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w w w. g l a d ge t . c o. z a

i s s u e 1 / vo l 1 October 2010

Looking Good

LG Flatron W2486L Monitor

Moving Pictures

Epson P-6000 Multimedia Storage Viewer

Green Machine

Keeping an eye on the environment


“‰”, “PlayStation”, “ ”, “” and “ ” are registered trademarks of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. “ ” and “ ” are registered trademarks of Sony Corporation. “make.believe” is a trademark of the same company. Sports Champions™ ©2010 Sony Computer Entertainment America. “Sports Champions” is a trademark of Sony Computer Entertainment America. All rights reserved.


Inside 6 From the Editor

THIS MONTH’S COVER Keeping an eye on the environment is vital... and Asus are doing it! See the feature on page 8

8 Going Green Environmentally Friendly Computing 14 Photography Primer Let’s start at the beginning 20 Reviews A bunch of brilliant products 70 Same Difference Should you pick Phat or Slim? 74 Inner Workings How GPS systems work 78 Dead End Betamaxed!

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gladget contents • issue 1 • October 2010


Reviews

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Canon Ixus 1000 HS Camera

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LG Flatron W2486L Monitor

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HP Elitebook 8540P

28

Epson P 6000 Multimedia Viewer

30

Asus Rampage III Gene Motherboard

32

HP Officejet 4500 All-in-One Printer

34

Gigabyte Super Overclock HD5870 Graphics Card

36

Toshiba Stor.E Art 3 Portable Hard Drive

38

PlayStation Move

40

Logitech Wireless Desktop MK710

42

Asus EAH 5550 Silent Graphics Card

44

GMC X7 X Station Case

Competition Entries: competitions@gladget.co.za

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LG Kompressor Vaccuum Cleaner

Newsletter Subscriptions: www.gladget.co.za

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Garmin FR 60

Design & Photography: 1337 Media

50

Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro Handset

Technical Support: Brian Murdoch

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Asus Xonar DG Sound Card

54

LG Network Blu-Ray Disc / DVD Player

Marketing Contact: Katia Taliadoros katia@gladget.co.za

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Logitech Wireless Drum Controller (PS3)

58

Asus CineVibe Rumble-Feedback USB Gaming Headset

60

Tomtom Start Blue Bulls Edition GPS

62

FragNStein / X-Scorch Game Controller

64

Adobe Photoshop CS5 Extended

66

Halo: Reach

GLADGET Volume1Issue 1 October 2010 Editor: Walt Pretorius walt@gladget.co.za Sub Editor: Jimmy Glue Writers: Brian Murdoch Richard Bingham Alex Scanlon Letters: letters@gladget.co.za

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GAMECCA is published by 1337 MEDIA

gladget contents • issue 1 • October 2010

Copyright © 1337 Media CC 2009 - 2010

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Something New... From the Editor

by Walt Pretorius

W

elcome to the first issue of Gladget Magazine, a new hardware, technology and gadget magazine aimed specifically for the South African market. What makes it different? We believe that it’s all in our approach. See, there are numerous technology magazines out there, and they all offer something to the reader. What makes Gladget new is the fact that it is extremely product focussed. We prefer to keep our watchful eye on the here-and-now. That means South Africa, today. With this in mind, our approach to putting Gladget together is simple: the magazine is product focussed, and talks about products that are currently available in South Africa. All our reviews are hands-on – we don’t buy editorial from overseas and replicate it. And we don’t look at devices that you cannot go out and buy right this minute. If it’s in this magazine, it’s in-store. For that matter, we also take a wide view of technology. If it’s a device

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that is fun, cool, or simply awesome, we’ll review it… anything from the latest PC technology through to advanced vacuum cleaners. Yes, even vacuum cleaners. Instead of taking a look at the future, we prefer a more practical approach. Singing the praises of products that aren’t released yet isn’t our style, and so we try to bring you information that is relevant and current. And entertaining, of course… let’s not forget about that. In addition to numerous reviews, for both hardware and software, we also bring you a few informative articles that help demystify technology, and hopefully help you to implement it in your daily life. Because that’s what technology is all about; making life easier. So why shouldn’t a magazine about technology do the same? By concentrating on the here-and-now, Gladget will do just that. Some readers may recognise the names in Gladget Magazine… that’s because Gladget is published

by 1337 Media, the same company that has been publishing Gamecca (South Africa’s essential online video game magazine) for the past 16 months. Gladget and Gamecca will work together to bring you the best information (in their respective beats) possible. And, just like Gamecca (which can be found at www.gamecca.co.za) Gladget will be available for free online, to browse or download, every month. Unlike Gamecca, though, Gladget will come out in the middle of each month – two weeks after Gamecca, which is published on the first working day of each month. To stay informed, please be sure to subscribe to Gladget via our website (www.gladget.co.za). You will also be able to find the magazine here, as well as download links. And, as always, we love to hear what you have to say. Why not drop us a mail at letters@gladget.co.za? Enough from me… it’s time to get on with the magazine. We sincerely hope you enjoy it. g

gladget column • issue 1 • October 2010


Going Green! Addressing the e-waste dilemma

Feature

by Alex Scanlon

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gladget feature • issue 1 • October 2010


T

hanks to the often unimaginative approach we take to many things, the letter “E” has been added to almost anything that has to do with technology and, most accurately, the Internet. It all started with email, and has spread to concepts like e-commerce, e-banking and a whole bunch of other things. The “E”, of course, comes from the word electronic, and has been attached to another, far more worrying phenomenon; e-waste. The world generates an estimated 50 million tons of discarded electronic equipment each year. In the USA alone, 30 million computers and 100 million mobile handsets are discarded each year. With few recycling services available, and the general population apparently oblivious to the impact that their old fashioned lap-top rammed into the trash can might have, much of this waste is carted off to land-fills. Naturally, very little of the e-waste that turns up in landfills around the world is biodegradable. In fact, some of it is downright hazardous to the environment. E-waste contains a cocktail of elements, some of which are harmful to the environment. While tin, copper, aluminium, iron, silicon, nickel, lithium, zinc and even gold can be found in garbage dumps the world over, it’s the mercury, sulphur, cadmium, lead, beryllium oxide and polyvinyl chloride that we need to be concerned about. And, before you start grabbing your metal detectors, those are only trace amounts of gold… Even if it wasn’t for these potentially hazardous chemicals and elements, the truth is that 50 million tons of garbage that is not biodegradable is going to leave its mark. Despite this, it still keeps happening, with efforts to instate solid recycling systems often meeting resistance from new product manufacturers. The manufacturers would, naturaly, rather see a strong trade in new products than recycled ones. While some countries have managed to install good recycling practices, most of the world doesn’t see too much of a value in it. The modern consumer has been taught that “new is good”, and would hardly ever consider the recycling of (let alone using recycled) electronic devices. There are even instances in which recycling efforts are hazardous.

gladget feature • issue 1 • October 2010

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gladget feature • issue 1 • October 2010


Certain sites in China, India and Africa deal with recycling e-waste in entirely the wrong way; groundwater pollution, water pollution and atmospheric pollution have all been linked to ineffective recycling of e-waste. While there are numerous initiatives in place to help keep technology environmentally friendly (like the Green Power idea that has been around for many years now) there is still a long road to go to try and stem the massive flow of e-waste. It comes down, to quote a sad and tired cliché, to each and every person on the planet to try and ensure that we keep our footprints – carbon or otherwise – as small as possible. The question “what difference can I make?” comes up all too often, of course, and runs as the semi-accepted excuse for everything from video game piracy through to environmental matters. The real truth isn’t that one person can make an impact, but that everyone uses that excuse to do nothing. Combined with apathy, the problem becomes exacerbated. But there are individuals and companies that are making efforts to ensure that our love for shiny new stuff has less of an impact on the environment. As stated before, there are many initiatives that are trying to deal with the problem, but the real solution is that the problem be dealt with on the same level where much of the problem originates from: the manufacturing level. There are ways that manufacturers can lessen the impact their products have on the environment, and still produce good, desirable merchandise. A company that has taken this approach with a new notebook line is Asus. Actually, the line is a re-launch of an older line that they brought out before, in 2008, but with newer ideas. And while the Asus Bamboo might not be the perfect solution to e-waste in terms of notebooks, the device shows a remarkably fresh approach to the problem from the company. The name “bamboo” isn’t an attempt to sound all earthy and mystical. The notebook actually has large sections made from bamboo. Up to 15% of the plastic required to build the laptop by making some of its outer panels out of this fast growing and sustainable wood. Even the touch pad is made of bamboo, which is a really nice effect. gladget feature • issue 1 • October 2010

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gladget feature • issue 1 • October 2010


The Bamboo looks stylish, with wooden section perfectly juxtaposed by brushed aluminium finishes. The bamboo finish is also tough, meaning that the notebook will last, while its outer surface ages and matures through time, gaining extra character. But the new collection, officially called the U Series Bamboo Notebooks, aren’t just about looks. Asus’ Super Hybrid Engine, which monitors and regulated power consumption and processing loads, makes sure that the device is environmentally friendly from that direction too. NVidia Optimus technology also comes into play here, intelligently switching graphics processing power consumption. This not only conserves energy, but also enhances battery performance and life. More power is conserved by making the Bamboo a powerful central hub for a wide variety of devices through Syncables technology. This tech means that the Bamboo ‘speaks’ to a wide variety of external devices, allowing the user to consume less energy by using the Bamboo as a main computer. The Bamboo even consumes less power by using USB 3.0, which is around ten times faster than USB 2.0, meaning less time spent transferring data (and consuming power.) The Bamboo doesn’t only make you look environmentally conscious, though – it packs power where it counts. With an Intel Core 2 Duo processor putting out around 2.5GHz of power and RAM that can be upgradable to 4GB, the Bamboo offers a processing punch. It’s not the biggest notebook we’ve seen in terms of power, but it does have enough for most anyone to work comfortably and efficiently. Storage is supplied by an HDD in either 320GB or 250GB flavours. There are lower specs also available for those who want to make use of them. Asus haven’t created a solution to e-waste in the form of the Bamboo series. However, they are showing strides in the right direction, and a commitment from the manufacturer arena that makes one hopeful for the future of electronics as a responsible, sustainable part of living on this planet.g gladget feature • issue 1 • October 2010

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Photography Primer

Massive Potential The basics matter

by Walt Pretorius

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gladget feature • issue 1 • October 2010


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O

nce upon a time, being a photographer was something of an exclusive pastime. It required a specific knowledge base, the right kind of equipment and lots of money to be one. Even when not behind the camera, a specific, dark-room oriented skillset was needed to be effective at creating great pictures. The advent of digital photography made the activity, whether as a profession or a hobby, much more accessible to a wider range of people. The costs involved in photography are no longer what they once were; the cost of film, as well as developing and printing (or darkroom supplies, in the case of photographers who did their own processing) is all but gone, and access to good, affordable equipment is much improved, thanks to a very competitive market. The only thing that hasn’t changed is the requirement of specific knowledge and skillsets. It is these elements that make the difference between a snapshot and a work of photographic art. And it is these skills and ideas that we aim to teach to aspiring photographers in this section of Gladget magazine – whether in actually taking photographs, or delving into the digital darkroom provided by programs like Adobe Photoshop. One question that often arises relates to the kind of camera that the photographer is using. “What is the best camera?” is not something that can be answered easily. In fact, this often comes down to functionality and the tastes of the user. In truth, all cameras work in more or less the same way – meaning that it is possible to take a great photograph with a pocket camera, just as it is possible to take a really rotten pic with a top-of-the-line DSLR. Understanding the principles of photography is what makes the difference, along with the application of that knowledge to the tools that the photographer has at hand. It is necessary to start at the beginning, because the principles are important to taking good pics. Sure, you can just pick up a camera and snap off a few hundred pics in the hope of getting a good shot, but application of the right kind of knowledge will certainly stack the odds in favour of ending up with better end results more often. The first thing that needs to be understood is that cameras capture light waves in order to form images. While a camera is similar to an eye in this, the camera does not have the luxury of a brain attached to it – it cannot make the adjustments and tweaks that our brains make when interpreting images.

