnership with Always On, which will provide Samsung smartphone users a free gigabyte of data each month (for twelve months) via Always On’s WiFi network. The exciting offerings bring a focus to the importance of mobile content in Africa, but we thought we would like to hear just how important rich media and content is to the electronics giant. We spoke to Thabiet Allie, to gain a clearer picture of the importance of content, and how Samsung perceives the African content market.

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GM: In terms of the African Mobile market, how important is content? TA: I am going to answer that with a two pronged response. For many people across Africa, their mobile device is their primary access to rich media. Many people don’t actually have PCs. Their mobile phone is the primary method of access. So as far as content is concerned, it’s huge. The more I have travelled into Africa, the more I have seen that. I have seen people not just accessing music and movies, but also magazines or portions of books on their mobile phones. For us, Samsung, it’s hugely important. My focus before was on South Africa. When I started at Samsung a year ago the focus shifted to all of Africa. South Africa is a portion of our focus, but it isn’t our only business. We have an East African and Western African office that are completely different in their focusses on content, and we have content specialists in both. So definitely very important to us. GM: Why bring rich content like this into the Samsung stable? Wouldn’t it be simpler to strike a deal with mobile service providers? TA: We looked at

what our consumers do with their devices; it comes back to, once again, many people using their mobile phones as primary access devices. But where people had other devices we realised that they were connecting different devices – the convergence between them has become much more important. And you’ll see that come through quite strongly with our PCs and TVs as well. With All Share Cast you can have something on your PC and play it on your TV. There’s no need for wires or things like WiFi. We wanted to make sure that when someone wanted to consume something, we made it as easy as possible. And the benefit of being Samsung is that we have access to premium brands around the world. There’s no better way of delivering content than packing it in something that is easy to use and easy to access. As an example, Ekitabu, Smart Trainer and Kleek will come pre-loaded on our devices shortly. We’ve got the ability to package these things in a way that makes it simpler. Instead of going around and looking for the best people to serve music, we have it preembedded in the device, and the user can access it right away. GM: Are things like

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Kleek the tip of the iceberg? TA: Definitely… GM: And we’re not going to get any more than that, are we? TA: What I will share with you is that we have a very focussed strategy looking at what the main areas are hat people are interested in. What are the things that drive the beat of our lives? Music… sport… education. And that’s what we spoke about today. Then there’s connectivity, although Always On is only in South Africa. But the intention is to see how we can drive that same kind of relationship across other areas in Africa. I am not saying that we’ll have that kind of access pervasively across Africa – I don’t think that’s realistic – but there are certainly certain key hubs that we are looking at quite aggressively. From the content consumption perspective, as you would have seen today, is that we’re not just taking something that works in the States or the UK, or Asia for that matter, and saying we want to stick it on a phone and give it to you. We’re saying that there are a lot of things from around the world that will work, but other things have to build from the ground up, in Africa. GM: You mentioned

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Interview

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connectivity – the deal with Always On. Is this to stimulate use? TA: The intention is to make connectivity more accessible. Many people shy away from it at the moment because of a perceived cost – sometimes it’s not even the real cost of connectivity, but people just haven’t had exposure to it. Realistically, once you can see what you can do and what you can access, the sky is the limit. So we’re creating an opportunity through this that will hopefully springboard other initiatives. Certainly we have seen various focusses on SMEs being driven through connectivity and we’re hoping that through this engagement it will drive that as well. GM: And beyond the twelve months of the arrangement, will people be given a special deal on a similar system? TA: I can’t say that that will be the case for sure, but what’s highly likely is that during this period, especially considering our relationship with the other operators, there will be other engagements that come to the fore as well. We’re not saying that we want to exclude mobile operators from connectivity, not at all. Certainly Always On provides a great opportunity. GM: This is for

Samsung customers… how do you regulate it? TA: It’s based on IMEI, and it’s for all devices bought in South Africa over the last three years. We’ve got a history of all those devices, and we’ll be able to track thanks to that. We are launching shortly with the service, and when it goes to market we’ll offer more details on the registration process. But basically what you would do is go to the Always On website, register and get your data from there. GM: Will these offerings be available exclusively through the Samsung App store? TA: They’re be in the Google Play store as well. So they’ll be exclusive to Samsung devices, but they’ll be available through both services. Our strategy is not to focus everything into our app store. We own the biggest share of Android across Africa, and with Google’s overall power it would be silly not to exploit that. So our strategy fundamentally is to drive both the best of Google and the best of Samsung App store. GM: How does Samsung encourage application development in Africa? TA: I’ll give you an East African and a West African example, which is most relevant in a larger conversation. EWast Africa has got the M Labs, part of the global

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M Labs. Through that they have the iHub. We sponsored the iHub, and many of the applications that were driven out of there were given preferential placement in our app store. We were not just helping with the incubation of the apps and some of the businesses that came out of that, but we were also making sure that we could help manage the full ecosystem where we could. Going to people and saying: person X has built the following online service. It happens to be through an app, he’s started a business in which he’s employing two or three people, and this is how you can replicate that. Because that is fundamentally what the iHub is focussed on. Similarly in West Africa, it’s called the CC Hub – the co-creation hub. We’ve sponsored that as well. In both cases that sponsorships happened last year, and we’re still actively involved with both of them. We’ve looked at similar initiatives in South Africa as well, but so far we haven’t kicked off the same kind of relationship with a local partner yet. At the end of the day, if this kind of thing gets more people employed, either in small businesses or in corporates, it is for the betterment of everyone. g

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Fast is Slow T

he big news recently in the land of Interwebz was Telkom’s official launch of VDSL to consumers on Monday, after having run a 3-month trial in selected areas. The launch itself was not accompanied with much fanfare, though ISPs throughout the country have been peppering the web with VDSL offers. But before you rush out to go and get 20Mbps or 40Mbps internet speeds – chances are you can’t. The VDSL exchanges, called MSAN’s (Multi Service Access Nodes) are being rolled out over the next two years. MSAN’s will ultimately replace existing DSLAM (Digital Subscriber Lines Access Multiplexers) and POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) exchanges, and be able to handle multiple services from a single structure. Big players like Telkom (obviously), Mweb and Web Africa have already announced their VDSL offerings, including Uncapped products for consumers and business. Initial pricings seems pretty hefty, with line rental alone increasing to between R540 and R795 per month. Uncapped offerings are also fairly expensive, with Telkom themselves charging up to R5 000 for business Uncapped services. Other ISPs are offering similar accounts, also ranging close to the R2 000 mark for 40Mbps. Most ISP’s Capped offerings are 20 and 40Mbps ready, and the excellent news for consumers is

that per GB price is set to decrease dramatically as the bandwidth usage increases. Vox Telecom plan to cut their per GB price to around R5 per GB on their lowest tier packages, and other ISP like Mweb and Afrihost are all poised to revise ADSL pricing very soon. Most ISPs have also dropped their Uncapped ADSL offerings, with Web Africa dropping Uncapped prices by an average 30% (and most other ISPs doing something similar). However there are many questions being raised about whether we are actually ready for this faster internet. In recent times Telkom phased out 384kbps ADSL and introduced a 2Mbps option, which essentially added an approximate 30% demand increase on existing infrastructure. While the plan was undoubtedly to eventually lighten the load on those exchanges by introducing VDSL, the infrastructure in the meantime seems to have taken severe strain. Several areas reported heavily congested Telkom exchanges, with multiple ISPs coming under fire from their clients for not being able to deliver speeds and stable internet. The question that many are asking is will the new speeds hold and be stable? For now, it’s difficult to say, but it’s not as rosy as it may seem from the outside. Initial reports of VDSL performance in trial areas has

Feature

by Suvesh Arumugam

Appearances can be deceiving

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w been the speeds can vary by up to 50%. Minimum speed on the 20Mbps package is around 11Mbps and around 21Mbps for 40Mbps. So while you may have the product on paper, depending on how far you are from the exchange or the congestion in your area, you might only get some of what you’re expecting when you sign. The next question is to what extent can the backhaul infrastructure and ISP networks deliver on quadrupled demand? This is also pretty hard to predict, but again the predictions are less than stellar. Generally ISPs have battled to cope with the demands made by current 10Mbps line users, particularly on Uncapped, because the potential bandwidth bill can be staggering. How do you price a fixed cost where a user can pull a potential 2TB per month? Most ISPs are still keeping costs a little higher on 10Mbps to protect their network, but pressure to drop prices is forcing some to reconsider. Will they cope with users pulling four times that much bandwidth? Chances are they will struggle to do so without charging exorbitant amounts for Uncapped accounts. To minimise contention and deliver best speeds, they need to purchase more IP Connect capacity from Telkom. At somewhere around R1 million rand per Gigabit per second, it’s a big gamble to predict whether they will have the numbers to justify this cost. The second part is whether Telkom’s infrastructure,

which still does a big part of the job whether you buy your data from them or not. The national infrastructure, or backhaul, is what carries traffic for users, or distributes traffic to other ISP networks. If that infrastructure is currently strained with current products, how will it cope with the additional load? It’s no coincidence that Telkom will be delivering VDSL to areas with the newest and best infrastructure, to ensure that they can manage, but there are big question marks around how effectively they can do so in areas with older infrastructure. Remember that VDSL also relies on existing old copper cabling, with only part of the lines running on fibre. It will be interesting to see how this will pan out. For now, Telkom will be hoping that more and more people will start using fixed broadband, since they are essentially losing a large chuck of potential customers to mobile services. Although data is much more expensive on mobile, the absence of fixed costs and portability factor is making it a much more attractive option. With the introduction of LTE, as well as big price reductions from carriers, this is still a very viable option for private and business consumers. The sad reality is that the chances of the introduction of these new speeds connecting more people to the internet is unlikely, and it’s more likely going to be a nerdgasm for those already enjoying the fastest broadband speeds.

