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PC Magazine 2010-11

PC Magazine 2010-11

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google’S Self-driving car

november 2010

How Secure Is Your Wi-Fi Network? Why Your Best Photo Living Room Software Needs Apple TV For You

Top 10 Secrets of Windows 7
The Hidden Features That Will Help You ...
• Keep Your System Stable • Troubleshoot PC Pain • Maximize System Power • Organize Your Folders

... Plus Much More!


VOl. 29 NO. 11



ThE TOP 10 hIDDEN fEATurEs IN WINDOWs 7 If you’re a Windows 7 user, you know about its terrific new taskbar, user interface, and home networking capabilities. What you may not know is that it is filled with hidden features that can help keep your system stable and organized. Here are our top 10 secret treasures of Windows 7.


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8 CONsuMEr ELECTrONICs Apple TV (2010) Samsung PN58C8000 Cisco Flip UltraHD 8GB 2 Hours (2010) BlackBerry Curve 3G (T-Mobile) Microsoft lifeCam Studio 14 hArDWArE Asus U45Jc-A1 Toshiba Satellite T235-S1350 Acer Aspire Predator AG7750-U2222 18 BusINEss HP Mini 5103 lenovo ThinkCentre M90p USFF livescribe Echo Smartpen 22 sOfTWArE Internet Explorer 9 (Beta) QuickBooks Premier Edition 2011 Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 50 ThE BEsT sTuff

5 frONT sIDE Google takes to the road; hackers prey on users of gaming sites; green tech in l.A.; barcode mania.

2 fIrsT WOrD: LANCE uLANOff 30 JOhN C. DvOrAk 32 sAsChA sEGAN 34 DAN COsTA

42 CAsT OuT WI-fI INTruDErs Are you sure you’re the only one enjoying your home network? Here’s how to detect trespassers and block them from pilfering your bandwidth. 46 PhOTO-EDITING TOOLkIT The right software can transform your digital photos into masterpieces, no matter what camera you use. Here are our picks for the best photo-editing programs.

PC Magazine Digital Edition, ISSN 0888-8507, is published monthly at $12 for one year. Ziff Davis Media Inc., 28 East 28th Street, New York NY 10016-7940.



7 Deadly Twitter Sins
e’ve talked about Twitter tips before. Everyone knows not to use all caps (really, you shouldn’t do that anywhere), but there are worse Twitter sins. Seven, to be exact. These are things you should never do or, if you have, stop doing them immediately on Twitter. 1. Location Bulletins I’m on Foursquare but barely use it because, surprise, I don’t like having everyone know where I am all the time. With Twitter, I used to have to announce my location, but now I can turn on the geo-location feature or use the Foursquare integration and have Twitter do the work for me. Why would I ever want to do this? We’ve all seen the stories about people whose homes have been robbed because, ostensibly, they announced on Twitter that they were going on vacation. Why turn yourself into a headline? 2. Quotes and Useless Advice What is this Twitter fascination with posting random quotes? Do we need someone telling us that Bill Keane believes “A hug


is like a boomerang—you get it back right away”? Blech. I also regularly see tweets with advice and aphorisms from all sorts of people. People have the Twitter soapbox, so they figure they can hand out guidance. Unfortunately, it almost always comes off sounding condescending. Take this one from Confucius, “To know is to know that you know nothing. That is the meaning of true knowledge.” 3. Endless ReTweets Please, do everyone a favor and don’t try to include everyone who ever started the tweet or ended up in the Twitter thread in your retweet. It makes the tweet unreadable, and you have virtually no characters left. I know, everyone wants to give credit. I try and do it, too, but I also limit the RT list to two people, max. And sometimes, if I’m pressed for characters, I’ll simply credit the most recent Tweeter. Your followers will appreciate this kind of discretion. 4. Nasty Comments I’m no Twitter star, but I now have enough followers to attract random people saying particularly nasty or even just pointed

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Cowards operate like the enola Gay: They fly over my Twitter stream, drop a bomb, and then quickly move on.
things to me. I like, whenever possible, to respond to them directly. Now, as is my habit, I do not respond in the public stream, because I think those random conversations only tend to confuse everyone else who is following you. The problem I run into, though, is that these cowards operate like the Enola Gay: They fly over my Twitter stream, drop a bomb, and then quickly move on. If they’re not following me, I can’t direct-message them and engage. To put it simply: Don’t say something nasty if you’re too afraid to follow. 5. Out-of-Context Blather The other day, someone starting tweeting responses to a couple of my tweets, but insisted on calling me Matt. The comments were actually interesting, but since I’m not Matt, I couldn’t figure out if I should respond or not. Other times, I get tweets sent to me that have no relationship to anything I cover or am remotely interested in. There’s no rhyme or reason to the tweet and usually the Tweeter doesn’t respond when I ask what they meant. Stay on message, people. 6. Direct-Message Spamming I don’t know if these are Twitter robots or multi-level-marketers (MLMs) trying to hook another unsuspecting victim, but there’s nothing more annoying than someone using the private—and somewhat privileged—Direct Message channel to try and get me to help them sell some random piece of marketing or product garbage. Please, I’m busy, my followers are busy, and none of us has time for this. 7. Ignoring People There are celebrities with over a million followers, and I think they can be forgiven for “ignoring people.” I follow a bunch myself, and if you’re watching their Twitter mention streams, you’ll notice how often they’re hammered by people simply begging them to notice, mention or follow them. I’m not talking about these people. For most everyone else with a few hundred or even a few thousand followers, though, when people ask you a question, you should do your best to respond. This is good practice not just for healthy Twitter relations, but it’s an almost guaranteed way to get even more followers. Those you respond to will usually recommend you elsewhere. Never do these seven things on Twitter— except when you have to. Truth is, there are exceptions to almost every rule here, but as the saying goes, “Better safe than sorry.” And, no, I won’t be posting that on Twitter.
Follow me on TwiTTer! Catch the chief’s comments on the latest tech developments at twitter.com/LanceUlanoff.

Editor-in-ChiEf, pC magazinE nEtwork Editor

Lance Ulanoff


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thE indEpEndEnt gUidE PC Magazine is the Independent Guide to Technology. Our mission is to test and review computerand Internet-related products and services and report fairly and objectively on the results. Our editors do not invest in firms whose products or services we review, nor do we accept travel tickets or other gifts of value from such firms. Except where noted, PC Magazine reviews are of products and services that are currently available. Our reviews are written without regard to advertising or business relationships with any vendor. how to ContaCt thE Editors We welcome comments from readers. Send your comments to Internet address pcmag@ pcmag.com or to PC Magazine, 28 E. 28th St., New York, NY 10016-7940. Please include a daytime telephone number. PC Magazine’s general number is 212-503-3500. The West Coast Operations number is 415-547-8000. We cannot look up stories from past issues, recommend products, or diagnose problems with your PC by phone. An index of past issues is at www. pcmag.com/previous_issues. For a list of upcoming stories, browse www.pcmag.com. For a full description of who on staff covers what, go to www.pcmag.com/whocoverswhat. If you are dissatisfied with a product advertised in PC Magazine and cannot resolve the problem with the vendor, write (do not call) Anne King, Advertising Department, at the above address. Please include copies of your correspondence with the vendor. pErmissions, rEprints For permission to reuse material in this publication or to use our logo, contact Ziff Davis’ Director of Licensing, Nyasha Bass, at permissions@pcmag.com, or by phone at 212-503-5256 or by fax at 212-503-5420. Material in this publication may not be reproduced in any form without written permission. For reprints, please contact the YGS Group: telephone, 800-290-5460; fax, 717-399-8900; e-mail, pcmag@theygsgroup.com. The following are registered trademarks of Ziff Davis Publishing Holdings Inc.: i-Bench, NetBench, PC DIRECT, PC Labs, PC MAGAZINE, PC MAGAZINE AWARD FOR TECHNICAL EXCELLENCE, PC MAGAZINE EDITORS’ CHOICE, PC MagNet, ServerBench, WinBench, Winstone, Ziff Davis’ corporate logo, and PCMAG.com. The following are trademarks of Ziff Davis Publishing Holdings Inc.: After Hours, CPUmark, EasyComputing, ExtremeTech, First Looks, First Looks Plus, i-Bench, Lab Notes, Lab Tales, PC Bench, PC Labs Scorecard, PC Magazine At Home, PC Magazine CD, Front Side, PC Magazine Extra, PC Magazine Marketlink, PC Solutions, PC Tech, Power Programming, Quick Clips, ScreenDemos, SMB Boot Camp, Tech Notes, and WinDrain. Other trademarks and trade names used throughout the publication are the property of their respective owners. Copyright © 2008 Ziff Davis Publishing Holdings Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. sUbsCription information For subscription service questions, for address changes, or to order, please contact us: intErnEt: service.pcmag.com (for customer service) or subscribe.pcmag.com (to order). tELEphonE: 800-289-0429 or 386-5974372 in the U.S. and Canada, 386-597-4370 elsewhere. maiL: PC Magazine, PO Box 54070, Boulder, CO 80322-4070 (please include your postal address and e-mail address with any correspondence, as it will expedite processing). faX: 386-447-2321 in the U.S., Canada, and elsewhere. E-maiL: subhelp@pcmag.com (please type your full name, your postal address, and the e-mail address at which you subscribe). sUbsCriptions: The one-year subscription rate is $24.97. PC Magazine is published monthly. If your e-mail address is undeliverable, we will have no further obligation unless we receive a corrected e-mail address within two years. baCk issUEs: Print back issues, January 2009 and prior, are $8 each in the U.S., $10 each elsewhere. Prepayment is required. Contact customer service (above) for availability. For digital back issues, go to go.pcmag.com/digitalbackissues. maiLing Lists: We sometimes make lists of our customers available to mailers of goods and services that may interest you. If you do not wish to receive their mailings, please write to us at PC Magazine, PO Box 54070, Boulder, CO 80322-4070. digitaL rEadEr: If you have any problems viewing issues, please contact Zinio at 888-946-4666 or customerservice@zinio.com.

