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Vita!

Sony’s anticipated hand-held has arrived

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Inside 6 From the Editor

8 The Gaming Life The Vita has landed... 16 Photography Primer The first Story of a Picture 22 Reviews Lots of gaming gear and other goodies 62 DVD Seen Movies to see, movies to avoid... all at home 68 Money to Burn Multilingual, for real... 70 Inner Workings No more ink stains 72 PC Builder Getting your power right

THIS MONTH’S COVER The Vita has arrived on our shores. Check it out in our feature on page 8, with game reviews from page 48.

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gladget contents • issue 17 • March 2012


Reviews

24

Thermaltake Challenger Ultimate Keyboard

26

Logitech G700 Wireless Gaming Mouse

28

WOWee One

30

Sony Ericsson Xperia Active Mobile Handset

31

Raidmax RX-1000AE Power Supply Unit

32

Thermaltake Shock Spin Gaming Headset

34

Corsair Vengeance K90 Keyboard

36

Raidmax Aeolus PC Case

37

Orb PS Vita Mega Pack

38

HP Envy 110 Printer

40

Raidmax Atlas PC Case

42

Corsair Vengeance M90 Mouse

44

Moshi Monsters DS Accessories Kit

45

Orb PS Vita Accessory Case

48

Uncharted: Golden Abyss (Vita)

49

Army Corps of Hell (Vita)

50

Lumines: Electronic Symphony (Vita)

51

Little Deviants (Vita)

52

ModNation Racers: Road Trip (Vita)

53

Everybody’s Golf (Vita)

56

F1 2011 (Vita)

57

Rayman: Origins (Vita)

58

Dungeon Hunter: Alliance (Vita)

59

Ridge Racer (Vita)

60

Wipeout 2048 (Vita)

61

Reality Fighters (Vita)

GLADGET Volume 2 Issue 17 March 2012 Editor: Walt Pretorius walt@gladget.co.za Writers: Alex Scanlon Dylan Bouch James Francis Katia Taliadoros Rob Edwards Letters: letters@gladget.co.za Competition Entries: competitions@gladget.co.za Newsletter Subscriptions: www.gladget.co.za Design & Photography: 1337 Media Marketing Contact: Katia Taliadoros katia@gladget.co.za

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gladget contents • issue 17 • March 2012

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Crashing Through... From the Editor

by Walt Pretorius

M

iracles apparently do happen. The fact that you’re reading this sort of proves it, because this was a difficult month here at Gladget. It started out fine, but a snowball effect of coolness, which got us really busy, ended up hitting the wall of a good, long power cut at the eleventh hour. With deadline looming, the lights went out. Still, perhaps I am being overly dramatic. I think I might have some kind of anxiety disorder, particularly after watching my partner go about getting stuff done with absolute calm and grace. If I start hyperventilating, that will probably be the final proof I need... You may notice a very distinct PS Vita feel to this issue. It’s on the

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cover, there’s a chunky feature on it, and a whole bunch of launch title reviews. The Vita is some of the most exciting news we have had in a while, with Sony making a strong re-entry into the hand-held gaming race. But this device is so much more that just a gaming platform, as the feature will indicate to you. Movies, music, web browsing... it’s like a hybrid between a game machine and a tablet. Perhaps that was why I started feeling anxious... every moment I could, I would steal away to play on it some more. But the issue got done - once again, evidenced by the fact that you are reading this - so it couldn’t have been all bad. Also in this issue, you will find the first instalment of our new approach

to teaching photography, Story of a Picture, as well as the second part of our PC buying and building guide. In addition, there are a bunch of nifty reviews, with a strong gaming flavour this time around. We hope you enjoy them all. And, in what seems to be becoming a habit, I would like to once again invite you to visit our new website at www.gladgetmag.com. please feel free to drop us a comment or two while you’re there. The response to the new site has been great, but we really would like to hear from you as well. Ok, that’s enough from me... let’s get on with the show. I hope you enjoy this 17th issue of Gladget. g

gladget column • issue 17 • March 2012


Feature

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gladget feature • issue 17 • March 2012


The Gaming Life The PS Vita hits the streets

by Walt Pretorius

I

t was with some fanfare that the South African PS Vita launch event took place at the Swanky Randlords in Braamfonten, Johannesburg. And all the gathered press and video game industry VIPs all had the same question on their lips... is there space for another handheld video game system in the market. Not many have been able to take on Nintendo’s DS empire, and the last Sony attempt, the PSP, seems to have faded away. The answer is not one that can be based on theory and conjecture. We found this out shortly after the event, when we took out Vita out of the box and turned it on for the first time. See, while there are all manner of things to read about the Vita, both on and offline, and the marketing material proclaim a whole bunch of stuff about the unit, this one really adheres to that old adage: the proof is in the pudding. No theoretical information can truly allow one to make a decision... not when the Vita proves itself to be greater than the sum of its parts. Because of this, writing a hard and fast review of the unit is difficult. It really is the kind of thing that you need to experience for yourself, truth be told, so heading down to a retailer to check out a demo unit is a great idea. Admittedly, the price point is pretty steep, but experiencing the unit in action may well be enough to convince you that, yes, there certainly is space for this handheld in the market. And while many may make accusations that the Vita has borrowed (or stolen) ideas from other sources, the implementation of the various features in this neat package is excellent, delivering a device that is not only fun to use, but well thought out. Naturally, much of the Vita’s success depends on the ingenuity of those creating games and applications for it. But it does offer a very solid starting point for developers, with lots of options that can allow for an extremely creative approach to portable gaming. Yes, we love the Vita. It offers more than just a gaming platform, thanks to features like internet connectivity, and even as a gaming platform, it delivers an excellent experience, thanks to powerful hardware combined with some rather nifty ideas. With 3G and WiFi flavours available, getting connected to the ‘net and PlayStation Network is simple with the Vita, too, allowing for online play and downloads. So yes, we can tell you all about it over the next few pages, but the fun to be had with Sony’s innovative new device is something that you will need to experience for yourself. And you should. g

gladget feature • issue 17 • March 2012

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Feature

The Front.. D-Pad Standard controller style D-Pad, comfortably located.

Touch Screen Dual Analogue Sticks Sensitive dual analogue sticks allow for excellent control within games. Placement may be uncomfortable for some, but you do get used to it.

5” OLED multi-touch capacitive screen. 960 x 544 resolution, support for approximately 16 million colours. Graphics are delivered by an SGX543MP4+ GPU. The screen is bright and clear, with very responsive touch screen capabilities.

PS Button For pausing games by returning to the home screen. The Vita’s ARM Cortex A9 four core processor sill allow multiple functions to be used at once.

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gladget feature • issue 17 • March 2012


Front Facing Camera 0.3 MP camera (640 x 480 resolution). Allows for video communication and certain game functions. Can also be used to record photographs and video.

Control Buttons Standard PS control buttons, comfortably placed (although the X button is fairly close to the right analogue stick.)

Stereo Speakers Although they do deliver discernible stereo, sound is best enjoyed via headphones. The speakers are simply too small to deliver great sound quality, although the performance is passable. An integrated microphone allows for speech to be used in games or online.

Start / Select Buttons As with all PS platforms, these perform functions within games, notably pausing to the game menu.

gladget feature • issue 17 • March 2012

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Feature

The Back.. Shoulder Buttons Well positioned shoulder buttons add to the control functions of the Vita.

Rear Touch Pad Innovative, sensitive capacitive multi-touch pad allows for added game functions.

Memory Card Port

Headphone Port

Memory cards are sold separately, but are essential to using the Vita. They plug in here. There are a variety of sizes available, although they are fairly pricey.

Headphones go here. When using headphones, the audio is of exceptionally good quality. Any headphones with a 3.5mm jack can be used.

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gladget feature • issue 17 • March 2012


Rear Facing Camera The rear mounted 0.3MP camera allows for photos and videos to be captured, as well as being used in Augmented Reality games.

3G Port Sim cards are inserted here, for 3G compatible devices only. Wi-Fi only Vitas do not have this port.

USB Port A USB cable connects at the bottom of the unit. This is used for charging, as well as connecting to a PC or PS3. Battery life is up to five hours of gaming time.

gladget feature • issue 17 • March 2012

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Feature

The Top..

Volue Controls Easy to find volume controls for adjusting levels through either the headphones or the stereo speakers. Volume levels are indicated by an on-screen display.

The Side..

Memory Card Memory cards are essential for playing and downloading games for the Vita. As none are included, they must be purchased separately. The memory card is shown here alongside a standard SD card, for size reference. They are rather small, so keeping them safe is important.

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gladget feature • issue 17 • March 2012


Power Button The power switch requires a long press to power the unit up... no accidental switching on!

Game Card Port Purchased game cards get inserted here. The cover of the port is a little difficult to open.

Game Card Games for the Vita can be purchased either on physical game cards (shown here) or online through the PlayStation Network. This second option is cheaper, but will require more memory cards to be used… so the two options even out in the long run. The game card is shown here alongside a standard SD card, for size reference.