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The Games Feature

People Play And other things you can do in five minutes

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by Pippa Tshabalala

I

spend rather more time than I would have thought gaming on my phone. No perhaps I’m not playing the latest AAA titles on a 4.8-inch screen, but one of the things I love most about mobile gaming is the simplicity. Mobile games can become completely addictive while at the same time stimulating your brain in short bursts. It’s rare that I’ll spend more than ten minutes playing a game on my phone without either being interrupted by a small hand wrenching it away from me, or needing to return to a task at hand. It is with this in mind that I wish to discuss three of the new mobile games that I’ve recently become addicted to. Sporos, a free game for the Android system, is a puzzle game that challenges you to connect up or infect a number of cells by placing your ‘sporos’ within the network. Each sporos also can only infect cells within certain directions, so the challenge ultimately becomes quite strategic. It’s a much slower paced puzzle game than something like Cut the Rope for example, which at times requires you to think rather quickly. Sporos instead has you weighing up options, trying different strategies and obviously the more you play, the harder it gets. The game has around 300 levels, and although it can get quite repetitive and it’s likely you wouldn’t play it for any extended period of time, it’s ideal to get those brain synapses firing when you have a moment free. I mentioned Cut the Rope earlier, and I was happy to see that Zeptolabs has released another game for the mobile platform, available as both a paid and free version on Android and iOS, called Pudding Monsters. You need to combine little bits of pudding together to form a larger pudding, collecting stars

(like in Cut the Rope) as you go. Sounds a bit weird yes, but the pudding has personality. I really mean that. Like eyes, hats and moustaches type personality. As you move the pieces around they stick together, or slide off the table on which they’re placed, so each move is a strategic one. There are also different kinds of puddings that have varying functions. As in Cut the Rope, the graphics are simple but slick, with loads of attention to detail that makes this an incredibly gratifying experience, both on a challenge level as well as visually. The animation is cute, and there is always something dynamic going on, such as the puddings that aren’t being moved around watching the ones that are. The game does get quite hard but disappointingly there aren’t really enough levels. I’m sure they’ll expand this as they did with their previous game; nevertheless it’s not really worth outlaying the money at this point when the free version is pretty much the full package. That said, I’ll be first in line to update and download new levels when they’re released. Lastly I want to talk about an unfortunately named game called Lightopus. Yes, I understand how they came to call the game this, the main character is a little octopus type creature, the last of its kind, a lightopus. All the other (lightopusses, lightopi?) creatures of your kind were killed by the monsters of the Abyss and their young captured. How you’re the last if there are young is confusing, but no-one said the story had to be logical. You must bring back the light by freeing what look like glowing gold orbs that house the young called bulbies. These bulbies then follow you around, helping you attack enemies as you whip your tail around. You are unable to attack anything directly, so the bulbies following you are actually an indispensable part of

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your arsenal. You can also collect power ups and stars which add to your overall score, but the longer you stay in a zone trying to collect everything, to more aggressive the enemies become, so it can at some point be strategic to exit at exactly the right time. The more enemies you attack, the more bulbies you lose however, so it becomes very much about balance. Shame on you, putting children in harm’s way! That said if you’d much rather save the children you can actually avoid combat all together if you play your cards right. All movement is guided by your finger, and although I wish it could be slightly more responsive, I guess it is set under water, so perhaps the dynamics are accounted for by that. As is the case with these sorts of games, you must rescue a certain number of bulbies to progress to the next level, and your enemies will try to stop you by bumping into you and reducing your life. Once your life is depleted, you sink into the depths of the ocean. Visually this game is really beautiful. The character design is simple but effective, the glow provides an ethereal, otherworldly look to it, and the layout and design is simple but gorgeous. The story overall is a bit lacking, but if you’re concentrating more on tactics then this may or may not matter to you. What works best about the games on this list is not so much their effectiveness long term, you probably won’t be able to sustain the interest in them for hours and hours on end, however in short bursts, when you’re waiting for your favourite show to start, your update to finish, or your friend to arrive, they provide an entertaining and stimulating five or ten minutes of entertainment.

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1962 Beatles, Bombs and Graphics By Lein Baart

Looking Back

1

962 was the year the world held its breath, terrified at the prospect of nuclear war as the Cold War ramped up with the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Vietnam War was also burgeoning, with America tripling the amount of troops deployed for the second year running in an attempt to “contain” the spread of Communism. This year saw South Africa largely banished from the world as anti-Apartheid awareness spread across the globe, with the UN formally declaring its opposition to the NP’s policies. This was however the time when Bob Dylan was becoming a household name as a protest musician, and the Beatles were just about to explode on to the music scene with Please Please Me. In what was to become a defining feature of the decade, space exploration, and the technology that it depended on, was to play a dominant role in the world of science. This was America’s year to shine (though most of their accomplishments had already been achieved by the Russians) and a total of five spacecraft

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were launched that year. The first of these was the Ranger 3, which, like the almost identical Ranger 4 that launched later that year, lived up to the legend of the Ranger program and almost utterly failed in its mission. Equipped with a camera that yielded one frame every ten seconds, a seismometer, and a gamma-ray spectrometer, it was designed to crash-land on the Moon. However, the probe experienced a series of errors that caused it miss the celestial body by approximately 36800 km. The Ranger 4, while managing to actually hit a body a quarter of the size of the Earth, had an on-board computer failure which caused it to land on the far-side of the Moon, and sent back no scientific data. 1962 wasn’t all doom and gloom for NASA though, as this year saw both John Glenn and Scott Carpenter become the first and second American astronauts to enter orbit, respectively. 1962 marked a major leap forward in communications with the launch of Telstar, the first communication satellite to transmit live television, faxes, telegraphs

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and calls through space. The satellite itself was roughly spherical, just shy of 88 cm in length and weighing only around 77 kg. Fitted with a traveling wave tube transponder and a multitude of solar panels that could produce up to 14 watts, the Telstar 1 was rendered irreparable in less than a year due to nuclear bomb testing by both the USA and the USSR, which fried the transistors in the satellite. This year saw the release of the ICT 1301, a mid-sized mainframe manufactured by International Computers and Tabulators. The first unit, nicknamed “Flossie� (for some reason), was sold to the University of London, and perhaps its most defining feature is that it is still operable today, albeit with a major restoration project. Running at a blitzkrieg clock speed of 1MHz, the 1301 was noted for using core memory as its primary memory, with drum storage as a secondary source. The main attractions though were the fact that the unit for some reason completely eschewed binary, opting for a decimal

instruction set, and could compute British currency calculations in hardware, which drastically improved the speed. Probably the most significant event of the year though was the creation of a ground-breaking new program called Sketchpad. Written by Ivan Sutherland on the Lincoln TX-2, which was considered extremely powerful for its time, Sketchpad was revolutionary in that it introduced a completely new interaction system, one that used the then nascent light pen to draw objects directly on to the screen that could then be moved, rotated and resized as needed. Sketchpad went beyond that though, and is considered the modern pre-cursor to object-orientated programming (think Java and C#) using concepts such as instances and objects. This was also the first program to allow zooming, and through Sketchpad, Ivan Sutherland is generally considered to be the creator of computer graphics. Gamers, you have him to thank for shiny special effects. g

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Reviews Highlights 34 Ferrari by Logic3 T350 Noise Cancelling Headphones Stylish audio power 42 Canon Ixus 132 Digital Camera Small but strong 46 CM Storm Sirus S 5.1 Gaming Headset Easy as pie 50 Razer Deathstalker Ultimate Gaming Keyboard All the features!

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here is a strong audio flavour in this month’s review section, with four headphones (including two Ferrari by Logic3 products) gracing our pages - as well as an awesome amp from Asus. But it’s not all audio - we have keyboards, cameras, projectors and more on offer in this 30th issue of Gladget Magazine. A little something for everythong! g

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Ferrari by Logic3 T350 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Great audio and great style.

Cru

F Review

F

errari by Logic3 may seem like a cash-in to some, but when you actually experience these headphones, your mind will quickly change. With two main ranges embodying either the power and precision of Ferrari’s F1 team, or the elegance and style of the famous Italian sports car manufacturer’s roadsters, Ferrari by Logic3 have something for everyone. The latter range is called the Ferrari Cavallino Collection, and it is characterised by sleek lines, elegant shapes and high grade materials. At the pinnacle of that group are the T350 Noise Cancelling Headphones. Their smooth lines culminate in two generous round onear cups, finished with high grade leather and brushed metal, and emblazoned with the familiar prancing horse that has come to be associated with quality and performance. And perform they do. When compared to other products in the range, the T350s are among the best

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performers. And that’s no small feat, because Ferrari by Logic3 headphones certainly are high grade audio devices. The T350 headset delivers excellent audio across the whole sound spectrum. Clear, crisp high notes and well-rounded (all-important) mids blend with solid bass notes that don’t overpower the rest of the music (as they sometimes do in the P200s, also reviewed in this issue). Quite simply, the audio quality is nothing short of exceptional, and should please all but the pickiest of audiophiles. The active noise cancellation is also particularly effective, cutting down on external ambient noise very effectively. Additionally, it doesn’t compromise the sound delivered by the headset at all. There is, though, a bit of white noise that can be picked up, particularly during quieter audio. But that disappears in the flood of great sound when things pick up. And pick up they do. The T350s manage to get very loud, if you let them, but don’t experience much distortion, even

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uisers by Walt Pretorius

at high volume levels. In terms of comfort, these are headphones that you can wear for hours. Their lightweight materials and generous, leather covered pads (both on the ear cups and the headband) ensure that the user will not take too much strain while they experience exceptional audio quality. Like the P200s, the T350s come with three detachable audio cables, adding to their versatility. Two of these cables are designed to work with mobile devices. The Apple cable has more functionality than the general mobile cable (which lumps in Android, Blackberry, Windows and every other mobile device and OS). The third cable has no mobile remotes. For a superb combination of good looks and audio, without going the overstated route of the P200s, the T350 headset offers an awesome – not to mention super-stylish – solution. While the nay-sayers may feel that Logic3 is relying on Ferrari’s prominence, these headphones create an association that Ferrari can be proud of. g

Summary

Tech Specs:

Super elegant, the T350 headset delivers awesome sound quality...

M a nufa c turer Distributer: O nline: RRP:

gladget29

Some of the best audio we’ve come across Stylish

Active noise cancellation 40mm drivers 3 detachable cables Stereo Lightweight materials

Log ic 3 A pex Intera c tiv e www.a pexint.c o.za TB C

Pros • • • • •

• • • • • •

Cons • • • • •

Long term savings No fax capabilities

Score

95 35


The CM Stor the

fee

dba

ck o

Cooler Master CM Storm Quick Fire TK Keyboard

All

T Review

T

o many people, a keyboard is just a keyboard. But there are those out there who need to take a different approach. Whether they are gamers who need the perfect input device, or writers who spend a lot of time hacking away at the keys, or anyone else who needs more from a keyboard than just the occasional input, these folks look for specific things in this type of peripheral. In the case of gamers, one of the things they crave is responsiveness. Being the best in a game – or even just playing it without too much frustration – requires a keyboard that responds quickly. And this extends beyond the obvious; the response needs to be tactile as well, so that players are aware of the fact that they are hitting their various buttons effectively. This is one of the aspects of Cooler Master’s CM Storm Quick Fire TK Keyboards that makes it a great

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ptio

ns

you

nee

d

option for PC based gamers. When you hit a button on this particular keyboard, you know it’s been hit. And, as a bonus, the Cherry MX switches that support each key come in a variety of flavours. There are the brown switches, which provide medium resistance and bump force feedback, and the red switches, which provide low resistance and linear feedback. In the middle of these two are the blue switches, which provide low resistance and click force feedback. The latter is what we got to play with, and the loud, reassuring sound of the keys being struck really does let the user know that the key has been pressed. It is rather loud, though, and any typing that might need to be done with this keyboard is rather reminiscent of the clatter of an old typewriter. If you can deal with that, this particular keyboard has a number of really good points. First of all, it’s corded,

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rm Clique

meaning that the desired response is there. Secondly, it is backlit, with several modes and brightness levels allowing the user to customise their experience. It has a steel base plate and rubberised feet and supports, meaning that it is extremely stable (if somewhat heavy) even under the highest of strains. The Windows keys can be disabled, which is always a massive plus for gaming. All these and other features make it a great keyboard. But the thing that perhaps impressed us the most is that it is a compact keyboard, meaning less desk real-estate being taken up. Despite that, it still offers a full keypad and all the expected keys. With added portability, thanks to its size, excellent response in both directions and a host of sensible features, the Quick Fire TK is a very worthwhile keyboard indeed. g

by Alex Scanlon

Summary

Tech Specs:

This compact keyboard is a great option for gaming, thanks to a host of excellent features.

