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Why Invest in a GPS? Getting back to basics with personal navigation
Free Calling Using VOIP – Skype, Fring, Viber and more
Game On! Great accessories to enhance your gaming
What is ePrinting? Learn about HP’s wireless technology wonder
Retro Studio How to convert your vinyls to MP3
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hether you rely on the TomTom iPhone app, use Nokia Drive on your new Windows Phone, have a standalone GPS directing you through the traffic, or are a fan of Google Maps, it’s hard to imagine life without the assistance of a virtual navigation device. With so many to choose from, we’re going back to basics (see page 10) with the device that does so much more than answer the question, “Where am I?”. Phoning friends and family overseas is no longer an expensive affair thanks to VOIP technology. Who doesn’t use Skype to make free calls using the Internet nowadays? With so many options for free calls, in this issue (page 18), Christo talks about Fring, Viber, Nimbuzz and the virtues of VOIP. Gaming is no longer a “nerds-only” activity thanks to innovative devices like the Xbox Kinect, which supports motion and voice controls. Why not ditch your gym contract and exercise at home, or let your family explore Disneyland virtually? If you’re looking to enhance your overall gaming experience, we’ve rounded up (see page 22) some essential extras for every console. And for a bit of a retro revival, we also have a handy how-to on converting old vinyls to MP3 format – see page 28 for more details. We hope you enjoy the issue. Keep Connect-ed. Tiana EDITOR
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in the news... Mandela archive goes live on the web The new Nelson Mandela Digital Archive is now live on the web, freely accessible to the global public. Along with historians, educationalists, researchers and activists, users from around the world now have access to extensive information about the life and legacy of this extraordinary African statesman. The new online multimedia archive includes Mandela’s correspondence with family, comrades and friends, diaries written during his 27 years of imprisonment, and notes he made while leading the negotiations that ended apartheid in South Africa. The archive will also include the earliest-known photograph of Mandela, rare images of his cell on Robben Island in the 1970s, and never-seen drafts of Mandela’s manuscripts for the sequel to his autobiography “Long Walk to Freedom.” The Nelson Mandela Digital Archive project is an initiative by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory and the Google Cultural Institute. With a team of dedicated Googlers around the world, the Cultural Institute builds tools to preserve cultural heritage and make it accessible worldwide. Other projects include showcasing the Dead Sea Scrolls and the digitisation of the the Yad Vashem Holocaust materials. > To start exploring the Nelson Mandela archive visit: http://archive.nelsonmandela.org
App of the Month: Angry Birds Space
Pull back your slingshot and release! Is there anyone out there who hasn’t played Angry Birds yet? If your pig-crushing is getting a little boring, you’re going to love Angry Birds: Space, the colourful new sequel that sees player’s shooting off birds into the galaxy and beyond. With new, themed levels that have been thoughtfully designed, it’s a sci-fi adventure that adds gravity into the gameplay. You’ll need some skill and planning to finish this must-play puzzler with an interstellar twist. Rating: 5 Stars Price: 0.99$ (iPhone), 1.99$ (iPad), R7.84 (Android – Premium Edition)
African rock paintings go online Anyone around the world who is interested in African artistic heritage can now explore dozens of rock art images from five different community-run tourism sites, including those in Giant’s Castle Nature Reserve and Kamberg Nature Reserve. Virtual visitors can also view over 50 works from the SANG collection by renowned South African. The SANG collection also includes photographs of cultural artefacts such as beaded aprons, headrests, and engraved cattle horns, some of which date to the 19th century. Thanks to Google, art lovers are able - with a few simple clicks of their fingers - to discover not just paintings, but also sculptures, street art, and photographs. “We are delighted to be the first African art museum to be invited to participate in the cutting-edge Google Art Project initiative,” said Riason Naidoo, Director of the South African National Gallery. “Making our art accessible over the Internet means that so many more people across South Africa and globally can now enjoy a selection of the artworks in the Iziko South African National Gallery permanent collection. It is a great opportunity to promote our country’s most renowned pieces of art.” > Go to: http://www.googleartproject.com/ for more information
6 | connect | MAY 2012
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techno jargon // by Deon Du Plessis
8 | connect | May 2012
In IT terms, a developer is someone who creates software for a living, and anyone calling themselves a developer could be doing anything from programming, to designing, to creating digital art for a project.
If you were to look behind the TV cabinet of the average home, more often than not you’d see a big mess and tangle of cables and plugs. This is what we call cable clutter, and eliminating it – or at least managing it effectively – is highly recommended.
Will we ever run out of words to de-jargonise? We hope not! Check out this month’s selection; you’ll find many of them in the reviews section.
An aggregator is a Website on the Internet that collects information on different subjects from various sources, and presents it to the user. As an example, Pricecheck. co.za is considered an aggregator as it scours the Internet for product information from various online stores, allowing anyone to look up where products are available, and at what price.
Carl Zeiss Lens
The plastic that surrounds modern screens is called a bezel. That includes TVs, computer monitors, and tablets.
Carl Zeiss was an “optical device maker” who lived in the 19th century. He made significant contributions to lensmanufacturing technology, before there were cameras to use them in. His first lenses found use in microscopes. Then, once cameras had been invented, he made lenses for them. Today, Carl Zeiss lenses are some of the best in the world and products that use them are typically of high quality.
Office Suite This is definitely not a collection of furniture designed to decorate an office. Rather, an Office Suite is a collection of software packages that allow the creation and management of e-mails, presentations, spreadsheets, general documents and other tasks that help improve the productivity of a business.
When a product has a “stereo microphone” component, there are actually 2 microphones embedded in its design somewhere. In the case of the C920 webcam that we review on page 45, having 2 microphones enhances the camera’s audio quality by using 1 of the 2 to record and remove background noise.
Video Compression Algorithm An algorithm is a set of rules used in calculations. A video compression algorithm is a set of rules that a computer follows to turn raw video footage into data that can then be saved to a file.
VoIP/Voice over IP A “Voice over IP” solution is the use of a computer network to transmit voice data using specially-designed VoIP phones and a computer network instead of Telkom landlines.
Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR is an enhancement to the original Bluetooth specification that featured improvements in the security and pairing capabilities of Bluetooth devices equipped with it. It dramatically reduced the technology’s power consumption and enabled automatic pairing of devices (once they had been paired a first time).
www.connectmag.co.za | 9
back to basics //by Deon du Plessis
GPS technology has come a long way since the 1990s. We take a look at it, and highlight some of the features that make GPS receivers so essential to modern-day travel.
10 | connect | MAY 2012
he navigation device you might have in your car, or embedded in your phone, is just a receiver for information broadcast by the Global Positioning Satellite network, also called the Global Positioning System (GPS). It uses that information to locate your position on Planet Earth, and then does such helpful things as get you from point A to point B without getting you lost. The origins of GPS technology lie with the US military. In the 1970s, they developed and launched a network of satellites that had the ability to track the positions and movements of all military ships, planes and ground units, no matter where they were on the planet. It was only in the late 1980s that they allowed public access to this network, which sparked the GPS industry we know today.
How does it work? Today’s GPS devices use the radio signals broadcast from this satellite network to determine their latitude, longitude and height. In mathematical terms, these are known as X, Y and Z co-ordinates, and when used with a model of the Earth that has been mapped using these co-ordinates, it’s possible to calculate exactly where and how high above sea level a GPS receiver is. There are currently 29 GPS satellites orbiting the Earth, 20 000km above the planet’s surface, travelling at a speed of 12 000km per hour, fast enough to orbit the Earth twice in a 24-hour period. Of the 29 satellites, 24 form the core network, with 5 extras that serve as backups in case of hardware failure, so that a minimum of 4 satellites are “visible” from any point on the planet’s surface at any given time.
Trilateration While we try to steer clear of unnecessary jargon in Connect, this complicatedsounding word is needed to explain just how a GPS device works out where it is. Trilateration is a mathematical term for a calculation that uses at least 3 separate positions to determine the location of a 4th point. In this case, the 3 positions used are those of the satellites, and the 4th is the GPS device. Having 4 satellites visible when only 3 are strictly necessary simply serves to give the resulting calculation greater accuracy. Each satellite’s orbit is programmed such that every one of them knows exactly where the others are, and where they are going to be at any point in time. For such a high degree of accuracy, each satellite is equipped with an atomic clock – a device capable of the most accurate time measurement mankind is capable of. This position and timing information is useful because a GPS receiver – the device you find on store shelves – uses the radio signals sent out by the satellites containing that information to find out how far away each one is. That signal takes between 65ms and 85ms to travel from the GPS satellite to the device. Once received, the GPS receiver uses that information to perform the trilateration calculation that produces its final position in that moment. That result is then combined with highly-detailed mapping information to give the end-user a visual representation of exactly where they are located.
GPS data is only the beginning As amazing as this capability is, it’s the extras on any given GPS device that sell it. These range from live traffic updates, to a choice between guidance voices, to the depth of information available through the device, like points of interest, access to emergency services and others. Let’s take a look at each of these, and explain how they work. www.connectmag.co.za | 11
back to basics Hands-free calling In today’s cellphone-driven world, hands-free calling is an essential feature on any GPS unit. By connecting your phone to the GPS wirelessly using Bluetooth technology, you can speak to callers without holding the phone to your ear. Most GPS devices sold today come standard with this functionality.
Intelligent Routing Smart navigation device companies have accumulated a huge amount of data, gathered by monitoring the movements of their devices over the years. They’ve used this information to establish interesting things like average speeds on roads and how congested roads are at certain times, and used that data to establish how long a trip might take by taking the time of day into account. That makes it possible for devices that don’t have traffic services to accurately predict trip times, barring unexpected traffic snafus.
Traffic Today’s advanced GPS devices receive traffic information from various sources in real time, and can take that into consideration when planning a route. Some companies charge an annual fee for the service (the first year is free with the device), and while the extra R500 or so that it costs might seem a little steep, once you’ve been spared the delay caused by an accident, the service proves its worth. Not all companies charge for this, however, so keep an eye out for devices that give you free traffic updates for life.
When an emergency situation comes up, it’s nice to know that most recently-made GPS devices have built-in access to emergency numbers and information on the location of the nearest emergency services. Some even have a First Aid guide.
A central feature of any GPS is its ability to give you verbal directions so that your attention is on the road, and not on the device. While some might consider the ability to change the default voice somewhat gimmicky, it is, in fact, a central selling point for some GPS companies. It’s actually a rather cool way to personalise the GPS, as it’s now possible to choose the voice of a favourite character from a TV show or movie, depending on the GPS you buy.
Points of Interest
Mapping information is about more than just where you happen to be. Modern GPS design includes handy “Points of Interest” that tell you what is around you. Find restaurants, shopping centres, car service centres and much more by consulting the POI information on your navigation device.
The modern-day GPS is now so much more than just a navigation aid, it’s a complete “Where am I and what’s around me?” tool, and one of the most useful inventions ever made. It’s also the perfect solution for significant others who have a tendency to get lost while insisting they know exactly where they are. That alone makes the GPS worth its weight in gold.
12 | connect | MAY 2012
GET THE PICTURE WHETHER you’re printing materials for a school project, making hardcopies of the photographs you took on your recent family holiday or creating impactful business documents that will leave a professional and lasting impression on your clients, you want a printer that’s able to strike the perfect balance between high-quality imagery, efficient running costs and features that simplify your life. Finding that balance is what Epson’s range of printing solutions is all about. That’s why the company has a brand that is synonymous with customer satisfaction, and a proud heritage of producing well respected products.
OFFICE PRINTING: INCREASE THE OUTPUT, LOWER THE COSTS Business printing isn’t just about the speed offered by laser printers any more. Ink-based printing has caught up on all fronts and is today challenging laser for the crown of most preferred print solution. Epson’s Stylus Office range sweetens the deal with fourin-one simplicity (printing, scanning, copying and faxing) without an increased footprint while offering cost saving features and great reliability. Cost saving features include the inherent lower running costs of Epson’s modern ink-based units, as well as doublesided printing, which can reduce your business’s paper consumption buy as much as 50%. A larger capacity frontloading tray, which mean you spend less time reloading the printer with paper in between prints. Then there’s the fact that the Stylus Office range makes use of Epson DURABrite inks that are longer lasting, great quality and available in separate colour cartridges, meaning there’s no wasted ink when consumables are replaced. Add Ethernet and WiFi networking connectivity to the mix and you’ve got the ability to have your whole office printing, scanning and copying needs met by one single device. Now, round things out with the fact that the Stylus Office range also supports ‘Epson Connect’ and you and your staff will truly be able to embrace the smartphone and tablet revolution, by being able to print from these devices.
BUSINESS PRINTING: EVERYTHING IN ITS RIGHT PLACE Epson’s WorkForce Pro range is designed to offer a 50% lower cost per page and faster printing than a comparative laser printer. Add double-sided printing to the mix and magically, the WorkForce Pro is twice as fast as its nearest leading competitor. It’s not just about the raw cost savings on the printing front. The WorkForce Pro is also 80% more energy conscious than a competitive laser printer saving your pocket and the environment. These business machines offer the same benefits of Epson’s DURABrite inks, such as superior colour fastness, instant drying and separate cartridges for each colour, but do so in a high-yield package that can produce up to 2400 pages (or more) on a single set of consumables. USB 2.0 and WiFi connectivity, as well as the innovative ‘Epson Connect’ smartphone and tablet printing functionality rounds the value proposition out beautifully, creating a product line that is serious about business satisfaction.
