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A Step Forward

Exciting developments at Mobile World Congress 2014

Keeping safe with wearable technology

Self Defence

R evie w s inc luding Parro t , As us , Sony , Genius , T rit t on, S anD is k and more. . .

Bring better internet access to Africa

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Tech Evolution

I S S U E 4 1 / Vo l . 4 March 2014

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Battleground

The fight for SA’s mobile computer market

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I S S U E 5 7 / Vo l . 5 M a rc h 2 0 1 4

w w w. g a m e c c a m ag . c o m

Thief Outlast Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 and more...

OffColour

Seek the Stick of Truth...

Prepare to Fail Things get even tougher in Dark Souls 2

Consequence... World-altering choices in inFamous: Second Son

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Taking fun seriously!

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Inside 6 From the Editor

8 Domination

Will tablets unseat notebooks in South Africa?

14 Fake It ‘Til You Make It

Is internet fame really real?

18 Protecting You Person

Wearable technologies promise new security risks

20 The Foundation for Innovation

Bringing accessible, reliable Internet to Uganda

24 Lookng Back: 1956

Rockstars, revolutionaries and romm-sized computers

26 Mobile World

A look at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona

32 Reviews

Tools and toys - tons og reat tech!

This Month’s Cover Mobile technology keeps evolving. See our feature on page 8.

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56 Did You Know?

More coversation starters from around the world...

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Reviews

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Mad Catz S.T.R.I.K.E. 3 Gaming Keyboard

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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100M2 Digital Camera

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Asus S1 Mobile LED Projector GLADGET Volume 4 Issue 41 March 2014

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Logitech G700s Rechargeable MMO Gaming Mouse

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Parrot AR Drone 2.0 Power Edition

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Huntkey Power Bank

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Parrot Flower Power

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Genius GX Gaming Gila Gaming Mouse

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Genius GX Gaming Manticore Keyboard

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

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SanDisk Ultra Plus 256GB SSD

Letters: letters@gladgetmag.com

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Tritton Kunai Wireless Stereo Headset

Competition Entries: competitions@gladgetmag.com

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Palit GeForce GTX 750 OC Edition Graphics Card

Newsletter Subscriptions: www.gladgetmag.com

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Thief (PS4)

Design & Photography: 1337 Media

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Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 (PS3)

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

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Tomb Raider Definitive Edition (PS4)

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Outlast (PS4)

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Rayman Legends (PS4)

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Fable: Anniversary (X360)

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Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII (X360)

Editor: 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.

GLADGET is published by 1337 MEDIA

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Copyright Š 1337 Media CC 2009 - 2014

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MovingForward by Katia Taliadoros

O

From the Editor

ur cover this month is all about the evolution of how the human race is being changed by technology, to the point that it has become part and parcel of the makeup of who we are. No technology is more prevalent than mobile communications. Smart devices are pervasive in our modern world, allowing us to communicate constantly for business and pleasure. There is no greater showcase for where personal communication and devices are going than the Mobile World Congress, which recently took place in beautiful Barcelona. Charlie Fripp was there, and he brings us an informative look at some of the best technologies on offer at this highly regarded expo. The future of personal communication is moving strongly towards wearable devices. This science fiction idea will make our communication devices much more personal, as things like Google Glass and Galaxy Gear become integral parts of our attire, fitted to our bodies for easy access. But

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these devices are not without their own risks, and Iwan Pienaar investigates security concerns that these new gadgets bring with them. Not everyone in the world has the access to technology that developed countries do, of course. There are still nations where fundamental ideas like easy, fast internet access are not fully realised. It is because of this need that Google have turned their gaze towards the African continent. Through their Project Link initiative, they plan to bring improved internet access to the continent, starting with Uganda. Nthato Morakabi takes a look at what Google’s plans are for Kampala and how their efforts might improve the lives of those living there. At home in South Africa, the market for portable computing devices is making a shift. With a massive increase in tablet sales, the traditionally notebookdominated South African market may soon see a change as consumers look towards the ease that tablets provide. We take a look at the

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overall situation and provide some valuable insights from David Drummond, Acer Vice President Middle East & Africa and Country Manager Southern Africa. All that access that we have has its pitfalls. Some of the things we have easy access to may come across as being massively beneficial, but we may have had the wool pulled over our eyes. Suvesh Arumugam takes on the internet once again, explaining why the freedom we think that social media grants us isn’t really freedom at all. Often we seem to take the incredible advances of technology for granted. But when you take a moment to reflect on how far the world has come in recent years, the result can be truly amazing. It is almost as though technology is a living, breathing thing undergoing rapid changes that are more like evolution than innovation. And we have no choice other than to change and evolve with it, lest we get left behind in a world that is getting faster and more driven by the minute. g


Domin

Feature

Will tablets usurp notebooks 8

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Feature

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e often hear about how one technology impacts on another. Historically, we have even seen new technologies eclipse older ones so completely that the previous devices all but disappear. A great example of this is compact disks taking out cassette tapes, or DVDs replacing video tape – and even DVDs are currently threatened by ideas like BluRay and solid state storage. One arena, though, that has seemed resistant to that kind of change is the PC market. This is a technology

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where technological change happens within the market, rather than acting as an aggressive, external force. As an example, while traditional hard disk drives are likely to disappear because of the proliferation of SSD production and manufacture, the PC itself will remain fundamentally unchanged, despite the shift in component technologies. But while this industry may seem unassailable, there has been a new force threatening a sector of the PC market: mobility. For many years, notebook computers were the definition of mobile gladget41

computing, with anyone needing to have a computer on the move turning to these devices. However, the advent of smart phones and (perhaps more precisely) PC tablets has seen an undeniable impact of sales performance for notebooks worldwide. While it is hardly time for notebooks to take a back seat, there are sectors of the market in which smart devices are becoming the dominant force. Locally, the trend can be tracked too. South African consumers are well aware of the technologies available to them, and the ease and


portability of tablets has a strong appeal. And for some manufacturers, that still works. While there has been a drop in traditional PC numbers, the demand for PC tablets in the South Africa market has increased, thus confirming that while there may be a shift in consumer focus, there is no sign of the overall market letting up in the foreseeable future. According to the latest understandings from the International Data Corporation (IDC), in the final quarter of 2013 tablet sales increased by 107% year on year, with a total of 513

000 units being shipped to South Africa. The PC tablet market, which was once considered very niche, has gone from strength to strength in the global market and sales in South Africa to have increased remarkably in recent years. PCs however still hold a lot of weight among business users - but where the consumer market is concerned a large shift towards mobility has taken place where previously dominated by the PC. And while notebooks are still what many businessmen have their eyes on, a great number gladget41

have migrated to the tablet format already, for numerous reasons. “2013 was a tough year for notebook sales in South Africa, however Q4 of 2013 into the New Year has spurred some refreshing growth from December 2013 through January 2014 to give an optimistic start to the year for vendors,� said David Drummond, Acer Vice President Middle East & Africa and Country Manager Southern Africa. “As the client computing landscape changes, vendors are entering the 3G tablet and smart phone market,

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Feature

with both devices becoming a substitution for the traditional laptop.� Since the introduction of PC tablets in South Africa the trend, as in most technology markets, has grown at a rapid rate and this is expected to continue along a similar path in the coming years, as more and more South African add mobility into their everyday lives. Ease of use and quick access to a wide array of applications is part of this trend, as is the fact that tablets are easier to transport than heftier notebooks.

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The PC tablet and the smartphone markets are in the situation in which the laptop market was sitting a decade ago and all vendors are now aiming to dominate this arena. The PC industry is struggling to maintain its significance in an ever changing world of technology; however in the emerging market territories the PC market still shows phenomenal growth while still competing with an ever increasing PC tablet and mobile penetration across the continent - PC sales in these regions continue to stay strong. How long this gladget41

situation will remain that way is difficult to tell, though, as figures indicate that a large percentage of African internet users gain their access via mobile and smart devices. But whatever issues of profitability experienced by Western vendors, where the PC is fighting a losing battle against the PC tablet market, for most users on the African continent, owning a PC is still imperative to their access to technology. Perhaps a large part of this – and for the fact that tablets have not gained total domination as yet – stems


from the fact that notebooks still offer more versatility than tablets, particularly in terms of device connection, storage and overall power. People continue to demand more from their tablets, and manufacturers must stay ahead of what they need and want to do. With continued improvements in emerging markets’ infrastructure, Internet access, new education construction and enterprises, the PC Tablet demand in the South African market is set to continue, and perhaps even dominate. And with ideas like free operating systems, comparatively

low prices and numerous others, it seems logical that a continent known for struggling economies may well opt for solutions that ultimately have lower costs. “As the year progresses, we can expect to see strong offerings from Acer in ultraportable, windows tablet, Android tablet and smartphone categories.� said Drummond. So where exactly are things going in this battle? As tablet technology continues to improve and internet access becomes more stable and widespread in Africa, the notebook gladget41

is facing an uphill battle. Ideas like the Ultrabook, designed to stimulate the notebook market, have arguably seen less dividends than hoped, while more and more powerful tablets and smart phones hit shelves continually. Whether notebooks will ultimately go the way of audio cassettes and video tape is still too early to tell; manufacturers may rally behind new ideas that bring the devices back in to prominence. But as the situation currently stands, it looks like notebook manufacturers certainly have their work cut out for them... g

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Fake It ‘Til You Make It Security

Choosing the blue pill…

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by Suvesh Arumugam

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got some sad news for pretty much everyone out there. Remember the whole “Red Pill, Blue Pill” thing that everyone loves to refer to from the famous scene in the Matrix. In the scene, the blue pill represents the illusion of control, the bliss of ignorance and the surrender of freedoms to corporate power. The red pill symbolises the willingness to pull back the veil and reveal the painful reality of life, the importance of sacrifice for freedoms and liberties. If you’re one of the estimated 1.5 billion or more social network users around the world, then I’m afraid you chose the blue pill. And it’s probably just a coincidence that Facebook, which accounts for over a 1.2 billion of those users, and Twitter, who also add another 500 million subscribers and an estimated 340 million tweets per day, share the same blue corporate colours. Now I know you think you chose the red pill. And the social networks you’re on want you to think that they represent the red pill. Let me explain why it just isn’t so, and you are in fact, still in the matrix. Now, first lets take the example of somebody like Richard Branson, one of the most famous name associated with entrepreneurship and business. From

humble beginnings in a church crypt in 1970, eventually ending up as the globe-trotting business magnate he is today. Branson now makes a small fortune giving seminars on leadership, networking and entrepreneurship. Why do people attend? Because they believe that Branson has the secret to making oodles of money effortlessly, that he can share this secret in a few easy steps, and (most

were 5 years ago, and that number is shrinking as the world’s wealth is shared between a smaller and smaller group of people. Is Branson really as rich as his image suggests? Who knows? The complexity of finance on that scale is pretty daunting, but we do know that Branson was in big trouble when Virgin Airlines was about to go under, so much so that he had to sell his most profitable business (Virgin Records) in 1992 to EMI to stay afloat. Then again, he does own an island. The point is that Branson, and the many thousands of financial gurus out there are selling an idea – not just that you can learn the secret of health or success, but that you could repeat and emulate their success. Social media is like the landscape that many of these figures operate in. In fact many of them were the first to use social media to promote their agenda. And now the medium itself is the idea that many social media gurus are now selling. You can control the ebb and flow of the world’s pulse through social media. Plant a viral idea and watch it grow, but you have to know the method, and that’s the part that costs you. But in order to wrest your hard earned cash from you they have to convince

