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Apple iPhone 4
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I I I ~
VOL. 29 NO.7
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12 CONSUMER ELECTRONICS
Apple iPhone 4
Sprint Evo 4G
Sony Alpha NEX-3
Kodak Playsport Video Camera Plus Quick Looks
Dell Optiplex 780 USFF Samsung NB30 Deilinspiron 1464
Plus Quick Looks
Canon imageFormula P-150 Scan-tini Epson WorkForce 1100
QuickBooks Online Plus
Windows Live Hotmail (Wave 4 Beta) Ubuntu 10.04 ("Lucid Lynx")
Netflix (for iPad)
Plus Quick Looks
72 THE BEST STUFF
5 FRONT SIDE
Tech CEOs run for political
office; inside the Aliens vs. Predator benchmark; a netbook dock station; productivity apps for iPad.
OPINIONS 2 FIRST WORD:
36 JOHN C. DVORAK 38 SASCHA SEGAN 40 DAN COSTA
60 BUILD IT: THE 30-MINUTE PC Got a half-hour? Build your own computer. We show you how.
64 OFFICE: TIPS FOR OFFICE 2010 Learn the shortcuts and littleknown features of the new suite.
68 WORK: OFFICE 2010 ALTERNATIVES
You're not stuck with Microsoft. There are other options-even some free ones.
PC Magazine Digital Edition. ISSN 0888-8507. is published monthly at $12 for one year. Ziff Davrs Media Inc., 28 East 28th Street. New York NY 10016-7940.
FIRST WORD LANCE ULANOFF
ony's decision to end 3.5-inch disk production is just another signal that local storage media and platforms cannot be trusted with your precious data.
It's worth noting the demise of any popular format, because it has a ripple effect on the technology world. In 2003, when Dell decided to stop putting 3.5-inch floppy drives in its computers, we were already seeing the proliferation of USB drives. Back then, they had capacities that, while many times greater than the best floppy disk, were still miles away from where they are now.
Personally, I don't know anyone who still uses 3.5-inch floppies, but I'll bet if I asked you or anyone else, you'd admit to still having a box or two stashed somewhere. Most are probably filled with data that you always promised yourself you'd migrate to another medium. You probably did the same thing with the old truly "floppy" 5.25-inch disks. That data is trapped on its obsolete format as well. Perhaps that's the real story today:
Another once-popular format plays dodo and we start worrying about what happens when there are no more drives available to read the medium.
Memory is Not a Mountain
In my house, I have a computer with an old 3.5-inch floppy drive (my only one), an Iomega Jaz drive, and a ZIP drive. Packed away somewhere in a box, I also have a computer with a 5.25-inch floppy drive. I keep all this on hand in the futile hope that I'll finally get around to recovering all that data that's trapped on the various extinct storage formats at home.
The fact is that storage media and the drives that read and write them are not permanent, like Mount Rushmore. In 2003, CD-Rs seemed pretty permanent, but it was only a few years later that I was actually recommending that manufacturers stop putting optical drives in laptops. No manufacturer has pulled optical drives from desktops, but many laptops are sold without them.
As space on USB keys and flash media, such as SD and Micro SD cards, reach the storage levels of traditional hard drives, optical drives' fortunes may come tumbling down. Blu-ray drives still outstrip by a country mile the storage capacities of all other consumer optical mediums and most flash media, but the cost for the discs is prohibi-
Consumers usua Iy don't change storage methods until it's too late.
tive, and most computers do not come with Blu-ray writers.
I think it's fair to say that optical storage will someday meet the same fate as the 3.5- inch floppy. USB drives and SD and Micro SD cards could, someday, too.
The Data Dilemma
Consumers and businesses face a tough decision: Where do you put your data? Keeping outmoded technology can become expensive and is usually a losing game. Even hard drives have a technology nipping at their heels: solid-state drives (SSD). Like their flash-based cousins, SSDs don't spin, and they cost more per gigabyte than traditional hard drives. Theoretically, we could all be using SSD-only PCs by 2020. Then again, maybe we'll be storing data in a completely different medium altogetherlike holographic storage.
The only sure thing in technology is, as we all know, change. So what should companies and consumers do? The former, at least, probably have the resources to upgrade their storage methods continually. Consumers usually don't change storage methods until it's too late. Sometimes they never do at all, and they end up leaving data on all sorts of orphaned storage media. I think there's a better way.
aging storage platforms out of the hands of consumers and individual businesses. It's time for everyone to consider cloud-based options seriously. I know that people fear the cloud. They think, "What if the Internet goes down?" Okay, maybe you'd lose access for an hour or even a whole day. It's highly unlikely you'll lose access for any longer than that.
What's more, I'm not proposing that all data be stored in the cloud-just backups. Instead of people and companies using adhoc media and putting it in a drawer, let's back it all up to companies whose job it is to store data. Amazon's S3 business, for example, has to keep up with the latest storage technologies and will always migrate your data to the next best thing. So will online backup companies like Mozy and Norton Online Backup. Consumers and businesses would never again have to worry about losing critical files because they can't find a drive to read the data or they've learned, to their horror, that the software they use to read an old drive has just corrupted the entire thing because of compatibility issues.
Putting all of your data in the cloud may sound crazy, but it's certainly much smarter than storing on eventually-to-be-obsolete media, which is akin to putting your memories in a lock box and throwing away the key.
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Ms. Chip Goes to Washington
Two tech titans enter the political arena in California
First, they climbed to the top of the corporate ladder in the tech industry. Now they're hoping to capture the same successand votes-in California politics. Former Hewlett-Packard chief Carly Fiorina (above, right) and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman (above, left) are hitting the campaign trail.
Whitman is taking on former governor and current state Attorney General
Jerry Brown for the office of governor this November, while Fiorina will challenge incumbent Senator Barbara Boxer for her Senate seat in 2010. Both candidates won their primary battles to represent the GOP in their respective races.
'Buy It Now' Politics?
Whitman spent an estimated $71 million of
her own fortune on the campaign, prompting some wags to make comparisons to the "Buy It Now" option that eBay offers to supersede a public auction. Whitman combated that claim by saying financial independence freed her campaign from special interests. "Here's the really good news: I don't owe anyone anything," Whitman said, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Fiorina's Track Record
In the Senate race, Fiorina faces an 18-year incumbent in Boxer, but the former HP head is not exactly a political novice. She served as an economic adviser to former presidential hopeful John McCain during the 2008 election. She played a less prominent role during the campaign, however, after she suggested in an interview that neither McCain nor his VP choice, Sarah Palin, had enough experience to run a major corporation.
On her campaign Web site, Fiorina did not list technology among her top issues, focusing instead on small businesses and jobs, taxes, energy, and healthcare. Within the taxes category, however, she said she would make sure "every federal budget goes up on the Internet" and "every bill
goes into the Internet."
As a senator, Fiorina says her top priorities will be economic recovery and fiscal accountability. "I will not settle for a jobless recovery and we must start the important work of getting our financial house back in order," Fiorina said in a statement.
From Board Room to Ballot Box
For those using history to predict the outcome of these races, the record shows mixed results for executives who run for office. Success stories include Bloomberg L.P. CEO Michael Bloomberg, who is currently in this third term as New York City mayor and Virginia senator Mark Warner, who made a fortune in telecommunications in the 1980s. On the other hand, there are examples such as former executives and failed presidential candidates Ross Perot and Steve Forbes. Time will tell if these tech magnates have the skills and political will to win their races. As Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post put it in a recent story, "CEOs, used to getting their way and having underlings jump at their commands, can be ill-equipped for the slow, frustrating grind of politics."-PC Mag Staff
BEST OF THE INTERNET
This free Facebook app not only examines your current privacy settings, but also adjusts them based on your preferences. It can even
warn you when you're making something personal open to the public.-A/an Henry
This free Web-based image editor has some high-end features to tweak your photos from any computer. Along with basic image editing, you can also automatically adjust color levels, brightness, and so on.-AH
Part personal landing page, part quick-access to your presence on the Web, Unhub is a Web service that allows you to create a "landing strip" that points to your social networking profiles, blogs, and other data.-AH
BEST OF OUR BLOGS
Update: Leak Exposes Apple iPad E-mails, IDs
A security breach has exposed 114,000 e-mail addresses and ICC-IDs ofvarious iPad owners, including some big names, AT&T has acknowledged.
Gawker.com received a tip from Goatse Security, which provided the data from the alleged leak, as well as the culprit: AT&T.
Goatse told Gawker that it was able to obtain the e-mails via a script on the AT&T Web site, which returned the e-mail when the ICC-ID was entered as part of a script address. The ICC-ID refers to the unique
ID assigned to each SIM card. iPad owners exposed in the breach include Harvey Weinstein and Michael Bloomberg.
AT&T also acknowledged the breach, apologizing, and saying that it would notify customers. AT&T said it corrected the flaw immediately after it learned of the problem, Reuters reported. -Larry Seltzer
NetDock Has What Your Netbook Lacks
There are a few trade-offs in getting a netbook or ultraportable notebook, but the Apricorn Aegis NetDock has it all covered. This compact $189 package includes 500GB of storage, a dual-layer DVD burner, and a four-port USB hub. All that with a footprint no bigger than a stapler. If you want the portability of a netbook but are tired of the limited storage or lack of an optical drive, this is for you.
The NetDock comes in candy-red for visual flair. It also ships with synchronization software so you can keep all your data backed up. It turns on automatically when connected to your netbook and shuts down by itself when not in use. If you ever need to add more storage, the easy open enclosure lets you change the hard drive in no time. You can also buy the NetDock without a hard drive for $89.- Troy Dreier
GOODCLEANTECH Visualizing the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill
Never mind the slightly saccharin title; www.ifitwasmyhome.com is a simple but effective way to visualize the current state of the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The Web site superimposes NOAA's current image of
the spill onto whatever geographic location you want.
We all know it's a huge disaster, of course, but most
of us aren't so good at visualizing size or scale over water. There aren't many landmarks on most maps except the shoreline, and for those of us who don't know the Louisiana coast, seeing the spill centered over your hometown does give you an idea of how big this is. -Katherine Montgomery
Dropbox Adds Apple iPad and Android Support
There's a reason why we recommend Dropbox as one of our favorite cloud services for small businesses: it's a superbly implemented cloud-based, automatic, file-synchronization service. Now, courtesy of a new mobile API, you can access important files from even more locations. Dropbox's reach has expanded to include the Apple iPad and Android handsets. Dropbox's appearance on these platforms means that it'll be far easier to access important files from virtually any Web-connected device.
- Jeffrey L. Wilson
PC Labs Goes Galactic
Test driving the Aliens vs. Predator benchmark
The film Alien and its sequel, Aliens, still gram Files folder and then reference by stand out today for their devotion to dimly adding the proper string to the shortcut you lit creepiness, giving you the impression in use to run it. If you don't want to pass it your almost every frame that certain doom lay own config file, it will run at whatever resowithin every shadow. And though we never lution Windows is currently using. When the found Predator quite as unsettling, it also benchmark finishes, it deposits a results file
was a solid alien-action flick.
in your Documents folder that reminds you
Fans have known for about 20 years which settings you used. This file sums up that the two franchises go great together, your performance by including the number especially on the video-game front. But of frames run, the average frame time, and it's only been recently that the technology the average frames per second (fps).
has caught up to the visions of the origi-
nal films-with the help of DirectX 11. The The Benchmark in Action
Aliens vs. Predator benchmark-based on We played around a bit with the benchmark the popular game-is a good-looking, easy- to get an idea of what to expect. We tested to-run app. It's a fairly hefty download (just it on a decently beefy machine, loaded over 300MB), and it won't run unless you're with an Intel Core i7-975 CPU, an ATI Radusing DX11 video hardware, but it's smoothly eon HD 5870 video card, and 6GB of RAM, configurable, and it's easy to document and and got pretty good results. With all the share the settings you use in case you want settings maxed, we achieved a reasonable to test multiple systems. 31.4 frames per second (fps) on the bench-
mark. Given this benchmark's ease of use Settings and Configuration and ease of setting up ahead of time, we're Rather than using in-app settings, the video planning to integrate it into our video card options for the benchmark are controlled testing procedures at the earliest opportuwith a configuration file you drop in its Pro- nity.-Matthew Murray
Intel. maker of the classic Intel"' Pentium"' processor, unveils the new standard in processor power and performance-the all-new 2010 Intel"' Core" Processor Family.
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iPad as ravel Workhorse
Yes, it's fun, but your tablet can also keep you productive on the road.
By now, iPad owners probably know about most of the entertaining apps offered on the platform, such as Netflix, Rhapsody, Marvel Comics, and more. But there are also a slew of programs that can keep you productive on the road. Such apps can make the iPad the perfect tech travel companion-slim, light, powerful, and easy to use. Here are a few of our favorites for iPad road warriors.
First of all, no worker's iPad is complete without iWork for iPad ($9.99 direct per
app, •••• 0 ), Apple's tablet answer to Office. Here you can get the Pages word processor, Numbers spreadsheet app, and Keynote for creating presentations. While Pages is for basic documents, Numbers and Keynote have powerful, advanced features that rival their PC counterparts.
Google Docs users can't be without Light Room's Go Docs ($3.99 direct). This handy app lets you view Google Documents both online and offline. GoDocs has folder sup-
.. -- - ............ ""--1_ 0 _ ....
iWork for iPad
Air Sharing HD
Citrix Receiver for iPad
Color Management Baslcs
What is Color Management?
Fax, Print & Share
port, and files can be sorted by type, name, or creation date. The app also has a "revisions" button for accessing older versions of a file, so you can always turn back the clock when needed. And when you're in Wi-Fi range, you can access files from a Linux, Mac, or Windows system on the same network with Air Sharing HD ($9.99 direct). This app mounts as a drive, so it supports drag-and-drop file transfers between a desktop and iPad.
If your organization is running Citrix XenDesktop or XenApp software, it's possible to turn the iPad into a full virtualized desktop. Citrix Receiver for iPad (free) provides secure, one-touch access to corporate desktops, Windows applications, and complex database and 3D applications. For number-crunchers, Roambi (free) has an iPad app that provides a graphically rich way to access, store, manage, and refresh mission-critical business data by transforming enterprise data (everything from
- I .
Excel spreadsheets to Salesforce.com data) into stunning, interactive visualizations designed for the iPad's screen.
Faxing, printing, and sharing docs on the road can be tricky, especially since the iPad doesn't have this functionality builtin. However, Ndili Technologies' Fax Print & Share for iPad ($5.99 direct) can get the job done without installing drivers or additional software. You can also fax paperwork and e-mail colleagues as well as open documents (PDFs, Microsoft Office, Open Office), and images (BMP, GIF, TIFF).
Finally, if you love FileMaker, then you'll definitely want FileMaker's Bento for iPad ($4.95 direct). This app includes 25 builtin templates for uses like notes, to-do lists, projects, selling, expenses, and home inventory. But there's also an online community that has built and shared about 600 more templates for specific uses. The app works standalone, not requiring syncing with a computer.-Samara Lynn and Erik Rhey
II II v") ,('\
PREVIEW: APPLE IPHONE 4
iPhone UpS Its Game
t this year's Worldwide Developers Conference, Steve Jobs unveiled the new Apple iPhone (dubbed the "iPhone 4"). Among the new features on this phone are a gyroscope, a video-editing app, retina display, iBooks, a video calling feature known as FaceTime, and more. So how does it compare to the previous 3G model? Read on to find out.
The phone has volume buttons and an orientation lock switch on the side, as well as a MicroSIM card slot. It also has a stainless steel band running around its edge, which is part of the antenna system for Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, UMTS, and GSM. Apple is offering the iPhone 4 in black and white.