gladget feature • issue 1 • October 2010

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Photography Primer

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gladget feature • issue 1 • October 2010


Light enters the camera by way of the lens, which focuses the light beams so that they fall correctly onto the photographic medium – which, in the case of digital cameras, is a sensor called a charge-coupled device, or CCD for short. On its way through the lens, the light will also pass through the camera’s aperture, a scalable “hole” that adjusts the amount of light that passes through the lens. The final barrier is the shutter, which opens when the camera’s shutter button is depressed, allowing the light rays to strike the CCD. The amount of time that the shutter stays open can be varied, allowing more or less light to reach the CCD. The exposure of the photograph is determined by combining the aperture and shutter (or more correctly, shutter speed) settings. These, in combination with the current sensitivity of the CCD (which is measured in terms of an ISO rating) will determine whether the photo is under or overexposed (too dark or too light, respectively) or turns out just right. A further setting, called white balance, will ensure that the camera accurately recreates colours in the photograph. While focus, aperture, shutter speed, ISO and white balance can be automatically determined by the camera, these automated settings are based on averages. Once again, the camera does not have a brain, and is never aware of what exactly the photographer wants the final picture to look like. However, by adjusting some – or all – of these elements, the photographer will have more direct control over the final outcome. But control means compromise – at least in photographic terms – and the photographer will need to alter what can sometimes be a delicate balance established between the basic elements above. This is particularly the case when it comes to aperture and shutter speed which, in combination, have a very direct effect not only on the exposure of the photograph, but also on numerous other elements that could make or break a picture. We will look at all of these elements in this section of Gladget Magazine, as well as exploring on more advanced techniques, tips and ideas. Initially, though, our first piece of advice is that photographers find out how their camera functions by reading the manual that came with it. Additionally, getting into the habit of recording conditions and settings when taking photographs is a good step – each picture, whether good or bad, can not only speak a thousand words, but can also teach a thousand lessons. In the next issue, we will begin investigating the relation of aperture and shutter speed to the final picture. We will also start looking at basic photo-manipulation using well known, PC-based software.g gladget feature • issue 1 • October 2010

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Reviews Highlights 20 Canon Ixus 1000HS Power in your pocket 26 Epson P6000 Viewer Multimedia on the move 36 PlayStation Move Active HD gaming 40 Gigabyte SOC HD5870 Top notch graphics 62 Adobe Photoshop CS5 More than pretty pictures

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n this first issue of Gladget we bring you 23 product reviews. Each of these is a hands-on review. In other words, we’ve played with them, experienced them, and our opinions expressed in the editorial are based on those experiences. What that also means is that every product in our review section is available in South Africa - something which we think is very practical. In Gladget, we review anything that falls into a technological category. We also look at gadgets and other cools stuff. So when you see a vaccuum cleaner review (like on page 44), don’t be surprised... as long as it uses some kind of technology and makes lives easier, it’s welcome here, along with the cameras, graphics cards, notebooks, software and more… g

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gladget review • issue 1 • October 2010


Canon Ixus 1000 HS

Pocket Power A fast, effective pocket camera

by Walt Pretorius

W

hen buying a camera, many people tend to go for the most impressive looking one that they can afford. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, many people over-equip themselves for their needs. It seems something of a waste to spend tens of thousands of Rands on camera equipment when you’re mainly going to be taking snapshots. Additionally, people tend to ignore some of the pocket camera models that are available, which are – when all is said and done – very capable cameras indeed. Canon have shown this time and again with their various lines. The Ixus line, for example, is far more versatile and capable than one might initially assume. And with the release of the new Ixus 1000HS, it has become even better. This small, unassuming camera is stylish and compact. But it’s small size and elegant lines belie a lot of power hidden inside. It delivers pictures at 10 megapixels (why most people would want more than that is a debate for another time) which is more than enough picture-

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power for the average and above average user. This is supported by an optical zoom of up to 10x which, while not particularly potent, will still introduce quite a lot of versatility to the camera. It takes around 2 seconds for the camera to go from off to taking pictures, which is nice and fast (something which Canon just keeps getting right every time). It can fire high speed burst photographs as well, which may come in handy for capturing action, and is a rather capable low-light camera, too. It has an ISO range that goes up to 3200 ISO, which means that it is going to work well when light conditions are less than desirable. Automated features also make taking pictures quick and easy. In addition, the Ixus 1000HS can also record video, including super-slow motion video, which is perhaps a bit of a gimmick where the average user is concerned, but is still great fun to play with. This camera uses a proprietary, rechargeable battery, and makes use of SD cards for storage. g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 • O c t o b e r 2 0 1 0


This is a camera that is ideal for those who need a speedy device, but aren’t going to delve into the nittygritty of playing with apertures and shutter speeds. While this does remove some control from the photographer, it isn’t really intended for those people that would play with photographic outcomes. This is a camera for the “masses”, and as such, it delivers excellent picture quality, without being overly difficult to use. In fact, all of the Ixus 1000 HS’ functions are easy to get to, and the user can quickly and effectively make any desired changes. The Ixus 1000 HS’ rugged construction and handy size makes it a perfect travelling companion, and its aesthetic would look equally at home on a hike or at a black-tie function. It offers more than the average pocket camera (as one would expect from Canon) and is reliable, accurate and not too finicky. If you are looking for a camera that is perfect for quick pics , snapshots and great video, this is one you want to seriously consider. g

g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 • O c t o b e r 2 0 1 0

AT A GLANCE: Not meant for high end users, this is a great camera for the ‘masses’.

Score

86

Manufacturer: Canon Distributor: Canon Online: www.canon.co.za RRP: R4199 Tech Specs: • 10 megapixel • 10x Optical zoom • ISO 3200 • Full HD • 3” LCD • Image stabiliser

Pros: • Small size • Powerful • Video function • Fast • Rugged Cons: • Not for ‘power users’

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LG Flatron W2486L Monitor

Sleek

A real performer by Walt Pretorius

I

t wasn’t that long ago that a large monitor meant back-breaking weight. If you moved your computer around a lot (like, say, going to LAN games) or even at all (like, say, cleaning your desk) the luxury of a large monitor suddenly seemed not worth the muscle strains and potential hernias that went along with moving it. Times have, thankfully, changed, and now a large LCD monitor weighs in at less than a small old CRT. Now, size is a luxury that can be taken advantage of without all the weight and space considerations of before. Well, at least not all of them. See, there is such a thing as too big a monitor. The same goes for TVs. You more than likely don’t agree, but a lot of specialists have done a lot of work on getting these kinds of ideas right. The main principle is that too much head movement when looking at a screen defeats the purpose. Everything should fall neatly into the user’s field of view, without them needing to bob their head around in an attempt to see everything. And let’s not forget that very big monitors can still take

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up a lot of desk space, although not as much as before. This is one of the aspects that makes the LG Flatron W2486L such a great viewing device. It’s 24 inch size is generous, without being overwhelming, and the very flat design of the monitor (which measures around 20mm in depth) is great for getting a little more room out of one’s workspace. But that’s not all. The monitor is tiltable (although you’ll want to keep a hand on the base when tilting, because it isn’t the sturdiest) and has the now familiar touch interface for controls built into the front of it. In the rear, you’ll find an RGB, DVI and two HDMI inputs (making it great for multi-console gaming, if you play them at your desk) and an audio headphone output, which is used in conjunction with the HDMI inputs. It transcends the idea of a computer monitor, and enters the field of multimedia device, thanks to this. The environmentally conscious will also be pleased to know that the W2486L uses around 50% less energy than other monitors, and is mercury free. g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 • O c t o b e r 2 0 1 0


The real proof, though, is in the pudding. This monitor delivers clear, crisp visual performance, thanks to the LED technology that it employs. This technology is superior to standard LCD monitors in virtually every way, allowing for better brightness and contrast, clearer images and really quick response times. And it shows… we tested the W2486L with a variety of inputs, from PCs to Blu-Ray players, and the performance was always top notch. Seeing that LED technology is still fairly new and ‘in vogue’, you will find cheaper monitors than this one on the market. However, the versatility of this particular piece of equipment, combined with the excellent performance it delivers, makes it a winner on many fronts. Once you have made the move to LED, you’ll never look at a normal LCD monitor again – the difference is that marked, and the performance is that much better. Spending the extra cash on this one is almost a no-brainer (provided you can afford it.) If you are looking for top notch performance and a very versatile set of inputs in a 24 inch package, this is one of the best choices you could make. g g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 • O c t o b e r 2 0 1 0

AT A GLANCE: A great 24 inch option, with excellent clarity and lots of versatility

Score

88

Manufacturer: LG Distributor: Pinnacle Africa Online: www.pinnacle.co.za RRP: R4499 Tech Specs: • 2 000 000:1 contrast ratio • 1920 x 1080 resolution • RGB / DVI/ HDMI • LED

Pros: • 2 HDMI ports • Energy saving • Great performance Cons: • Base a bit flimsy

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HP EliteBook 8540P

Elegant And still powerful...

by Alex Scanlon

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g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 • O c t o b e r 2 0 1 0


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here are several brands that have managed to establish themselves as leaders in their respective fields, and one of them is HP. In fact, HP notebooks, particularly, have a reputation for being great quality. And, with the notebook market being flooded with new products on a regular basis, it’s good to know that some brands still deliver the kind of quality one would expect. Take, as an excellent example, the HP EliteBook 8540p. This attractive notebook looks like it means business, with a brushed-metal finish complemented by a stylish matt black plastic. The neat styling of the device is complemented by a comfortable chiclet style keyboard, complete with a num-pad and discrete pointstick. As far as compact keyboards go, this one is beautifully put together, without feeling overly cramped. The pointstick has three buttons associated with it at the bottom of the keyboard, just above the traditional touch pad (which also has three buttons). The 15.6” display is treated with an anti-glare finish, delivering a clear 1600x900 resolution, powered by the notebook’s rather punchy NVidia NVS 5100 graphics chip and 1GB of dedicated DDR3 RAM. The unit we got to play with comes with a speedy Intel i7-620M processor, which delivers 2.66 GHz of processing performance. This is backed up by a capable 4GB of RAM, which is expandable to 8GB. The notebook can also be purchased with an i5 processor. Storage is provided by hard-drives in either 250, 320 or 500GB flavours. A variety of optical drives, ranging from DVD to Blu-ray, and even including a LightScribe option for those who want it.