IN THE HOME: CUT THE NONSENSE, FOCUS ON QUALITY Printing and scanning in the home isn’t the most complex of pursuits. But, quality, reliability, cost-efficiency and ease of use are still of paramount importance to users in this environment. And thankfully, Epson’s Stylus range of inkjet printers, photo printers, small-inone (smaller all-in-one) and wirelessly networkable all-in-ones are designed to offer the best of all worlds. On the quality front, Epson’s DURABrite inks produce bright, crisp and clean text documents and colour prints, while at the same time exceeding the quality you’d normally get from a laboratory when working with photos. When it comes to reliability, Epson’s ink’s carry the DURABrite moniker because
they’re longer lasting, quick drying and able to last more than 200 years in a photo album. These inks have been designed for maximum efficiency and come in four separate colours, you get the most bang for your buck and only need to replace each colour as it runs out. That’s great cost-efficiency. Looking lastly at ease of use, Wireless networking on some models of Stylus makes it possible for you to print from anywhere in your home. But, that’s not all. Using ‘Epson Connect’ a feature that’s bundled with all networked Stylus printers, you can quickly and easily print photos and documents from your smartphone or tablet PC.
MICRO PIEZO – THE TECHNOLOGY DIFFERENCE Micro Piezo technology is the ‘magic’ inside Epson’s print heads and one of its strongest differentiators in the printer space. Like most ink-based printers, Epson’s technology works by deploying tiny droplets of ink through miniscule holes in the print head and ultimately depositing them on a blank page. Unlike the more common way of doing this however, which entails heating the ink (and in turn making it expand to the point where it’s forced through the print head), Micro Piezo technology relies on mechanical pressure to move the ink through the print head. This is not only responsible for the superb print quality, colour and clarity at high speeds Epson’s printers are able to produce, it enables Epson’s printers to use ink very efficiently and place ink droplets with amazing accuracy, thereby preventing wasted paper and minimising impact on the environment.
WIN WITH EPSON Purchase any Epson product at Incredible Connection before the 31st of July 2012, SMS the invoice number to 37766 (R1.50 per SMS) and you could win an all expenses paid, two-night trip for two to see Manchester United play at Old Trafford. For more information visit www.epson.co.za/ incredibleconnection. T&Cs apply. This competition is open to anyone in the Republic of South Africa, Namibia and Botswana, except agents and employees and their families of EPSON, Maplanga Africa Advertising as well as staff participating at Incredible Connection outlets • The prize is not redeemable for cash • You may enter as many times as you like, provided each entry has an original proof of purchase (till slip or tax invoice) with the corresponding serial number or code • The lucky draw prizewinners will be notified by telephone no later than August 2012. • The closing date for the competition is 31 July 2012 • The judge’s decision is final and no correspondence will be considered • SMS to be charged at R1.50 per SMS.
virtual voice calls //by Christo van Gemert
18 | connect | May 2012
Voice over IP technology has come a long way since it became a household technology, thanks to Skype. Nowadays, there are many options available to make cheap, or free, phone calls via the Internet.
efore Skype went into a beta phase in 2003, there were limited ways to make voice calls from your computer. Today, thankfully, there’s a lot of choice. You can have specific voice services on each of your devices: smartphones have different Voice over IP (VoIP) clients available; Windows computers and Macs have different services available to them, and even entire inter-office phone systems can run on Voice over IP.
The basics of VoIP VoIP calls from your computer or smartphone completely bypass the existing telephone infrastructure. Instead, your calls are routed through the Internet and, depending on which service you’re using, the call can be either free or very cheap. For instance, Skype offers the choice of making a call to another Skype user, for free, or making a call to a landline or mobile number for a low price (the exact prices vary per region, but generally work out to less than R1 per minute). It’s best to have a look at the rates charged by the VoIP service you use, just to double-check what you’ll be paying for the calls. It’s not uncommon to get services that don’t offer any external voice calls at all. Many of the mobile clients will only have free device-to-device calls, using Wi-Fi or 3G data.
Quick tip Voice over IP means exactly that: a voice (call) being carried over Internet Protocol. It’s a digital phonecall that uses the Internet, rather than regular phone circuitry.
www.connectmag.co.za | 19
virtual voice calls
Who to use The list of VoIP providers has grown significantly over the past few years. Skype is the biggest name, because it was the first commercial service to offer VoIP calls, but there are a number of other providers. Viber (www.viber.com) is a network that provides VoIP calls for Android and Apple smartphones, and offers users free calls between Viber users, as long as there is data connectivity through either wireless or 3G. Similar services include Nimbuzz (www.nimbuzz.com), Vbuzzer (www.vbuzzer.com), and Fring (www.fring. com), all of which run on both Android and Apple phones, with some supporting Mac and PC desktop clients. Nimbuzz is available on even more devices, including older Nokia phones. Quick tip Try to stick to one VoIP service, since there’s no inter-networking. For instance, a Viber user cannot call a Nimbuzz user. Some of the mobile clients also don’t have desktop equivalents.
All the extras
Skype, having been around the longest, has a fully-featured portfolio. The SkypeOut service lets you call from your PC to landlines or mobile phones. SkypeIn actually gives your PC a phone number that regular phones can dial. There are also voicemail and video chat services. Very few of the other providers have these features, but there are standalone offerings for video chats. Apple has its Facetime service, supported on Mac computers, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPod Touch, and iPad 2. This is a video chat service that works very well across all the supported devices, but it’s for Apple users only. Of course, video chats chew up bandwidth and require a faster Internet connection. Google Voice, although not available in South Africa, also offers extra features such as voicemail, calls to landlines and a VoIP phone number. Google hasn’t said whether we’ll get these services in South Africa, but that decision would come down to the telecoms governing bodies allowing it to be offered.
Placing or taking a VoIP call doesn’t use a lot of bandwidth. In fact, an hour-long phone call will use less than 60MB of data. The important part is making sure you have enough bandwidth – or speed – for the call quality to remain high. Thankfully, the requirements aren’t extraordinary. Skype was designed to work just fine over a 56K modem, but you’ll need a bit more than that now. A 384Kbit/s home connection is perfect for VoIP calls using any provider, and will only prove to be limiting if you start using video call services. If you’re intending to use video call functionality, it’s best to get a faster Internet connection – 512Kbit/s will suffice, but ideally a 1024Kbit/s (or 1Mbit/s) line should be used.
Quick tip While PC-to-PC video and voice calls are free, all of the extras may attract charges, and others may not be available in South Africa due to regulations.
20 | connect | May 2012
Quick tip Your Internet connection has download and upload speeds. An ADSL line with a 384Kbit/s download speed will have a 128Kbit/s upload speed. This is important, because upload speeds handle outgoing data. If this is too slow, your call audio will cut out for the receiving party.
gaming accessories //by deon du plessis
gaming goodies If youâ€™re in any way a gamer, and find yourself wanting a little more from your hobby, youâ€™d do well to investigate local store shelves to see what accessories are available. To whet your appetite, we put this guide together to help kick-start your investigation from the comfort of your couch!
22 | connect | May 2012
laying videogames is no longer something only nerds and dorks do – it’s for everyone! From adults to small children, playing games has become a normal, everyday pastime. If you’re into gaming, you may have found yourself wondering if your favourite hobby can get even better, and we’re here to tell you that the answer is yes. How, you ask? With accessories! Things like 3D TVs, new controllers, steering wheels, decent speakers and more storage space for demos and media files are all available to add that little something extra to your gaming experience. While the basic gaming console or PC might seem like it will provide everything you need to really get the most out of your games, it’s only once you’ve experimented with accessories that you’ll appreciate just how much better they can be.
Microsoft Xbox 360 Kinect Motion Sensor R1 999.95 Kinect lets you play games without holding a controller. Instead, a camera tracks your body movements and translates them into in-game actions! It means less sitting around while you game, and more jumping around, sweating, and burning calories, which, ultimately, means more fun, especially when it’s done with friends!
Wireless Steering Wheel R699.95 This official driving-game accessory from Microsoft is entirely wireless and doesn’t need to be anchored to a surface to use. You have to hold it out in front of you and turn it in the air, but it’s surprisingly responsive and accurate – enough so that it’s a fun way to play casual racing titles and even a fairly decent way to play hardcore driving sims like Forza 4!
Gaming Headset/Chatpad R599.95 Communicating with friends and team-mates is often what makes a multiplayer game such fun, and to do that you need an Xbox Live Gold membership, an Internet connection and, of course, a headset. This headset and chatpad combo lets you speak and send messages to friends over Xbox Live, and it’s made to Microsoft’s usual high hardware standards.
320GB Hard Drive R999.95 With so many game demos available on Xbox Live, movie and music files that make up many a gamer’s personal collection, and the ability to speed up how fast games load by copying their files to the Xbox’s hard drive, it’s vital to have lots of hard drive space to use. Expand the basic Xbox’s 4GB of storage with a dedicated 320GB drive, and start enjoying the freedom that grants you!
www.connectmag.co.za | 23
Official Sony Bluetooth Headset R499.95 each Many Bluetooth headsets work well with the PS3, but for the best experience, Sony’s official Bluetooth Headset is highly recommended. Made from high-quality plastic and featuring a very comfortable ear-canal fit, this rechargeable headset will let you enjoy crystal-clear voice communication with team-mates as you gang up on the opposition in Killzone 3!
SOny Playstation 3 PlayStation Move Starter Kit R699.95 Sony’s commitment to producing incredible quality products continues with the Move, the Japanese company’s version of a motion-controller accessory. A small camera tracks these small, wireless handheld devices and tells your games how you’re moving. Each Move controller boasts an impressive level of accuracy that lets you shoot, swing swords, fire arrows and perform amazing sporty feats in many of the supported games.
A 3D TV PlayStation Move SharpShooter Gun Attachment R499.95 By fitting a Move controller to this pleasantly-sized plastic gun, you can take the gaming experience to the next level. Now, you can hold the controller like a real gun, which adds to the realism of your gaming experience by introducing arm fatigue, while also adding a more natural way to aim at enemies. Players with great reflexes and good aim will easily own their Move-less foes with this cool accessory.
From R5 999.95 Connect a compatible 3D TV to your PlayStation 3, and boom, instant 3D gaming! See games take on a whole new dimension – quite literally – and find yourself ducking and moving your body involuntarily to avoid enemies as they loom out of the screen at you. Not all games support 3D, but we’re sure that in time, more will join the 3D line-up.
Singstar Microphones Steering Wheels From R499.95 Nothing enhances a driving game quite like a steering wheel, and the PS3 has a wide range of compatible wheels from which to choose. Go wireless for the ultimate freedom from trippy cables, and enjoy the experience of racing around Monza in GT5 with a realisticfeeling steering wheel in your hands!
24 | connect | May 2012
A game that grades your singing abilities (or lack thereof!) is useless without microphones, which is why these wired mikes are essential to the singing-game experience. Mock friends and family alike as they try to croon along to such treffers as Rooi Rok Bokkie from Die Campbells, which is part of SingStar Afrikaans Treffers’ track list.
Windows pc Incredible Speakers From R499.95 Logitech and Creative Labs are companies that produce the best, yet most affordable, speakers. Their ranges include everything from entrylevel (but still loud and hi-fidelity) desktop speakers, to somewhat nicer 2.1 speaker systems, all the way up to monstrous 7.1 products that will blow your ears away with volume and incredible audio clarity. Nothing enhances a PC game quite like a decent surround-sound speaker setup!
Epic Gaming Mice and Keyboards From R399.95 Companies have cottoned on to the fact that PC gamers love highperformance peripherals, and so an industry has sprung up around the creation of keyboards and mice that have gaming-specific features, like extra sensitivity, dedicated gaming buttons and supremely responsive wireless connectivity. We’re quite fond of Razer, a peripherals company dedicated to bringing gamers the best keyboards and mice known to mankind.
Xbox Controller for Windows R399.95 It’s not often that a game actually works better with a console controller than it does with a keyboard and mouse, but it happens, and PC gamers – as usual – get the best of both worlds. Microsoft brought out an awesome USB sensor that lets gamers connect a wireless Xbox controller to their PC. Best of all, everything works absolutely perfectly right off the bat, without any extra configuration needed.
3D Monitors From Very Expensive all the way up to You Can’t Be Serious Gaming in 3D is still very new, and if you want to do it with your PC, prepare to dig deep. It requires not only an incredibly powerful graphics card (or 2) in order to perform well, but a monitor capable of 3D as well. 3D monitors start at around R5 000, and that’s only for a 23” 3D screen. The bigger the screen, the more expensive it will be, but it’s easily the ultimate PC gaming rig upgrade, and if done properly, the most impressive.
Goodies that look like Sports Equipment From R199.96 When the Nintendo Wii games console launched, an “accessories for the Wii” miniindustry launched alongside it, producing a mind-boggling array of plastic thingamajigs designed to clip onto the Wii’s wireless remotes. Clip-on guns, golf clubs, baseball bats, tennis racquets and more are available to buy to help make the Wii remote feel more like the equipment your Mii is using.
Wii Balance Board
From R1199.95 What makes the Wii truly unique is this accessory – a board that’s sensitive to how you’re standing on it! All you need to do is balance yourself on it and move according to the instructions for the game you’re playing, and the board translates those movements into in-game actions. It’s one of the best ways to work out, and surprisingly tiring! It’s definitely worth the cash.