M a nufa c turer Distributer: O nline: RRP:

gladget29

Solid Great response Compact size

Various cherry switch options Fully backlit Steel base plate Rubberised feet Removable cord Adjustable backlight modes Compact

Cooler M a ster Sonic Informed www.sonic informed.c o.za R1 249

Pros • • • • •

• • • • • • •

Cons • • • • •

Quite loud

Score

88 37


A NAS for Al

Who would have thought the word versatile would work fo

I I

Review

Thecus N5550 NAS

t seems odd to some that one can get excited about something like a NAS. But, in all honesty, a good NAS does not only form an important IT backbone for corporations and SMEs, but can also prove to be an invaluable addition to a home network. Shared information and secure storage is important in both instances, after all. And a device like the Thecus N5550 would fit perfectly into either environment, thanks to ideas that not only make it a secure and useful repository for all kinds of digitised information, but also add functionality beyond just file storage. Let’s look at the most obvious applications first, though. The N5550 is a five bay NAS. That means up to five HDDs can be housed in easy to remove, lockable trays that directly interface with SATA plugs. No wires, no fuss. That also means that, with the right drives, this NAS can provide a large amount of storage space. It is powered by an Intel Atom processor, and sports 2GB of DDR3 RAM, which means that information transfer is blazingly fast. In addition, it has integrated security software (in addition to physical security measures) and comes with McAfee antivirus preloaded. All in all, this adds up to speed and security at a level that would soothe even the most paranoid NAS owner. The front of the unit is protected by a door that opens to reveal not only the drive bays, but also the power and reset switches, and a USB 3.0 port. A bottom mounted LCD screen and controls can be accessed whether the door is open or closed, and status indicators run up the front side of the unit. The back is dominated by a cooling fan (two if you count the one for the power supply) and four more USB ports. There is also an eSata drive available, and a VGA output. Connectivity is provided by two LAN ports. And then there’s the audio outputs, as well as an HDMI output. Wait, what? HDMI out on a NAS? Well, yes, and that’s where it’s functionality extends beyond an office environment. See, this baby can play multimedia files directly to a TV, making it something of a quasi-media player too. It’s obviously not the N5550’s primary function, but it certainly is a welcome addition, and one that makes a generally unversatile product rather handy in a few situations. What really impressed us, though, was the reliability of the unit, both in speed and storage performance, as well as it’s really rugged construction. The front door could feel a little tougher, but that’s the only element of the N5550 that doesn’t feel like it would survive a bomb blast. This is a good option for anyone wanting a reliable and potentially large NAS. g

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ll Seasons

or a NAS?

by Rob Edwards

Summary

Tech Specs:

Equally at home at home or at work, the N5550 is a fast, reliable and secure NAS option.

M a nufa c turer Distributer: O nline: RRP:

gladget29

Lots of drive bays Very fast HDMI output

5 Removable drive bays 2 LAN ports HDMI output 5 USB ports eSATA port McAfee Antivirus

Thec us Sy ntec h www.sy ntec h.c o.za A pprox R7 500

Pros • • • • •

• • • • • •

Cons • • • • •

Fairly bulky

Score

90 39


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Strong audio performance meets versatility.

Review

Razer Chimaera 5.1 Wireless Gaming Headset

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icking the right headphones has become both easier and more difficult in the last few years. Easier because there are a host of options that take every need into account. More difficult because, well, there are a host of options that take every need into account. If you know what you want, though, then you’re already half way there. Are you looking for stereo sound only, or do you want a gaming headset. Does that gaming headset need to be PC only, are do you want the versatility of using it with consoles as well? Do you want a cordless alternative? In the world of versatile gaming headsets – in other words, headsets that can be used with multiple gaming platforms – the Razer Chimaera 5.1 Wireless Gaming Headset is an impressive option. This headset uses a 5.8 GHz radio frequency to deliver crisp gaming audio, without the hassle of cables. On the box it claims PC and Xbox 360 compatibility, but it works well with PS3 as well (although sans the chat functionality.) Audio inputs are by way of RCA, 3.5mm jack or (preferably) optical cable, and striking the right balance between these can mean that the headphones can be hooked up to several devices at once. Recharging and storage are done by way of a pillar mounted on the transmitter unit. It takes the internal batteries around three hours to charge up, after which they deliver audio for around eight hours. This, though, leads to the device’s only true weakness… there is no cable-recharging option. Once the juice runs out, you’re done gaming until they’re charged up again. The large ear-cups house 50mm drivers, as well as all the controls you will need on the fly. A detachable cable plugs into the Xbox 360 controller, too, for mic support. Set up correctly, the headset delivers crisp, clear and well-rounded 5.1 surround sound. The audio quality is good, overall, and independent volume controls for audio and microphone are a big plus. Another thing that may trouble some is that the headset is large, heavy and can become uncomfortable towards the end of that eight hour battery life. Also, the user will have to make sure that they have positioned the headphones just right when recharging, to ensure that the contacts in the headband meet up with those in the pillar. Still, these are relatively minor quibbles. The sound quality and versatility more than make up for them, and added bonuses like a three-preset equaliser built into the transmitter adds even more appeal. The Chimaera 5.1 headset may not suit everyone, but those that are drawn to it will have no complaints about audio quality and overall performance. g

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by Walt Pretorius

Sound

Summary

Tech Specs:

Aside from not having a cable-charging option, there really isn’t much to complain about here...

M a nufa c turer Distributer: O nline: RRP:

gladget29

Good sound Wireless Works with anything

50mm drivers PC & Xbox compatible 5.8GHz radio frequency 8 hour battery life 5.1 surround sound

Ra zer Corex www.c orex.c o.za A pprox R2 500

Pros • • • • •

• • • • • •

Cons • • • • •

No cable charging option

Score

89 41


Canon Ixus 132 Digital Camera

A new Ixus to keep up with trends

Quic

C Review

C

anon long ago realised that not all photographers are the same. Yet, while not all photographers demand the same kind of features and capabilities from their cameras, they all do expect one thing in particular: large, clear images. Whether armed with a massive DSLR kit or the smallest of pocket cameras, the person taking the photograph wants a great image to be captured whenever they snap the shutter button. Photographic skills aside, Canon has worked to ensure that the quality of images across their entire range is top notch. To this end, they regularly update model ranges… which is why we once again have a new Ixus to look at. The Canon Ixus 132 is one of the most convenient cameras around. The range has always favoured speed and user-friendliness over complex setting options. This does mean that a few of the deeper

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functions enthusiast photographers may be looking for are absent. The photographer may have a lot less control over their final images than they may like with this little camera. But the Ixus isn’t about that. It’s about being carried around easily, being quick on the draw and grabbing great snaps. And it makes the grade in all three of those arenas. First of all, it’s small, and the updated design has resulted in a more rounded, less angular model than older Ixus cameras. Although small and relatively light, the 132 also looks and feels tough, like it was meant to go into a pocket or handbag as its natural habitat. The controls are extremely easy to get to grips with, even when not shooting in fully automatic modes. It won’t offer supreme control here, but, as mentioned before, that’s not what it’s about. The control panel is simple and easy to understand, as is the menu system that drives the deeper range of settings.

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cker, Stronger by Walt Pretorius

In terms of performance, the 132 offers a fantastic 16 megapixels of image real-estate, meaning that the pictures you take with it are quite massive. It also shoots video in full HD, and is supported by an 8x optical zoom. That’s not the biggest zoom around, but it certainly is sufficient in such a small package. And everything can be viewed and previewed, of course, via the 2.7 inch LCD screen on the back. As always, the Ixus 132 is a great example of Canon’s understanding of the requirements of pocket camera users. That cannot be disputed. What can be asked, though, is if it is necessary for Canon to release new Ixus models with such regularity. There really is nothing wrong with older models, after all, as they also produce fantastic images – which is, once again, the crux of the matter. But to keep up with the Joneses, Canon does need to produce new models regularly… and the 132 is a great new iteration. g

Summary

Tech Specs:

The latest Ixus modernises Canon’s diminutive pocket camera range yet again.

M a nufa c turer Distributer: O nline: RRP:

gladget29

Really small Quick Easy to use

16 megapixels 8x zoom Full HD video 2.7 inch LCD Digic 4

Ca non Ca non www.c a non.c om TB C

Pros • • • • •

• • • • • •

Cons • • • • •

Only a few improvements over the last model we saw

Score

80 43


Feature Rich A printer for everyone…

Canon Pixma MX524 All-In-One Printer

by Alex Scanlon

T Review

I

t’s almost harder to pick a printer than a set of headphones these days. The printer market, in various spheres, is very hotly contested by a number of well-established and good quality brands. One such brand is Canon, who have released the Pixma MX524 All-in-One printer. Featuring WiFi printing, as well as Ethernet, and a four colour cartridge system, the MX524 does a fantastic job as a printer, scanner, copier and fax. It has numerous built-in features, including automated document feeding, double sided printing, cloud printing and more. A 2.5 inch TFT screen allows for simple and effective control, allowing the user to quickly produce great quality prints. The MX524 is fairly compact, and has a solid feel to it. It is not quite as economical as other printers we have seen before, but adherent to the Pixma brand will certainly appreciate it’s quality and speed. g

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Summary

Tech Specs:

It’s a feature rich and effective solution for printing, copying, scanning and faxing.