Many thousands of financial gurus out there are selling an idea importantly) he looks and lives the part. You wouldn’t take business advice from your buddy who’s having his car repossessed while his credit card gets declined for a R12 beverage, but you will pay for and believe every pearl of wisdom that a multibillionaire has to offer. So will everyone who reads Sir Richard’s books or attends his seminars become a billionaire, or even a millionaire? Probably not. In fact, the one’s who do would most likely have achieved that anyway. The flipside of that is that if every Bransonite became a millionaire, either a small country in Europe would disappear, or global currencies would crash. The truth is that there are less millionaires then there

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for everything they say, but few of the people I checked out did. When I looked into their follower lists I saw a lot of Twitter Egg Profiles (i.e. people who either created their profiles recently or have never bothered to update because they hardly ever use Twitter). Other profiles with only 1 or 2 followers that just retweet content and have never had an original tweet – most likely bots. Of course there are some genuine

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seems to be to follow anyone who follows you. Since I started doing this, my own Twitter following has doubled in just a few months, although my timeline looks like someone vomited on it, and it’s pretty hard to get any meaningful insight in the world from my twitter account anymore. Posting regular content is also key. Lots of the guys end up just posting inspiration quotes pilfered from famous thinkers (probably off Pinterest) and varying nonsense that really doesn’t offer anything original to the world. Like the financial guru, ultimately the guys talk the talk, look the part and have something to sell you, but it’s all varying shades of the same thing. The truth they won’t share is that everyone can’t be influential - in fact the very meaning of the word would be lost. Ultimately the pursuit of social media status has diluted and trivialised the power of an otherwise powerful tool to connect people and spread information in a viral, organic way is pretty much defiled by corporate thinking and everything social media could offer. Much like MySpace and IRC groups before them, it’s all doomed to turn to intellectual mush before someone invents the next big thing.

The truth they won’t share is that everyone can’t be influential profiles in there, but most likely they also followed the people who thought would help make them more influential (or they actually bought into the hype being created by the social media guru). A little more digging and I found a small flood of Twitter management apps and programs that are designed to make you a Twitter sensation overnight. Using these programs bring you more followers using follow lists and stats of people who follow back and are likely to improve your numbers. They also give you tools that allow you to follow hundreds of people a day, and then unfollow those who don’t follow you back. Another simple rule

Security

you that you have a need (you need to swallow that blue pill), they need to convince you that only their method can fulfil that need, and they have to look the part. I’m going to use use Twitter as my example for how this whole pyramid scheme works. Now if you’re like me, you already spend a reasonable amount of time on Twitter, like a few minutes while you’re sitting in traffic or waiting for your spouse/ partner to vacate the bathroom in the evening. I always wondered why I frequently got Followed by random people claiming to be Social Media experts. I’d also wonder how some random people I’d never heard of had insane numbers of followers. How is that some random person I’d never heard of had nearly as many followers as well-known celebrities like the countries top DJs and musicians? And why are the following me, shouldn’t I be following them? I decided to take the time to check some of these gurus, and the reality is that many of them are far from the influencers they make themselves out to be. One would expect someone with thousands of followers to get a ton of retweets

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hen discussions turn to wearable technology such as Google Glass or any of the recent smart watches hitting the market, they inevitably shift towards whether this is something that is sustainable. However, respected business blog Business Insider estimates that the market for wearable technology will be a $12 billion industry by 2018. Okay, so it seems that this is going to be more than just a fad. It might not be long before not only the cools kids are sporting all manner of wearable technology. While there are many advantages to this tracking how many steps you’ve taken or capturing photos automatically from a camera around your neck and publishing them on your social networks - there are significant security and privacy risks. A fitness tracker might seem to gather harmless data, but what would that data be worth to health companies and how much do you know about the ethics of the manufacturer? What would the big social networks give to know everything about your home and what you do in it? It’s bad enough losing a phone containing all of your contacts and social media accounts, but what about a phone that holds data on your entire waking life?

Being smart about wearable tech

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We know that the humble smartphone lies at the centre of everything we do. And we understandably make sure that we keep it as safe as possible. Now, with a wearable devices, we are adding a further element to our already growing digital footprint. When it comes to smart phones, it is already conceivable that a smart cyber criminal can track our movements and habits. But a phone can be left somewhere; it doesn’t have to be a constant companion. With wearable technology, the device and associated smart phone will become almost inseparable from the person using them. Yes, a wearable device can be removed, but leaving it behind is a little more difficult than doing so with a smart phone. While the concept of wearable technology is extremely appealing, one cannot sacrifice being security conscious for “cool factor”. With every new device that comes with an app, you need to be very cautious about the settings when it installs. Sure, your new always-on wearable camera needs to connect to your phone, but does it really need to access your location data? Depending on the

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device, that’s your call – and it can be a big one if a gadget won’t work without access to a particular piece of personal data. The same goes for connecting to social network accounts, as you can pretty much guarantee every new camera will want to post pictures to your profile automatically – which is a particular concern where children are involved. Look carefully at the default sharing and privacy settings, and change them if you’re not comfortable with the level of control they demand. If you try the device out and aren’t happy, you can always log into your social network profile and revoke access to any thirdparty app. Every time we connect a device to the internet, there is a hard lesson to be learnt on how it can be hacked and used for malicious purposes. After all, do you really know who is watching the video you are recording on Google Glass that gets streamed to the internet? Another potential threat comes from connecting your devices (wearable and otherwise) to WiFi access points that can be easily hacked by cyber criminals. With wearable tech, this means they can not only steal your personal or financial information, but stats and facts about what you see and the people you know. Also think about how likely it is that your boss will start banning wearable tech from the office. If your technology can see what you see or record your every movement, then that is the kind of information that competitors will find invaluable.

Physical safety With more data being gathered on your habits, your likes, and your relationships, you need to be even more careful with the phone itself. It’s essential that you lock your phone with a PIN code, and enable all of the manufacturer’s security services, such as the ability to locate and remotely erase the phone if stolen. At the moment, there is a lack of a universal platform in wearable technology that could see adoption being slower than expected. Yet, if you are someone who already owns an Android device and use Google extensively, then wearable tech that can tie everything together might be appealing. So remember that security and privacy need to remain foremost in your mind when looking at the extent at which you want to embrace wearable tech. Even if your family and friends could have serious objections to being recorded for all to see. g


Keeping safe for the rest of 2014

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by Iwan Pienaar

Protecting Your Person 19


The Found

for Innovatio Africa

Bringing high speed Internet access to Af

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dation

on

by Nthato Morakabi

frica

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Africa

t is, in a sense, quite difficult for us sitting behind our

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computer screens or wiggling our thumbs on mobile phones, to really understand the ease by which we are able to connect to the internet – it is almost an autonomous action that we only become aware of once we are unable to connect. Acquiring information is as easy as opening a web browser or even speaking to your phone and with those simple actions, regardless of where we are, we are able to obtain whatever information we want whether it be as trivial as finding the spelling of a word or as important as research for work or school purposes. All of these are achievable through the ability to connect to the internet through various means available whether it is through mobile phones or personal computers or other devices able to connect to the internet. Of the 7 billion people alive today only 2.7 billion have access to the internet and unfortunately, of those able to connect to the internet many do not have fast or reliable connectivity. In Africa alone, only 16 percent of the population is benefiting from internet access and even less from high-speed connectivity to the internet. Uganda finds itself on the back end of the ever growing and expanding world of high-speed internet, lacking infrastructure and experiencing “sputtering pre-broadband speeds and unreliable connections” and therefore limiting the people in the various aspects that high-speed internet is able to unlock. The largest city and capital of Uganda, Kampala, is a dense urban center divided into various boroughs, and is home to the main campus of East and Central

Africa’s premier institute of higher learning, the Makerere University. Kampala, as well as the surrounding boroughs, is limited on many fronts due to the pre-broadband speeds, putting many of its inhabitants at a disadvantage when it comes to online communication, research and online assistance at educational institutes and various other fields from media and entertainment to businesses and entrepreneurial enterprises. It is this hub, occupying 1.6 million people that Google has targeted, and is now implementing into, for an innovative project that they have called Project Link. Project Link is an initiative by Google that looks to improve the inadequate internet infrastructures in Kampala and link the capital city to existing high-speed undersea cables in order to provide high-speed internet connections. Local Internet Service Providers and mobile operators such as Roke Telkom and One Solutions have already signed up with Google on this initiative and will have faster and more reliable networks compared to their existing systems, ushering many end-users out of a pre-broadband era; this network has already been established within the city’s centre and is extends out by 100 kilometres. Project Link looks to improve more than just the city’s ability to connect to the internet but all the other social, economic, educational and media industries either established or potentially viable within the modern city. This project is a foundation for innovation. Educational institutes such as the Makerere University and its students will be able

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to utilise the power of faster internet to further students and open them up to a world of information that was once limited to books and restricted to offline studying and research. They will now be able to conduct research faster and easier with the information they seek at their fingertips. Within medical structures, communication between hospitals and doctors both local and international will dissipate as the restrictive, unstable connections are replaced with faster connectivity. A radiologist spoke of the limitations that he and hospitals experience within their field as they collect scanned images that measure at 50Mb and in order to send these to specialists, they are forced to limit the number of images sent as the connectivity is unreliable thereby reducing the quality of service they can offer. With a faster connection, these limits will be lifted and they will therefore be able to send better, detailed images off to specialists and gain better information with it. They will also be able to communicate with doctors in the United States or United Kingdom with better ease. Within social media, many people have a confined reach for their established or upcoming businesses, only able to reach those who have a somewhat stable connection. However, if more of the city and its people have access to this faster connectivity, these businesses will have a greater reach, influencing the countries commerce, economy and social standards. With these standings improving, investments can be put into the city which in turn will help it prosper even further.