R349.95 Fans of the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) will be glad to know they can now play many of the classic Nintendo games available from the Wii Store with a proper oldschool controller. The Classic Controller offers more buttons than the Wii Remote does, and must be plugged into the Wii Remote to work.
uDraw Tablet R699.95 This tablet-like device helps you and your kids unleash that inner artiste! It’s wireless and provides you with a tablet-like platform on which to draw, using an included stylus. The robust design means kids can’t easily break it, and it brings such classic family games as Pictionary to digital life, and also provides a new way to control other supported games.
Wii MotionPlus R349.95 This tiny accessory clips onto the original Wii Remote, and through some clever engineering, enhances the accuracy of the controller’s motion-sensing capabilities. It’s required for some games, especially those that include activities like archery and sword fighting. It was originally bundled with Wii Sports Resort, which features these activities, but many new titles now also support it, like the new Legend of Zelda game, Skyward Sword.
www.connectmag.co.za | 25
what is it? //by DEON DU PLESSIS
ePrinting? What is this ePrint thing, really?
ou may have seen this little word pasted all over HP’s printers over the past few years, but what it is, and why you should want a printer that supports it may not be entirely clear. It’s quite simple, really: a printer that supports ePrinting can accept print jobs via e-mail. During the setup process, the printer is assigned its very own e-mail address that ends with “@hpeprint.com”. Any e-mails sent to that address are automatically routed to the printer and printed out, as long as the network it’s on is also connected to the Internet. This is a big deal because ePrinting makes it possible to print from any device capable of sending an e-mail. This includes smartphones, tablets, notebooks and desktop PCs –
simply create an e-mail, attach whatever it is you’d like printed out, and hit the Send button. If it’s a photo, and you have photo paper loaded into the appropriate tray, the printer will use it for the job. Likewise, if the attachment is a document and regular paper has been loaded, the printer will intelligently select the right tray to use. More impressively, you don’t need to be in the same room as the printer. You can send those important business documents to your office printer before you even arrive at your desk, or send photos you’ve taken of your kids to your parents’ ePrint-enabled printer for funsies. HP has included ePrinting capabilities in all of its new Photosmart and Officejet printers. So now, if you can send an e-mail, you can print.
5 Steps To Easy ePrinting Step 1: Purchase an ePrint-enabled printer. Step 2: Set it up and join it to your home network. Step 3: Register for ePrinting and have an address assigned to the printer. Step 4: Send an e-mail to the printer’s address. Step 5: Wait a few seconds, then retrieve your print.
APPLE OVER THE AIR Did you know your iDevice (iPod, iPad and iPhone) can also print wirelessly? Using “AirPrint” you can easily print to a printer that supports this feature – and you don’t need to install a driver or configure the printer queue. Tap print, select the printer that supports AirPrint, and print. It’s that simple.
26 | connect | May 2012
how to //by christo van gemert
28 | connect | MAY 2012
If you’re still hanging on to a priceless collection of vinyl records, but would like to listen to them more often, converting them to a digital format is the way to go. It’s also quick and easy, as this month’s how-to explains.
s time progresses and our older media becomes outdated, we tend to hang on to our physical copies until the very last minute, sometimes even nursing the players and drives needed to use them. Thankfully, there are solutions for converting almost anything into a digital format. Here’s how to create a digital, high-quality copy of the vinyl LPs you own.
Get the hardware LPs can only be played back on one sort of device: a turntable. Fortunately, the connector standards have remained roughly the same over the years and all you need are some RCA cables – those red and white ones. Next up, depending on your turntable, you’ll need a USB sound capture device that has an RCA input and a pre-amp. These are usually difficult to find, so a company called Ion has a turntable called the Profile LP. This is a self-contained solution for converting LPs into a digital format. It’ll even connect to your existing hi-fi and act as a standalone record player.
Quick tip LPs aren’t the only old formats – there are also capture devices available for cassettes and VHS cameras. Saving your old media on a hard drive doesn’t require any specialist services!
Making space If you have a collection of 50 or so LPs, bank on using about 100MB per album. That works out to roughly 5GB – but it’s easy to extrapolate how that number can grow if you have more albums. But 100MB is just a base figure, assuming you compress the music using MP3 compression. There’s the option of leaving it uncompressed, and retaining all of the original goodness of those classic songs. In this case, it can be as much as 15MB of data per minute of music. An LP can have up to 20 minutes of music, per side, so that’s 600MB per album. At 50 LPs, that’s 30GB. Hard drive space is relatively cheap, though, and keeping aside a large portion for uncompressed music shouldn’t be too much of an issue on a 1-terabyte hard drive.
Quick tip MP3 is a standard for compressing files, allowing them to take up less space. There are various bit-rates, but a highquality file should have a bit-rate of 256kbps – kilobits per second. That works out to around 2MB per minute of music.
www.connectmag.co.za | 29
30 | connect | MAY 2012
Clean and compress
Should you want to retain the original sound, along with its flaws, then all your audio recording software needs to do is interface with the recording device. But if you’d like to remove a bit of crackle and clean up some hiss, software – usually bundled with devices like the Ion Profile LP – will be able to assist. The software packages make it easy to play the whole record while automatically separating tracks when there is a gap in the playback. They can modernise the sound a little bit, clean up some of the flaws, and spit out lean, mean compressed files for your musical enjoyment. QUICK TIP The Ion Profile LP does have the required software to record your LPs and even clean up the crackle on the sound, but the files it produces can be saved verbatim, giving the music that same old fizz-andpop sound.
We mentioned that keeping the music uncompressed – or raw – is an option, but highquality compression is great for loading those tracks onto an iPod or other MP3 player. MP3 compression will turn a 50MB file into a 10MB file, with no discernable loss in quality. Only when you play those files on really high-quality speaker systems will the effects of the compression be noticeable. This happens because compression is lossy, which means it loses or omits some of the sounds that we usually cannot hear. It’s not ideal, but for the smaller file sizes (especially on smaller devices), it’s worth the compromise. QUICK TIP There are other formats available, aside from MP3. Apple offers AAC compression, as used in iTunes, as well as Apple Lossless compression, which loses no sound quality at all. Windows computers can use Microsoft’s WMA (Windows Media Audio) file compression.
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product reviews // by Deon Du PLessis & Christo van Gemert
A NEW HOPE
his month, BlackBerry showed us a preview of the awesome new operating system they’re rolling out to their much-maligned PlayBook tablet, and we must say it’s a huge improvement over the version that shipped with the device last year. If you own a BlackBerry phone and have been put off buying a PlayBook by the initial reviews, read our First Look on the new operating system on page 34 – it may change your mind. Local cellular provider Vodacom showed us their new SmartTab tablet, and, for a change, it’s not a cynical cash-in on the tablet craze, and might actually be worth your cash. Check out page 36 for details. Review highlights include the awesome TomTom Go Live World 1005, a GPS that gets a lot right, and a new HD webcam from Logitech that lets you enjoy video chats in 1080p quality. That’s it from my side. I hope you enjoy our reviews and I’ll see you next month. Cheers Deon While we make every effort to ensure pricing is accurate before we go to print, sometimes through circumstances we have no control over, the prices in Connect may differ from those you’ll see on store shelves. In all cases, shelf pricing takes precedence. 32 | connect | May 2012
34 36 38 40 42 44 45 47 54 55 56 58 60
First Look – BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 First Look – Vodacom SmartTab Tablet TomTom GO Live World 1005 iDapt i4 Universal Charger HP Folio 13 Adonit Writer Plus Logitech C920 HD Pro Webcam Printer Roundup iFlashDrive Netgear NeoTV 550 Media Player Moshi Moshi MM03i Curve Handset Garmin nüvi 40 Accessorise!
Girls with technology on the brain 24/7
product FIRST LOOK
BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 Update NEED TO KNOW • Operating system update for the PlayBook • New features address initial PlayBook 1.0 criticisms • Now with native e-mail, calendaring and contacts apps Free to existing PlayBook owners
We reviewed the BlackBerry PlayBook in July 2011, and our findings were mixed. While it was a beautiful gadget, its appeal was severely limited by the fact that it required a BlackBerry smartphone in order to access e-mail, contact information and the all-important calendar – functions that most businesses can’t work without. So with no accompanying phone, the PlayBook had seriously limited consumer appeal. Its interface was also a little sluggish in places, and the look and feel of its presentation was good, but not great. The folks at Research in Motion (RIM) responded to these criticisms by committing to developing a massive update that would address the concerns raised. The result of that work is the new PlayBook 2.0 operating system update, which was released overseas on 21 February, 2012. Existing BlackBerry PlayBook owners can download the update for free (it weighs in at just over 500MB), and all PlayBooks sold going forward will have it pre-loaded. Having spent some time with it, we must say version 2.0 is a drastic improvement. In essence, it’s nothing more than a software update, and 34 | connect | May 2012
it’s astonishing just how much of a difference the tweaked operating system makes to the PlayBook’s usability. It’s clear from just navigating around the device’s interface how much smoother the PlayBook is than before, and tweaks like the ability to group applications in folders and the fully customisable App Dock give the home screen greater flexibility than before. Most important, however, are the 3 new integrated e-mail, contact and calendar applications. Before, a user would have to pair the PlayBook with a BlackBerry smartphone, and only then would the apps appear. Now, Messaging (the e-mail client) works 100% independently and even supports different e-mail accounts so you can view your Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail and any IMAP or Exchange e-mail accounts on the device without needing a BlackBerry phone. Strangely, there is no native BBM application – the PlayBook must be paired with a BlackBerry phone to access it. Users of popular social networking services Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn will be happy to know that Messaging also acts as a hub for all messages received through these services. Users can look at all messages using a “unified view”, or view messages arranged by account. It only aggregates the messaging components of these services, however. To update your Facebook status, Tweet that witty saying you just came up with, or interact with colleagues over LinkedIn still requires that you use an app, or the actual Website of each service.
As the PlayBook’s hardware has not changed at all, it still has built-in Wi-Fi, and because of the new OS update, it’s now a fully functional standalone device. You don’t have to pair it with a BlackBerry phone but, of course, it’s still possible to do that using the Bridge application. By pairing the 2 devices, you get the same functionality as with the initial release version of the PlayBook’s operating system (viewing e-mails and contact information stored on the phone, and surfing the Web using the phone’s 3G), but now you can do even more, as the Bridge application has also been tweaked a bit. The new Bridge software allows a paired BlackBerry smartphone to act as a remote control for the PlayBook. This is especially handy if you have the PlayBook hooked up to an HD TV using the mini-HDMI connection found on the bottom bezel of the device. Phones with touchscreens can control the PlayBook with gestures, and those with keypads can be used to type on the Playbook. In case you’re wondering how well the new software handles multitasking, you’ll be happy to know that the PlayBook 2.0 is very, very good at it. Swapping between applications is now smoother than ever, even when you’re playing back 1 080p videos (a notoriously hardwareintensive task). These and plenty of other tweaks are to be found in the new PlayBook operating system. Admittedly, it’s a year overdue, but it’s a truly excellent update that will really help bring the PlayBook to the fore
in the tablet world. Existing PlayBook owners will find that the new operating system update will give their tablets a new lease on life, while new users will be surprised at just how responsive and feature-packed the device is. If you’re in any way on the fence, we highly recommend you give the new software a chance. It addresses the issues of the initial release and makes the PlayBook a tablet for not only BlackBerry smartphone owners, but for anyone interested in a 7” tablet that can do a bit of everything, in style.
• Faster, prettier operating system • No need to pair it with a BlackBerry smartphone • Messaging and contacts apps now part of the OS • The update to version 2.0 is completely free
• Still quite a small app selection • No integrated BBM app
BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 NEW FEATURE LIST • Video Chat (but only with other PlayBook owners) • Native messaging application • Standalone Contacts app • Improved BlackBerry Bridge • Improved Documents to Go mobile office suite • Built-in Calendar app • Print to Go – send documents from a PC to the PlayBook over Wi-Fi • BlackBerry Mobile Fusion keeps corporate data secure • Using BB phones as remote controls • Social networking services integration
www.connectmag.co.za | 35
product FIRST LOOK
Vodafone Smart Tab NEED TO KNOW • Dual-core processor • 7” or 10” screen sizes • Runs Android 3.2 Availability: Now
The benchmark for tablets is now even better, with a Retina display, quad-core graphics, and hundreds of thousands of apps.
Samsung Galaxy Tab
Samsung’s contender is not the most affordable, but it sports a lot of high-end hardware.