With two USB2.0 and two USB 3.0, as well as a DisplayPort, external VGA port, 1394a port, eSata port and integrated multi-card reader, the EliteBook 8540p offers versatility in connection and functionality – which is further supported by the punchiness of the machine’s overall performance. Bundled software contains the expected arsenal of useful system tools, including McAffee Security Solution. Even more security can be added with an optional integrated HP Fingerprint Sensor and Computrack LoJack Pro Premium system, complete with GPS tracking. This is most certainly an excellent choice for those who not only want to have a good notebook, but who also want to make a good impression in terms of looks and style. As an everyday work-station, the EliteBook 8540p is possibly a little more than is necessary. Rather, this is the kind of notebook that someone requiring higher end performance would want to consider. The versatility, power and options for the notebook all echo that sentiment. If faults need to be found, the 8540p suffers from the same problem that plagues almost every notebook on the market – the sound quality, thanks to its small speakers, is not great. When used with headphones, this is not an issue, of course, and the question of whether good sound is required on a machine that is work-oriented is up for debate. If your demands require a high-end notebook, and you like a lot of options to play with, the 8540p is a good option. The bundled software adds even more versatility, and that ever important security. With a battery life of up to around five-and-a-half hours, and a weight starting at just under three kilograms, it is a very portable, capable machine for those who want powerful performance on the move. g

AT A GLANCE: An impressive and powerful notebook for business applications.

Score

84

Manufacturer: ASUS Distributor: ASUS Online: www.asus.com RRP: R14539 / R18179 Tech Specs: • 15.6” display • i7-620M CPU • 1GB DDR3 RAM • 500GB HDD • USB 3.0 • Fingerprint Sensor • NVidia NVS 500 GPU g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 • O c t o b e r 2 0 1 0

Pros: • Tough construction • Powerful • Good looks Cons: • Sound • Pricey

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Epson P-6000 Multimedia Storage Viewer

More Than Meets the Eye A very handy device indeed

O

ne of the advantages of digital photography stems from the fact that the photographer does not have to rely on development and printing. Photographs are immediately available, and the cost of constantly buying rolls of film is non-existent. But the various memory cards that cameras use do not offer limitless storage, and unless you’re going to carry a massive amount of them, you may well run out of space. Sure, you can always delete photographs from them via the camera, but this isn’t always advisable, as the screens on most digital cameras don’t allow the user to truly judge whether a photograph is good or not, due to their small size and possibly lower resolutions. Epson have a device that takes care of a number of issues that photographers might have when they don’t have ready access to a PC. It comes in the form of the Epson P-6000 Multimedia Storage Viewer. In simplest terms, this device is a self-powered external hard drive with viewing capabilities. But it’s functionality extends beyond this simplified explanation. The user can use the device to store up to 80GB

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by Walt Pretorius

of photo, video and music files. These files can be transferred to the device via a USB 2.0 connection (making it a very handy portable media player) or via SD and CF card slots, which is great for backing up photographs when there isn’t a PC around. Additionally, the P-6000 makes use of a Pict-Bridge system for printing purposes, turning it into a very useful multimedia tool for photographers on the go. Viewing and playback is facilitated by way of a clear 4 inch screen, which is much larger than that of most cameras. The screen also has a wide viewable angle, meaning that multiple users won’t really have to put their heads together to take a look. A headphone jack takes care of sound playback. To the right of the generous screen is a set of intuitive controls that allow for many functions. Checking the focus and quality of photographs, for example, is relatively easy using the P-6000, and much more effective than relying on a camera’s LCD screen. The battery life of the P-6000, which works with a proprietary rechargeable battery, is rather good, although g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 • O c t o b e r 2 0 1 0


carelessly leaving the unit on will naturally impact on that area of its performance. The whole package is wrapped up as a sturdily constructed unit which fits comfortably in the hand – and the camera bag. It’s a little heavier than it looks, but the weight probably has something to do with the sturdy design. On the downside, the unit does vibrate a bit when in use (not so much that it is noisy or uncomfortable, though) and one of two of the functions can take a little while. Aside from the vibration and occasional sluggishness, though, we can find very little wrong with the P-6000. It’s one of those devices that is very versatile, for a wide number of reasons. For photographers, it’s ranges from being a fantastic luxury to a near essential item, depending on how and where they do their photography. For people travelling, it’s a great storage device and multimedia viewer. In fact, the versatility of the device within a multimedia paradigm is fantastic. We would have liked to see a little more storage space, but (realistically) 80GB of photographs are a lot of pictures! g g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 • O c t o b e r 2 0 1 0

AT A GLANCE: A handy storage and viewing device with many uses.

Score

90

Manufacturer: Epson Distributor: Epson Online: www.epson.com RRP: R5595 Tech Specs: • 80GB • 4 Inch Screen • USB 2.0 • PictBridge • SD Card Reader • CF Card Reader

Pros: • Great screen • Good battery life • Versatile Cons: • Occasionally sluggish • Some vibration

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ASUS Rampage III Gene Motherboard

Backbone

Focussed gaming performance by Walt Pretorius

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was told, many years ago, that a PC is only as good as its motherboard. And while we are easily distracted by all the bells and whistles that processors, graphics cards and other components have on offer, this statement rings true today. Without a good motherboard, even the best components are going to suffer from lack-lustre performance. In fact, the right choice of motherboard is crucial. Sure, there are many good motherboards on the market, but using the right tool for the right job is always a wise approach. And Asus’ Rampage III Gene is the right tool for the job of gaming. The Rampage III Gene supports socket 1366 CPU chips, meaning that it is going to take advantage of all the power that Intel’s i7 CPUs offer. Aside from that, though, the Gene has a host of features and compatibilities that make it a great board to consider. More speed can be squeezed from this board thanks to the triple channel memory architecture that it employs.

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The Gene can handle up to six RAM DIMMs, with a total of 24GB of DDR 3RAM usable by the board. On the graphics side, the Gene supports both SLi and Crossfire technology, giving the user flexibility in choice of graphics cards. It does not offer on-board graphics, but no gamer worth his salt would want to use an on-board GPU anyway. A big plus for the Rampage III Gene is the inclusion of a built in SupremeFX X-Fi 2 sound processor. This means that the player will be able to enjoy superior surround audio, without losing one of the board’s slots to a sound card. The Supreme FX makes use of an 8 channel high definition audio codec, and is compliant with EAX and THX standards, as well as offering X-Fi Extreme Fidelity and Creative ALchemy functions. Beyond all of this, the Rampage III Gene sets itself up as an overclocker’s dream. With simple overclocking methods provided by the board, including clearly indicated performance measurement points and ‘CPU Level Up’ g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 • O c t o b e r 2 0 1 0


overclocking functions, the Gene takes the sweat out of squeezing the most out of your system. It even uses a system that will ensure that gaming gets priority, to minimise online latency. This means that the user will be able to effectively play online games while listening to music, downloading files and performing numerous other functions concurrently. Asus have been in the motherboard market for ages, and their experience shows. While they may not produce the most pocket-friendly boards, the little added expense in purchasing one of their products means that the user will have a reliable, good quality and highly functional component installed in their PC. If you want to ensure that your PC’s performance is perfectly suited to gaming, there are few boards as focussed on the activity as the Rampage III Gene - it’s a no brainer, if it fits within your budget. g

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AT A GLANCE: While not the most affordable mobo around, its focus on gaming makes it a winner.

Score

88

Manufacturer: Asus Distributor: Asus Online: www.asus.com RRP: R3250 Tech Specs: • Socket 1366 • DDR 3 support • SupremeFX onboard • 6 x SATA ports • 11 USB ports (2 USB3) • SLi & Crossfire

Pros: • Gaming focussed • Excellent onboard sound • Easy overclocking • High functionality Cons: • A little pricey

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HP Officejet 4500 All-in-One Printer

Compact Power Scan, fax, print and copy... with no wires

by Walt Pretorius

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ll-in-one is a term that makes many people a little nervous. The theory is that a product that serves many purposes can have a seriously debilitating effect on productivity if just one of those functions breaks down. It’s a valid point, for the most part, but there are certain mitigating factors that need to be taken into account. The biggest of these are space and power requirements. In terms of power, running one multi-functional device is more power-efficient (something we in South Africa have to be very aware of) that running three or four separate devices. And as far as space goes, anyone with a smaller office or work space will appreciate one device instead of a bunch of them. Even in a larger environment, clearing up clutter is not a bad thing. The important thing is to make sure that the device you are purchasing is good quality – sticking to a well-known, experienced brand is probably the most important thing to do in this regard. So a name like HP makes sense – the company has been around for ages, and their all-in-one solutions generally perform well. And they’re getting

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better with each iteration, too. The Officejet 4500 All-in-One Printer has a misleading name, at least with regards to the word ‘Printer’. The device is actually a printer, scanner, copier and colour fax, all rolled into one. And, perhaps best of all, it can be used either with a standard USB connection from a PC or notebook, or as a component in a wireless network, thanks to built-in wireless connectivity. This naturally adds even more versatility to an already versatile device. The specifications on the printer are good; with a best black resolution of 600 x 600 DPI, and a best colour resolution of 4800 x 1200 (on HP specific photo-papers) the printer delivers good quality. With a page count ranging from around 28 pages per minute for draft black prints through to around 4 pages per minute for top notch colour printing, the printer is fairly quick, and wonderfully quiet when compared to models in a similar bracket. Scanning offers a hardware resolution of up to 1200 x 2400 dpi, with an enhanced resolution of 19200 dpi also coming in to play. g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 • O c t o b e r 2 0 1 0


Copying offers similar resolution performance to printing, although colour will produce a maximum of 1200 x 1200 on optimised papers. And as for faxing, well, the ability to fax in colour is a treat, provided that the person on the other side can send and receive colour faxes. The solidly built 4500 measures 433.5 x 401.5 x 216.7 mm. It’s not the smallest printer out there, but it’s size isn’t larger than most of its competitors. Ease of use is another thing that’s great about this product. Yes, you’re going to have to read the instructions (they’re there for a reason, after all) but the uncomplicated systems that the device uses are easily accessed, either through software or by way of a neat and clear instrument cluster on the top-front of the printer. When all is said and done, this all-in-one serves as a good addition to a home or small-office network or PC setup. It’s not going to be great as a bulk printer, but no inkjet printer ever is. As a functional office device, though, it’s great. g g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 • O c t o b e r 2 0 1 0

AT A GLANCE: A good performance from a trusted brand, with the added benefit of wireless connectivity.