Closing Comments The PS Vita has, thus far, proven to be a remarkable enjoyable device to use. With innovative ideas and a host of included software, including friend management, browsing and content applications, it is more than just a gaming device. It fits well into a modern lifestyle, and serves as a wonderfully portable, powerful and versatile entertainment unit. On the downside, it is currently fairly expensive. But, at the time of writing, global sales are good, and possible price drops in the future are highly likely, thanks to enthusiastic early adoption world-wide. The connectivity offered by the Vita is great, and is well supported here in South Africa, thanks to the already strong presence of the PlayStation Network. It will be interesting to see if any cellular service providers work with local distributors Ster Kinekor on bundle data deals. When all is said and done, the usefulness of the Vita as an entertainment device is undeniable. Let’s hope that game developers take advantage of what it has to offer, and keep the new games rolling. gladget feature • issue 17 • March 2012

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Photography Primer

The Little Master Luck and multiple frames…

by Walt Pretorius

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gladget regular • issue 17 • March 2012


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e live in a spectacularly beautiful country. From the very tip, where the majestic Table Mountain overlooks the ocean to the very north, where arid veld spans as far as the eye can see, South Africa is a country that is diverse and visually stunning. We have many treats for the eyes here, from semi-desert right through to lush, sub-tropical ‘jungles’ and everything in-between. Add to that the fact that we are blessed with fantastic natural light, and you have something of an outdoor photographer’s paradise. One of the things that we can be thankful for is our abundant wildlife, and the fairly decent state of our National Parks, which house these treasures. Armed with a good long lens and a quick shutter-finger, not to mention a good eye for spotting animals in the undergrowth and grass plains, a photographer can get a number of gems in just a few days of touring such a park. The photograph we have chosen to kick this new direction for our photography primer off on is one you have seen before in Gladget. But it is a firm favourite for a number of reasons. It has many factors that make a wildlife photograph a good image, not least of which is a solid dose of cuteness in the actions of our feisty little model. Ears being flapped in a threatening manner is something that, when performed by a fully grown elephant, is pretty scary. But when this little guy showed off behaviour so clearly learned from elders, it was nothing short of endearing. The shot was taken while on a game drive in the Pilanesberg National Park. It had been a particularly fruitful drive already, when a herd of elephants started crossing one of the park’s main roads. Naturally cameras sprouted all over the place, but it was the rear-guard – in the form of the picture’s subject – that got the most attention. Because of the inherent distance that generally comes into taking wildlife images, the camera was armed with a Sigma 70-300 zoom lens. The length of this lens makes it fairly versatile, with the ability to get in fairly close, gladget regular • issue 17 • March 2012

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Photography Primer

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gladget regular • issue 17 • March 2012


as well as capture images of subjects a fair distance away. A longer lens is often preferred for wildlife photography, but being on a game drive meant that stabilising the camera against shake (a problem with longer lenses) was extremely difficult. The 70-300 lens proved to be a good compromise. As the shot stands, it was captured at a focal length of 240mm, well within the lens range. The selected ISO that the Samsung GX10 camera body was set to was 200; the day was good and bright, and a slightly faster speed from the ISO would help capture all kinds of action. As it stands, a higher ISO might have been even better… the shutter speed came to 1/180th of a second, and the aperture was set to a rather wide f/4.5. While that aperture setting did allow for a nicer depth of field, had the little elephant been moving a little faster, the shot may have been blurred. Also, with a longer lens, even a speed of 1/180 can result in shake. But luck was on my side as I snapped the picture. Luck is always a good ally to a photographer… even finding this herd was lucky, and the actions of the little elephant even more so. When I mentioned snapping the picture, I wasn’t entirely honest. I had, before setting out on the drive, set my camera to shoot in multiple frame mode. It earned more than a few comments from others on the drive, but past experience had shown that trying to shoot just one picture, or shooting in single frame mode, often misses the best results. This image was the middle image of 41 photos shot in the short space of time that the little guy crossed the road. Shooting in single frames would have missed it, likely as not. And it is quite the gem, so I will snub my nose at any comment passed on the day. This is, yet again, one of the strengths that digital photography offers. The ability to shoot many photographs always helps yield better images, but the costs involved in film photography can make that practice extremely expensive. Long live the SD card, I say. gladget regular • issue 17 • March 2012

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Photography Primer

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gladget regular • issue 17 • March 2012


After the trip, when I managed to finally get to take a look at the vast number of photographs I had shot (being of the opinion that no photograph should ever be deleted or even judged based on the small LCD screen on the back of a camera) I was quite thrilled to find the selected photograph in the sequence of shots taken. It captured the spirit of the small elephant in all his feisty bravado very well. Working on a photograph like this in photoediting software can be a little tricky. Not because it is a difficult subject matter to work with, but rather because you will want to enhance the image without making it look overworked. It is, after all, a photograph of nature, and so it is complemented by keeping it natural in appearance. Still, the original photograph needed some tweaking, to brighten the colours a touch, as well as to emphasise some of the detail that could be seen in the elephant’s skin. This was achieved using the simplest of methods. A small contrast tweak brightened the colours a little and emphasised the wrinkles, while a minor brightness adjustment lightened the whole affair. A slight bump on hue and saturation levels heightened the colours. The final crop was a less than usual shape for a photograph, bringing attention to the subject matter while removing some of the more invasive background elements. There are a number of elements that I would have liked to see different in this photograph, like the tar of the road. But the image still manages to tell a tale and remain thoroughly cute at the same time, and so I feel satisfied with the end result. But it is one of the images that I enjoy using as an example of how unpredictable this kind of photography can be. A few minutes difference, and we would have missed the herd. And had we come from the other direction, the little elephant would have been facing the wrong way. Here, choice of the right lens combined with a lot of luck to capture this image. And the value of multiple frame shooting in this kind of situation is rather obvious… no matter how many jokes my companions made. g gladget regular • issue 17 • March 2012

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Reviews Highlights 24 Thermaltake Challenger Ultimate Keyboard A cool keyboard, for real... 28 WOWee One Msuic from any surface 32 Thermaltake Shock Spin Gaming Headset Sounds and comfort at maximum 42 Corsair Vengeance M90 Gaming Mouse Old ironsides...

T

his issue of Gladget has a distinctly gaming feel to it. Not only are we waxing lyrical about the PS Vita, but a lot of the hardware that we have on show this month is designed with gamers in mind. This includes out first ever reviews of Thermaltake and Corsair products, which we are very excited to have in the magazine. But it’s not all fun and games… why not take a look to see what we have in store for you? g

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gladget review • issue 17 • March 2012


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Thermaltake Challenger Ultimate Keyboard

Nifty!

Lots of great ideas here… by Rob Edwards

F

or many years, Thermaltake has been a name associated with innovative ideas and designs. From their cases and cooling units through to input devices, this is a company that often takes a slightly different approach to what is considered normal. The results are, more often than not, impressive. Take the Challenger Ultimate gaming keyboard, which is part of the Tt esports range, as an example. It combines so many small, nifty ideas that it elevates the humble keyboard to the status of must-have item. It starts with a 256 colour palette for the backlighting of the keys, which have a short, comfortable travel distance. Add to those fourteen programmable function keys, arrayed at the edges of the board, and you have quite an impressive looking keyboard. The WADS and arrow keys can also be replaced with red keys, to allow for immediate visual identification, and those often annoying Windows keys can be covered up with dummy keys, which cannot be depressed... great for avoiding

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those horrible incidents where you miss the CTRL key. The keyboard offers fantastic performance, with antighosting technology to allow for accurate multiple key presses. The backlight can also be adjusted, or even turned off. The keyboard is extremely comfortable to use, with an excellent angle provided by the retractable feet at the top of the board. Comfort is further enhanced by - get this - a small fan that can be plugged into either the upper left or upper right corner of the board. This fan blows a stream of cool air over the user’s hands, helping cut down on heat and sweating. When not it use, the fan slots into a special port at the top of the board. It’s fantastic, if you’ll pardon the pun. The ports that the fan can slot into are protected by rubber caps which can easily be removed should you wish to use this refreshing little device. Speaking of ports, the board offers two USB ports, as well as audio ports. In addition, the main cable can be detached, which makes for easier and safer transportation. g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 7 • M a rc h 2 0 1 2


A cable management system in the base adds even more safety for that all-important cable. The keyboard also handles up to 70 macro key functions, thanks to 64kb of on-board memory. Profiles for different games can also be accessed on the fly, to quickly change between game setups. While most keyboards are considered good if they merely perform their desired function, this model from Thermaltake shows a lot of thought and innovation. While others may have some flashier ideas, like LCD screens, Thermaltake have kept things extremely practical with this board. Here, you get for what you pay for, and you will likely use everything you get. There is very little about this keyboard that can be considered gimmicky or superfluous. It is a practical, comfortable and very capable input device. It looks impressive, too, and delivers the kind of innovative dependability that one would expect from Thermaltake nifty ideas and all. g g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 7 • M a rc h 2 0 1 2

AT A GLANCE: PROS:

• Great feel • Good ideas • Reliable

CONS: • Price

Manufacturer: Thermaltake Distributor: Corex Online: www.corex.co.za RRP: TBC

TECH SPECS: • • • • • •

14 macro keys Cooling fan Detachable cable Anti-ghosting 2 USB ports Audio ports

Score

Without resorting to unnecessary gimmicks, this keyboard offers lots of great features.