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What’s New from the World of Tech

Google’s Self-Driving Car
The tech giant hopes to cut the number of auto accidents in half.
Google is developing—and has extensively tested—technology to build an autonomously self-driving car . Moreover, Google engineers have already driven a fleet of them around the San Francisco Bay Area, to the tune of over 140,000 miles, Google said in a blog post. The cars “just drove from our Mountain View campus to our Santa Monica office and on to Hollywood Boulevard,” Sebastian Thrun, a distinguished Google software engineer, said in the blog post. “They’ve driven down Lombard Street, crossed the Golden Gate bridge, navigated the Pacific Coast Highway, and even made it all the way around Lake Tahoe.” Described as being in the “experimental stage,” Google said it hoped that its technology would be used to develop the self-driving cars of tomorrow, cutting the number of lives lost in auto accidents—1.2 million annually, according to the World Health Organization—by as much as half. The cars themselves leverage technology used in tests sponsored by DARPA, which has sponsored competitions to develop


an autonomous car that can self-navigate off roads and on city streets. In 2006, the agency tested city driving, and, in 2007, involved negotiating a “city” on an abandoned airbase. Google said that it had hired several members of those teams, including: Chris Urmson, the technical team leader of the CMU team that won the 2007 Urban Challenge; Mike Montemerlo, the software lead for the Stanford team that won the 2005 Grand Challenge; and Anthony Levandowski, who built the world’s first autonomous motorcycle that participated in a DARPA Grand Challenge. To reassure Bay Area drivers suddenly nervous about sharing the road with a self-

driving car, Google said that the cars were always manned, and could be taken over in an instant by a driver. Google did not say how many times this had occurred. “We always have a trained safety driver behind the wheel who can take over as easily as one disengages cruise control,” Thrun wrote. “And we also have a trained software operator in the passenger seat to monitor the software. Any test begins by sending out a driver in a conventionally driven car to map the route and road conditions. By mapping features like lane markers and traffic signs, the software in the car becomes familiar with the environment and its characteristics in advance.”—Mark Hachman

Best of our Blogs
uted and released into the streets through a process of evaporation and condensation triggering a transformation into a network of lush, cultivated landscapes,” explained the Norwegian creators of the project, which has been dubbed UMBRELLA. “The central urban plazas become focal points for a gradual process of transformation that will affect the way people will see, use, and experience their city.” — Andrew Webster APP sCOuT Barcode Behavior Barcodes and QR codes are all the rage these days in the world of mobile phones. A slew of apps for various phone OSes will scan a barcode and immediately provide you with product information. ScanBuy, a 2D barcode technology provider, conducted a consumer adoption survey on its own platform data. Among its findings: • Health and beauty products are the most popular items among 1D (UPC) scans, followed by groceries, books, and kitchen items • Half of barcode users are ages 35 to 45 and skew male. • Android is the most popular smartphone platform, with 45 percent of barcode users. • Americans scan barcodes more than citizens of any other country. —Jennifer Bergen

GEArLOG One Tiny Drive Los Angeles recently hosted the Cleantech Corridor and Green District Competition, in which entrants came up with new ideas to add a touch of green to the city. The winner of the competition was a giant mushroom, called a solar evaporator, which can tap into the city’s sewage to collect and clean the black water. “The clear water is distrib-


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New Danger In Online Gaming
Hackers are circling gaming sites, ready to infect.
Online gaming is huge. It’s also dangerous. According to a June 2010 Nielsen NetView survey on Internet usage, online gaming has overtaken e-mail in terms of the total percentage of time Americans spend online (10.2 percent versus 8.3 percent). Only social networking scores higher, with a whopping 22.7 percent. Online gaming now consumes a staggering 407 million hours of U.S. citizens’ time per year, according to Nielsen. Nielsen’s not the only one that has noticed this trend; cybercriminals have taken note and are taking advantage of it, too, infecting games sites—from legitimate forums and tutorial sites to shadier download sites—to attack the unwary. “As the gaming industry continues to grow, hackers will inevitably develop more ways to target this massive group,” said Ondrej Vlcek, chief technical officer of Czech security company Avast, makers of avast! Internet Security 5.0 and avast! Free Antivirus. Avast continually gathers data
kEEP OuT Galacticflashgames.com is considered one of the riskiest game sites to visit.


about infected sites, publishing a monthly Most Wanted List to highlight the worst sites in a given portion of the Web. For October, Avast sliced its data to reveal the riskiest gaming sites on the Web, to warn customers and raise awareness of the threat. Avast’s worst offenders, as of October 6: • Gamesfactoryinteractive.com • Games-digest.com • Mariogamesplay.com • Anywhere-games.com • Galacticflashgames.com • Towerofdefense.com To safely game online, Avast recommends a few simple precautions: • Keep all your apps, and especially your antivirus, updated. • Don’t turn off your antivirus while you’re playing games. • Instead, use your antivirus’ gaming function if you want to game uninterrupted. • Beware of downloading games via warez sites, which are a known avenue for spreading malware.—Sean Carroll


you’ve rented after some minimal set-up. The new rental system is also notable. For 99 cents, you get a Tv show for a 48-hour period. You can buy or rent a show on iTunes via your computer or ioS 4.2 device, start watching it on that device, and finish watching it by streaming to your Apple Tv. However, you can’t rent something on Apple Tv and watch it on your iPod touch later, or purchase any content on the Apple Tv—rentals only. It’s best to purchase or rent all of your content via your computer or ioS 4.2 device, so that the content can be watched back and forth between all of your devices. The new, miniature Apple Tv costs less than most iPods. Sure, the rental limitations can be irksome, but, particularly for ioS device owners, the new features dramatically outweigh the letdowns. because of its affordability, ease-of-use, and impressive capabilities, the Apple Tv gets our editors’ Choice award.—Tim Gideon
>> CLICk hErE fOr MOrE

Apple TV (2010)

TV Watching Just Got A Lot Better
After two years of radio silence, Apple has completely redesigned its “hobby” product; the result is a more feature-driven, streamlined Apple Tv. It costs only $99, offers 99-cent Tv-show rentals, and streams content from your computer, your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. The latest Apple Tv lacks a hard drive, so it is 75 percent than its predecessor. measuring 0.9 by 3.9 by 3.9 inches (HWD) and weighing less-than 10 ounces, it’s basically a tiny black box that can stream over any 802.11b, g, or n Wi-Fi signal. It requires iTunes 10 or later to stream from a computer. Apple has hit a home run with AirPlay, which enables streaming from ioS devices to Apple Tv. Downloading a video to your iPad, iPhone 4, or iPod touch and streaming it on your Apple Tv will be a reality with the ioS 4.2 update, due out this month. As long as your devices are all on the same Wi-Fi network, your Apple Tv can access whatever

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our rATINGS kEy: l l l l l EXCELLENT l l l l m VErY GOOD l l l m m GOOD l l m m m fAIr l m m m m POOr

Apple TV (2010)
$99 direct
l l l l m

PrOs Compact design. Intuitive user interface. Streams video, music, and photos from your computer, iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch. 99-cent TV-show rentals. Streams Netflix Watch Instantly content, YouTube, and content from iOS 4.2 devices to Apple TV. CONs No hard drive. Can’t purchase content-streaming only. Can’t rent a show on Apple TV and watch it on other devices or your computer. Limited rental content available. Connects via HDMI—not compatible with older televisions without purchasing an adapter. Doesn’t ship with an HDMI cable.


Samsung PN58C8000

Top-notch, 3D-ready Plasma
Samsung’s PN58C8000 is one of three plasma HDTV models representing the company’s top-tier, 3D-ready 8000 series. With its ultra-thin profile and brushedmetal finish, this 58-inch TV is beautiful. And its top-notch performance and broad feature set justify its price tag. With its 1.4-inch-deep cabinet, the 8000 is the thinnest plasma set we’ve seen. The two down-firing, 10-watt speakers under the bottom bezel are loud and provide good mid- and high-range output, but could use a bit more bass response. The PN58C8000’s most frequently used connections are easily accessible on the left side of the cabinet, and include four HDMI ports, two USB ports, two audio outputs, and a PC audio input. Additional ports are located in the rear. The Samsung Apps suite is extensive; its streaming video lineup includes Netflix, Vudu, You Tube, Hulu Plus, CinemaNow, Explore 3D, and DailyMotion. Performancewise, the 8000 series uses Samsung’s proprietary Real Black Filter technology, an advanced anti-glare feature that truly delivered some of the dark10 PC MAGAZINE DIGITAL EDITION NOVEMBER 2010

Samsung PN58C8000
$2,999.99 list
l l l l h

PROS Excellent 2D- and 3D-image quality. Very deep blacks. Unique, sleek design. A wide variety of Web apps. CONS Not very energy efficient when compared with LCD-based HDTVs. Uncomfortable 3D glasses.

est blacks we’ve seen in a plasma. Shadow detail on our 2012 Blu-ray test disc was excellent, as was the overall HD-detail quality. On top of all that, the PN58C8000 does a very good job of displaying 3D content. It does produce a degree of crosstalk (a double-image effect) but it was not as pronounced as what I observed with the Sony Bravia KDL-55HX800 and LG 47LX9500. At $3,000, the Samsung PN58C8000 may cost more than other like-sized plasma HDTVs, but you do get 3D support, which at this point, you’ll still pay a premium for. It is well-designed, rich in features and an outstanding performer, making it a shoo-in for our Editors’ Choice award.

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Cisco Flip ultraHD 8GB 2 Hours (2010)

Terrific HD Video To Go
he latest iPod touch may include HD video recording, but it doesn’t produce video as good-looking as this latestgen Flip pocket video camera. If you want a killer MP3 player, get an iPod touch, but if your focus is firmly on video capture and ease of use, the Flip UltraHD is probably a better choice. The 4.5-ounce Flip UltraHD 8GB is an improvement over its predecessor in three ways, starting with image quality. Instead of capturing 720p HD video at 30 frames per second, the Flip has doubled it to 60fps, so video motion looks smoother. Second, the UltraHD no longer requires AA batteries; it includes a removable, rechargeable lithium-ion battery. The last improvement is the FlipPort accessories port; you can use it now to plug in Cisco’s optional microphone, or in the future, other accessories like battery chargers and projector attachments. The controls on this version of the UltraHD remain dead simple: a big, red button in the center of the front face starts recording and a bright red light next to the lens indicates that a recording is in progress. On the left


Cisco Flip UltraHD 8GB 2 Hours (2010)
$199.99 direct
l l l h m

PROs Very good HD video quality. Simple to operate. Easy-to-use video-management software. Integrated FlipPort for optional accessories like microphones, projectors. Micro-HDMI port. CONs Bulky. Small 2-inch LCD. 8GB storage is not expandable. No analog microphone input jack. No macro mode or still image.

side of the camera, there’s a pop-out USB connector, so you never have to worry about carrying a battery charger or a USB cable. As for the video, make no mistake: You won’t get the same caliber of video quality that comes with a pricey full-blown camcorder. But in my real-world tests, I found video captured by the UltraHD looked fantastic, much better than the 720p30 footage from an iPod touch or even the 1080p30 recordings captured by Kodak’s Playtouch Video Camera. With the Cisco Flip UltraHD, you get simplicity and great image quality for $200. You can pull it out of the box and start shooting immediately.—PJ Jacobowitz


BlackBerry Curve 3G (T-Mobile)

A Familiar, Powerful Phone


he BlackBerry Curve 3G isn’t a revolutionary upgrade, but its powerful combination of push e-mail, Wi-Fi calling, and 3G data speeds make it a natural choice for voice and messagingfocused buyers. Taking the now-familiar Curve 8520 design, the Curve 3G measures 4.3 by 2.4 by 0.6 inches (HWD) and weighs 3.7 ounces. The screen is the same 320-by240-pixel, 2.4-inch panel as ever. The fourrow, sculpted QWERTY keyboard is just about perfect given the phone’s svelte design. The Curve 3G is a quad-band EDGE and dual-band HSDPA device, and its Wi-Fi radio now connects to faster 802.11n networks. It supports UMA service for clear Wi-Fi calls, which is a sadly undersold feature. Like prior UMA-compatible BlackBerrys, the Curve 3G gives you clear calls in cellular dead zones as long as you can connect over Wi-Fi. Voice calls sounded clear and crisp all around, but hand-offs between Wi-Fi and cellular weren’t as seamless as the last UMA BlackBerry I tested.