Score

81

Manufacturer: HP Distributor: HP Online: www.hp.com RRP: R1499 Tech Specs: • 22 pages per minute (colour) • 600 x 600 dpi black • 4800 x 1200 dpi colour • Wireless • 1200 dpi scan

Pros: • Compact • Fast • Fairly quiet • Wireless Cons: • Ink costs

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Gigabyte Super Overclock HD5870

Lookin’ Hot! Packs an explosive graphic punch

by Alex Scanlon

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f you’re a serious gamer – or you would like to be one – then the need for good PC equipment is obvious to you. Putting a PC together isn’t only about spending the most cash possible, but also about making informed choices when it comes to all those expensive components. And often the most expensive components in a serious PC gamer’s case is the graphics card. This is completely understandable… graphic performance provides the player with what he or she needs to interface with the computer and game software effectively. Graphics that are poor, or suffer from frame rate issues, can have a serious adverse effect on the gamer’s performance. Buying a top notch graphics card is vital to excelling in gaming. There are, naturally, many choices out there, ranging from pocket friendly numbers that will possibly not deliver all the goods, through to bank-breaking behemoths that speed through even the most complex graphics permutations like a hot knife through butter. The serious gamer is going to go for the latter, of course, but even here there is a wide range of choices. The decision, more

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often than not, comes down to chipset and brand. Although there is a lot of back-and-forth regarding chipsets, often in very technical terms, a lot of what the decision is based on is brand loyalty. Those loyal to the ATI Radeon Brand will find a good option in the form of a trusted brand: Gigabyte’s Super Overclock HD 5870. Gigabyte carefully select all the processors that go into these cards, settling only for top performers to bear their brand. The result is a card that not only performs well under normal load, but can effectively be overclocked for a performance increase of up to 30%, which is a rather big step up. As the name of the card implies, it is built for punishment of this type, and comes bundled with overclocking software that makes the process easy (if not entirely risk-free.) Built in Expert Power Switching systems also ensure that the card performs better than other HD 5870 cards, and the GPU Gauntlet Sorting system (which also ensures top notch GPUs) power consumption is lower than normal. Heat is dealt with by dual fans that are inclined, resulting in temperatures that are up to 25% cooler than g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 • O c t o b e r 2 0 1 0


reference units. Copper piping not only makes the card look cool, but also assists in keeping temperatures as low as possible. In short, the Super Overclock HD 5870 promises great performance, and delivers it, too. The graphic performance is silky smooth, thanks in part to the powerful processor, the 1GB GDDR5 graphic RAM and the 3Dc image enhancing technology that the card employs. The card sports 2 DVI outputs, as well as an HDMI output and a Displayport output. The two DVI ports are mounted one above the other, which is a little strange, but does allow for the inclusion of the Displayport. The result is that the rear vent of the card is around half the size of those seen on other cards, but the heat extraction that it provides is still effective. In addition to excellent performance, the Gigabyte Super Overclock HD5870 looks the part, too – a bonus for those who have clear side panels in their cases. If you are an ATI fan, you can do much worse than this card, even if it does fall into a higher price bracket. g

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AT A GLANCE: A powerful graphic card for those who like their pictures ATI flavoured.

Score

91

Manufacturer: Gigabyte Distributor: Rectron Online: www.rectron.co.za RRP: R5999 Tech Specs: • 1GB GDDR 5 • Radeon HD5870 • 3Dc Image enhancement • 2 DVI • HDMI • Displayport

Pros: • Easy overclocking • Runs cool • Good performance Cons: • A little pricey

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Toshiba Stor.E Art 3

Data on the Move Reliable, handy, and a bit ugly...

by Walt Pretorius

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ortable hard disks are more common than ever. These devices are fantastically handy, for a number of reasons (all of which pertain to backing up, storing and transporting data.) Picking the right device, though, can be tricky. Toshiba are a trusted name in computing circles, and their Stor.E Art 3 external hard drive is a great option. It offers the user 750GB of storage on an internal 2.5 inch hard drive. This makes it pocket sized, and extremely easy to carry around. Additionally, it is USB powered, so there is no need for lugging extra power supplies around. Although it seems a little behind the times, the USB 2.0 compatibility of the device delivers a fairly quick data transfer rate. The Stor.E Art 3 also comes with pre-installed backup and encryption software. The user manual can also be found installed on the drive. The small size and plug and play functionality are fantastic, and the 750 GB of space is fairly generous. If we must find a downside, it is that the unit is a little ugly, relying on retro-chic to make a statement. Looks aren’t everything though – and the Stor.E Art 3 proves it. g

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AT A GLANCE: Handy, and conveniently self powered. It’s a little ugly, though...

Score

75

Manufacturer: Toshiba Distributor: Toshiba Online: www.toshiba.com RRP: R1295 Tech Specs: • 750GB • 2.5” HDD • USB 2.0 • USB Powred • Pre-installed data

Pros: • Small • USB Powered • Fairly generous HDD • Bigger model available Cons: • Not USB 3.0 • A bit ugly

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Broken remote? Confusing remote? Too many remotes? Introducing the Logitech Harmony® 300i® The replacement remote that’s simple yet powerful. Quick and easy set up. Works with over 5,000 brands. And press just one button to start watching TV. Start simplifying at Logitech.com


PlayStation Move

Not So Sedentary… Motion gaming finally comes to HD consoles

by Walt Pretorius

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e have, for some months now, been witness to the war of words between Microsoft and Sony over their entrance into the motion-controlled video gaming market. Both companies have been punting their offerings as the next big thing (despite the fact that Nintendo has been doing the motion gaming thing for years now) and the addition of such devices to HD consoles certainly is big news. Sony beat Microsoft to the market this time around, with the release of their Move peripheral. The Move system, at its core, is a combination of a PSEye camera and a controller. The controller is topped with a glowing orb that helps the camera track the user’s movement and the result is excellent. The Move system captures true 1:1 movement, meaning that the user’s movements are accurately tracked by the device and translated to the game. The camera is a high grade web-cam that is equipped with a sensitive microphone. We have seen this camera before – it was released a while ago, and is the same one that was used with PS3 games like Eye of Judgement and

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EyePet. The controller is a wand-like device that fits very comfortably into the user’s hand. The shape works with a variety of hand sizes, too, allowing easy access to all the necessary buttons. The four face buttons that have been a familiar feature of all PlayStation consoles (and have even been incorporated into logos and marketing) are positioned comfortable around a central “Move” button. Their position, relative to one another , has been rotated by roughly 45 degrees, so the familiar “top, bottom, left, right” idea doesn’t come into play. Users will have to get used to the new relative positioning of the buttons. That said, they don’t come into play much (at least not in early games we have seen.) Instead, the games make use mainly of the large Move button, which is comfortably position for easy thumb access. The other button that games make use of is a large trigger mounted at the bottom of the device, well placed for the user’s index finger. This trigger is also used for menu navigation: holding it down will allow the user to flick through menus with relative ease (although getting g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 • O c t o b e r 2 0 1 0


use to exactly how much motion is required to do this is advised.) A PS button is also included, located to the bottom for the Move button. It is recessed to avoid accidental activation. Select and Start buttons are located on the sides of the unit. They will generally need a second hand to be accessed. The base of the unit features an expansion slot, for extra peripherals that are planned, as well as a USB interface. This allows the unit to be connected to the PS3 via a USB cable, primarily for charging (the internal, rechargeable battery is a big plus.) The whole thing is rather light, but feels sturdy. The orb, which changes colour according to game needs, is constructed out of a pliable material, to ensure that it doesn’t break if the controller is dropped. Then again, using the included wrist strap is strongly advised. On the whole, the Move system is a fantastic addition to the PlayStation 3 stable. It delivers good motion sensing, and will open a whole new avenue to game developers and gamers alike. g g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 • O c t o b e r 2 0 1 0

AT A GLANCE: A great addition to the PS3, for those who want their gaming to be a little more active.

Score

88

Manufacturer: Sony PlayStation Distributor: Ster Kinekor Online: www.playstation.com RRP: R699 Tech Specs: • 1:1 motion • 145 grams • Bluetooth • Internal lithium-ion battery • Expansion port • USB port

Pros: • Well designed • Accurate tracking • Rechargeable • Includes PS Eye Camera Cons: • Not a necessity (yet)

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Logitech Wireless Desktop MK710

Comfort is King With bonus good looks and performance

by Walt Pretorius

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he importance of a good mouse and keyboard can never be understated. The obvious points all lead to effective input, but comfortable design is also an absolute necessity, particularly when you spend long times working at a computer. Added bonuses like improved functionality don’t hurt either. Logitech have long been leaders in providing excellent input devices, as well as great bundles. They have managed to set themselves up with a reputation for quality, reliability and great design. All of these can be seen in the Logitech Wireless Desktop MK710 bundle. While it doesn’t fall into the top of the range, the excellent design, comfortable functionality and good reliability makes this bundle a great option for those who want to keep their purchasing decisions simple. The first thing that we noticed is the extreme comfort in using this keyboard and mouse bundle. From the keyboard’s cushioned palm rest and awesome Incurve keys (with allow for a better hand position, and have rounded edges for a smoother typing experience) through

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to the beautifully contoured mouse, the MK710 bundle is great to use. The mouse is a little small, meaning that people with big hands may not like the feel, but it’s not so small as to exclude the majority from a comfortable hand position. The keyboard also features four and eight degree tilt options. The mouse further features five buttons, all easily accessible, as well as a tiltable, clickable scroll wheel that makes use of a hyper-fast scrolling system. A button just behind the wheel allows the user to change between traditional scrolling and this very handy, high speed scrolling mode. Being a wireless system, the issue of wire clutter doesn’t exist. However, the system is not rechargeable, meaning that the user will inevitably need to change batteries in both devices at some time. The battery life, though, is apparently very good. Logitech claim up to three years of battery life for the total of four AA batteries used. We haven’t had that long to review the products, obviously, but from what we’ve seen, this claim g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 • O c t o b e r 2 0 1 0


may well be highly attainable. An LCD screen at the top of the keyboard informs the user of battery like, as well as Caps Lock, Num Lock and so on. The whole system is unified by a tiny USB receiver, which makes use of Logitech’s Advanced 2.4GHz wireless technology. This means reliable performance, even when the receiver is obscured. In addition, while the set comes with software, it is essentially a plug-and-play device, making it much easier to use for those who don’t want to delve into the deeper functions of the bundle. On the downside, the key-travel on the keyboard is still quite long. While this can help reduce typos, the potentially quiet keyboard can become a bit loud (particularly if you hammer keys when you type, like I do.) It’s not really a massive problem, but it can prove to be a little annoying at times. On the whole, the solid performance of this bundle (across applications and games) as well as its attractive design and comfort, makes it a good choice as a desktop bundle. g g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 • O c t o b e r 2 0 1 0

AT A GLANCE: A good looking, comfortable and effective desktop bundle at a reasonable price.

Score

79

Manufacturer: Logitech Distributor: Pinnacle Africa Online: www.pinnacle.co.za RRP: R1200

Tech Specs: • 6 button muse • 2.4GHz wireless • 128 bit encryption • 848 nm mouse laser

Pros: • Comfortable • Nice aesthetic • Long battery life • Reliable Cons: • Long key travel • Slightly small mouse

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ASUS EAH5550 Silent

Dead Silence Quietly does it...

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here are certain things that are undeniable facts when it comes to being a PC gamer. The first is that your machine, at some time or another, will need to be upgraded. There’s simply no escaping it. Unlike console platforms, PC hardware doesn’t dictate to the software industry as much as moves along with it. It’s more likely that a new game will be using the latest in technology, and the player will need to keep up. But these upgrades are expensive, for the most part... particularly when it comes to graphics cards. These devices are vitally important, of course, for many reasons - not least of which is that graphic performance is vital in effectively interacting with a game. Asus offer a fantastic solution to this issue in the form of the EAH5550 Silent graphics card. Not only does it perform well, but it also falls into a much more pocketfriendly price bracket. Powered by an ATI Radeon 5550 chip, the card handles most graphics quite smoothly. The user shouldn’t expect

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by Walt Pretorius

high end performance from the card, because it is outside of that price range. But the performance that the EAH5550 delivers is remarkably good, all things considered. The most prominent feature of the card is the massive heatsink that it sports. This heatsink adds the ‘Silent’ to the card’s name, because it effectively cools the GPU without even a whisper. The added bonus of guaranteed cooling is also a plus - there are no fans that can stop spinning here. Despite the lack of fans, the card is still fairly large, and will take up a considerable amount of room in your PC case. It is, however, smaller than the run-of-the-mill card these days, which will also assist with air-flow in a properly put together PC box. The EAH5550 sports 1GB of DDR 2 VRAM. This should be more than enough graphic RAM for any of the latest releases (StarCraft 2 requires only half of that as a recommended spec.) The GPU chip is also punchy g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 • O c t o b e r 2 0 1 0


enough to deliver solid performance. You might not get to set everything to maximum in your favourite game, but chances are you will be able to squeeze a hell of a lot out of this sweetly priced device, particularly if the system it is combined with is good. The EAH5550 sports three video outputs, in the form of standard VGA, DVI and HD ports. It will take up a PCIe slot on your motherboard, so make sure you’re running the latest PCIe drivers. As an affordable option, you could do much worse than getting hold of the Asus EAH5550 Silent. The card performs well under pressure, and while it might not have all the bells and whistles of a top end graphics card, it does its job effectively and quietly. In addition, Asus have built in their Fuse Protection and GPU Guard systems, meaning that this card is as tough as it is quiet. And with the usual Asus quality a given, one can rest assured that the EAH5550 is a good investment... at least until the next required upgrade. g g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 • O c t o b e r 2 0 1 0

AT A GLANCE: Good performance from a wellpriced card, which is perfect for those who like their PCs silent.