This iPhone's high-resolution screen is 960-by-640 pixels, which is four times more pixels than that of the 3GS. Display quality is a major focus of the iPhone 4, as evidenced by a technology in this new iPhone known as retina display. The boost in quality means that Apple can fit four times as many pixels in the same amount of space. In our time with the phone, we had trouble perceiving the difference between the super-high-res screen and the 800-by- 480 screens.
The first thing you'll notice about the new iPhone is that it is sharp-and we don't mean just good looks. This model is actually physically sharp, with hard edges that you're just not used to finding on an Apple product. The body is stainless steel, with a smooth glass back. It's a little less comfortable to hold than a classic, rounded iPhone,
but it feels more expensive. The iPhone 4 Features
is 9.3-mm thick, which is 24 percent thin- The iPhone 4 has an Apple A4 processor, ner than its predecessor, the iPhone 3GS. a 5-megapixel camera with HD video cap-
ture and an LED flash on the back. There is also a bigger battery-welcome news for iPhone users who have complained about dwindling power supply. With the iPhone 4, Apple claims up to 40 percent more talk time, 10 hours of Wi-Fi browsing, 10 hours of video, 40 hours of music, and 300 hours of standby.
Apple has also included a gyroscope on the iPhone 4, which is tied to the accelerom-
Apple iPhone 4
With subscription, $199 direct (16GB) and $299 (32GB)
Not yet rated
PROS Amazing high-resolution screen. Video calling. Potentially better battery life and call quality than previous models.
CONS Still an AT&T exclusive.
eter to provide six-axis motion sensing to tilt and rotate when you turn your body. It joins three other sensors included in the iPhonecompass, proximity, and ambient light. The iPhone 4 can record in high-definition video-full 720p at 30 frames per second. Videos can be exported to 360p, 540p, or 720p. It will also support one-click sharing.
One of the most touted new features is FaceTime, a technology that lets you place
FIRST LOOKS CONSUMER ELECTRONICS
video calls over Wi-Fi between two iPhone 4 devices. FaceTime can be accessed using the front or back of the camera, and is viewable in portrait or landscape mode. There is no buddy list required-just make a phone call. The feature will be Wi-Fi only in 2010, he said, because Apple needs to work out a few details with cellular providers.
When we tried out FaceTime, we found that the quality isn't as sharp as we expected. Although the technology is easy to use, frame rates were just a bit jerky, about 15 frames per second, and the video looked pixilated.
New Apps and Software
Like the iPhone 3GS, the iPhone 4 will run iOS 4, which adds more than 100 new user features to Apple's well-known platform. Most notable are features for limited multitasking, folders for apps, a universal inbox for mail, wireless keyboard support, and new iBooks and iMovie apps. The new iMovie will let users edit clips, record directly into a timeline, and choose from clips and photos stored on the phone. We edited bits of a movie with iMovie, and it's a surprisingly complex and powerful program-not the kind of thing you can pick up in a few seconds.
Also, the iBooks e-reader features, first announced for the iPad, are now available on the iPhone. You can sync content with other devices and make notes that will show up on e-books. Apple has also added three new apps so far: a free Netflix app, a FarmVille app from Zynga, and a $2.99 Guitar Hero app from Activision.
MINI MOVIE The iPhone 4 runs the new iOS version of iMovie, which gives you full video-editing power on your phone.
So how much will all this new power cost you? Well, the 16GB iPhone will retail for $199 and the 32GB version will sell for $299 for current iPhone users (and AT&T subscribers). Without a contract, the new iPhone will cost $599 (16GB) and $699 (32GB). If you are switching from another carrier, AT&T will offer its new tiered data plans: DataPlus is 200MB for $15 per month and DataPro gives you 2GB per month for $25. If you are an existing AT&T smartphone user, you don't need to switch to a new plan.
Worth the Upgrade
The new iPhone 4 will probably convince iPhone owners to upgrade, if only because it looks different and feels expensive-it's a new thing, and it's fashion-forward. As for how it will stack up against other top smartphones, we will be running comprehensive tests in PC Labs this summer. Stay tuned. -Chloe Albanesius and Sascha Segan
» CLICK HERE FOR MORE
______ • FIRST LOOKS CONSUMER ELECTRONICS •
HTC EVO 4G (Sprint)
The First U.S. WiMAXPhone
Want more Internet? The HTC EVO 4G, the nation's first WiMAX phone, has more Internet than any phone in America today. All that Internet, however, takes a toll on
I I I • I L.II
· .... ,.,. • - I. ... A
the EVO's battery, so you'll need to recharge it often when using 4G. But if you live online, the EVO offers a big, beautiful, and powerful window to the world.
The EVO is a big black slab with a 4.3- inch LCD screen that is very reflective and therefore barely usable outdoors. Indoors, though, it's gorgeous. The phone doesn't have a physical keyboard, so you're reliant on HTC's touch keyboard, which is not as accurate as an iPhone's. One other neat feature is a kickstand on the back for propping it up to watch videos. HTC also packs in lots of useful software, such as an FM radio, a Twitter client, two GPS navigation options, Microsoft Office and PDF document readers, and more. Such apps run quickly on the l-GHz processor. On our tests, benchmark scores were on a par with its competitors, the Google Nexus One and HTC Droid Incredible phones.
Call quality on the EVO 4G with Sprint's 3G CDMA network wasn't great, with calls often sounding harsh-loud, but not clear. As for battery life, I got 7 hours 24 minutes
HTC Eve 4G (Sprint) $299.99 list
PROS First WiMAX phone. Excellent Web browser with some Flash. Terrific 4.3-inch screen. Two cameras. Wi-Fi hotspot mode.
CONS Not a great voice phone. 4G coverage is very limited. 4G-only battery life is unflattering.
of talk time on the EVO in 3G mode. That's pretty good, but the story is quite different with 4G WiMAX. Also, though we couldn't make any calls using Philadelphia's WiMAX network, Web surfing yielded impressive response times.
Despite the fact that 4G is available only in a handful of places in the U.S., and this phone has its flaws, the EVO 4G is nonetheless impressive enough as an early 4G entry to earn an Editors' Choice.-Sascha Segan
» CLICK HERE FOR MORE
FIRST LOOKS CONSUMER ELECTRONICS
Sony Alpha NEX-3
Sony makes a solid entrance into the relatively nascent compact interchangeable lens camera space with its Alpha NEX series. The 14.2-megapixel NEX-3 is unlike any other camera currently available, competing with D-SLRs that fetch twice its price, offering superb image quality, speed, and a robust feature set in the smallest body I've seen in this class of camera.
The Il-ounce NEX-3 measures just 2.4 by 4.4 by 2.4 inches (HWD, with kit lens), making it a bit too large to tuck into your jeans, but small enough to stow comfortably in a coat pocket or purse. Unlike the Olympus E-P2 and Panasonic GF1, which feature Micro-Four-Thirds image sensors, the NEX-3 uses a larger APS-C sensor. Currently, Sony offers only two lenses made for the NEX-3, but with a $200 mount adapter, you can use Sony Alpha lenses (and adjust aperture, but not autofocus). The NEX-3's 3-inch LCD is the sharpest of any compact interchangeable lens camera I've tested. The display sits on an articulating arm and can tilt as far as 90 degrees up or 45 degrees down.
Sony Alpha NEX-3 $549.99 list
PROS Competitive price. Superb image quality, low-light performance, and speed. Smallest compact interchangeable lens camera currently available. Beautiful, tilting 3-inch LCD. Digital accessory port.
CONS Limited E-Mount lens selection. No EVF option. No manual control over shutter speed and aperture while recording video.
Thanks to its D-SLR sensor, the NEX-3 did well on our tests. It has a speedy startup, averaging 2 seconds, and snaps 2.3 frames per second in continuous shooting mode. The NEX-3 also scored stellar sharpness results that were comparable to the larger, more-expensive Canon EOS Rebel T2i. It captured low-noise images at up to and including ISO 3200, so you can shoot crisp photos without flash. And shooting HD video is a treat, but there is no manual control over aperture and shutter speed. Overall, it's hard not to recommend this camera-and award it an Editors' Choice. -PJ Jacobowitz
» CLICK HERE FOR MORE
FIRST LOOKS CONSUMER ELECTRONICS •
Kodak Plays port Video Camera
Priced at just under $150, the Kodak Playsport Video Camera is among the most affordable pocket camcorders you'll find. Unlike many of its competitors, this versatile HD video camera offers a variety of video capture modes including ful11080p HD video, snaps 5-megapixel stills, and it works underwater. The beachfriendly Playsport lacks advanced features like a microphone input, a headphone jack, or macro focus, but if it's just the basics you're looking for, this is it.
Waterproof cameras are typically bulkier than their land-limited counterparts, but that's not the case with the 4.4-by- 2.3-by-0.8-inch Playsport (though it is slightly heavier, at just under 5 ounces). The Playsport is comfortable to hold, with a rugged, rubbery case that comes in purple, blue, or dark charcoal gray. The menus and navigation buttons are pretty simple and straightforward, and at first glance, the Playsport's 2-inch LCD screen seems comparatively small, but nearly the entire display is usable in recording mode.
Thanks to the Playsport's 1/2.5-inch CMOS image sensor, image quality is excellent. Well-lit 5.3-megapixel stills looked great to my eye, too. You shouldn't expect
Kodak Playsport Video Camera $149.95 direct
PROS Excellent value. Versatile video-capture options. Takes 5-megapixel still images. Waterproof up to 10 feet. Simple user interface.
CONS Small, 2-inch LCD. No macro focus. No microphone input or headphone jack.
spectacular low-light performance, however, and the lens doesn't include stabilization. For underwater shooting, you can switch to Kodak's H20 mode, which adjusts the contrast and saturation for underwater-which makes such videos look great.
So if you're looking for an affordable, easy-to-use compact video camera that performs well, the Playsport fills the bill. Being able to take it to the beach without worry is a nice bonus. -PJ Jacobowitz
» CLICK HERE FOR MORE
QUICK LOOKS CONSUMER ELECTRONICS
LG Rumor Touch Microsoft Kin Two Droid Incredible by HTe Logitech Squeezebox
$79.99 to $279.99 $99.99 list $299.99 list Touch
•••• 0 ••• 00 •••• f) ••• 00
• Well-designed touch UI • Built-in Zune • Great-looking screen • Streams music from com-
• Roomy, five-row QWERTY • Good Web browser • Lots of power puters and Internet radio
keyboard • Web-based interface for • Good call quality via Wi-Fi
I/) • Good voice quality your photos • Gorgeous interface addi- • Sleek, minimal design
D:: • E-mail and social net- • Easy to share information tions • SD card slot
working built in with your friends • Ambient light sensor . ~:.- ~
• Subpar Web browser • Not really a smartphone, • Camera doesn't live up to • Lacks built-in speakers
• No instant messaging but priced like one 8-MP billing • Does not support video
I/) client • Limited account integra- • No voice dialing over files
z tion Bluetooth • No internal storage
• Android still lacks many • Apps are limited
apps compared to iPhone
LG scores with the Rumor The Microsoft Kin Two isn't HTC and Verizon Wireless Logitech's latest touch-
'" Touch, a capable messag- quite a smartphone, but have released the best screen-enabled Squee-
z ing device with plenty of it's a heady drug for the Android phone so far with zebox works well, but for
~ thoughtful design touches. Facebook-obsessed. the Droid Incredible. $300, it's light on extra
= Sprint; 3-inch LCD; 2MP camera; Bluetooth; 4.2 by
'" 2.2 by 0.6 inches (HWD);
I/) 4.7 ounces.
Verizon Wireless; 3.4-inch LCD; 8MP camera; Bluetooth; 4.25 by 2.5 by 0.75 inches (HWD); 4.7 ounces.
Product name in RED indicates Editors' Choice.
Verizon Wireless; 3.7-inch LCD; 8MP camera; Bluetooth; 4.63 by 2.3 by 0.47 inches (HWD); 4.6 ounces.
802.11g; Internet radio; wireless remote; Ethernet; 3.6 by 5.9 by 3.1-inches (HWD).
Toshiba 55UX600U Sony Reader Daily Bowers & Wilkins P5 Bowers & Wilkins MM-1
$2,399.99 list Edition (PRS-9OOBC) Mobile Hi-Fi Head- $499.95 list
$399.99 direct phones
••• 00 •• f)00 •••• f) •••• 0
• GreenTech Approved • Integrated 3G radio for • Excellent audio perfor- • Stellar audio performance
• High contrast ratio wireless book downloads mance • Laudable bass response
• Solid HD- and SD-image • Classy design • Extremely comfortable • Pulls audio from USB port
quality • Touch-enabled display • Relatively lightweight • Remote can control
• Large assortment of Web • Supports many file for- • Equipped with iPhone/ iTunes on your PC
apps mats iPod in-line remote
• Very energy efficient for control
• Uneven backlighting • High price • Expensive • Expensive
• Poor screen uniformity • Glossy screen coating • Despite the claim, offers • Remote control is awk-
• Thicker than competing makes dim display dif- no noise isolation ward to hold
LED edge-lit models ficult to read • Cables could be longer
• Touch screen requires
very firm presses
Toshiba's 55UX600U is an The Sony Reader Daily Edi- With the P5, Bowers & Hardly an overpriced
energy-efficient, 55-inch, tion offers a slick design, Wilkins gracefully enters design piece, the Bowers &
LED-backlit HDTV that but it suffers from a high the consumer headphone Wilkins MM-1 is a fantastic
delivers good high- and price and a dim display. market with a stunning de- pair of high-end PC speak-
standard-definition image sign that is both comfort- ers worth saving up for.
quality along with a wealth able and sonically superb.
of Web features.
55 inches; 1,920 by 1,OSO 5.0 by S.l by 0.6 inches Supra-aural; 26-ohm irn- 0.5 by 11 by 4.5 inches
native resolution; 120-Hz (HWD);12.S ounces. pedance; 6.9 ounces. (HWD).
refresh rate; 16:9 aspect
ratio; 2 USB ports. Visit pcmag.com for the full reviews of these and other consumer electronics products.
FIRST LOOKS HARDWARE
Dell Optiplex 780 USFF
A Tiny Business Desktop
The Dell Optiplex 780 is an ultra-small form factor (USFF) desktop PC that can fit virtually anywhere your business requires. If you don't have any expandability needs, this Intel Core 2 Duo-equipped system has enough power to run all your business apps, and even light multimedia tasks.
The 780 measures a dainty 9.5 by 2.7 by 9.5 inches (HWD), and has an optional mounting kit for a monitor to make it an allin-one.ln order to power up the monitor and the PC and connect to the Internet, you only need to plug in one power cable and one Ethernet cable. This convenience makes
for less clutter and more space around the work area.
The system also comes with a lockable cover to secure the back connectors, including an eSATA port, DisplayPort, five USB ports, and a VGA port. You also get a notebook-style DVD burner and a 160GB hard drive. The back of the system has a jack for the 802.11n Wi-Fi external antenna. There are two USB ports on the front of the system, next to the optical drive and the audio ports, so you can still hook up USB keys and hard drives, provided your corpo-
rate policies allow them. For maintenance, removing one screw gets you into the system, and the drives are under a simple-topop-out panel.
In testing, the 780 completed the Windows Media Encoder test in a relatively quick 45 seconds and the Photoshop CS4 test in 1 minute 41 seconds-both decent numbers for a mid-priced business system. You can also configure the system with the more cost-efficient Pentium Dual Core, Celeron Dual-Core, and single-core Celeron CPUs. The Core 2 Quad is limited to the larger Optiplex 780 chassis types (SFF, Desktop, Minitower). The 780's PCMark Vantage score was 4,910, which is average for a dual-core system with integrated graphics.
