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The sincerest form of flattery
Are we in a post-PC world? According to Apple CEO Tim Cook, we are, but I'm not convinced
THE MOST over-the-top BAFFLING part of the iPad it's out-stripping Admittedly, the wildest of predictions." I've said since the iPad it in a sexier form factor, with a niftier OS and superb ease-of-use and intuitiveness. But name me one thing that's been developed for tablets before it was developed for PCs. Go on, I'll wait. Quad core processors? Nope. are entirely recapitulating PCs had of them first. In fact, you could arguethattablets the timeline from single-core GPU to the x86 development, launch, for me, was not the gadgetry or the marketing spiel that proclaims how much stronger, faster, better and more able to attract members of the opposite (or same) sex I will be after purchasing FruityPad
m •

If you say so, Tim. launched that it's the only thing you could call a tablet. I hear you, Android fans; I love Android, but apps for Android tablets do not - still - take full advantage of the tablet form factor. That's an epic fail, in my book. And there's more. Tim Cook isn't su re that people understand what these amazing post-PC devices can do, and espoused the need for Apple Retail stores where people could discover them in their natural habitat. Far be it from me to prevent you going all Steve Irwin or Bear Grylls at your local YooBee, but I'd like to back up a little and tell you how we'll know when we're truly 'post-PC. Sofar, the iPad hasn't done anything the PC hasn't already done. Sure, it might have done

a new

No, it was that Apple's CEO, Tim

Cook, said we're in the post-PC revolution.

[fix: needle scratches LP] Wait, what?
His actual words: "We're talking about a world where the PC is no longer at the centre of your digital world, but rather just a device. We're talking about a new world where the devices you use the most need to be more portable ...and dramatically more easy to use than ever before." How futuristic. Brave new world, indeed. According to Cook, the iPad and iPhone In many ways, the and are your basic post-PCs. The iPad "defined a whole new category. iPad is reinventing portable computing

processor to processor+dedicated multi-core to GPU-on-chip platforms.

Touch? Yeah, no. Again, pes had it first. Microsoft has been developing that stuff for decades. Yes,you can mention the Newton, and yes, I'll laugh at you. Voice recognition? Okay, Siri is cool, I'll grant you. It might actually qualify. Importantly for me, though, isthe question of where development to develop computing, processors including heads next. for performance supercomputing, systems. Intel changed direction several years ago

and for embedded

and mobile

Will the next iteration of Moore's Law - that there will be double the transistors on the next processor - appear on tablets before it appears on whatwe consider standard PCs? That, for me, will be one way to truly test whether we are post-Pt., The same goes for new interfaces, connectors and standards. If they appear on tablets before PCs, then I'll consider us post-Pc, Until then, lets celebrate the PC with this issue - from building your own toany budget (page 55), tofilling it with awesome software (page 46) and adding the best peripherals (page 64), we've got it covered. Now goforth and pc. It's the future!

zaraeocwottd.co.nz

April2012 pcworld.co.nz

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88----e

38 ----e ~t.fI 55 ----e 64 ----e 46----e 44----e

42
44

Features
WINDOWS 8 TABLETS
Where they are, and what to expect

3D TV TAKES A BACK SEAT
Isit just another technology fad?

46 55 64

DO-IT-ALL SOFTWARE
Essentialsoftware packages and web apps

BUILD YOUR DREAM PC
Build to a budget or pay for performance

ASSUME CONTROL
We review 11keyboard & mouse combos

1 5 6

Columns
ZARABAXTER
Are we in a post-PC world?

CONSUMER WATCH
Piracy:good, bad or ugly?

MAILBOX
ITschooling produces poor outcomes, XP hangs on and broadband strikes back

8

TECH GUY
Generation next: future broadband isjust across the ditch

10

SECURITY WATCH
The growing threat of ATM skimmer scams

Id

-

\

'pew
Issue 2581 April20121 pcworld.co.nz

/
THEWIRE

33
look

12 13 14 15 16 17 18

MWC roundup: ourNZ-centric at smartphone trends

Turtle Beach Ear Force Z6A headphones Rdio music streaming service Nokia Lumia 800 smartphone Netgear WN3000RP Wi-Fi signal extender NetgearWNDRMACv2 Preview: Windows system Wi-Fi router Toshiba Satellite Z830 laptop 8 operating

New iPad launched; FTW & PWND Dotcom awaits extradition hearing; Hackers elect Futurama's Benderto school board D-Link announces security cameras cloud-based

34 35 36 36 37 38

Samsung launches Galaxy Note Motorola releases Atrix 2; Nokia Lumia 800 arrives with WP7 Broadband diary: Blazing mobile

HOWTO

speeds and why we're missing out

74 76 79 80 84 86

Press F1: Windows legacy;

BUSINESS TIME

Video editing specs; Data recovery; Chrome errors
Hardware tips: Overclock your graphics card Windows tips: Uninstall Windows drivers