BlackBerry Curve 3G (T-Mobile)
$79.99 direct
l l l l m

PROs 3G speeds on T-Mobile’s network. Awesome Wi-Fi calling feature. Stellar battery life. Loud speakerphone. CONs Third-party app catalog still lags. Lowres camera.

As is proper for a BlackBerry, you can receive push e-mail for up to 11 accounts, including Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes. Corporate IT departments can password-protect the phones, wipe them remotely in the case of loss or theft, and provision them from a central location. At this point, the BlackBerry Curve is a known quantity, and the UMA-enhanced T-Mobile versions are better than most. But if you’re sticking with T-Mobile, you should consider the BlackBerry Bold 9700, which is also UMA-compatible and delivers more screen resolution and a better camera for just $20 more, although it’s a little heavier and bulkier.—Jamie Lendino


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Microsoft LifeCam Studio

High-Def Webcam
Microsoft’s latest webcam offers quality video recording and Internet video chats at a reasonable price. A Best Buy exclusive, the LifeCam Studio features a 1080p-capable sensor, an improved design, a flexible mount, and a steady picture that looks natural in a variety of environments. The LifeCam Studio brings in more light than its predecessor, the LifeCam Cinema, and works well in lower-light environments. Microsoft said the goal was for users to avoid having to crank the lights for video chats. In addition, a small cap extends out from over the sensor; this way straight overhead light doesn’t hit the sensor and compromise the image. A larger, higher-fidelity microphone has also been added. As before, the flexible, rubberized mount can sit atop a desktop or laptop lid without marring the frame. But now it includes a separate 360-degree joint for rotating the camera, and a new tripod thread lets you position the unit on a portable stand. The webcam’s TrueColor feature tracks your facial movements; this way the unit can change the exposure to compensate for a bright spotlight near the seating position. In practice, this worked really well. Live images from the LifeCam Studio looked closer to Microsoft LifeCam Studio
$99.99 list
l l l l m

PROS Sharp, crisp images and video recording. Most natural color balance we’ve seen from a webcam. Built-in TrueColor and automatic light correction works well in less-than-optimal environments. Warm vocal reproduction. Flexible 360-degree mount includes tripod thread. CONS Mono mic lacks noise suppression. Video recording maxes out at 720p and 15 frames per second without extra software. Buggy live effects.

what you’d expect from a camcorder like the Flip UltraHD (click here for the review), and less like the typical over-exposed, flat-looking images from a webcam. The Logitech HD Pro Webcam C910 may still be better for some buyers, thanks to its stereo mics and built-in noise cancellation. But the LifeCam Studio’s recorded video looks sharper at an identical 1280-by-720pixel setting, and also lacks the C910’s compression artifacts when recording video. All told, the LifeCam Studio is an excellent buy.—Jamie Lendino


Asus U45Jc-A1

A Sleek, Powerful Laptop
Asus makes outstanding laptops, as it proved with the U30Jc-A1 ($899 street, l l l l h ). Its latest offering bumps the screen size to a 14-inch widescreen, while retaining all the goodies that made its smaller sibling so successful. A sleek metallic frame, Nvidia-switchable graphics, and over 9 hours of battery life are among the reasons it earns our Editors’ Choice award. The U45Jc-A1’s 14-inch widescreen is one size bigger than the ones found in the MacBook Pro 13-inch and U30Jc-A1—roughly an extra two columns’ worth in Microsoft Office Excel. The full-size keyboard is responsive and comfortable. Asus is a component powerhouse, and it’s in this department that the U45Jc-A1 really shines. Its 2.4-GHz Intel Core i3-370M processor is a notch above the one found in the Asus U30Jc-A1 (Core i3-350M) and Dell 14R (Core i3-350M). It may not have the fastest processor among all of its competitors, but it offers plenty of graphics power. Video editors, casual gamers, and avid HD enthuAsus U45Jc-A1
$867 street
l l l l h

PROs High-quality design. Big battery. Outstanding battery life. Switchable graphics by Optimus. Lightweight. HDMI and eSATA. Good performance. CONs Mouse buttons are too resistant.

siasts can reap the benefits of a discrete Nvidia Geforce 310M graphics chip. A powerful mainstream laptop wouldn’t be complete without good battery life. With a huge 84WH battery, the U45Jc-A1 toppled its competitors in MobileMark 2007 tests with a score of 9 hours 27 minutes. Awards aren’t won by besting the competition in one or two areas; a laptop has to excel at everything and look good while doing it. The Asus U45Jc-A1 literally puts the pedal to the metal. Overall performance is where it truly shines, thanks to Nvidia’s switchable graphics technology and unprecedented battery scores in the mainstream category.—Cisco Cheng


sPECs 2.4-GHz Intel Core i3-370M processor; 4GB RAM; 500GB hard drive; Intel GMA HD and nVidia Geforce 310M graphics; 14-inch widescreen; 4.7 pounds; 802.11n wireless; Dual-Layer DVD+/-RW drive; Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium.


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L High scores are best. M Low scores are best. Bold type denotes first place.

pcMark vantage* L

MOBILeMark 2007 (hr:min) L

3dMark 06* L

crysIs* (fps) L

HandBrake (min:sec) M

cIneBnecH r11.5 (XcpU)

pHOtOsHOp cs5 (min:sec) M

Asus U45Jc-A1 Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (Core 2 Duo 2.4GHz) Asus U30Jc-A1 Dell Inspiron 14R

5,361 4,121 5,068 4,849

9:27 5:05 8:00 3:31

3799 5,246 4082 4,511

20.8 27 21.5 24

3:02 na na na

2.14 na na na

5:46 na na na

red 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.



Toshiba Satellite T235-S1350

A Hearty CULV at a Great Price
Just as the consumer ultra-low voltage (CULV) laptop category started losing steam, due to the high prices of the latest CULV processors, in walked the Toshiba Satellite T235-S1350. Its dual-core Pentium CULV processor may not be as powerful as the latest crop of Core i3 and Core i5 CPUs, but it shines brightly on the road, amassing over 8 hours of battery life. And its $630 price tag is a head-turner. To keep that price low, Toshiba naturally had to cut a few corners, like using plastic on the chassis instead of the fancier, aluminum metal found in the Asus UL80Vt-A1 and Acer Aspire 1830T-3721. To make up for that, the T235-S1350 is nice and slim, measuring just 0.75 inches in depth. It also weighs a mere 3.8 pounds. The T235-S1350 has a 13.3-inch widescreen, which is the median in CULV laptops. The full-size chiclet keyboard is borrowed from Toshiba’s award-winning mini netbook line, as the keys are perfectly sized and raised so that the depth is similar Toshiba Satellite T235-S1350
$630 direct
l l l l m

PROS Very aggressively priced. Exquisitely thin and lightweight. White design is vibrant. Excellent battery life. HDMI and eSATA included. Excellent keyboard. Wide touchpad. CONS Pentium processor is not best of breed.

to that of desktop keyboards. Most of the cost-cutting comes from the processor side. The 1.2-GHz Intel Pentium U5400 is at the low-end of the CULV totem pole, but it’s more advanced than the aging Intel Core 2 Duos found in the MSI X420 and UL80Vt-A1. Though it’s neither the fastest nor longest-lasting CULV laptop, the T235-S1350 offers an aggressive price and delivers all the key essentials of a successful thin and light laptop.—Cisco Cheng


SPECS 1.2-GHz Intel Pentium U5400 processor; 4GB RAM; 320GB hard drive; Intel GMA HD graphics; 13.3-inch widescreen; 3.8 pounds; Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium.


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Acer Aspire Predator AG7750-U2222

A Novice Gamer’s Dream Box
Whether you love or hate its design, you’ll have a tremendous gaming experience with the AG7750-U2222. It’s the ideal system for the talented, novice gamer who wants to train for the big leagues, with plenty of expandability options. The Predator is not a subtle computer— not many gaming towers are. Its ribbed exterior, garish paint job, and overladen tack-ons are entirely the point of this system. Its well-thought-out interior offers space for up to three nvidia GeForce GTX 470 graphics cards (one is already included), and a 750-watt power supply to support all three. There’s also a PCI card slot and PCIe x1 card slot, but those will be covered up if you add two more GTX 470 cards. The Predator comes with 12Gb of memory, which should be enough for gaming and most high-end multimedia use. It offers plenty of hard drive space thanks to its hotswappable drive bays. There are three free drive bays in the front of the system, with three sleds you can pop in and out easily. Acer Aspire Predator AG7750-U2222
$1999.99 list
l l l l m

PROs Lots of connectivity ports, including two Ethernet ports. Easy drive expansion. Large hard drive, lots of memory. 3D and multimedia prowess. SLI-capable. CONs Massive amount of bloatware.