Overall, the 780 is an excellent choice for the main-line business worker. It has the usual SFF, desktop and minitower configurations, plus an innovative USFF chassis and monitor stand combo. While not perfect, it's a neater and more secure solution than the ones we've seen in the past. Therefore I can award the Optiplex 780 USFF with our Editors' Choice for business desktops. -Joel Santo Domingo
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I SPECS 3.0-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 processor; 4GB SDRAM; 160GB hard drive; Intel GMA 4500 graphics; dual-layer DVD±RW drive; 22-inch widescreen monitor; Windows 7 Home Premium.
Dell Optiplex 780 USFF $1,484 direct
PROS Compact form factor. Quiet. AII-inone-like monitor stand. Relatively simple
to service. VPro. DisplayPort and eSATA port. Lockable. No bloatware.
CONS Monitor stand requires too many cables and connections. Locked down desktop has no access to eSATA. Wireless requires external antenna.
Dell Optiplex 780 USFF 4,910
Apple iMac 21.5-inch (Core 2 Duo) 5,453
Lenovo ThinkCentre M58p Eco Ultra Small 4,740
3DMARK WINDOWS MEDIA CINEBENCH
VANTAGE A ENCODERT RIOA
N/A 0:46 6,301
3,996 0:49 6,995
N/A 0:48 6,626 PHOTOSHOP CS4 T
A High scores are best. T low scores are best. VANTAGE A
Bold type denotes first place.
1:41 1:32 2:30
REO denotes Editors' Choice. N/A-Not applicable: The product could not complete the test, or the test was not compatible . • This test was run at 1.024 by 768 resolution.
FIRST LOOKS HARDWARE
Samsung NB30 $340 street ••• ()O
PROS Scratch-proof. Rugged-like features. Inexpensive. Good battery life.
CONS Small hard drive. Plainlooking. Small touchpad and mouse buttons.
This Netbook Talks Tough
arving a unique niche in this chaotic netbook market is almost impossible these days, but you have to give Samsung credit for
trying. The company has come out with the NB30, which it's selling as a ruggedized netbook. Though it's not meant to sustain 3-foot drops and underwater dives, the NB30 has a hard-drive sensor, a scratch-proof lid, and a spill-resistant frame. Everything else-from components to performance-is pretty run of the mill.
The hard, jagged exterior of the NB30 is smudge- and scratch-proof and can withstand minor bumps against a hard surface, but it's not what I'd call aesthetically pleasing. The NB30 has a 10-inch widescreen,
to repel unsightly marks. The touchpad and mouse buttons are too tiny for adult hands and make the navigating experience uncomfortable.
Despite its ruggedized exterior, the internals are as weak as every other 10-inch netbook. Its SYSMark 2007 score was actually two points lower than other netbooks in its class, and its video encoding score (4 minutes 56 seconds) came in dead last. The NB30 uses a 48-Wh (6-cell) battery, resulting in 7 of hours life on MobileMark 2007. Overall, the NB30 is priced aggressively and is a good fit for those who are rough on their electronics. However, it does not replace military-certified rugged laptops, and there are others with a better feature
and the palm rest area and 93-percent set.-Cisco Cheng
(of full size) keyboard are also designed »CLlCK HERE FOR MORE
I SPECS 1.6-GHz Intel Atom N450 processor; 1GB SDRAM; 160GB hard drive; Intel GMA 3150 graphics; 10.l-inch display; Atheros 802.11g Wi-Fi; 2.7 pounds; 48-Wh battery; Windows 7 Starter (32-bit).
FIRST LOOKS HARDWARE
Dell Inspiron 1464
A Solid Mainstream Laptop
hen the Dell Inspiron i1464-43820BK first came on the scene, it was one of only a handful of mainstream laptops that bundled an Intel Core i3 processor while tempting performance enthusiasts with a sweet price. Now that the market is saturated with Core i3 laptops, Dell's next logical step was to drop the price. The Inspiron 1464 is about $80 less than it was before, and it still has that fantastic user experience and well-rounded feature set. The only setback is that its battery capacity took a minor hit in the process.
The Inspirons may not use fancy metals in their cases, but they have more than 200 designs to choose from, including customized options. The 1464 is very portable, and yet it doesn't sacrifice screen real estate. Its 4.8-pound frame houses a 14-inch widescreen with a 1,366-by-768 resolution and a traditional keyboard with a comfortable typing experience. Other features in this system are very respectable, including a
Dell Inspiron 1464 $670 direct
PROS 500GB hard drive. Good performance. Excellent keyboard and navigating experience. Over 200 designs to choose from. Lightweight. Inexpensive.
CONS The 6-cell battery alone isn't going to cut it.
500GB hard drive, dual-layer DVD burner, and all the essential connectivity ports.
On our video-encoding tests, the Inspiron 1464 finished in 59 seconds, over 30 seconds faster than the HP Pavilion dv4-2153cl.lt also beat the dv4-2153c1 in both Photoshop C54 and CineBench R10 tests, albeit by a minimal margin. The 1464 fared the worst in MobileMark 2007 tests, however, scoring 3 hours 5 minutes. Luckily, Dell sells an extended battery with this laptop, and I wouldn't recommend leaving home without it. 50 for those who have a hectic travel schedule and aren't willing to give up screen real estate, the 1464 is a solid choice.-Cisco Cheng
» CLICK HERE FOR MORE
I SPECS 2.13-GHz Intel Core i3-330M; 4GB SDRAM; 500GB hard drive; Intel GMA Core i3 graphics; 14.1-inch display; 4.8 pounds; 46-Wh battery; Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit).
NZXTVulcan Acer Aspire X1301-B1812 Dell Inspiron 5865 HP Pavilion Elite
$69.99 list $530 street $618 direct HPE-257c-b
•••• 0 ••• 00 •••• 0 ••• 00
• Compact size • Small form factor • Compact and quiet • Good performance num-
• Lightweight when empty • Plenty of ports • No bloatware bers
• Removable handle • Inexpensive • Fast Core i3 processor • Two-year warranty for PC
1.1) • Can house long video • Monitor bundled with PC • HDMI port hardware
a. cards • Some expandability
• Good cable-routing
• Can be hard to open • Lackluster performance • 320GB hard drive • No eSATA
• Little wiggle room inside • Very limited expandability • Weak 3D performance • No Blu-ray
1.1) the case can make wiring • No eSATA or FireWire port • No 5-GHz Wi-Fi support
0 difficult • Could use wireless con- • Bloatware
• Designed for MicroATX nection • HD video is online only
w It won't house a full-size The X1301-B1812 is an inex- The 580s is a good upgrade The HPE-257c-b has a
z motherboard, but if a pensive, small form-factor for people performing bunch of nice features,
:::iii! smaller MicroATX system PC that might make a good everyday light to moderate but some missing features
~ is all you need, the Vulcan second PC if you can accept multimedia tasks. keep the combo from scor-
CIQ is a solid choice. its limitations. ing higher.
15.25 by 7 by 18.5 inches 2.7-GHz AMD Athlon II X2 2.9-GHz Intel Core i3-530 2.8-GHz Intel Core i7-860
(HWD) 215 processor; 3GB SDRAM; processor; 4GB SDRAM; processor; 8GB SDRAM;
640GB hard drive; DVD 320GB hard drive; Intel ITB hard drive; ATI Radeon
1.1) Super Multi Drive; 20-inch GMA graphics (Core i3); HD 5570 graphics; dual-
w display. dual-layer DVD±RW drive; layer DVD±RW drive; 25-
Windows 7 Home Premium inch widescreen monitor;
~ (64-bit). Windows 7 Home Premium
Product name in RED indicates Editors' Choice. QUICK LOOKS HARDWARE
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 15 $6S0 direct
• Fabulous user experience
• Dual pointing devices
• Big screen
• Drab aesthetics
• Only 2GB of RAM in the base configuration
• Low screen resolution
HP Pavilion dv6-3013c1 $799 list
Asus EeePC l005PR $400 street
MSI Wind U160-007US $380 street
If you could care less about The Pavilion dv6-3013c1 is The 100SPR may not be the The U160-007US's only
the looks of a small business a moderate performer with perfect netbook, but Asus perks are that it ships with
laptop, the Lenovo ThinkPad average battery life, but makes it hard to turn down a a big 65-Wh battery and it's
Edge IS is user-friendly and capable of handling most good bargain. reasonably priced.
cheap. everyday tasks.
2.l-GHz Intel Core i3-330M 2.0-GHz AMD Phenom II 1.6-GHz Intel Atom N450 1.6-GHz Intel Atom N450
processor; 2GB SDRAM; X4 N930 processor; 4GB processor; 1GB SDRAM; processor; 1GB SDRAM;
250GB hard drive; lS.6-inch SDRAM; 500GB hard drive; 250GB hard drive; Intel GMA 250GB hard drive; Intel GMA
display; InteI802.11n Wi-Fi; ATI Radeon HD 4200; 15.6- 3150 graphics; 10.1-inch dis- 3150 graphics; 10.1-inch
5.S pounds; 57-Wh battery; inch display; 5.4 pounds; play; Atheros 802.11n Wi-Fi; screen; Atheros 802.11g
Windows 7 Professional Windows 7 Home Premium. 2.7 pounds; 63-Wh battery; Wi-Fi; 2.7 pounds; 65-Wh
(32-bit). Windows 7 Starter (32-bit). battery; Windows 7 Starter
(32-bit). • Quad-core processor
• Big, fast hard drive
• Two-year warranty
• Integrated graphics
• No ExpressCard slot
• So-so battery life
Visit pcmag.com for the full reviews of these and scores of other hardware products.
• Broadcom chip improves HD playback
• High resolution
• Easily accessible memory slots
• Bigger keyboard would be nice
• Mouse buttons are not click-friendly
• No HDMI port
• Nine hours worth of battery life
• Reasonably priced
• Plain design
• Noisy mouse buttons
• Battery bulges out from the bottom
FIRST LOOKS BUSINESS
Canon image Formula P-150 Scan-tini
Serious Scanning for the Road
The Canon Scan-tini isn't the
• • I I •
• I I ....
• I •
smallest scanner I've ever seen, but it's small and light enough to earn its designation as a portable. More important, it may be the smallest scanner possible that offers both
portability and the conveniences you'd expect in a desktop scanner.
Though the P-1S0 is almost double the size and weight of some other portable scanners-at 1.6 by 11 by 3.7 inches (HWD) and 2.1 pounds-it's not limited to manual feeding, simplex scans (one side of a page), and barely tolerable scan speeds. Canon has managed to shoehorn a 20-page automatic document feeder (ADF) into the P-1S0, along with duplexing capabilities.
The Scan-tini's speed scores were comparable to a desktop scanner's, meaning that they were impressive for a portable. In my tests in the default scan mode, at 200 ppi and color, the speed was close to the 10 ppm and 20 ipm ratings, at 10.3 ppm for
scanning a 2S-sheet document to image PDF format in simplex mode, and 19.2 ipm for scanning the same document in duplex mode. The combination of scanning with the P- 1S0 and moving the file to Word format using PaperPort scored reasonably well on accuracy, reading our Times New Roman test page at sizes as small as 10 points and our Arial test page at sizes as small as 8 points without a mistake.
The scanner didn't score particularly well on business cards, however, with the bundled software making at least one mistake on more than half of the cards in our standard test suite. However, the P- 1S0 itself did a great job of feeding stacks of multiple cards.
Despite the wimpy business card software, the P-1S0 offers an impressive balance of speed, capability, and price, giving this fast, well-designed scanner a seat at the Editors' Choice table.-M. David Stone
» CLICK HERE FOR MORE
Canon imageFormula P-150 Scan-tini
PROS Automatic document feeder. Rated at 15 pages per minute for black-and-white and grayscale scans. Duplexes.
CONS Relatively large and heavy for a portable scanner. Initial setup is a touch harder than it should be.
FIRST LOOKS BUSINESS
Epson WorkForce 1100
Print BigAnd Cheap
f you've been itching for a printer that can handle tabloid size (ll-by 17-inch) paper or larger but didn't think you could justify the high price, the Epson WorkForce 1100 is made for you. Not only is it the least-expensive tabloid-size printer I've seen, it also prints on supertabloid paper up to 13 by 19 inches and on banner paper up to 13 by 44 inches. And it doesn't hurt at all that the output quality is above par for text, graphics, and photos.
As you might expect from an inexpensive tabloid-size printer, the 1100 doesn't offer a lot of extras. You won't find any photocentric features like printing from memory cards, cameras, or USB memory keys, and it's even short on office-centric features. And aside from the ability to print on largesize paper, the 1100's paper handling is meager at best, with only one tray, a 100-sheet input capacity, no duplexer, and no ports for printer sharing.
On our tests, the 1100's speed was acceptable but not stellar, turning in a score of 13 minutes 49 seconds (13:49) on our business applications suite. The 1100's photo speed was also on the slow side, averaging 2:25 for each 4-by-6 and 5:23 for each 8-by-10.
Epson WorkForce 1100 $199.99 direct
• •• VO
PROS Better-than-par output quality. Prints at tabloid, supertabloid, and up to 13-by-44-inch banner size.
CONS Highly limited paper handling, with a lOO-sheet capacity and no duplexer. No Ethernet or Wi-Fi connection.
The good news is that whatever extra time the 1100 takes for printing pays off in better-than-par output quality. Both text and graphics quality are a small, but noticeable, step better than typical ink jets can manage, and photos are in the top tier for ink jets. So although the 1100 is limited by its low paper capacity and lack of a duplexer, it is a very reasonable choice for a small office that wants to print big.-M. David Stone
» CLICK HERE FOR MORE
FIRST LOOKS BUSINESS
QuickBooks Online Plus
Balance Your Books Online
mall business accounting and OuickBooks are practically synonymous these days. OuickBooks is the clear market leader, and has won several Editors' Choice awards through the years. OuickBooks Online was introduced a few years ago, and it didn't come close to matching the accounting acumen of OuickBooks Pro and Premier. Intuit continues to work on OuickBooks Online, however. I looked at the recently launched OuickBooks Online Plus, and I was impressed with the progress the company has made.
This version is surprisingly robust, offering advanced features, such as automatic invoicing and location tracking, as well as a good amount of customization. Its real advantage over the online competition is that it is much more comprehensive. This OuickBooks divides its financial tools into several standard areas: Company, Customers, Vendors, Employees, Banking, and Reports. The Company module contains the typical backbone information, including your Chart of Accounts, a log of user activity, recurring transactions, and bud-
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QuickBooks Online Plus $34.95 direct per month ••• ()O
PROS Intuitive interface and navigation. Good selection of features. Some exceptional functionality. Activity log. Inexpensive payroll features. Free support. Mobility.
CONS No online bill-pay. Skimpy customervendor records. Only one payroll option. Little outside integration. Weak inventory features.
gets. You can also import customers from Outlook, Excel, and Gmail, and build your own client records. Setting up gateways to accept credit cards is also simple. The Vendor module focuses on purchase orders and bills. You can also access tools that help you create paychecks, and the complex Banking module contains account registers, a checkbook, and a funds transfer tool.