20 21

Select an ISP for your small business Choose the right workgroup printer

Workshop: Add HTMLS video to your website PC project: Teensy board music PC marketplace:

NEW & IMPROVED

22 24 26 26 29 30 32 32

Samsung Galaxy Note smartphone/tablet HP Envy 14 Spectre laptop Corsair Carbide Series 400R PC case Raidon InTank internal RAID module Samsung Omnia W smartphone AMD Radeon HD 7970 graphics card Intel Cherryville Kingston 520 Series SSD SSDNow V200 SSD

We spec gaming

rigs for all budgets

THE ARCADE

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Game review: Mass Effect 3 Game review: Journey Game review: Syndicate Game review: Wipeout 2048 Game review: Final Fantasy XIII 2

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Rising sky
Piracy: good, bad or ugly? A new reports suggests a little from column A and a little from column B
"I REMEMBER honcho Steve

IN the late 1990s Microsoft
Ballmer telling me how

A small critique: though sources are cited in the report, I'd like to see an appendix detailing them in full. Nonetheless the data is compelling: the report shows the global entertainment industry grew from US$449 billion in 1998 to US$745 billion in 2010 - a 66% increase in a time period that neatly encapsulates the mainstreaming of the internet and the supposed piracy 'explosion'. The video game industry (hardware and software) has seen sales rise more than 350% in 11 years. Live music sales in the US went from US$l.5 billion in 1999 to US$4.6 billion in 2009, while the value of the global music industry rose 27% between 2005 and 2010. a Movie box office revenues were up 25% between 2006 and 2010, and US book sales

grew by 5.6% between 2008 and 2010. None of this paints a picture of industries in strife. There are flat spots. CD sales continue to decline, but that's hardly surprising the greater established convenience given of MP3s, and

Redmond wanted back then to be the most pirated software company. Though I'm sure he wouldn't say that today as CEO, Ballmer's with logic was clear: piracy is free distribution

zero support costs, and once a country can be made to enforce copyright laws, huge bucks almost instantly follow as penalties are paid." That astonishing comment comes from veteran US IT columnist Robert X. Cringely.lt's astonishing because the late 90s was a time of piracy paranoia. Bootleg software would destroy the industry, itwas claimed. Billions of dollars were being lost along with thousands of jobs. Every year the Business Software Alliance - to which Microsoft remains major contributor jaw-dropping - would come out with

businesses are being stressed changes. "There is no doubt has eaten away at some

by evolutionary traditional

that the internet

means by which these businesses

made money. But, as the data shows, there is more money going in to the overall market, more content being created, and many new ways to make money," the report said. It's worth remembering of imminent faced with American industry other predictions collapse when Authors In 1932 the

new technology.

figures. In 1998 it claimed that

Society of Composers,

38% of all installed business applications were pirated. Value: US$ll billion. And yet a senior executive - Cringely gives no date so Ballmer was either Executive Vice President, Sales and Support or President of Microsoft at the time - was quietly revelling in these 'losses'. Fast forward (Infringing 15 years. The Copyright Bill, protection File Sharing) Amendment

the Dotcom bust and copyright clauses in the super-secret Partnership Agreement

Trans-Pacific

In 1932 the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers reckoned radio would wreck the music business

and Publishers reckoned radio would wreck the music business, just as the cassettes and 8-tracktapes were supposed to do in the '60s. In March 2011 Jon Bon Jovi claimed, "Steve Jobs is personally head of the Motion movie industry responsible for killing of the music business." In 1982, Jack Valenti, Picture Association America, told Congress, "the VCR is to the what the Boston Strangler is to a woman alone at night", yet within in a few short years VHS videos, and later, DVDs, were the industry's mainstay. Perhaps the report's feature studies however most compelling young is the dozen or so case in where the old One details impossible

are all essential

because, as everyone knows, rampant piracy is destroying the music and movie businesses. Isn't it? In late February a report entitled "The Sky is Rising - A Detailed Lookatthe Entertainment authored Industry" State of the of was released. Co-

that show how sprightly are cashing see only ruination. considered

companies dinosaurs

by Michael Masnick, (founder

how games maker Valve cracked the Russian market - formerly because of rampant piracy in that country. Like Ballmer before it, Valve realised that piracy really meant free marketing. convenient, reasonably-priced With a and legal

the website Techdirt), the report "explores the true state of the entertainment (Get it from bit.ly/x8QJ07). publishing and computer industry". are Its findings

surprising: the music, film and video, book games industries are all in great shape. In fact the authors claim that "we are living in a true Renaissance era for content".

alternative, Russia is now its second-largest European market. geoff@pcworld.co.nz

April 2011 pcworld.co.nz

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Tech teacher
THE INTEGRATION tests and assignments poor OF IT into school has produced some 3. Why does Windows send so many many many updates? And make them so intrusive and laborious? Are they incompetent software designers? Or just overwhelmed byeLife? You have the best magazine by far.
Bevan Clarke

outcomes. Teachers with modest IT experience set work for students that they lack the skills to assess: My two daughters have both seen poor ITwork

assessed as 'excellent'. After queries, the teachers involved have confessed their ignorance of the IT task at hand, but declined to address the wrongly given marks. One episode downloaded involved students who prebuilt houses for a Google Zara Baxter, Editor, responds: Aww, shucks. We wish we knew, really. Life's little mysteries! Anyone else got a few choice ones?