96 25


Logitech G700 Wireless Gaming Mouse

MMO Champion Great for all games

by Alex Scanlon

L

ogitech quietly go about their business of producing great peripherals and then, every now and then, drop a bomb shell in the form of a great new gaming peripheral. These form part of their G series, with the G no doubt standing for ‘grand’. Or ‘gaming’, I suppose. Either would do. The G700 Wireless Gaming Mouse is one of the latest additions to that range, and it really makes the grade. While wireless isn’t always the best option when it comes to gaming, Logitech have used a gaminggrade system here, which reports between the mouse and wireless sensor (in the form of their great nanoreceiver) 1 000 times a second. That’s a hell of a lot of traffic, and it allows for a smoother experience that one would expect from such a device. Powered by a rechargable battery, the G700 - which is ostensibly meant for MMORPG gaming - recharges via a USB cable. This cable allows the mouse to be used even when charging, and can also be used as an

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alternative to wireless use. That shouldn’t be necessary, though... the wireless performance is excellent, and the tiny receiver can be stored in the mouse when not in use. Further, the G700 offers a dpi range of 200 to 5 700, which is really decent, and processes at 12 megapixels per second, for really accurate input. The mouse is extremely comfortable to use, with a generous basal rest adding extra comfort. A number of programmable keys, including four conveniently located near the thumb and three to the left of the main left mouse button, allow 13 macros to be programmed into the mouse, using special software. This is a really fantastic gaming mouse and, even though it is kind of specifically designed for MMORPG use, it performs well across all types of PC games. It is extremely comfortable to use, with very sensible button placements. The recharging cable doubling as a mouse cable is a nice touch, ensuring that is can be used as a wired or wireless mouse. In the latter case, the battery life is very good. g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 7 • M a rc h 2 0 1 2


On the whole, you could do much worse than using the G700 for your gaming needs. It is extremely capable, delivering a high degree of performance that the modern gamer would be looking for in such a device. It is a little on the pricier side of things, but when one wants to get something of this quality level, it invariably costs more. We tried very hard to find faults with the G700 but, barring several years of use, we couldn’t find many things to moan about. We could have squealed about the wireless, but the added versatility of the charging cable takes care of that. Besides which, the wireless performance is actually excellent. We could have complained about button placement, but while they do take some getting used to, they are actually all cleverly placed for ease of use. So, then, nothing much to complain about... while that does leave us feeling a little unfulfilled, the experience that this mouse delivers makes up for it. This is a great gaming device. g g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 7 • M a rc h 2 0 1 2

AT A GLANCE: PROS:

• Responsive • Versatile • Comfortable

CONS: • Price

Manufacturer: Logitech Distributor: Logitech Online: www.logitech.com RRP: R1699

TECH SPECS: • 13 programmable buttons • 200 – 5700 dpi • Rechargeable • Wired option • 1000/s wireless

Score

A well designed, responsive gaming device; comfortable, practical and versatile.

96 27


WOWee One

Tub-Thumping Sound from any surface...

By James Francis

T

he WOWee One certainly has bass. Sporting a gel coating on its bottom, the speaker - which is roughly the size and weight of an ancient mobile phone (circa 1999) - can render a surface into a large bass transmitter. It essentially vibrates whatever it is on, using that material as an amplifier. Bass speakers are notoriously analog beasts - they want physical space, which is something no digital tomfoolery can replace. Hence this workaround - and it works pretty well. Stick the WOWee One on a table or against a window pane for maximum effect. The manufacturer does not recommend the latter, as the gel base is technically not adhesive. But glass does work well, so if you have a glass table at hand it’s even better. A shoebox proved just as potent. The mid and high-range notes are not that impressive, at times giving a tinny performance. It still sounds better than your laptop speaker and could probably hold

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ground against other portable speakers. But the bass is quite strong and at times betrays the shortcomings of the other tones. Let me put it this way: the WOWee One gives reasonable bass and somewhat lesser everything else. But that bass counts for a lot - you won’t get as much out of anything this size. Powered by an internal battery that charges through USB, the box claims 20 hours uptime. I’d put it closer to ten, maybe fifteen. The full twenty is apparent if you don’t actually use the speaker, so take that as the total charge capacity. Fifteen hours is still a lot, but the USB charging makes it tricky if you got this for an iPad or smart phone. Power is controlled by plugging a 3.5 mm jack into the audio port. It’s a nice touch, but also makes storing the audio cable a problem - you cannot leave it dangling in the audio jack, as it will drain the battery. Had a pouch or something similar been included, it would have added to the appeal. But as long as you have a bag of some sort, the unit and its cable will fit comfortable in anything bigger g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 7 • M a rc h 2 0 1 2


than a pocket. A mini-USB port handles the charging and it is a standard fit, so your other cables will work as well. There are no other plugs or buttons - volume control and such is left completely to the device you will play sound from. So, the golden question: should you get this? The WOWee certainly works well with a cooler box, so it’s a nice fit for a picnic or any other outdoors excursion. It certainly also adds the oomph needed when watching movies on a laptop and the higher-range sounds are easier to hear, so it makes for a nice travel companion. But don’t bother if you want something small for your office. Small speakers that require their own power source still outperform this. But the WOWee ticks most of the boxes for a mobile speaker solution. Sadly its asking price, which local retailers list at around R1,400, is a lot and at nearly twice what you’d pay for other battery portables, a bit too much. g

g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 7 • M a rc h 2 0 1 2

AT A GLANCE: PROS:

• Great bass • Very portable • Sturdy design

CONS:

• Iffy high range • No cable storage • Expensive

Manufacturer: Wowee Distributor: Apex Interactive Online: www.apexinteractive.co.za RRP: R1 400

A good choice if you need a speaker that can travel with you and provide some added bass. But it’s not perfect and won’t match cheap desktop speakers. Also, a pity

TECH SPECS: • • • • • •

16.1 megapixel 10x optical zoom Face detection Smile detection 80 – 3200 ASA Panoramic shooting

Score

80 29


Sony Ericsson Xperia Active Mobile Handset

On the Go! A niche-market phone…

by Alex Scanlon

T

he Xperia range of smart phones is quite extensive, but that doesn’t seem to be stopping more of them reaching the market. For the most part, though, the handsets have looked very similar. This means that the Xperia Active manages to truly stand out among its stable mates. This phone looks rather different. Being an Android based smart phone, the performance is hardly new. Everyone knows what these devices are capable of, for the most part. But the Active adds something new to the mix, in the way that it could be called a ‘fitness’ phone. Compatible with ANT+ fitness devices (like several of the Garmin tools already available) the Active is fitness friendly. It’s smaller that most smart phones, sporting a 3 inch screen. It also has a distinctive wrist strap anchor at its base, and is resistant to water and other elements that one might encounter, say, on a morning jog. The unit also ships with a special carry pouch that fits around an upper arm, and adds value for fitness fanatics in numerous ways. As an Xperia device, it is the freshest we have seen in a while. But its smaller size and tough construction

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identify it as a handset aimed at a niche market, rather than the mainstream. g

AT A GLANCE: PROS:

• Great for active types • Rugged

CONS:

• Niche market

TECH SPECS: • • • •

3” screen Water resistant ANT + compatible Android OS

Manufacturer: Sony Ericsson Distributor: Sony Ericsson Online: www.sonyericsson.com RRP: TBC

Score

This small smart phone is perfect for active people.

79

g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 7 • M a rc h 2 0 1 2


More power than you can shake a stick at! by Walt Pretorius

I

n this month’s PC Builder section we take a look at the importance of choosing the right power supply unit. People in the know will tell you that this component is extremely important, and a high quality PSU will save you from potential heartache later on down the line. Raidmax are apparently that kind of people, because they have produced a fantastic higher end PSU for those that want to make sure that their PC has all the power it needs, while maintaining interior neatness and good air flow. The RX-1000AE makes an impression, right from the word go. Literally. It doesn’t come in a brightly coloured cardboard box… rather, it ships in a sturdy plastic case, complete with a handle. In fact, this packaging really is a bit of a mini-toolbox, complete with a tool tray on the inside. Call me frugal, but that’s just added value, providing you with a place to keep all those extra bits and pieces left over after your PC building session – the ones you cannot bring yourself to throw away. Airflow and neatness are maintained within the box thanks to the fact that this is a modular system – you only attach the wires you will need. In addition, the enlarged 135mm base fan helps keep things even g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 7 • M a rc h 2 0 1 2

cooler, and the 1000W power output will deal with even the highest system demands. In short, this is a powerful, if expensive, PSU that every enthusiast would want. g

AT A GLANCE: PROS:

• Neat • Powerful

CONS: • Price

TECH SPECS: • • • •

1000 W 135mm fan Modular system Industrial grade protection

Manufacturer: Raidmax Distributor: Pinnacle Africa Online: www.pinnacle.co.za RRP: R1399

Score

A very impressive power supply indeed!

92 31

Raidmax RX-1000AE Power Supply Unit

In Power


Thermaltake Shock Spin Gaming Headset

Big is Beautiful They’re bulky, but they are awesome!

by Walt Pretorius

W

hat can we say? We love a great set of headphones. Whether they’re meant for specific purposes, or are general application devices, headphones are extremely useful things to have around. And if they’re excellent quality, well, that’s just the icing on the cake. Like these babies... Thermaltake’s Shock Spin gaming headset. They are part of Thermaltake’s Tt esport range, aimed at providing gamers with the right kind of gear at great quality levels. And believe me, that they do. If a complaint must be levelled at these headphones, it’s that they are a little bulky. We don’t mean heavy, but rather big. Transporting them can be a bit of a pain in the rear, because they don’t fold up as we would have liked. That said, they are very sturdily constructed, so aside from losing a big of luggage space, it’s all good. And they are surprisingly comfortable, too. This is, in part, thanks to the fact that the device, although large,

32

is light. Further comfort comes from a padded, autoadjusting head band that alleviates pressure, as well as the velvet ear pads that surround the user’s ears. There is no undue pressure from these... they sit exactly where they should, encapsulating the whole ear rather than hurting bits of it. The cups are held by adjustable axles as well, for maximum comfort. Additionally, generous venting on the outside of the cups allow for a greater degree of airflow, helping the ears stay cooler during long gaming sessions. The 50mm speaker drivers feature enhanced bass sound, and deliver audio that is truly sublime. Whether you are listening to your enemies getting blown to bits, or just chilling with some tunes, the audio quality of the Shock Spin is great. So is the versatility. Instead of using a boom mic, this headset makes use of a clip on mic, similar to those used by TV production companies. This cables unit clips to the user’s clothing, and interfaces with the PC directly. It can g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 7 • M a rc h 2 0 1 2


be unplugged and removed entirely, should you wish, which is a bonus, and also features a mute function, for when the insults get a little too rough. The in-line volume control obviously controls the volume, and is set at a sensible distance down the unit’s braided cable. And if you want a little less cable length, the headphones can be unplugged from the volume control unit and plugged directly into the PC ( or whatever else you use the headphones with.) The cable, at its full extent, is pretty long, so this options (which adds the hassle of controlling volume via the device, rather than the in-line control) might be good if you want a little less wire to deal with. Overall, these are stunning. Sure, they are rather bulky, which may put people off, but with that size comes a level of performance that is truly excellent. The comfort and versatility of set-up are added bonuses, because the real function here - sound delivery - really is top notch. And that, in the end, really is all that matters. g g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 7 • M a rc h 2 0 1 2

AT A GLANCE: PROS:

• Comfortable • Great sound

CONS:

• A bit big

Manufacturer: Thermaltake Distributor: Corex Online: www.corex.co.za RRP: TBC

TECH SPECS: • 50mm speaker driver • Auto adjusting headband • In-line volume control • Extendable cable

Score

Although they’re a bit bulky, the sound quality more than makes up for that minor inconvenience.