OuickBooks Online Plus is a pleasure to use, and its feature set keeps building. Though it's not equal to the desktop version of OuickBooks Pro, many businesses don't need all those extras, and are better served with this Web-based version.-Kathy Yakal
» CLICK HERE FOR MORE
FIRST LOOKS SOFTWARE .___ _
Windows Live Hotmail (Wave 4 Beta)
Hotmail Gets Hotter
otmail remains the secondmost popular webmail service after Yahoo Mail (with Gmail nipping at Microsoft's heels), according to the latest numbers from Hitwise. But Microsoft isn't content to maintain the status quo; Redmond has added a number of big changes aimed at giving Hotmail a competitive edge. Windows Live Hotmail (Wave 4 Beta) now has new ways to share and view content like photos and video easily within the mail reader, connect with social networks, and clean out the clutter. It's a slick, fast e-mail solution that does a good job of keeping your inbox free from junk.
Hotmail's new design is somewhere in between that of Yahoo's rich application, complete with buttons and resizable columns, and Gmail's minimalist aesthetic. Hotmail now offers a Conversation view similar to Gmail. But Gmail's inbox has one nifty trick that's still missing in Hotmail-live updating without the need to hit "Refresh." Hotmail does have a nice new Quick Views feature, which lets you view only e-mails containing photos, Office docs, shipping dates, or messages you've flagged-and
beats having to search your inbox. To use the new photo, video, and Office doc-viewing features, I had to install Silverlight, Microsoft's lightweight Flash-like plug-in. When I clicked the Office docs icon, the doc was saved to my SkyOrive. From here, I viewed and edited the document in the new Office Web apps-pretty slick. I also watched YouTube clips in my inbox.
In my testing, I configured my Hotmail account to receive a lot of dubious notices, and Microsoft's SmartScreen spam blocker did an excellent job keeping my inbox clean. It caught more spam than did Yahoo, and takes you right to your messages without adding an extra click to get past news and updates. As for speed, Hotmail is snappy and desktop-like, but Gmail is a tad faster. I could read e-mail in any of the current browsers (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and IE), but the calendar didn't work in Chrome.
Though there are still some snags in this version and Yahoo still wins on interface, Hotmail's handling of inbox clutter, photo and document attachments, and integration with social networks make a strong argument to switch.-Michael Muchmore
» CLICK HERE FOR MORE
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Windows Live Hotmail (Wave 4 Beta)
PROS Good junk e-mail tools. Clean, customizable user interface. Integrates with other e-mail services and social networks. Nice mobile Web version. View photos, videos, and documents within the mail site.
CONS Still some beta quirks. Can't sort by columns as in Yahoo Mail.
_________ • FIRST LOOKS SOFTWARE
Ubuntu 10.04 Free
PROS User-friendly redesign. Integrated chat and social-networking capabilities. Good preinstalled software selection. Fast boot times.
CONS Ubuntu One music store is limited compared to Apple and Microsoft offerings. Finding and choosing new software may intimidate less-experienced users.
ubuntu .,., . , . t vbvn!u 1004 ItS tM 10.1<06 ..". bIo9
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~ .. .
- ,_ .. ' .... -
Linux Gets a Makeover
ne of the long-standing problems with Linux is that even the varieties that aim for accessibility often look like something ordinary people wouldn't want to use. This has been true of even the most populist free flavor-Ubuntu, which visually seemed like an afterthought even though its innards and interface were smartly conceived and constructed. But with Ubuntu's newest long-term support (LTS) release, 10.04 (nicknamed "Lucid Lynx"), developer Canonical seems to be changing for the better.
Gone are the muddy look and questionable color scheme that have defined Ubuntu's default appearance for a long time. Instead, you now get a Gnome KDE desktop that's both smooth and striking. Of course, Ubuntu also needs substance behind its good looks, which it has in the form of ease of use, relatively unfettered features, and
a strong software selection. For example, you can now access the Ubuntu One cloudbased music store. Similarly, the new "Me" menu coordinates popular social-networking features by putting all your accounts in one convenient place-you don't even need to open your browser. And access to the vast library of free, open-source apps available on the Internet has improved with an updated version of the Software Center app.
On our tests, this version took only 32 seconds to boot to the desktop screen. Ubuntu 10.04 achieves this with the help of Upstart, which uses events to start and stop tasks-a better solution than the traditional System V. And although this release is still not about to unseat the far more popular-and expensive-Microsoft and Apple OSs, it finally seems to be making significant strides toward attracting and keeping a wider audience. -Matthew Murray
» CLICK HERE FOR MORE
FIRST LOOKS SOFTWARE
Netflix (for iPad)
iPad Goes to the Movies
etflix may just be a killer app for the iPad. The streaming, all-you-can-eat movie service shows one great reason why you would want a bigscreen iPad rather than a smaller, handheld iPod: to soak up hours of video while you're propped up in bed or on your couch.
Netflix for iPad's interface feels like a spinoff of the Netflix Web site instead of a true iPad app. You can tap Watch Instantly, Browse DVDs, and Your Queue tabs to browse and select movies to watch. Above the movie is a navigation bar that lets you skip to any point in the film. The iPad status bar that displays Wi-Fi signal, time, and battery life does not go away while you are viewing a video. That hurts, because it ruins the theatrical effect of watching a movie. Hopefully an option to hide the status bar will be added in future releases.
A control panel appears when you tap the screen while watching a video. The panel has four icons, which let you play/pause, go 30 seconds back, skip to the end, and minimize the movie. The minimize button is buggy; it leaves the video's sound play-
.. _ ... "....,_ ,.....--------
Netflix (for iPad)
Free (with Netflix subscription) ••• ()O
PROS Streaming videos look and play great. Easy to browse and find new movies.
CONS A few bugs. Can't rate movies. Collection of streaming movies is limited.
ing in the background with no apparent way to get back to what you're viewing. But the videos we tested look good and play easily-especially over a fast connection.
So while there might be a few issues and it doesn't take full advantage of the touch interface, it's a fairly smooth experience, especially for a first version. -Sean Ludwig
» CLICK HERE FOR MORE
QUICK LOOKS SOFTWARE
MozyHome 2.0 Bsecure Cloudcare Malwarebytes' Peachtree by Sage Pre-
$54.95 direct per year Version 6.0 Anti-Malware 1.46 mium Accounting 2010
3 computers, $49.95 direct Free for noncommercial $349.99 direct
per year use
••• 00 ••• 00 ••• f)0 •••• 0
• Simple, helpful setup • Fully Web-based for • Free for noncommercial • Impressive overall
wizard multi-computer house- use accounting prowess
• Well-designed user holds • Small download and • Can have multiple compa-
interface • Per-child configuration superfast install nies open simultaneously
• Windows Explorer • "Safety Lock" disables • Simple settings • Exceptionally detailed
en integration with right- Internet on abuse • Especially effective at people and item manage-
CI:: click menus • Can send e-mail or removing rogue security ment
• Mac version SMS alerts products • Robust inventory func-
• Private encryption key tionality
available I I
• Only one PC per account
• Won't back up network or removable drives
• Private encryption option
en easy to miss
8 • Web restores took too
Mozy improves ease of use and setup, but still supports just one computer per account and doesn't let you back up network
:E or removable drives. That ~ keeps it a step behind the m competition.
• Content filtering disabled by simple hack
• Can't handle secure anonymizing proxies
• 1M monitoring only gets half the conversation
• No social networking management
CloudCare handles all necessary parental control tasks, but competing products do those same tasks better and include innovative features.
Product name in RED indicates Editors' Choice.
• No blocking of malicious Web sites
• Not effective against commercial keyloggers or rootkits
• Rudimentary help system
Malwarebytes' AntiMalware does a good job of cleaning up malware, especially those annoying rogue security programs, though it's not effective against commercial keyloggers or rootkits.
• Interface not as clean as AccountEdge's
• Navigation and interface could improve
• No Mac compatibility
Peachtree Premium 2010 is a solid competitor with its robust accounting functionality, exceptional inventory-tracking, and powerful people and item management.
AccountEdge 2010 for Kindle for iPad Rhapsody 2.0 (iPhone Alan Wake
Windows Free OS) $59.99 list
New users, $299 direct; $9.99 per month
••• vo ••• vo •••• 0 •••• v
• Clean, simple interface • Huge book selection • Offline playback mode and • Engaging, mysterious
• Fast • Read on multiple devices unlimited downloads storyline
• Web-store integration • Reverse text display • Access to more than 9 mil- • Unique episodic story tell-
• Thorough to-do list • Hides iPad's status bar lion tracks ing
• In-depth financial manage- • Excellent, easy-to-use UI • Dark and mysterious atmo-
ment sphere and environments
• Multiple currencies • Tense and well-designed
combat • No standard online bill-pay
• Fewer online tools than QuickBooks
• No company dashboard
AccountEdge is a formidable competitor with speedy navigation and an excellent interface.
• Both audio and artwork quality could be better
• Music doesn't play in the background
• Offline mode can't download individual songs
• Closed book format
• Bookstore not integrated
• No color illustration
• No dictionary
• No in-text search
• No periodical subscriptions
The addition of offline playback to the already good Rhapsody for iPhone app makes it the best music app in the iTunes store.
The Kindle for iPad gives you access to Amazon's huge e-book selection, but it lacks iBooks' color capability and dictionary.
• Somewhat awkward character modeling and lip sync
Alan Wake finds the sweet spot that many horror games miss: a slick combination of action sequences and genuine frights.
Visit pcmag.com for the full reviews of these and scores of other software products.
JOHN C. DVORAK
Why Facebook P ·yacy Settings Don't Matter
find it endlessly amusing how so many articles are written about Facebook and its cavalier lack of concern over privacy issues (case in point: Read Dan Costa's column). A large community is up in arms over the fact that Facebook consistently changes the way it operates and constantly resets the privacy settings of the users to nil, as in NO PRIVACY
This amuses me because it seems as if the majority of Facebook users don't even know about or care about the privacy settings. Once in a while some old lady is flabbergasted by the fact that anyone can write on her wall, sure. And once in a blue moon some teenage girl says she "didn't know" her teachers could see her comments. All the while the users of Facebook are increasing by the millions as the complaints are increasing by the thousands, thus amounting to nothing of consequence.
Now there is a movement to create an open-source version of the social network to address all these concerns, and it mayor
may not be successful, but it doesn't matter since most users have so little regard for their own privacy. They're too busy publishing humiliating pictures of themselves on Facebook, Flickr and elsewhere. It always seems to be a good idea at the time.
And why do American continue to do these dumb things? It's a unique reflection of the short-term thinking that plagues the culture. We always hear about this phenomenon regarding the activities of American corporations, which always seem to be thinking short-term to appease the investors. They do things quarter by quarter instead of thinking toward the long future.
Thinking Ahead-A Thousand Years Often Americans are told to look at Asia. That's how to do it! Think long-term.
The Chinese think thousands of years down the road, but Americans cannot even comprehend that concept. We like concepts like "live for today!" and "live as if it's your last day on earth." So what if you post a picture of yourself tongue
Americans like concepts like 'live for today!' So what if you post a picture of yourself on Facebook tongue-kissing someone while wearing face paint and holding a Bud Light?
kissing someone's ear while wearing face paint and holding a Bud Light, obviously plastered? Who expected a prospective employer to dredge up that old pic and change his mind about you? Oops.
I'm constantly reminded of the early days of daily blog diaries, when dumb bloggers would profusely apologize for skipping a day of blogging. No matter that the blog was about a mostly banal life and what the cat was doing, or what they ate that day with the catch-all eponymous descriptor, "Yurn!'' You know, those people who have since moved on to Facebook or onto real lives.
Busted by Blogs
Every few weeks one of them would make a huge fuss in the "blogosphere" about how he got fired from his job because of something he wrote in his blog. One woman, working in some horrible cubicle environment, as I recall, wrote some of the most catty and mean descriptions of all the people in the office including the boss. She was stunned when the blog ended up on the boss' computer and the guy fired her.
A similar fate was meted out to the flight attendant who posted silly pictures of herself. One of my favorites happened when I was working at TechTV and some chipper
new hire came in telling us how great it was working there. A cohort quickly found his blog or LiveJournal entry with him saying. "I just got hired at TechTV. This is the dumbest place I've ever worked. I'm going to quit as soon as I can" followed by an excoriation of the staff. What an idiot.
And yes, this is a function of short-term thinking as well as idiocy. He reckoned his message would go out to his few pals and that would be the end of it.
So where does this sort of thinking come from? The American penchant for fear mongering. Scaring the public, as a whole, into thinking they are going to be killed any minute. I grew up during the duck-and-cover era, when a nuclear holocaust seemed imminent. People built fallout shelters.
It has always been something. Now people are freaked out by a terrorist attack. We've been on Orange alert permanently!
Why bother thinking ahead when the end is near! Well, the end hasn't come, but it will for those who don't consider the long-term effects of what they are doing online today. Advice: stop it!
DVORAK LIVE ON THE WEB John's Internet TV show airs every Wednesday at 3:30 ET on Cranky Geeks.com. You can download back episodes whenever you like.
Afraid of Mic osoft Kin
he Microsoft Kin phones have been smothered in their beds. Poor kids. When Verizon launched Microsoft's two new messaging phones, it was met with a resounding chorus of negative reviews.
I complained about the lack of apps and games on our reviews of the Kin One and Kin Two, but I was actually pretty kind. If you click over to Engadget or Phonescoop, you'll see phrases like "I haven't been this disappointed in a phone in a long time."
But here's the thing: the Kins are misbegotten, crippled creatures compared to pretty much every smartphone on the market. They've been priced as smartphones, with smartphone data plans, and they're being sold as smartphones, so the comparisons are fair.
But the Kins are actually interesting when compared with texting phones, otherwise known as "QMDs" or quick-messaging devices. Texting phones like the LG EnV series have Web browsers out of the 1990s, awful e-mail programs, and no socialnetworking skills at all. Because they cost $20 less per month than smartphones,
they're selling fast to kids who want to connect with their friends-without giving their parents a stroke when the monthly bill arrives.
The Kin could have had more appeal if Verizon had given it a cheaper data plan. But Verizon didn't because the company is actually afraid of these little guys, because Kin users, with their full Internet Explorerbased browsers and automatic photo uploads, will consume too much Internet. And rather than encouraging mobile Web use by making it more affordable, carriers are steadily raising rates.
In January, Verizon slapped a $9.99 mandatory data plan on many of its texting phones, even for people who hardly use the Web at all. Verizon also tries to upsell those users onto $30, smartphone-esque data plans if they do choose to surf often. Verizon did lower its smartphone data plan from $45 to $30 about two years ago, but back then the vast majority of their phones didn't require a data plan at all.
Verizon's not alone here. Long ago, T-Mobile had a "T-Zones" plan for mobile
Carriers are raising prices because they're terrified of mobile-phone owners using the Internet.
phones which cost $2.99 per month. Then the company raised the fee to $4.99. Now its minimum phone data plan costs $9.99. The Sidekick data plan used to be $19.99. Now it's $30.
On AT&T, you may be familiar with its iPhone plan. Once it was $20; now it's $30. For texting phones, AT&T now requires you to buy at least $20 worth oftexting and data per month. Their chief executive, Ralph de la Vega, has been hinting for a while at the possibility of even more expensive, usagebased monthly data fees. Only Sprint has held the line with a $15 data plan for most of its phones.
And that's not mentioning the many additional monthly charges that carriers tack on. Want to use an e-mail client on a Verizon phone? That'll be $5, thanks. How about GPS? $10 per month, please.
The True Motivation
I don't think the carriers are solely greedy. I think they're scared. Carriers are raising prices because they're actually terrified of mobile phone owners using the Internet. They fear they don't have enough Internet to go around. At conference after conference this year, I keep hearing about mobile Web scarcity-how there's not enough spectrum, not enough capacity, not enough buildout. After all, we've seen what "excessive" demand can do to one carrier, watching AT&T's struggles with all of its iPhone
users in New York and San Francisco.