36 | connect | May 2012
All the world’s gone tablet-mad since the introduction of the iPad in 2010. The good news is that the demand for these slate computers has seen prices decrease, while investment in newer technologies that make the tablets even better has increased. The net result: more tablet choice for everybody, at lower prices than before. Apple’s tablet has set records for sales simply because of its low entry price. Vodafone and its technology partners saw this, and jumped at the opportunity to launch a low-priced, Android-powered tablet. The mobile operator’s Smart Tab is available in 2 screen sizes, and at 2 price points. The compact 7” model will set you back R3 699, while the 10” model comes in at R4 699. This is important, because a 16GB iPad costs R3 999, while a 3G-equipped version is R5 299. Thankfully, the Vodafone Smart Tabs have competitive specifications. Both models boast 16GB of internal storage, with a microSD slot for a further 32GB of storage. This will be useful for anything from music and movies, to documents, photos and other personal information. Each tablet also has a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera for photos, and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera for video calls. These are also capable of recording video, although holding a tablet isn’t the most convenient way to capture moving pictures. Also present is 3G networking – as standard, where it’s optional in many other tablets – along with Bluetooth and regular 802.11n Wi-Fi. Connectivity will clearly not be a problem, and Vodacom’s network is
capable of sustaining high speeds through the HSPA network standard supported by the Smart Tab. Finally, everything is powered by a 1.2GHz dual-core mobile processor, so there’s plenty of punch for those thousands of apps on the Android Marketplace. Speaking of Android, the Smart Tab comes preinstalled with version 3.2 of Google’s mobile operating system, along with some other extra bits of software. This also includes Dropbox, the sync software that will keep data from your tablet, phone, and PC safely backed up on the Internet, ready for access anywhere in the world (as long as you have Internet access). Both models present decent value. They’re cheaper than the equivalent iPads – or at least the 10” model is, since there’s no 7” iPad – and the expandable storage means you can affordably upgrade it further down the line. A 32GB MicroSD card costs less than R300. So, if you’re in the market for a tablet, these will be worth considering. They have the specs to keep up with the best, and if the must-have allure of Apple’s iPad isn’t something that entices you, this could be the tablet for you. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • Processor: Snapdragon S3 1.2GHZ dual core • Camera: 5-megapixel rear camera, 2-megapixel front camera • Display: 7” or 10” • Connectivity: Bluetooth, 3G, 802.11n wireless • Storage: 16GB, MicroSD card up to 32GB
TomTom GO Live 1005 World NEED TO KNOW • State-of-the-art GPS with 5” screen • Maps for lots of countries • Includes HD traffic and speed camera location services R3 199.95
Before you’ve even read this far, chances are you’ve seen the price of this GPS device. At R3 199.95, it’s only R800 shy of an iPad 2. Surely not? It’s just a GPS, right? Well, sort of. Yes, it’s a GPS, but it’s not your average, everyday, gardenvariety GPS. TomTom’s engineers have, in their wisdom, crammed the GO Live 1005 World so full of features that it’s quite possible you won’t need another GPS for years – decades, even. That’s because those features are well-executed, useful, and easy to use. Check it out: it has maps for over 60 countries (hence the “World” moniker), it tells you what traffic is like on your chosen route using TomTom’s excellent HD traffic service, it has a large 5” touchscreen, and a sturdy, intelligently-designed mounting bracket. We also liked that it has access to emergency services info and extensive Points of Interest coverage. Our enthusiasm really took off when it came to actually using the device. Setting it up was about as easy as it could be – unpacking everything, plugging the included cable into the correct place and installing the mounting bracket in our car was pretty easy, so much so that we’re sure even the most technophobic gogo could manage it with ease. The mounting bracket deserves special mention because it is just so well designed. It’s incredibly sturdy, and attaches to the windshield with a quick turn of a dial that creates the required suction. The GPS attaches to the mounting bracket by means of a magnetised stand, and it snaps satisfyingly into place. Taking the GPS off the stand to store in the cubby hole is a quick and easy process as a result. 38 | connect | MAY 2012
TomTom GO 820 Top Gear Edition
This Top Gear-themed GPS is designed for petrolheads who love their cars, GPS navigation and hearing Clarkson rag them for driving badly.
We really liked how fast the 1005 switched on and acquired signal from the GPS satellites. Some GPSes take a long time to start up, but this one was good to go in less than 15 seconds from pressing the On button. It was also pretty quick when it came to planning routes. After entering a destination, the 1005 analyses all the roads between where you are and where you want to go and takes into account live traffic information and historical data to present you with the fastest route. That whole process takes only a few seconds, and if you’re happy with the proposed route, all you do is press the Done button and hit the road. The default voice is that of a British female, which can be changed to any of TomTom’s downloadable voices (we didn’t, as we quite liked her), and while she does an admirable job of pronouncing street names, she battled with a few local ones. The results were more comical than anything else, so we cut her some slack. Actual navigation was a real pleasure. Verbal directions came in plenty of time to prepare for an upcoming turn and the screen displayed images indicating which lane it was referring to when lane guidance advice was given. These images weren’t quite as true-to-life as we’ve seen (some Garmin GPSes use images in their lane guidance that accurately resemble the section of road you’re travelling on), but the principle was sound and the information was useful more often than not. Graphically, the 1005 is good, but nothing to get excited about – the on-screen map is clear and visible, there are plenty of colour schemes to choose from and it automatically switches into Night mode when it’s dark. The interface is similar to other TomTom devices, and its responsiveness is about as smooth. There is a little bit of lag when manually browsing a map, though, but that’s the norm with GPS devices, so we were not particularly displeased by it. We found the integrated HD traffic service to be especially good. It helped us avoid unnecessary traffic delays many times over, although on occasion it would report traffic when there was none (probably because
the roads in question were usually – but not always – full of traffic at that time). As cool as HD traffic is, it’s apparently not infallible. Still, we were pleasantly surprised at its accuracy – we would often arrive at our destinations at the exact time the device had predicted when we set out. We really loved the 1005 World. The only serious cons are price and the fact that its LIVE services require an annual subscription (about R500). That’s not too bad, really, at less than R50 a month, and your first year is included in the cost of the product. Other than that, it’s a fantastic GPS. Sure, it’s quite pricey, but you’re getting a whole lot for your money and once you’ve sampled the joys of knowing the traffic situation on your chosen route, you’ll be hooked. We certainly were. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • Screen: 5” 16:9 capacitive touchscreen • Connectivity: Bluetooth (for hands-free calling) • Memory: 4GB internal, SD card slot • LIVE services: Yes, free for 1 year • Spoken navigation languages: 46
• Fantastic design and build quality • HD traffic service is really useful and mostly accurate • Quick to acquire satellites • Map info for 66 countries
• Default voice not very good at saying local street names • A bit on the expensive side • Software is a bit tricky to get to grips with
TomTom Start 2
If you don’t need all the frills, and just want a bit of help navigating around a new city, this entry-level TomTom might be right for you.
BlackBerry Curve 9380 Thanks to a Bluetooth connection, you can take and make calls using your GPS as a hands-free kit.
www.connectmag.co.za | 39
Additional Micro USB Tips
Households with multiple gadgets that use Micro USB ports for recharging will probably want more than 1 Micro USB tip, and they’ll need to be purchased separately.
Apple iPod Classic Apple’s venerable iPod Classic is still one of the best media players available today.
BlackBerry Curve 9380 It might be aimed at the budget market, but this smartphone is no slouch when it comes to performance and features. Plus it has a Micro USB port for recharging.
40 | connect | MaY 2012
iDapt i4 Universal Charger NEED TO KNOW • Charging station for rechargeable gadgets • Recharges up to 4 devices at the same time • Compatible with over 4 000 devices R499.95
One of the biggest downsides to owning gadgets is the need to carry around cables and chargers to keep their batteries going. This tends to cause unwanted clutter at home and at the office. To deal with the problem, intrepid accessories company iDapt has developed a “universal charger” that can recharge up to 4 gadgets simultaneously, called the iDapt i4 Universal Charger. Simply put, it’s a docking station that uses interchangeable tips to recharge your devices. There are spaces for 3 of these and a USB port located along its side that any USB charger cable can plug into. Included in the box are 6 tips that provide all of the major connector types – Mini USB, Micro USB, tips that fit Samsung and Sony Ericsson phones, an iPhone/ iPod/iPad tip and one for older Nokia phones. All you need to do is choose the tips you need, plug them into the dock, and then plug in your devices. Press the power switch, and charging begins. Charging status is shown by LED lights that burn red or green, located near each port. When no device is present or it’s fully charged, the light is green; when something is charging, it’s red. When the dock isn’t in use, you can turn it off at the power switch to save energy. Changing the tips is quick and easy – simply press the release catches located on either side of the dock, and the tip springs up and out of its socket. Now, while the principle is sound and the dock works exactly as intended, it has its share of issues. While it comes with a good variety of tip types, the world has moved on since 2009, and the vast majority of modern-day gadgets now use Micro USB ports for recharging. The lone Micro USB tip included in the package will probably see the most use, and there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself wanting a second one, which is an additional purchase. Not all of the devices you might want to recharge have their ports located in convenient places, so they may have to stand at odd angles
to accommodate the fact that the tips all point upwards. Even when the port is on the bottom of the device, as it is with the iPad, some devices are rather heavy and their weight might damage the dock or the gadget itself if they were to plug into the dock using the interchangeable tips. That’s where the USB port comes in handy – gadgets that are too big or too heavy can plug in that way instead using their power cables. As this is South Africa and plenty of local consumers are using older technology, a product like the iDapt i4 Universal Charger is still relevant and useful, especially in households whose inhabitants are partial to phones from different manufacturers. Being able to recharge up to 4 devices at once and the resulting elimination of cable clutter is certainly worth the asking price. Should consumers require additional tips, iDapt offers a good range, including tips that enable the recharging of AA and AAA batteries and the iPod Shuffle. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • Included tips: Micro USB, Mini USB, Sony Ericsson, Nokia, Apple and Samsung • Cable length: 1.6m • Power draw: 13W • Power switch: Yes • LEDs: 3 • Weight: 360g • Additional ports: 1 x USB • Number of possible supported devices: 4 000+
• Clever way to cut down on cable clutter • Too few Micro USB tips • Really good build quality and stylish • Cannot support bulky gadgets looks • Some phones will stand at odd • Charging multiple devices at the same angles time is handy Overall rating
HP Folio 13 Ultrabook NEED TO KNOW • 13.3” Business-centric Ultrabook • Speedy solid-state hard drive • Squared-off design • Fantastic battery life R12 999.95
In case you missed the First Look we ran in January, the Folio was marketed as an Ultrabook that was going to bridge the gap between business and consumer needs. It was going to offer enough power and features to keep business users interested, and aesthetic designed to appeal to consumers who like their tech to look super-cool. Perhaps its most-hyped feature was its battery, which HP said was going to deliver “up to 9 hours of battery life”. It was with much enthusiasm (and a touch of trepidation) that we began the review process when our review sample arrived. Actually holding the Folio in our hands revealed more about it than any third-party information ever could - it’s an absolutely gorgeous machine when you get up close with it, and its weight gives it a very nice feel of quality workmanship that inspires confidence in its internal componentry. Its lid is covered with a fingerprint-resistant aluminium alloy finish and the underside has a black plastic matte finish. Its edges are home to various extras – HDMI, USB 3.0, an Ethernet port and a card reader 42 | connect | MAY 2012
are on the left and a single USB 2.0 port and a headphone/microphone combo jack are on the right. That’s a very impressive range of ports for an Ultrabook, and the inclusion of a card reader is nothing short of a (very welcome) miracle. While a lot of other big-name manufacturers are doing their utmost to copy Apple’s tapered Macbook Air design, HP has set itself apart by choosing a squared look that makes it look more like a notebook than an Ultrabook. It’s also quite thick at 18mm, hovering on the very edge of Intel’s Ultrabook maximum-width specification, but the extra room has given HP the opportunity to cram in the biggest battery it could – in this case, a 6-cell, 60Wh (Watt-hour) monster. It is this high-capacity battery that is behind the company’s claims of epic battery time. And epic it is, even if it only manages to stay on for close to 9 hours when the screen is set to 20% brightness, Wi-Fi is switched off and all it’s doing is displaying the desktop. When being used for the kind of tasks the average user will throw at it like surfing the Web, that figure drops to just over 7 hours (still very good). It managed an impressive 5 and a-half-hours of continuous video playback, too – far higher than most notebooks can manage even on conservative power settings, which rather impressed us. On flipping the lid up, we were greeted by a very glossy screen with a black matte plastic bezel. The plastic between the keyboard’s keys is also very glossy, and everything looks fantastic. The keys are some of the nicest
Samsung Series 5 13.3” Ultrabook
At 15mm thick, the Series 5 is one of the slimmest Ultrabooks around, even though it also packs in ports aplenty, a big 500GB hard drive and a full-sized card reader.
we’ve typed on, too, and as a bonus the keyboard can backlit with the touch of a button – a feature not many Ultrabooks bother with. Performance-wise, the Folio kicks butt. It boots up completely in 30 seconds or so, resumes from sleep in 5 seconds and is quick to load applications, all thanks to the 128GB solid-state hard drive and Core i5 processor. It’s not all roses, however. We were a bit disappointed with the Folio’s speakers, after all the hype about the Dolby Advanced Audio sound system. Sure, it sounds better than the average notebook does, but not so much so that we’d buy another notebook/Ultrabook just because of it. The clickpad could also be better. It didn’t feel as smooth as we’d like, plus it was quite hard to press. It has no dedicated left- and right-click buttons; instead, clicks are detected according to the side you press down on, which wouldn’t be so bad if the action wasn’t so stiff. A separate mouse might be a good idea; it’s either that or resign yourself to an adjustment period as you get used to the clickpad. The last thing we didn’t like so much was the screen’s brightness. It seemed a bit dull compared to other Ultrabooks we’ve seen, and its viewing angles weren’t brilliant. These aren’t big problems, however. Overall, the Folio is a stunning Ultrabook and one we can easily recommend for business users and consumers alike. Business users will find it especially attractive, as it ticks all the right boxes – it’s fast, its looks are subtly attractive and its
battery life is truly excellent. That’s certainly enough to outweigh the minimal negatives. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • Processor: Intel Core i5-2467M @ 1.6GHz (Turbo to 2.3GHz) • Operating System: Windows 7 Professional 64-bit • Memory: 4GB DDR3-1600 • Graphics: Intel HD 3000 • Display: 13.3” LED Glossy @ 1366 x 768 • Storage: 128GB SSD • Connectivity: Intel Centrino 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR • Ports: 1 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB 3.0, headphone/mic combo jack, HDMI • Extras: HD webcam, card reader, backlit keyboard • Battery: 6-cell, 60Wh Pros
• Fast boot and resume times • Excellent everyday performance • Superb battery life
• Speakers don’t match the hype • Clickpad is fiddly • Screen is a little dull
Logitech Anywhere Mouse MX The tiny USB receiver, brilliant responsiveness on all kinds of surfaces and the general high-quality build of the Anywhere Mouse MX make it a great choice as an Ultrabook companion.