88 33


Corsair Vengeance K90 Keyboard

Heavy Metal Rugged and reliable

by Rob Edwards

C

orsair aren’t really known as a major gaming peripheral manufacturer, but between the Vengeance K90 keyboard and the Vengeance M90 mouse (which is reviewed elsewhere in this issue) their products certainly make an impression. The main part of that impression is their visual style. Like the M90, the K90 makes use of a brushed aluminium finish... not just a look, mind you, but actual metal. That makes the keyboard a bit heavy, which is a little bit of an issue for transportation. Not much of one, though, and the tough material means that the keyboard is solid enough to endure even the nastiest of gaming rage. The design has also resulted in the keys looking rather high. Instead or being slightly recessed into the housing, the Cherry MX Red key switches sit in top of it, giving the keyboard a look that reminds one of an old fashioned type writer. The keys have a fair amount of travel, and are fairly noisy, too, but their responsiveness

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cannot be faulted. They’re very good at double and triple taps, too, thanks to their mechanism. In addition to the normal keys, the K90 sports 18 customisable keys that can bed programmed for multiple functions across three memory banks. Full multimedia keys are complemented by a stylish, old fashioned looking volume roller. The keyboard’s responsiveness is supported by full key matrix anti-ghosting and a 20 key rollover on USB. This means that virtually no keystroke gets missed, adding to the accuracy and responsiveness of the device on the whole. In terms of extras, the keyboard offers a single USB port, as well as a comfortable detachable wrist rest. All the keys are backlit, and the board comes with great software for setting up keys and the like. While one cannot call the K90 a bad keyboard by any means, it’s heaviness and slightly odd looks may not appeal to everyone. The brushed metal looks like it means g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 7 • M a rc h 2 0 1 2


business, but the board looks clunky, rather than sleek. Also, the way the keys are raised above the board may be slightly uncomfortable for some, because they are undeniably higher than the average key. All of this can be acclimatised to, though, and visually, the K90 makes quite a statement, particularly if it is paired with the M90 mouse. It is a high performance board, and one that won’t let you down, provided you are comfortable with using it. That does lead one to wonder about the folks who put the designs for high end gaming equipment together. Are they always conscious of the needs of the gamer, or does a certain kind of aesthetic become more important than a more practical approach? It would seem that way with this particular device. It features everything that a gamer would want under the hood, but it can be a little uncomfortable to use, at least initially. Had the keys been just a little lower, this board would have been near perfect. g g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 7 • M a rc h 2 0 1 2

AT A GLANCE: PROS:

• Sturdy • Unique look • Great response

CONS:

• Keys feel a bit odd

TECH SPECS: • • • •

18 macro keys Full anti-ghosting 20 key rollover 1 USB port

Manufacturer: Corsair Distributor: Corex Online: www.corex.co.za RRP: TBC

It’s heavy and it’s solid… get used to the keys, and you will have an awesome keyboard at your fingertips.

Score

80 35


Raidmax Aeolus PC Case

Airy

But a little ugly, too… by Walt Pretorius

A

irflow is something that is hugely important in a PC case, and Raidmax are well aware of this. Enter the Aeolus case. OK, to be honest, the looks of the box are just a little too… overstated… for out tastes, but the truth is that this bold design highlights the fact that this case is great at keeping your PC system cool. And it ships with one more fan than we expected. Out of the box you will find a 140mm front fan, an 80mm back fan and two 80mm top mounted fans. Another fan can be mounted in the front and side. There is also a vent beneath the bottom mounted PSU bracket, and the case has support for water cooling in the form of two valves built into the rear. Inside there is space for four side mounted hard drives, as well as three optical drives. All of these bays are screwless, and two of the hard drive bays are removable, for even better air flow. A generous cable management space (25mm) keeps thing really neat. On the outside, a USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 port are available, in addition to all the other expected ports. Raidmax cases are proving to be sturdy, provide great

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air flow and are easy to work with. This one is no different. g

AT A GLANCE: PROS:

• Great air flow • Sturdy • Good interior

CONS:

• Slightly ugly

Manufacturer: Raidmax Distributor: Pinnacle Africa Online: www.pinnacle.co.za RRP: R699

TECH SPECS: • Bottom mounted PSU bracket • 6 fan mounts • 4 HDD mounts • 3 optical mounts • Screwless • S2 USB ports

Score

Good airflow trumps looks in this one.

85

g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 7 • M a rc h 2 0 1 2


You don’t want that screen scratched…

by Walt Pretorius

S

o you bought a Vita? Well, after your pocket near melted from the searing heat of the asking price, you will probably want to make sure that you not only protect it, but also get as much out of it as you can. Well, Orb have a solution for you on both counts. If you go out and get yourself the Orb PS Vita Mega Pack, you will not only be able to protect your investment, but you will also be able to make sure that you can charge it on the go… which is handy, if you consider the Vita’s five hour of gaming-time battery life. In this pack, you will get a sturdy carry case, headphones, a screen protector (with a handy applicator), a cleaning cloth, a car charger, a game case (for one game, sadly) and an additional USB cable and AC charger (which is slightly redundant, until you lose the original one!) It’s great value for money, and it will allow you to carry your Vita wherever you go, without worrying about damaging that all-important touch screen. And considering your level of investment, that’s a great idea. The car charger is also a brilliant option to have around. g g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 7 • M a rc h 2 0 1 2

AT A GLANCE: PROS:

• Good protection • Car charger!

CONS:

• Some redundant items • Pricey

Manufacturer: Orb Distributor: Megarom Accessories Online: www.megarom.co.za RRP: R399

TECH SPECS: • • • • • •

Carry case Screen protector Car charger Headphones Game case USB cable

Score

A handy pack, with lots of accessories to make your Vita life easier.

78 37

Orb PS Vita Mega Pack

Keep it Safe…


HP Envy 110 Printer

All About Looks Inside, they’re almost all the same…

by Rob Edwards

W

hen you have been doing product reviews for a while, you develop the idea that you have things more or less pegged. See, surprises do come along from time to time, but for the most part the changes that one sees while doing this job are the kind of things that evolve from previous ideas. This is particularly applicable in terms of design. It seems that people like to stick to what they know, more or less, when it comes the aesthetics. One of the companies we thought we had pegged was HP, whose printers always look more or less like a variation of a strong theme running through the product line. Oh, boy, were we in for a surprise when we opened the HP Envy 110 box. Where HP generally produce printers that are fairly tall, a bit boxy and almost always black or grey, the Envy is the exact opposite: low, sleek, curvaceous and

38

light, finished in creams and whites. It is, as far as modern printers go, visually striking. If you are of the opinion that this one is almost directly aimed at the Apple crowd, you’re probably right. It looks like it would fit into an Apple setup beautifully. Of course, that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t look great next to a PC either... after all, IBM derivative users aren’t snobs; as long as the product works, looks aren’t everything. Different strokes... Aside from a striking appearance, the Envy 110 is a dependable printer, offering the kind of performance one would expect from an HP device. It offers printing, faxing, scanning and copying capabilities, as well as wireless connectivity and ePrint facilities. It uses a two cartridge system, which is not ideal, with a delivery of around 200 pages from a standard black and 160 pages from a standard colour cartridge. The unusual build of the printer means that it might surprise you when operating. Prints, for example, are g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 7 • M a rc h 2 0 1 2


delivered via a port just below the scanner lid, and the interior of the device can only be accessed by lifting the entire scanner bed. No train smash... it just takes a little getting used to. Controlling the device takes place by way of a touch screen built into the printer’s front panel. This panel can be tilted for maximum convenience, too. In the end, choosing the Envy 110 over another printer will really come down to whether you want to take advantage of its aesthetic. Simply put, it performs almost exactly like any other HP printer. It is a bit smaller, too, offering a more compact solution to some of the other models, and its online connectivity does bring some fun and funky applications to the table. But while things like that and the integrated card reader are great, they are not essential. So, in short, once again, it comes down to looks. If you like what you see, then it is the right printer for you. g g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 7 • M a rc h 2 0 1 2

AT A GLANCE: PROS:

• Looks great • Nice size • Good performancS

CONS:

• All about the looks

Manufacturer: HP Distributor: HP Online: www.hp.com RRP: R2999

TECH SPECS: • Two cartridge system • Printer • Scanner • Copier • Fax • Touch screen

Score

With performance similar to any other HP printer, the Envy is really all about its unique appearance.