New 4G networks may take some of the pressure off of 3G next year, but carriers need to look at optimizing their data flows, too. Opera and RIM, most notably, are doing a lot of work to provide full mobile experiences using less data. AT&T has been loading Opera Mini onto many of its texting phones recently, and that's a win for everyone, especially iPhone users; it provides a much better Web experience than did previous browsers, and it transfers up to 90 percent less data than a truly full browser. A version of Opera Mini exists for Verizon's BREW platform, but so far Verizon has ignored it.
Requiem for a Kin?
RIM, meanwhile, has been ringing the bell for server-side optimization with smartphones-but the company needs to explain how that's going to save consumers not just time, but money. If RIM's browsers and e-mail clients deliver less data than competing smartphones, maybe carriers should be giving them a break on the data plans.
So take a moment to pity the Kin. As feature phones, they flew a little too close to the sun with their browser and Studio, and they got burned by the fearful, jealous gods who ultimately rule the mobile universe.
STAY PHONE-SMART Keep up with the latest on smartphones by reading Sascha's column at go.pcmag.com/segan.
acebook made some notable announcements recently. They range from a holistic vision of a seamless, semantically enabled Web of human relationships to a simple "Like" button, which will soon be omnipresent on the Internet. The moves are ambitious, giving even fast-moving rivals like Twitter reason to worry. Still, the simple fact that gets lost in the rush towards ubiquitous social connectivity is that Facebook users still don't know what they are sharing, with whom, or why it matters. In short:
Facebook remains a privacy minefield.
Tracking Your Tastes
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has described what he calls the "Social Graph." It's basically a map of all of our social relationships and the things that we care about. The Graph isn't just about whom you know, but also what you want. Sharing photos with friends is great, but sharing camera recommendations is monetizable. This is the promise of the Semantic Web, a collec-
tion of links and objects that can be easily shared and repurposed among sites; except on the Social Graph, all the lines eventually run through Facebook.
Part of Facebook's plan is the universal "Like" button. It may seem like a minor introduction, but it isn't. Sure, there are lots of ways to indicate that you like a story online:
Digg, Buzz, Twitter, Reddit, and countless others, but those are mostly about getting people to read something. What if you just, well, like something? Until now, the most granular measure of our human intent has been our search terms, and Google has done an exceedingly good job of connecting that intent with advertisers who want to capitalize on it.
As much as I love Twitter and even Foursquare, Facebook has always been among my least-favorite social-media sites, and its graduation to "platform" status hasn't done anything to change my mind. It truly is an application platform; there are more
Make something 'public' and it will appear throughout the Facebook ecosystem.
than 550,000 applications on Facebook, accessed by more than 70 percent of users.
I find Facebook's interface cluttered, the applications moronic, and the Terms of Service opaque-at best. It is AOL, circa 1996- without the service fees. Clearly, I am in the minority. Facebook has more than 400 million active users worldwide, and 50 percent of those users log on every day. These users create and share more than 25 billion Web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, and photo albums. Facebook considers such items "objects"-bits of code that can be created, shared, exported, imported, synchronized, and monetized.
As Zuckerberg has modestly put it: "This is the most transformative thing we've ever done for the Web." Transformative, for sure, but I would humbly suggest it will be better for Facebook than the Internet as a whole. I agree these products go a long way towards creating "instantly social and personalized experiences on the Web," but it will come at a price. And that price is privacy.
A World of Likes
"Like" a movie on IMDB, and all of your friends will get updates to that effect. For that matter, every time you look at a movie on IMDB, you will see a list of friends who have "liked" that page. It is a powerful tool, but my bet is most Facebook users will have no idea where, when, or how their Likes will show up on the Web. Or for how long.
In the past, Facebook would ask you to share your data with each app that wanted to access your profile. But now, make something "public" and it will appear throughout the Facebook ecosystem.
In other words, be careful about who you friend because your information will show up when you visit one of these preapproved sites. Indeed, the Graph API makes it possible to pull all sorts of personal data directly into third-party sites. If you want to know what you are sharing, go to graph. facebook.com/markzuckerberg, but replace Zuck's name with yours. Or try your friend's username, just for kicks.
A New Reality for Users
Facebook will say that all of this is optin, and it is. Hell, no one is making you use Facebook at all-yet. But the truth is that Facebook users don't really understand their privacy settings. This is the same problem Google had when it launched Buzz, and for which is has now been criticized by ten European countries. But Google and Facebook are very different. For Google, having users share private information is a constant risk and an unfortunate side affect of its services. For Facebook, it is a business model.
And the average Facebook user? For better or worse, they are going to get a lot more exposure as well.
TALK BACK TO DAN E-mail your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
PC Magazine tested six 3G and 4G networks in 18 cities across the U.S., searching for the fastest and slowest mobile networks. Is yours
a speed demon or a slug? Find out in our exclusive report. By Sascha Segan
New York City
2010 FASTEST MOBILE NETWORK
NATIONAL WINNER I AT&T
With its HSPA 7.2 3G network, AT&T was the fastest (albeit the least consistent) of the four nationwide carriers. The network's dropouts don't erase the fact that AT&T's nationwide reach and relatively current technology deliver faster average 3G speeds than the competition.
It's a boom time for 3G. Where Americans were once happy with hotspots, now they're demanding to be connected anywherewhether it's with their smartphones, iPads, or laptops. And 3G is beginning to turn into 4G, as wireless carriers start to install faster technologies that can match or beat many home Internet connections.
There's more mobile data competition than ever before, and more people are surfing the Internet on the move. So PCMag .com decided to take a snapshot of America's mobile networks and see who's doing the best in 18 cities. Using more than a dozen staffers and freelancers with software of our own design, we cruised streets from Boise to Miami checking AT&T, Cricket, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, Sprint 3G, and Sprint 4G against each other.
In testing 3G and 4G across the continental USA, we wanted to do things differently from the competition, with more cities and more control-blanketing as many places as we could with our tests.
We didn't test voice quality, dropped calls, or coverage areas; while those are very important measurements, our tests were all about mobile Internet. We ran approximately 1,000 rounds of tests (totaling more than 10,000 individual tests) in 20
cities. We had to throw out two cities, Las Vegas and Philadelphia, because of technical problems, but overall our testing produced consistent, repeatable results. Two of our networks, Sprint 4G and Cricket, weren't available in all the cities we tested. That made them ineligible for regional and national awards, though we rated them for the individual cities they served.
Bear in mind mobile networks are constantly changing, and almost always for the better. And because speeds vary based on tower location, network load, device used, and even the weather, we can't predict performance in a specific location; rather, we're giving a snapshot of a specific day's usage in several locations across a metro area.
As we were editing this article, T-Mobile rolled out its new, faster HSPA+ technology in more of the Northeast, Memphis and Las Vegas. Sprint promises more and better 4G WiMAX coverage over the next few months, too. But for now, the speed crown goes to AT&T.
Making a Date With Data
We used laptops, not phones, to test the carriers' data networks. (For more on this, see How We Tested.) That meant giving up on some measures like dropped calls
NATIONAL + REGIONAL
MOBILE SPEED INDEX
DOWNLOAD SPEED Megabils per second
UPLOAD SPEED Megabils per second
TIME TO FIRST BYTE
AT&T 93 86.20 1.79 2.75 0.28 0.36 1.00
Cricket 95.32 0.94 1.54 0.34 0.43 1.06
Sprint3G 76 95.90 0.99 1.26 0.30 0.37 1.12
T-Mobile 83 92.78 1.17 2.26 0.34 0.63 1.21
Verizon 77 88.22 1.01 1.40 0.35 0.47 1.02
84.27 2.11 3.14 0.40 0.50 1.00
AT&T 84 78.87 1.57 2.20 0.30 0.31 1.04
Cricket 87.59 0.98 0.98 0.36 0.36 0.76
Sprint3G 69 92.87 0.96 1.24 0.28 0.33 1.20
T-Mobile 94 89.18 1.42 2.01 0.51 0.63 2.01
Verizon 67 89.20 0.88 1.05 0.34 0.36 0.84
92.59 3.09 3.09 0.46 0.46 0.77
AT&T 95 96.25 1.79 1.95 0.35 0.36 0.67
Cricket 93.33 0.76 0.80 0.35 0.37 1.22
Sprint3G 72 93.04 1.02 1.26 0.30 0.32 0.76
T-Mobile 77 92.12 1.11 2.05 0.34 0.52 0.96
Verizon 72 89.43 0.89 1.21 0.30 0.41 1.44
83.33 2.27 3.14 0.40 0.48 0.76
AT&T 93 82.91 1.58 2.08 0.24 0.36 1.26
Cricket 97.50 0.93 1.54 0.29 0.34 0.98
Sprint 3G 80 98.67 0.94 1.13 0.28 0.34 1.10
T-Mobile 81 95.49 1.24 2.26 0.22 0.38 1.02
Verizon 80 90.96 1.02 1.40 0.30 0.36 0.98
Sprint 4G 85.66 2.94 2.94 0.32 0.35 1.09 WEST
AT&T 87 87.32 2.11 2.75 0.25 0.28 1.01
Cricket 98.89 1.04 1.13 0.39 0.43 1.12
Sprint3G 72 97.84 1.04 1.14 0.33 0.37 1.34
T-Mobile 71 93.48 1.03 1.33 0.35 0.61 1.15
Verizon 75 83.71 1.16 1.26 0.42 0.47 0.87
Sprint4G 179.42 1.55 2.08 0.49 0.50 1.29
• Nalional: Crickel in 10 of 18 citle.; WiMAX in 9 of 18 cities. Northeasl: Crickel in 2 of 4 cities: WiMAX in 1 of 4 cilie s.
Southeast: Cricket In 1 of 4 cities: WIMAX In 3 of 4 cllies. central: Cricket In ailS cities. WIMAX in 3 of 5 cllles.West: Cricket in l of 5 cities, WIMAX In 2 of 5 cities. Testing the Car iers:
Testing the nation's wireless networks is the largest project PCMag.com's mobile desk has ever undertaken. It involved four staffers, 10 freelancers, two laptops, 10 modems, and 18 cities.
We equipped two identical HP Elitebook 2540p laptops with modems from each of the six networks that provide relatively widespread 3G or 4G service in the U.S. We picked the Elitebook 2540p because we wanted a Windows 7 laptop with good power and battery life.
For the modems, we took suggestions from each carrier and chose the AT&T USBConnect Lightning, the Cricket A600, the Sprint U301, the T-Mobile WebConnect Rocket, and the Novatel U727 and U760 for Verizon. (We have reviews of many of these modems in our Cellular Modem Reviews section.)
PCMag.com's Testing Script
To test the networks, we used eight to ten locations in each city. At each location, we ran an automated test script with each modem. The script, written in Windows Powershell, performed a number of
and voice quality. Why focus on data? Here at PCMag.com, we've always seen smartphones as the next evolution of the Pc. Our readers are most interested in data-heavy devices like the iPhone, Motorola Droid, and HTC EVO 4G. They want to surf, watch, and play on the road-and all of those things
upload and download tests including:
FILE DOWNLOADS: The script downloaded 1 MB and 5 MB ZIP files via FTP from ftp.apple.com and Limelight Networks respectively, using curl 7.20.1 for Windows. FILE AND PACKET UPLOADS: The script uploaded TCP data to an iperf server on
a 50/20 Verizon Fios connection and uploaded a 1 MB ZIP file via FTP to Limelight Networks.
WEB ACTIVITY: Using curl, the script downloaded the entire Web pages PCMag.com and cnn.com and recorded both the "time to first byte" and the speed of the whole complex download.
SPEED TEST: The script ran the Ookla Speedtest available at speedtest.net, which is the official speed test chosen by the FCC to measure broadband speeds. The Ookla Speedtest measures both upload and download speeds. CONSISTENCY: Any FTP test that took more than 60 seconds to transfer a megabyte was recorded as failed. That translates into a speed of 134 Kbps, which is below the ITU 3G standard of 144 Kbps.
If the Ookla speed test did not return a
require a solid mobile data network.
Data is also where the growth is. According to an April 2010 report from consultant Chetan Sharma, data traffic just began to outstrip voice traffic on mobile networks, and the U.S. has become the top mobile data market in the world. Although Ameri-
We Did It
valid download speed, that test was also recorded as failed.
How We Calculated the Speed Index The PCMag.com Mobile Speed Index is
a weighted average taking into account several factors. Of 100 points, 20 were for consistency; 40 were for FTP and speedtest downloads; 10 were for Web-page downloads; 10 for Web-page time to first byte; and 20 were for FTP, iperf, and speed test uploads. The HTTP-based speed test simulates the kind of traffic you'd see in either Web streaming or Web-page viewing, so it got a lot of weight. The index is normalized against the best result in each category for the geography being measured. (In other words, the best carrier in
a given comparison for each test got the maximum score for each test.)
Awards went to the carrier with the highest Speed Index in a given city or region. Sprint 4G and Cricket were not eligible for regional and national awards, and were not included in the regional and national Speed Index calculations, because they weren't available in all the
cans are still talking on their phones-the CTIA says that Americans dialed 2.3 trillion minutes of calls in 2009-data usage is growing much faster than voice usage.
Data networks will get even more important as cell-phone carriers fight their way toward what Verizon Wireless CEO Lowell
cities we tested.
Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT DOES ALL THIS TELL YOU? Our tests will tell you about Internet connections from smart phones, tablets, and laptops. The results tell you which networks are the fastest and which are the most consistent. The "time to first byte" is especially relevant with Web pages, as it tells you how long it takes before things start appearing on your screen.
HOW DID WE PICK THE CITIES? We wanted
a mix of larger and smaller cities, distributed over regions of the country, including several cities with Cricket and Sprint 4G service. We tested in 20 cities, but had to throw out two (Philadelphia and Las Vegas) because of technical problems. Of the 18 cities we ended up with, ten have Cricket and nine have Sprint 4G.
WHAT ABOUT DROPPED CALLS? We didn't test anything involving phone calls. Yes, it's important, but there are too many variables involved. Whether a call drops is about the individual phone as well as the network.
McAdam once called "500 percent penetration." That means McAdam wants every American to own five different devices that connect to Verizon's network. Since almost everyone has a cell phone now, wireless carriers need to start selling more and different kinds of gadgets to expand their
businesses (like AT&T's Apple iPad, for are investing so heavily in "4G" technologies.
instance.) These are going to primarily be data, not voice devices.
Today's 3G data networks let you download at around a megabit per second (Mbps). That's slower than most home cable and DSL connections. But the latest tech-
While there's no real, scientific definition of 4G, it's used to refer to new, incompatible networks that are much faster than 3G.
The two 4G camps, for now, are WiMAX and LTE. Sprint started working with WiMAX three years ago, and they have a few dozen cities covered. Everyone else has chosen L TE. Verizon Wireless and MetroPCS will roll out their first LTE cities this year, with AT&T following in 2011. Sprint has
connection we found was a blazing 9.11 Mbps
nologies, such as HSPA+ 21 and Wi MAX, are delivering much faster speeds, with averages above 2 Mbps and peaks up to 9 Mbps in our tests. That means mobile connection speeds could leap-
frog some home connections within the
down on Sprint 4G
-n Atlanta's Midtown neighborhood.
next few years.
3G, 4G and More G
Our results show the difference between the 3G and 4G technologies different wireless carriers are using. AT&T and T-Mobile use a faster technology than Cricket, Verizon, and Sprint do, and it shows. Recently AT&T and T-Mobile both upgraded their networks to HSPA 7.2, which has a maximum theoretical download speed of 7.2 Mbps. T-Mobile is going even further; in four cities, they've upgraded to HSPA+ 21, which has a maximum theoretical speed of 21 Mbps.