Score

78

Manufacturer: Asus Distributor: Asus Online: www.asus.com RRP: R1010.00 Tech Specs: • ATI HD 5550 GPU • 1 GB VRAM • DDR 2 • DirectX 11 Support • OpenGL 3.2 Support

Pros: • Good Price • Quiet • Capable Cons: • Not ‘Top of the Line’ • No fans

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GMC X7 X-Station ATX Case

Chunky

It looks like it will eat you by Walt Pretorius

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computer case, for many, is more than just a box that holds all the important components that make a PC work – it can be an expression of individual style, too. And with the wide variety of cases available, picking the right one can be tricky. Let’s not forget that the choice needs to be tempered with good functionality, too. This box will be the environment in which your computer operates and, as such, needs to be able to not only look good, but keep your PC operating at desired temperatures. It’s no good having a great looking PC case that overheats every few hours. The Korean built GMC X7 X-Station provides a good solution as a chassis, as well as being fairly pocket friendly. Many of the high-performance cases will cost an arm and a leg, but the X7 will not break the bank. With it being aimed at the gaming market, the X7 looks very different from the generally subtle cases that GMC build. It is a chunky case, with numerous bulges and hard likes making it look almost predatory. The nooks and crannies that this design have resulted in make keeping the exterior of the case clean a bit of a nightmare. The case comes with a few features that bear mentioning. Four front mounted USB ports and front audio ports are a bonus, and two power switches (one at the top and one on the front) add convenience and practicality – the user will always be able to easily access at least one of them, in theory. The front of the case also features a bright LCD display that monitors hard drive and fan activity, although only one fan is monitored. Still, it has a

handy temperature display as well, which will help the user regulate heat to a degree. The front panel also features two orange reflectors, although we’re not too sure why. The first optical drive bay is fitted with an ‘external’ eject button, as the drive sits behind the face plate. Additional optical bays site behind covers (three in total) which can easily be removed. The case’s side panel has two LED lights and a button to regulate fan speed. The manual isn’t very clear on the workings of this system, though. Some internet research may be required. The interior of this standard ATX case is roomy, but the design is a little anachronistic. In an age where most cases have a smart approach to installing components, the X7 is a screw-based box. Additionally, drive bays are fixed in place, and cannot be tilted or removed for easier access. While it is not impossible to build a PC system into the X7, it isn’t as easy as it might be. There are also a few rough edges to look out for. The box allows for cooling with three fans; a front and rear mounted 120mm fan, as well as a side mounted 80mm fan. The built in thermometer and fan control are nice extras but, as said before, a little research will be required to get them working properly. The GMC X7 X-Station is a good effort at putting together an impressive gaming case. While some of the design decisions are a little strange, the price is good, and the cooling provided by the box is more than adequate. This is a good option for gamers on a budget. g

AT A GLANCE: A good choice for gamers on a budget

Score

70

Manufacturer: GMC Distributor: Pinnacle Online: www.pinnacle.co.za RRP: R599 Tech Specs: • ATX • 7 Expansion slots • 2 x 120mm fans • 1 x 80mm fan • 7 Expansion slots • Fan controller • Thermometer g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 • O c t o b e r 2 0 1 0

Pros: • 2 power switches • Thermometer • 4 front USB ports Cons: • Screw-based • Some strange design choices

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LG Kompressor

It Sucks!

But certainly not in a bad way. by Walt Pretorius

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hen one thinks of technology, vacuum cleaners don’t exactly spring to mind. But things have advanced a long time since the days of old stand-up, bag-filling cleaners. Concerns over the health aspect of vacuum cleaners have existed for a while, and the idea of cleaner working machines is one that is resulting in a rather competitive market. The LG Kompressor is a good example of a vacuum cleaner that does a great job at picking up dust, without blasting it all back out again. The HEPA H13 filter takes care of that, allowing the user to actually pick up dust, without just spreading it around. The usual bells and whistles, like a telescopic handle and retractable cord, are all present. But this one does something special – using a specialised compression system, the Kompressor forces the dirt it picks up into wedge-like ‘cakes, allowing for more hygienic and easier emptying. From the handle-based remote through to the cheerful ditty it ‘sings’ when turned on, the Kompressor is a good option for those wanting a cleaner environment. It comes with a variety of attachments and power settings, and is a very strong vacuum cleaner. At times, perhaps, it is a little too strong – our only complaint. But it’s excellent, relatively quiet performance is still top-notch. g

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AT A GLANCE: A powerful and hygienic vacuum cleaner, with some excellent new ideas incorporated.

Score

78

Manufacturer: LG Distributor: LG Online: www.lg.com RRP: R1499 Tech Specs: • Auto Cord Rewinder • Telescopic Handle • HEPA H13 filter • 2000W

Pros: • Very powerful • Remote • Very clean • Relatively quiet Cons: • Perhaps too powerful at times?

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Garmin FR 60

Work It! Monitor your work-outs

by Alex Scanlon

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taying fit seems to be getting increasingly difficult. Even in this day and age, when fitness is something that we are all very aware of, it is something that seems to be increasingly difficult to keep a handle on. Our hectic work schedules and often sedentary lifestyles (brought on by those aforementioned work schedules) mean that we have very little time to put into our physical wellness. The result is that we need to draw the most from the time that we do have to spend on physical fitness. This further means that the need for accurate, effective tracking of data is vital: it’s not just a matter of doing the work, but also knowing whether the work is actually effective. There are a number of devices that help us achieve this potentially tricky goal. The Garmin FR60 is such a package. Inside the box you will find a sports watch, a foot pod and a heart rate monitor. Together, these three devices track your performance, which can later be downloaded to a computer for further analysis and record keeping (with downloadable software). Record keeping of exercise and dietary habits is vital to knowing whether you are making progress or not, so this function is particularly useful. Connecting to the computer is done via a small USB device, specifically designed for this purpose. It is a wireless connection, which helps keep clutter to a minimum. The FR60 makes use of ANT+ technology. This is a system that is incorporated into numerous fitness monitoring devices. It also means that the FR60 will be compatible with any ANT+ devices you already have, or may be purchasing in the future. The foot pod is an advanced pedometer that helps measure the user’s performance. It can be securely fastened to the laces of a shoe, or even slipped into the pocket of shoes specifically intended for use with similar devices. The pod is relatively discrete, and won’t cause too many problems in terms of comfort. The strap style heart rate monitor, though, will take a little more getting used to. It is worn around the chest, against the user’s skin, where it monitors heart activity while they exercise. It will take a bit of adjusting to ensure a secure, yet comfortable, fit.

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Unifying the system is the FR60 Sports Watch. This device received signals from both the foot pod and heart rate monitor (and any other ANT+ devices in use) and collates the information, reporting it to the user via its large LCD display. The watch can be tasked to show various important bits of data, and even stores the user’s performance history. It’s a fairly bulky watch, coated with impact resistant rubber. The rubber extends into the strap, which might have been a little nicer. The watch has six buttons to help the user set its various functions, all of which are large and easy to access. Further, the watch is water resistant to 50m, so it getting a little wet (whether from perspiration or precipitation) won’t be a problem. On the whole, the FR60 system is a great option for those who perform a variety of cario-vascular exercises, and is particularly useful to runners. The data is accurately recorded and stored, both on the watch and via the USB PC connection. If you take your cardio seriously, this is a solid option for you. g g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 • O c t o b e r 2 0 1 0

AT A GLANCE: A great way to monitor a wide variety of exercise activities.

Score

78

Manufacturer: Garmin Distributor: Garmin Online: www.garmin.com RRP: R2100 Tech Specs: • Heart monitor • Foot Pod • Sports Watch • ANT+ compatible

Pros: • Accurate recording • Various sports monitored Cons: • Watch strap • Bulky watch

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Sony Ericcson Vivaz Pro

Stylin’

SE’s smart new handset by Walt Pretorius

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mobile phone is no longer a luxury. They haven’t been for years. In fact, those of us who can remember life before these devices aren’t all exactly sure how we managed to survive without them. They are a link to the outside world, a valuable tool in business and pleasure (not to mention emergencies) and are very much a part of everyday life. Someone saying that they don’t own a cell phone these days is rather odd… these devices have so permeated our society that they are a norm. Naturally, the cell phone manufacturers are ecstatic with this state of affairs. But this does also mean that they need to be on their toes, because the competition is stiff. As they vie for the best possible market position, the real winner in the equation is the end-user. We are the ones who are spoiled for choice when it comes to brands and specific handsets, and we enjoy the competition with rewards like better technology, improved functionality and carefully designed aesthetics. Take Sony Ericsson’s Vivaz Pro as an example. While it doesn’t necessarily compete with the big boys of the

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smart phone market (seeing as how the iPhone and Blackberry devices are waging their own private war in that space) this particular handset offers the user a stylish, well-constructed alternative to those phones, while also giving the user a high degree of functionality and the type of quality that one would associate with the Sony Ericsson brand. Of course, the Vivaz Pro comes with all the bells and whistles that a user of this class of mobile handset would demand. It packs a 5.1 megapixel camera, complete with video recording (up to 720p, which is impressive for such a small device.) The camera allows for face detection, as well as smile detection, and has an integrated image stabiliser, among other things. On the communication side, the Vivaz Pro comes with a variety of handy features, including video calling, and pre-installed Facebook and Twitter applications. SMS functionality is made possible by a small but effective QWERTY keyboard that slides out from behind the phone, but requires the user to turn the phone sideways. That’s not really a problem, because an auto-rotate function g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 • O c t o b e r 2 0 1 0


means that the on-screen display will always be the right way up. The screen also has touch functionality built in, for greater ease of use and versatility when web-browsing and other similar activities. As far as entertainment goes, this device offers the usual music playback, enhanced by a handful of applications like TrackID and PlayNow. Both MP3 and AAC music file formats can be used. Connectivity, other the traditional cellular means, is provided by WiFi, Bluetooth and aGPS functions. In fact, this list is far from exhaustive. The Vivaz Pro is a very feature rich device, and is perfect for those who want a functional, stylish phone, but who don’t want to descend into the inevitable “iPhone VS Blackberry” arguments that are all too popular these days. Aside from this functionality, the phone is beautifully designed, and is possessed of a solid feel. You won’t want to throw it around, but it feels like it could handle a bit of punishment. In a market that is thoroughly spoiled for choice, the Vivaz Pro is a good option – depending, of course, on the end-users tastes and needs. g g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 • O c t o b e r 2 0 1 0

AT A GLANCE: A great handset with less of a smart-phone feel and good internet functionality.