For gaming systems, performance is everything. The Predator played Crysis (74 fps) and Lost Planet 2 (109 fps) smoothly at medium/middle settings, and impressed us with its 3D gaming performance. Compared with other midrange gaming boxes, the Acer Aspire Predator AG7750U2222 is a class leader. It’s the fastest overall compared with other multi-core systems with a single mid-range enthusiast graphics card. For its performance, expandability, and features, it is our new editors’ Choice for midrange gaming desktops. —Joel Santo Domingo


sPECs 2.8-GHz Intel Core i7 processor; 12Gb rAm; 1,500Gb hard drive; nvidia GeForce GTX 470 graphics; duallayer DvD+/-rW drive; microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium.


HP Mini 5103

A Fully Loaded, Pricey Biz Laptop


he HP Mini 5103 is an elite netbook player, offering touchscreen capability, a higher-resolution screen, HD-friendly decoder card, and, now, Intel’s latest dual-core Atom. But all of its bells and whistles bump the price up to $650, far higher than its competitors, and its addition of the dual-core processor doesn’t deliver much of a speed bump. With its 6-cell battery, the HP 5103 weighs 3 pounds, which is in line with the Toshiba mini NB305-N410 (2.9 lbs) and Samsung N210 (2.9 lbs). Unlike most netbooks, the 5103 has an option for a high-resolution screen (1,366 by 768), or you can choose one with capacitive touch (think Apple iPhone); mine came with both. The screen is appropriately lit and has wide viewing angles, and navigating it with your fingers is as responsive as doing it with the touchpad. Intel’s latest dual-core Atom—the 1.5GHz N550—is new to the HP Mini line. That would be exciting news except for the fact that speed improvements are only marginal. There are some slight speed advantages

HP Mini 5103
$650 direct
l l l l m

PROs Dual-core Atom. Sweet 1,366-by-768 resolution. Speedy hard drive. Touchscreen is finger-friendly. Sleek aesthetic. Big battery. 2GB of RAM. CONs Expensive once you pile on all these features. No HDMI port with HD decoder card.

over single-core Atom-equipped netbooks like the Toshiba NB305-N410 and Samsung N210. On MobileMark 2007 tests, the Mini 5103 drained its 6-cell battery in 8 hours 40 minutes, which pales in comparison to its predecessor’s score of 10:52. Still, almost 9 hours of battery life is quite nice. The HP Mini 5103 is loaded with terrific features, but they all add up to a price tag that’s no longer within the netbook range. In fact, you can buy a full-size laptop with this kind of money. There are a few sophisticated netbook users who can benefit greatly from these features. For all others, the Toshiba mini NB305-N410 probably makes more sense.—Cisco Cheng


sPECs: 1.5-GHz Intel Atom N550; 2GB DDR3 RAM; 160GB hard drive; Intel GMA 3150 graphics; 10.1-inch widescreen; 3 pounds; Microsoft Windows 7 Professional.


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L High scores are best. M Low scores are best. Bold type denotes first place.

SYSmark 2007 Preview L
moBiLe mark 2007 L eLectronic Learning video creation office productivity overaLL score WindoWs media encoder (min:sec) M

HP Mini 5103 Asus EeePC 1215N Dell Inspiron Mini 10s (HD) Toshiba mini NB305-N410

8:40 5:40 7:42 8:59

32 49 34 34

53 48 40 39

39 48 50 50

39 53 39 38

3:21 2:53 4:35 4:48

red 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. ** test was run at 1,024 by 768 resolution. test was run at 1,280 by 1,024 resolution.



The Lenovo ThinkCentre M90p USFF

Small PC, Hefty Price
he Lenovo ThinkCentre m90p USFF (Ultra Small Form Factor) is a Core i5-powered PC that is built and priced for the medium- to enterprise-class business. Smaller businesses that won’t take advantage of its IT management and serviceability features probably won’t find it worth the price ($1,158 direct). Like most USFF PCs, the m90p has little expansion room. There’s space for a single PCI card inside. If you need specialized graphics or other peripherals that don’t work with USb, then you’ll need to go for a midtower desktop. one plus is that the m90p has disk-image parity with larger desktops, so IT will only need to build one base harddrive setup/image, and build upon that for distribution to different groups. The system has a whopping 8 USb 2.0 ports. There’s also a DisplayPort in addition to the usual vGA port, meaning the m90p is ready for newer monitors with DisplayPort cables, but you can’t use a more common DvI-equipped monitor without an adapter. on our standard benchmark tests, the m90p performed decently. Its Windows media encoder score (37 seconds) was


Lenovo ThinkCentre M90p USFF
$1,158 direct
l l l h m

PROS Compact form factor. Quiet. Welldesigned stand. Core i5 power in a USFF desktop. Eight USB ports. Intel vPro. CONS Hardly any expansion room. Uses external power brick. No DVI port (without adapter). Only 30 days of Norton Internet Security updates. No eSATA.

marginally better than that of the editors’ Choice, the imac (Core i3) (39 seconds). However, the m90p’s Photoshop CS4 (1 minute 40 seconds) score fell behind the imac (1:22), but was on a par with the Dell optiplex 780 (1:41). The system won’t be able to run tasks that require large amounts of memory and a 64-bit operating system. If all of your company’s workers need Core i5 power, the m90p USFF is a good fit; otherwise, there are less expensive choices, such as our editors’ Choice winner, the Dell optiplex 780 USFF.—Joel Santo Domingo


SPECS Intel Core i5-660 processor; 3 Gb DDr3 rAm; 500Gb hard drive; Intel GmA HD graphics; dual-layer DvD+/rW drive; microsoft Windows 7 Professional edition.


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Livescribe Echo smartpen

A Pen That Digitizes and Records
n the curious product category of connected, voice-recording, pen input devices, Livescribe pretty much dominates. Its latest, the Livescribe Echo Smartpen, has a slimmed-down design and a host of new collaborative applications on the horizon. Still, like its predecessor, the Pulse, the Echo’s greatest strengths are its ability to record written notes, sync them with live audio recordings, and provide an easy way to manage digital copies of both. Despite being a bit slimmer than the Pulse, the 0.5-by-6.2-by-0.8-inch Echo is still a bit unwieldy. The rubberized tip helps your grip, but the 1.3-ounce device feels more like a big magic marker than a pen. Nestled inside the tip of the Echo pen is a high-speed, infrared camera that captures 70 frames per second. This camera captures anything you write, as long as it’s on the specially imprinted, not-quite-white note paper the company supplies. Connect the pen to your PC, and you can download digital copies of your handwritten notes. Pretty cool already, but there is more. The Echo also has a built-in microphone that records audio as you write. Want to find out what the professor was saying when you were taking your notes? Just tap


Livescribe Echo Smartpen
$169.95 direct (4GB)
l l l l m

PROs Digitally captures handwritten and audio notes. Sensitive microphone. Pencasts can be shared online. Growing app library. CONs Bulky. Actual pen tip is just a basic ballpoint. Requires specially printed notepaper.

a spot on the paper and click Play, and you’ll hear exactly—and clearly—what he was saying as you wrote in that spot. You can play back the audio on the pen or export it to your Mac or PC, where every stroke of your Echo pen is shown as the audio plays back. The Echo comes in 4GB ($169.95) and 8GB ($199.95) models, which can store 400 or 800 hours of audio respectively. The Livescribe Echo is a high-tech bridge between analog, handwritten notes and the digital world. This is a writing instrument any gadget geek will love.—Dan Costa

fIrsT LOOks sOfTwArE

Internet Explorer 9 Beta

A Barebones, Browsing Beauty
hen Internet Explorer 9’s interface was finally revealed at a recent event dubbed “Beauty of the Web,” analysts noted the barebones aspect of the four previous IE9 Platform Previews. But who would have guessed the leanness was a harbinger of the browser’s actual user interface? IE has become the most pared-down browser—but that’s not the whole story. Web pages take the center role, with new options like pinned sites. And IE9 joins the JavaScript speed team, revving up performance in other ways with graphics hardware acceleration. Finally, IE9 has become a “modern” browser (to use competitors’ term), by supporting new Web coding techniques like HTML5, CSS3, Canvas, and SVG. With its new user interface, IE9 innovates in ways that give pre-eminence to sites and the OS rather than the browser itself. Its pinned-tabs feature gives sites parity with apps, and when you drag tabs out, the resulting window behaves like a standard Windows 7 window, including Aero Snap functionality. This emphasis on Windows 7 behavior is exactly why XP users get left in the dust; IE9 works only on Win 7 and Vista.


Internet Explorer 9 Beta
Free Unrated PrOs Minimalist design leaves the most room for the Web page content. Pinned tabs make sites like apps in Windows 7. New JavaScript engine and hardware acceleration makes it significantly faster than previous versions of IE. Download manager with malware protection. Improved tab function. Ample security features. CONs Still not as fast as Chrome in JavaScript. Still behind in support for HTML5 code. Some sites do not render correctly.

The default configuration of IE9’s top UI border actually takes up the least screen real estate of any major browser, leaving the most space for Web pages. To achieve this, everything is in one row below the window border—the back and forward buttons,

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nice options to keep track of your installers. When it comes to performance, IE is no longer a second-class citizen. JavaScript performance is a key speed benchmark, one that gets a lot of ink thanks to Chrome’s still-astounding lead in this area. Previous versions of IE have lagged behind just

PINNING sITEs When you pin a site to the taskbar, the browser icon and button color changes to match the site.

tabs, control buttons, and the combined address/search bar, or OneBox. IE9 has taken Chrome’s lead on combining these two functions, but IE claims its version is more protective of your privacy, by letting you turn on and off the autosuggest feature of your search engine at will. Internet Explorer now has a download manager, finally, and it’s nonintrusive. Its window shows you the percent complete, lets you go to the download folder, run, or view all downloads. You can choose to Run, Save, or Save and Run when you download—

ADD-ONs The add-on manager tells you how much time each add-on will add to startup.