Creative A220 2.1 Speakers Nothing makes your notebook or Ultrabook’s sound better than a dedicated set of speakers. This 2.1 set from Creative is compact, affordable and loud.
www.connectmag.co.za | 43
Adonit Writer for iPad 2 Folio NEED TO KNOW
Apple Wireless Keyboard
This high-quality keyboard from Apple is near-perfect, and a great match for any Mac.
Apple iPad 2 There’s no use in owning a Writer folio if you don’t own an iPad 2. With the recent price cut, they’re now more affordable than ever.
44 | connect | May 2012
• Cover and Bluetooth keyboard for the iPad 2 • Made with high-quality materials • Uses magnets to create a solid seal R999.95
The Writer is a cover for an iPad 2 that comes with a Bluetooth keyboard. It’s made from a rubbery material that feels quite durable, the inside cover has a soft suede-like finish that’s very pleasant to touch, and it has a magnetic clasp that ensures the folder won’t flop open unexpectedly while it’s being carried. It also wakes the iPad up when it’s opened, and makes it sleep when closed. The included Bluetooth keyboard is made from aluminium and is thinner and slightly smaller than Apple’s own wireless keyboard. Its keys are also a little smaller, but only by a tiny margin, making it just as comfortable to type on. Once you’ve gotten used to the layout, that is – small keyboards seem to require a short adjustment period before you stop feeling so cramped when using it. The keyboard has a scattering of small, raised edges that keep the keys from touching the iPad’s screen when the folio is closed. Many Bluetooth keyboards have something similar, but often they are too tall and make annoying contact with your hands while typing. Not so here. They’re also rubber-tipped, so there’s no chance they will scratch your iPad’s screen over time. The designers also included a few iPad-specific shortcut keys, like a Home button (so that you don’t have to touch your iPad’s screen as often), as well as a button marked “+” that, when held down, automatically pairs the keyboard to the iPad. The keyboard is completely detachable so you can use the Writer as a keyboard-less carrying case for your iPad 2 if you’d like to, and the Bluetooth keyboard with any other computer that supports it. Detaching it is simple, as is installing your iPad into the holding frame. The designers at Adonit have clearly put a lot of thought into both of these frequently-performed tasks, as very little pressure is required when doing either of them, yet both the keyboard and iPad remain firmly in place throughout use. The Writer is designed in such a way that it’s possible to slide the keyboard forward, and this allows the screen to rest at an adjustable
netbook-like angle. The magnet in the cover that ensures it doesn’t open when it isn’t meant to also holds the keyboard in place, no matter where you slide it to. This gives you greater flexibility to position the screen at the best-possible angle for your needs, is great for watching a movie or typing out a long e-mail, and comes in handy particularly when travelling by plane. The keyboard’s battery is recharged using the included Micro USB cable, and a single charge can keep the keyboard powered for 2 weeks, even with daily use. An on/off switch can be found on its underside, but it’s a bit recessed so reaching it requires the use of a pin, paperclip or a pen. It’s a small problem, but we’d really have preferred a power switch we could toggle with our fingers. For the most part this is a premium product, not only in price but in terms of quality, usefulness and thoughtful touches that enhance the tech experience, and one we’re happy to recommend to owners of Apple’s amazing iPad 2. NOTEWORTHY FEATURES • Sleek aluminium keyboard with scissor action keys • Suede interior cushions wrists while typing • Protective rubber exterior cover • Keyboard detaches for ultimate typing freedom • Magnetic slide lets you angle the iPad as you wish • Quick eject process releases the iPad with minimal effort • Recharge using any USB outlet • 2 weeks of battery life • Automatic wake/sleep functionality • Magnetic seal latches onto your iPad for a secure seal Pros
• Clever, thoughtful folio for iPad 2 lovers • Keyboard is of fantastic quality • Brilliant battery life
• Power switch needs a pen/pin/ paperclip to access • Very premium price
Logitech C920 HD Pro Webcam NEED TO KNOW • Webcam that shoots 1 080p video • Video-chat with friends in HD • Stereo microphones for superior sound R999.95
Logitech’s C920 HD Pro is a webcam capable of recording and transmitting videos at a resolution of 1 920 x 1 080, also known as 1 080p. This is a significant step up from the average webcam that only captures video at a resolution of 640 x 480, so it’s a great upgrade option for families or individuals looking to enhance the video chat experience with smoother and more detailed visuals. The C920’s design shows Logitech to be at the top of its game. The adjustable mounting clip allows the webcam to be placed on top of desktop monitors and laptop screens and even stand freely on flat surfaces. It also boasts a pleasant rubbery finish that won’t scratch any surface it rests on. The head of the device, where the Carl Zeiss lens and stereo microphones are housed, can be adjusted up and down for optimal viewing. An efficient 20-step autofocus keeps things sharply in focus, even when there’s a lot of movement to capture. The dual microphones mounted on either side of the lens capture your voice and ensure that you sound as natural to your chat partners as you do in everyday life. It’s possible to capture HD video outside of chats with the C920, and take 15MP still photos using the included software. What really sets the C920 apart is that it does all video processing itself. Webcams usually capture raw video data and send it on to the PC to compress, after which it is sent over the Internet using a video chat program. Video compression, and particularly HD video compression, is a pretty challenging task and can cause older PCs to slow right down, and, as a result, the video that’s sent on suffers in the quality department. With the processing being done by the C920, even modestly-powered computers can indulge in HD video chats without fear of slowdowns or poor video quality. The installation was straightforward. After plugging the webcam into an available USB port, Windows 7 automatically detected it, installed drivers and downloaded Logitech’s webcam software. After about 15 minutes on a 1mbps connection, everything was installed and ready to go. While you can use Vid, Logitech’s free HD video chat software that can be installed during the setup procedure, we preferred to use Skype. Skype
automatically picked up the presence of the camera, and set it as the default. Using it was a simple matter of choosing a contact and initiating a video chat. The only catch with an HD webcam versus a normal one is that HD generates more data, which means you need a fast Internet connection to enjoy it at its best. So, 720p video chats work best with a 1mbps connection, while 1 080p requires at least a 2mbps connection. Also be sure to update your version of Skype, as 1 080p video chats are only supported from version 5.7 onwards. On our 1mbps connection, 720p chats were very smooth and nicely detailed. The dual microphones embedded in the C920’s body produced very clear sound on the other side, we were told, and their ability to reduce background noise was very impressive. Overall we really liked the C920. It has a sleek design, produces highquality video chats and is really easy to use. Sure, it’s a little expensive, but the results are well worth the cash. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • Full HD 1 080p video-calling (up to 1 920 x 1 080 pixels) with the latest version of Skype for Windows • 720p HD video-calling (up to 1 280 x 720 pixels) with supported clients • Full HD video-recording (up to 1 920 x 1 080 pixels) with a recommended system • Logitech Fluid Crystal™ Technology • H.264 video compression • Carl Zeiss lens with 20-step autofocus • Built-in dual stereo microphones with automatic noise reduction • Automatic low-light correction • Hi-speed USB 2.0 certified (USB 3.0 ready) • Tripod-ready universal clip fits laptops, LCD or CRT monitors
• Very easy to set up and install • Attractive design, versatile mounting clip • Really enhances video chats
• Transmitting smooth HD video requires a fast Internet connection • Not a cheap webcam option
Dell S2330MX LED Backlit 23” Monitor
The C920 can even be mounted on an ultra-slim monitor, like this one from Dell.
Logitech C270 Blue Swirl Webcam
If 1 080p video calls aren’t important and you don’t need stereo microphones, this mono-mic, 720p webcam will do the job just fine.
Acer Aspire 5349 Notebook
This basic notebook will get you onto the Internet and have you chatting with all kinds of new friends in no time, using its built-in webcam.
www.connectmag.co.za | 45
Much More For a lot less
Epson WorkForce Pro Series Why settle for a laser when you can have a lot more for a lot less! Enjoy speed, flexibility and ease of use with a very low cost per page and high energy efficiency when you copy, print, scan and fax with the Epson Workforce Pro Series. This versatile sleek sturdy all-in-one series fits easily into any modern office, offering complete networked solutions for your business, and home needs. Donâ€™t delay, visit an Incredible Connection store near you before the 31st of July, purchase any Epson product and SMS your invoice number to 37766 or go to www.epson.co.za/incredibleconnection You will then be entered into a lucky draw to win an all expenses paid trip to see Manchester United play at old Trafford. Terms and conditions apply.
4800 1200 dpi
Canâ€™t find your ink? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Some More! Why get a printer that only does one thing, for a relatively hefty price, when you can get one that does so much more, and get real value for your money? Modern printers let you scan and copy, and sometimes fax, while still pumping out high-quality photo prints of your favourite snaps.
Single-function devices are so yesterday – the convergence of modern technologies means we can have a single device that performs superbly in a number of disciplines. Our game consoles already do this, offering us ways to chat to friends, browse the Web, and watch video content, in addition to doing gaming duty. Smartphones check our e-mail, take photos, browse the Internet, and far more, while still being good for phone calls. It makes perfect sense for desktop printers to follow suit. Unless you’re a professional looking for a specialist product, finding a standalone photo printer or scanner is going to be a difficult and costly exercise that won’t prove to be financially sound. Multifunction printers have moved from being office-focussed devices to the kind of thing you can have at home. Faxes might be going the way of the dodo, but all 3 machines in our roundup feature fax capabilities, with 2 even boasting a phone jack to act as a permanent fax machine. All of them can print high-quality photos, scan pages from books, connect to a wireless network, and read your camera’s memory card. It’s convenience at its finest. But which is the best?
www.connectmag.co.za | 47
Epson Stylus Photo TX800FW Print
Epson is no stranger to printing and image quality, being one of the largest companies in this space. The Stylus Photo TX800FW shows off the company’s expertise. Photo results weren’t the fastest, but damn near matched the PIXMA for sharpness, boasting much better contrast in comparison with the Canon’s darker photos. Colours were a bit more neutral, too, although this can be adjusted in the software. We ran all 3 printers at the same settings to keep the playing field even. The Stylus had the fastest print speeds for document printing. Its draft mode uses very little ink and has faded text, but spits out a single page in 11 seconds, including processing time. Epson quotes 40ppm at its fastest.
The workability of the Epson – buttons, flaps, panels and the like – left us a bit cold. The entire panel is touch-sensitive, but the colour screen is surrounded by backlit touch buttons. With the orange lighting, it looks like something from the early ‘90s, but is quite practical in use. The menu interface is intuitive. Sadly, there are many panels and flaps here, none of which inspire a feel of quality. The screen can be tilted, but requires a fiddly, mechanical button to actuate, resulting in nasty clicking noises. The paper catch tray also broke off during normal use, when accidentally bumped – sorry, Epson! This is excellent technology let down by average ergonomics. R1 499.95
Experience counts for a lot, and the TX800FW had the best scan quality. Results looked natural and unprocessed – exactly what we’d expect with all the optimisations turned off. Colours were rich and tonality was preserved. The Stylus has the best scanner for those who want faithful reproductions of printed works. It also got scans done in less than half the time it took the competition. A document feed and flatbed scanner is convenient for both home and office work, and the photocopier function works well, with the scan quality giving copies a slight edge over results from the competition.
48 | connect | May 2012
• Scanner is fast, with good results • Great photo results • Fast document printing
• Fiddly, fragile plastic bits • Only has 802.11g wireless networking
Canon PIXMA MX894 Print
The PIXMA printers boast the smallest ink droplets in the inkjet realm – at just 1 picolitre (a trillionth of a litre). As a result, the prints from the MX894 had the best overall resolution and crispness. Colours were rich, on glossy photo paper, and regular-paper photo prints only had a slight bit of banding, although this is down to faster print speed, not any shortcomings in the printer’s ability to accurately reproduce photos. Text prints had great quality, but speed suffered a bit during our colour document test. The printer paused numerous times during the print job, for up to 10 seconds, before resuming. This affected the overall print speed for colour prints, but black-and-white documents at normal resolution arrived in good time and looked great.
The MX894 is a large beast. It’s not that heavy but occupies a lot of space on a desk. The push buttons feel old-fashioned in the company of printers that boast touch surfaces, but the rest of the printer feels solid and hardwearing. There are no flimsy flaps, and the 2 paper inputs – a rear feed tray and a paper cassette tray – don’t feel like they’ll snap off after a month’s use. It’s give and take, but might not suit the sleek machines and modern layout of a compact study or single-desk office. Dual networking options also make it more of an office machine than something for the home.
While it boasted the best print results, the MX894 was edged out by the Epson in the scanning department. Here, the colours were okay, but a bit washed out. The A4 full-colour scan took 23 seconds, which is neither blistering nor crawling. Photocopies were delivered with office-like efficiency, especially since this has a keypad, and fax setup was a doodle. The scanning features do require a USB connection or a memory card for storage – doing this wirelessly is not possible.