Score

77

Manufacturer: Sony Ericcson Distributor: Sony Ericcson Online: www.sonyericcson.com RRP: R4299 Tech Specs: • 3G • TFT touchscreen • QWERTY keyboard • Accelerometer • MicroSD card slot • 5.1 megapixel camera • 720p video recording

Pros: • Small • Light • Great screen Cons: • Seems a little fragile

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ASUS Xonar DG Soundcard

Sound Good Because it is...

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nce upon a time - when 3D graphics cards were still a twinkle in the technician’s eye - sound cards were all the rage. In those days (which weren’t all that long ago) a PC gamer’s bragging rights came from which sound card he was using. Things are different now, and the sound card has become an afterthought. Most sound requirements are now taken care of by systems built in to motherboards. But having a seperate sound card can have all kinds of advantages for the user, just like using a graphics card instead of onboard graphics. Not only does it free up performance from the system processor, but it also allows for better sound performance - which is vital in gaming. Asus’ Xonar DG provides excellent sound, with all the functionality a gamer could want. From automatic front and rear jack detection through to high definition audio, this card performs admirably. Excellent signal to noise ratios mean that the audio both input and output - are crystal clear, and a host of compatibilities make this card a winner. g

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by Walt Pretorius

AT A GLANCE: Great audio performance from this small, yet powerful sound card.

Score

78

Manufacturer: ASUS Distributor: ASUS Online: www.asus.com RRP: R390.00

Tech Specs: • GX 2.5 Gaming Engine • Smart Volume Normalizer • FlexBass • CMI8786 Processor

Pros: • Built -in Amp • 5.1 Headphone performance • Realistic 3D audio effects Cons: • Necessity?

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Windows®. Life without Walls™. HP recommends Windows 7.

Life is Your stAge. PerforM.

HP Mini Vivienne Tam & HP Pavilion dv6 with Windows® 7 operating system. The places you go, the people you see, the notebook you carry… Stand out with the hot new HP Mini Vivienne Tam, and get all the benefits of an ultra portable device. Or take centre stage with the HP Pavilion dv6, the ultimate combination of style and performance. Life moves fast, get connected at hp.co.za/paparazzi or find us on facebook.com/HP.S.Africa

©2010 Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P. All rights reserved. Microsoft, Windows and the Windows logo are trademarks of the Microsoft group of companies.


LG Network Blu-Ray Disc / DVD Player

Entertainment All-Rounder No, it doesn’t make coffee as well…

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onnectivity is king, these days. It seems that the idea of an integrated home network, including any device possible, is gaining a lot of steam with product manufacturers. And the idea is most prevalent in the entertainment arena. Why shouldn’t it be? Entertainment is a valuable pass-time to almost everyone, and is arguably one of the best ways to stay sane in this fast-paced world of ours. But having specific devices for specific tasks not only means that a lot of space is required… it also means that the user’s convenience levels are negatively affected. We saw it in office equipment a while ago, when unified devices became all the rage. The same is taking place in home entertainment. The idea of integrating home entertainment with home computer networks is growing steadily, and with new approaches to internet infrastructure offerings are making the idea more and more viable by the day. LG have adopted the idea completely with their Network Blu-Ray Disc / DVD Player. The name doesn’t quite say it all, but it does create a good idea of what this

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by Walt Pretorius

device is all about. This very well priced Blu-Ray player comes to the market with a whole bunch of extras. Not only does it deliver great Blu-Ray playback and an absolutely excellent performance for DVD watching, but it offers the user the ability to take home entertainment beyond the average disc-based formats. It has networking capabilities that allow it to be added to a home network, meaning that it not only has access to films stored on computer through DLNA PC streaming (which can be played via the family TV) but it also allows internet access for a variety of functions. Music playback is supported by GraceNote, for example, and Blu-Ray firmware upgrades are easy to get. NetCast entertainment access is also granted, allowing the user to view web-based photoalbums and even services like Accuweather right on their TV. This network connectivity can be achieved with an old fashioned LAN cable, or with the devce’s built-in wi-fi capabilities. The functionality doesn’t end there. The player also allows playback from portable media, like g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 • O c t o b e r 2 0 1 0


portable hard-drives, through a USB port. The device is a stylish addition to any entertainment set-up. The matt black box is fronted by a shiny coverplate, which allows the LCD display mounted behind it to shine through. The plate moves forward when the disc-tray is ejected, and can also manually be opened to reveal all the function buttons one needs to use the player. An eject and power button are also mounted at the top front of the device, for easy access to those functions. It also comes with an ‘almost universal’ remote… if you’re using an LG TV, it serves as a TV remote as well (we tested with an LG TV… whether the functions on the remote work with other TVs, we can’t say for sure.) The TV controls allow for power, volume, input and programme changes. With support for up 7.1 surround sound, using a number of sound systems (like DTS and Dolby) this player gives a great performance. The beautifully contoured remote and stylish appearance of the player itself are already bonuses – add to which the fact that it uses extremely little power for a device of this type. All in all, it’s a winner. g g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 • O c t o b e r 2 0 1 0

AT A GLANCE: A great device to serve as a home entertainment hub

Score

88

Manufacturer: LG Distributor: LG Online: www.lg.com RRP: R2599 (R2199 for non-wireless option) Tech Specs: • Blu-Ray player • 7.1 surround • Network connection • HD playback • USB port

Pros: • Very versatile • Excellent price • Wireless Option Cons: • Sometimes a bit sluggish

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Logitech Wireless Drum Controller (PS3)

Smashing! Get what you pay for...

by Brian Murdoch

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he Logitech Wireless Drum Controller has been around for a while now and has many aspects to it that are simply fantastic. While some companies will keep revising products to get rid of problems, this Logitech device came out right on its first release. Putting it together is so simple that instructions are not needed. Just take out the large frame, stand it up, put pieces in the correct slots and match the colours up with the right connection. Mobility is a problem because it is a bit bulky; all the little pieces will fit in a kit bag, but the big frame cannot be compressed or folded to be made any smaller. This might not be so bad if you have the space to leave it setup all the time, but will come to be a problem when packing it away. Each cymbal and drum pad is adjustable to a degree, so they can be changed for those real drummers that like their kit setup in a specific way… or if you just have long legs. The foot pedal, when compared to the Guitar Hero drums foot pedal, is superior and feels more like a bass pedal. It’s enclosed and this might be a problem if it starts acting up, but if it’s anything like the rest of the set, this will be nothing to worry about. The setup can be customised for Guitar Hero and Rock Band as three drum pads and two cymbals are required for Guitar Hero and 4 drum pads are required for Rock Band. With these drums a symbol will be needed as the fourth drum pad, but it beats using your Guitar Hero drums for Rock Band. There is an extra connection on the drum set but don’t try using this for an extra bass pedal… been there, done that. The adapter that comes with an extra bass pedal (or just an audio splitter) will still be required for double bass pedals. It was weird, at first, having two different pedals but soon I was rocking, just as I would on expert, to my favourite Metallica songs. This brings me to the performance and durability if the product because those Metallica songs are not kind to the drums or the drummer. Both score a sweet 10 out of 10 for that. I have broken countless Guitar Hero Drum kits (I don’t count anymore) but this kit looks to stand the test of Brian. I don’t know if it’s my style of drumming or the quality of the drums that come with Guitar Hero, but these look to be more solid. It is understandable that the cheaper set of drums will not last as long and if this Logitech set of drums came with every game, the game would be ridiculously expensive. The Logitech wireless Drum controller is the perfect upgrade that is needed before moving onto a real set of drums. Rock on! g

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AT A GLANCE: The drum set can be adjusted to fit your drumming style and will not break after 6 months of use.

Score

85

Manufacturer: Logitech Distributor: Logitech Online: www.logitech.com RRP: R3499 Tech Specs: • Fully Adjustable • PS3 Compatible (Xbox & Wii versions available) • Folds up • Steel pedal

Pros: • Tough (Brian proof) • Solid • Versatile • Quiet Cons: • More expensive • Not very portable

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ASUS CineVibe Rumble-Feedback USB Gaming Headset

Easy Street Plug & Play... what a great idea

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good headset is a boon for gamers, for a number of reasons. Sound is vitally important in games, naturally, and using a headset means that angry complaints from other people don’t become a problem. A good headset can also be deceptively difficult to find. There are a great many headsets out there, and the obvious move for most gamers is to go for the cheapest set that looks fairly decent. I did it myself a few times, but the truth is that each time the investment gave me exactly what I paid for – a cheap experience. On top of the importance of excellent sound delivery, the increasingly prominent need for a headset with a solid microphone also needs to be taken into consideration. A good headset, these days, is only as good as its microphone. Asus have a great solution in the form of the CineVibe headset. This stylish headphone and mic combo performs admirably, delivering excellent sound performance,

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by Walt Pretorius

whether coming in or going out. The quality of the headphone sound, particularly, is quite admirable, with excellent bass response matched by good quality highfrequency performance. The headset isn’t overly large, either, and is fairly easy to transport for those who wish to do so. The mic boom, which is flexible, stows neatly up alongside the headset’s main body, for those who want it out of the way. Another plus is that this is a USB device. Battling with lots of jacks, or worrying about having the right kind of sound-card, is not an issue. It quite simply is a plug and play device – as soon as you slot it into the USB port, drivers are automatically installed. A handy in-line volume control is also provided, which features buttons to increase and decrease volume, as well as a mic mute button. On the downside, the setting of volume takes a bit of getting used to… the buttons are a little alien in a world where most volume controls are g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 • O c t o b e r 2 0 1 0


taken care of by wheels. Also, the cord could have been a little more generous, but for desktop or notebook gaming, the length should be fine. Aside from the great sound quality, the CineVibe also features another special something: it has rumble feedback. To be quite honest, this can be a little disconcerting at first, but once the user gets used to the idea, the effect can enhance audio experiences greatly. Overall, the CineVibe is a very worthwhile headset. Initially they seem as though they might be a little uncomfortable, due to their slightly smaller earpiece size but, after a few protracted gaming sessions, we noticed no real difference in comfort when compared to larger earpieces. With great clarity, a beautiful design that has translated into a sturdy build, and absolutely wonderful ease-of-use make this a top-notch choice for a PC gaming sound solution. g g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 • O c t o b e r 2 0 1 0

AT A GLANCE: An excellent choice for great sound performance combined with ease of use.

Score

80

Manufacturer: ASUS Distributor: ASUS Online: www.asus.com RRP: +- R900.00 Tech Specs: • USB • Inline Volume Control • 30mm Speakers • Speakers 20Hz 20kHz • Mic 100Hz - 10kHz

Pros: • Rumble function • Flexible mic boom • Plug & play Cons: • Small ear pieces • Short cord • Volume buttons

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TomTom START Customized Blue Bulls GPS

Find the Rugby With the help of a Blue Bull

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he GPS market is one that is growing in very real leaps and bounds, meaning that there is plenty of space for the numerous devices we see in it. The Tomtom Start is an uncomplicated device, perfect for new entrants to the GPS market, or even those that don’t want an overly complicated device. The inut is even customisable, with different skins that can be applied. The unit we got to play with is a customised one, particularly put together for fans of the Blue Bulls Rugby team. It comes complete with voice instructions by Victor Matfield, Pierre Spies, Morné Steyn, Akona Ndungane and Francois Hougaard. Admittedly one would have to be a real Blue Bulls fan to put up with these guys telling you where to go, because they aren’t exactly the most eloquent voice artists. However, a whole bunch of other voices are available, just like any other Start unit. The Tomtom Start is an effective, uncluttered and easy-to-use GPS. It doesn’t have the functionality of some other GPSs out there, but it does the job. g

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by Alex Scanlon

AT A GLANCE: An uncomplicated and effective GPS... but some of the voices are just awful.