Graham's legacy
I read with interest how your correspondent, Graham Philip, insists he must retain Windows XPto ensure all of his apps work. I would like to pose the following question to him.lfhe runs a 32-bit version of Windows 7,there is an option to run in XP mode. Surely doing this would enable all these so-called legacy apps to work? Has Graham tried this option?
Heather Leaity

SketchUptask, ratherthan build their own. They were awarded 'excellence' because their houses 'looked better'. Another episode was for year 13Classics,and concerned a major assignment: a PowerPoint show. The students who had included fluttering titles and banners of all kinds, multiple types of font, and all sorts of distracting embellishments, received 'excellences', while those who had followed accepted practice (of no distractions and few fonts) were awarded only 'credits'. On being queried, the teacher responded "They looked so much nicer. Anyway, IT isn't my subject." I am a qualified teacher myself, but this is not a good look for the teaching profession. People who have no idea at all are setting and marking IT modules that impact directly upon scholarship and Uni qualifying It's a disaster.
Graham Philip

to access overseas websites far more than local Kiwi ones. An associated issue is that of poor contention ratios (too many subscribers funnelled through a narrow bandwidth pipe) constraining effective broadband speed further as my letter "Unleashed but Oversubscribed" published in NZPCWorid This morning, Feb 2007 illustrates. across this I stumbled

10-minute video feature (ignore the first 30 seconds' advertising) from the BBCTechnology website on the subject of 4G and other mobile broadband technologies, far faster than existing 3G services and even outpacing copper wirebased ADSL2+ landline click_online/9672822.stm Could this provide the solution to the NZ rural broadband accessissueif laying fibre-optic cable is uneconomic? How about a series of 4G access point nodes fed by the new fibre-based networks? wego? I'm sending this video feature link to you purely out of interest, thinking it might provide a basis for you to research further and draft a future article on the subject which could be of interest to the NZ PC World readership in a future edition.
Ken Hunter

Graham Philip responds: My answer would be, in the caseof this one particular commercial site, that many PCsthere run an important supplier app on the 16-bit Windows-on-Windows subsystem. (WOW.exe doesn't even like running on XP!)Why upgrade expensive Office apps to Windows 7when the most importantapp needs XP?And if all your apps run in XP compatibility mode, why not just run XP?I hate XP as much as the next person, but sometimes you have to compromise. Private sector profit margins are wafer thin, and upgrading everything just to feel you're upwith the Joneses can't be justified. Zara Baxter adds: Over to you, Heather (and anyone else who has an opinion!)

home broadband

speeds: news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/

results.

High-speed "hotspots" wherever

Graham wins a Garmin Nuvi SO GPSfor letter of the month.

Theriddler
Questions the whole universe wants to know (well,ldo): 1.Why does each new-USB stick have to load a fresh driver? Why aren't they generic? 2. Why is every USBplug upside down each time one inserts it?

Broadband strikes back!
The Letter of the Month (Issue 256) by Rob Armitage reaffirmed my own frustrations with NZ broadband. I'm a migrant from Europe:

Zara Baxter,

Editor,

responds:

Funnily

I arrived seven years ago and still needed

enough, this is almost exactly the option that

6

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EDITORIAL Editor Reviews Zara Baxter Editor Harley Ogier Keogh Siobhan

Staff Writer Art Director

Issue 2581 April 2012 1pcworld.co.nz

Mira Siabbert Cindy Park

Australia has chosen. It's rolling out 4G right now, too, see Juha Saarinen's Tech Guy column on page 8 for more.

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Racing factor
How many of you have dreamed of racing cars? For most of us, it won't ever happen. But that's where race car simulators come in. There's a large selection of popular car simulator games such as Live For Speed, GTR2, GTR Evoloution, rFactor and even Need For Speed can count as one! My favourite is rFactor; because of the V8 supercar mods: VBFactor and FVRFactor. FVRFactor releases at least one new version every year, so you will always have the latest race-ready V8 car designs. VB Factor doesn't update its cars as frequently as FVRFactordoes, but still does a fantastic job. There are hundreds of other mods out there you can race with, with different manufacturers. You can also install tracks: most race tracks in the world can be easily installed and ready to be raced in rFactor. My favourite is the ITM 400 tracks in Hamilton. rFactor is multi-player, too, and most servers are based around a championship. Whoever gets the most points at the end wins! See you on the track! Aaron Sam