80 39


Raidmax Atlas PC Case

Simpler But still solid

by Alex Scanlon

T

he Atlas is a stylish case that manages to pack a number of features into a smaller box. With four optical drive slots and four HDD slots, it still manages to pack in everything it needs, though. The bottom mounted PSU brackets sits above a lower vent to allow for heat extraction, and an included front 140mm and rear 80mm fan take care of air flow. The side panel is dominated by a massive mesh, with space for an additional 140mm or 200mm fan. The case is stylishly designed, with the unique front sporting two USB 2.0 ports, in addition to audio ports and power switches. Most notably, this case is built for easy of use. Optical bay doors are easily clipped on or off, and even the side panels have fold away handles. The entire interior is screwless and beautifully finished, meaning no scrapes or tight working conditions. The matt black exterior is rather understated, but still looks stylish enough that anyone would want to proudly show off a PC built into the Atlas. g

40

AT A GLANCE: PROS:

• Looks good • Screwless • Solid

CONS:

• No top fan slots

Manufacturer: Raidmax Distributor: Pinnacle Africa Online: www.pinnacle.co.za RRP: R489

TECH SPECS: • Bottom mounted PSU bracket • Four fan slots • 4 HDD slots • 4 optical slots • Screwless • 2 USB ports • Spec

Score

A solid PC case, with decent cooling and lots of interior space

78

g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 7 • M a rc h 2 0 1 2


Corsair Vengeance M90 Mouse

Solid

But some strange design choices… by Walt Pretorius

T

he challenges inherent in designing a good gaming mouse are less obvious than one might initially assume. Sure, there are obvious factors, like DPI and acceleration, but there are other factors that come into play, too. Like weight distribution, for example, and hand comfort. Corsair did a lot of thought when they put the Vengeance M90 together, starting with an aluminium frame to aid weight distribution. Part of the result is a mouse that is slightly heavier, but feels awesomely stable. It also has a pretty unique, rather feral look as a result, with visible hard metal edges complementing the matt black finish of the rest of the device. The mouse offers numerous buttons, too. Aside from the usual left and right buttons, scroll wheel, sensitivity adjustment buttons and profile switcher, the M90 offers an additional nine programmable buttons, situated around the user’s thumb. This makes ambidexterity of the mouse impossible... it ain’t for lefties, I am afraid.

42

Additionally, the button placement is rather odd. See, they are arranged in a sort of angular circle around where the user’s thumb rests. Two thirds of them are easily accessible, but that leaves you with three buttons that are uncomfortable to use, particularly if you have small hands. Still, they are handy, and the built-in 48 kb of memory that the mouse has will save up to six different configuration profiles, which is handy for those that want to jump between games a lot, while keeping a lot of their control on the mouse. As a wired mouse, the M90 offers very little by way of lag when in use. It senses at 5700 DPI, making it pretty sensitive, too (and, naturally, adjustable in terms of that sensitivity). Tracking is up to 165 inches per second, and features up to 30G of acceleration, with an automatic frame rate control that helps keep things smooth. For the most part there are far worse options than the M90 when it comes to gaming input devices. It is sensitive and responsive, and we always prefer a wired g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 7 • M a rc h 2 0 1 2


mouse to a wireless one when it comes to gaming. It’s solid construction, from the braided cable through to the aluminium frame, adds a sense of confidence to the device, too; this one will survive more than a few rage quits. And it looks the part, with a mean appearance that may just get your enemies a little worried. In terms of comfort, it is fairly decent. Yes, it is a little heavy, but you get used to that, and it feels good under your hand. The only real complain is the positioning of the programmable buttons, which we just didn’t seem able to get used to. That’s personal preference, though; they might suit you just fine. Choosing a mouse needs to be based on your own comfort and needs, in the end. If the M90 appeals (and it is striking enough to at least peak anyone’s interest) then the performance the user will be rewarded with is excellent. Just make sure you can work with all the buttons... g

g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 7 • M a rc h 2 0 1 2

AT A GLANCE: PROS:

• Responsive • Solid • Comfortable

CONS:

• Some strange button placements

Manufacturer: Corsair Distributor: Corex Online: www.corex.co.za RRP: TBC

TECH SPECS: • 9 programmable buttons • Aluminium frame • Up to 5700 dpi • Corded • 48kb onboard memory

Score

Aside from some strange button placements, this is a very good mouse indeed

82 43


Moshi Monsters DS Accessories Kit

Pocket Monsters Another fad to coat your DS in…

by Alex Scanlon

M

oshi Monsters are yet another craze capturing the hearts and minds of youngsters. So there is no reason why you wouldn’t consider getting a Moshi Monster Nintendo DS Accessories Pack for any kid who carries their Nintendo DS with them. These packs, themed for boys and girls (the boy’s pack is pictured here) make for great gifts, with the added benefit of protecting precious hardware, too. Each pack consists of a sturdy carry case, two themed game cases, two styluses topped with characters, a screen cleaner and a set of stickers that hopefully won’t end up decorating your antiques and high-end tech equipment. Although the price is a little steep, helping protect a youngster’s DS is probably a great idea, because they cost a lot more to replace. These packs are compatible with DS, DS Lite, DSI and 3DS models, so everything but the XL is taken care of with a single purchase. And, considering how popular these characters are becoming, you will likely make some kid’s day all the more joyful by handing them this brightly coloured accessory kit. g

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AT A GLANCE: PROS:

• Great for kids! • Protects the DS beautifully

CONS:

• A little expensive

TECH SPECS: • • • •

DS case Screen Cleaner 2 stylus 2 game cases

Manufacturer: Lazerbuilt Distributor: Megarom Online: www.megarom.co.za RRP: R299

Score

Kids will love these bright accessories, and parents will love not having to replace the DS…

78

g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 7 • M a rc h 2 0 1 2


Although it could be tougher…

by Walt Pretorius

W

e have always been told that it is important to protect our investments. It’s sensible. And if you consider that the latest hottopic item, the PS Vita, carries a considerable price tag, it is an investment you will certainly want to protect. Orb has a few options available for just that purpose, including the PS Vita Accessory pack. It is comprised of a shell for the Vita, a screen protector (with an applicator), a cleaning cloth and earphones (not protective, except when the sound from the Vita makes those around you want to throttle you.) The screen protector is great, but the hard shell leaves a little to be desired. This is largely diue to the fact that there isn’t much space between the screen and the top edge on the Vita, meaning that the top edge protector of the case seems a little flimsy. Also, while the screen is protected, the rear touch pad is open, out of necessity. It’s not a bad shell, all told, but it isn’t the sturdiest we have seen either. Still, some protection is better than none, and if you cannot afford a carry case, this is a decent option. g g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 7 • M a rc h 2 0 1 2

AT A GLANCE: PROS:

• Affordable • Decent protection

CONS:

• Not as effective as a carry case

TECH SPECS: • • • •

Hard shell Screen protector Headphones Cleaning cloth

Manufacturer: Orb Distributor: Megarom Online: www.megarom.co.za RRP: R199

Score

A decent option for those who want to protect their Vita, but cannot afford a carry case.

72 45

Orb PS Vita Accessory Case

A Hard Case…


Uncharted: Golden Abyss

Treasure…

What it’s about, and what it is…

highly detailed and without any frame rate issues. It’s really impressive to behold. Next, take note of how the developers implemented the new control options that the Vita offers. Sure, you can make use of the standard controls, but tilting the Vita to determine jump direction and tracking a line along the ledges you want Drake to navigate just feels so awesome that you will probably end up playing the game as you never have before. And although these controls seem lazy, the truth of the matter is that they, to a degree, allow the player to sit back and enjoy the game’s visual splendour and awesome story. There are a few games that we consider must-have Vita titles, but Uncharted: Golden Abyss is the top of that bunch. If you only buy one Vita game, make sure it is this one. g

AT A GLANCE: A true must-own Vita title, this one is a sight to behold. Truly, it is! Developer: Bend Studio Publisher: SCEE Distributor: Ster Kinekor

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

16+ 48

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PSV Platforms

N

athan Drake has made quite a name for himself as an action hero on the PS3, and his first adventure on the Vita platform will only help to solidify that reputation. Uncharted: Golden Abyss is excellent. There are two things that stand out here. Naturally, the player will be taking part in a story driven actionadventure game that is rife with puzzles, combat and movement challenges. Even if you have never played an Uncharted game, you know what to expect. What makes it such a great title for the Vita, specifically, comes down to two key factors. The first element is the game’s looks. If you want to see what the Vita is capable of graphically, check this one out. Funny enough, that’s what people said about the PS3 and the first Uncharted game. But seriously, the graphics are breath taking,

by Walt Pretorius

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSV DS 3DS

Score

89

gladget video game • issue 17 • March 2012


Army Corps of Hell

South of Heaven This is metal…

system. It doesn’t have a huge amount of depth, but Army Corps of Hell is still good fun to play. And fans of heavy metal music will have a field day with the game’s sound track, which features some really awesome metal across a broad range of genres, including, black, death and symphonic metal. Army Corps of Hell requires a bit of thought and a mild tactical approach, but it is far from taxing. It’s more of a relaxing, smash-everything-that-moves kind of game and, as such, it doesn’t delve into concepts quite as far as it could have. Still, a little though goes a long way in this title. It is fun, above all… and the soundtrack is sublime. g

AT A GLANCE: It’s a simple game that reminds of Overlord, but the awesome metal sound track makes it all worth it! Developer: Entersphere Publisher: Square Enix Distributor: Megarom

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

0+ gladget video game • issue 17 • March 2012

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PSV Platforms

D

espite what all of the nay-sayers said, you can have a hell of a good time with the PS Vita. And you can have a good time in Hell, too. When a new ruler arrives in Hell, he sets about taking control of the place, using goblin minions to do his nefarious bidding. As the ruler, you get to command an army of goblins and destroy all the enemies in your path to taking over the underworld. Units come in four flavours as the game progresses, each with strengths and weaknesses, and it is up to the player to select the right kinds of units to get the job done. The controls are fairly simple, even with the touch-pad usage, and the player should be wading through enemies in no time, thanks to a fairly extensive, on-the-fly tutorial

by Alex Scanlon

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSV DS 3DS

Score

78 49


It starts here…

T

etris probably did more for puzzle gaming than most people realise. It spawned a whole bunch of clones that people really enjoy playing, which considering that the video game industry is based on a derivative nature - is quite ok with us. One of the more fun games that can be tracked back to that particular title is Ubisoft’s Lumines, which first made a bit of a splash a few years ago when it introduced the idea of rhythmic dynamics to what was becoming a staid genre. OK, the effect that the player has on the musc in the game isn’t massive, although the sound effects that come from shifting the pieces in the Vita version, Lumines: Electronic Symphony, do add to the massive number of tunes available. This version of the game is a welcome addition to

by Walt Pretorius the Vita stable. It is thoroughly addictive in it’s simplicity, yet it gets extremely challenging as the Voyage mode progresses. Aside from that mode, there are several others, including multiplayer modes that allow players to share the music together. Lumines doesn’t overdo the Vita controls, either. While some games really can take advantage of everything the Vita has to offer, and don’t, the fact that Lumines keeps things simple works perfectly for the nature of the title. Puzzle games aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but the high end graphics and great music extends this title’s reach beyond the norm. If there is a group of must-have game in the crop of Vita launch titles, then Lumines: Electronic Symphony is certainly among them. g