BOrDEr COMPArIsONs IE9’s window border (right) takes up less space than Chrome’s (left) and Firefox’s (center).

about all competitors, but IE9’s new Chakra JavaScript engine brings it right in the midst of the pack. Also, other aspects of page rendering have been accelerated using Graphics hardware directly accessed through DirectX’s Direct2D API. Only Firefox was able to match IE9 Beta’s performance on Microsoft’s (and Firefox’s) demos. Competition has been good for IE. With the Internet Explorer 9 beta, Microsoft has made great strides on three fronts, speed, standards and simplicity. After over a week’s use, I found the vast majority of sites worked flawlessly. Still, it’s a beta at this point, so we’ll wait before making a decision about our next browser Editors’ Choice.— Michael Muchmore
>> CLICk HErE fOr MOrE

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QuickBooks Premier Edition 2011

Small-Business Accounting At Its Best
Intuit’s QuickBooks remains the best small-business accounting product available today. The upgrades to the new Premier Edition 2011 will help you stay on top of your company’s financial standing, improve the speed of your collections, save time completing transactions, and access your data remotely. QuickBooks 2011 facilitates sales and purchases, payroll, inventory, and banking. You can create databases of people, products, and services; process numerous types of transactions; and get constant, real-time views of your business through reports and interactive snapshots. These tools can be accessed through icons on the program’s opening page. They’re divided into related groups. The Company group, for example, offers links QuickBooks Premier Edition 2011
$399.95 list
l l l l h

PrOs Intuitive interface. Thorough setup. Multi-graph Snapshots. Multiple email options. Informational pane in transactions. Intuit Payment Network. Numerous payroll options. CONs Weak inventory tools. Little attention to Preferences.

to screens that help you view your Chart of Accounts, peruse your items and services, and work with your inventory. Vendors’ icons represent purchase orders, bills, and inventory. Customer links take you to forms like sales orders and invoices, related charges, and payments. The Employee group, of course, helps you manage your payroll. And links in the Banking group trigger processes like check-writing and account-reconciliation.

EMPLOYEE CENTEr Quickbooks’ Centers consolidate access to records and transaction data.

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EAsY sETUP New in 2011 is this set of wizards, designed to help you begin building your data layers.

sNAPsHOTs Quickbooks’ Company Snapshots, including the Customer Snapshot, display what you need to know fast.

Standards menus and a customizable toolbar also lead you to your destinations, offering a more comprehensive guide to the program’s features. A window containing a list view of your items and services lets you open records and also use menus to work with individual entries. These menus offer voluminous options for activities like editing and deleting items, creating forms and receiving items, running reports, and interacting with Excel. QuickBooks is in good company in the

small-business accounting space. Both Peachtree by Sage Premium Accounting 2010 ($349 direct, l l l l m ) and AccountEdge 2010 for Windows ($299 direct, l l l h m ) would serve many small businesses well, particularly those that need maximum inventory-tracking capabilities and flexibility. Still, QuickBooks continues to lead the pack with its skillful blend of accounting acumen, simplicity, and extensibility, and that is why it is our Editors’ Choice pick.—Kathy Yakal
>> CLICk HErE fOr MOrE


Microsoft Office for Mac 2011

A Superb Suite for Mac Users, Finally
icrosoft finally got it right. After a string of disappointing releases, the new mac version of the world’s most widely used office suite is innovative, better designed, startlingly faster, vastly more powerful, and far more compatible with office for Windows. It even includes a few features that outclass anything in its Windows-based counterpart, microsoft office 2010. office for the mac comes in two versions, a Home and Student version (single user, $119; three users, $149) and a Home and business version (single user, $199; licensed for two machines, $279). both versions include Word 2011, excel 2011, and PowerPoint 2011, but the Home and business version also includes outlook 2011, which replaces the entourage mail, calendar, and contact-manager app in recent versions. The most newsworthy changes in the suite include the shiny new outlook and the collaboration feature that lets multiple users edit a document simultaneously when the document is stored on microsoft’s free SkyDrive cloud-based storage or on a SharePoint server. but the best thing about the new suite for most real-world users will be its jackrabbit speed—unlike the pokiness that


Microsoft Office for Mac 2011
Home and Student version, $119, single user; $149, three users Home and business version, $199, single user; $279, licensed for two machines
l l l l h

PROS Fast, flexible office-application suite. Most powerful Mac office software. Highly compatible with Office for Windows. Wellintegrated with OS X. Visual Basic for Applications recorded and programmed macros fully supported. Newly designed Outlook replaces Entourage as mail/calendar/contact app. CONS No calendar synching with iCal. Outlook won’t synch with or retrieve mail from Exchange Server 2003 or earlier.

made the previous version almost unusable. I also like the new ribbon interface. It’s similar to the ribbon on the Windows version, with a few changes that reflect the graphicsoriented world of the mac. I’m delighted to see the return to the mac version of the visual basic for Applications automation language. This means I can finally record and edit Word macros in oS X, and, better still, use all the macros I’ve recorded or written over the years for use in the Windows version. Word for the Mac Grows Up Word for the mac finally has virtually all the dazzling power and flexibility of Word for

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DyNAMIC REORDERING one of the most dazzling new features in office, dynamic-reordering view lets you rearrange layers by dragging them to the correct position.

Windows, and adds a few special tricks of its own. When you edit a document in the new full-screen view, nothing is visible except the current page and a background image— by default flat black, but you can choose among different textures. When you move the mouse to the top of the screen a formatting toolbar appears; it’s less distracting than the full oS X menu bar that appears in iWork’s Pages app when you move the mouse to the top of Pages’ full-screen view. Word 2011’s full-screen view lets you switch between editing mode and a readonly mode that uses a Time-machine-style sheaf of pages behind the current page, to give you an idea of how many more pages remain beyond the one you’re reading. Like the previous version, Word can operate in two modes, one for normal word-processing documents, the other a “publishing” mode used mostly for graphics-rich layouts. The big news in the latest version of Word’s

publishing mode is the dynamic reordering feature, which is also included in the mac version of PowerPoint. To move a graphic image or text box toward the front or back in a multi-layer layout, you used to have to select each object in turn and select move to back or move to Front, often a complex operation if the object you wanted to move was hidden behind another object. now, you can choose reorder objects from the ribbon, and Word (or PowerPoint) displays all the objects on the page in a 3-D horizontal stack of layers. or you can choose reorder overlapping objects, and then the 3-D display shows only the overlapping objects, not the other ones on the same page. It’s a brilliant and even beautiful solution, and there’s nothing like it in any other software. New Graphic features in Excel excel 2011 gets the new ribbon interface and some of the same nifty graphic features


in excel 2010 for Windows, such as “sparklines” (single-cell charts for graphic display of data in a row or column) and flexible and eye-catching conditional formatting. Almost everything else that’s new in the app counts as an improvement on existing features. The Find feature can search across multiple workbooks, and can search for wildcards. The Formula bar is moved immediately above the column headers and never overlaps the data, no matter how complex the formula it displays. Pivot Tables are vastly easier to use, through a new dialog box and with conditional formatting to make the resulting display easier to interpret. vbA support means that automated worksheets finally work again in excel for the mac, and macros can be recorded with a couple of clicks on the ribbon. A Sections feature in PowerPoint PowerPoint for the mac also gets a makeover that brings it mostly into line with the Windows version. Windows-version features newly added to the mac version include “sections” that manage groups of slides as a single unit, recorded and programmable vbA macros, built-in pictureediting tools such as a surprisingly effective automatic background remover, the ability to embed movies into slides, and the option to use a microsoft-provided Web server to broadcast your presentations over the Web. As in Word, the mac version of PowerPoint improves on the Windows version with its “dynamic reordering” feature that the Windows version can’t match.

Goodbye Entourage, Hello Outlook I liked the entourage mail, calendar, and contacts app in the last few versions of office for mac, but the new outlook is both faster and far more powerful. It looks and acts like an almost feature-complete match to outlook for Windows, but with features that make it especially suitable to the mac environment. one such feature will be invisible to most users: instead of storing all your mail and other data in a huge single file, as in previous mac versions and all Windows versions, each message, contact, and task is stored as a separate file. So Apple’s Time machine backup system needs only to save newly created message files whenever a new message arrives, and not a huge data file. And oS X’s Spotlight search tool can find outlook messages in a faster, more efficient way. outlook for the mac, like outlook for Windows, finally gets a Conversations view that groups messages and replies. It also gets the superb Windows feature that displays your calendar when you get a meeting invitation, so you can see whether you can fit the meeting into your plans. An Exciting, Robust Upgrade I can’t think of a more impressive software upgrade than microsoft office for mac 2011. It combines terrific new features with faster performance. It’s more mac-like than ever, more closely integrated with oS X, and offers a smooth transition from the Windows version for anyone switching to the mac.—Ed Mendelson

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ExCEL CHARTS excel with its ribbon looks a lot like the Windows version, and supports almost all the features of its Windows counterpart.

POWERPOINT SECTIONS PowerPoint makes it possible to divide a presentation into chapter-like sections, making it easy to use or omit whole blocks of slides for different audiences.

OUTLOOk MAIL outlook’s mail interface looks like the Windows version, complete with the optional conversation view.


john c. dvorak

Texting: Hazardous To Your Health
ne of my friends is the ultimate modern geek. He says he and his wife often sit at the same table with mobile devices and text each other while at the same table! even more weird than this is that it doesn’t actually surprise me. The more I think about this situation, the more I consider the unintended consequences, none of which has to do with computing. They have to do with your health. It’s already been shown that the iPod, which has ruined the market for high-quality stereo speakers, is making kids deaf. You’ve been around this yourself. You are sitting next to someone and their iPod is turned up so high you can hear the song yourself. I have had this happen on noisy airplanes. In California any bar with music playing has to have ear protection behind the counter for people who ask for it. Nobody seems to ask for it , unaware that listening to 100db-plus noise for hours on end is awful for your hearing. The same apparently holds true for earbud wearers.
30 Pc MaGaZInE dIGITaL EdITIon November 2010


Sean Hannity, a national talk show host, was on the radio one day lamenting the fact that years of using headphones, which are far safer than ear buds for the ears, has hurt his hearing. He noted that this is a common ailment among people working in radio. Still, it does not hold a candle to earbud damage. Curiously there are all sorts of federal standards for dangerous noise, but not of these standards seem to be enforced. So the unintended consequences of the iPod and other mP3 devices is hearing loss among the youth of America. What about the iPhone and other mobile devices? Well, I don’t know about you, but squinting at what amounts to 3 or 4-point type on an itsy-bitsy screen for hours on end cannot be a positive thing for your vision, can it? There seems to be some evidence that people are getting more and more nearsighted as they hunch over a desk and stare at a computer screen 12-inches away all day long. book worms have always turned nearsighted too. And while some of this may be genetic, much of this may have to do with