By comparison, the EVDO Rev A technology used by Cricket, Verizon, and Sprint has a theoretical maximum download speed of only 3.1 Mbps. That's why Sprint and Verizon
murmured about possibly switching from WiMAX to LTE, but they haven't made any official announcements. For now, they're sticking with WiMAX.
The highest speeds we saw in the whole country were on 4G WiMAX, with 8 and 9 Mbps downloads. Unfortunately, these results were very uneven, and in many locations the 3G networks were actually faster. We're hoping to see better results from Verizon's 4G LTE network, which the company just demonstrated in Boston.
For now, you probably won't see these top speeds on a phone. Few phones support the latest speeds. The Sprint EVO 4G is the only phone that can access Sprint's 4G network, although more devices are coming later this year. No phones can hit T-Mobile's HSPA+ speeds yet. So while AT&T's HSPA 7.2 and the CDMA EVDO used by Cricket,
Sprint 3G, and Verizon are slower than those two technologies, you'll find many more device options for those networks.
Even if a phone's
lent consistency and stability, and it charge lower rates than the competition. Five GB of Internet is $40 per month, while 10GB runs
$60 per month. That's
modem can hit a net- The fastest city we double the data you get
work's maximum speed, tested was Dallas, from the nationwide 3G
the phone's processor, players.
video chip, or browser whose 1.7 Mbps T-Mobile is coming
may not be able to pro- up fast. The nation's
cess data at that speed. average was number 4 carrier got a
On the recent Sprint boosted by strong late start with 3G, but
BlackBerry 9650, for it's growing by leaps
instance, we found rela- performances from and bounds. T-Mobile's
tively little difference in HSPA 7.2 speeds were
Web-page rendering both T-Mob-Ie and somewhat lower than
times between 3G and AT&T's overall, but the
Wi-Fi networks. Wi-Fi is Sprint 4G. new HSPA+ 21 network
faster, of course, but the that T-Mobile is cur- BlackBerry's browser isn't fast enough to take advantage of the difference.
Different Carriers, Different Strengths Beyond the speed scores, each of the six networks we tested (Sprint has two showed different strengths.
AT&T had the fastest nationwide mobile network, thanks to its deployment of HSPA 7.2 technology across the U.S. The company has committed to upgrading to HSPA+ 14.4 by the end of the year, which should double AT&T's speed across the country. However, AT&T can't rest on its laurels; it had the lowest consistency score of the four national networks, reflecting the most dropouts in our tests.
Cricket is a low-cost carrier available in 10 of our 18 cities. Cricket's network had excel-
rently in the midst of installing is blazingly fast-faster, in some cities, than 4G Wi MAX.
Sprint has a solid, reliable 3G network and a growing 4G WiMAX network. After largely squandering a two-year 4G lead in corporate reorganizations and other machinations, Sprint's 4G build is picking up, with faster speeds in Baltimore than we've seen in previous tests and the first WiMAXcapable smartphones hitting the market. Extremely inconsistent speeds show that Sprint needs to keep an eye on its WiMAX buildout, though. Sprint's networks are also sold under various other names, including Virgin (3G) and Clear (4G).
Verizon Wireless didn't show great speeds in our tests, but speed isn't Verizon's core strength. As we've seen in hundreds of cell-phone reviews, Verizon has excellent
2010 FASTEST MOBILE NETWORK
NORTHEAST WINNER IT-MOBILE
T-Mobile's aggressive deployment of HSPA+ in New York City, and its solid HSPA 7.2 showings in Boston, Baltimore, and D.C., made it the fastest carrier available in our four Northeastern cities overall. AT&T here was hurt by a low consistency score. While Sprint and Verizon were more consistent, their EVDO technology is inherently slower than HSPA 7.2 or HSPA+. Note that WiMAX was only available in one of our Northeastern cities, Baltimore. Sprint turned WiMAX on in Washington, D.C., after our testing period ended.
nationwide coverage and voice-call quality, which we didn't test in this data-centric, 18-city story. Verizon's lower-than-average speeds underscore how much the carrier needs its new 4G LTE data network to launch if it wants to remain a leader.
Following are our city-by-city results to see which networks delivered the best speeds in each of our 18 cities.
FASTEST MOBILE NETWORK I SPRINT 3G Contributing Editor Jamie Lendino made a date out of his day of wireless testing around the Boston area, taking his girlfriend for ice cream, making a trip to the Boston Common, and running lots of long, romantic 3G network tests on our HP laptop. (Note to Jamie's girlfriend: You are a saint.)
AT&T isn't known for great coverage in Boston, and while the speed of its HSPA 7.2 network came out characteristically good, it was the least consistent of Boston's four networks. (Cricket and Sprint 4G haven't made it to Beantown yet.)
Instead, Sprint showed the best speed and consistency in Jamie's 10 locations, which included Boston Common, Fenway Park, and the suburbs of Cambridge, Burlington, and Chelmsford, Massachusetts.
Verizon recently did its first 4G demonstrations in Boston. We're eager to get our hands on some equipment for that network and see if it will help boost average speeds in Boston to new heights.
FASTEST MOBILE NETWORK I SPRINT 3G Managing editor and lead analyst Sascha Segan can tell you all about Baltimore; he's been going there every few months since 2008 to check out the state of Sprint's 4G WiMAX network.
It's been a hard few years for WiMAX in Baltimore, but it's finally started getting its legs, with a high speed of 8.15 Mbps in the charming hilltop neighborhood of Mount Washington in the northern part of Baltimore City.
Baltimoreans are lucky to have lots of choices, with AT&T, Cricket, Sprint 3G,
PC MAG. COM I CONSISTENCY
MOBILE SPEED INDEX percent
DOWNLOAD SPEED Megabits per second
UPLOAD SPEED Megabits per second
TIME TO FIRST BYTE
64 62 58 70 64
74.07 85.19 92.59 85.19 96.30
1.40 0.98 0.92 1.26 0.84
3.35 2.27 2.18 3.05 2.31
0.28 0.36 0.28 0.45 0.33
0.85 0.81 0.78 1.27 0.89
0.69 0.76 0.79 0.74 0.59
AT&T 76 73.33 1.18 2.54 0.30 0.85 2.08
Sprint3G 96 96.67 1.24 2.07 0.33 0.84 0.44
T-Mobile 69 83.33 0.76 2.35 0.42 1.26 1.76
69 76.67 0.85 1.98 0.33 0.88 1.08
AT&T 86 92.31 1.82 4.98 0.31 0.97 0.62
Sprint 3G 50 88.89 0.79 1.99 0.24 0.82 1.84
T-Mobile 91 94.87 2.01 5.90 0.63 2.18 3.04
62 87.18 0.94 1.87 0.36 0.94 0.88
AT&T 85 75.76 2.20 4.11 0.28 0.99 0.83
Cricket 61 90.00 0.81 1.33 0.36 0.87 0.93
Sprint3G 71 93.33 1.10 2.62 0.30 0.92 0.65
T-Mobile 66 93.33 0.74 1.69 0.47 1.26 0.92
Verizon 69 96.67 1.05 1.98 0.32 0.80 0.80 T-Mobile, Verizon and Sprint 4G all available in Charm City. Of the 3G networks, AT&T pulled the best speeds but had problems with consistency. Verizon offered the best consistency, but at significantly lower speeds than its HSPA competition.
New York City
FASTEST MOBILE NETWORK IT-MOBILE
New York is our hometown, so we did 13 rounds of testing here in Manhattan, Queens, and nearby Hoboken, N.J.-and we
were shocked by what we found. AT&T may be known for dropping calls on iPhones, but its reliability for data transfers was rock solid.
The fastest and most reliable data network in New York turns out to be the newest. T-Mobile was turning on HSPA+ towers around the metro area as we were testing, leading to spectacular speeds and startling reliability. The fastest speed we saw in New York was with T-Mobile at the corner of 28th Street and 1st Avenue in Manhattan, where
we got 5.9 megabits down. But T-Mobile was clearly working out kinks in its network setup, because we got very slow responses from some Web sites when we were using T-Mobile.
Verizon, meanwhile, is known as the local stalwart, but its results were strictly middle-of-the-road. Remember that we didn't test call completion or call quality, though. That's been AT&T's weakness of late, and in our hundreds of cell phone tests over the past five years in New York City, that's where Verizon really reigns.
Cricket and Sprint 4G are not available in New York City.
FASTEST MOBILE NETWORK I AT&T
Our nation's capital had five competing 3G networks when we tested in April: AT&T, Cricket, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless. Sprint's 4G launched too late to be included in this story.
Managing Editor Sascha Segan rode D.C.'s Metro system around the District and Arlington and Alexandria, Virginia, checking speeds and reliability on all five networks. Taking a tip from a friend-the Pew Research Project's Amanda Lenhart-he made sure to check out speeds at a Mayorga coffee shop near her house. (Hey, we get to pick our locations.)
T-Mobile hasn't installed HSPA+ in D.C., and Sprint hadn't turned on WiMAX yet, so AT&T's network was technically fastest. The fastest speeds we saw were on the National Mall, where AT&T clocked in over 4 Mbps.
But we found that AT&T was much less consistent than the competition, especially compared to Verizon Wireless's rock-solid network.
FASTEST MOBILE NETWORK I SPRINT 4G
In Atlanta you drink Coke, fly Delta, and use AT&T. It's like a civic ordinance or something; have you ever tried to get Pepsi at a restaurant in Atlanta? They love their hometown heroes down in Georgia.
But the hometown hero now has a highspeed competitor in Sprint 4G, as freelance tester Tim Elliott found at ten locations in metro Atlanta. AT&T acquitted itself well enough, but Sprint 4G delivered higher speeds-capped off by the fastest speed we saw anywhere in the nation, a 9.1-Mbps download in Midtown Atlanta.
It looks like Atlanta may be a prime market for Sprint's EVO super-phone, as its 4G is fast and its 3G is reliable, which will make for a solid smartphone experience.
FASTEST MOBILE NETWORK I SPRINT 4G
The frustrating inconsistency of Sprint's 4G WiMAX network was on full display as Staff Editor Gregg Binder cruised around Charlotte. Sometimes WiMAX was blazingly fast. Sometimes it died. In a city with excellent wireless competition and generally reliable networks, Sprint's new network showed us both the highs and the lows of getting online with wireless.
TIME TO FIRST BYTE
AT&T 79 93.33 1.94 3.58 0.35 1.03 0.61
Sprint3G 62 100.00 0.98 2.56 0.32 0.72 0.78
T-Mobile 50 93.33 0.76 1.50 0.18 0.35 0.77
Verizon 51 96.67 0.81 2.24 0.30 0.84 1.80
Sprint4G 97 90.00 3.14 9.11 0.45 0.99 0.65 Cricket 53
Sprint4G 90 100.00 90.00 93.94 96.97 80.00
0.73 1.03 2.05 0.92 2.85
1.22 2.11 3.95 2.72 7.60
0.37 0.26 0.52 0.33 0.48
0.78 0.80 1.28 0.83 1.03
1.21 0.77 0.67 0.75 0.66
AT&T 96 94.44 1.95 4.04 0.34 1.26 0.89
Sprint3G 77 85.19 1.26 2.08 0.30 0.68 0.78
T-Mobile 56 87.88 0.90 1.82 0.15 0.35 1.23
Verizon 79 74.07 1.21 2.28 0.41 0.87 0.86
94 100.00 1.40 2.58 0.34 0.96 0.60
Cricket 65 86.67 0.80 1.50 0.34 0.82 1.24
Sprint3G 72 96.97 0.85 2.07 0.30 0.84 0.73
T-Mobile 69 93.33 0.71 1.13 0.49 1.21 1.16
Verizon 51 90.00 0.68 2.08 0.18 0.49 2.22
Sprint4G 63 80.00 0.84 2.19 0.26 0.96 0.97 T-Mobile and AT&T, on the other hand, offered much more consistent experiences. Both carriers seem to be running HSPA 7.2 networks in Charlotte and at full tilt, with similar speeds averaging just around 2 Mbps. Cricket's network is much slower, but it's a reliable budget option.
Sprint 4G's added speed won the prize in Charlotte over T-Mobile's more consistent network.
FASTEST MOBILE NETWORK I AT&T
Maybe cellular networks don't like humidity. Only four of our six networks are set up in Miami-there's no Cricket or Sprint 4Gand Miami had the most dropouts and lost connections of any of our test cities, as freelance tester Andre Ferreira found to his frustration. Driving down from Broward County, he traced a route through northern and cen-
2010 FASTEST MOBILE NETWORK
SOUTHEAST WINNER I AT&T
We tested four cities in the Southeast: Atlanta, Charlotte, Miami, and Raleigh. AT&T won the Southeast, as the fastest and most consistent of the national3G carriers overall. Sprint's 4G WiMAX showed wildly varying results in Atlanta, Charlotte and Raleigh, the three cities where it was installed. Atlanta gave us the fastest WiMAX speed we saw anywhere in the country-but in Raleigh, Sprint's 4G was slower than AT&T's 3G.
tral Miami, hitting ten testing locations on his way downtown.
But as can be expected from a Southeastern city, AT&T did well in our tests, scoring as both the fastest and most reliable network. Miami was a weak city for T-Mobile; without the boost from its growing HSPA+ installations, T-Mobile was notably slower than other networks in Miami. Both Sprint and Verizon performed decently, but their CDMA EVDO technology is inherently slower than a good HSPA buildout.
FASTEST MOBILE NETWORK I AT&T
Freelance tester Rob Baker considered strapping our test kit to a skateboard, but it's too big for anything but a car, alas. Raleigh has all six networks we testedAT&T, Cricket, Sprint 3G, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint 4G-and it was one of the slowest cities we found nationwide. There were no spectacular, standout speeds in our Raleigh tests, with the fastest result clocking in at 2.58 Mbps-Iess than half what we saw in some other cities.
Sprint's 4G, especially, crawled in the Raleigh area, delivering speeds slower than
some 3G networks. It was also the most likely to suffer dropouts. AT&T, on the other hand, rated best on all of our measures. Not only was it the fastest and most consistent network, it had the lowest "time to first byte," which means Web pages start to appear particularly quickly.
FASTEST MOBILE NETWORK I SPRINT 4G
People call it the Windy City, but we'll call it WiMAX city. Staff Editor Sean Ludwig found great WiMAX speeds on Sprint's 4G network in Chicago, topping out at 7.52 Mbps at State Street and Congress Parkway in the Loop.
We also saw excellent consistency on Sprint's 3G and 4G networks, as well as Cricket's less expensive, somewhat slower network. AT&T was fast-for a 3G networkbut it didn't match the stellar speeds of Sprint 4G. Both AT&T and Verizon suffered on consistency, with some of our tests dropping below 3G speeds on both carriers. Verizon's all-around low score in Chicago reflects that it didn't lead in any of our criteria.