R2299 (available on request) Pros
• Excellent print quality • Affordable ink • Great networking options
• Very chunky design • Old-fashioned push buttons • Average print speed for colour documents
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HP Photosmart 6510 Print
The intended-for-home-use Photosmart 6510 came into this test with big boots to fill – we’d previously looked at the 7510 and loved it. Unfortunately, the print results from the 6510 didn’t have the same crispness and clarity. Colour was good, but not great. Print resolution was average, with clearly visible ink dots. It even suffered in the speed stakes, requiring 91 seconds for a postcard photo print. Fortunately it proved to be a competent document printer, with monochrome print speeds matching the others, and colour document prints just a bit slower than the speedy Epson. With a set of HP’s high-capacity XL cartridges, this will be a great home printer that’ll be cheap to run.
The 6510 is a sturdy machine, but surprisingly compact when compared to the other 2 units in this roundup. The paper tray and print tray aren’t flimsy, and there are no unnecessary flaps or plastic bits. A touchscreen – the best on test – gives access to the user-friendly menus, and helps cement this machine’s position as the ideal solution for home users.
Scans from the Photosmart weren’t great, if we’re honest. They had the brightest colours and sharpest edges, but all as a result of built-in image-processing, despite having all enhancements turned off. This is a double-edged sword: it saves you having to do any retouching and cleaning up, but it also leaves you with a rougher result that is difficult to work on afterwards. It definitely won’t do your old photos justice, if you want to keep them in a digital archive. Fax features are limited to HP’s eFax, but photocopy functions work well, thanks to an intuitive interface. 50 | connect | May 2012
• Good print speeds • Very easy to set up • Solid build
• Average photo quality • Scan results are harsh
Jargon, busted! ePrint
HP’s ePrint service assigns an e-mail address to your printer, thus allowing you to electronically send photos and documents to the printer, which then figures out what to do with the file.
This is a print mode where the text and pictures are printed very quickly, but at a low resolution. As the name implies, it’s good for a draft, but not something you’d want to put in an official document or dossier.
This is a scanner similar to many photocopiers. There’s a lid you lift up, and a scanning surface onto which you can place sheets or pages of magazines or books.
This stands for pages per minute – it’s the printer equivalent of kilometres per hour. PPM can vary, depending on the print mode.
Document feed scanner
This type of scanner will automatically take a stack of documents and scan them sequentially. Great for office work, but unusable if you need to scan photos or a page from a book.
This means dots per inch, the measure of a printer’s resolution. It determines how sharp the overall print results will be based on the density of ink dots it lays down.
Paper is important! One important factor to consider is the type of paper you use in your printer. School projects and prints from the Internet are fine on regular A4 paper sheets, but the quality of a photo print relies heavily on the type of paper being used. Each manufacturer has its own specific high-quality photo paper that works best in its printers. HP’s photo paper didn’t yield great results in anything but an HP printer, while Epson’s high-gloss photo paper yielded stunning results in the Canon and Epson printers. Canon’s own photo paper was equally impressive. If you can afford it, buy a pack of the best, branded photo paper for your printer. Each type of gloss or matte paper has a specific print profile, and Canon will have its printers optimised to print on paper that was designed for its ink nozzles, while the other manufacturers do the same.
www.connectmag.co.za | 51
E d it Choor’s ice
Our testing involved printing out regular text pages, colour text pages, and photos, to determine everyday print speeds. We didn’t use manufacturer figures, and tried to keep things even by using the same, unoptimised settings for each test. Photo print quality was judged based on the same criteria we’d use for developed photos or colour proofs in a design environment. Our art director was roped in to look at the quality of print results and pointed out shortcomings or strong performances on the prints from the machines. Network setup and user-friendliness were judged with the first-time buyer in mind. Some of these machines were easy to set up, others needed more knowledge than most people would possess. And in the end, with all things considered, it was still a tough call. The Canon had the best print results, but had a very clunky design and interface. Epson’s TX800FW had superb performance, but lacked 802.11n wireless networking and had fiddly plastic bits. Finally, the HP Photosmart 6510 was the easiest to use, but lacked overall print quality and produced harsh scans. The ideal machine would feature something from each of these competitors, but at this price point, our choice – on quality alone – would be the Canon MX894.
Epson Stylus Photo TX800FW • Functions: Print, Copy, Scan, Fax • Single page draft print: 11 seconds • Speed, B&W: 12ppm • Speed, colour: 10ppm • Speed, postcard photo print: 70 seconds • Cartridges: 5 colour, 1 black • Cartridge models: Epson 81, Cyan, Yellow, Light Cyan, Black, Magenta, Light Magenta • Scan resolution: 4800DPI, 24-bit colour • Scanner type: Flatbed and document feed • A4 scan speed: 10 seconds • Networking: 802.11g with WPS • Memory card reader: USB port, SD card, Memory Stick Pro, xD card, Compact Flash • Interface: Touch-button hybrid
Canon PIXMA MX894
HP Photosmart 6510
• Functions: Print, Copy, Scan, Fax • Single page draft print: 15 seconds • Speed, B&W: 12ppm • Speed, colour: 4.5ppm • Speed, postcard photo print: 51 seconds • Cartridges: 3 colour, 2 black • Cartridge models: CLI-426C/M/Y/BK, CLI-425PGBK • Scan resolution: 2400DPI, 24-bit colour • Scanner type: Flatbed and document feed • A4 scan speed: 23 seconds • Networking: 802.11n with WPS • Memory card reader: USB port, SD card, Memory Stick Duo, Compact Flash • Interface: Buttons
• Functions: Print, Copy, Scan • Single page draft print: 15 seconds • Speed, B&W: 12 ppm • Speed, colour: 8ppm • Speed, postcard photo print: 91 seconds • Cartridges: 3 colour, 1 black • Cartridge models: HP 178 Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black • Scan resolution: 1200DPI, 24-bit colour • Scanner type: Flatbed • A4 scan speed: 27 seconds • Networking: 802.11n with WPS • Memory card reader: SD card and Memory Stick Duo • Interface: Touch screen
Yo ju It
52 | connect | May 2012
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iPad Camera Adapter Kit
Apple’s own accessory lets you plug in a USB device or an SD card to copy photos to the iPad.
PhotoFast i-FlashDrive NEED TO KNOW • External storage for your iDevice • 8GB capacity • Stores video, music, documents and contacts R999.95
Seagate GoFlex Satellite
Seagate’s external, wireless hard drive lets your iPad access up to 500GB of movies, music or photos, wirelessly.
Apple iPhone 4S Apple’s iPhone is one of the best smartphones out there, and the i-FlashDrive could prove a useful companion.
54 | connect | MaY 2012
Those who’ve used Apple’s iPad, iPod Touch or iPhone will be familiar with one of the frustrations that come with managing those devices: transferring data. Apple insists – for technical and legal reasons – on using its iTunes software to manage all aspects of the iDevice, which includes transferring music, videos, photos, and applications. It’s also possible to transfer certain other data files, through iTunes, depending on whether you have an application that supports it. The data you have on your iPad, for instance, is what you’re stuck with, until you next connect it to your computer to transfer stuff. Tablets, for the most part, don’t have file systems similar to computers, where you can move your documents and other data around at will. On paper, this might sound like a major shortcoming, but it generally doesn’t come into play. There are many options to store data online, and each of the apps on the iPad only accesses the external files it needs – there’s usually no need for one application to open another application’s files. But there are exceptions, and for those occasions where you want to share a document or other file, or need to copy new data to your device without connecting it to a PC, the i-FlashDrive might do the trick. This is a conventional USB storage device with 8GB of space. It can be used to store any data you can think of. One end has a USB connector for plugging it into a PC, and the other end has an Apple dock connector that allows it to be connected to an iPad, iPod Touch or iPhone. Once linked to the Apple device, the i-FlashDrive interfaces using its own application, which can be downloaded for free, to let the user
access the data stored on the drive. Unfortunately, this application is the only means of accessing data on the i-FlashDrive. Don’t expect to use the iPad’s built-in applications for playing music and movies, or viewing photos and documents. Accessing the flash drive is also quite slow, and it’s impossible to play music or movies directly off it. Instead, the application has to be used to (slowly) copy those files to the iPad’s storage, and even then they will only remain accessible through the application. This is due to the way Apple devices treat storage, and is part of the security of those devices. The usage scenarios for the i-FlashDrive are limited. It can be useful for sharing files with an iPad user, or copying data to it without linking it to a PC – although accessing that data will always require the i-FlashDrive application. It won’t be a way to share or access data already on the iPad, though. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • Capacity: 8GB • Files supported: Music, video, photos, documents, contact backups • Interface: USB 2.0, iPod dock connector • Compatible with: iPod Touch, iPad, iPhone
• Convenient for file storage • Makes file sharing possible • Contacts backup
• Very slow transfer speeds • Can’t play files from device • Pricey
Netgear NeoTV 550 Media Player NEED TO KNOW • Dedicated media player • Outputs music, video and photo files to your TV • Reads portable hard drives, memory cards and network shares • Accesses Internet radio stations R2 399.95
The NeoTV 550 is a media player from networking company Netgear, and it can do it all. It plays back the most popular movie and music file formats, reads files stored on portable hard drives, memory cards and USB sticks, and even streams files over your home network. It’s a flexible product that caters to a wide range of consumers, from the novice to multimedia fundis, and even has a few extra features thrown in that go above and beyond the average media player’s call of duty, like access to a multitude of Internet radio stations and YouTube. You will need some sort of storage device with music/movie files on it, though – the NeoTV 550 has no hard drive. This isn’t actually a minus, as it’s not unreasonable to expect that most consumers have some form of portable storage these days and, besides, it helps to keep the price down. Unfortunately, it’s not a very attractive device, having more in common with Netgear’s routers than it does with other media players. On the plus side, it is quiet. We doff our hats to Netgear for making the setup process a real doddle: it’s really, really simple. All you need to do is unpack, plug in, turn on, and follow the on-screen prompts. If you connect it to the Internet, the first thing it does is check for updates; our test unit did just that, and after a 10-minute download, it had updated its software to the latest version. Netgear has really done its utmost to cater to every type of multimedia enthusiast: there are 2 USB ports (one front, one back), an SD card reader, and even an eSATA port on the NeoTV 550 that storage devices can be plugged into. The card reader is especially surprising as it’s not commonly seen in media players; photo and camcorder enthusiasts keen to show off their latest creations on their big-screen TVs will definitely appreciate its presence. There are a few cons, though. While the menu system is selfexplanatory and easy to get around, it’s fairly dull to look at. You can change the look with “skins”, but it’s still a beta feature and rather fiddly to work with. Browsing over the network can be sluggish if you’re trying
to view folders containing hundreds or thousands of files. The device can’t search the Internet for cover art – it will display it only if the image is already present. That said, we were able to play every file we had on the NeoTV 550 (including ISO images of Blu-ray movies and our favourite .MKVs). HD movies that were streamed over our 100mbps wired network played smoothly, and the remote control’s buttons are cleverly laid out and easy to use, while storage sources are clearly identified in the interface. It connects to TVs that can take HDMI or component cables, has an S/PDIF output for connecting to home theatre sound systems, as well as a 3.5mm audio output for connecting to regular speakers. Our verdict? While it has a few flaws, overall, Netgear has done a good job with the NeoTV 550 and produced a competent media player.
Western Digital WD TV Live Hub
Western Digital’s media player looks amazing, supports many popular file types and comes with 1TB of internal storage.
NOTEWORTHY SPECS • Connections: 2 USB ports (front & back), SD card slot, eSATA port, 10/100 Ethernet • Video outputs: HDMI, component/composite video • Audio outputs: Stereo analogue, S/PDIF optical digital audio • Supported video file types: AVI, Xvid, MOV, MP4, MPEG2 PS, MPEG2-TS, DVD ISO/ VOB/IFO, MKV, ASF, AVCHD, DivX, WMV, M4A, M2TS, MTS, MP1, MP2, MPG, DVR-MS, BDMV • Supported audio formats: AC3, DTS 2.0+, DTS HD, DTS HD MA, MP3, FLAC, M4A, M2TS, WMA8/WMA9, WMAPro, AAC, WAV, Internet Radio (Streaming MP3), MKA • Supported image formats: JPEG, BMP, PNG, TIFF • Supported subtitle types: SRT, SMI, SSA, SUB, TXT, DVD, PGS, VOBSUB, SUB/IDX
• Easy to set up • Plays all popular file formats • Smooth HD movie-streaming over a wired network • Excellent remote control • Lots of ways to connect storage devices
• Uninspiring interface design • Does not download cover art for you • Sluggish performance when reading large folders • Not possible to browse any attached drive’s content over the network
HDMI Cable You’ll need one of these to connect the NeoTV to your HD TV, as one isn’t included in the box.
Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex 1TB External Hard Drive Fill up this drive with your favourite media files, plug it into the NeoTV 550 and prepare yourself for some serious slacking off.
www.connectmag.co.za | 55
Apple iPhone 4S
Boasting a super-highresolution screen and some of the world’s most amazingly accurate voice recognition software, Apple’s iPhone 4S is a superb smartphone.
BlackBerry Bold 9900
Some have called the Bold the best BlackBerry to date, and for good reason – it’s a superb business phone with both a touch-sensitive screen and a physical keyboard.
Samsung Galaxy S2
The S2 is Samsung’s best smartphone released to date. It’s nice and big, its interface responds fluidly to touch input and it has a stunning 4.3” Super AMOLED screen.