M a nufa c turer Distributer: O nline: RRP:

Good quality prints Four cartridge system Lots of features

Four cartridge system 2.5 inch screen Printing Scanning Faxing Copying WiFi

Ca non Ca non www.c a non.c o.za TB C

Pros • • • • •

• • • • • • •

Cons • • • • •

Very similar to many other printers

Score

80


a Razer Chimaera 5.1 Wireless Gaming Courtesy of Razer TO ENTER: Send an email to competitions@gladgetmag.com Tell us one system that the Chimaera is compatible with Insert Chimaera in the mail’s subject line Subscribe to www.gladget.com Become a fan on Gladget’s Facebook Page

Competition closes 30 April 2013. Gladget subscribers only. South African residents only. Prizes may not be exchanged for cash. Competition closed to employees (& employee’s family) of 1337 Media CC, Lime Envelope and Razer. The judges’ decision is final. co mp e t i t i on • c o mp et it io n • c o mp et i ti on • com pe ti ti on • com pe ti ti on • com p etition •

com p e ti ti on • com p e ti ti on • com p e ti ti on • com p e ti ti on • com pe ti ti on • com petition • c omp et itio n • c ompetition • co mpetition

WIN


Review

Cooler Master CM Storm Sirus S 5.1 Gaming Headset

A wonderfully uncomplicated gaming audio solution

Easy As Pie

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gladget29


W W

e have seen, over the last few months, numerous headphone products. You might not think it, but this really is a very hotly contested peripheral market, with a number of companies aiming their products at capturing that all important consumer spend. With companies like Logic 3, Turtle Beach and Razer putting more than a little emphasis on the importance of personal sound these days, buying a set of headphones can get extremely tricky. But there are ways of making easier decisions, See, choosing the right headset is not just a matter of picking one – there are many subcategories in the headset arena these days, making the purchase of personal audio devices a little easier – provided the end user is well aware of their wants and needs in this matter. Cooler Master address the video gaming market with their CM Storm Sirus S headset, and specifically the PC gamer market. There’s an immediate distinction, because the focus of these headphones means that they won’t be for everyone. And comparing them to other products means that we need to compare apples with apples, rather than letting oranges creep into the mix. So we need to keep in mind that this particular headset is a wired, 5.1 surround sound device with an integrated microphone. That sets it apart from all the other personal audio devices we have on offer in this issue to a degree, because this headset has a very specific target market. As such, it is a more than decent option. The surround sound it provides doesn’t require any additional amplifiers or the like, and is delivered by way of your standard 3.5mm sound outputs, whether on-board or (preferably) from a sound card. This means that setting these up may be more of a ‘permanent’ thing, because they work best when used with audio ports at the rear of your machine, rather than front side ports (which only deliver stereo). An in-line remote allows the player to adjust the volumes of individual sound channels, in addition to providing a mic mute option. This means the user can carefully trim the sound delivery, although it may take some tweaking to get perfect. The headset is fairly comfortable, too, even though it is a little heavy. Comfort can be enhanced thanks to interchangeable ear-cup cushions, providing either a breathable mesh cushion, or a sound-excluding option. As far as easy-to-use, no-mess-no-fuss solutions go, the Sirus S is right up there. It is very easy to set up, and doesn’t require extra drivers or additional desk-top controls or amplifiers. It is a thoroughly uncomplicated headset, considering its high quality sound delivery, which makes for a breath of fresh air in the 5.1 surround sound personal audio market. g

by Walt Pretorius

Summary

Tech Specs:

This is an easy-to-use, easy to set up headset which delivers very good audio.

M a nufa c turer Distributer: O nline: RRP:

gladget29

Comfortable Good sound Very easy to use

3.5mm jacks Positionable mic 5.1 surround sound In-line volume controls Independent channel volume controls

Cooler M a ster Sonic Informed www.sonic informed.c o.za A pprox R850

Pros • • • • •

• • • • • •

Cons • • • • •

A little heavy

Score

82 47


of the

Review

Nashua Ricoh Ultra Short Throw Projector

New tech adds freshness to an old concept

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by Rob Edwards

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e have seen quite a number of projectors over the past few years and, to be quite honest, they have started looking very similar to each other. Aside from ideas like resolution and inputs, or even sound output power, most projectors don’t vary overly much. And that is why we are so happy that we got to see this particular device. While you may assume that innovation in the field of projectors is extremely limited (you wouldn’t be far from the truth, realistically) a little “out of the box” thinking has resulted in a rather handy projector that changes the way people not only use such devices, but also interact with them. The idea is called the Ultra Short Throw projector, and, quite simply, it means that instead of projecting the visuals from a distance, the projector casts the images up on a wall that it is standing next to. This is thanks to a new way of aligning lenses, specialised mirrors and all that kind of technical stuff. In South Africa, it’s called the Nashua Ricoh Ultra Short Throw Projector (although in other parts of the world the “Nashua” is omitted.) It is not the first ultra short throw projector ever, but it is more or less the smallest. The technology still has some way to go, as evidenced by the fact that this model’s resolution tops out at 1280 x 800. It’s not terrible for presentation purposes, but other applications may leave the user wanting. The projector is small enough to be easily portable, and weighs around 3kgs. This means it is easy to move around and, as an added bonus, requires less set-up fuss and space to use. It simply needs a wall to stand up against, and to be connected to the input device via HDMI or VGA cable. One of the two models even allows wireless connectivity. With 2500 lumens of brightness and intelligent colour correction technology, there are very few places that this particular projector does not work beautifully. That even counts for projection surfaces that are not white, or rooms with imperfect lighting conditions; this baby deals with all of that quickly and easily, resulting in clear images all of the time. And, even better, those annoying shadows that inevitably creep in to projector presentations, when the presenter crosses the light beam, simply don’t happen here. But the real winner here is still the easy portability that the projector presents users with. When combined with the clever technology that not only eliminates the need for space, but also corrects images effectively, and you have a projector that – while it might share the same function – is rather different from other devices like it. And that’s something we really like. g

Summary

Tech Specs:

Hampered only by a slightly low resolution, this is one of the best projectors we have seen in ages.

M a nufa c turer Distributer: O nline: RRP:

gladget29

Easy to use Easy to transport Great tech

Ultra short throw projection 1280 x 800 HDMI input VGA input 2500 lumens Colour correction technology

Ric oh Na shua https://shop.na shua .c o.za / R17 300

Pros • • • • •

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Cons • • • • •

Resolution

Score

90 49


Bells! Razer Deathstalker Ultimate Elite Gaming Keyboard

Kitchen sink not included…

T Review

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he lowly keyboard – that most useful and often disregarded device – certainly has come a long way. But it is still fairly rare to see cutting edge ideas worked into a range of devices that, while excellent in function, often seem to be a bit of an afterthought. True, there are those out there – generally gamers – that realise the importance of a keyboard, but these devices will often play second fiddle to audio and mouse solutions. It seems, at times, that while people may aim for the best mouse and headphones they can find, that they will accept a keyboard that is ‘good enough’. Razer don’t think that way, and they seem intent on changing the way consumers think, too. They produce generally excellent keyboards, but this particular one takes the cake. The Deathstalker Ultimate Elite Gaming Keyboard lives up to the ‘elite’ part of its name in more ways than one.

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It should be noted that this is certainly not the cheapest keyboard around. Those that don’t mind spending a comparatively large amount on a keyboard would do well to consider the Deathstalker, because it offers quite a lot in terms of great features. The principle feature that sets this one apart from all the others is the fact that the number pad has been replaced by a multifunction touch sensitive screen. Various tools (including the numpad) can be activated for this screen, which will allow direct access to macros and profiles, as well as Twitter, Facebook, Gmail and more. It’s almost like having a second, independent monitor built right in to the keyboard, which also functions as a laptop style touch pad and more. This could be seen, however, as added flash… what’s important is how the keyboard itself functions. And it does so beautifully, with excellent response time combined with on-the-fly key programming, five

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by Alex Scanlon

additional macro keys and an anti-ghosting system that allows for ten simultaneous key-presses. In addition, the keyboard supports various modes, including a dedicated gaming mode that disables things like Windows keys. Customisation comes by way of the tri-colour, backlit keys, which are chiclet style. With Synapse 2.0 supports and a number of features that make it extremely versatile (thanks in most part to that funky touch pad and the adaptive keys that support it) the Deathstalker is a great option. It’s rather large, and comes with a built in wrist rest. But, if you have the desk space and the wallet capacity, there really is little reason why this keyboard shouldn’t form part of your PC arsenal, particularly if you are a serious gamer. At just over a kilogram in weight, it’s not the easiest keyboard to carry around, but it looks impressive in virtually any setting… and performs just as well. g

Summary

Tech Specs:

Big, expensive and impressive, this keyboard really delivers where it counts.

M a nufa c turer Distributer: O nline: RRP:

gladget29

Funky touch screen Versatile Good response

Backlit Keys Multi-touch LCD track panel Anti-ghosting 5 Macro keys On-the-fly programmability Dedicated gaming mode

Ra zer Corex www.c orex.c o.za A pprox R2 800

Pros • • • • •

• • • • • •

Cons • • • • •

Cost

Score

95 51


For the Aud Asus Xonar Essence One USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier

Excellent amplification for a PC based sound system

T Review

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here’s audio, and then there’s audio. Most people who consider themselves audiophiles will have a fantastic amplifier and speaker setup, of course, but very few are running that from a computer. Rather, their devices tend to be dedicated audio systems, complete and separate from other devices. But with computers becoming more and more prominent in home entertainment, in the form of specialised multimedia rigs, having a dedicated amplifier option is a good idea. And while the user can rig something up, running cables from their media PC to their existing amplifier, those that want their entertainment almost purely PC based may well want to look for a PC solution. That’s where the Asus Xonar Essence One USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier comes in to the picture. The name sounds rather pompous, but a device like this really needs a big name to drive home the

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extremely good level of audio that it delivers. This is further evidenced by the fact that it offers balanced XLR outputs (like you would find used with professional microphones) as well as unbalanced RCA outputs. In addition, the front offers a 6.3mm headphone port, which will perfectly power even the most exclusive audiophile headphones. And you’re going to want top class speakers when using this device. There is little point in using it with cheap speakers or headphones, purely because of what it does to the audio that passes through it. See, rather than just making things louder, the Xonar One is capable of audio upscaling. That means it can upsample the bitrate of audio that passes through it, improving on sound quality and clarity in a rather massive way. The 8x symmetrical upsampling that it offers is a world first, and the proof really is in the pudding. Hence, good speakers are an absolute must.

gladget29


by Walt Pretorius

diophile…

Inputs are by way of USB or coaxial cable, making it a perfect complement to a PC system. It has associated software, too, to even better trim and control audio performance. Be warned, though – it’s a rather large unit. It might not be as large as some of the more traditional amplifiers out there, but it does take up a lot more space that you might have available on a desk top. Still, it’s probably not going to live there – not if you’re using it for home entertainment. Additionally, it’s not the cheapest audio enhancement device around, but once you hear this baby in action, you’ll likely forget all about cost. And besides, the market that this kind of device is aimed at is the kind of consumer that will purchase a great quality audio device without a second thought. And if you’re one of those, you may well want to give this effective, excellent device a good, long look. g

Summary

Tech Specs:

It’s big in size and price, but it’s absolutely huge in excellent audio performance.