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Generation next
The long-term evolution of broadband is acrossthe ditch right now
I'VE BEEN TO more demos of Long Term Evolution - the nonsensical nameforthe next generation of cellular broadband -than I can recall. The one I recall best was with Huawei in Shanghai: I got to go on the Maglev train to the airport and punt packets at 30Mbit/s while we zipped along at 430kph. That was in 2010 and as far as I can tell, Chinese though, telcos have yet to launch is cropping LTE. The technology tantalisingly September's up elsewhere for the 4G service, the Sierra Wireless U320 USB modem. or is bundled year contract It costs A$299 on its own, for free with Telstra's twoplans. The U320 is a chunky with two external aerial I was very happy with how tenaciously the U320 locked onto data signals. Roughly five kilometres away from CBOs and airports, the LTEsignal disappears and you're on Telstra's NextG 3G service; where ran in dual-channel 15-20Mbit/s downloads, I was, the U320 and 1.5-2.5Mbit/s mode, and gave me number, 50mm wide, 64mm long and llmm thick. It's equipped connectors, as well as a GPS and a MicroSO slot nobody will use. The U320 is as big as it is because it supports not just 1.8GHz LTE,which Telstra uses for its service, but also 2.6GHz LTE and 850MHz/2.1GHz of electronics dual-channel and singlechannel HSPA+ and HSPA. There's a fair bit inside the modem, as well as bands. aerials for the different frequency in other

uploads with 45-60ms latency. Again, very good considering this is a cellular service. The LTEnetwork itself was put in place by Ericsson for Telstra and the service uses 10 or 15MHz blocks configured division duplexing as frequencyseparate data. (FOO), with

like the US and Canada. LTE is also close to New Zealand since last launch of Telstra's Australian

4G service. I got a chance to test drive it in February this year. Telstra's 4G isn't a trial network, words. Iwondered whether4G would be able to deliver the high speeds I'd seen in my trials, once the real, live network was being used by an estimated 100,000 customers. The first few tests in busy areas in Brisbane CBO showed 20Mbit/s downloads and just over 10Mbit/s uploads; nice, but I expected more. Ifound a good spot at Brisbane Airport and ran some tests using speedtest.net. While the downstream is impressive, speed it's nice to to the I is faster than (39-44Mbit/s) upstream

bands for upstream and downstream LTE can also be configured duplexing. the same frequency spectrum. performance way to go. However,

as time-division

This sends and receives data in band, which uses less if you want the best

see that Telstra has paid attention which at 22Mbit/s my artificially-limited was watching network throughput,

It'd be great to get LTE,Telstra-style, in NZ. However, our telcos aren't likely to do anything until 700MHz spectrum is allocated to them

and lowest latency, FOO is the

Telstra's pricing is pretty good if you can tolerate the two-year contracts, starting at A$20 a month for 1GB of data going to $80 for 15GB. The data caps are about the only fault I can find with the service: based on my experience on speedy 4G, Telstra should multiply them all by ten. One gigabyte of data is ridiculously low and won't last a day. It would be great to get LTE,Telstra-style, in New Zealand too. However, our competitionloathing telcos aren't likely to do anything until 700MHz spectrum is allocated to them with maybe some further subsidies on top. LTE should also have been mandated the Rural Broadband service with a modicum for Initiative to ensure a of future-proofing. LTE isn't ready "peak speed"

VOSL2 connection. and it was smooth

Task Manager's graph of the

without the peaks and troughs that indicate packet loss and ensuing TCP slowing. What's more, the latency of the LTE connection nice and low too. In fact, the speeds I saw exceeded Telstra's claimed "typical speeds" of2-40Mbit/s and 1-10Mbit/s the theoretical maximum down up. They're a long way off for this variety of but even the 'real life' nevertheless. is

Sadly, despite clear evidence to the contrary, the government offering pretends yet. For that reason, Vodafone built the RBI as a bung 5Mbit/s service with low 5GB data caps, using 3G gear. To think what could've been, ifthe RBIhad been designed with vision and foresight. .. juho@pcworld.co.nz

LTE (100/50 Mbit/s) broadband Currently,

figures exceed what you get from most fixed connections there's only a single device

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The growing threat of ATM skimmer scams
Skimmers could steal your financial information at the ATM - or even at your local supermarket; we tell you how to protect yourself
YOU MAY ALREADY know that it's important
to protect your financial information when you shop online. But a high-tech threat can steal your ATM or credit card information when you're out shopping your even noticing, sophisticated. Credit card 'skimming' has become increasingly common in the past few years around town. Scammers can steal your card data without and the technology behind the scams is getting more and more picked up by criminals, but more and more devices transmit the data to their operators. And while wirelessly some skimmers are becoming connect to a phone line, skimmers that send information more common. Some will even send data to the scammer's cell phone via Bluetooth. obvious one is to look carefully at an ATM before you use it. Only an expert can spot the most sophisticated skimmers, but such seems to stick devices are the exception, not the rule. Be suspicious if something out too far or doesn't match the rest of the machine's design. Many skimmers are fairly shoddy pieces of hardware that are weakly tacked onto the card reader. Kevin Haley, director of Symantec's security technology and response team, says to get physical if necessary. "I wouldn't something hesitate to pull on if it looks like it doesn't belong," yourself

Safeguards you can take
With all these tools at criminals' disposal, it may seem impossible from a skimming becoming to protect operation. The first Fortunately, and most

and skimmers clearly are a serious security threat. But how do these devices work, and how can you protect yourself?

you can take a few simple steps to avoid a victim.

hetold PC World. Before inserting or swiping your card, give the reader a good tug, or jostle your card in the slot to see if anything is loosely attached. Pinhole cameras can be almost impossible to detect, but they are fairly easy to thwart. The next time you enter your PIN, just use your free hand to block the view of your keypad entry.