AT A GLANCE: This addictive, fantastic puzzle game is most definitely a musthave Vita title. Developer: Q Entertainment Publisher: Ubisoft Distributor: Megarom

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

3+ 50

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PSV Platforms

Lumines: Electronic Symphony

Addiction

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSV DS 3DS

Score

87

gladget video game • issue 17 • March 2012


Little Deviants

Small Invaders Showing off the Vita

that make up the Vita’s extensive feature set is clever. The game will charge the player with using all sorts of control system combinations as they blast, roll and prod their way to victory. Virtually every element, from the rear touch pad through to the augmented reality feature, show up in this collection of mini-games. It, like many mini-game collections, lacks all kinds of depth. But if you want to see what your Vita can do, and you are looking for something that is quick and easy to pick up and play, not to mention rather addictive and fun, Little Deviants is the perfect showcase. Whether you will be playing it for a long time is another question, though. g

AT A GLANCE: It might not keep you busy for ages, but Little Deviants is a great showcase of the Vita’s abilities. Developer: Bigbig Studios Publisher: SCEE Distributor: Ster Kinekor

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

7+ gladget video game • issue 17 • March 2012

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PSV Platforms

N

t so often happens that a new console takes a while to get to where it needs to be in terms of implementation. It takes developers a while to get to grips with the ideas that the new console brings to the table, and use of new features is sometimes just a little delayed. Well, the PS Vita is a new console, but its release in Japan before the rest of the world has allowed developers a little time to get to grips with what it has to offer. Little Deviants is a collection of really crazy mini-games that serves as much to show off what the Vita can do as it does to entertain the player. It is a fun game, when all is said and done, and the integration of the various elements

by Alex Scanlon

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSV DS 3DS

Score

75 51


ModNation Racers: Road Trip

Mini-Modding Creativity in your pocket

of the PS3 version will pretty much know exactly what to expect from this title – apart from a few differences brought about by new control options, it really is more of the same thing. Not that this is bad… ModNation Racers is a fun franchise, full of personal expression and karting action. The player will still be able to modify everything from their personal character right through to the tracks in this title, meaning that it has pretty much all the versatility and potential of its brother from the bigger Sony system. In the end, it’s a fun racing title, not to be taken seriously, that allows the player to create and share content with a great set of tools. Thanks to that it delivers a great level of replayability, and challenging others to races adds even more scope to its replay value. g

AT A GLANCE: Just like its PS3 brother, this game will allow tons of personal expression, in addition to racing action. Developer: SCEI Publisher: SCEE Distributor: Ster Kinekor

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

7+ 52

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PSV Platforms

W

e are being treated to an excellent crop of release titles to welcome the arrival of the PS Vita. A number of those, obviously, are existing franchises shifting onto the new console. This tactic is an obvious one… present people with what they know in a new way, and you drum up interest, after all. ModNation Racers proved to be a rather popular karting style game on the PS3 platform, so it’s hardly surprising to see it show up in the catalogue of PS Vita launch titles. After all, the connectivity offered by the Vita, as well as the great graphics and interesting new control ideas, lend itself to a title that is dependant on community. The Vita version is officially called ModNation Racers Roadtrip (implying the portability of the game). Veterans

by Walt Pretorius

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSV DS 3DS

Score

80

gladget video game • issue 17 • March 2012


Everybody’s Golf

On Par

A cute, fun golf game

of the game considerably, leaving the player with a game that looks and feels good. While this Vita version of Everybody’s Golf is fun to play, it is a bit of a sore thumb when compared to many of the other PSV launch titles. This is because it makes little use of many of the new device’s funkier abilities, resorting to a rather staid and old-fashioned control scheme. Still, if you’re looking for a golf game that won’t tax you overly much, Everybody’s Golf is a decent option. Once again, it is not a serious title, and while it offers the player some options in terms of control style, it pretty much comes down to a three click system. This is an enjoyable title, but the fun and funky approach won’t appeal to those looking for a serious golf game. g

AT A GLANCE: Not for serious golfers, Everybody’s Golf is a great title for the young and young at heart. Developer: Clap Hanz Publisher: SCEE Distributor: Ster Kinekor

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

3+ gladget video game • issue 17 • March 2012

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PSV Platforms

T

here are some franchises that will pretty much always be around, near-immortal entities that might not be the biggest names around, but certainly have longevity. Everybody’s Golf is such a franchise. The appeal of this series is undeniable; it offers the player a simple, easy-to-play alternative to some of the more complex golf simulators, while not stripping away much of the challenge. That idea is then mixed with funky characters and a few fanciful ideas… the result is a golf game that doesn’t take itself, or golf, seriously. The franchise’s appearance on the newly launched PS Vita platform is hardly a surprise. The hand-held’s power allows the developers to up the graphics and performance

by Rob Edwards

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSV DS 3DS

Score

75 53


w w w. g a m e c c a . c o. z a I S S U E 3 3 / Vo l . 3 M a rc h 2 0 1 2

Binary Domain Final Fantasy XIII-2 The Darkness II SoulCalibur V Syndicate Grand Slam Tennis 2 UFC Undisputed 3 NeverDead and many more!

The Quest

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

Knockout! UFC Undisputed 3

In the Dark... The Darkness II

Robo-Killers Destroying the AI in Binary Domain

It’s Here!

13 Vita Launch Titles Reviewed!


www.gameccamag.com Taking fun seriously!


F1 2011

Zoom! A good start?

touch better. The game is also a little vague in some areas, like defining goals in the many challenges that the player can take on. But possibly the most disappointing is the under-utilisation of the Vita’s features. The touch screen is only used for changing the view. That’s it. Even swiping through menus can’t be done. It makes the game feel like an anachronistic port, rather than a launch title for the hottest new item on store shelves. But it is fun, and a surprising amount of fun at that. While there are many areas in which this Vita version can be improved, it still does a lot right. We think that future versions of this franchise on the Vita will be fantastic… we’re putting the problems that F1 2011 has here down to possible inexperience on the platform. g

AT A GLANCE: It’s not as impressive as it should be, but it does set a solid start for the franchise on the Vita. Developer: Sumo Publisher: Codemasters Distributor: Megarom

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

3+ 56

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PSV Platforms

N

ot every game that makes up the launch stable of the PS Vita is awesome. Some are. Some are a bit iffy. But then there are others that don’t quite get it right, yet show a lot of potential for future instalments. F1 2011 falls into this category. If you’re expecting the same experience you would get from some of the bigger console versions of this game, don’t hold your breath. They have stripped out a lot of features that made these versions great, including the whole idea of living the life of an F1 driver. This game is all about the racing, pure and simple. That said, it does a fair deal to improve on the rather nasty 3DS version of the game. Still, the handling seems too easy, the sound is a little off, and the graphics, while not bad, could have been a

by Rob Edwards

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSV DS 3DS

Score

72

gladget video game • issue 17 • March 2012


Rayman: Origins

Zany!

A great game on any platform

capable of delivering, plus the zany stable of characters that Rayman brings with it, make for a fantastic time. It’s a single-player only experience, but it falls into the realm of must-have for Vita owners, who should have a blast navigating the more than sixty, thoroughly challenging levels the game has on offer. It would have been nice to see a Vita specific version come out, but the release of this title is soon enough after the other versions for similarity to be more or less forgiven. And once you experience the charm of this game, from the zany intro music scene to the final moments, you won’t be left wanting in terms of hand-held platform gaming. It really is a great title, and the Vita version is simply fantastic. g

AT A GLANCE: A very welcome addition to the Vita launch line-up, and a musthave title. Developer: Ubisoft Publisher: Ubisoft Distributor: Megarom

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

7+ gladget video game • issue 17 • March 2012

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PSV Platforms

R

ayman is a firm favourite on several platforms, so with the launch of the PS Vita, it’s hardly surprising that Ubisoft decided to rework the latest Rayman game, Rayman: Origins, for the new Sony platform. Every platform needs a solid, erm, platform game, and Rayman: Origins is just that. If you have played this title as one of the previously released versions, there is little new to experience here. It is, pretty much, the same game. That said, it does make use of the Vita’s touch screen as a control option, so there is at least a small new element to the dynamic. And let’s keep in mind that Rayman: Origins is one of the best platform titles we have seen in years. That, combined with the wonderful visuals the Vita is

by Walt Pretorius

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSV DS 3DS

Score

88 57


Dungeon Hunter: Alliance

Crawl…

Bashing enemies if fun… if you can hit them.

of problems, which run the gamut from frame rate issues through to hit detection problems. The game just seems to be too ambitious at times while, at others, it feels like a rather flimsy Diablo clone. It does fill a required gap, though, adding a dungeon crawler to the initial Vita line-up that will suffice until another such title comes along. And it does have a few good features, too, including an excellent inventory system. But the bland story and rubber-banding AI don’t do much to help those elements along. In the end, it devolves into a button masher as masses of enemies swarm the player’s character. It can be fun, sure, but it is more often frustrating. It will tide us over, but it certainly will not be a game that will be played for years, despite its long story. It is a stop-gap title at best.g

AT A GLANCE:

PSV

While it fills a gap, it has many very frustrating issues for the player to deal with.