M a nufa c turer Distributer: O nline: RRP:

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Excellent audio PC based Upsampling

USB input Coaxial input RCA output XLR output 6.3mm headphone output Audio upsampling

A sus A sus www.a sus.c om A pprox R3 200

Pros • • • • •

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Expensive

Score

90 53


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Razer Naga Hex Gaming Mouse Review

Mouse Perfect for the Year of the Snake…

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love irony, it’s filled with hidden thought provoking gems, especially when used with humour. Like comedian Steven Wright who once said “I’d kill for a Nobel Peace Prize”. Or that a chicken named “Lucky” that lives in a slaughterhouse and what about a mouse called “Snake”? Razer typically and ironically names all of their gaming mice after deadly snakes, the idea being, snakes eat “mice” and hence the Razer Naga Hex (Nāgá: Sanskrit, meaning cobra, or specifically King Cobra) The Razer Naga Hex comes with eleven programmable buttons with a 10 million click life-cycle, up to three times that of standard mice. The six mechanical thumb buttons on the side are called the Hex Buttons, which have a firm feel when pressed and the require lightest amount of pressure to depress. Registering at 250 clicks per minute due to mechanical key technology, the Hex buttons provide a distinctive tactile feedback and are fully programmable for optimized MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) and action-RPG gaming. The Hex buttons can also be configured in two modes: Basic [123] configuration and Advanced [Num] configuration and are interchangeable by using the switch at the bottom of the mouse. It also comes equipped with three different rubber thumb rest heights to suit individual preferences. The two standard left and right mouse buttons feel great with their ergonomic design and click away effortlessly. The centre scroll button is precision perfect while scrolling but it does feel slightly too hard to depress. Lastly the two buttons above the scroll button are wonderfully sensitive and reasonably positioned when assigning infrequent gaming actions to them as they can be awkward to access quickly. With all the various settings and features available, the Naga Hex uses Razer’s Synapse 2.0 unified driver which can be downloaded from Razer’s support page. Synapse 2.0 is easy to use and allows you to program the mouse’s keys, DPI settings, acceleration, polling rate and turn on and off the mouse’s lighting system. Login to the software, plug in the mouse and this cloud based application automatically saves your configurations, updates your software and makes your settings available to you anytime and anywhere. The Razer Naga Hex is also fitted with ‘Ultraslick Mouse feet’ which allows the mouse to slide beautifully over the surface of a mouse pad with minimal friction. This mouse is meticulously designed and beautiful to behold; it fitted perfectly in the palm of my hand and all the buttons were easy to access. Finally, the snake primarily represents rebirth, due to its casting of its skin and being symbolically “reborn” and Razer have managed to do just that, the new mouse is a snake and this snake eats other mice for breakfast. g

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e Killer

by Andy Taliadoros

Summary

Tech Specs:

Fully programmable, ergonomically designed gaming mouse

M a nufa c turer Distributer: O nline: RRP:

gladget29

Lots of buttons Fast Responsive

6 MOBA/action-RPG optimized mechanical thumb buttons 10 million click life cycle 5600dpi 3.5G laser sensor 11 buttons

Ra zer Corex www.c orex.c o.za A pprox R870

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Cons • • • • •

Not ambidextrous No weight control

Score

86 55


by Rob Edwards

Flash! SanDisk Cruzer Pop 8GB USB Flash Drive

Driving towards funky!

F Review

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lash drives come in all shapes and sized, particularly when they have press kits on them. But for the average consumer, choices are fairly limited when it comes to funky flash drives. SanDsik have an option for those who want something different. It comes in the form of the SanDisk Cruzer Pop. This 8GB flash drive is perfect for storing and transferring a host of different file types. It featured a flip-open format that ensures the USB interface pins are protected when not in use, and it is just as easy as any other USB flash drive to use. The obvious and most striking element of the Cruzer Pop, though, is the colourful funky design that it sports. It might not be the most interesting shape, but it is certainly a far cry from the common black or silver in the looks department. g

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Summary

Tech Specs:

It looks different, but really does the same job as other flash drives. So looks count here.

M a nufa c turer Distributer: O nline: RRP:

Looks funky Nice amount of storage Protected USB pinsr

8GB SecureAccess software Flip open design

Sa nDisk Tudor Tec h www.tudortec h.c o.za A pprox R100

Pros • • • • •

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No exceptional features

Score

78


Old School FujiFilm FinePix X100 Digital Camera

Fashionably old fashioned

O Review

O

nce upon a time, it was a lot easier to draw distinctions between various elements of our lives. But now, aspects like fashion, technology and general lifestyle are seeing lines blurring: they’re getting much more involved with each other, as it were, and certain elements are showing a stronger influence on others. Fashion has almost always played a strong part in the design of tech products but, these days, we are not just seeing one prominent trend influencing the looks of new devices. Rather, we see numerous fashion trends followed by tech product designers, meaning that expressing your individuality through the devices you choose to make use of is more possible than ever before. The FujiFilm FinePix X100 is a prime example of this. It is a camera that could be called “funky” and

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“retro” with the greatest of ease, and fits perfectly into the look of the prominent hipster trend. At first glance, it looks like an antique that might have been acquired at a thrift shop, but appearances are rather deceiving when it comes to this stylish camera. Instead of the 35mm film you might expect to capture images on a camera that looks like this, it offers the user a rather nice 12.3 megapixel digital image. The overall look of the camera has resulted in a device that allows for extremely fast and effective manual setting use. Like cameras of yesteryear, the shutter speed is set by a dial on the top, and the aperture is determined using a ring around the lens. A host of other settings can be accessed through the 2.8 inch LCD screen on the back, including settings to emulate classic FujiFilm products. The back of the camera is all that really identifies this product as a digital device, with

gladget29


by Walt Pretorius

controls that are more similar to modern cameras. See it from the front, and you may not be sure at all. With various shooting modes (including video and RAW) and a host of other built in tools and functions, this really is a stylish and capable digital camera. The only weird thing about it, really, is the fact that the lens is a single focal length lens. In other words, no zoom. With zoom being a massive draw card for consumers, the decision to emulate a fixed 35mm lens (in old film terms, which is 23mm in digital terms) seems to be a rather strange one. But, when considering the look and feel of the camera, which takes a more vintage approach, that decision seems sensible, if a little illogical. It helps the X100 feel as classic as it looks, and for some users, that will be an added bonus. The X100 is not for everyone, but those that want it will love its ease of use and decent image quality. g

Summary

Tech Specs:

It may look like a thrift shop special, but the X100 offers almost everything a modern photographer needs...

M a nufa c turer Distributer: O nline: RRP:

gladget29

Looks great Feels tough Nice image quality

12.3 megapixel 2.8 inch LCD 28mm fixed length lens Video recording RAW images

FujiFilm FujiFilm www.fujifilm.c om A pprox R13 000

Pros • • • • •

• • • • • •

Cons • • • • •

Where’s the zoom?

Score

79 59


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Review

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in

Feel like you ’r e

Ferrari by Logic3 P200 Overear Headphones

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tyle: it’s something we all consider, to some degree or another. And when that style can celebrate a brand with which we share some kind of affinity (either through ownership or admiration) it’s even better. This is why cross branding works really well. That’s when one manufacturer uses another manufacturer’s brand to create an associate between two possibly disparate product lines. One such association has been created between Ferrari and Logic3, makers of various peripherals. In this case, the peripherals are a range of headphones and audio docks that bear the Ferrari logo, and celebrate the famous sports car brand. One of the range flagships is the P200, which form part of the Scuderia Ferrari collection. This collection is inspired by Ferrari’s competitive efforts as one of the most popular F1 manufacturers in the world. And the P200, based on the headphones used by Ferrari’s F1 pit crews, certainly looks the part. Striking red and silver sections, emblazoned with the famous prancing horse logo, are combined with carbon-fibre look elements. The hard shells of the over-ear cups look every bit the serious racing headset, complemented by exposed metal arms. In short, they certainly look the part. But looks aren’t everything, even when you are very style oriented. Performance is also important, particularly in the very competitive personal audio arena. To that end, Logic3 have created a stereo headset that is versatile and, above all, delivers truly excellent sound. The headset ships with three detachable cables; one is just a plain cable, another has a three button remote for use with Apple devices, and the third has a one button remote for use with other devices, including Android and Blackberry mobile phones. But no matter which cable you’re using, and what your audio source is, the performance delivered by the P200s is extremely good. Crisp high notes and clear mid tones are beautifully carried by strong, rich bass, making for a very complete audio delivery. There is virtually no distortion even at high volumes, but getting there is difficult – these are very powerful, loud headphones. As far as comfort goes – something else one would expect from something associated with Ferrari – the P200s have it down. They’re very comfortable indeed. The generously padded and vented ear cups, which house 50mm drivers, rotate for the best comfort. The head band and ear cup materials are light weight and breathable, meaning even more comfort after extended periods of use. And, as a bonus, everything fits into a stylish carry case, making them as portable as they are powerful. In creating these headphones, Logic3 had a very clear aim in mind… and one that they achieved, without a doubt. Striking looks, performance and versatility are all there in the P200. g

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One Style by Walt Pretorius

Summary

Tech Specs:

Good looks complement great performance in the flagship P200 headset

M a nufa c turer Distributer: O nline: RRP:

gladget29

Good brand association Comfortable Excellent sound

50mm drivers Vented enclosure Light weight 3 x removable cables Stereo headphones

Log ic 3 A pex Intera c tiv e www.a pexint.c o.za TB C

Pros • • • • •

• • • • • •

Cons • • • • •

Less appeal for non-Ferrari fans?

Score

92 61


www.gameccamag.com Taking fun seriously!