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real-life zombies are weaving in and out of traffic with one hand to their ear and one hand on the wheel, working and driving on reflex only.
the muscles in the eye and its general ability to optimize for what it needs to do the most. Does anyone think it is healthy to stare at 4-point type on a dinky screen all day? Is it somehow good for your vision? I’d like to see the stats on vision anomalies a decade from now. Investors take note: optics companies and hearing-aid companies are going to be hot tickets! The Zombie Frame of Mind besides these physical afflictions that prey upon the true believers of the iPod/iPhone, there is also a quality of life issue. Does anyone find it peculiar how users of these small devices have managed to isolate themselves from the cool things that exist in real life? I watch people zone out over some music while failing to see things around them. People are yakking on the phone while walking down the street almost oblivious to their surroundings. They are texting or chatting with friends who must also be in this state of isolation. Does anyone think that this self-imposed isolation from immediate surroundings might actually be harmful somehow to the psyche or the whole person? This could account for a number of weird social anomalies that everyone complains about, such as waning customer service and dissociated zombie-like people within corporations. I’ve never seen so many people totally disconnected from those around them in my life. A friend of mine, who notes the same phenomenon, claims that the recent explosion of referential material about zombies is the direct result of this genuine zombiefication of the masses because of these devices. These real-life zombies are driving their car-like robots as they chat on the cell phone incessantly. They weave in and out of traffic with one hand to their ear and one hand on the wheel, working and driving on reflex only. Not really driving at all. Zombies. The brain is not in gear. This is a little more than distressing. And then there are those who text message while driving a car. I always thought someone shaving in the mirror or putting on make-up in the mirror while driving was a bit scary. This is worse. And it is not improving. This trend toward being connected is actually a trend toward being isolated. Yeah, you are connected to a limited number of people who you constantly communicate with, but you are isolated from the world at large. Get rid of these devices. NoW!
Dvorak Live on THe Web John’s Internet TV show airs every Wednesday at 3:30 ET on crankyGeeks.com. You can download back episodes whenever you like.
November 2010 Pc MaGaZInE dIGITaL EdITIon 31


Samsung to Apple: The Battle Is On
amsung is taking its battle for marketshare to the next level. The company recently announced that its Androidpowered Galaxy Tab tablet would appear on all four major U.S. carriers, just like its Galaxy S phone line (which, in fact has six carriers.) This stands in stark contrast to Apple’s one-carrier solution—choose any carrier you like, as long as it’s AT&T. by targeting all four carriers with similar devices, Samsung acknowledges that we’re still a country where people choose their carrier before their hardware. AT&T, Sprint, T-mobile, and verizon have very different rates, customer service policies, network speeds and coverage maps. Samsung wants to make sure that no matter which one you prefer, you can get a top-of-theline Samsung Android device. Following Europe’s Lead To some extent, that’s like Google’s original dream for the Nexus One, and it’s how phone buyers shop in Europe. Consumers


get to pick their device and their carrier independently of each other, rather than being locked into exclusive arrangements. Notice that I’m not drawing any difference between phones and tablets here. If the gadget requires 3G service, it’s bought and sold the same way, at least for now. Samsung’s strategy seems to have resulted in lower device prices, at least up front. both verizon Wireless and T-mobile are offering Galaxy S phones on a buy-oneget-one-free basis. This is a tactic typically used for slow-selling or older phones, but the Galaxy S hasn’t been a disappointment; Samsung said that it anticipates selling 5 million Galaxy S phones in the U.S. by the end of the year. T-mobile and verizon are using Galaxy S phones as bait to get more consumers to sign up for monthly data plans. The Dark Side Of Being Friendly Samsung’s approach has a dark side, too. The company is a friend of the carriers. It really likes the carriers. It likes them so much, in fact, that it actually let the carri-

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To compete with the iPhone and the iPad, Samsung will have to make sure that its software is easy and fun to use, and that its hardware is reasonably priced.
ers interfere with the software in the Galaxy S in ways that Apple would never allow , and that Google would not allow with the Nexus One. Samsung let verizon set bing as the default search engine on the Galaxy S, for instance, and it also let AT&T bar nonmarket apps. It looks like the carrier models of the Galaxy Tab may end up having similar customizations. Marketing Wi-Fi-Only Versions both Samsung and Apple are selling non3G, Wi-Fi-only versions of at least some of their products There’s going to be a Wi-Fionly Galaxy Tab, and the iPod touch and Wi-Fi-only iPad are arguably even more successful than the iPhone and 3G iPad. It will be interesting to see how hard Samsung markets the Wi-Fi-only Galaxy Tab. Apple pushes the iPod touch and Wi-Fi iPad hard, in part because there’s no love lost between Apple and wireless carriers in general. Will Samsung relegate its Wi-Fi model to the back of a best buy, so the company’s carrier buddies can get the spotlight? There are other big differences between Samsung’s and Apple’s products. Pricing, both in terms of the Galaxy Tab device itself and in terms of service plans, will play a big role in the Galaxy Tab’s success or failure. The user-interface differences between Android and iOS alone could also define whether the Galaxy Tab succeeds. Apple could change the balance of power by releasing the iPhone on a different U.S. carrier, like it has in other countries. We’ve been hearing plenty of rumors of Apple going with this carrier or that carrier, but that’s been nonstop since 2007. The Competition: It’s a Good Thing I’m hoping that Samsung and Apple can seriously goose each other, and that consumers benefit from the competition. To compete with the iPhone and the iPad, Samsung will have to make sure its software is easy and fun to use, and that its hardware is reasonably priced. To compete with the Galaxy Tab—if the Galaxy Tab succeeds— Apple may finally have to break its exclusivity arrangement with AT&T. At least for now, though, it will be very interesting to watch: Will Americans prefer to choose their carrier, or will they be willing to put up with AT&T’s network for a pure Apple experience?
STAY PHONE-SMART Keep up with the latest on smartphones by reading Sascha’s column at go.pcmag.com/segan.


Internet Wiretaps: What You Should Know


he obama administration is “preparing to seek sweeping new regulations for the Internet” in order to make wiretapping easier, according to The new York Times. These rules would almost certainly require communication providers to create backdoors the government could use to intercept communications, presumably those of international terrorists, drug smugglers, and other assorted criminals. And just like that, the Crypto Wars of the late 1990s have resumed. What’s clear now is that the issues are complex, the stakes are high, and the parties involved are wholly incapable of common-sense compromise. Here’s what we know.

ing be active, or can a warrant allow for the unfettered data mining of everything you have stored in the cloud, from your Facebook photos to your Gmail in perpetuity? Without details, it is hard to see how anyone can take a hard line for or against new regulations. The Internet is Already Bugged bill Clinton is known for a lot of things, but not a lot of people know he signed a 1994 law called the Communications Assistance to Law enforcement Act. The law was designed to help the government extend wiretapping capabilities to the digital age. At the time, this meant AoL, Prodigy, and other telecommunications providers had to install equipment that gave the government access to their data centers. Today this same functionality exists in Google, microsoft, and verizon’s datacenters. All Monitoring Requires a Warrant Here in the States, any Internet monitoring will require a warrant, just like conventional

Those “Sweeping” Regulations Just Don’t Exist Yet It is impossible to evaluate any proposal without details, and at this point we don’t have any. Will users still be able to utilize services like PGP and Tor to secure their communication channels? Will monitor34 PC MAGAZINE DIGITAL EDITION november 2010

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The government can read your e-mails, but still needs a judge’s signature to do so. Presumably, new regulations would also require a judge’s oK.
wiretapping does now. The government can read your e-mails, but it still needs a judge’s signature to do so. Presumably any new regulations would also require an oK by a judge. That may be small comfort, but no one is talking about eliminating constitutional protections here. not yet, anyway. Criminals Don’t Seek Warrants to Spy The real risks when creating backdoors are the folks who won’t ask a judge for a warrant—identity thieves, malware creators, and the occasional teenage hacker. Identity theft alone costed consumers $54 billion last year. And that figure doesn’t include the countless losses to keyloggers, viruses, trojans, and worms that don’t get reported. our best protection against these threats is solid encryption and secure communication channels, but those are precisely the tools that are coming under attack. Anyone Can Walk Through a Backdoor Some existing backdoors have already been compromised. Indeed, the government of Greece bought some vodaphone telecommunication equipment with built-in interception technology just a few years ago. In 2006, unknown parties were able exploit those access points and spy on its citizens. The perpetrators used it to eavesdrop on more than 100 phones, including those of senior police and defense department officials. Adding interception points makes communications systems less secure. That’s a simple fact. So despite the dire warnings of the national security infrastructure and the desperate cries of privacy promoters, no one knows the specifics of the administration’s proposal. Those who have come out against the hypothetical rules usually present some form of ben Franklin’s maxim: “those who give up liberty for security deserve neither.” The problem is, this is a misquote, or at least a gross simplification. Franklin’s actual words, written in A Historical review of the Constitution and Government of Pennsylvania in 1759 were, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” note the qualifications, “essential” liberty and “temporary” safety. Franklin acknowledges the two are connected, a balance must be struck, and that neither should be considered an absolute. It is this kind of thoughtfulness that has so far been absent in this latest round of the crypto wars, but it is exactly what we will need if there are to be any real winners.
TALK bAcK To DAn E-mail your thoughts to dan_costa@pcmag.com.

Top 10 Hidden Features in Windows 7


By Joseph Moran
veryone likes to find hidden stuff, whether it’s loose change in the couch cushions or an easter egg in your favorite video game. Windows 7 has its own hidden treasures. Yes, there

are features and goodies to be uncovered—some obvious, some not. And you can access all of those listed here without downloading anything extra (well, mostly). read on for 10 handy and largely undocumented items in Windows 7 that you probably weren’t aware of...and soon won’t be able to live without.

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1. GOD MODE It may be hyperbolically named, but Windows 7’s God mode is indeed omnipresent. It conveniently puts hundreds of settings from all around the operating system all in one place. To turn on God mode, create a new folder on your desktop, or anywhere you’d like,

and name it: Godmode.{eD7bA470-8e54465e-825C-99712043e01C}. Don’t include the final period. The resulting folder will contain 270 items, representing virtually every configurable option in Windows 7. 2. ENhANCED CALCuLATOr Windows’ built-in calculator hasn’t really changed much over the years, but Windows 7’s calculator has a few extra tricks up its sleeve, which you’ll find under the view


menu. It can do myriad unit conversions (temperature, weight, area), and even mortgage payment or car mileage calculations. It maintains a history of your previous calculations as long as the program is open. 3. WOrDPAD’S FILE SuPPOrT The built-in WordPad word processor in vista is of limited usefulness because it only supports rTF (rich Text Format) and plain text (TXT) files. In Windows 7, on the other hand, WordPad isn’t quite as restricted. Although Windows 7’s WordPad still doesn’t work with .doc files from microsoft Word 2003 and earlier versions, it can open and save oDT (openDocument Text) files used by the free openoffice.org word processor as well as .docx files created in microsoft Word 2007 or 2010. Although

4. rELIAbILITy MONITOr When your system is acting flaky and you’re trying to figure out what’s going on, the reliability monitor may help. Search for “reliability” from the Start menu, and run View Reliability History. You’ll get a graph of your system’s “stability index” over a

period of days and weeks (rated on a scale of 1 to 10). It displays which programs, Windows components, or miscellaneous items crashed on a given day, helping you identify problem items. 5. PrObLEM STEPS rECOrDEr When you need outside PC help, it’s much better to let them see for themselves what’s happening on your system. but if remote access isn’t an option, the Problem Steps recorder may be the next best thing. Search for and run psr from the Start menu. Click Start Record, and the utility will record your activities through a series of screen shots, automatically including cap-

WordPad can’t understand all the complex formatting (it will warn you of this upon opening or saving a file), it will still let you read the documents without having the native programs installed.