PC X360

Developer: Gameloft Publisher: Ubisoft Distributor: Megarom

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

16+ 58

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

Platforms

O

ne cannot help but think that there are people out there that like to take advantages of situations. If Ubisoft wasn’t the same company that released Rayman and Lumines as part of their first crop of Vita titles, one would have to wonder at the motivation behind the release of Dungeon Hunter: Alliance for the new Sony hand-held, and at full price noless. If it was a new game, that might be one thing, but you can buy it for cheaper to use on your PS3 via the PSN store. You may argue that new control implementation and multiplayer mitigate the price, but the controls just aren’t enough to justify it and, while the multiplayer is fun, it is hardly revolutionary. Dungeon Hunter: Alliance for the Vita also has a host

by Rob Edwards

Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSV DS 3DS

Score

50

gladget video game • issue 17 • March 2012


Ridge Racer

Seriously? Where’s the content?

of March) but this shameless hawking of DLC is a massive let down for a series that has always offered a lot to loyal fans. It reeks of exploitation, even if the game sells at a slightly lower price. The looks aren’t bad, and the sound and handling are pretty much exactly what you would expect from a Ridge Racer title. Another nasty surprise, though, comes from the bare minimum of game modes (three, with one being online) and the total lack of depth that the upgrade system brings to the table. It is, when all is said and done, a rather sad day for the franchise. With the loyalty that fans have poured into the Ridge Racer series, one would hope for more than a slap in the face from this latest instalment. DLC is a great idea, but this really is taking things a bit too far. g

AT A GLANCE: Even a lower price point is no excuse for such obvious DLC exploitation! Developer: Namco Publisher: Namco Bandai Distributor: Megarom

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

3+ gladget video game • issue 17 • March 2012

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PSV Platforms

R

idge Racer could have taken the stakes as the hottest racer for Sony’s new PS Vita hand-held console. The operative here is ‘could’. The truth is that it doesn’t, largely because the content offering of the game is shamefully low. If you are a Ridge Racer fan, you will likely enjoy the over-the-top, drift based racing action that is a hall-mark of the series – it is ever-present in this title, so fans will know exactly what to expect. The unexpected, though, comes from the fact that the game only has three tracks – all repeats from Ridge Racer 7 – and five cars on offer. That’s it. The developers have promised more downloadable content (there is already a free content pack which will add a few more cars and tracks available for free until the end

by Alex Scanlon

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSV DS 3DS

Score

45 59


Wipeout 2048

Speed Freak Fast paced and beautiful

console (technically, they kind of are) when seeing this baby in action. What could have been better implemented is use of the various new elements that the Vita brings to the table. But, that said, not every game can make use of everything the console packs in its bag of goodies, and the graphics more than make up for areas where the title might lack. As any Wipeout veteran would be well aware, this title is fast paced and challenging, with tons of racers and futuristic vehicles to use in them. If you’re a fan who owns a Vita, this is pretty much a must. And if you’re looking for a great looking racing title, crammed with excitement, well, the same thing applies. g

AT A GLANCE: It’s fast and beautiful, and will please fans and newcomers alike. Developer: SCEE Publisher: SCEE Distributor: Ster Kinekor

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

7+ 60

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PSV Platforms

O

ne thing that can be said for the PS Vita that no-one can refute… it delivers great graphics. Provided, of course, that the developers behind any given game have taken the time to make the graphics great. And that’s exactly what the team behind Wipeout 2048 did. In terms of game dynamics, you won’t find too much new here. It’s a Wipeout game, first and foremost, which means high speed, weapon augmented, hover craft racing action across futuristic tracks. Anyone who has played any Wipeout title will know pretty much what to expect. But damn, it looks good! The player may well be excused for thinking that they’re playing on an HD

by Rob Edwards

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSV DS 3DS

Score

80

gladget video game • issue 17 • March 2012


Reality Fighters

Fight for Real …well, ok, only sort of.

applied to their fighting character. During fights, the player gets to choose a location, either from several real world locations (literally, real world… the game makes use of virtual tour style photographs for this) or their very own location. This means you can have your fighters beating each other anywhere, and with a little imagination… like using it on a high balcony – the results can be rather amusing. The motion sensitivity of the Vita also comes into play, as the fight progresses, the characters will move off the edges of the screen… the player will need to follow them by actually physically turning to follow the action. It’s not a serious fighting game by any means, but its tongue-in-cheek approach and use of augmented reality make it a fun title to pick up and play. Fighter advancement also adds a level of depth to it. g

AT A GLANCE: It’s not the deepest or most challenging fighting game around, but it is lots of fun! Developer: Novarama Publisher: SCEE Distributor: Ster Kinekor

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

12+ gladget video game • issue 17 • March 2012

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PSV Platforms

T

here are serious fighting games and then there are… oh, wait, all fighting games are kind of serious. At least, they take themselves seriously, perhaps more seriously than they should. Until now, that is. Accompanying the launch of the PS Vita is Reality Fighters, one of a very large crop of launch titles. While the game’s title might imply a serious overtone, with all kinds of realism built in, that isn’t the case. The ‘Reality’ bit of the name rather refers to one of the PS Vita’s functions: augmented reality. See, Reality Fighters is not about delivering a real experience, but rather a slightly off the wall fighting game set in your living room. Or your garden, or your office. Wherever you choose. The player’s face is photographed using the front facing camera that the Vita sports, and rather accurately

by Walt Pretorius

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSV DS 3DS

Score

77 61


Movie of the Month DVD Seen

Time for some payback...

62

gladget regular • issue 17 • March 2012


The Debt The Debt brings an all-star cast together in a story of a young group of Israeli secret operatives sent to East Berlin in the ‘60s to track down a notorious Nazi war criminal. They manage to find the man, but tensions run high between the three, and all kinds of things start going wrong with their clandestine mission. Years later, when one of the operatives’ daughter publishes a book about the mission, the truth rears its ugly head, and they need to set straight the wrongs of the past. The cast includes the likes of Helen Mirren, Tom Wilkinson, Ciarán Hinds, Sam Worthington, and Jessica Chastain. It expertly weaves its way between the 1960s and the modern day, delivering a plot that is gripping from the start, and is possessed of a wonderful, unpredictable twist. Expertly directed by John Madden, The Debt squeezes every ounce of talent out of the cast, making it an emotionally charged and often hard-hitting film. In terms of being a thriller, much of the menace within the movie is implied, rather than overt. This makes for a nice change of pace, delivering the viewer what could be described as a cerebral action flick. It tends towards drama at times, with a pace that is not hurried. While some may find that approach a little slow, the entire movie is well worth watching… particularly for the jaw dropper that crops up around three-quarters of the way through. g DIRECTOR: John Madden DISTRIBUTOR: TBC

FPB Rating: 15 Score

STARRING: Helen Mirren Sam Worthington Jessica Chastain

88

MOVIE

OF THE MONTH gladget regular • issue 17 • March 2012

63


DVD Seen

Kill Katie Malone

Ringo’s passion is to fight as a professional. He gets that chance when RIngo’s friend enters him into the biggest competition of his life, MCW (Maximum Cage Warrior). Most of the movie is set in a strip club and when they move to the fighting scenes, you would wish they would go back to the strippers. The fighting is predictable, using well-choreographed sequences by the UFC fighters, I mean actors - most fight scenes are boring and the odds are always heavily stacked against the hero and yet he still managers to triumph. If you like the underdog, upcoming fighter story, sort of like Rocky but not, then this might be a good movie to get your adrenaline pumping. The acting was half decent, but a poor script and bad fighting scenes, as well as music way to loud for the rest of the soundtrack, don’t help it be anything worth writing home about. g

64

DIRECTOR:

Warren Sonosa

DISTRIBUTOR: Ster Kinekor

FPB Rating: 16LNSV Score

STARRING: Hector Echavarria Nate Marquardt Keith Jardine

30

A college student stumbles across an authentic “ghost in a box” on an on-line auction site, and he and two friends purchase the “box” as they are quite curious to see what is inside A dead Irish slave girl, Katie Malone, comes with this box and grants them their wishes, until she starts killing. It’s not a bad concept but wasn’t filmed as well as hoped for. The acting was too dramatic at times… Dean Cain, perhaps the best part of the acting side of things, was slightly disappointing, and I kept waiting for him to say “believe it or not”. This is a poor horror and not really scary or suspenseful at all. You cannot choose your family, only she can – but you can choose what to watch. g

STARRING: Dean Cain Masiela Lusha Stephen Colletti Jonathan McDaniel

DIRECTOR: Carlos Ramos

DISTRIBUTOR: Ster Kinekor

FPB Rating: 13LV Score

Unrivalled

40

gladget regular • issue 17 • March 2012


One Day

Steven Seagal returns as Elijah Kane, seeing as True Justice is a 13 episode TV series released as individual DVDs. Elijah Kane leads a special task force to bring down Russian drug lord Nikoli Putin and sort out the dirty cops from the good ones True to the series, every cop on Elijah’s team is a perfect black belt fighter, has unlimited ammo for the shootouts and is a sharp shooter with only a single bullet left in the mag. The story basically continues from the last film and that same standard of acting continues to shine through as well. You can expect Steven Seagal to bring his flat tone and unbeatable fighting skills. If you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all but this is still a pretty decent movie to watch and it’s unnecessary to watch the other 12 features… unless you’re a die-hard fan. g

DIRECTOR: Lauro Chartrand DISTRIBUTOR: Ster Kinekor

FPB Rating: 13V Score

STARRING: Steven Seagal Gil Bellows Sarah Lind

gladget regular • issue 17 • March 2012

40

A strange bond is created on the evening of their college graduation when Emma and Dexter spend the night together. We see one day glimpses of the next twenty years in each of their lives and experience the connection of how both characters grow, change, fail and succeed, living their lives separately and yet very much connected. One Day is an exceptional romantic concept based on a number one best-selling novel, written by David Nicholls, who is also is the screenwriter for this movie. So one has to ask what went wrong? One has to adore the glamorous Anne Hathaway for her classic look, exceptional voice and true sense of diversity and creativity in each role that she chooses for her career. The role of Emma is however and unfortunately a true challenge as she is has to portray an awkward scholarly nerd from an English working class family. I personally was not convinced. Jim Sturgess seemed better able to be convincing as Dexter but it seemed ashamed that the chemistry between the two actors was stagnant and dry. It felt like and American movie trying very hard to fit in the ideas of an extraordinary book, but somehow lost the essence. g