56 | connect | May 2012
Moshi Moshi MM03i Curve Handset NEED TO KNOW • Wireless handset for mobile phones and VoIP calls • Pairs with up to 2 devices using Bluetooth • High-gloss black finish R999.95
Renowned French designer David Turpin is behind this amazing wireless handset that turns mobile phones into desktop phones, and doubles as a voice-over-IP handset for programs like Skype and Google Talk. It’s a lifestyle device aimed at busy professionals and sophisticated homes, and has a very attractive retro look and feel about it. So what does it do? In basic terms, the Moshi Moshi MM03i Curve handset (let’s just call it the Curve handset from here on out) turns mobile phones into desk phones, and allows people to make and take calls using an old-fashioned telephone handset instead of holding their phones to their heads. This is most useful when you don’t have much need to be completely mobile, like when you’re at home or the office. The Curve handset works with Bluetooth wireless technology, and can be paired with up to 2 devices at the same time. You can connect 2 smartphones, or a single smartphone and a PC – the Curve handset also doubles as an audio device for any software capable of making voice calls, like Skype, Google Talk and others. Once your phone is paired with the handset, every time the phone comes within range of the Curve, it automatically re-establishes the wireless connection without you having to do anything. When a paired mobile phone rings, it can be answered by lifting the Curve’s handset off its cradle and pressing the call answer button (which also doubles as the “end call” button). While on a call and another one comes in, you can switch between calls using a 3rd button. The Curve handset recharges its battery using a USB cable connected to a wall socket or computer. The battery lasts for up to 5 days before needing a recharge, or for 6 hours of continuous talk time. An advantage of going the Curve route is that it apparently eliminates “up to 95%” of the radiation emitted by a cellular telephone. If such things
are a concern, it’s a great way to buy yourself a little peace of mind. The stylish design and sturdy materials used in the Curve’s construction give it a pleasant heft in your hand, and it’s also comfortable to hold against your head for extended periods. The handset itself is not connected to the base by any wires, so it won’t wrap you in an annoying cable and trip you up should you choose to walk around your home or office while talking on the phone. We really enjoyed using the Curve handset. Its designer-inspired looks, functionality and feel are all very well executed, and it is a real joy to use. It’s not the most affordable gadget, of course, and some might say it’s a bit on the gimmicky side, but it’ll certainly look good anywhere you care to set it up, it works really well and will definitely start its share of conversations. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • Handset in black for easy wireless communications using your mobile phone from your desk – great for making VoIP calls (Skype, Google Talk, and more) • Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR multipoint technology allows simultaneous Bluetooth connections to 2 devices • Auto-reconnect function allows handset to automatically re-establish connection when paired devices are detected in range • Noise reduction system ensures crisp and polished sound; volume control buttons • Up to 6 hours of talk time and up to 120 hours (5 days) of standby time Pros
• Clever functionality that just works • Looks fantastic and feels good in the hand • Automatic pairing is handy
• A bit of a gimmick • Not cheap
t e a m i l t U e h T n o i n a p m o C l e v a r T
If you’re not a fan of Garmin’s devices, TomTom has something at a similar price point.
Garmin Nüvi 40 NEED TO KNOW • Affordable navigation • 4.3” touchscreen • Memory card slot R1 099.95
Android phones and iPhones can be loaded up with navigation apps from their respective marketplaces.
Garmin Nüvi 3970
Garmin calls its flagship unit the Masterpiece, and when you see its sexy, slim design, you’ll know why. It’s also fast and responsive, with 3D maps, a glass touchscreen and Bluetooth connectivity.
58 | connect | May 2012
A few years ago, the accepted price for a personal navigation device – or GPS, as we colloquially refer to them – was about R2 500. That price, for an entry-level model, was still about half of what the first navigation devices cost when they were initially introduced to the market in the early 2000s. Now, though, there is enough cheap, small technology to make entry-level units even more affordable, while high-priced flagship models manage to pack in more features than ever before. Garmin’s latest newcomer, the nüvi 40, is easy on the wallet and, although it lacks any additional features, managed to impress us with a solid performance. When it comes to cut-price navigation units, we’ve become accustomed to having slow performance and clunky interfaces. The nüvi 40 licks the former problem by remaining very snappy in all aspects of operation. Pressing buttons on screen elicits an immediate response, and even searching for street names is very quick. Should you decide to ignore any instructions while on the road, it recalculates within seconds and seamlessly adapts to the roads you’ve chosen. Where it does fall down a bit is in the actual interface. The address input is a bit backwards, insisting on a city, then house number, before asking for a street or suburb. To us, the logical progression should be city, suburb, street and then house number. It’s not a huge issue, but seems counterintuitive when compared to other solutions. Still, it’s fast and responsive when inputting a destination, and that’s what counts. There are no additional features such as traffic integration or advanced routes. TomTom has its IQ Routes technology, which takes into account the
time of day, to avoid directing you straight into traffic. The nüvi 40 is more barebones and relies on you to turn off jammed-up roads. So for those who don’t need features they feel they’ll never use, this is the perfect no-frills solution. Build quality is top-notch. It is rather chunky, lacking the smooth lines and iPhone-esque design of its more expensive Garmin stablemates, but the functional, hard-wearing plastic feels like it’ll take knocks and bumps without falling apart. The standard windscreen mount is a 2-piece affair, with a ball socket that clips into the holder. The speaker on the back of the unit is quite loud, managing to remain audible even with some music playing on the stereo, or the windows open. Value for money is a big concern for many buyers, and some might feel that getting the cheapest on offer means they’re ending up with a piece of junk. Fortunately, the nüvi 40 is quite the opposite: it’s sturdy, fast and very functional – and a great buy if you’re on a budget. NOTEWORTHY SPECS • Display size: 4.3” • Display resolution: 480 x 272 pixels • Memory: 2GB internal flash memory • Weight: 148g
• Well-priced • Durable design • Fast interface
• Short battery life • Lacks any extras • Unintuitive interface
Go with GOlla! Golla makes some of the nicest bags and covers around, and they seem to have one for just about every type of gadget imaginable. Here are six of the best Golla products that recently caught our attention... Madge Digi Bag / G1255
Aden / G1292 G Bag Price: R699
If it’s a medium-sized bag you need for everyday use that’s big enough to carry your essential gadgets around in, the Aden / G1292 G bag is a great choice. It’s big enough for tablets and netbooks up to 11” in size, and it has a padded compartment designed specifically for them. The bag is quite durable, and will easily endure the rigours of daily use. The cover secures itself using Velcro, and there are several zippered compartments that are useful for storing small objects like memory cards, flash drives and portable hard drives. Features • Velcro closing on flap • Several outer zip pockets • 2 inner zip pockets • Drawstring closing • Cushioned gadget compartment with elastic bands • Adjustable shoulder strap with buckle 60 | connect | May 2012
Price: R199 Protecting your compact digital camera is now a question of style as much as it is one of practicality. Golla has created a number of beautiful camera bags, but none as striking as this one, a whitecoloured polyester bag with an attractive blue flower design. It has a padded corduroy lining that helps to protect the camera’s precious surface from scratches and the like, and a generous loop at the back that can be used as a carry strap or to loop your belt through for easy transport on your hip. Features: • Wide belt/hand loop • Zipper closing
August / G1321 7” Tablet Holder Price: R399 7” tablets like the BlackBerry PlayBook, Samsung’s 7” Galaxy Tab and others also benefit from a protective carry case, like this brightly-coloured one. Its cover is made from 100% cotton, and the inside lining of 100% polyester, giving it a sturdy exterior and a soft yet elastic interior. The tablet is held in place by 4 straps, and protected by the polyester. This secure mounting system ensures the tablet won’t bounce around during transport, and a hand strap is attached to the zip that provides a comfortable and convenient way to carry the case around. Features • Zipper closure • 4-point mounting system • Hand strap • Inner pocket
Frisco / G1282 Cabin Laptop Bag Price: R1299
The Frisco / G1282 Cabin Laptop Bag has a whole lot of storage space for your laptop, notebooks and any other office supplies you need to carry around with you. It’s made from a combination of cotton and polyester and is pretty tough as a result. It has 2 zippered pockets on its outside, a cushioned laptop compartment and a few additional pockets for small extras that might otherwise rattle around the bag’s interior. It comes standard with a shoulder strap, and will fit into any aircraft’s overhead compartment easily. It’s a fantastic travel companion for anyone who moves around a lot for work. Features: • Double zipper closure on three sides • 2 outer zip pockets • Foldaway handles • Detachable adjustable shoulder strap • Additional inner zip pockets • Cushioned laptop compartment
Lollipop iPad 2 Flip Folder Price: R699
This brightly-coloured iPad 2 flip folder is made from faux leather, and is lightweight yet durable. The iPad slides into the cover and is held in place by a leather frame that keeps the screen visible and the charging port and volume controls accessible, and the inside is coated with a very pleasant-feeling imitation-suede material that feels like a mix between suede leather and rubber. The iPad holder has a flexible hinge that allows it to be arranged into a stand so you can place your iPad at a convenient angle while you use it, and the imitationsuede ensures a slip-proof surface on which to rest it. Features: • Rubber band closure • Frame mounting system designed for iPad 2 • Smart stand function • Inner pocket
Olisa / G1262 Camera Bag M Price: R649
It was the bright pink colour that caught our eye, but the size, quality and depth of the design that got this camera bag onto our recommended list. The Olisa / G1262 camera bag is a great example of clever design; it’s just the right size for a DSLR-style camera and lens and it has 2 easilyaccessible front pockets for accessories. There are even two rubber feet on its underside that ensure the bag won’t slip easily. We also liked the side strap that keeps the flap closed while you’re carrying the bag, and the adjustable strap
is a good length and made from very durable material. If pink is your thing – and even if it isn’t! – this is a fantastic camera bag that’s as useful and protective as it is a fashion statement. Features: • Rubber feet on the bottom • Velcro on the flap • Velcro strap on the side • 2 zip pockets • Shoulder strap with non-slip material • 3 removable inner walls
www.connectmag.co.za | 61
10 Things You Need to Know about Diablo III If you’ve been waiting a decade to play Blizzard’s upcoming dark fantasy-/horrorthemed action role-playing game, this is the 3rd instalment in the Diablo franchise. Here are some helpful gameplay facts…
DIABLO III 1
There’s a real money auction house!
Now you can buy and sell in-game items for real currency using Battle.net. The real money auction house will launch alongside a virtual auction house, which will allow players to sell and bid on items with in-game gold.
Climbing the skill tree
Every skill in the game is now available at any level! With 6 active skill sets chosen at different levels, you’ll pick 1 of 5 runes for each skill, creating a total number of 100+ skills per class (and nearly endless combinations).
Five character classes
Choose between a barbarian (straight from the second Diablo game!), a demon hunter, monk, wizard or witch doctor – similar to the previously-played necromancer – in Diablo III. Each class has its own look and feel, with some unique abilities mixed in.
Back to town
How long is it, anyway?
As with previous games, the town will be a major centre of activity. You can meet with a blacksmith or jeweller to have weapons and armour customised and fixed, or to upgrade your gems and, in turn, your specs.
With a beta version that only lasted 90 minutes, gamers were speculating that Diablo III could take as little as 5 hours to complete. But with 4 full acts, an additional PvP mode and plenty of class-based side quests, Blizzard has promised a full RPG experience. 62 | connect | may 2012
NEED TO KNOW • On PC and Mac • You’ll need an uninterrupted Internet connection • 5 customisable character classes • Cooperative, multiplayer gameplay
The biggest difference between normal mode and hardcore (other than permanent death in hardcore) is that you cannot access the real money auction house in hardcore mode, requiring you to manually acquire or pay huge amounts of gold for the items you need.
Who will win the fight?
Collector’s edition or normal?
Even though Diablo III is about cooperative multiplayer, there is also competitive player-vs-player (PvP) gameplay. Fought in arenas across the world of Sanctuary, you’ll participate in PvP using the character of your choice, with access to all of the gear and skills you’ve accumulated playing the game.
Extra difficulty modes
There’s a new and 4th difficulty level in Diablo III that goes beyond Normal, Hell and Nightmare, called Inferno. With monsters that become progressively difficult to kill, Inferno is strictly for hardcore gamers looking for a challenge and then some.
Follow and protect
There are 3 follower classes to choose from – enchantress, templar and scoundrel. The primary role of your follower will be to protect you against damage or to tank for you in ranged combat, depending on which character you choose.
For those who didn’t pre-order Diablo III and are wondering if they should splurge on the collector’s edition, this is what it includes: the game, a Diablo skull and 4GB USB Soulstone, the behind-the-scenes Blu-Ray/DVD, an art book, the official soundtrack and exclusive in-game content, like a World of Warcraft Fetish Shaman Pet, Battle.net Portraits from StarCraft II, and more.
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Silent Hill Downour
NEED TO KNOW • The 8th Silent Hill game • Puzzle-solving, exploration and combat • Real-time weather effects
NEED TO KNOW • A mini-game collection • Creative game controls • 16 game types, 30 levels If there’s one game genre that’s perfectly suited to a handheld console, it’s a mini-game collection. Little Deviants shows off the best of the PlayStation Vita’s capabilities with crisp HD visuals, a catchy soundtrack and crazy puzzles that will have you using every feature Sony’s portable has to offer. From the 2 touch screens to the six-axis motion sensors, the microphone and the cameras – all of this makes up the 16 game styles seen in Little Deviants. Spread over 30 levels, you’ll find yourself in need of some serious finger skills to get through the game. And as you increase your dexterity, the replay value comes in going for gold and competing with your online friends. With colourful and cute characters (they remind us of THQ’s Worms) and augmented reality levels that are a real treat, Little Deviants is the familyfriendly game to put your PS Vita through its paces. R299.95
>>Buy This<< Rayman Origins Explore six distinct worlds and more than 60 levels as you swim, dive and hover as either Rayman or one of his friends in this side-scrolling adventure.