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tions that show exactly where you clicked. You can also use the Add Comment button to highlight specific areas of the screen and insert custom annotations. When you stop recording, everything will be stitched together and saved as a Web browser-compatible mHTmL (mIme HTmL) file, conveniently pre-ZIPped and ready for e-mailing to your geek of choice. 6. POWEr EFFICIENCy rEPOrT If your Windows 7 laptop isn’t getting the battery life you expect, or it experiences power-related issues, such as the inability

the menu and choose Run as administrator). From the command prompt, type powercfg -ENERGY (include the space) to scan your system, and after about a minute, you’ll find a file called energy-report.html in your \windows\system32 folder. Copy the report to another location and open it (you’ll get a file-not-found error if you try to open it from the system32 folder) for detailed information about what system devices or settings are throwing a monkey wrench into your power management. 7. PIN FOLDErS TO ThE TASkbAr You know you can right-click your favorite programs and pin them to the Windows 7 Taskbar for easy access. There’s no such option for folders, but you can still keep them close at hand on the Taskbar. rightclick any folder, drag it to an empty space

to go into standby or hibernate mode, the problem usually lies with incorrectly configured power-management settings. Windows 7’s Power efficiency report can help you sniff out potential problems. Type search for CMD from the Start menu, run it as an administrator (right-click cmd.exe on

on the Taskbar (or to the Windows explorer button), and let go when Pin to Windows Explorer appears. Now when you right-click the Windows explorer button, your folders will be accessible via the Jump List. 8. WIPE FrEE DISk SPACE It’s no secret that when you delete files or folders in Windows, they’re not actually

erased; the space they took up is simply marked as “available for use,” which allows the files to be recoverable until they’re overwritten with new data. There is a utility built into Windows (even XP Pro and vista) that will overwrite all the free space on a hard drive, insuring any files you’ve deleted stay dead. Launch a command prompt and type cipher /w:X (X is the letter of the drive or partition you want to wipe). be patient; the process can take a long time if you have a lot of free space. 9. “VIrTuAL” WI-FI If you check out the network connections of most Wi-Fi-equipped Windows 7 systems (except those with Starter edition), you’ll notice an adapter called microsoft virtual WiFi miniport adapter. This adapter acts as a software-based access point, taking a wired or wireless network connection and making it available via a separate wireless network. This lets you create your own hotspot from whatever network you’re connected to— handy when, say, you want to connect multiple devices to a Wi-Fi network that charges for access. To do this, you’ll need a copy of the free Connectify software.)

10. hOTkEy A WINDOW bETWEEN MONITOrS Want an easy and mouse-free way to move windows around a display or, better yet, between multiple monitors? When you press the Windows key along with the left or right arrow key, the active window will move from its original position and anchor itself to the edge of the screen in the direction of the arrow, and it will do so across every monitor you have. Similarly, if you press the

Windows, SHIFT, and the left or right arrow keys at the same time, the active window will jump over to the same position on the adjacent monitor. ■

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To the person reading over my shoulder: Yes, I am reading PC Magazine. Digitally. And yes, it is awesome.
Now stop ogling and get Zinio for yourself. zinio.com/ipad

How to Cast Out Wi-Fi Intruders
Are you sure you’re the only one enjoying your home network? Here’s how to detect trespassers and block them from pilfering your bandwidth. By Eric Griffith
ou love the convenience of your home Wi-Fi network, and guess what? You may not be the only one. If you haven’t adequately secured your network, it’s possible that others—your neighbors and various other passers-by, for example— are happily gobbling up the bandwidth you pay for. now, to be honest, you’re probably not using it all, and sharing is the neighborly thing to do. In fact, many routers will help you do just that (share, not be neighborly). of course, it would be equally considerate if that guy down the hall offered you some cash to use your network. That said, you may have some very good reasons for keeping your network locked. So, we’ve gathered some tips for finding out if people are using your 802.11-based signals


as their own, and how you can block them out for good. (note: every model of wireless router has a different interface; even those from the same company are different. However, all have similar tools. I discuss them generically here, but if you poke around in the settings, you’ll find what you need.)

GO sTEALTH You can set your wireless router’s settings to “invisible,” so that others perusing local networks won’t see yours.

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YOu CAN DO MAGIC Cisco network magic is one of our favorite programs for keeping an eye on every aspect of your network.

stop Broadcasting Your Name most Wi-Fi routers broadcast the SSID, or Service Set Identifier, by default. This is the name of your wireless network, and broadcasting it is how Wi-Fi-enabled devices, such as laptops and phones, find networks. You can, however, turn off broadcasting. It’s as simple as that. This is not foolproof (and it won’t prevent anyone who already knows your network’s name from getting online), but it helps keep casual Wi-Fi stealers away.

They’ll go for the lower-hanging fruit (e.g. another open network). If users do have your current network name and you’d rather they didn’t, change the SSID. That will keep the crooks confused, at least for a while. name it something like “LocalPrecinct212” and maybe they’ll be extra nervous about connecting. Change it frequently to keep them guessing. (This is usually a moot point if encryption is activated.) Keep in mind, if you do


rEIGNING IN DHCP sETTINGs You can control the number of IP addresses your router assigns to the number of devices on your network. MAC ADDrEss CONTrOL Setting your router to allow only the mAC addresses of your own devices is a solid way to keep intruders out.

turn off broadcasting of your SSID, you make it a giant pain for yourself to add new devices to the network. It may not be worth the hassle. Limit the IP Addresses networks use IP addresses to “talk.” A temporary IP address is assigned to each connected device by the router, using the Dynamic Host Control Protocol (DHCP). This can be a real time saver. However, if you want to take total control of your network, assign static IP addresses of your own to each network device—that means every laptop, phone, game system, and stray geegaw that uses Wi-Fi to get online. Unless you’re a total control freak, this can be more hassle than it’s worth. The next option: Limit the number of IP addresses the DHCP will dole out. If you know you have six products connected to your network, then only let it assign six addresses. remember that IP addresses cover wired and wireless products, so you have to include all of your ethernet-based hardware in that list, which could include desktop PCs, Tvs, game consoles, and more.

Finally, most new routers will do a DHCP reservation. This ensures that every time a device connects to the network, it gets the exact same IP address. Without reservations, the address could change. Keeping them the same makes it easier to communicate over the network, especially if you’re using a PC as a server for video to an Xbox or PS3, for example. Block the MAC You can check the mAC addresses listed for each device that is talking to your router against the mAC addresses physically stamped on the hardware you own. If you see a mAC listed that doesn’t match your equipment, then you may have a trespasser. next, find the mAC Address Filters in your router settings. Tell the router to allow only the mAC addresses you want. This requires entering a new mAC address every time you introduce a new Wi-Fi-based product to your network. Also, this isn’t foolproof, as mAC addresses can be spoofed with the

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right tools, but that’s usually something serious hackers, not casual wireless crooks, do. Conversely, your filter may be set to deny access to the mAC addresses you list, like those you know are not your own but appear on your DHCP list. Encrypt Those Airwaves naturally, the best method for preventing people from accessing your network while making it easily accessible to you and your friends is to encrypt it using the well-established Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA), which comes in all modern network hardware. However, you may have some old-school products lying around that only support the old and notoriously crackable WeP. You can use that, too, but it will leave your network a bit more vulnerable. It’s still better than nothing. Consider it a closed door with a broken lock; it’s better than no door at all. You may also have products that use Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS). This works with WPA. Push a button on the router, then a corresponding button on a Wi-Fi product, and the two will auto-generate a nigh-invul-

NETWOrk CONTrOL Cisco network magic Pro 5.5 makes it easy to detect intruders, set up sharing, and add devices to your network.

nerable password that even you don’t know. You’ll just need a master password on the router. not all Wi-Fi hardware supports this, so you may be better off picking your own super-strong password. Perform some Magic Cisco network magic Pro 5.5 ($39.99 direct) remains our editors’ Choice for home-network activity tracking and more, including intrusion detection. It works with just about any home network (especially those with Cisco and Linksys routers) to help you get stronger and more secure connections. Plus, it gives you a glimpse of who shouldn’t be there in the on-screen network map. In fact, the latest version uses a home network administration protocol (HnAP) to control security settings on most routers. When it works, it’s a quick way to fix security problems. Some other tools that could help you include Who’s on my WiFi and AirSnare. ■

sET uP WPA IF your router offers WPA encryption, by all means, set it up. or, if you have an older router, set up WeP encryption.