Extending out to other cities and into rural areas, it is evident how the rest of Uganda would benefit greatly from this initiative though unfortunately no additional cities have currently been planned. Although no price has been given as to how much money the project will cost Google, it is evident that the idea is to offer cost effective services and cheaper connectivity for the people looking to benefit from this project. Google is selling wholesale to Internet Service Providers at a cost far less than what these providers are currently paying for. Internet Service Providers and mobile service providers should then be able to offer low data prices and according to the U.N Broadband Commission, “for internet use to increase in Africa as a whole, prices would have to be under $5 per month.� Unfortunately it is up to Internet Service Providers to set the fees that users must pay and Google can only hope that these providers are not looking to benefit themselves but the people. In overall, Project Link does open up many possibilities when looking at Africa as a whole and the many countries within the continent that do not have internet connectivity at all. If many other companies or even Google themselves initiated this project in various places in Africa, we could see Africa as a whole growing exponentially as the the world opens up to them. At the moment Google has not set any other cities as targets and will focus on Kampala as a business model but the potential is obvious and we can therefore hope we can see more of these initiatives reaching the rest of Africa. g

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1956 By Lein Baart

The Atom Looms Large

Looking Back

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he fifties was a decade of change, a time that saw the truisms and attitudes of the past begin to break down in the face of rising pressure from a new generation, and in this 1956 would prove no different. Across the world the empires of old were retreating, with more and more African countries becoming independent nations left to fend for themselves. In America the civil rights movement, sparked by the defiance of Rosa Parks, continued to gain more and more momentum, while Elvis Presley entered the charts for the first time with Heartbreak Hotel. While a relatively peacefully year, the Suez Crisis brought world condemnation down on Britain, France and Israel, while Cuba and Hungary were both thrown into revolution, with the former eventually leading to the instalment of Fidel Castro as president, while the latter saw the Soviets respond with crushing force. It was a time of change for technology as well. The

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war in the previous decade had forever altered the technological front, and ten years on progress was proceeding at a rapid pace. One of the most profound discoveries of the war, nuclear physics, was quickly embraced by all the leading nations across the world, but it was the English who were most predominant that year, activating two separate reactors. The first, known as DIDO, was built by the Atomic Energy Research Establishment in Harwell, Oxfordshire, and was primarily used for research into the behaviour of varying materials under high neutron radiation. The second, the Calder Hall nuclear power plant, had the distinction of being the first reactor in the world to supply power commercially. With four towers housing Magnox reactors, an early British design that has since been abandoned, Calder Hall was capable of producing around 240MWe of power, roughly enough to run about 240000 homes, though this was reduced in subsequent years due to concerns over material

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corrosion. It was also a year that saw the then nascent US television industry receive a boon in the form of the 2-inch quadruplex videotape. Up until this time the networks had been forced to rely on kinescope film to record and broadcast its footage, which resulted in the west coast branches having only three hours to receive, record and develop film before airing, all at a cost of nearly $4000 per half hour. The quadruplex, developed by Ampex, also entirely relieved the industry of this burden, being both cheaper to produce (due to its use of 2-inch magnetic tape), and capable of the seemingly miraculous feat of nearly immediate playback. The initial demonstration of the VRX-1000, the first commercially available model, at the National Association of Radio and Television Broadcasters convention caused such a stir that Ampex took nearly $2 million dollars in orders in the following four days, revolutionising television broadcasting in the process.

The years after the war saw drastic leaps forward in computing technology, and 1956 saw this trend continue, as IBM released the IBM 305 RAMAC computer. While the actual computer itself was standard technology for the time, the 305 RAMAC, which stood for random access method of accounting and control, was a breakthrough in computing as it was the first ever machine to have a hard disk drive. It was a colossal component, as the disk drive in its housing was approximately the size of two refrigerators, weighed over a ton and had to be delivered by cargo plane. Capable of storing approximately 3.75 MB across its fifty disks, the 305’s space was actually limited intentionally, as IBM representatives did not know how to sell more space. Initially developed and marketed to businesses in need or real-time accounting, IBM leased more than a thousand 305’s at a cost of $3200 per month, equivalent to roughly R300615 in today’s money. g

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Mobile Interview

Tons of new tech at the

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World

Mobile World Congress

by Charlie Fripp

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he annual Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona wrapped up late last month, as it ushered in another year of new product unveilings, innovations and announcement. The event is held every year in the last week of February at Barcelona’s Fira Gran Via, a huge exhibition center that houses eight massive halls. With more than 1 800 companies and 85 000 attendees from over 200 countries, the 2014 event has been billed at the biggest MWC yet, and is only set to grow as it continues to be the premier event on the European consumer and mobile technology calendar. Between all the excitement of new products and the innovation of better models, a number of mobile manufacturers announced new versions of current devices. One of the biggest manufacturers, Korea’s Samsung, revealed the Galaxy S5 model – the highly-anticipated upgrade from the current Galaxy S4. Taking a leaf from Apple’s iPhone 5, the Galaxy S5 now also features a fingerprint reader to unlock the phone as a measure of added security. It also features a heart rate monitor on the back of the device, just below the camera and the flash. Making use of Samsung’s S-Health app, users will be able to track a number of healthrelated statistics. In terms of computing power, it makes use of a Quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor, has 2GB Ram and is powered by a massive 2800mAh battery. For the screen, it has 5.1-inch Super AMOLED display that runs at 1080×1920 pixels, with Android 4.4.2 operating system. Slowly carving themselves a bigger slice of the mobile market, Sony unveiled the Xperia Z2, a slimmer, faster version of their acclaimed Z1 smartphone. At 146.8 x 73.3 x 8.2 mm, it’s one of their slimmest phones to date, and being powered by a 2.3 GHz Qualcomm MSM8974AB Quad-core processor, it’s superfast. With a screen resolution of 1920x1080 pixels, the 5.2” Full HD TRILUMINOS Display for mobile with X-Reality is powered by a massive 3000 mAh battery. As with the previous Xperia models, the Z2 is also water-proof and dust-resistant, and features a 20.7 MP camera. In terms of new innovations, few of the announced products come close to the Yota Phone. While some critics have labeled it as an innovation that won’t last long, other have found it to be interesting to say the least. What sets the Yota Phone apart is that it makes use of a second screen on the back of the phone for an extra display. With the display isn’t in color, it has the ability to transfer text to the second screen, such as maps, contact information and also serve as an

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e-reader. “You can easily see notices, emails, tweets and other information in real time without picking up or even activating your phone. Even if the battery dies, the most recent information on the EPD will remain visible,” the company said. It features a Dual Core 1.7 GHz Krait CPU and 2GB RAM with a 4.3” 720x1280 LCD main display. For users who want super security on their mobile device, Blackphone has the answer. Developed by the makers of GeeksPhone, Silent Circle, and PGP, the device runs on PrivateOS, a modified version of Android which affords users the ability to control every security aspect of the smartphone. It provides encryption for phone calls, emails, texts, and internet browsing, and makes use of a VPN for internet access. “Blackphone’s PrivatOS, built on Android, and combined with a full suite of privacy-enabled applications, allows users to regain control over their communications activities. No longer will the use of a smartphone demand acceptance of unauthorized surveillance, commercial exploitation of activity data, and the loss of privacy, security and fundamental human rights,” the company said in a statement. The device is scheduled to go on sale in June 2014, and will retail for around $600. Popular browser Firefox also made an announcement at Mobile World Congress, showing off their latest version of their Firefox OS operating system. A number of device already come shipped with it, including ZTE, Huawei and LG smartphones. “Most smartphones are made by a small number of people, all in one place, probably pretty far from where you live. Firefox OS phones are different. They’re made by a huge global community and are the only smartphones that understand and deliver what you want and need,” Firefox said in a statement. Version 1.4.0 is scheduled to be released this month. While Mobile World Congress squarely focusses on mobile innovation, a number of companies also exhibited the latest in accessories and wearables. The bulk of wearables paid attention to health, while most accessories focused of headphones, sound equipment and camera applications. During all the frenetic launching of products, keynote speeches formed a major part of the 4-day conference, which saw Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, WhatsApp’s Co-founder & CEO Jan Koum and IBM’s CEO Virginia M. Rometty take to the stage. While the dates for next year has been shifted to 2- 5 March, there is no doubt that the event will be bigger and better than this year – if that is even possible. The congress is the perfect place to network with likeminded individuals, see the latest in mobile technology and get a health sense of what is ticking in the industry..g

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Reviews Highlights 36 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100M2 Digital Camera More than meets the eye... 38 Asus S1 Mobile LED Projector Images on the move 42 Parrot AR Drone 2.0 Power Edition Expensive fun! 46 Genius GX Gaming Gila Gaming Mouse A really great gaming device

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ordes of tech junkies descended on Barcelona last moth for 2014’s Mobile World Congress. And, as expected, the expo showed some incredible advancements in mobile technology. We don’t have any of those advancements on review just yet, but we do have a number of excellent devices on test for this issue. g

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gladget41


Mad Catz S.T.R.I.K.E. 3 Gaming Keyboard

W Review

W

hat should you be looking for in a keyboard? It is perhaps one of the more difficult questions to answer, because a keyboard is often one of the least considered options when it comes to putting a PC together. It is almost a case of while the user spends immense amounts of energy identifying the perfect graphics card, RAM, HDD, monitor and even mouse, any old keyboard will do. But there are a wide variety of keyboard options out there, particularly when they are aimed at the lucrative gaming market. And that’s a market that Mad Catz has squarely in their sights. They produce some wonderful peripherals aimed specifically at gaming, and one of them is the S.T.R.I.K.E. 3 keyboard. One normally expects a great number of features

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and fancy bits from a Mad Catz product, but the S.T.R.I.K.E. 3 is remarkably down-toned in that arena. In fact, aside from a few features that define it as a gaming keyboard, the S.T.R.I.K.E. 3 really is rather “plain”. Not visually, mind you… it certainly looks good, with a striking and unusual design that will certainly draw attention. The design implies that it has a removable section, but that’s just an aesthetic thing. The S.T.R.I.K.E. 3 is all angles and edges, resulting in a device that looks as good as it performs. And that’s really what it comes down too. Sure, it may not feature a lot of added extras, but the performance of the S.T.R.I.K.E. 3 is excellent. This is in part due to a customised key membrane, that allows for rapid response and a good level of tactile feedback. The keys are well spaced, too, helping prevent accidental inputs. In terms of special features, the S.T.R.I.K.E. 3 offers

gladget41


Striking Fe

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pe t great

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by Rob Edwards

a few… the first is seven macro keys, with three profile banks, for a total of 21 macros. These keys aren’t positioned very well, though – they’re fairly far from the main keyboard, right next to the gaming mode switch that deactivates the Windows key. The S.T.R.I.K.E. 3 also features customisable backlighting, although there are no zone separations in this system. Still, it adds to the customisation of the board. In addition, it has a removable wrist rest, as well as an oversized space bar for easy access. When all is said and done, the S.T.R.I.K.E. 3 is a very decent keyboard, but it falls a little short on the whole “gaming” idea. The poorly placed macro keys don’t do it any favours, and the lack of features like USB ports are also a downside. It does have good looks, though, and is wonderfully responsive. In the end, this one comes down to taste, and personal requirements. g

Summary

Tech Specs:

It doesn’t offer too many frills, but this is still a great keyboard in terms of performance and looks.