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A Sporting

Interview

Developing eSports in So

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Chance

outh Africa

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Interview

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GM: Just for definition – what is eSport? CW: eSports is basically the playing of games on computers, consoles and cell phones as a sport. It’s that simple. GM: And what about the naysayers, the people who say that this isn’t really a sport? CW: You’re going to have that as an argument but, what you have is the fact that government accepts it as a sport, the Olympic committee accepts it as a sport, and those are your two biggest antagonists, quite frankly, because their policy is to get people off of couches, away from TVs and to be more active. So with them actually recognising it as a sport, you’ve converted the two biggest opponents that you could possibly have. You’ll always have people that say something isn’t a sport. My definition is that you have to look at the concept of what a sport is in the dictionary. And that’s far more loose… you could argue that rugby isn’t a sport, based on that definition. GM: You might get lynched for that… CW: Oh, yes. But the whole point is that anybody who doesn’t see this as a sport doesn’t want to see it as a sport. GM: And it has full acceptance and accreditation as a sport in South Africa, in which people can even earn national colours? CW: That’s right. Our regional, provincial and national colours are all accepted, as well as Protea colours. There is a difference between national

colours and Protea colours. National colours are given by the national federation, but Protea colours have to be given by the Protea colours board in accordance to their very strict criteria, and can only be given to a team that is playing in an international match. GM: Now that we have the definitions out of the way, what is the ‘state of the nation’ for eSports in South Africa? CW: Confusing… you’ve got people who consider themselves to be very professional and competitive who don’t play in the official structures, who only play in unofficial structures. So you have a great deal of dysfunction, essentially. And I think you have a lot of the gamers who aren’t aware that the MSSA is a non-profit organisation. It’s not a case of anyone making any money or that anyone owns it. So you have a situation of people who consider themselves competitive staying out, which actually weakens the whole. They weaken what the MSSA can do for them. This is my last year as president of the MSSA, according to SASCOC regulations. But anybody who is a member can be the next president. I think that’s an important feature to realise, that this is run for the gamers by the gamers. But if they don’t get involved, then they don’t have a say. Being a legal entity in its own right, the MSSA doesn’t have to listen to people who are not members. GM: What benefits are there for members? Other than being able to be

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president? CW: Oh, that’s a benefit, is it? (Laughs) There are a lot of benefits. One, you get accreditation for what you are doing in the form of school colours, national colours, regional colours. Through that you can get sports bursaries at universities. There are currently 14 people with sports bursaries at university. These are things that you have forever. Once this is on your CV, somebody will see you as the right kind of stuff. Every company loves to have somebody that has Protea colours; this country is colours-mad. This is something that you keep, that you have. It makes up who you are for the rest of your life. GM: In terms of sponsorship, what’s the situation? Is it healthy or do we need a lot of growth? CW: I think we need a lot of growth. It’s a complicated issue. What a lot of people don’t realise is that with sponsorship, you have to give your pound of flesh. You can’t just sit back and put your hand out. That’s when you get your second rate prizes. These are the problems that we’re facing. People don’t understand the concept of sponsorship. It’s a contractual obligation between the sponsor and the gamer to provide, in a way, an advertising service. To be honest – and this is going to make me very popular – a lot of clans don’t deserve to be sponsored, because they’re not actually doing anything for the game themselves. If you belong to a football club, you pay fees. The club is, to a

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Interview

degree, self-reliant. It has a war chest. It then can raise money through sponsorship and the National Lottery. And that’s exactly the way that a gaming club should operate. It should be selfreliant, with membership fees, and applying for National Lottery… to get up to R200 000 a year and not take it is criminal. This would benefit the clubs and the industry and the industry would realise that this is a worthwhile thing to get involved in. But where clubs just want stuff and offer very little in return, why should a company get involved. What we have seen is that many of the clans have burned the fingers of sponsors, have not delivered. And that means that somebody in a company has had to answer some very tough questions, if not get asked to leave. GM: So for South Africans to become more competitive in the eSports field, there needs to be a more serious attitude? CW: There needs to be a very serious attitude. If you want to get involved in top-of-the-line competition gaming, you have to be as professional as if you were in tennis, or swimming, or any other sports. It’s not as if you can say “well, I am a gamer, therefore somebody should sponsor me.” A gamer needs to prove their value and their worth. If you mean to get ahead in competition gaming, as a professional, you have to be able to get overseas. We’ve seen that with PandaTank. The first year he played for the national team was 2011. We were all very pleased, he did very well. 2012

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we tried our best for him, taking him to IeSF and the SWC. He’s very dedicated, but he’s following a very professional attitude. And that’s what we want for everybody who wants to go that far. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea – some people only want to be amateurs. But then the gamers themselves must distinguish in their own minds as to whether they are professional or amateur. You have to take a long hard look at yourself and say “where do I want to be?” GM: What are your hopes for the future of South African eSports. CW: First I am hoping that all the existing clans see the need for the MSSA and why they should be there. Because that’s really what it’s all about. Once you have done that you unlock a huge potential in terms of numbers. That’s what government looks at when they give out grants: results and numbers. The ore money we get, the more we can fund. It’s that simple. To send players to the IeSF literally costs R35 000 per player. This cannot be done on membership fees – those take care of provincial tournaments. The other thing I am hoping is to get it into the All Africa games. That will demonstrate to everyone in the country that eSports has made it. Everybody will realise that it is a main contender, as a sport, and then you will find huge amounts of money being unlocked. There are federations that are smaller than ours that are mainstream that get a lot of funding, not including sponsorships. There is a

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lot of money to be had by being recognised. It’s very important. And, of course, I would like to see some South Africans getting on to the professional circuit. But that means they need to play at least eight tournaments a year. There’s a big difference between playing online and playing tournaments. Online has its place and is very valuable, but nothing replaces a tournament. And to be a professional, you have to play eight a year. GM: What kind of action is MSSA taking to develop eSports in South Africa? CW: At the moment a lot of our action is taken at school level. We are developing a school league. It can be challenging, thanks to school governing bodies. But we have schools like St Johns and Rhodies and Northcliff… some very good schools in the league already. And that, of course, creates a basis for long-term development. But development isn’t just at grass-roots level. We’re looking at developments in previously disadvantaged communities as well. We’re talking to the city council about getting gaming rooms in every single library. And we have done big things – a lot of gamers aren’t aware of how much we have done, quietly in the background. Development is across every single level. It’s developing new gamers, taking gamers and developing them into better gamers, developing coaches and referees. The federation is busy pushing to get a South African onto the international referees committee. It would be


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Interview

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nice to see somebody going forward that way, because not everybody is a great gamer. It would be nice to see people being rewarded that way for their involvement in gaming. There is a lot of gaming development going on, because we need teams that can win. When we take a team overseas, we don’t want to see it go into a group, win one game, lose four games and then come home. That doesn’t do us any good – not as a nation, not as a federation, not as gamers. Last year was the first year ever that the entire South African team got through the group stages. GM: So there is progress? CW: Yes, there’s a lot of progress. What people don’t realise is that it is hard won progress, because there is a lot of criticism. There are a lot of gamers who aren’t happy about some of the things we do, and they let us know. But they can always join the federation if they want to help make changes. GM: What advice would you give to an aspirant eSports athlete in South Africa? CW: He has to be focussed, he has to have a vision of where he wants to go. Once he has that, he can work backwards to see how to get there. Basically, if you want to get across to the world championships, the only way you’re going to get there is by representing South Africa officially. Which means you have to be a member of a club affiliated with the MSSA. Do it properly. Don’t get involved with the naysayers who sit

there and complain about it. Because I think many of them are sad that they have missed opportunities, or that they haven’t taken every opportunity that they could have. A gamer that wants to get there needs to join a club, play in as many tournaments as possible, and be a member of the MSSA. It’s a case of pursuing a dream and being absolutely focussed. And you can’t do it alone – you need everybody who can possibly help you to help you. You need a coach, and people to help you get overseas, to help you get as far as you can go. What a lot of gamers don’t realise is that, when you are successful, there are a lot of people who will bask in the glory of that success. And while the gamer is the one who has achieved things, without those people, they aren’t going to get there. Otherwise, if you’re not prepared to do that, you need to be happy just playing a game once in a while. But it can be very difficult. Just to give you an idea; last year we had 26 people who qualified for our national trials for StarCraft. Four people showed up. That is a very clear indication of how people see themselves. And we need to see how determined people are, because it’s hard work. Going overseas is very difficult for gamers, for any sportsmen, because you’re putting your name on the line. You are going to try and achieve something, while everyone else is sitting back, commentating. And not all of it is good. It’s very hard. It requires a mental toughness which only top performers in any

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sport have. GM: In a word, what would change the current state of South African eSports? CW: In a word? Well, in many words… That would be a more structured approach by the clans, where they realise that what they are doing is a sport. This isn’t something that falls under anybody’s ownership. It’s just like rugby, or cricket; if anybody owns it, it’s the nation that owns it. A more structures approach will unlock more money, which is essential for growth or development. Without money, there’s very little you can do. And there needs to be compromise as well, in order to see people like PandaTank achieve their full potential. GM: What message do you have for the naysayers? CW: The door is always open. Any one of them is welcome to come into the MMSA. In fact, over the years we have seen some of our biggest critics come in. There are big benefits; some of them might not be apparent to everybody, but the only way to make this grow is for everybody to work together through an official structure. And it isn’t dominated by anybody; there’s room for people who hold different opinions, who want to do things differently. It would be far more worthwhile if they came in and tried to change what they didn’t like, rather than standing on the sidelines, shouting. It would be nice to have them in, rather than out… because that’s the best way to grow eSports in South Africa. g

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Bioshock: Infinite

That Old Time Religion Twisting and turning through reality…

by Walt Pretorius

T

is 1912, and Booker DeWitt, an ex-Pinkerton private investigator isn’t having the best of lives. He has fallen in with some nasty people, and the only way he can settle his debts is to travel to Columbia, and find a girl named Elizabeth. He undertakes the mission somewhat grudgingly, and is soon thrust into a world that is as surreal as it is dangerous. The story starts out pretty simply, but Irrational managed to craft a tale that is well paced, full of twists and thoroughly mind-bending. We’re not going to throw any spoilers in here, because that would suck; rather, we’re going to say that the story is among the upper echelons of video game plots, and will be a big part of what keeps gamers thoroughly engaged in Infinite. Another factor that keeps players glues to their screen is the excellent portrayal of the central characters. Whether it be Booker, Elizabeth or the seldom seen, yet always present

Review

here are times when video games reach a certain level of achievement that makes doing this job even better than it already is. One of those games was Tomb Raider, which is also reviewed in this issue. Another is Bioshock: Infinite. Let’s be honest, though: expectations for this particular title were high. No one expected anything but the very best from this title, and so it was always potentially going to not live up to those expectations – as is unfortunately often the case with games that make big promises. But Irrational Games have managed, yet again, to deliver a game that some will call definitive, and pretty much everyone will enjoy. The original Bioshock games took players to a mysterious city deep beneath the waves, but this particular outing visits another mysterious and quasi-magical place: Columbia, a city floating above the clouds. The year