64 | connect | may 2012
The small town of Silent Hill – what could be a better setting for a survival horror title? Downpour is the eighth game in Konami’s slasher franchise. You play Murphy Pendleton, a convict in the middle of a prison transport until a bus wreck occurs on the outskirts of the town. With loads of new gameplay elements, such as morality choices which shape the storyline as well as Murphy’s character, Silent Hill has a different feel to the previous games in the series. And while some of the newer features are impressive (the real-time weather, for one) others don’t really fit. The soundtrack – which was always a key element in Silent Hill games – features Korn, a metal band, and it’s a bizarre fit. Downpour’s gameplay consists of excellent puzzle-solving, exploration and side quests. Unfortunately, the combat is repetitive and desperate – Murphy can only carry one melee weapon and guns are a rare find in the game. Overall, Downpour is different. So while some die-hard horror fanatics will be keen to see all 4 of the game’s unique endings, others may be left in the dark. R499.95
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13
NEED TO KNOW • New swing mechanism and Kinect controls • Play on 16 famous golf courses • Huge amount of unlockables
Tee off with PGA Tour 13, the first realistic golf game to incorporate Kinect’s controller-free capabilities – it’s now possible to stand in front of your Xbox and swing a golf club for real while hitting a virtual golf ball. It works extremely well when conditions are just right and there is a lot of satisfaction to be had when things go your way, but of course things go haywire every now and then due to the sensor’s sensitivity and the occasional misinterpretation your moves. Tiger Woods features prominently throughout the game, and players even get the chance to play through his life in what EA calls the “Tiger Woods Legacy Mode”, following him from the time he first picked up a golf club at age 2 all the way through to his 4 Masters wins. The mini-games you play through as Little Tiger are a bit dull, though, and the mode falls flat somewhat from a gameplay perspective, but it’s at least a nice retrospective on one of golf’s greatest’ career. Another feature is the ability to create Online Country Clubs
where you and your friends can all join up and compete against each other and take part in online tournaments, earning points and Boost Pins in the process. It’s a neat way to inspire an active online community, and it works well. Other tweaks present in this version are a massive amount of unlockables, from extra courses to buff pins that provide temporary ability boosts to trendy clothes and equipment, all earned through playing. It’s also possible to buy these extras outright, and since unlocking a lot of them is a long, arduous process. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 is a great golf game. It’s easy to play but hard to master thanks to the new swing mechanism and Kinect controls, and there is a ton of content in the game if you’re prepared to work for it. R499.95
FIFA Soccer 12
Wii Sports Resort
If you love soccer games, you’ll love FIFA Soccer 12 – it’s one of the best-ever footie simulations and it’s overflowing with amazing content.
For something a little less serious, Wii Sports Resort offers a variety of physicallychallenging sports activities that’s both kid-friendly and a ton of fun.
www.connectmag.co.za | 65
Kinect Rush: A Disney-Pixar Adventure
NEED TO KNOW • Over 50 unique skill moves • More than 35 unique global environments • Customisable matches Kinect Rush welcomes you to Pixar Park, the place where you’ll be transformed into your own colourful Pixar creation and begin an adventure alongside your favourite movie characters. What’s on the game agenda? Rescuing Mr Pricklepants from Big Al in Toy Story, saving Gusteau and the rat colony in Ratatouille and exploring the deep, dark jungles of South America in Up!, of course. Want more action? You’ll also find yourself racing alongside Lightning McQueen in Cars and becoming the new superhero on the block in the Incredibles. There a lot of moves and minigames with even more stories opening up as you complete levels. You’ll also collect coins along the way to unlock new abilities over and above the climbing, gliding, jumping, swimming, diving and dodging – all of which is picked up by the intuitive Kinect controller. Walking, for example, means moving your arms up and down but if you
want to run, you’ll have to pump them, tilting your shoulders for direction. It’s both entertaining and exhausting, you’ll be laughing but out of breathe at the same time. Not only is it a real treat to meet and interact with the Pixar characters, it’s great to see yourself as one. Your cartoon-self will change depending on what story you’re playing so you’ll also be a superhero rat or toy robot in the game, to name just two. Younger gamers will really appreciate the friendly voice acting, familiar environments and absence of health meters – meaning they can take their time to complete levels without the worry of it being over before they’re done. Kinect Rush may not be a long or complicated game, but it is a lot of fun for the whole family and an adventure that truly lets the imagination run wild. R399.95
Kinect Nat Geo TV
Kinect Star Wars
This game will turn living rooms into an animal habitats and players into a variety of animals. It’s nature knowledge gone interactive.
From using the power of The Force to taking place in an intergalactic dance off, this is Star Wars fun for the whole family.
66 | connect | may 2012
Swooping in like the winter from the West, Tech Tannie wraps your
TECHNICAL questions in a warm blankie and makes everybody feel much better…
issue of the month:
Okay, so there are how many different varieties of Kindle exactly? Which one should I choose? I don’t know what the difference is, except for the price! Kindled Calmin in Krugersdorp
If you have questions, gripes or just seek some solace, e-mail Tamsin, our friendly tech tannie at email@example.com 68 | connect | MAY 2012
Lekker, lekker question. And one I have been asked so many times that I’m thinking of printing out booklets to hand out at robots. Hell, can you just see me there alongside the sellers of coat-hangers and suspicious cellphone chargers, hey? Anyway, here’s the deal – Amazon has launched a bunch of Kindles and each year, they add on improvements and extras. Last year saw the company shake up the whole Kindle world with the release of new designs and ideas, so here is my definitive guide to choosing the right Kindle for you. The first one is the fascinatingly named Kindle. This is the cheap and cheerful model, which weighs less than 170g, has built-in Wi-Fi, holds up to 1 400 books, and has been upgraded and modded for maximum portability. It has no keyboard and you need a Wi-Fi connection to download books from Whispernet. This is the Kindle for you if you want ease of use, just something with which to sommer read books, and want to save money but still have the cool technology. This Kindle is fantastic for budget tech users. Next up is the Kindle Touch. This baby sidles up the price scale considerably, and it comes with a multitouch eInk display, reads like real paper regardless of the light (all Kindles do this, by the way), has built-in Wi-Fi, weighs 213g, holds up to 3 000 books, does text to speech, and comes with the new X-Ray feature
Why bother with a Kindle? Everyone tells me I’m stupid to get one when I can just read my books directly off my tablet. Are they right? Bothered Buhle in Bapsfontein
It looks like this month’s issue is all about the Kindle! The questions about this device have literally stuffed my inbox so full that I can’t move without tripping over one of them. And they all ask the same things – which Kindle should I get, or, why should I even bother getting one? The answer to your question isn’t easy. Let’s face it, reading has always been, and always will be, a very personal thing. Some people like reading in the bright sunshine, while others prefer a less harsh environment, lightwise. Some love folding over the pages of their book, while others would kill you if you even thought about doing that to their books. So how do you determine whether or not a tablet is as good as a Kindle for reading thousands of books on the go? Simple. You ask your eyes. You see, even the biggest tablet fanatic has to concede that the glare off the screen can be a little, well, annoying at times. Especially in our
sun-drenched country, where the harsh African sun shines nearly all year round. You could solve the glare problem by spending money on special tablet coverings or sunglasses, or you could invest in a Kindle, which, thanks to eInk, can be read in direct sunlight, much like a real book. The latest generation of eInk technology is Pearl, and it delivers crisp, sharp text that looks like paper ink and doesn’t have any back lighting. You can read it in ANY kind of light, except the dark, where you’ll need a torch/lamp/light. This feature is hard to beat. Personally, I prefer the way of turning pages with the Kindle as opposed to the finger flip of the tablet, but there are many who disagree with me on that. As I said before, many of the reasons for choosing one over the other are quite personal. However, the fact that you will never get a glare while reading a Kindle in the sun is a huge point in its favour.
that lets you look up characters and historical figures. This Kindle’s battery life is up to 2 months and it’s the device you want if you are heavily into reading, collect huge amounts of books and want that little bit more space and control over your gadget. The Kindle Touch 3G is what it says on the tin – it has all the features of the Kindle Touch but with 3G and Wi-Fi. This is an important distinction and one that has caused endless debate in the Tech Tannie lounge. “Why pay more for 3G?” people ask me. And my answer is simple – if you have the cash, I advise you to buy the 3G versions of any Kindle. The convenience of being able to download books anywhere and at any time is unbeatable. Hell, I’ve downloaded books while cruising through the Kruger Park. It is THAT useful. Wi-Fi limits you to a nearby connection, which isn’t that bad, really, and perfect for the budget buyer, but anyone with a need for instant gratification (like me) will appreciate 3G. Finally, there is the Kindle Keyboard 3G. This is the Kindle I own and it’s the “original” design. However, you can no longer get this Kindle in Wi-Fi only, so you have to fork out quite a bit for the whole shebang. However, this Kindle is cheaper than the Kindle Touch 3G, comes with a keyboard (very helpful for categorising books – I just went over the 3 000 book mark and without this, I would be lost), 3G, Wi-Fi, audio, and it works globally in over 100 countries. Personally, this is my favourite, but many people prefer the increased screen space over the keyboard. If you like that little bit more control, then this is for you. If you prefer to just read stuff, then the Kindle is for you.
www.connectmag.co.za | 69
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disconnect //By adam oxford
Too busy talking to say anything? Make social media your new best friend, and you could end up with a needy companion.
friend of mine recently confessed that he has a problem. Social media, he said, is in danger of ruining his marriage. The first thing he does in the morning, often before he gets out of bed, is check his Twitter feed. The last thing he does at night, after his wife has gone to sleep, is sit in a dark bedroom staring at a scrolling stream of updates ticking away up the brightly backlit screen of his mobile phone. Next to his work PC sits a laptop dedicated to real-time monitoring of his Twitter news stream. It also reports back on Facebook wall posts for him and his friends. It’s exhausting, he says, and he struggles to get any work done. The constant distraction of things going on online is too much for him to think clearly sometimes. The answer to my friend’s problem is obvious – stop using social media, or set yourself strict limits as to how and when you’re allowed to access it. Fair enough, except that keeping an eye on what’s being said and talking to people online is, to a large extent, his job. He’s actually self-employed. For the sake of anonymity, I won’t say what he does, but he does it quite prolifically in the public eye. As a result, he has to stay on top of what people are saying about his company, its products and Websites. He has to respond to criticism quickly before negative comments hit critical mass and go viral. Quite literally, the more he interacts with his audience, opens up to them via social media and engages them in conversation, the more money he makes. But now he’s starting to wonder if there’s an underlying cost to his sanity in this requirement to maintain a relationship with
72 | connect | May 2012
thousands of virtual friends (and enemies) that goes beyond oldfashioned customer service. Putting yourself out there on social media is good for business, and can be invaluable for your career if you want to get noticed by the right people. The better he gets at handling online conversations quickly and politely, the more popular he becomes and the more people try to get in touch with him. Most people complain about social media because, after a while, there are only so many pictures of kittens and updates about bacon your mind can handle before it starts to confuse the two. Before you know it, you’re emptying the rind tray and frying the cat. But the word ‘social’ is a misnomer in this online media, because it’s an increasingly important way of doing business. For many people, there’s nothing at all frivolous about time spent on Twitter – it’s just another part of the job. Even if you don’t work in the ‘information economy’, many career advisors now talk about the importance of building and protecting your ‘personal brand’ online, whatever line of work you’re in. After all, the beauty of Twitter is that it’s a truly global conversation – catch the attention of a potential boss in California or Kuala Lumpur, and you might be making a useful contact for life. Are the days of carefree engagement in social media, when it was just a handy way of sharing holiday photos or working out where our friends will be on a Friday night, really gone? Can we go back to a time when social media was both social and fun? Don’t ask me. I’ve just spotted a really important Twitter update I have to go and read. Until next time.
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Choose it. Charge it. Take it home. • Open and activate a Connection Card Account at any Incredible Connection store, or on www.incredibleconnection.co.za between 1 and 31 May 2012 and stand a chance to win an Epson Workforce Pro WP-4545 DTWF.9. • If you are the lucky winner, you will be entered into the draw to win an all expenses paid trip for two to see Manchester United play at Old Trafford. The prize includes: return ﬂights to and from OR Tambo, 2 nights accommodation, transfers and tickets to the game. • Visit any Incredible Connection store near you before the end of July 2012, purchase any Epson printer, projector or ink, SMS your invoice number to 37766 (SMS R1.50) and you will be entered into the draw as well. *Terms & Conditions apply. R250 discount voucher redeemable on a single purchase of R2000 or more. Discount voucher valid for 2 months from date of issue. Connection Card financed and administered by Maravedi Financial Solutions (Pty) Ltd. Maravedi is an authorised financial services and registered credit provider. NCRCP74. For full Terms & Conditions visit www.jdfs.co.za
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© 2011 Nokia. All rights reserved. © 2011 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Microsoft, Windows and the Windows logo are trademarks of the Microsoft group of companies. Other product company names mentioned herein may be trademarks or tradenames of their respective owners. © 2011 Nokia.and All rights reserved. © 2011 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Microsoft, Windows and the Windows logo are trademarks of the Microsoft group of companies. Other product and company names mentioned herein may be trademarks or tradenames of their respective owners.
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Connect Magazine May 2012