How skimmers operate
Credit card skimmers are essentially devices that thieves placeovertheactual financial information card readers use. on ATMs and credit card terminals to collect for fraudulent As a card passes through reads the card's magnetic its information. though, a surprising it, the skimmer strip, collecting of variation

Beyond that basic design, amount and methodology

exists in the hardware used in these scams.

The hardware itself can range from small, cheap skimmers that are fairly easy to spot to elaborate 3D-printed indistinguishable Skimmers number rigs that are almost in how they from an actual ATM. Just picking up the card so most skimmers and store the (typically a code

Many skimmers are shoddy hardware: "I wou Id n't hesitate to pu II on something if it looks like it doesn't belong."

Beware of stand-alone ATMs
Other warning around signs may not involve the need device itself. Look out for anybody hanging an ATM - some skimmers to have a person posted nearby to collect captured information. And avoid using ATMs Scammers may to cash in isolated locations that don't seem part of a store or financial institution. And of course, fraudulent withdrawals set up false ATMs on occasion. pay close attention your credit card bills and bank statements; charges or unauthorised information are often the first indication has been as soon as

also vary widely

collect information.

isn't enough,

have some way to capture PIN and the security three-digit Some skimmers

number on the back of a card). place a false keypad atop harder-toabove

that your account

the actual keypad that registers the user's PIN, but newer devices employ detect pinhole cameras mounted

stolen. If you see anything suspicious, contact your bank or financial institution possible. Keep a vigilant eye on your ATM and on your credit card bills, and even the most sophisticated credit card scam shouldn't cause you too much grief. DavidDaw

the keypad to collect images of the person entering the PIN. Some skimming information devices store the stolen and are physically locally

10 pcworld.co.nz April2012

Wo Id

Stay safe online
From Chllisoft, distributors of ESETsecurity solutions

Windows Phone 8: Secure apps for all?
One of the most hotly-anticipated products Microsoft's is the next generation smartphone of operating Marketplace removed. and ESET is aware of that have been out from organisations and people not Microsoft. so far,

only four applications

known for charity towards Despite the small following both consumers seems determined expressing interest,

Finding four applications

system. Windows

Phone 8 (code-

of over 60 ,000 gives a ratio of about 1:15,000 bad apps to good apps. This makes the likelihood potentially unwanted of coming as in across what we might characterise applications the Marketplace In addition remotely the application intrusiveness as being very low.

and developers are and Microsoft to keep a fast-paced

named 'Apollo') will be a companion to the desktop and tablet versions of Windows If Windows 8 (no specific release date 8 has been announced). Phone 8 is anything like its it will grow the Windows for Windows predecessors,

release cycle in order to achieve parity in the marketplace. Hacked together by Chillisoft NZ, the

Phone brand and that means all sort of new apps and services will be available for it, some good and beneficial and some which are more towards malign end of the spectrum. How Microsoft chooses to address app-

to removing

applications Microsoft can

NZ distributors

for ESET,from articles

from the Marketplace,

by Aryeh Goretsky, MVP, ZCSE, Distinguished Researcher at ESET, LLC (developers of NOD32 antivirus software).

remove an already-installed from a Windows on Microsoft's Phone. part, it

While this may generate a spectre of is not different from what Apple or

related security issues while balancing the needs of handset manufacturers, mobile operators, both consumers Google, Microsoft developers and and enterprise users is Like Apple and software,

Google can do on their smartphones. The decision to remove an application may take some time to be reached, and even after the command is given, it may be a while before the Windows Phone receives the request, during which the undesirable be present. While Microsoft in the creation Windows was an early adopter of smartphones with app would still

going to be challenging.

,

,

uses an application While it is

store model for distributing called the Marketplace.

possible to 'root' or'jailbreak'Windows Phones in order install applications from other sources, most users of Windows Phones will be going through Again, like both Apple has a policy in can be store and the Marketplace.