Score

70

Manufacturer: Tomtom Distributor: Tomtom Online: www.tomtom.com RRP: R1799 Tech Specs: • Quick GPS Fix • 3.5” Screen • Plug & Go • Car Charger • PIN Lock • Map Share • Blue Bulls Theme

Pros: • Uncomplicated • Accurate • Car Charger Cons: • Battery Life • Not feature rich • Some bad voices

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FRAGnStein / xScorch

Headshot!

Going for a more accurate kill

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hen making the cross-over from computer to console gaming, what most gamers struggle with are First Person Shooters. In PC gaming, aiming and shooting is done with the mouse, where as in console games, the aiming and shooting is done by using the analogue stick and usually the right trigger. Bannco aims to help gamers cross-over from PC to console gaming with the FRAGnStein controller for the PS3 and the xScorch for the Xbox360. Essentially the two products function in the same way, so we will be throwing both into this review. In short, the controllers consist of a standard mouse for aiming and shooting, and a grip controller for movement. The mouse, which was made predominantly with righthanders in mind, as the PS3’s circle, square, triangle and X on the side of the house, in exactly the same order as one would find them on the PS3 controller. (The same is true for the Xbox version.) The mouse can also be used on any PC, so it has two-in-one functionality. The grip controller fits comfortably in the left hand, with

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by Jimmy Glue

the one analogue stick within easy reach, and the D-pad just flush below it. The trigger button and bumper are in the same position as with a normal console controller. Setting up the wireless system is fairly easy, as it uses RF and all that gamers need to do is plug in the accompanying dongle into the PS3 and switch on both controllers. Here the FRAGnStein is the better controller of the two, as the xScorch for the Xbox360 will only operate with a standard wired Xbox controller. Wired controllers have become a bit on an antique, and since the PS3 version uses RF, why couldn’t Bannco do the same for the xScorch? But set-up niggles aside, the controllers will obviously need a flat surface for the mouse to move on, so it will be best to drag a small table to the television set. Once everything has been configured, playing games are as easy as just firing them up. The system will automatically detect the controllers and gamers will be popping head shots in no time. And we really mean no time – the smoothness is g l a d g e t h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 • O c t o b e r 2 0 1 0


incredible and the adjustable 2000 CPI makes things just so much more exciting. Speaking of adjustable, the mouse has 27 mouse speeds and a small dowloadable program will grant the gamer the ability to configure just about any button combination they wish. But no product is perfect and the controllers do have their down side. Unlike the standard gaming controllers, the FRAGnStein can’t power up the PS3 by pressing the PS button. The controller also doesn’t feature rumble feedback, which isn’t a big deal really, but it would have been nice. A small problem also crept up while pressing down on the mouse wheel (which functions as R3), as some degree of scrolling will occur. The FRAGnStein and xScorch are sturdy products that should stand the test of time, and prove to be hugely beneficial to any FPS (or any game, for that matter) fan. The system works well, and there will be a noticeable increase in accuracy, much to the annoyance of the fallen enemies. g

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AT A GLANCE: With the sturdy design and smooth operation, the controllers perform their duties well.

Score

76

Manufacturer: Bannco Distributor: Zaps Online: www.zaps.co.za RRP: R830 Tech Specs: • RF Wireless (PS3) • Firmware upgradable • Programmable • Full PS3/Xbox and PC support • 6 Axis motion (PS3) • Adjustable 2000 CPI

Pros: • Smooth • Very sturdy • Looks good Cons: • xScorch needs wired controller • A bit pricey

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Adobe Photoshop CS5 Extended

Definitive...

Euphemisms have to start somewhere... by Walt Pretorius

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efinitive isn’t a word that should be thrown around lightly. Many people like to use it, but there are very few instances where it is truly applicable. However, in rare cases, ‘definitive” is the only true way to describe something. And as far as Adobe’s Photoshop CS5 Extended is concerned, it really is the only word one could use. There are many photo-manipulation software packages out there, but Photoshop has set trends more often than not, setting it firmly as an industry leader. In fact, the name ‘Photoshop’ has become a euphemism for photomanipulation, much like the name “Google” has become one for internet searching, and “Hoover” became one for vacuum cleaners. That’s a pretty impressive achievement, when all is said and done, because Photoshop has some pretty tough competition out there. For those that somehow haven’t come across this software, or don’t know much about it, Photoshop is a bitmap based graphics program. That means that while it might not be good for vector graphics, like the legendary Freehand or CorelDRAW, Photoshop is designed for working with photographic and photographic-style

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images. And what a brilliant job it does. Photoshop CS5 Extended was released fairly recently, and brings a number of new ideas with it. These are mainly tweaks and alterations to tools, layout and the like. One of the biggest additions is the inclusion of a new Camera RAW system, which previously always had to be taken care of by a separate plug-in. This tool is invaluable to photographers who want to draw the most from their pictures using the RAW format, which can now be directly imported in Photoshop. While not all cameras are supported yet, the list is quite extensive, and takes all the bigger and more popular brands into account. The overall look of the program is very clean, compared to previous version. Adobe have opted to adjust the image of the whole CS5 suite (which we will review, bit by bit, over the next few months) towards a cleaner, more scientific appearance – with even program icons resembling elements on the periodic table, rather than the more arty ones they had before. But this new look and image shouldn’t fool anyone into thinking that CS5 is not a fantastic collection of programs to unleash the user’s creativity. And that can particularly be said for g l a d g e t s o f t wa r e • i s s u e 1 • O c t o b e r 2 0 1 0


Photoshop. With Photoshop virtually anything is possible – at least in terms of pictures. This programme really can make pigs fly, provided the user has the correct images to combine, a good knowledge of the program’s workings, and a healthy imagination. A good knowledge of Photoshop is essential. Purely using the program to tweak colours and brightness and contrast in photographs is a waste – there is Photoshop Elements for that, after all, and it is much cheaper than the very dearly priced CS5 package. Going into that knowledge in-depth is far too complex for this review (although we will be running photo-manipulation tutorials as part of our Photography section from next month, and will be giving a lot of attention to this product specifically). Suffice to say, for the meantime, that Photoshop will offer power-users, in photographic terms, everything they need, and various ways to achieve absolutely excellent results. In the digital age, Photoshop has become the dark-room for photographers, the studio for artists and a playground for the visually imaginative. If visuals are your thing, you cannot be without this program. g g l a d g e t s o f t wa r e • i s s u e 1 • O c t o b e r 2 0 1 0

AT A GLANCE: “Photoshop” is not a euphemism for photo-manipulation for nothing, you know…

Score

95

Manufacturer: Adobe Distributor: Adobe Online: www.adobe.com RRP: R9999 Requirements: • 1GB RAM • 1GB HDD • 1024x768 display • Pentium 4 / Athlon 64 • Win XP / Vista / 7

Pros: • Very powerful • New features Cons: • Very expensive • Needs good program knowledge

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Halo: Reach

Why Halo Again We were promised that 3 would be the last. Thank goodness it is not.

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ho stood in line for Halo 3, back in 2008? I wasn’t there. No sir. Standing in line is for diehard fans and dorks. Me? I just walked into my local game shop at 10-past-midnight and asked for a copy of the game over the counter. You see, our South African gaming community is still young. It has been deprived of many good games and consoles, and the sense of camaraderie is not quite there, yet. In the US, gamers queue around the block. Here we’ll have 100 guys mobbing around the entrance of whichever store even dares open its doors for a midnight launch. Despite these things, Halo: Reach was still highly anticipated. I didn’t finish the first game. I had it on PC and hated the first ten minutes. Thankfully I didn’t have to review it. The second was given a skip and when I got an Xbox 360 I never thought I’d get into a Halo game. Yet I did. The hype around 3 was all I needed to get suckered in and my American friends on Xbox Live were very

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by Richard Bingham

accommodating when it came to explaining why it was so popular. Thankfully, Halo Reach might fill in some of the gaps in the Halo storyline. While the first, second and third games focused on the exploits of Master Chief, Reach is actually set before the events of the first game. It details the circumstances leading up to the Covenant invasion and the start of the interstellar war. Gamers take control of Noble 6, a faceless newcomer in Noble team, the Spartan outfit that were first to face the alien enemy. The story isn’t complicated and there aren’t any dramatic twists, but it’s emotive enough to engage even those who never played the first games. If you care about the Halo universe, the Reach story will leave you very satisfied. If you just want another action shooter, the fantastic campaign missions will more than make up for what you might be missing out on the plot front. Play it on heroic difficulty, the one Bungie says the

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game was design to be played on, and you’re in for a real fight. Remember, you’re not controlling Master Chief, the super-soldier. More powerful enemies can take you down in a single blow and a few grunts can really make your day a hassle. Sometimes Reach can be a run-andgun funstravaganza. Other times this approach, on heroic or legendary difficulty, will make you want to put a 360 controller through your TV. Slow things down, take a more calculated approach and find a flaw in the enemy’s attack plan. You will be rewarded. Since you’re part of a squad, you’ll often be helped by AI teammates. They can be really freaking dumb in situations where you need them the most, but for the most part they do their job, plus their presence makes more sense when you’re playing four-player co-op on Xbox Live. Another element enhancing the campaign experience is armour abilities. Previous Halo games had one-time-use pickups that

gladget video game • issue 1 • October 2010

could be used to deploy a shield or drain power, but these have been replaced by reusable abilities in your armour. Each ability can be used to life-saving or enemykilling effect. One of them lets you sprint. Another will let you go into an armour lock for a few seconds - useful for absorbing big hits from tanks or powerful enemies. Another gives you active camo. Each has a drawback, but used cleverly they are effective against both enemies in campaign or humans in multiplayer. That is ultimately what a Halo game is all about, though. The multiplayer. Reach is, for lack of a more superlative term, the best multiplayer experience on any console, ever. Xbox Live has long been my favourite choice for gaming online, simply because it gave easy access to my friends and voice chat was ubiquitous. In comparison to Reach, the Xbox guide front-end seems archaic. Right there, from the main menu, Reach shows you which of your friends are online, and what they’re playing. You don’t go into a menu