M a nufa c turer Distributer: O nline:

gladget41

Looks good! Excellent keys Performance

Removable wrist-rest 21 macros Customisable backlight Custom membrane

M a d Ca tz Comet Computing www.c ometc omputing .c o.za

Pros • • • • •

• • • • • • •

Cons • • • • •

Macro button placement

Score

80 35


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A

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Review

c t e pock g n isi r p ur

a

er ap acka ge

& Covers

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100M2 Digital Camera


T T

he days of photographers looking at pocket cameras with sneers should be long gone by now. They should be, but they’re not. Photographers, it seems, judge people who take images by the camera they use, and the more expensive the equipment is – and the more equipment there is – the better. But the truth of the matter is that it’s the person behind the camera that makes up for the lion’s share of image quality. Sure, having great equipment really does make a difference, but the capabilities of modern pocket cameras come very close to those of older DSLRs. Take, for example, the Sony Cybershot DSC-RX100M2. This diminutive camera may not look the part, but it is extremely capable. One indication of the fact that you can do some pretty serious photography with it stems from being able to capture RAW images with it. Any photographer worth his salt will see a great value in the ability to shoot RAW images on a camera that has a 20.2 megapixel sensor and offers full manual control. If that photographer cannot see the benefits of a powerful pocket camera, let him keep sneering. Sure, there are certain areas in which cameras like this cannot beat a bag full of equipment. Its zoom, for example, is a 3.rx optical zoom, and will always be that (although you can double that with digital options). Pocket cameras do have their limitations, after all, but those are disappearing as technology advances. The RX100M2 really is a compact package, with sensibly placed controls arranged to the right of a positionable, 3 inch LCD screen. In addition to all the expected controls, including a pop-up flash that might take you by surprise from time to time, it also features (unusually for a pocket camera) a hotshoe mount for an external flash. In addition to all of that, it features a wide range of options when under manual control. With an f-stop range going from f1.8 to f11 and a shutter speed range up to 1/2000th of a second (as well as an ISO range up to 12800, this pocket monster is really rather capable, both as an everyday camera and a fast, reliable backup to a bigger kit. Sony have come a long way as photographic manufacturers and, in a market dominated by more “traditional” names, is doing a remarkable job in bringing great devices to shelf. And that’s a sort-of double challenge for the RX100M2; it is in a category often overlooked by more ‘serious’ photographers, and it carries a brand that doesn’t always bring photography to mind. But putting aside possible prejudices and investigating this device will reveal a very capable and easy-touse pocket camera. g

by Walt Pretorius

Summary

Tech Specs:

The deceptive appearance of this camera hides a truly remarkable and capable photographic device.

M a nufa c turer Distributer: O nline:

gladget41

Fast Very compact Powerful

20.2 megapixel 3.6x zoom 3 inch LCD screen F1.8 Zeiss lenses

Sony Sony www.sony .c o.za

Pros • • • • •

• • • • • • •

Cons • • • • •

Low zoom capability

Score

89 37


Show pro

jecto r on

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Asus S1 Mobile LED Projector

A ver yc ap ab le

W Review

W

hen one thinks of a projector (which may happen from time to time) the mind immediately goes to a big clunky device with a massive lens that hums noisily as it does its job of casting images on a surface. And, quite frankly, that’s what we have mostly been subjected to ever since projectors came out. But not very projector is made the same. This one from Asus, for example, breaks every preconceived notion of projectors; it is sleek, stylish and (relatively speaking) tiny. It could fit into a large pocket, and most certainly any kind of bag. Even that rather remarkable aspect of the S1 is not its finest feature. In fact, this device has numerous other features that make it extremely worthwhile. The first of these is the embedded battery. This

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battery will provide up to three hours of projection time, which is pretty handy. It will also function as a mobile recharging device via a USB port, which adds a practical extra function to the package. This can be done while the unit is projecting, too. Because it uses an LED system, the S1 does not have to spend time warming up. It turns on in around 5 seconds, and turns off instantly. The LED system also provides a 200 lumen performance – that’s not the brightest around, but considering that this is an ultra-short throw device, it works quite well. Being a UST projector means that it can create a larger picture at a shorter distance. At 1m away from the projection surface, it produces an image of 41 inches across, at a resolution of 854x480. A sliding cover keeps the lens safe, while a focus ring is positioned next to it. In terms of inputs, the S1 features an HDMI port,

gladget41


by Walt Pretorius

which keeps cable clutter to a minimum. The setup is really very fast with the S1, making it a great device for presentations on the go. It also features a headphone output, which is good because the audio produced by the units integrated 2 watt speakers is not the best, even if they are enhanced with Asus’ SonicMaster technology. There is also a power port for recharging, or operation when the battery is drained. It won’t replace a massive projector as a great home entertainment device. But what it brings to the table is portability. While this may not be needed by everyone, those that do need a small, easy to use and effective projector on hand wherever they go cannot go wrong with the S1. It really performs well, all things considered, and will serve those that need this kind of device perfectly. And it looks pretty stylish, too, which never hurts. g

Summary

Tech Specs:

If you need a small, highly portable and easy-touse projector with great battery life, look no further than the S1.

M a nufa c turer Distributer: O nline:

gladget41

Very compact Extremely simple to use Good battery life

200 lumen HDMI input LED technology UST device 2W speakers Integrated battery Mobile device recharging

A sus A sus www.a sus.c om

Pros • • • • •

• • • • • • •

Cons • • • • •

Speakers could be better

Score

88 39


Review

Logitech G700s Rechargeable MMO Gaming Mouse

Looking good in every way

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Style

T T

he finish that they put on your mouse is actually far more important than you think. Sure, if your mouse use comes down to basic office stuff, one of those slippery, ultrashiny devices will probably be fine. But if you’re doing precision work (or play) and you’re going to spend several hours with your hand clutching to the mouse, comfort is important… and materials make a difference. Logitech have applied new materials to their entire new range of G gaming mice. These are hydrophobic palm rest coatings, dry-grip side panel coverings, and finger-print resistant button finishes. Combine those with a decent ergonomic design, and you end up with a mouse that truly is a joy to use. The G700s has all of those, from the advanced materials to an asymmetric contoured design with a generous thumb-rest. But the striking looks and comfort would mean little if the device didn’t perform. Luckily, the G700s delivers in that category, too, with a powerful 8200 dpi sensor at its core. It sports generous feet for smooth gliding, and can be used as either a wired or wireless mouse, with data and charging running over the same cable. Button placement is also important, and Logitech has managed to get it wrong once or twice in the past. But this mouse doesn’t suffer from that problem. It features four buttons at the thumb, as well as three to the left of the primary left-click button. All of these are contoured for easy blind identification. Another button is placed well aft of the scroll wheel, but using it without looking may result in deactivating or reactivating the scroll wheel’s ratchet – that control is just above it. The DPI can be adjusted over a range of 200 to 8200 DPI. That’s a pretty broad spectrum, and allows for all kinds of applications. The G700s also features five on-board profiles, so switching things up on the fly is pretty simple and effective. With all of that said, there could still be a few improvements to the design. It’s a large mouse, and very distinctly not ambidextrous. It’s also fairly heavy, but has no options for weight customisation, other than removing the single AA battery it uses for wireless power. Still, you could do a lot worse. It is generously apportioned of buttons, setting it up as a great all-round gaming device (MMO players may want a few more buttons, in which case the G602 from Logitech, reviewed last month, is a good option). The comfort levels are great, and most of the buttons are really easy to get to. And the performance, thanks to that sensor and wide range of DPI settings, is excellent. g gladget41

by Alex Scanlon

Summary

Tech Specs:

The G700s is a solid entrant for those who want a button-rich mouse that could be used wired or wirelessly.

M a nufa c turer Distributer: O nline:

Good button placement Very comfortable Wide DPI range

8200 DPI Wired / wireless 5 onboard profiles 13 programmable buttons

Log itec h Log itec h www.log itec h.c om

Pros • • • • •

• • • • • • •

Cons • • • • •

Not ambidextrous

Score

88 41


I

More

I

Review

Parrot AR Drone 2.0 Power Edition

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E

t’s been quite a while since we first got to look at Parrot’s AR Drone, and in the time that has passed since then, there have been numerous improvements to the line. At the core, the AR Drone is still the same: it is a lightweight, four rotor drone that can be controlled using a smart device, thanks to handy software available via the iStore or Google Play store. Using a Wi-Fi connection, the drone receives control instructions from the smart device while sending video footage from its front or bottom mounted camera back to the device. Controlling the drone is also as simple as it was with previous versions. The control inputs are made either using the smartdevice’s touch screen, or by tilting the device – whichever the user feels more comfortable with. And controlling the AR Drone takes a little getting used to, just like before. It can lose altitude while moving in a particular direction, but that’s a law of physics, not a fault. It also has a bit of “drifting” when direction changes are instructed, but that’s once again more scientific principle and less design flaw. And the drone is pretty tough, so a collision or two while you’re learning the ropes won’t destroy your rather expensive toy. But there have been advances, specifically in this AR Drone 2.0 Power Edition. The most notable is the flight time. Previously, the Ar Drone didn’t provide too much of that, but the Power Edition comes with two batteries that, combined, will provide the user with just over an hour of flight time. That’s a significant improvement, and will leave even the most enthused flier well satisfied. Additionally, the newer models offer onboard video recording, either to the smart device or (preferably) to a USB stick that gets slotted into a port inside the drone itself. The video quality is also improved, and the signal strength carrying video back to the smart device is better. With a 50m range, the AR Drone 2.0 certainly is more versatile. That raises a question, when combined with the fact that this newer version is a lot quieter… what kind of mischief could people get up to with it? Well, that’s a question of conscience and morality, really, so we won’t go there. The Power Edition also comes with three extra sets of rotors, in different colours. Changing the rotors out is easy enough, although attention needs to be given to the fact that they need to be paired correctly. And, as before, the drone comes with indoor and outdoor hulls, with the former sporting large protective rings that shield the rotors. With more power and options, the AR Drone 2.0 Power Edition is an excellent step forward for the line.g gladget41

ffo

un with this f s es rt l


co pt er

ro d qua

by Rob Edwards

Summary

Tech Specs:

It’s an expensive toy, but the AR Drone 2.0 Power Edition is great fun, tough and easy-to-fly.

M a nufa c turer Distributer: O nline:

gladget41

Great fun Tough Video recording

1GHz CPU HD camera Video recording Two battery packs Interchangeable propellers Wi-Fi

Pa rrot SM A C www.sma c .c o.za

Pros • • • • •

• • • • • •

Cons • • • • •

One very beautiful pricey toy!