STARRING: Anne Hathaway Jim Sturgess Tom Mison

DIRECTOR: Lone Scherfig DISTRIBUTOR: Ster Kinekor

FPB Rating: PG13 Score

True Justice: Payback

62

65


Collectable DVD Seen

Righting wrongs

66

gladget regular • issue 17 • March 2012


Munich In keeping with the Israeli secret operative theme that is the main flavour of our movie of the month, we are highlighting the extremely hard hitting Munich as our Collectable title. Steven Spielberg has made some very heavy movies in the past, and Munich certainly is one of them. It tells the tale of a group of Israeli operatives sent into deep cover to find the perpetrators of the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. Inspired in part by actual events, this film is a tour de force through the psyche-destroying experiences of this group of men, who leave behind their lives and loved ones for several years as they hunt down their Palestinian targets. Not shy of violence, Munich is a powerful and often disturbing film. Under the directorship of Spieberg, the stellar cast, including Eric Bana, Daniel Craig and Geoffrey Rush, perform at their utmost, adding even more power to an already weighty tale. Munich could only be described as an important and relevant movie, complete with high production standards and beautiful cinematic execution. This is Spielberg at his best, passionate and dedicated to creating a film that will have you talking for months afterwards. g

CREATOR: Steven Spielberg DISTRIBUTOR: Ster Kinekor

FPB Rating: 16LV Score

STARRING: Eric Bana Geoffrey Rush Daniel Craig

90

COLLECTABLE OF THE MONTH

gladget regular • issue 17 • March 2012

67


Polyglot

Money to Burn

A keyboard for all flavours.

by Walt Pretorius

W

ould you pay the price of a relatively decent computer system for a keyboard? No, we wouldn’t either. But the assumption is that there are people out there who would, otherwise the Optimus Maximus keyboard would not exist at all. Weighing in at a price point just over US$2 000, which calculates to around R16 000, it might just be the most expensive component of any PC it is hooked up to. So what makes this keyboard worth all that cash? Well, the really clever people that make it have designed a keyboard that is truly multifunctional. See, the Optimus Maximus might sound like a Transformer because, essentially, it is. The keys on this device can display anything. Any letter set. Any shortcut. Any crazy gaming configuration. You name it. That’s because easch key is a tiny LCD screen. So, if you want all your letters to be Japanese characters, a few clicks of the mouse and hey, presto, you have a Japanese keyboard. Or a standard one. Or even alternate keyboard layouts. You can also only have specific keys light up, if you want to highlight the keys you may use in a game, for example. And shortcut keys

68

to various programmes will display actual shortcut icons, much like your desk-top. No more guessing… you have an actual representation of what you are looking for at your finger-tips. So, is it worth the cash? Well, the price certainly is on the steep side if you consider that, for all its fancy ideas, it is still a bunch of buttons that can be pressed, much like the hundred buck cheapie at the dodgy PC store down the road. It does the same thing, essentially, as any other keyboard. Sure, having those gaming buttons highlighted is great, and numerous configurations can be stored and loaded as needed. But that’s a little flashy, isn’t it? And we all know that guy… he’s the one who would buy this, while the rest of us somehow, against all odds, manage to cope (and probably beat him) with a normal set of input keys. We figure it would probably be great for people who type in multiple languages… or at least, multiple languages that use different types of alphabets. But seeing as we don’t know a great many polyglots, we’ll stick to the fact that this innovative keyboard will still be wasted on that guy. It’s a great idea, but it ain’t something that everyone is going to make decent use of. g g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 7 • M a rc h 2 0 1 2


From Paper to Ink How electronic ink works

Inner Workings

by Charlie Fripp

P

aper has, for many years, been the only way in which people communicate with each other. Nearly 200 years ago, the first paper was developed by the Chinese, and with it came the ability to transfer the spoken word and images on the tree-substance. If it wasn’t for paper, our society might still have used silk scrolls to jot down ideas and pictures. Paper hasn’t really evolved over the years, and it has seen little change. Apart from the thickness, type and size, it’s pretty much still the same processed tree product that was developed hundreds of years ago. The same can be said for the medium used - ink. When a mistake is made, it’s pretty hard to correct on paper and once an image has been drawn it’s there for the duration of the paper’s life. But a new technology is in development, one that is set to revolutionise the way we view and use paper and ink electronic ink. Currently there are two companies heavily investing in the manufacture of electronic ink, E Ink of Cambridge,

70

Massachusetts, and Xerox in Palo Alto, California. While the technology is different for both companies, they use three main components to make the special ink: * Millions of tiny microcapsules or cavities * An ink or oily substance filling the microcapsules or cavities * Pigmented chips or balls with a negative charge floating inside the microcapsule It all comes down to the medium. In the example of a large book, the pages would be constructed out of very thin plastic. In order to display the text, the ink would cover the whole page, which will be separated by tiny cells that look like cells on graph paper - kind of like pixels on a PC screen. Each cell is then in return wired to microelectronics which get embedded in the ultra-thin plastic page. In order to create the text on the page, the microelectronics will produce a positive or negative charge to the microcapsules. When an electrical charge is applied to the gladget regular • issue 17 • March 2012


microcapsules, the chips will either rise to the top or be pulled to the bottom - and the lettering will come to life. E Ink - one of the companies developing the tech - found an easy way to explain their technology development process by comparing the millions of microcapsules inside the ink to clear beach balls. “Each of these beach balls is filled with hundreds of tiny, white ping-pong balls. And instead of air, the beach ball is filled with a blue dye. If you looked at the top of this beach ball, you would see the ping-pong balls floating in the liquid, and the beach ball would appear white. But if you looked at the bottom of the ball, it would appear blue,” the company said. They go on to explain that if thousands of these beach balls were lying next to each other on a field, and the pingpong balls move between the top and bottom of the beach balls, the field would change colour - and that’s what they do on a very tiny scale. For those wondering, the microcapsules are only 100 gladget regular • issue 17 • March 2012

microns wide, and roughly 100,000 microcapsules can fit into a square inch of paper. Within the microcapsules are hundreds of smaller pigmented chips. While the company is only experimenting with blue and white, they have plans to develop other colours, which may also lead to multicolour displays. But as with all new technology, there are certain challenges and obstacles that need to be sorted out first before it can go mainstream. One of the biggest problems with electronic ink is getting the tiny wiring into the pages of the digital book. The pages need to remain almost the same thickness as regular pages, but has to contact the delicate wires. But who knows, in a couple of years we might have digital books with electronic ink. It could do wonders for the trees and will save a lot in paper. Whether it’s actually a feasible idea is anybody’s guess as not too many newspaper and magazine publishers could be happy about the impending technology. g

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Power Output Making sure you have enough juice...

PC Builder

by Walt Pretorius

N

ow that you have your case, you need to start looking at the core components that go into your PC… motherboard, processor, RAM, video card, hard drive and optical drive. All of these components are very different and serve varying functions, but they all have one thing in common: they all need power. The PSU (power supply unit), much like the case, is often a secondary consideration. In fact, it could be argued that less thought goes into the PSU than the box, in most cases. Perhaps this is because the PSU is not a particularly ‘flashy’ component. Very few people will mention it when they list their PC specifications. However, it is an extremely important part of any PC set up, and the wrong PSU installed in a case can prove all kinds of problems. This really is the foundation of your PC system, so being aware of what your PSU is capable of is important.

72

Not that there is a great variety in PSU performance. The task that this component performs is simple: power from the wall socket goes in one end and gets distributed to the various components out the other. It really is that simple. But there are certain considerations that need to be taken into account. How much power will the system need? And how easy will the PSU be to work with? First of all, power. Each component requires a certain amount of power to function. What the PSU does is distribute power to each of those components, ensuring that they get enough to function correctly. However, certain components need more power than others, and a power supply that isn’t strong enough won’t live up to the task. This can result in insufficient power being distributed to various parts, which will compromise PC performance. The biggest power hog is the graphics card. This is the component that needs to be considered when buying a

gladget regular • issue 17 • March 2012


power supply, as most other components will be taken care of almost automatically. The graphics card will have a power requirement, which will either be stated on the component’s box, or can be researched on the internet. Make sure that the Wattage of the PSU you buy is at least equal to this requirement. More is better, though, because each additional hard drive or optical drive you add will also need power. The next consideration is thought of by many to be purely aesthetic, but cable management is important in modern PCs. A messy box, strewn with all manner of cables, not only looks cluttered, but has poorer air flow. And nothing that goes into the box has more wires than the PSU. While they can be installed neatly with a bit of effort, often making sure that the bundles of wires coming from the PSU are tidy can be a real pain in the neck. A box with

gladget regular • issue 17 • March 2012

a decent cable management system can help alleviate this, but there is also another solution… There are numerous higher end PSUs that employ their own ideas of cable management. Aside from the essential motherboard power cable, these devices have no fixed cables. Rather, they are modular, and have plugs that the user can attach only the required cables to. This keeps things extremely neat, and allows for fewer cables to be stored inside the box. With ‘normal’ PSUs there will almost always be spare cables that need to be stashed away somewhere, but the more expensive modular systems remove that problem entirely. It is a bit of a luxury, though, and you will pay more for it. With a good power supply unit, the foundation of your PC is set. Next month, we will look at the actual backbone of your system – the motherboard. g

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Gladget Magazine March 2012  

Gladget Magazine March 2012 (Volume 2, Issue 17)

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