MOBILE SPEED INDEX
DOWNLOAD SPEED Megabits per second
UPLOAD SPEED Megabits per second
TIME TO FIRST BYTE
AT&T 62 81.48 1.85 3.53 0.16 1.07 1.83
Cricket 76 100.00 1.54 2.72 0.23 1.06 0.55
Sprint3G 58 100.00 1.13 2.23 0.16 0.63 1.51
T-Mobile 52 92.59 1.13 2.77 0.11 0.36 1.03
Verizon 39 81.48 0.61 1.76 0.12 0.42 1.54
Sprint4G 98 100.00 2.94 7.52 0.31 1.03 0.64
AT&T 82 86.11 2.08 4.24 0.28 1.11 1.86
Sprint 3G 73 100.00 1.13 2.53 0.33 0.70 0.84
T-Mobile 94 94.87 2.26 6.65 0.38 1.71 0.89
Verizoin 78 100.00 1.16 2.17 0.36 0.82 0.65
Sprint4G 76 63.64 1.90 4.37 0.35 1.21 1.20
AT&T 88 96.97 1.08 3.12 0.24 0.73 0.72
Cricket 77 100.00 0.77 1.70 0.27 0.60 0.97
Sprint3G 80 100.00 0.79 2.02 0.34 0.77 1.38
T-Mobile 91 100.00 1.16 1.98 0.19 0.35 0.76 AT&T 90 80.00 1.64 3.44 0.36 1.11 1.15
Cricket 67 96.67 0.66 1.88 0.34 0.84 0.81
Sprint3G 65 93.33 0.79 1.78 0.26 0.69 1.06
T-Mobile 57 96.67 0.74 1.49 0.12 0.36 0.93
Verizon 91 83.33 1.40 2.90 0.35 0.83 0.61
Sprint4G 77 93.33 1.27 2.53 0.30 0.94 1.41
AT&T 86 70.00 1.38 3.14 0.18 0.82 0.72
Cricket 72 93.33 0.83 1.37 0.31 0.91 1.50
Sprint3G 78 100.00 0.86 1.54 0.29 0.74 0.80
T-Mobile 65 93.33 0.84 1.73 0.20 0.35 1.51
Verizon 83 100.00 0.97 1.95 0.30 0.74 0.77 I~~
2010 FASTEST MOBILE NETWORK
CENTRAL WINNER I AT&T
Industry-leading download and Web speeds let AT&T take the award for our Central region overall, which includes Chicago, Dallas, Denver, St. Louis, and San Antonio. Once again, though, the winner was the least consistent of the four national networks. AT&T only won one of the five Central cities individually, splitting the city laurels with T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint 4G.
FASTEST MOBILE NETWORK IT-MOBILE
AT&T and T-Mobile are having a fast-draw shootout in the old Texas style in Dallas, as both carriers pump up their HSPA networks to super-high speeds. T-Mobile won the crown thanks to its growing HSPA+ network. In four of the ten locations tested by Staff Editor Sean Ludwig, T-Mobile scored over 5 Mbps, which pushed it past AT&T on overall speed. More towers would have widened the gap further.
Sprint, meanwhile, needs to work on its WiMAX in Dallas. Poor signal quality in our testing locations led to dropouts and slow speed results which were bested by two 3G carriers.
FASTEST MOBILE NETWORK IT-MOBILE Residents of the flat, expansive Mile-High city get some of the most reliable 3G service in the nation, Staff Editor Gregg Binder found as he cruised the city in a tiny rented car.
We saw very few timeouts and dropouts at ten locations in and around Denver. Speeds were slower than in many other cities, though, with fewer of the spectacular
spikes we saw in places where AT&T and T-Mobile have amped up their networks. There's no Sprint 4G in Denver, either.
While T-Mobile hasn't yet upgraded Denver to HSPA+, its HSPA 7.2 network still came out slightly faster in the city-though it was in a dead heat with AT&T. T-Mobile's slightly better consistency won the day, but only by a tiny margin.
FASTEST MOBILE NETWORK I VERIZON WIRELESS Sixteen-year-old computer whiz Jon Alaniz got his mom to help him test 3G throughout San Antonio, where AT&T, Cricket, Sprint 3G, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint 4G all compete to stream the Internet past the Alamo.
San Antonio was perfect proof that great 3G can beat inconsistent 4G, as AT&T and Verizon were both faster than WiMAX in our tests. Verizon won the award for best network in San Antonio thanks to a combination of decent speed and low "time to first byte," which measures how long it takes for Web data to begin to return to your computer.
Cricket and T-Mobile, the two slowest networks, tied for most consistent, offering Texans an interesting choice between
speed and reliability.
FASTEST MOBILE NETWORK I AT&T
Mizzou alum and staff editor Sean Ludwig headed back to his old stomping grounds to find that st. Louis residents have a tough choice to make between speed and a consistent 3G experience.
Testing in ten locations, he found that AT&T is the fastest mobile network by farbut it also had the most failed connections. Sprint and Verizon, meanwhile, were much slower but far more consistent. Cricket service is available in the St. Louis area, but Sprint WiMAX isn't-maybe that's just Kansas City-based Sprint thumbing its nose at its cross-state rival.
FASTEST MOBILE NETWORK I CRICKET
We sent Staff Editor Gregg Binder up to the Rocky Mountains because Boise is a technology hotspot. Micron and HP have major presences in Boise, and there are a bunch of smaller companies there too. Wireless carriers seem to be enthusiastic about Boise, too. The Treasure Valley has six wireless Internet options: AT&T, Cricket, Sprint 3G, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, and Sprint 4G.
Unfortunately, we didn't see spectacular speeds in Boise. Everyone was a bit low. T-Mobile hasn't turned on HSPA+, and Sprint WiMAX speeds were pretty sad-definitely more 3G than 4G. AT&T maxed out at higher speeds than Sprint WiMAX did.
That left room for budget carrier Cricket to prove itself as the best value in Boise, thanks to its excellent reliability and solid, consistent speeds across different applications.
FASTEST MOBILE NETWORK IT-MOBILE
Gossip blogger, reality TV producer, and semi-pro celebrity stalker Mikey "The Chimp" Glazer wanted to find out if the rich and famous really do get better 3G service than the rest of us, so he made sure to check out some locations where the stars hang out, such as Brentwood and the Sunset Boulevard hotel zone. The verdict: L.A. needs more wireless competition, with only four networks (no Cricket or Sprint 4G) and no spectacular speeds, either.
AT&T came out fastest on average, but T-Mobile is beginning to build out its HSPA+ network in L.A., and the results we saw at the one HSPA+ tower we could find (outside One Wilshire, downtown) were the city's highest. T-Mobile's greater consistency across all of our testing locations helped it nab the crown in L.A. Verizon Wireless also looks like a good choice for Angelenos; its speeds weren't too far behind the leaders.
FASTEST MOBILE NETWORK I AT&T
Having a low, flat city can mean good things for wireless reliability. That is why our freelance tester Brett Gordon saw solid reliability numbers at ten locations on four of the five networks in Phoenix. AT&T, Cricket,
-- .... -I~~
2010 FASTEST MOBILE NETWORK
WEST WINNER I AT&T
In the western U.S., we tested networks in Boise, L.A., Phoenix, Portland, and the San Francisco Bay Area. AT&T won two cities (Phoenix and San Francisco) and the overall crown thanks to commanding Web and download speeds. Cricket's only city win was in Boise, where that network's reliability (and Sprint 4G's startlingly slow showing) helped push it to the lead.
Sprint and T-Mobile all acquitted themselves well, though we had some trouble.
T-Mobile hasn't set up HSPA+ in Phoe-
day in Portland because of its fast overall Web page load times and its high upload speeds.
nix yet, and Sprint hasn't Verizon Wireless
stopped by to turn on 4G. The fastest offered a snappier Web
So AT&T's HSPA 7.2 tech- AT&T download experience than its num-
no logy is the fastest in the bers might suggest,
state of Arizona, with top we saw, at thanks to a lower "time to
speeds of 4.18 Mbps show- first byte" than other net-
ing up on the campus of 5.05 Mbps, was works-that's a measure
Grand Canyon University. right behind of how quickly data starts
Low time-to-first-byte coming through in a Web
speeds helped Web Apple's transfer.
pages show up especially Sprint's 3G scored as
promptly on AT&T's net- headquarters. most consistent, without a
work. single dropout in our eight Portland, Oregon
FASTEST MOBILE NETWORK I SPRINT 4G
Travel writer and percussionist Matt Hannafin is an expert on cruise ships, but he welcomed the chance to cruise the streets of his hometown of Portland testing all six wireless networks available there: AT&T, Cricket, Sprint 3G, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, and Sprint 4G WiMAX.
Portland was one of the early demo markets for Clearwire, which is Sprint's WiMAX network partner, and Sprint 4G won the
FASTEST MOBILE NETWORK I AT&T
The nation's tech capital is way behind when it comes to wireless competition, with only four of our six networks available; Cricket and Sprint 4G are nowhere to be found in the Bay Area.
But as tester Paul Cabana drove up and down the streets from San Jose all the way to Oakland, he found that AT&T's wellknown reliability problems in the city of San
MOBILE SPEED INDEX
DOWNLOAD SPEED Megabits per second
UPLOAD SPEED Megabits per second
TIME TO FIRST BYTE
AT&T 85 90.91 1.44 2.78 0.23 0.86 1.01
Cricket 86 100.00 1.13 2.30 0.37 1.20 0.80
Sprint3G 67 93.94 0.84 1.97 0.26 0.73 1.37
T-Mobile 69 93.94 0.60 0.99 0.39 0.89 0.80
Verizon 78 100.00 0.93 1.89 0.36 0.91 1.02
Sprint4G 80 86.11 1.10 2.56 0.49 0.95 1.63 LOS ANGELES
AT&T 77 73.33 1.47 2.59 0.21 0.83 1.29
Sprint3G 74 100.00 1.13 2.16 0.34 0.84 1.30
T-Mobile 93 93.33 1.33 3.75 0.61 1.26 1.00
Verizon 81 80.00 1.19 2.09 0.41 0.84 0.87
AT&T 91 93.33 2.75 4.18 0.28 1.02 0.60
Cricket 58 100.00 0.89 1.55 0.37 0.82 1.38
Sprint3G 61 100.00 1.02 2.09 0.37 0.79 1.27
T-Mobile 57 93.33 1.33 1.92 0.19 0.35 1.21
Verizon 66 80.00 1.24 2.32 0.46 0.93 1.16
AT&T 84 90.91 2.33 4.26 0.28 0.94 1.22
Cricket 68 96.67 1.10 1.54 0.43 0.84 1.22
Sprint3G 68 100.00 1.14 2.25 0.37 0.86 1.09
T-Mobile 55 93.94 1.19 2.11 0.17 0.35 1.99
Verizon 76 80.00 1.25 2.32 0.47 0.98 0.70
Sprint4G 89 72.73 2.08 3.94 0.50 0.92 0.83 AT&T
87 64 67 77
88.10 95.24 92.86 78.57
Francisco don't stretch across the whole metro area.
The fastest score in all of his tests-and the fastest AT&T speed we saw anywhere in the nation-came from an AT&T tower
2.23 1.05 0.87 1.26
5.05 2.52 2.09 2.25
0.25 0.31 0.40 0.41
1.03 0.85 1.24 0.84
0.95 1.62 0.88 0.61
mounted right on Apple's headquarters at One Infinite Loop, in Cupertino, where he clocked 5.05 Mbps. It's no surprise that the home of the iPhone has the nation's best AT&T signal.
Bid a Computer in 30 M-nutes
Rachael Ray can whip up a meal in half an hour. Now you can whip up a new PC in the same amount of time. By Daniel S. Evans
ost of the population thinks building a computer from scratch is something best left to professionals. But we at PC Labs believe pretty much anyone can learn to build a simple PC like the one in this piece. And those with some experience can build it in about the same amount of time Rachael Ray takes to make dinner.
To start, I found a barebones kit, namely the Shuttle SN78SH7, which bundles together just about all you want in a small-form-factor Pc. I know, some believe building a desktop from a barebones kit is like bowling down a lane with the gutter guards up, so every ball goes straight for the pins. Sure, you may end
up bowling a 280, but so did that 6-year-old in the lane next to you. But after the experience of putting this kit together with a PC-building novice, I saw the other side.
The Shuttle SN78SH7 features a socket for AMD2+ chips, two DDR2 memory slots, integrated GeForce 8200 graphics GPU, six USB ports, two eSATA ports, and an HDMI port all in a form factor the size of a toaster oven. The kit comes only with a 300-watt power supply, but that is adequate for the components I'm installing. There is a PCI slot that can accommodate a small halfsize graphics card, but no room for a fullsize graphics card-not much of a concern, since you already have integrated graphics. All you have to add is the chip of your
PARTS Barebones Kit:
Shuttle SN78SH7 ($200 street)
Kingston HyperX KHX6400D2/2G ($60 street)
Lite-On iHAS422 ($42.38 list)
Operating System: Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) ($119 upgrade, $200 full)
AMD Phenom II X4-945 ($160 street)
Western Digital WD5001AALS 500GB
choice, and then an optical drive and hard drive, both of which are easily salvageable from an old Pc.
The AMD Phenom II X4-945 processor I chose for this project-a 3-GHz quad-core chip with good-size L2 and L3 cachescosts only about $160. For memory, I went with the Kingston HyperX KHX6400D2/2G because of its dependable 2G DDR2 memory and reasonable price. For the hard drive,
I chose the Western Digital WD5001AALS 500GB, which I salvaged from a previous build project; feel free to go with a largercapacity hard drive, especially if you plan on storing a lot of video files. I also used an optical drive that I had in a previous PC build-the Lite-On iHAS422.
There you have it: a simple PC that's a breeze to assemble. Maybe building this will unleash a new lifelong hobby.
SOLUTIONS BUILD IT _
Build a PC in 30 Minutes: Step-by-Step Instructions
REMOVE THE RACK,
AND INSERT THE OPTICAL AND HARD DRIVES.
As you're screwing in the drives, make sure to put aside the two tiny screws along the top sides of the case in a safe place so you won't lose them.
1 OPEN THE CASE.
First, slide off the cover. There are three thumb-
screws in the back.
4 INSERT THE CPU.
Line up the CPU, and insert it into the socket.
3 REMOVE THE CPU COOLER.
This step is much easier with a bare-bones kit than it would be in a normal desktop build. The CPU cooler is held down by four thumb screws; remove them and unhook the fan's power cord.
5 APPLY THERMAL PASTE.
Place a small dollop of thermal paste on the back of the chip before putting the
cooling unit back on.
6 PUT THE FAN BACK IN. Remember to attach the fan power cord.
PUT BACK THE RACK. Screw the drives into the rack and reinsert it into the case.
7 INSERT THE RAM.
Set your DDR2 module into the RAM slot.
9 WIRE IT UP.
Attach the SAT A power and data connections to the hard
drive and optical drive.
10 CLOSE IT AND INSTALL WINDOWS.
If you are using a new hard drive, load up an operating system. We recommend Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit).
YOU'RE FINISHED, all in the time it takes to watch an episode of 30 Rock. Well done.
__________ SOLUTIONS OFFICE _
ic osof 0 f· ce 20 O. 0 T 5
a d Tricks
The latest version of Microsoft Office sports a dazzling array of new features. Here are ten detailed tips that can help you make the most of them. By Edward Mendelson
icrosoft Office 2010 contains a number of obvious changes that make it the definitive version of the popular productivity suite, but it's still a mammoth pile of code that requires work to master. Learning a few tricks can greatly improve your efficiency. Here are ten of our favorites, ranging from keyboard shortcuts to ways to keep tabs on your social networks.
1. Open Recently Used Files with Two Keystrokes
In older versions of Office, the File menu always displayed your recently used documents, which you could open by typing Alt-F1, then the number of the document on the list C1 for the most recent, 2 for next most recent, etc.). This feature isn't turned on by default in Office 2010, but you can activate it by entering the Backstage view,
selecting Recent, and adding a check box next to Quickly access this number of recent documents. Change the number to whatever number of documents you want to see on the list. In the Recent Documents list, you can "pin" a document to the list so that it will always appear, even if you haven't opened it recently. A nifty new feature lets you "pin" entire folders to the list of Recent Places in the right-hand column on the menu.