Mobile, it has lagged at least Phone 7

behind both Apple's iOS and Google Android, when Windows Windows until the end of 2010, was released. To date, Phone has only achieved niche

and Google, Microsoft

place for what applications offered in their application

will remove apps that don't meet certain security requirements. They seem to be doing a good job of reviewing enforcing submitted applications and its policy. As of January, 2012,

status, but has received kudos and critical acclaim, often

there are over 60 ,000 apps in the

ROUNDUP
We take an NZ-centric look at the smartphone trends from Mobile World Congress
BIG SMARTPHONE VENDORS such as
HTC and LG Electronics are trying to get their mojo back after some challenging times, and they hope to do so by putting quad-core processors and big, highdefinition screens in the products on show at Mobile World Congress. Here are some of the major hardware trends (and handsets) from MWC that we'll hopefully see in New Zealand this year: The LG Optimus 4X HD and the HTC

LTE
Just like NFC, smartphones becoming with LTEare much more common. New

Quad-core processors
If you want to be a contender in the high-end Android smartphone game in 2012 it seems a quad-core processor has become a must. LG launched the Optimus 4X HD, and HTC came out with the One X: these devices use the Nvidia Tegra 3 processor. Rather than use the Tegra 3, Huawei Technologies has developed its own quad-core processor, the K3V2, for use in its Ascend D Quad and Ascend D Quad XL phones, which the company hopes will help it compete at the high end of the market.

One X both have 4.7-inch screens with a resolution of 1280 by 720 pixels. Huawei decided to go with a slightly smaller screen for the Ascend D Quad and Ascend D Quad XL, which both have a 4.5-inch screen, but the resolution is still 1280 by 720 pixels. At Mobile World Congress, LG showed the Optimus Vu, which has a 5-inch screen in the 4:3 format.

products include two phones from LG, the Optimus Vu and the Optimus LTETag. LG's goal is to have the widest variety of LTE smartphones in the industry in 2012, it said.

Cheap smartphones
While the expensive smartphones get most of the attention, there's also a big battle over buyers that can't afford or don't want a quad-core processor and a 4.7-inch screen. Nokia announced the Windows Phone-based Lumia 610, which will be available in the second quarter. Intel is also interested in getting a piece of the action, and announced the 1GHz Z2000 processor. The first smartphones based on the processor will of 2013. start shipping in the beginning

NFC
For mobile payments using NFC (NearField Communications) to become a hit, consumers must be able to choose between a large number of compatible phones, and they are

Big, high-definition

screens

Alongside a powerful processor, a big screen also seems a must-have, to judge by the high-end devices that were announced at Mobile World Congress.

slowly starting to become available. At Mobile World Congress, Acer, Huawei, LG, Nokia and Samsung all announced smartphones that can come with NFC.

Mikael Rickniis

12

pcworld.co.nz

April2012

The Wire
FTW...

Nokia billboards

New iPad launched
As PC World went to print, Apple had announced the newest version of its popular iPad tablet, which is faster than its predecessor and has a higher resolution screen
THE THIRD-GENERATION
IPAD was and a dual-core processor. The iPad 2 screen was able to display images at a 1024 by 768 pixel resolution. The new iPad provides 10 hours of battery life on active usage. It weighs 635 grams and runs on an A5X processor, which has a quad-core graphics, enabling high-resolution images and apps. The tablet also has voice dictation technology. The company's most recent iPhone 45 smartphone also included natural dictation technology called Siri to make phone calls, get maps or organise meetings. Agam Shah & Siobhan Keogh set to launch in New Zealand on 23 March at 5pm. Apple also lowered the price of iPad 2 units, which now start at $579 for a Wi-Fi only, 16GB version. The new tablet - which seems to be called 'new iPad' - can display images at a resolution of 2048 by 1536 pixels, which is around 3.1 million pixels, the company said at an event in San Francisco. That should enable the device to play sharper video. The newest iPad improves on the company's iPad 2, which became available last year and featured a 9.7-inch screen

Local artists Cut Collective got recruited to smear Lumia 800 ads. Sweet!

• · Barcraft : •
: : :

: :

#solcomms
The entire Twittersphere imagines that ME3 is real

• • • • • • • • • • •

Kiwis hop onto the 18+ games-watching phenomenon

· · · • · • · • • · • • •
• • •
• • •

PWND...

: Lulzsec lulz •
• •
: : -

Anonymous hacker turns FBI informer: Lulzsec pwnd!

: Kony2012

~

-

---~-

· $30,000 :

: : :

Invisible children? Slacktivism at its worst

m; 8 a r:J ----

Telecom's roaming costs in the Cook islands require a mortgage

= 1GB

April012 pcworld.co.nz

13

TheWire

g5 Kim Dotcom awaits extradition hearing
Wo Id
had worked with Megaupload in in early March. Dotcom's the past and had never taken any civil action against the company. "The MPAA has always thrown names at us and called us all kinds of things but they've never actually done anything to, you know, take us to court," Dotcom told Campbell. "There is a law in the US that protects us which is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that protects online service providers from actions of their users and this is the same law that allowed Google to still exist, that allowed YouTube to still exist." Kim Dotcom is German-born, but a New Zealand resident. He lives in a $390 million mansion in Coatesville, and owns an adjacent $4 million property. Siobhan Keogh to