Make Your Photos Come to Life
The right software can transform your digital photos into masterpieces, no matter what type of camera you use. Here are our picks for the best programs. By Michael Muchmore
e all enjoy taking photos, whether they’re the occasional cameraphone snapshot or professional-quality shots from high-end DSLR equipment. Regardless, we want our pictures to look their best, and the best way to do that is to use a solid photo-editing program. It should not only address the basics, like rotating and cropping, but also let you tweak and embellish your photographs until they literally gleam. Here’s a look at a variety of solutions that cost anywhere from $0 to more than $1,000. Free Photo Software The good news is that unless you demand lots of image-editing power, you can do a lot with your pics for absolutely no cost. One of the best tools in this category is Google’s downloadable Picasa (free, l l l h m , Editors’ Choice) for both Windows PCs and Macs. Not only does it perform straightening, contrast, color, fill-light, and red-eye correction, but it can actually detect and


identify the faces of the people in your photos. But its biggest perk may be the simple uploading to the Picasa Web Albums site, where you can share your memories with friends and family. And if that’s not enough, its geo-tagging offers maps showing exactly where a photo was taken. Also in this free download category is Microsoft’s Windows Live Photo Gallery, which has recently stepped up its game, adding face recognition. Photo Gallery also offers impressive red-eye correction, geo-tagging, panorama stitching, blemish removal, a clear user interface, and excellent organization tools. Online Photo Editing If you want quick photo editing but can’t or don’t want to install any software, there are a couple places online that will serve your needs handsomely. The first is Picnik (free, l l l l m ), now also part of the Google family of sites and services. And it may be the fastest way to start editing a photo—you don’t even have to sign up for

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Windows Live Photo Gallery


an online account. Notable among Picnik’s many impressive image enhancers is the ability not only to fix human eyes, but those of animals as well. It also lets you make slideshows, collages, and gifts like mugs, greeting cards, and posters. The newer Adobe Photoshop Express (free, l l l h m ) comes from the ultimate authority on image editing, Adobe, and as such, it offers a solid batch of editing tools in a polished, rich Web application. It’s also simple enough for novices, and plays nice with Facebook. You can start playing

Adobe Photoshop Express

with its editing tools without creating an account, but to save anything you’ll need to sign up. Consumer Photo-Editing Software On the Mac side, you’ll get features comparable to the free Picasa and Windows Live Photo Gallery in the iPhoto app (Free to

Shop Photo Pro X3 ($99.99 list, l l l h m ). This software actually lets you do many of the higher-end actions you’ll find in the topend Photoshop app, and much more simply. Its interface is somewhat less elegant than Adobe’s products, though, and it’s not as stable. Its one-step photo optimizer works well, and it even accepts Photoshop plugins and can output to professional CMYK specs. But PaintShop was much slower at handling large image files than the pro tools below. An import from across the pond in England, Serif PhotoPlus X3 Digital Studio ($79.99 direct, l l l h m ) also offers a nice blend of ease-of-use and power. To this it throws in such ambitious tools as High Dynamic Range merging, for combining multiple poorly exposed shots into one with perfect lighting; a Raw Photo Studio, for processing and editing images straight from digital cameras; and support for 48-bit-color. Its photo-organizing prowess, however, is somewhat lacking, and the interface doesn’t have quite the panache of Adobe products. Professional Tools To do pretty much anything with a photo— or any other image for that matter—there’s nothing that can equal Adobe’s flagship Photoshop CS5 Extended program ($579.99-$1,087.26 street, l l l l l , Editors’ Choice). It really stands alone as the ultimate professional image-manipulation software, with history brushes to repeatedly apply custom enhancements to specific parts of an image, Content-Aware Fill,


$79 direct, l l l l h ) , which comes as part of the iLife suite that ships with new Macs or is available as a $79 upgrade for earlier Mac purchasers. Notable for Apple’s trademark slick design, iPhoto takes a little more getting used to than Picasa, but offers a good photo-book printing option. It also does face recognition and geo-tagging, and adds direct uploading to Flickr, Facebook, or MobileMe ($99 per year direct, l l l l m ). A step up from this is Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 ($79.99 list, l l l l h , Editors’ Choice) , available for both Mac and PC. It lets you do fancy things like content-aware scaling, high-dynamic range merging (for combining multiple poorly exposed shots into one with perfect lighting), and panorama stitching. And DSLR shooters can use their raw camera file formats with the same converter its big brother, Photoshop proper, uses. Finally, it offers tight integration with its companion video-editing software, Adobe Premier Elements, and with online services. Another option at this price level is the very capable and help-laden Corel Paint48 PC MAGAZINE DIGITAL EDITION NOVEMBER 2010

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easily roundtrips with Photoshop CS5 for more tinkering, and uploads seamlessly to online image hosting. Lightroom is certainly the professional photographer’s best friend, if said photographer uses Windows, but for those on Macs, Apple’s Aperture 3 ($156.97-$199

Photoshop CS5 Extended

and lens-correction filters. It also offers the most in terms of output formats, and now offers 3D design tools. It’s a must-have for print and Web content professionals. But one thing that Photoshop itself isn’t so great at is organizing your images: for that, look to its little brother, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 ($319.99 direct, l l l l m ). This program offers a multitude of tagging and other metadata tools, as well as photographer-specific workflow, from import to develop to output. It, too offers precise image-lighting, color, and detail adjustments and can even correct specific lens geometry and color aberrations. It also

Apple Aperture 3

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3

street, l l l l h ; Editors’ Choice) does it one better in a couple ways. Aperture includes face recognition and geotagging, and offers excellent photo book output options not found in Lightroom. And its user interface, while offering all the tagging and organizational tools of Lightroom, is simpler and more elegant. Both products use an underlying database to keep track of your image edits and preserve the original. They also do a good job of making the manipulation of huge image files snappy, as does ACDSee Pro 3 ($136.99-$147.79 street, l l l l m ) , a lowcost alternative that also can fix image geometry and accept Photoshop plugins. It, too, offers powerful workflow and imageadjustment tools, but its interface isn’t quite as slick as Apple and Adobe’s products. ■

Editors’ Choices in Key Categories
For the complete reviews of these products and more Editors’ Choices check out go.pcmag.com/editorschoice



Dell Latitude E5510
$884 direct

PrOJECTOrs Canon realis X700
$2,500 list

Gateway DX4840-02e
$799.99 list


Dell Inspiron 545 $899 list

$629.99 list

sCANNErs Epson Perfection V300 Photo
$99.99 direct

Apple iPad (Wi-Fi) 64GB
$699 direct

Asus Essentio CM1630-05 $479.99 list



Canon imageFormula Dr2020u $645 list NETWOrkING 8x8 Virtual Office Pro $50 direct Cisco Valet Plus $129.99 list sMC sMCGs8P $300 street spiceworks 4.5 Free Cisco Network Magic Pro 5.5 $39.99 direct HDTVs

Maingear shift $6,399 direct Falcon Northwest Mach V (Core i7-975) $8,240 direct

Lenovo ThinkPad usB Portable secure Drive $319 list

Acer Aspire Predator AG7750-u2222 $1999 list Cyberpower Gamer Dragon
$1,099 direct

Western Digital MyBook studio Edition II $430 list



Apple iMac 21.5-inch (Core 2 Duo) $1,199 direct Lenovo IdeaCentre B500
$1,399 direct

Western Digital WD sharespace 4Tb, $799.99 list LCD MONITOrs Asus VW266H
$309 list

samsung PN58C8000

Dell Optiplex 780 usFF
$1,484 direct

HP LP2275w $349 direct Dell ultrasharp u2711
$1,099 direct

$2,999.99 list

sharp Aquos LC-52D85u
$2,099.99 direct

Apple Mac mini (HDMI) $699 list LAPTOPs & NETBOOks


sony Bravia kDL-46XBr8
$3,999.99 list

Asus u45Jc-A1 $867 street

konica Minolta magicolor 1600W $180 street

samsung LN52A750 $3,999 list

sony XEL-1 OLED Digital TV
$2,499.99 list


Toshiba satellite T235-s1350
$630 direct

Xerox Phaser 7500/DN
$3,299.99 direct

BLu-rAy PLAyErs samsung BD-C6500 $249.99 list DIGITAL CAMErAs

Toshiba Portege r705-P35

Epson stylus NX515
$149 direct

$899.99 list

Dell studio 17 (Multitouch)
$1,411 direct

Epson stylus Photo r2880
$799.99 direct

Panasonic Lumix DMC-Ts2
$399.95 list

HP Pavilion dv7-4083cl
$999.99 list

Canon Pixma MG8120 Wireless Photo All-In-One
$299.99 direct

kodak Easyshare M580
$199.95 direct

Toshiba mini NB205 $400 street

HP Officejet 6500A Plus e-All-in-One $199 direct

Nikon D300
$1,800 street


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Canon EOs rebel T1i $899.99 list sony Cyber-shot DsC-HX5V
$349.99 direct

GPs DEVICEs Garmin nüvi 1390T $269.99 list E-BOOk rEADErs Amazon kindle (3G+WiFi)
$189 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

DIGITAL VIDEO CAMErAs kodak Playsport Video Camera
$149.95 list

sony HDr-sr11 $1,099.99 direct DIGITAL PHOTO & VIDEO

HEADPHONEs Bowers & Wilkins P5 Mobile Hi-Fi Headphones $299.95 list

IPHONE APPs TomTom 1.3 $69.99 direct Navigon MobileNavigator 1.4.0
$79.99 direct

Aliph Jawbone Icon $99 list CELL PHONEs

Air sharing $6.99 direct Photogene $2.99 direct rhapsody 2.0 Free GAMEs Halo: reach $59.99 list God of War III $59.99 list Alan Wake $59.99 list MuLTIMEDIA Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 $99.99 list CyberLink Media suite 8 ultra

Adobe Cs 3 $999 direct

CyberLink DVD suite 7 ultra
$129.95 direct

rIM BlackBerry Curve 8330
From $229.99 with contract

Adobe Photoshop Cs5 Extended $699 to $899 list Aperture 3 $199 direct

samsung rugby II sGH-A847
From $249.99 with contract

samsung Mythic sGH-A897
From $199.99 with contract

kodak Pulse Digital Photo Frame $129.95 direct POrTABLE MEDIA PLAyErs Microsoft Zune 120GB $249 list Apple iPod touch (4th generation with Camera) 8Gb,
$229 direct

Apple iPhone 4 $199 list

samsung Epic 4G $349.99 list HTC Evo 4G $299.99 list LG rumor Touch
$79.99–$279.99 list

$129.95 list

rhapsody From $12.99 per month

GIMP 2.6.1 Free

Apple iLife ’09 $79 direct iTunes 10 Free sECurITy

Apple iPod nano (5th generation) 16Gb,
$179 direct

T-Mobile G2 $229 list samsung Vibrant $199 list


sPEAkErs/DOCks Logitech speaker system Z623
$149.99 direct

Motorola Droid X $299.99 list

Prevx 3.0 $29.95 direct per year

LG Imprint $49 direct BlackBerry Curve 8530
$229.99 list

Hercules XPs 2.1 Lounge
$60 street

Webroot AntiVirus with spy sweeper 2011 $39.99 direct Norton AntiVirus 2011 $39.95

MEDIA EXTENDErs sonos Bundle 150 $999 direct slingbox PrO-HD $299 list GAMING CONsOLEs sony Playstation 3 120GB (Ps3 slim) $299.99 direct

OFFICE & PrODuCTIVITy QuickBooks Premier Edition 2011 $399.95 list Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 $119 list
$499 direct

Norton Internet security 2011
$69.99 yearly


Norton 360 version 3.0
$69.99 yearly

Office 2010 Professional

spyware Doctor with Antivirus 2010 $39.95 yearly

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