2. Add a Redaction Tool to Word can type "L" for Styles on the Home tab, and Unlike Adobe Acrobat and Corel Word- tap the appropriate letter to open the galPerfect, Word doesn't come with a built-in lery, so you can navigate it with the arrow redaction tool, which means that you can't keys. Type Alt again to exit this mode. permanently hide text in a Word document.
4. Customize the Ribbon
Office finally lets you rearrange the Ribbon the way you want by clicking the File tab to go to Backstage, selecting Options, and then Customize Ribbon. In the righthand column, you can create a new tab or a new group on an existing tab, remove or rearrange items already on the Ribbon by Still, you can add that functionality to Word selecting them in the right-hand column, or 2010's Review tab by installing the Word select items that you want to add from the
2007 Redaction Tool. Just be careful-when text is replaced by a black box, you can't press Ctrl-Z to reverse the redaction.
3. Do Everything With the Keyboard Office's Ribbon interface looks as if it's designed for the mouse, but you can fight carpal-tunnel syndrome and other wrist problems by using the keyboard instead. Tapping the Alt key causes boxed letters to appear on all the Ribbon's tabs, and boxed
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numbers to appear on the Quick Access. list on the left. Long-term Office users may For example, type "H" and the Home tab want to use the Commands not on the ribbon function because you can now add a command that you used in older Word versions that were nixed due to lack of demand.
opens, complete with boxed letters (and a few sequences of two letters like "FN" and "PG") that you can press to access all the features on the tab. Galleries-like the gallery of styles on the Home tab-have letters located on the scroll bar to their right. You
5. Open Documents That Office Wants to Block
In Office 2007, if you tried to open a document created in very old versions of Office, an error message would appear, and you
__________ SOLUTIONS OFFICE _
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would be unable to open it. Office 2010, fortunately, makes it easy to override those blocks. In Word or Excel, go to File, Options, Trust Center, click Trust Center Settings, then select File Block Settings, and remove the check marks from the older Office files that you want Office 2010 to open.
6. Print Only One Page of an Outlook Message
Other Office apps let you print the current page (or one or more numbered pages) directly from the Print menu in the Backstage view by clicking the down arrow next
to the Print All Pages button to see the pagerange options. Outlook doesn't offer this on its Print menu; instead, you must click the tiny Print Options button on the Print menu,
then select a Page Range option.
7. Integrate Social Networks Into Outlook Outlook's "Social Connector" feature lets you integrate Linkedln updates (and Facebook and others in the future), but the method for setting this up isn't obvious. You'll need to download and install Linked In for Outlook. You'll also have to ignore the warning that details the need to install
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the Outlook Social Connector (that advice applied only to the public beta of Outlook 2010). Finally, in Outlook, click the View tab, People Pane, and then the down arrow to access Account Settings and log in.
8. Make Your Own Quick Steps in Outlook Outlook's new Quick Steps feature lets you create one-click (or one-keystroke) e-mail actions; for example, moving a message to a folder you use for archiving messages. Create a new Quick Step by going to Outlook's Home tab, then clicking Quick Steps, Create New. There you'll assign a name, shortcut key, and tooltip for your Quick Step,
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then use the drop-down menus to select one or more actions. You can find your new Quick Step from the gallery of Quick Steps in the Home tab, or via a shortcut key.
9. Create Sparkline Microcharts in Excel Excel's niftiest new feature is its "microcharts," or Sparklines. These tiny bar and line charts occupy a single cell, and represent a row or column of numeric data. You can experiment with these by opening a worksheet that has labels in the left column and numeric data in the remaining columns,
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inserting a new column between the labels and the data, and then creating a Sparkline (by clicking a cell in the new column, and selecting Insert, Spa rklines, and either Line, Column, or Win/Loss). A dialog box opens that lets you enter the range of cells to the right of the selected cell either by typing in the address or selecting the cells in the worksheet itself. Click OK, and your microchart appears in the cell where you started.
10. Broadcast a Slideshow From PowerPoint
The best new idea in PowerPoint is its built-in broadcast feature, which you can launch by opening a Presentation, clicking File, Save & Send, Broadcast Slide Show, clicking the Broadcast Slide Show button, and then Start Broadcast. The first time you do this, you'll need to log in to Microsoft's free broadcast service with a Windows Live ID, but you can
choose the option to log in automatically in the future. When the broadcast is ready, the dialog box will display a Send in Email link, which you can use to send an invitation link to your audience .•
Office 2010 otYour Only C oice
For small businesses looking to cut costs, Microsoft Office 2010 may not be the right choice.
Here are several alternatives that are all more attractive in price (or even free) and in some cases, equally powerful.
By Ed Mendelson
icrosoft Office 2010 is an impressive, monumental suite of applications. But, let's face it, with every new version Microsoft's juggernaut gets bigger and pricier. And with every new release the question comes up again: does your business really need all this? Is it time to jettison Office altogether, and go to one of three main alternatives: a cloud-based application suite like Google
Docs (or the less-famous Zoho), a free or low-priced Office workalike such as OpenOffice.org, or even a suite that works very differently from Office, such as Corel WordPerfect Office X5? We've examined them all to help you decide.
GoogleOocs ••• f)0
Free; $50 per year per user for Google Apps This cloud-based service is a terrific choice for editing simple Word documents from someone else's computer, or when you're carrying only a lightweight netbook without Office installed. As a complete replacement for Office, it's only ideal for users with minimal needs for advanced formatting and long-document features, users who will never need to use endnotes or cross-references (as in "see page 9," in which the correct page number is inserted by the word-processor), and users who will never need to print an envelope
or send out mass mailings. Google Docs automatically keeps track of your revisions-no need to turn on tracking, as in Office-but GoogleDocs won't satisfy anyone who wants tight control over formatting or who needs to write anything more complex than a term paper. Also, are you really sure you want to leave your documents in the cloud, subject to Google's occasional outages or those times when you can't find a connection to the Internet? For most users, I recommend Google Docs as an adjunct to Office, not a replacement. Note: Cloud-computing fans who want to avoid Google can try Zoho, but they're the only people I'd recommend it for; while Zoho has a richer feature set, it's far harder to use.
OpenOffice.org ••• ()O
This suite is free, powerful, and compatible
GOOGLE DOCS One of the benefits of Google Docs worksheets is its ability to perform specialized tasks for just about any project.
with almost all Office documents, but it's clumsy to navigate, and it lacks dozens of conveniences that make Microsoft Office worth having. On the other hand, it doesn't
Inrroduelng a Now ProdUct
OPEN OFFICE Its presentation templates won't win any design awards, but you can import presentations created by PowerPoint and reuse their basic design.
try to format your documents for you the way Word does, and if you're comfortable with the old menu interface in Word 97 through Word 2003, you can still use it in
OpenOffice.org. Also, if you're ideologically committed to open-source software, OpenOffice.org is the best choice. OpenOffice .org still looks and feels like a last-century application, and it contains import filters that let it open dozens of ancient document formats that Office can't handle. If you even need to work with old documents that nothing else can open, OpenOffice.org is an essential feature in your toolbox. But the main reasons anyone would use it instead of Microsoft Office are price and open-source ideology.
Corel WordPerfect Office XS Standard Edition
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WORDPERFECT The new integrated help center is a major advance on the scattershot help systems in earlier versions.
WordPerfect is the only surviving alternative of note to the Microsoft Word way of organizing documents, and the only word processor that gives you clear and simple control over the way your documents are formatted. With WordPerfect, all format-
ting is controlled by codes that (for example) turn on double-spacing and then turn it off again. When you move, modify, or delete one of these codes in WordPerfect's Reveal Codes window, you control exactly where your document's formatting will change, and exactly how. You won't get the kind of surprises you get in Microsoft Word when you delete a specially formatted paragraph and other paragraphs suddenly change format. WordPerfect retains its last-century interface and overloaded menus, but it's by far the best program for managing long documents, and it includes security features like redaction that Word still doesn't offer. It isn't for everyone, but plenty of legal and government offices rightly refuse to settle for anything else. Offices will appreciate Office X5, the best upgrade in years; for home and SOHO users, it's probably not an essential upgrade from previous versions.
iWork J09 •••• 0 $79 direct
Mac users, your best fully functional desktop suite is still the disappointing Microsoft Office for Mac 2008. But if you don't need quite so much office power, you'd probably be far happier with iWork '09-at least until Microsoft Office for Mac 2010 is released sometime later this year. iWork '09 offers a terrific set of programs for light word processing and medium-to-heavy spreadsheet use. And the stellar Keynote presentation app, still the most dazzling presentation program on any platform, now offers spectacular slide transitions. The uniquely inno-
vative Numbers spreadsheet (the sole such app to support multiple tables on a single page) continues to one-up Microsoft Excel in many ways. And, this time around, the table-organizing feature works. The Pages word processor adds to its already powerful graphics glitz and makes a start at supporting features for long documents by adding easy-to-use outlining. Apple has also put a toe into the online-document world by launching iWork.com, a sparsely featured sharing and viewing service that lets iWork users share documents with users on any ZOHO SHOW The Show app is used to ere-
platform, including Windows and Linux. ate presentations, and is one of the suite's three parts. The others are Writer, its word
IWORK 09 All of iWork now includes an option to share a document on Apple's iWork. com site. But you'll need a pricey MobileMe subscription to use it.
Zoho •• VOO Free
Zoho is an online Web service that lets you do almost anything online that you can do on a desktop computer-from creating documents to building a spreadsheet to managing a database, plus conferencing,
project-management, chatting, and a dozen other functions listed on Zoho's main page. I tested the three parts of the service that make up a standard office suite: the Zoho Writer word processor, Zoho Sheet spreadsheet, and Zoho Show presentations program, all of them based on the open-source AJAX framework for building feature-rich and graphics-rich browser-based applications. I liked the bright, up-to-date interface on all the Zoho services, and I liked Zoho's ability to open most of my test documents with good fidelity to the originals. I didn't expect Zoho-or any other online serviceto be fast or powerful enough to deal with large and complex documents, and Zoho, as
, ._~----~----------~ .. _
processor, and Sheet, its spreadsheet.
expected, bogged down when I worked with large files. The limited but well-chosen feature set seems just right for an online service, but it's also guaranteed to make you impatient to get back to a desktop-based suite for anything more substantial than a quick report or simple spreadsheet. •
HP Pavilion Elite m9400t $843 list
HP Compaq Presario CQS110f
Dell Inspiron S4S $899 list GAMING/MULTIMEDIA Maingear Shift
Falcon Northwest Mach V (Core i7-97S) $8,240 direct
HP Pavilion 6267c-b $999.99 list
Apple iMac 21.S-inch (Core 2 Duo) $1,199 direct
Lenovo IdeaCentre A600 $799 direct
13m Dell Optiplex 780 USFF $1,484 direct
Lenovo C300 $549 list
LAPTOPS & NETBOOKS
Dell Inspiron i1464-43820BK
Asus U30Jc-1A $899 list
Alienware M17x $4,850 direct
Acer Aspire AS8940-686S
DESKTOP REPLACEMENT Samsung RS80 $830 list
Toshiba mini NB20S $400 street
Lenovo ThinkPad T410 $1,484 direct
Asus UL80Vt-A1 $823 street
Apple iPad (Wi-Fi) 64GB, $699 direct
Lenovo ThinkPad USB Portable Secure Drive $319 list
Western Digital MyBook Studio Edition II $430 list
NETWORK-ATTACHED STORAGE Western Digital WD ShareSpace 4TB, $799.99 list
Asus VW266H $309 list HP LP227Sw $349 direct Dell Ultrasharp U2711
MONOCHROME LASER Konica Minolta magicolor 1600W $180 street
Xerox Phaser 7S00/DN
Epson Stylus NXS1S $149 direct
Epson PlctureMate Charm $149.99 direct
Canon Color ImageClass MF83S0Cdn $699 direct
Canon Realis X700 $2,500 list NEC VT800 $1,000 street
Epson Perfection V300 Photo $99.99 direct
13m Canon image Formula P-1S0 Scan-tini $295 direct
Cisco Valet Plus $129.99 list Netgear XAVB101 $130 street SMC SMCGS8P $300 street Spiceworks 4.S Free
Cloud Engines Pogoplug
Cisco Network Magic Pro S.S $39.99 direct
Vizlo VPSOSXVT $1,499.99 list
Sharp Aquos LC-S2D8SU $2,099.99 direct
Sony Bravia KDL-46XBR8
Samsung LNS2A7S0 $3,999 list OLEO
Sony XEL-l OLEO Digital TV $2,499.99 list
Samsung BD-C6S00 $249.99 list
13m Sony Alpha NEX-3
Nikon 0300 $1,800 street
Canon EOS Rebel Tli $899.99 list SUPERZOOM
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18 $399.95 list
DIGITAL VIDEO CAMERAS
13m Kodak Playsport Video Camera $149.95 list
Sony HDR-SR11 $1,099.99 direct
DIGITAL PHOTO & VIDEO
Adobe CS 3 $999 direct
VIDEO-EDITING SOFTWARE CyberLink DVD Suite 7 Ultra
PHOTO EDITI NG
Adobe Photoshop CS5 Extend-
ed $699 to $899 list
Aperture 3 $199 direct DIGITAL PHOTO FRAME
Toshiba DMF82XKU 8" Digital Media Frame $179.99 list
VECTOR IMAGE EDITING
Adobe Illustrator CS5 $599 direct
PORTABLE MEDIA PLAYERS
Microsoft Zune 120GB $249 list Apple iPod touch (3rd generation) 8GB, $199 direct
Apple IPod nano
(5th generation) 16GB, $179 direct
Altec Lansing Mix iMT800 $299.95 direct
Hercules XPS 2.1 Lounge $60 street
Logitech Pure-Fi Dream $200 direct
Sonos Bundle 150 $999 direct Sling box PRO-HD $299 list
Sony PlayStation 3120GB (PS3 Slim) $299.99 direct
Garmin nuvl 1390T $269.99 list
Amazon Kindle 2 $359 direct
mE Bowers & Wilkins P5 Mobile Hi-Fi Headphones $299.95 list
Aliph Jawbone Icon $99 list
RIM BlackBerry Curve 8330 From $229.99 with contract
Samsung Mythic SGH-A897
From $199.99 with contract
Apple iPhone 3GS $199 list SPRINT
mEHTC Ev04G $299.99 list
mELG Rumor Touch $79.99-$279.99 list
HTC HD2 From $199.99 direct with contract
mE Droid Incredible by HTC $299.99 list
Samsung Freeform SCH-r350 $79 direct
Sony Ericsson Nalte $159.99 direct
3G NETWORK ADAPTERS
Sierra Wireless 598U $249.99 list
OFFICE & PRODUCTIVITY
Office 2010 Professional, $499 direct
iWork for iPad $9.99 direct QuickBase
$250 direct per month
ACT! by Sage 2010 $299 list Citrix GoToAssist Express $69 direct per month
TomTom 1.3 $69.99 direct Navigon MobileNavigator 1.4.0
Air Sharing $6.99 direct Photogene $2.99 direct mE Rhapsody 2.0 Free
God of War III $59.99 list mEAlan Wake $59.99 list
CyberLink Media Suite 8 Ultra
Rhapsody From $12.99 per month Slacker Free
Apple iLife '09 $79 direct iTunes 9 Free
PASSWORD PROTECTION LastPass 1.5 Free
Prevx 3.0 $29.95 direct per year
Panda Cloud Antivirus Free Edition 1.0 Free
Norton 360 version 3.0 $69.99 yearly
Spyware Doctor with Antivirus 2010 $39.95 yearly
SOS Online Backup (beta) $19.95 direct
2GB, free; 50GB, $9.95 monthly
QuickBooks 2010 $399 list Mlnt.com Free
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