.net

Megaupload founder and poster boy for piracy, Kim Dotcom, has been released to his Coatesville home on bail,where he awaits his extradition hearing
THE US GOVERNMENT filed extradition
paperwork home was raided in January and he was arrested along with three of his colleagues. The four Megaupload employees are accused of copyright infringement on a massive scale, as well as money laundering and racketeering. In a recent interview on Campbell Live, Dotcom told journalist John Campbell that he was confident Megaupload would win the case. Dotcom described himself as an "easy target" and said that he was not a criminal and the reasons for his arrest were political. Dotcom said the MPAA, who were the biggest industry contributors the FBI indictment against his business,

Hackers elect Futurama's Bender to school board
Get ready to add another entry to e-voting's list of woes
ONE BENDER BENDING Rodriguez was elected to the 2010 school board in Washington DC. A team of hackers from the University of Michigan got Bender elected as a write-in candidate who stole every vote from the real candidates. Bender, of course, is a cartoon character from the TV series Futurama. This was not some nefarious attack from a group of rouge hackers: the DC school board actually dared hackers to crack its new web-based absentee voting system four days ahead ofthe real election. University of Michigan professor Alexander Halderman, along with two graduate students, did the deed within a few hours. After looking over the e-voting system's Rubyon Rails software framework, Halderman's team discovered that they could use a shell injection vulnerability to get into the system. This allowed them to retrieve the 'public key', which is used to encrypt the ballots. With the public key in hand, the hackers were able to change every ballot already in the system and replace any subsequent real ballots with fakes. While the hackers were mucking about the system's server, they discovered other files that were not ballot-related containing in the /tmp/ directory. Among them was a 937-page PDF instructions to individual codes voters as well as authentication for every voter. If someone with malicious intent got their hands on these codes, they could use them to cast ballots as a real voter. The researchers also managed to hack into the network, allowing them to gain access to other systems within the buildlnq. The team was able to get into the surveillance system, which gave them access to the security cameras. This allowed them to time their attacks so that the technicians would not notice the additional server activity. For the team's piece de resistance, the researchers replaced the "Thank you for voting" note with "Owned," and programed the site to start playing the University Of Michigan's fight song Hail To The Victors 15 seconds later. Despite all this, the system administrators did not notice anything strange until two days later. Halderman's closing statements on e-voting are that a single flaw in the configuration of the system could be fatal, and secure internetbased voting won't be ready until there are significant fundamental advances in computer Kevin Lee security.

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The Wire

D-Link announces cloud-based cams
Home surveillance cameras that can be controlled from any device will be released in early April, the company has announced
THE CAMERAS, D-Link routers and
D-Link cloud storage will all be accessible and controllable while user is off-site. The cloud service is a personal. secured service that cannot be shared with others unless they have your username and password. Users can view the camera feed through the MyDLink service, available as an app for mobile devices, and some cameras will support speakers so customers can speak to those in front of the lens. "50 you can tell the dog off ," D-Link's ANZ marketing director, Maurice Famularo, said at a Gold Coast IT event. "It's pretty cool. Little bit of Big Brother." If users see something they do not like - Famularo used the example of a parent whose child refused to get off the Play5tation - they can log into the router through the MyDLink app and cut off the connected usage through the service. Users will have to own a D-Link device that can bind to the MyDLink service, but customers do not have to buy aD-link router to get the camera to work. D-Link was unable to tell PC World much about the company's cloud storage service, but it will also be accessible and controllable Siobhan Keogh from the app. device. Customers can also monitor data

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.net

Samsung launches Galaxy Note
The half-phone, half-tablet mobile device known as the Galaxy Note is available for purchase in New Zealand
THE COMPANY MADE the announcement at an event in Auckland less than a month after CES,where it announced the device would be launching on the US market. The device is priced at $1,199. The Galaxy Note has a 5.3-inch, AMOLED display with a 1280 x 800 pixel resolution. It runs on a l.4GHz dual-core processor and has 16GB on-board storage. It also has a microSD card slot for expandable storage, plus a slot for a stylus. a darker line, and vice versa. The Galaxy Note also has an 8MP rear-facing camera which can record and play back in 1080p high definition, as well as a 2MP front-facing but a Telecom representative was also in attendance talking to reporters about the device. The company made the announcement at an event to mark six months until the 2012 London Olympic Games. New Zealand Olympians Barbara Kendall and Rob Waddell were in attendance. Siobhan Keogh camera. Vodafone is carrying the Note,

PC World was told that when
drawing with the stylus on screen, pressing down harder on the screen would produce