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Prophet, Father Zachary Hale Comstock (founder and leader of Columbia), each character is not only beautifully presented, but follows a strong progression as the plot unwinds. And there are many odd and interesting people that Booker encounters during his travels and battles in Columbia… but none so compelling as his companion, Elizabeth. But we’ll get to that a bit later. What ties all of these elements together is the city of Columbia itself, and the rich history that the developers created for this unusual setting. The Prophet, disgruntled with the situation that the world was in, led his followers here, with the help of an eccentric scientist named Rosalind Lutece. Everyone who lives in Columbia is a devout follower of the Prophet, and buys into his beliefs (which include sexism, racism and an elitist attitude.) In fact, there are times when these elements shine through in the game. Some may find

them offensive, even, but there is reason for all of this. Once again, a spoiler would be easy, but we won’t go there. The city is beautifully presented. In fact, even though the characters do look a little more like caricatures than real people, the overall look of the game is nothing short of stunning. Environments are massive and complex, crammed with little details that add significantly to the overall effect. And the people that populate Columbia fit into it perfectly. They aren’t the (obviously) insane denizens of Rapture. Rather, most of them are ordinary folk, and they come across in that way. Supporting this is a great set of lighting and special effects. The sum of everything is a game that is visually compelling, and often a treat for the player. And, as is to be expected, the voice acting and animation of the characters supports this perfectly. Elements like lip-synching and facial expression

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Speaking of fire fights, the player will have a number of weapons at their disposal. None of these are revolutionary, although they do fit right in with the setting and feel of the game. They can be upgraded using specialised vending machines, but the player will need to choose upgrades carefully, as it is unlikely that all weapons will be fully upgraded during the course of the fairly lengthy campaign. Another important choice is which weapons to carry – the player can only ever have two weapons on hand, and choosing a load-out will often need to be a snap decision, as weapons can only be acquired by finding them on the battlefield. In addition, the player will find Vigors. These ‘special powers’ are the replacement for the original game’s plasmids, and will enable the player to do various things, ranging from shooting bolts of lightning from Bookers fingertips to

Review

were carefully trimmed to suit the characters and the script, which further enhances the awesome suspension of disbelief that Bioshock: Infinite delivers. Once again, Elizabeth stands out. She becomes Bookers companion a short while into the plot, and is an everpresent assistant and advisor, in addition to being a major influence on the plot. The AI driving Elizabeth is great, too. She will help Booker by finding currency, and tossing ammo or health packs to him when he needs them most. In addition, the player doesn’t ever need to babysit or worry about her – Elizabeth looks after Booker more than he looks after her during fire fights. She also adds some great special abilities, like picking locks and being able to warp in things from different realities that can aid during combat. But, once again, we’re coming close to saying too much and ruining the many surprises that Infinite holds.

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possessing enemies and even unleashing flocks of murderous crows on enemies. Enemies are suitably smart in Infinite, too. That player will face hordes of them during the game, ranging from the average, easy-to-deal-with foot soldiers right through to specialised combatants (like Handymen) which are very tough. In short, Columbia isn’t short on challenges for the player, and combat turns in sprawling, chaotic gun battles more often than not. Another aspect of the massive setting is travelling. Columbia is not one large landmass – rather, it is joined by rails that the player can use to get around. This adds to combat as well; the hook that the player uses to travel is an excellent, and brutal melee weapon, and attacks can be launched from sky rails. Or they can be used to gain advantageous positioning.

The whole is still more than the sum of its rather impressive parts. All these elements combine to form a game that is thrilling, compelling and intriguing. Infinite doesn’t feel like it was thrown together to take advantage of gamers eager to spend their cash on new distractions. Rather, it feels like a labour of passion, in which every aspect had to come together in just the right way. And that’s just what happens. Sure, the game has a few oddities and quibbles that arise, but none are even remotely close to having a negative effect on the overall final product. It is a game that shows how games should be made, a digital masterpiece surfacing in a market flooded with copycat products and repeated experiences. Irrational games gained an excellent reputation from the previous Bioshock games – Infinite goes a long way to improve on that reputation. g

AT A GLANCE: First Person Shooter

Reviewed on:

PS3

Bioshock: Infinite is an intense experience, a true gaming tour-de-force Similar to: MaxPlayers Developer: Publisher: Distributer:

Bioshock, Dishonored Local

1

Network

Online

0

Irrational Games 2K Megarom

Parental Advisory

18+ gladget29

0

Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

Platforms

Genre:

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii U Wii PSV 3DS DS

Score

96 75


Gears of War: Judgment

Prepare to be Judged Turning the tides or conflict

By Charlie Fripp

W

game feels fresh. To deliver the plot, they decided to go with a narrationstyle technique, where gamers are informed of the happenings in the game by means of retrospective dialogue. But this can only be fully explained by giving the premise for the game. The title Judgment refers to the court case, or hearing, of Damon Baird and this three squad mates. While at the beginning of the title it isn’t made clear why they are being court marshalled, it soon emerges that they set off a missile destined for another purpose. It is in essences their judgment, and as they deliver their testimony, players get to relive (or play) their version of what happened. So instead of gamers taking on the role of just one characters, which was the case with the previous Gears of War games, here players will be assuming control

Review

hen the first Gear of War game made its appearance a good number of years ago, it was seen as a somewhat revolutionary title. Three games later, and the franchise is good and strong as it ever was – even with a number of changes. For the latest title, Gear of War: Judgment, developer People Can Fly and Epic Games took the familiar face of Gears veteran Marcus Fenix – and threw it right out the window. Some gamers might bemoan the fact that Fenix, akin to Master Chief from the Halo franchise, isn’t included in the tactical roster, but as they’ll witness throughout the title, it actually works. People Can Fly and Epic Games have actually packaged Judgment rather nicely, in the sense that they have taken a slight departure from the normal means of telling a story, and changed just enough so that the

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of all three characters as they try to explain to Gen. Loomis what happened – and hopefully prove their innocence. First to provide information is Lt. Baird, as he sets the scene and tone for the rest of the title. Players will be given quick explanations of how things work if they haven’t played a Gears game yet, and will be notified of new actions and additions as the game progress if they are familiar with the franchise. There are a number of changes in the game play and dynamic, but it’s just subtle enough to breathe new life into the title, while still retaining its familiar look and feel – as well as control scheme, which still includes executions and timed reloads. The biggest change, besides a bunch of new weapons, is the addition of Declassified Information at the start of every level. While giving their testimony, player will have

the ability to add a bit more information to their statements by activating the Declassified modes. The mode tweaks the level conditions which essentially make it harder for the player to complete, but as a reward, they will be earning stars at a much faster rate than normal. Stars in Gears are used to unlock the Aftermath levels, as well as unlocking other goodies that can be used in the game. It also added a number of new weapons, such as the tripmine crossbow and a new grenade launcher to mix, and since ammunition is plentiful throughout the level, gamers shouldn’t worry too much about ammo. At the beginning of each level players will find either a large cache of ammo, or a weapons rack with different weapons for the taking. By having Baird, former Thrashball player Augustus Cole, Onyx Guard cadet Sofia Hendirk and former UIR

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multiplayer section – which has also been given a slight facelift. While it doesn’t compare to the action and plot-driven story of the single player, it’s entertaining none the less as newcomers and regulars will equally enjoy the team-based combat. As part of the changes to the franchise, Down but Not Out will no longer be available, and executions have also been omitted. But in what is probably the biggest shock for veteran Gears fans, is that Judgment only has four maps and four game modes, with OverRun and Free-for-All being the two new modes that has been added to Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch. But before gamers start to fret, they will still be able to join their online friends in the lobby and co-op modes to complete the single-player story as part of a four-player

Review

soldier Garron Paduk all give testimony, it gives players a chance to break away from Marcus Fenix, who has dominated the previous Gears games. Players won’t be stuck with one character, and it’s interesting to see how the different characters remember what happened on their way to the missile – which forms the basis of the plot. In terms of graphics, gamers will be greeted with the familiar design aspects from the previous titles, but there is a distinct increase in the quality. While it may not be immediately noticeable, players will definitely realise that the graphics tend to be a bit sharper, with more detail than usual – which is never a bad thing. The franchise has never been known as stellar when it came to multiplayer games, but just like its predecessors, Judgment does have a rather prominent

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squad. That has been one of the winning features of the Gears franchise, and will probably never disappear. But while Judgement made changes for the better, there are still issues that plague it, ever since the original Gears. The cover system employed is adequate but still not perfect, as characters will sometime either fail to hug the wall, or take cover on the wrong side. An overarching complaint can also be levelled at the fact that it follows the exact same formula as the previous titles, where gamers enter an area, need to clear the entire area of all enemies, and only once all the Locust are dead, will they be allowed to progress. It’s pretty much the same formula throughout the title, with only the Declassified mode that brings a slight variation to the various scenarios and maps. But luckily the abundance of ammunition and the new enemies keep things fresher than before, although

the Normal difficulty isn’t much of a challenge, and the entire game isn’t exactly long to get though. While Judgment can be labelled as more of the same and not really incorporating anything new into the franchise, it does afford the series a fresh start. If there is going to be more Gears games in the future, Judgment has certainly set the tone for future development. The fact that player get to control four different players is really refreshing, as Fenix was getting a bit long in the tooth anyway, but that is all part of the natural evolution of any gaming franchise. The number of small tweaks here and there that People Can Fly implemented is just what Gears of War needed. While the title is certainly not perfect, it’s a definite step in the right direction and could arguably be seen as the best Gears of War game in the franchise. g

AT A GLANCE: First Person Shooter

Judgment might just be the best Gears of War game developed by Epic Games. Similar to: MaxPlayers Developer: Publisher: Distributer:

Gears of War 3, Army of Two Local

1

Network

Online 16

People Can Fly. Epic Games Microsoft Studios Microsoft

Parental Advisory

16+ gladget29

0

Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

Reviewed on:

X360 Platforms

Genre:

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii U Wii PSV 3DS DS

Score

81 79


Tomb Raider

Raiding tombs Rebooting a classic franchise

by Charlie Fripp

F

That was until gamers received word that the franchise will be getting a stern reboot, with a new face for Lara, a new plot and a whole bunch of backstory that was previous unexplained. While the previous titles had decent graphics for the time, one of the major draw cards for the reboot was the promise of excellent graphics coupled with intense details – and the game delivered. The 2013 version of Lara is more emotional, determined and focussed – something that gamers unravel during their various missions. It’s a completely different side of the heroine that comes to the fore, and attaches the gamer to the title emotionally. Besides the great graphics, attention to detail and new play mechanic, it’s this emotionallycharged protagonist that drives players to return to the game – helping her survive is a reward on its own. The title takes a departure from the usual format of

Review

or many years, the Tomb Raider franchise was the staple adventure game. It featured everything a warm-blooded gamers could possibly want – a female hero in short shorts and tank top, numerous brain-busting puzzles, good graphics and a plot that was worthy of a Michael Bay film. Over the years, there seemed to be a bit of a slump in the quality of titles. Whether that was because gamers grew tired of the same Lara Croft in every game, or technology just evolved to the point where it left the development teams behind, nobody can say for sure. But one thing is certain: Lara Croft and the Tomb Raider series of titles undoubtedly defined a genre and an exciting period in video gaming. The titles sold by the millions and even spawned a couple of films to boot – with the lovely Angelina Jolie in the main roles.