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or anything – simply highlight their name and you can join their party, or drop into their campaign and help them in co-op. Multiplayer is more varied than ever, with FireFight – waves of AI against you and your mates – proving to be more polished than it was in ODST. Even the netcode has improved, but don’t expect a lag-free experience with your overseas friends. Most impressive in the multiplayer is Forge World. Bungie effectively added a rudimentary version of its level-editing tools to Halo Reach, and Forge World is a huge seven-part map that will make for the most epic multiplayer battles in gaming history. It’s so large, a sniper rifle at full zoom still leaves your enemy as just a speck on the screen. Zooming around in one of the flying vehicles really gives a sense of how large it is, and in edit mode there are a ton of objects to place, helping create great set pieces for online combat. It is very ambitious. But it works so well, it’s almost hard to believe. It is telling, then, that Reach makes the most of the Xbox’s capabilities. It is a truly gorgeous piece of interactive entertainment. Halo 3 was colourful and bright, with an art style that felt almost cartoony. Reach is dark and grim, befitting of the desperation conveyed by its fight-for-humanity plot. From the opening scenes, with the camera panning across bits of space, planets and landscapes, to the character models and the backdrops for the wide-open battlefields – everything is awe-inspiring. Bungie has gone all-out on this, its last Halo game, and some of the developer previews even mentioned how one of the rifle models in the game now has three times more polygons than the marine characters in Halo 3. That’s a lot of detail and hard work. The musical score is superb, too… a Halo tradition. Weapon sounds and effects have also been revised. Emptying a clip using the standard-issue assault rifle feels a lot more “bang bang” than “pew pew”. This is war, and you know all about it. In many ways this is Halo, and it’s great. But the ways in which it is a new kind of Halo are the best bits. The solid campaign, gorgeous graphics and slickest multiplayer ever make it a great last hurrah from Bungie. The next Halo game will be from 343 Industries, a new Microsoft division, while the now-independent Bungie moves on to new things. It has left its mark, though, and won’t soon be forgotten for its contributions. g

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Play it for the great campaign, but really invest in an Xbox Live account to get the most from Reach. Developer: Bungie Publisher: Microsoft Distributor: Microsoft

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

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Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

X360 Platforms

AT A GLANCE:

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

95 69


The PlayStation Field Comparing ‘Phat’ and Slim

Same Difference

by Brian Murdoch

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ere in the Same Difference section I’ll be taking two pieces of hardware, ideas, or technologies and comparing them to each other. I will be doing research on them and providing you, the reader, with facts and understanding about them. I will throw in some interesting facts in too… maybe even a little humour. Now on to this month’s comparison. What is the difference between the so-called ‘Phat’ PS3 and the Slim PS3? Is there a real difference? How do you know which model you have, and what its features are? The ‘Phat’ came out in a few different models not easily distinguished, other than by hard drive size; 20, 40, 60 80 or 160GB. Small things like the colour shading, number of USB ports and whether or not the unit had a flap to cover the card readers were the only small differences, and one

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needed to look for them. The PS2 backwards compatibility was slowly removed to make the console “cheaper” to make, as Sony was technically making a loss on each console sold (a common practice in the video game industry, because console sales drive game sales, where the big bucks are). If you have a “big” PS3 and bought it a long time ago, or have recently acquired one through a “friend” and don’t know if it is backwards compatible, you can refer to the chart on the next page. In comparing the ‘Phat’ and Slim, I have been noting some of the experience differences between the two. I have loaned a few ‘Phat’s and have now only settled with the Slim. I still have friends with ‘Phat’s and will often loan them to do promotions. I saw some impressive differences on the Megarom stand at rAge this year, where gladget regular • issue 1 • October 2010


we had Assassins Creed Brotherhood on 6 Playstation 3s. There were 3 development Slim PS3s and 3 development ‘Phat’ PS3s, all put on a chipboard shelf and plugged into 32” Samsung screens. Over 3 days of being on and experiencing a few power failures, 2 of the Slims often hung or froze, requiring them to be turned off and restarted. The Slims seemed to be generating the most heat. I believe both builds would create the same amount of heat but the Slim seems to push out more hot air, heating up anything behind it… including the HDMI cable, that will fry your fingers if held for too long. Is there a speed improvement in load times or game time? No. If you try a speed test you might see some differences, but those might come up even if you tested two consoles of the same model. Things like age and space gladget regular • issue 1 • October 2010

on the hard drive affect performance and, in the end, the game time is programed so that it will play at the same speed regardless. You will, however, notice the difference in movies when playing a DVD and Blu-ray on the same PS3 models. We tested this once in the office and the DVD actually runs a little faster… but this can only be noticed when having the screens next to each other. Some people have gone to great lengths to find out big differences between the two but only the small things have come up. In the end both consoles will play your PlayStation 3 games to the best of their ability as the core features that process these games have not changed much. So be happy with your PS3… the grass is not greener on the other size. g

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PS3 ‘Phat’ HDD Sizes: 20, 40, 60, 80, 160GB Dimensions: 325 x 98 x 274 Buttons: Pressure sensitive Power Consumption: 280W – 380W Power Inlet: standard kettle cable Heat: Hotter inside and fanned out.

PS3 Slim HDD Sizes: 120, 160, 250, 320GB (easily upgradable) Dimensions: 290 x 65 x 290 (It’s Square) Buttons: normal ones that can get stuck when old Power Consumption: 250W Power Inlet: standard 2 prong power cord Heat: Hotter outside at the back.

HDD Model Cap. Number 250GB CECH-2101B 120GB CECH-2101A 250GB CECH-2001B 120GB CECH-2001A 160GB CECHP01 80GB CECHL01 80GB CECHK01 80GB CECHE01 60GB CECHA01 40GB CECHH01 40GB CECHG01 20GB CECHB01

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USB Back Release Ports Comp. Date 2 No May 2010 2 No May 2010 2 No Nov 2009 2 No Sep 2009 2 No Nov 2008 2 No Oct 2008 2 No Aug 2008 4 Yes Aug 2007 4 Yes Nov 2006 2 No Mar 2008 2 No Nov 2007 4 Yes Nov 2006

gladget regular • issue 1 • October 2010


Where in the World? How GPS technology works

Inner Workings

by Jimmy Glue

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e have made many in-roads since reading maps, whipping out a compass or asking for directions at the next rest stop, and it’s almost hard to imagine that’s how we got around for a very long time. Planning a road trip involved some meticulous measurements and hours of research for the best possible way – that was until the first GPS, or Global Positioning System, became commercially available in the late 1990’s. But how does it all work? Well, first we need to get the terminology right. When people refer to a GPS, they usually mean a GPS receiver, i.e. a Garmin or TomTom handset. The Global Positioning System is actually a network of 24 Earth-orbiting satellites (24 in operation and three extras in case one fails) developed by the US military. These satellites weigh around 1360kg each and orbit the Earth at an altitude of roughly 19,300 km, making two passes around the Earth every day. The orbits are so

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arranged that at anytime, anywhere on Earth, there are at least four satellites “visible” in the sky. In lay man’s terms, the GPS receiver tries to locate four or more of these satellites’ broadcasts, figure out the distance to each, and uses this information to deduce its own latitude, longitude, and altitude. This is based on a mathematical principle called trilateration. In simplified language, it’s a question of the GPS receiver being blind, and asking any four or more satellites to tell it where it is – in relation to their position in space. The GPS receiver, in more technical terms, calculates its own position by precisely timing the signals broadcast by GPS satellites. Each of the 24 satellites constantly broadcast these messages, and includes the time the message was transmitted, the precise orbital information, and the general system health and rough orbits of all the other GPS satellites. Many GPS receivers also calculate direction and speed, gladget regular • issue 1 • October 2010


The GPSIIF1 rocket carries a new GPS satellite into space gladget regular • issue 1 • October 2010

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and do so by working out the distance travelled and how long it took to get there, by interpreting the broadcasted signals. The GPS is broken down into three parts: the space segment, the control segment, and the user segment. The space and control segments are developed, maintained and operated by the U.S. Air Force, while the user segment is made up by millions of civilian, commercial, and scientific users of the Standard Positioning Service. Although the technology is highly sophisticated, it can occasionally get things wrong. In order to work properly, it needs four satellites. Sometimes, due to heavy cloud cover or an obstructed view, the receiver can only pick up three signals, leading to a very small clock error. Multiply that by the speed of light, and a large positional error will occur. And where did it all start? As with most things technological, the GPS was created and developed by the U.S. Department of Defence in

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1973 in order to overcome the then-current navigation system problems. Just out of interest, the whole GPS is maintained by the US government, including the satellites and access for civilian use. We mention access for civilian use, as since the system was developed in 1973, it was used strictly by the US military. Needless to say, the civilian use was soon realised, and in 1996 U.S. President Bill Clinton recognised the importance of GPS to civilian users as well as the military, and issued a policy directive declaring GPS to be a dual-use system. Since the increased growth in GPS popularity, many companies have developed different receivers for specific purposes including running, cycling, hiking, and fishing and of course vehicles and motorbikes. The use of the technology has grown so much, that it can even be found in pc and mobile phones – making tracking of these objects possible. g

gladget regular • issue 1 • October 2010


Betamaxed! How Sony lost the video-tape war

Dead End

by Alex Scanlon

B

eing the best isn’t always a guarantee of victory. Sometimes, just being the smartest is enough. And in this world, often being smart comes down to great marketing and a good price, rather than offering the best product. A prime example of this is our chosen subject matter for this Dead End Tech section this month. It was a product that came to the market as an almost entirely better technology than any of its competitors, but its drive for top quality rather than affordability saw it hit a brick wall, while its major rival streaked ahead to success. We are talking, of course, about Sony Betamax. Back in the day (not that long ago, actually) home movies and video applications were not disc or PC based. They made use of magnetic tape, a lamentably degradable substance that was pretty high-tech at the time, nonethe-less. The tape was stored inside video cassettes, and what really made the idea special was the idea of the video

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recorder – a device that could be used to play back and record onto these tapes. While there were other entrants in the race for the VCR (video cassette recorder) market, they soon fell by the wayside as giants JVC and Sony took up the challenge of producing a product for the masses. The bickering between the two formats started in the mid 1970s, which was when the “format war” officially started. While Betamax offered higher quality, it came down to other factors in determining the winner of this battle. The first issue was pricing. Betamax VCRs were much pricier than their VHS equivalents, which kept them out of reach of many would-be users. Additionally, many VHS brands (because JVC licensed many manufacturers to use their technology, while Sony remained exclusive with Betamax) were available for rental. Sure, technology didn’t advance quite like it does these days, but even back gladget regular • issue 1 • October 2010


then people were aware of the fact that these machines would become obsolete in time, and renting proved successful for that reason. Those that bought VCRs befitted from the price war that JVC themselves instigated among manufacturers of VHS devices. Because of the competition, prices were driven even lower, leaving Sony with little room to manoeuvre as far as price tags were concerned. Another aspect that put paid to Betamax was recording time. This was particularly true in NTSC regions, were the original machines could only provide the user with an hour of recording time. Not only did this mean that many programmes couldn’t be recorded, but the access that Hollywood had to distributing films to a burgeoning home entertainment market was restricted to VHS (at least, initially) who’s 2 hour cassettes allowed the industry to flourish. The time issue sparked another race, but VHS always gladget regular • issue 1 • October 2010

seemed a step ahead. At the end of it, when Betamax offered a tape with five hours of recording time, VHS offered one that could record ten hours. In 1988, Sony began producing their own VHS machines. Betamax had lost the race. The format was all but dead in Europe and the US, and support for territories where it was still present (like parts of Japan and South America) ended in 2002. Sony’s assumptions about what the public wanted were wrong, and they lead to the demise of the format for the most part. However, Betamax’s legacy have left us with two things. The first is the Betacam tape, which rose to be an industry definer in filming, and is still in some use today, although it is being replaced by digital formats. And the second? A slang term, “betamaxed”, which is used to describe something that had a short shelf life and was quickly replaced by the competition. g

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Gladget Magazine October 2010  

Gladget Magazine October 2010 (Volume 1, Issue 1)

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