Score

92 43


by Rob Edwards

Charge

Huntkey Power Bank

Extra power at any time

K Review

K

now that sinking feeling when your mobile phone has next to no battery charge left and you need to make an important call? Well, you don’t ever need to feel it again, thanks to the Huntkey Power Bank. This small device fits comfortably into a pocket or bag, and provides a 4400mAh charge to recharge a number of mobile devices, including phones, mp3 players and tablets… anything that runs off of 5V power, really. Each time it is recharged, it provides a lot of recharge power, either via the provided cable, or any charge cable that can be used with a USB interface. This extremely effective device is something that every mobile device user should seriously consider owning. It’s easy to use and can make a big difference… providing an extra dose of power when you need it most. And it’s USB interface means that it works with virtually any 5V device – bonus! g

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gladget41

Summary

Tech Specs:

It’s extremely simple and wonderfully effective; this device will recharge virtually any mobile device with ease.

M a nufa c turer Distributer: O nline:

Easy to use Effective Very protable

USB interface 4400mAh Works with any 5V device USB recharging

Huntkey TVR Computers www.tv r.c o.za

Pros • • • • •

• • • • • • •

Cons • • • • •

Limited plugs on provided cable

Score

84


Greener t

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Parrot Flower Power

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Yo

by Walt Pretorius

T T

gladget41

Summary

Tech Specs:

A great way to make sure your favourite plant is getting exactly what it needs.

M a nufa c turer Distributer: O nline:

Easy to use Effective

Water monitoring Light monitoring Temperature monitoring Over 7000 plant database Smart device application

Pa rrot SM A C www.sma c .c o.za

Pros • • • • •

• • • • • • •

Cons • • • • •

A bit bulky

Score

83 45

Review

here is no more need to claim to be a “plant killer”! Parrot’s Flower Power combines high tech with eco-awareness, allowing even the most non-green of thumbs to effectively look after one of the more than 7000 plants in the device’s database. By combining a plant monitor with a smart phone application, Flower Power will let you know when your plant needs watering or fertilising, as well as if it is getting enough (or too much) light and heat. Pot plant gardeners will be alerted by the application, and can take care of their leafy charges far more effectively. And it’s built to stand up to the elements, so you won’t have to uproot the device every time you grab the watering can. With constant monitoring and reporting, the Flower Power makes it possible for everyone to grow all manner of plants successfully – while not leaving behind their beloved technology. g


S S

Review

Genius GX Gaming Gila Gaming Mouse

ometimes, finding everything you want in a single package is possible. It doesn’t happen all the time, of course, but it can happen, and in the case of the Genius GX Gaming Gila mouse, it has happened. This device combines great design, excellent comfort, sensibility and performance, all in a wired gaming mouse. Right off the bat, the Gila is impressive. Its design is striking, to say the least, featuring a matt-black finish complemented by red brushed metal accents. The overall build is a little off of being symmetrical (it’s sadly not an ambidextrous mouse) and features some added accent lights. Looks are not deceiving in this case. The Gila’s design is full of promise and, quite frankly, it delivers. Sporting an 8200 dpi sensor, combined with wired reliability, the Gila, allows a wide range of sensitivity, and when used with associated software, it really allows the user to bring their A game to the table. In terms of buttons, the Gila offers 12. That works out to the two standard buttons, a clickable scroll wheel, three buttons just at of the scroll wheel, two positioned for easy thumb access, and two on either side of the “normal” mouse buttons. Normally, when a mouse has lots of buttons, placement can become an issue, particularly for users with small hands. But the intuitive placement of the Gila’s controls means that every button is easy to access, without being placed in a way that would result in accidental activations. This is one of the highlights of this mouse – the button placement lives up to the manufacturer’s name. The Gila is also built for comfort, with excellent contouring and support sections combining with non-slip, rubberised side panels for effective grip. It also had large, replaceable feet that allow it to glide effortlessly across virtually any surface (and yes, there is a spare set of feet I the box). All this is rounded out with six 4.5g weights, which can be added to the mouse via an easy-access panel. Further customisation comes in the form of six game profiles, which results in up to 72 macros. The mouse also has on-board memory to facilitate even smoother performance. Even the backlighting can be adjusted, in terms of colour and brightness. It really is difficult to find bad points for the Gila. It delivers the right amount of comfort and performance, combined with a decent degree of customisation. There may be other mouse devices out there that beat it in specific fields, but the Gila manages to perform well in all aspects, and the overall package is great. The only real complaint, then, is that it is not an ambidextrous mouse. But right-handed users will find no problems here. g

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Brand new blast from the past...

by Alex Scanlon

Mouse Summary

The Gila has it all: comfort, performance and customisation options, all combined with wired reliability.

Tech Specs:

Very sensible button placement Looks great Very comfortable • • • •

Pros

Ge n iu s TV R C om pu te r s ww w. t vr . c o.z a M a n u fa c t u r e r D is t r i bu t e r O n lin e RRP

Not ambidextrous

8200 dpi Wired 12 buttons 6 macros Weight customisation Backlight customisation

• • • •

Cons

• • • • • •

Score

96 gladget41

47


Sensible A key

w

r i g ht a

Genius GX Gaming Manticore Keyboard

t the jus ith

un mo

to

T T

Review

bo ar d

here is a wide variety of options available when it comes to gaming keyboards – far more option, in fact, than one may realise. Just like a mouse, a keyboard doesn’t need to be specifically aimed at gaming for it to work as a gaming device, but added extras and features can certainly make a difference. These run the gamut from improved key performance (with shorter travel distances and multiple key reading) through to fancy touch screens and status monitors. What each player requires is a matter of taste and, of course, cost. The more features a keyboard has, the more impact it will have on your pocket. Genius’ GX Gaming Manticore is a good example of a mid-range keyboard, in terms of those aspects. It brings some excellent features to the table, but doesn’t go all-out in terms of possibly unnecessary extras. It gives gamers a good set of key controls without breaking the bank. This full-sized keyboard offers the player eight macro

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f fl as h …

keys. These are arranged and shaped in such a way that “blind” control (finding the keys without looking down at the keyboard) is much simpler. Combined with three profile sets, this adds up to a total of 24 macros, which can intuitively be recorded with an easy-to-access macro recording key. 20 keys, identified as the most commonly used during gaming (and all arranged around the WADS keys) have been given the anti-ghosting treatment. While it would have been great if the whole keyboard was anti-ghosting, these are actually quite sufficient. The mechanical keys have a great tactile feel to them, too, complete with a short (if somewhat loud) movement. The keys are also backlit, with options for 16 million colours to be applied to three key areas – the main keyboard, the direction keys (as well as those directly above them) and the NUM pad.

gladget41


by Alex Scanlon

The good-looking Manticore also offers a few other features, including easy access to multimedia keys, a cable management system, two integrated USB ports and high grade rubber base pads for increased stability. It also looks pretty good next to the Gila mouse, also reviewed in this issue. With solid construction and excellent performance, the Manticore makes for a good addition to any PC gamer’ arsenal. It may not feature all the bells and whistles, but those that it does have are sensibly implemented and, when used with the associated software suite, the Manticore does an admirable job of delivering crisp, clear control. It won’t make you a better gamer (you need patience, practice and dedication for that) but it certainly will deliver the goods in any gaming situation, at a price that is reasonable. In other words, it is a sensible option for those wanting a gaming keyboard. g

Summary

Tech Specs:

Although not extremely feature rich, the Manticore implements the features is does have well, and delivers excellent gaming performance. M a nufa c turer Distributer: O nline:

gladget41

Good design ideas Contoured macro keys Backlighting zones

Master Record function 8 macro keys 3 profiles 2 USB ports Three zone backlighting On-board memory

Genius TVR Computers www.tv r.c o.za

Pros • • • • •

• • • • • • •

Cons • • • • •

A little noisy

Score

80 49


by Rob Edwards

More, Please at

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i

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SanDisk Ultra Plus 256GB SSD

n a S

S Review

S

SDs have been around for a while now, and those that are making use of them are certainly getting good results. Less noise, less heat and more speed are all the order of the day when it comes to SSDs. But there is also the matter of size, and in this regard most SSD drives are still seriously lacking. This SanDisk Ultra Plus, drive, for example, weighs in at 256GB. That’s great for running your OS and a few programmes, but you’re still going to need a traditional hard drive (or a bunch of expensive SSDs) if you want a lot of storage space for your PC. Neither situation is ideal, when what we really want are really spacious SSD drives. That said, the performance of this particular device is excellent, and those in the market for SSDs can certainly count of SanDisk’s reliability and performance here. g

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gladget41

Summary

Tech Specs:

While still on the small side, this SSD provides the expected level of performance and reliability from a SanDisk product.

M a nufa c turer Distributer: O nline:

Excellent quality Fast

256GB SSD 2.5 inch SATA 6Gb/s

Sa nDisk Sa nDisk www.sa ndisk.c om

Pros • • • • •

• • • • • • •

Cons • • • • •

A little small

Score

84


W

an

e

udi

o

d

il t sa r e ev m e x tr

Crisp a

Tritton Kunai Wireless Stereo Headset Review

52

ity co

W

e have reviewed many headsets and there is one aspect that we keep banging on about – versatility. There are tons of people out there who don’t want truly specific headsets; they prefer to have a device that can be used with multiple sources. Tritton understand that – this statement is proven by the Kunai Wireless Stereo Headset. With what you get in the box, you will be able to use this headset with your PC, PS3, Xbox 360 (component or HMDI), PS4, Wii U, handheld gaming device, mobile phone, tablet and MP3 player. That’s tons of getting around for a wireless headset, but the secret lies in the fact that it doesn’t have to be used wirelessly. For certain devices, it has a cable, for others, it uses a wireless transmitter. So using it with your PS4 may mean that it needs to be wired, but the wire runs to the controller, which doesn’t hamper the freedom of wireless gaming at all. When it is used without wires, it makes use of a 2.4 GHz connection to deliver crisp and clear audio. The 40mm neodymium drivers manage to not only get the high tones and bass notes right, but also provided full bodied mid-ranges that elevate the sound quality beautifully. The headset itself is powered by a pair of AA batteries, which provide a surprisingly long lifespan. These sit in the right earcup, while the right houses simple volume controls for audio and chat – which is provided by a discreet, foldable boom mic, also in the left earcup. The cups themselves are generously padded, as is the headband, and feature a wide range of rotation. While they are over-ear cups, they are a little small, so folks with big ears may experience a little discomfort. They’ll probably have to be unnaturally large, though… the rest of us will find the Kunai to be a very comfortable headset indeed. The discreet wireless transmitter provides a range of up to 10m, which is pretty decent and allows for effortless wireless audio. In fact, effortless is the name of the game here. Even when setting up a more complex system, it’s pretty quick and easy. On the downside, the transmitter only allows for one audio input at a time, so if you’re going to be using different devices with it, that will mean a bit of cable swapping. Still, it’s so simple that it doesn’t really become a chore. Extreme versatility, comfort and great audio, as well as ease of use, all combine to make the Kunai Wireless Stereo Headset a great option for those who want a device that will work with more than one system… and they’re packed with the expected Tritton quality. g

Every gladget41


om bined

by Walt Pretorius Summary

They work with pretty much everything that produces an audio signal, and they’re great quality too!