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allowing gamers to explore tombs in order to drive the plot forward, and opted to go with a dirty and gritty story of danger and survival of the fittest, and it’s also these dark undertones that will keep gamers glued to their screens. In a story that is excellently scripted, there is a constant feeling of anxiety as players make their way through the stages and areas – and as music plays a huge role in any video game, it drives an urgency to complete whatever task is at hand. There will be many occasions in which players feel the need to quickly complete a task, only to realise that it’s not time-dependant. And that is what makes Tomb Raider one of the most important reboots of the year. For a bit of backstory, the title places gamers in the shoes of a young Lara Croft as she and her crew are on a mission to find a lost island and its treasures. After encountering some rather dubious

weather, their ship crashes ashore and leaves them stranded on the strange island. And naturally all isn’t what it seems. From this point, players get to see the anxious and scared Lara – afraid of what might happen and concerned for their well-being. As the game progresses through more violent and revealing levels, Lara’s attitude will visibly change, becoming more aggressive and confident in her fighting ability, yet vulnerable and somewhat emotionally unstable. In terms of graphics, they’re one of the best things about the game. Developer Crystal Dynamics paid close attention to inserting incredibly detailed fauna and flora, and Lara will ever-so-often gently brush a branch or a shrub aside as she walks past them. But that isn’t all – clothing will also change as the levels continue, with Lara’s

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throughout the levels from crates and animals, and with enough salvage Lara will be able to upgrade her weapons as well as acquire new ones. Speaking of weapons, Lara makes use of four different kinds – pistol, shotgun, assault rifle and bow. Each one of these items can be upgraded to a much better version by finding their individual parts in crates scattered across the game. While it doesn’t really make a huge difference in the game, having the best weapons will sure make things somewhat easier in terms of aiming, reload speeds and ammo capacity. But even with the easy control scheme, gripping plot and absolutely stunning visuals, there are a number of niggles that will crop up during the course of heated, and numerous, battles. It’s all fine and dandy that Lara will be able to craft

Review

shirt becoming ripped if she falls down, or blood-stained when putting an enemy out of its misery. Going for a quick dip in water will wash off the dirt, but the blood stains will remain. With that said, unlike any other Tomb Raider games, this one features no swimming sections. Controlling Lara has also been somewhat simplified, with an upgrading mechanic that is arguably more difficult to understand. It’s very easy to master and the basic buttons are explained at the beginning of the title, while new commands are demonstrated throughout the title as she acquires new weapons, actions and skills. New skills are unlocked by gaining experience points, and these can be collected by performing various actions such as killing an enemy and completing a level section. Skills include new killing moves, better dodge tactics and better aiming. Salvage should also be collected

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new weapons from gathering three pieces of string, a cog and whale bone, but it does portray her a bit as a female version of ‘McGuyver’. No context is given when upgrading weapon parts, and it would have been better if Lara had to pick up the individual parts from certain locations. While not entirely new to the gaming world, a decent cover system has plagued almost every game that makes use of it – and Tomb Raider isn’t immune. In combat, Lara has the ability to take cover behind waist-high objects, but that is not always ideal. Sometimes an object will trigger a duck, but she will still be spotted by the enemy, rendering her incapable of delivering a stealthy blow. And even though the controls are easy to understand, Lara won’t always respond in the desired fashion. This becomes especially annoying when players are trying to figure out a puzzle and Lara takes a wrong turn - leaving

her to tumble to her death. But with all that aside, the updated version of Lara is seen as a bit more headstrong than previous titles. Her ability to make tough decisions is what drives the plot forward, and players will also see a small transformation in Lara, as she evolves through the game from a soft-natured person to one who would have no problems putting a bullet in an enemy’s head. This version of Tomb Raider is every inch a true Tomb Raider game, and while there is less raiding of actual tombs (instead of being compulsory, they are now optional) it squarely belongs in the franchise. It is a great reboot for fans of the previous games, and it is a stunning introduction for players who are not familiar with Lara Croft. It might also be one of the best games we have seen so far this year. g

AT A GLANCE: First Person Shooter

Reviewed on:

The reboot is stunning, and it might just be one of the best games of the year Similar to: MaxPlayers Developer: Publisher: Distributer:

Far Cry 3, Uncharted 3 Local

1

Network

Online

8

Crystal Dynamics Square Enix Megarom

Parental Advisory

16+ gladget29

8

Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

X360 Platforms

Genre:

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii U Wii PSV 3DS DS

Score

90 83


God of War: Ascension

Kratos Rises Rgain!

Not actually. It’s really all about the character development. by Pippa Tshabalala

S

Greek mythology some, are said to punish and torment oath breakers and blood crimes. Because Kratos has broken his oath to Ares, he is marked by the Furies for punishment. The story is pretty weak actually. Well, the weakest of the series any way. The incredibly short, maybe six hour campaign, jumps backwards and forwards in time and is rather confusing overall. The characters don’t really develop much at all throughout the game, and overall the whole thing becomes rather clichéd. This is not to say that the story is bad, but in comparison to the rest of the franchise you’re left feeling rather cheated. If you’re only playing for the combat and as a fan of the franchise however, then you’re still in good hands. Combat still has that signature style, with a couple of interesting additions. Kratos can now use his blade to

Review

o let’s get one thing straight. This is NOT God of War IV. At least not chronologically anyway. The events of God of War: Ascension are set before those in Chains of Olympus, some ten years before the original God of War. If you haven’t played all the other games then this could be somewhat confusing, but we’re pretty sure you can catch up fairly quickly. On the surface, God of War is in so many ways the same as its predecessors. It’s a third person action game that is really about vengeance and raw aggression. There are loads of quicktime events, gorgeous visuals (both gameplay and cinematics), and the distinctive fighting style is still present in all its glory. Plot wise, as mentioned, Ascension is set before the events in Chains of Olympus. The immortals employ the services of the three Furies which, if you know your

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slide down an incline, avoiding obstacles as he goes and of course the usual QTE’s are ever present. You still have your standard light and heavy attacks, using your Blades of Chaos in the usual fashion until your enemies explode in a shower of glowing orbs. Some cool upgrades as well as the standard gore and QTE’s are ever present in combat, where you are prompted to grab your enemies at specific points in time to complete specific moves. While there are unusually difficult moments, the combat style is mostly the same as the previous games. But there’s another thing. Unusually difficult moments. Most gamers don’t mind a challenge, but there’s challenging and then there’s next to impossible. What’s worse is that this seemed to happen without warning. One minute I was wreaking havoc, the next I was dying over and over again. This difficulty spike is maddening, and

will definitely be a deterrent for some gamers to bother finishing the game. Visually God of War: Ascension is beautiful, as is to be expected of course, but it really takes advantage of the hardware in every possible way. Because of its prequel nature, it steers away from the muted palettes of the later games, which are far more concerned with revenge and the Underworld, to a brighter palette that is indicative of a minimally less angry Kratos. It’s very apparent that SCE Santa Monica has spent years working on this franchise, as the level of detail is deliberate and nuanced, and absolutely gorgeous to look at if you’re willing to take time out from the hack and slash of the storyline to do so. The sound design as always plays a huge part in the game, and adds an extra dimension to this that

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one in particular, that this time around that will either make you extremely happy or extremely annoyed, I haven’t come across much ambivalence from many people. Yes, God of War: Ascension has introduced multiplayer. It might seem unusual in this genre, but it works relatively well. It’s multiplayer for up to eight players, with a minimal kind of story to go along with it. Players are in two teams of either two or four, or they can play alone, and must take control of a map to earn rewards from the gods. No need to worry about a punch up over who gets to play Kratos however, as you play as a nameless warrior, who like Kratos, is an oath breaker and imprisoned in the Prison of the Damned. After being introduced to Kratos, you are transported to the Rotunda of Olympus where you must align with Ares, Hades, Zeus or Poseidon. Your

Review

complements the flow and gameplay. Although not perfect all the time, and I wouldn’t add it to my award winning list, it works well within the game and provides the right atmosphere throughout. The level design, frustrating as it can be at times, is also rather intricate although the puzzles often seem pointless. Overall though, the levels are incredibly well thought out and challenging enough that you don’t get bored within five minutes of play. I speak of frustration, and this at times manifests in the form of levels that are poorly signposted. You reach a point where you don’t actually know where to go and so end up wandering aimlessly while trying to figure out how to proceed. It’s annoying, but it’s not a major gripe in the grander scheme of things. Ascension does also have some additions, or rather

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choice in alignment isn’t just incidental either, each god offers combat bonuses and abilities and players can unlock other special magical abilities as well as weapons and armour along the way. The attack style of the god you align with is absolutely essential to the path your warrior will take. Drawing on another staple of Greek mythology, labours will be assigned by the gods that must be completed to unlock items such as weapons and armour. There are four multiplayer modes, Match of Champions, Trial of the Gods, Capture the Flag, and the signature mode, Team Favor of the Gods, in which Spartans vs Trojans must accumulate the largest number of points, or “Favor” in order to win the round. Each multiplayer map is based on a specific God of War location, so you’ll find yourself traversing the Desert of Lost Souls and the Forum of Hercules for example.

The multiplayer doesn’t really bring anything new to this kind of genre, and it’s not strictly necessary, but it’s a good attempt by the studio to reinvigorate the campaign and possibly an indication of where they hope to expand in future. God of War: Ascension is perhaps not the best game in this franchise, but it benefits in many ways from the lessons learned throughout the development of the series. The multiplayer is a worthy addition, and although Kratos’ back-story is interesting and reveals hidden aspects of his character, sadly the story is lacking in as much depth. It feels more like an attempt to prolong the franchise and introduce the multiplayer than any valuable addition to the overarching narrative. Play it to get the full story, but it’s a short and ultimately not quite as epic ride as its predecessors. g

AT A GLANCE: First Person Shooter

Reviewed on:

PS3

A reasonable addition to the franchise, especially the introduction of multiplayer, but sadly a weaker story than the other games. Similar to: MaxPlayers Developer: Publisher: Distributer:

God of War 3 , Castlevania. Local

1

Network

Online

8

SCE Santa Monica SCEE Ster Kinekor

Parental Advisory

18+ gladget29

0

Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

Platforms

Genre:

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii U Wii PSV 3DS DS

Score

78 87


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Gladget Magazine April 2013