Tech Specs:

Excellent audio Very comfortable Highly versatile • • • •

Pros

Mad Catz C o me t C o mp u t in g w w w.c o m e t c omp u t i n g. c o .z a M a n u fa c t u r e r D is t r i bu t e r O n li n e

Only one audio input on transmitter

40mm drivers AA battery powered Wireless / wired options Separate volume controls Stereo

• • • •

Cons

• • • • • •

Score

92 gladget41

53


P

e

Effective

np w he

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s tra ex

54

Why pa y fo ra dd

ed

Review

Palit GeForce GTX 750 OC Edition Graphics Card

P

ackaging can be deceiving. We hear that we shouldn’t judge books by their covers, but it is always easy – particularly when buying PC components – to get caught up in the hype of a welldesigned package. The flashier the box looks, the better the product, right? Palit’s box designs aren’t bad, but this particular model comes in a box that is small – and that’s not what one expects from a graphics card. It seems that a bigger box is better… but that isn’t the case here. But the Palit GeForce GTX 750 OC Edition is not a big graphics card – at least not in terms of size. Like its packaging, it is also rather diminutive. It’s shorter than the average high-end card by around half, making it an excellent space saver in a cluttered box. Not to mention, of course, that it has far less impact on the internal airflow of the PC case it is built into. That certainly is a big advantage for this compact card. One would expect that a smaller graphics card delivers proportionate performance, but that (once again) isn’t the case. Keep in mind that this card has an nVidia 750 chipset. It might not be the top of the line, but it certainly isn’t a slouch in terms of performance. Armed with a reasonable 1GB of GDDR5 memory, the Palit becomes a cost effective option for those who need to upgrade. It even features overclocking abilities, so it can be pushed a little further by those who choose to do so. The Palit GeForce GTX 750 OC Edition is a solid option for those that want to upgrade without breaking the bank. That said, one must always remain aware of the fact that it is simply not in the same category as some of the high end cards we see from other manufacturers. It is a matter of added extras; the Palit option delivers a card that is strictly on a no-frills basis, with a single fan and a minimum of features managing to keep the price (and the size) down. While its performance is absolutely fine for “normal” people, PC speed freaks may find that it doesn’t quite meet up to what they want. But if you’re more of an average Joe and you don’t obsessively pour the majority of your money into your PC, this really is a stable, effective and (perhaps most importantly) cost effective option. It may not draw the admiration that a bulky, big name card does, but it does the job it is intended for effectively, and keeps things simple overall. And for a great many people, that’s a perfect situation – simple, effective and uncluttered. g


by Walt Pretorius

Summary

fo er

rm

Tech Specs:

This is, when all is said and done, an effective graphics card solution. It may not have all the bells and whistles, but it gets the job done rather nicely none the less.

an ce is

? what you need

M a nufa c turer Distributer: O nline:

gladget41

Cost effective Small

GeForce GTX 750 chipset 1GB GDDR5 VRAM OC software

Pa lit TVR Computers www.tv r.c o.za

Pros • • • • •

• • • • • • •

Cons • • • • •

Single fan No frills

Score

79 55


Did You

Know? 1…that 10.6-million South Africans use WhatsApp?

With the news last month that Facebook acquired messaging application WhatsApps for a staggering $16-billion in a cash-and-stock deal, are vast number of statistics have been revealed. According to World Wide Worx, WhatsApp has enjoyed a tremendous growth in South Africa – where it is used by at least 10.6-million South African adults on their phones (that’s 20% of the population). A survey also showed that Facebook remains the dominant social network on phones, with 9-million South Africans using it on their mobile devices at the end of 2013. Total Facebook use in South Africa was at about 11-million at the end of 2013.

2

…that PlayStation is on the fasttrack to success?

It really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, but Sony announced last month their newlylaunched PlayStation 4 has cumulatively sold more than 5.3 million units around the world. “I am thrilled that so many customers around the globe have continued to select PS4 as the best place to play throughout and beyond the holiday season,” said Andrew House, President and Group CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. The story in South Africa has been no different, as the console sold out in South Africa in less than 24 hours after being made available.

3…that malicious apps have hit

10-million?

Regular

Downloading apps can be a great way to discover new content, but users could also be inviting disaster onto their mobile devices. Anti-virus company Kaspersky Lab said that they have logged over 10 million dubious apps on various market places. While the official Google Play market offers just over 1.1-million apps, it the unofficial stores that create a major problem. Cybercriminals may use legitimate Android software to carry their malicious code, and in most cases malicious programs target the user’s financial information. When using Android, it’s always a good idea to not activate the developer mode on the device, or activate the “Install applications from thirdparty sources” option.

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Messaging, gaming,viruses, online movies and the tax man... they’re all here! by Charlie Fripp

4…that digital purchase and games

could be taxed in South Africa?

Citizens pretty much pay tax on anything, but one aspect that has remained free (so far), is online content purchases and internet-based games. Well, if South Africa’s Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan gets his way, that will be a thing of the past. The Minister announced that the National Treasury’s Electronic Services Regulations is open for public comment, and details how internet-based games, including any electronic game or multiplayer role-playing games; interactive games; and online content (such as software, music, films and images) will be subject to tax. It raises a couple of tricky questions, and the impact on various vendors haven’t been measured yet.

5…that a new Gears of War won’t

be released soon?

Microsoft announced last month that they acquired the Gears of War franchise from Epic Games, and soon after tasked games development studio Black Tusk with creating the next title. But gamers hoping for the return of Marcus Fenix will have to wait. Microsoft Studios’ Phil Spencer said that the next game will have reignite the franchise – especially since Gears of War Judgment received luke-warm reviews. “Still working through plan. I can say first original GoW from BT has to reignite franchise and grow it, won’t be a quick turn. And I believe we’ve built the right team to achieve that goal, I just want to give them the time,” he said in a number of tweets.

6…that Netflix monitors torrent

sites?

Every internet user should know that by downloading films, music or games from the internet through torrent sites are illegal, but Netflix has actually put it to good use. The popular video streaming site launched in The Netherlands in 2013, but they used a unique way to gauge popularity of shows. The service monitored which television series and films were being downloaded the most from clients such as BitTorrent, and added those to their roster. In a good example, they established that Prison Break was one of the most illegally downloaded shows in the Netherlands, so the company acquired the series to offer on the local market. g gladget41

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Thief

Stay Hidden This reboot misses some crucial notes‌

by Walt Pretorius

W

it is supposed to, but it manages to do some of those things poorly. The result is a game that certainly feels like Thief, but still manages to have a few disappointing aspects that may sour fans of the previous games. The player takes on the role of Garrett as he explores an environment simply called The City. It is the the dark alleys and on the rooftops of this steam-punk inspired metropolis that Garrett plies his trade – stealing stuff. And there is tons of stuff to be stolen, ranging from expensive and rare pieces of jewellery right through to pens and ashtrays. The smaller items make it seem a little like Garrett is more of a kleptomaniac than a truly expert thief, but they do help to keep the cash coming in. Thief also offers tone of side missions, which lead the player all over the sprawling City. And these side

Review

hen the new Thief was announced some time ago, it was met with a lot of excitement. The Thief franchise did much to define the stealth genre back when it first came out, and the idea of Garrett, the Master Thief, making a return to our PCs and game consoles was a truly exciting one. There were, however, a number of people who expressed concern over whether the new game would live up to the well-loved titles of yesteryear; would the new Thief be able to fill boots made even bigger by nostalgia? Certainly there would be obvious improvements to looks and the like, but would the new game still carry the essential spirit of the older ones? The answer is, quite frankly, a little complex. As it stands, the new version of Thief does everything

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missions are often the best part of the game, because they are much less linear than the main story quests. The player can exercise a wider degree of freedom here, with multiple approach choices letting the player make the missions their own. The City really is very big, but unfortunately is manages to feel small at the same time. The levels are often quite claustrophobic and the entire game is marred by copious, often long loading times. That doesn’t really belong on a next generation console like the PS4. In addition, the levels can, at times, start looking a bit repetitive. The gloomy City leaves almost everything grey, and the often low light that the player has to navigate in makes establishing strong locational links difficult. Sure, there are a number of levels that do stand out, but for the most part, this game is dark.

Another issue that crops up is navigating these levels. Unfortunately, as much as the developers built in a free-running system (which you’ll hardly ever want to use) movement tends to be inconsistent. Sometimes Garrett will battle to use areas that make climbing higher walls easier. That doesn’t work well if you need to beat a hasty retreat. And at other times, areas that look like they should be easily traversable simply aren’t at all. Climbing over a railing when Garrett can get over almost any low structure should not be something that the player cannot do; sadly, this kind of thing crops up from time to time, and damages the idea of free movement every time it does. In fact, often it feels a bit like Garrett is less of a Master Thief and more like a fumbling fool. The grace and agility one would want from this character has not been realised properly.

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options is almost like introducing a non-aggression approach in a war shooter. Garrett goes about his pilfering with a wide range of tools, which can be acquired as the game progresses. These range from wrenches and scalpels (for nicking paintings) through to a wide variety of arrows. Most of these are pretty specific in their usage, and often only in specific areas. Once again, this limits the freedom that the game seems so keen on giving the player. Using a rope arrow to inventively dispose of an enemy, for example, is not an option. Rope arrows work with specific anchor points. And that is a wasted opportunity that truly could have made this game shine. There are some things, though, that are handy, like Garrett’s ability to swoop undetected from shadow to shadow, even if he crosses through lit areas.

Review

Thief’s DNA is all about stealth, and this title does a good job of it, for the most part. Sticking to the shadows and moving carefully will help overcome the generally smart AI. Enemies will respond to unusual movements and sounds, so the player needs to stay conscious of their surroundings at all times, lest they bring the wrath of the City Watch down on them. If that happens, Garrett is able to look after himself, although he isn’t the best of fighters. But this leads to another little niggle that crops up – some aspects of the game (in this case Garrett’s special eye) make combat too easy. With the right augmentation, Garrett can take care of enemies just a little too easily, thereby diminishing the need for stealthy activity. Sure, it opens up different play styles, but this game is meant to be stealthy. Bringing in those

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It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Thief is still an enjoyable game. It features good graphics and a great overall production. The plot is pretty weak, and the voice acting could have been much better – particularly in the case of Garrett, who seems to have been meant to be all dark and mysterious, but rather comes across as snarky and cold. So how does it measure up to the original titles? Not extremely favourably, unfortunately. There are numerous great ideas here, but their varies executions and the inconsistencies that crop up in the game don’t do the experience any favours. Still, it can be an enjoyable game to play, if you manage to look past its problems. There is, for example, a ton of exploring to do, and the thorough player – the one that digs into every nook and cranny – is rewarded

with more cash and completing a fair number of collectable sets. The stealth aspect of the game is enjoyable, too, just like planning the perfect approach to any given mission can be. It is demanding at times, with the player needing to make split-second decisions that could mean the difference between success and failure. The lighting effects are also great, but one would demand that from a game in which shadows are so important. However, it really doesn’t feel like any kind of successor to the older thief titles. It’s simply too linear, too claustrophobic and (at times) too forgiving. Perhaps it has simply been too long for the Thief identity to have survived intact. As a new game, it has its enjoyable moments. But fans of the originals may find the new game wanting. g

AT A GLANCE: First-person Stealth

If this game didn’t have a long, well-loved history associated with it, maybe it would have come across better...

Developer: Publisher: Distributer:

Eidos Montreal Square Enix Megarom

Parental Advisory

16+ gladget41

Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

Reviewed on:

PS4 Platforms

Genre:

PC X360 X0 PS3 PS4 Wii U PSV 3DS AND iOS

Score

77 61


Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2

Be the Vampire Things are a bit different for Gabriel Belmont these days…

by Walt Pretorius

C

astlevania has a rich and detailed history. The story of Gabriel Belmont and his quest to defeat Dracula has been around for a very long time, and has been presented to gamers with varying degrees of success. Despite a few slip-ups, it has always proven to be a decent fantasy-gothic horror hybrid that delivered the goods more often than not. And then a little while ago, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow was released, and the gaming world really sat up and listened. It was the first attempt of a new developer with the franchise, and with that came some changes. With a Metacritic score of 85, this game turned the franchise upside down by providing players with numerous new ideas and approaches, turning the gothic horror game into a hybridised third-person action title that was crammed with tense

62

moments, exploration and a very decent plot. And people loved it. The response that the original Lords of Shadow got was exactly the kind that spawns sequels – hell, they’ve made follow-ups based on less enthusiasm. In the past. And so developers Mercury Stream ran with the success they had before, and decided to push the envelope even further. Instead of revisiting the basic premise yet again (as has happened many times in the series) the developers decided to advance the narrative, and throw a large spanner into the story’s works. That wrinkle was to explore the relationship between the Belmont family and Dracula more deeply… and what better way than to turn the protagonist of the previous game, Gabriel, into Dracula himself. It is, in itself, a great idea. It really turns things around,

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and allows the player to see the world and its events from a very different perspective. It also makes Lords of Shadow 2 a fairly successful game with a vampire in the lead role – something which hasn’t happened very often in the past. But there were certain other decisions in the creation of this narrative that seem just a little bit weird, and pluck this offering away from its roots. The biggest of these is the setting. Castlevania has always been set in a quasi-medieval, gothic-horror world. This time around, though, the developers have put large portions of the game in the modern day. Sure, Dracula is essentially immortal, so the decision does work. But it doesn’t really work for Castlevania. The over-the-top demon-hunting antics of Gabriel worked when the world was one that we couldn’t relate to in any way. This near-dystopian present, on the brink of

disaster, feels odd. Sure, it’s dark and broody, but it just doesn’t mesh with the central ideas behind the series. Fortunately, the player will do quite a bit of time travelling in the game, heading back to Dracula’s mammoth castle (on the ruins of which the modern city the game takes place in is built) to recover artefacts and powers lost during Dracula’s ten century nap. Similarly, the plot feels a little… well, forced. Dracula has returned to the world at the behest of an old enemy now become an ally, to put a stop to Satan’s plans to take over. But the plot is messy and convoluted, and often heavy-handed. You cannot help but side-line it while you get to the business of beating up bad guys. Speaking of which, the enemies in Lords of Shadow 2 are fairly varied, but are used so often that combat can get quite repetitive. It’s like they throw two too many

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mention secondary weapons associated with each one) makes for intense, fast paced combat. The player will be dodging and striking in no time, as the uncluttered control scheme needs very little instruction for the player to become adept at it. Also reminiscent of the God of War games are some of the movement challenges. Within minutes of starting the game, the player will be climbing up the outside of a massive automaton, doing battle all the way. It’s challenging and exciting, and lots of fun. And then there are great boss battles, too, which break the potential monotony of wading through tons of same-faced minions. Most of these are awesome in scope, and require a special approach that the player needs to learn on the fly. A very welcome addition to this game is the use of an

Review

enemies at you at a time. It is very seldom that you will run into enemies that aren’t in large groups. It is equally rare that you will get mixed groups of enemies, unless you count the slightly tougher variety of all the other guys in the group that you will run into often enough. The combat system, though, makes up for that to a large degree. If you’re going to be hitting the same guy over and over again, at least have fun doing it, right? Using a system very similar to God of War, Lords of Shadow 2 employs direct strikes, and harder hitting area attacks. These are used with three primary weapons – the familiar whip, which fills a middle ground, the life-sucking (but weak) Void Sword and the slow, armour damaging Chaos Claws. These can be switched between on the fly. Combined with dodging and upgradable moves and combos (not to

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open world system. While the original Lords of Shadow was extremely linear, this game allows the player to explore more freely, finding collectables and rewards almost everywhere. A lot of this exploration requires the completion of traversal puzzles as Dracula needs to clamber and climb his way between areas. This process can be unforgiving, as often exact timing is needed to get it right. Fair enough when you’re avoiding dangerous obstacles, but if leaping from one platform to another could have a wider range of success, the developer should have built that in. As it stands, there are a lot of cheap deaths related to that idea – a jump may look feasible, but unless the timing is dead right, the player gets punished. Fortunately the game auto-saves often, so that shouldn’t be too much of a problem, other than building up a bit of frustration.

With good graphics and voice acting (the cast features names like Patrick Stewart and Robert Carlisle) Lords of Shadow 2 is a potentially enjoyable game. But certain aspects bring it down and, overall, it feels less like a Castlevania title than it should – thanks largely to its modern setting. The direction the developers decided to go in, despite nice additions like free-roaming, doesn’t really seem to gel with the core ideas of the franchise in the best of ways. Still, it’s worth trying out, at least, and action adventure fans who don’t mind a trite narrative, sometimes repetitive combat and often unforgiving traversal areas should get something of a kick out of it. At very least it’s a fairly decent game in which the player gets to control a vampire… something of a rarity. It has a few warts, but more forgiving players will be able to draw some fun out of it, at the very least. g

AT A GLANCE: Action adventure

It can be an enjoyable game, But Lords of Shadow 2 has too many little issues to allow it to rise to the heights its predecessor achieved. Developer: Publisher: Distributer:

Mercury Stream Konami Ster Kinekor

Parental Advisory

18+ gladget41

Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

Reviewed on:

PS3 Platforms

Genre:

PC X360 X0 PS3 PS4 Wii U PSV 3DS AND iOS

Score

75 65


Tomb Raider Definitive Edition

Looking Better A graphic overhaul lets Tomb Raider shine

by Alex Scanlon

I

Put the two together, and you get the Tomb Raider Definitive Edition. It is one of the oldest games to make a shift onto the next generation consoles, and it is a very welcome addition to the market (particularly because there is no kind of backward compatibility). So what exactly does this Definitive Edition bring to the table? Quite simply, the lion’s share of effort went into making it look a whole lot better than it did on the older consoles. The graphics are, quite frankly, stunning. The improvements are no less than vast in scope, with every aspect of the game having received a visual makeover. Most of these, of course, went to Lara herself. Everything from improved mud and blood effects to the technology behind her hair movement got redone (although some of the hair movement bits are a bit odd at times).

Review

t was around a year ago that the gaming world was treated to a massive reinvention of the Lara Croft character and her world, when the rebooted Tomb Raider origin story hit shelves. And not a small part of the general sense of amazement that players around the world felt came from the absolutely stunning visuals that Tomb Raider had on offer. And then, at the end of 2013, the next generation consoles arrived. And what they brought to the world was the ability for games to look awesome (among a bunch of other things, of course). What didn’t come with the new consoles, though (and something that a whole bunch of people are complaining about) is a whole big pile of games. And so we have seen a number of games revisited by developers wanting to take advantage of the dearth of titles.

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The environments and characters really come alive in this Definitive Edition. Those that have played the previous versions will realise that saying the improvements are huge is really a big thing, because there was nothing intrinsically at fault with the previous version’s visuals. But Crystal Dynamix have been afforded the opportunity to make their creation even more impressive than it already was, and they have taken to the task with unbridled gusto. The Definitive Edition is really a visual feast. In addition, all the available DLC for Tomb Raider also got included in the package. The sum total of that is… well, one extra tomb to be explored, and a bunch of different outfits for the heroine. Not a hell of a lot, no. But still, the extra outfits, even if they don’t get torn up and show ware like her original clothing, are

pretty cool. And the extra optional tomb adds another fun puzzle to the mix. Other improvements that could have been made weren’t. Like the multiplayer – it is still the same lacklustre, tacked-on experience it was before. But that’s OK, because the single player game is really what this title is about. If you haven’t played Tomb Raider, and you own a new PS4 or Xbox One, then this Definitive Edition will prove to be a real treat. Even if you have played the game before, revisiting the brilliance that is Tomb Raider won’t hurt, if you’re willing to shell out for the game a second time. But you won’t get much more than you did before, if that is the case. They didn’t need to make this edition, but we’re kinda glad that they did. g

AT A GLANCE: Action adventure

A bunch of new visuals and a few added extras for Tomb Raider on next generation consoles.

Developer: Publisher: Distributer:

Crystal Dynamics Square Enix Megarom

Parental Advisory

18+ gladget41

Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

Reviewed on:

PS4 Platforms

Genre:

PC X360 X0 PS3 PS4 Wii U PSV 3DS AND iOS

Score

90 67


Outlast

Producing Bricks… But not in the way you think…

by Walt Pretorius

S

Even Silent Hill gave the player a fighting chance. In one of those titles, the player was an ex-soldier. But no, Outlast doesn’t even give that. This character is a nosy reporter, armed with a video camera and a massive dose of curiosity. And we all know what they say about curiosity. The player’s main aim is to escape from the asylum after the journalist is trapped inside. It sounds easy enough, but the player has no map to refer to. While this has been criticised by some, it is yet again a powerful tool in the arsenal of a game that gives the player three options: run, hide or die. A panicked run down the wrong corridor is exactly the kind of thing that can heighten the horror experience of Outlast, and if you don’t want to be scared, you shouldn’t be playing it. The player won’t be stranded alone, though. There are hundreds of residents still present in the asylum. Some –

Review

urvival horror games have, for some time now, been a matter of how fast you can pull a trigger. For the most part, they have become creepy action games, rather than being the chilling experiences that they potentially can be. Outlast, though, breaks that mould quite successfully, presenting the player with a game in which horror – even terror – is central. And how does it do this? Quite simply by taking the power away from the player. In Outlast, the player fills the shoes of a journalist investigating an asylum in which some nefarious deeds have been committed. So, creepy setting, check… chilling, mysterious history, check. But there are a lot of survival horror games that have the same elements. Outlast takes it a step further, however. In this title, the player has no way of fighting back.

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most – sit drooling and staring at blank TV screens. Some will occasionally startle the player with sudden movements or essentially harmless attacks. And others want the player’s character dead, and won’t stop until they achieve that goal. The other inhabitants of the asylum are the game’s main source of horror. Even those that aren’t mutated homicidal maniacs are worth a scare or two. The game is steeped in unpredictable frights, during which a character you have walked past three or four times will suddenly leap up and scare the crap out of you. Add all of these things together, combine them with good graphics and a truly creep ambiance, and you get something that most survival horror games fail at these days; a game that is really, truly scary. It clings to traditional horror values, keeping the player uninformed with the lack of things like

maps, and helpless with the absence of weapons. It never really gets predictable, either, which means that by-the-book frights aren’t really something you’ll find in Outlast. Rather, it is a simple but effective way to scare the living daylights out of you, even if you are playing it in the middle of the day. And that’s pretty awesome, because it really is what horror games should be about. It’s not perfect, of course – the player will still find a few elements that don’t quite work, and the eternal hunt for batteries to power the video camera’s night vision mode can get tiresome at times. But the good outweighs the bad here, resulting in a game that really is scary. So if you’re up for a good scare – and if your heart can hold up – Outlast will grant you a truly fantastic experience… no guns, no maps, no heavy hints. Just pure, unadulterated survival horror. g

AT A GLANCE: Survival horror

No weapons, no maps... just a creepy asylum and a ton of scares. This is what survival horror games are supposed to be like. Developer: Publisher: Distributer:

Red Barrels Red Barrels PSN

Parental Advisory

18+ gladget41

Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

Reviewed on:

PS4 Platforms

Genre:

PC X360 X0 PS3 PS4 Wii U PSV 3DS AND iOS

Score

80 69


Rayman Legends

Play it Again, Ray. by Walt Pretorius

by Walt Pretorius

O

This can be seen as either an attempt to bring more options to the table for PS4 owners, or (on the other hand) as companies cashing in on an imperfect situation. Either way, there have been a number of titles released this way. The upside is that, even though the inflation may be an attempt to cash in on the situation, there are more games available for the PS4. The downside is, of course, that we’ve seen and played these games already. That said, Rayman Legends is still a fantastic game, and one that will provide the player with many hours of accessible platforming fun. Side scrolling platformers are rare these days, so to see the classic genre visited with such quality is a great treat. The action is fast paced and often frantic, but never descends into being unreasonably demanding on the player.

Review

ne of the biggest complaints since the launch of the PlayStation 4 is the lack of games that are currently available. It takes time to build up a strong library of games, but that time has not yet passed for the new Sony console. And so PlayStation 4 owners are left looking for games to play while they wait for new releases to finally arrive. One of the responses to this issue has come in the form of various companies releasing previously published titles for the platform. While this is relatively understandable for titles that came out just before the release of the PS4 – things like Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag and Call of Duty: Ghosts – there has been a movement towards reworking older titles too. These include the likes of last year’s Tomb Raider and, more specifically here, Rayman Legends.

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Added to this addictive game dynamic is the world of Rayman itself. It is a colourful, humour-riddled fantasy world where nothing is strange… simply because the whole place is so weird already. I mean, come on… the main character has hands and feet, but no arms or legs. Yet it works beautifully, and presents the player with an enticing mythology full of visual gags, entertaining audio and amusing characters. All of this is brought to life by the UbiArt engine, giving the entire thing the feeling of a hand-drawn animated film. That provides even more charm to an already excellent gaming experience. What being on the PlayStation 4 brings to the whole deal is a slicker experience – there are very few loading screens to interfere with the experience, and the whole thing looks just a little better. But that’s really it. It’s

the same game. And as excellent as the game is, if you have played it before, it won’t hold any surprises for you. And that’s really what it comes down to; if you have played Rayman Legends on another platform, there really isn’t any reason to replay it. To be honest, it is a great game to have, and completionists would probably want it for the PS4, purely to have a great side-scroller available should they want it. And, of course, the game is ultimately replayable, so redoing the thing on PS4 won’t hurt. But some people out there will certainly see this as a cash-in, and others may not want to purchase the same game twice. If you haven’t played it yet, though, and you have a PS4, Rayman Legends is more or less essential. It’s a great game, and well worth the effort. g

AT A GLANCE: Genre:

Platformer

Reviewed on:

Developer: Publisher: Distributer:

Ubisoft Ubisoft Megarom

Parental Advisory

7+ gladget41

Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

PS4 Platforms

We’ve seen it before, but Rayman Legends is a great game on every platform.

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PC X360 X0 PS3 PS4 Wii U PSV 3DS AND iOS

Score

88 71


Fable: Anniversary

The Old School Taking a trip back to where it all began…

by Walt Pretorius

S

to it, the core of it is still a game that was originally released in 2004. Ten years isn’t necessarily a long time in the real world, but in terms of gaming it is a massive span. A lot has changed since Fable was first released, in terms of technology and the approach people take to making and playing games. And because of this, Fable: Anniversary feels like a dated game, even though it has only just hit shelves. But credit where credit is due; Fable helped refine many ideas that formed the modern role-playing genre, and made large contributions to ideas like consequence and personalisation within a game environment. And besides, those that played the next three Fable games, all released for Xbox 360, sort of needed this release to round out their collection and experience.

Review

outh African gamers have, from time to time, had to forgo certain things, simply because they weren’t released locally. It wasn’t until the previous generation of consoles, for example, that the Xbox line arrived o our shores. The original Xbox wasn’t officially distributed here – the few that did come in were grey-market imports. And so, as a result, most South African gamers didn’t get to enjoy the games that were released for the Xbox. That includes the first Fable game. Well, now the chance to enjoy the original Lionhead title has come up for those that own an Xbox 360. Fable: Anniversary brings the original game back, with numerous improvements and additions. It needs to be noted that even though Fable: Anniversary has had a number of improvements done

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It’s a fairly big game, with tons for the player to see and do. The world of Albion has been given quite a spritz-up in this new version, with graphics and sounds that are far better than the original. In addition, some of the control ideas have been refined, although things like ineffective target-locking still plagues the title. And there are some areas of the presentation and dynamic package that simply feel really old. Some of the voice acting is a bit weak, and occasionally the AI does strange things. None the less, this revisiting of the first trip we had to Albion is well worth experiencing, particularly when considering that the game now has an improved save system, and features achievements for the first time. Additionally, all extra content – The Lost Chapters – now form part of this title, adding a bit extra for those

who have experienced the original, basic game. In the end, this release really is fan service. It provides those who love the Fable franchise with a revisiting of the original on a more modern platform (seeing as how the Xbox 360 is still a viable console) and allows them to fill out the experience. It is a charming, entertaining and sometimes quirky adventure tale, full of humour and action that allows the player to, once again, make use of three weapon types as they please. And, of course, there are those consequences, which allow the player to shape their character through their actions. If you can get past it’s idiosyncrasies and anachronisms, Fable: Anniversary is a great experience. Just don’t expect cutting edge anything, because you simply won’t find it here. g

AT A GLANCE: Role-playing

Reviewed on:

It’s old fashioned and quaint, but Fable: Anniversary serves as an enjoyable experience, as well as excellent fan-service.

Developer: Publisher: Distributer:

Lionhead Microsoft Microsoft

Parental Advisory

16+ gladget41

Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

X360 Platforms

Genre:

PC X360 X0 PS3 PS4 Wii U PSV 3DS AND iOS

Score

79 73


Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII

Tight Deadline So much to do, so little time…

by Walt Pretorius

F

The thing with Final Fantasy, though, is that over the years it became more or less definitive of the JRPG experience. And a big part of that experience (aside from crazy characters and convoluted plots) was the turnbased combat system that they used. These allowed for a great variety of depth and strategy while taking on enemies. That depth has been lessened somewhat in the later games. In Lightning Returns, more depth is added by granting the player three sets of equipment and skills that can be switched up on the fly. Each one has limited power associated with it, so the player will invariably have to switch between these set-ups while the others recharge. Because the attacks are bound to face buttons, that means the player can have a wider variety of actions available, which reintroduces that depth. The combat is the strongest part of the game – an

Review

or the longest time, the Final Fantasy series was one that didn’t do sequels. In fact, it took 13 instalments of the franchise for a sequel to be made, in the form of Final Fantasy XIII-2. And now there is a third game to round out the Final Fantasy XIII story, in the form of Lightning Returns. But does it do this long and extremely popular line of games any justice? No, not really… The problem is that Square Enix tried very hard to reinvent the franchise with the XIII games. And they had some pretty good ideas. The first two of the three titles were certainly enjoyable, and the more fluid, almost real-time combat they introduced worked well. The good looks didn’t hurt, either, and the strong mythology created by the game’s narrative was highly entertaining.

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unusual statement for a Final Fantasy title. But, quite honestly, the plot is convoluted and often weird (and drops the player into the middle of things) and the overall game dynamic is placed under unnecessary strain. See, the basic plot is that the player has thirteen days in which to save as many souls as possible – the world is doomed, and rescued souls will be transported to a new world. The player doesn’t start with 13 days, though… they start with less. The more souls they rescue, the more time they will get… but never more than thirteen days from the start. Placing that kind of deadline on a game is all fine and well, but then giving players a massive world with tons of exploration options just seems cruel. And when certain missions demand exploration it gets even crueller. And

it simply doesn’t feel like something that Final Fantasy should do. The player spends far too much time rushing around to fully appreciate the richness of the world that they find themselves in, which is a bit of a travesty. Add to that the fact that the production values aren’t anywhere near as high as they should be, and the whole thing starts becoming more and more disappointing. The graphics aren’t great during exploration, and even the cut scenes leave a little to be desired. On top of that, the majority of the voice acting is the typically hammedup stuff we expect from a JRPG; fine if you’re free to do a whole bunch of exploring, annoying if you’re working against the clock. In the end, the overall product feels just as rushed as the player will be in trying to finish it. And that’s a real pity for such a strong franchise. g

AT A GLANCE: JRPG

Reviewed on:

It is certainly one of the weakest Final Fantasy games we’ve ever seen, with strong points that simply don’t outshine its weaknesses. Developer: Publisher: Distributer:

Square Enix Square Enix Megarom

Parental Advisory

16+ gladget41

Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

X360 Platforms

Genre:

PC X360 X0 PS3 PS4 Wii U PSV 3DS AND iOS

Score

71 75


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