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Wo Id

The Wire

Motorola releases Atrix 2
The Motorola Atrix 2 is now available in retail stores and online from Telecom New Zealand, Motorola announced in early March
MOTOROLA HAS TEAMED up with EAGames to release 10 different games on the device, including Need for Speed games, Dead Space, fA Sports FIFA 70,The Sims 3, Tetris, Worms and Bejeweled 2. Motorola's ANZ managing director, Timo Brouwer, said the phone was a "stellar gaming experience". "Whether it's achieving high scores, watching movies, web surfing or sharing pictures, the phone offers a swiss-army-knife of features and capabilities ready to challenge you and banish boredom for good," he said. Those games run on Android 2.3, and are powered by the device's 1GHzdual-core processor and 1GB RAM. It has 4GB on-board storage and can take up to 32GB microSD. The Atrix 2 has a 4.3-inch, 960 x 540 pixel display. It has an HDMI output and an HDMI cable supplied in the box for HDTV connectivity. The rear-facing camera has an 8MP lens and can record video in 1080p HD.The device also has a VGA front-facing camera for Skyping. The Atrix 2 also has a 'Webtop' application that allows you to launch Firefox on your TV by docking the phone in Motorola's HD dock. We'll review the Atrix 2 next issue.
Siobhan Keogh

Nokia Lumia 800 arrives with WP7
For Windows Phone 7 fans, a new challenger has officially entered the arena Nokia's Lumia 800 is now available from both Telecom and Vodafone
2DEGREES WILL ALSO be carrying the Lumia 800, but has yet to announce availability or pricing. The Lumia 800 is the second of Nokia's Windows Phones to hit the New Zealand market. The first was the lower-spec Lumia 710. Nokia's managing director, Chris Carr, said the Lumia 710 and 800 would "change the way people think about Nokia". "It signifies a new beginning for the company bringing together the very best of Nokia's handset design and services with the latest Windows Phone software," he said. The Lumia 800 is a step below Nokia's premiere Windows Phone, the Lumia 900. It will cost $899 and comes with a 1.4GHz processor and 16GBstorage. The 800's AMOLED display is 3.7 inches and 480 x 800 pixels. The screen is slightly curved outward. It also features a Carl Zeiss 8MP lens, which has been the standout feature of several of Nokia's previous smartphones.
Siobhan Keogh

April012 pcworld.co.nz

17

g5 BroadbandDiarySARAHPUTT
TheWire

Wo Id

Blazing mobile speeds -I wish!
The launch of Apple's new iPad raisesthe question of when we will see LTEtechnology in New Zealand
APPLE'S PRESS RELEASE
announcing the launch of the new iPad last month promised the "world ready" device will deliver "blazing" download and upload speeds. So what do "world ready" and "blazing" actually mean? The answer is 4G connectivity capable of delivering speeds of up to 73Mbitls. That counts as blazing in my viewbut then I've never achieved doubledigit download line broadband speeds on my fixedconnection. in we'd all have similar band plans but, you know, they're still working on world peace. What owners of the new iPad can expect to achieve in New Zealand is speeds of 21Mbit/s to 43Mbit/s. That's because our 3G networks are enabled with H5PA+ technology. Although, it should be noted cell site speed". that these speeds are - to quote Vodafone - "the maximum theoretical will vary depending "Actual users' speeds will be lower and on device types, number of users, transmissions speeds and websites accessed," says a spokesperson. Vodafone says its LTE rollout is dependent on securing spectrum in the 700-900MHz band. The 700MHz band becomes available in late 2013 following the switch off of analogue television. The government complicated is currently trying to decide by a Treaty of Waitangi how it should be allocated - a process claim and a desire by the emergency services to use some of the spectrum for national communications 2degrees also wants a chunk of this spectrum. Telecom says it isn't reliant on the spectrum to roll out LTE.But it would probably still want a piece of700MHz, because it will be very helpful in reaching rural customers (LTEnot only delivers faster speeds, it improves network capacity which is important for delivering data, and has a greater reach). Meanwhile, Telecom says it has already tria Iled the new technology and that makes it highly likely they could be the first mobile telco to launch LTE services. The telco has In other words, the telcos perform their usual marketing trick oftelling you the best that's available and then, having got your attention, explain why it is that you will never get it. Anyway, Vodafone, 2degrees and Telecom have all invested in HSPA+ technology, and they're gearing up to go LTE. spectrum in the 1800MHz band, which is a frequency being supported manufacturers by device in the Asia Pacific region. service.

Don't get excited though - we're not going to get that connectivity New Zealand. That's because none of the mobile network owners here have 4G or LTE-enabled networks (by the way,4G is a disputed term as some claim it's a marketing term used to describe the next iteration of mobile technology, and that LTE,as in Long Term Evolution, is the more correct term). And - here's the kicker - even if they did have LTE,you still couldn't get those headline speeds here because the spectrum band plan (the way that radio frequencies are divided among the telcos) in the US is different to the band plan in the Asia-Pacific region. Device manufacturers frequency design cellular antennas that are attuned to various band plans. It would be nice to think the whole planet could get it right and

securing spectrum in the 700-900MHz band - available in late 2013

dependent on

LTErollout is

The good news is that the race to deliver

LTE in New Zealand is about to begin.
The bad news, for owners of the new iPad, is that the outcome won't make a difference to the capability of their device.

saranepcwortd.co.nz

DATA RECOVERY
(SINCE 1999)

0800 LOST FILES (0800 5678 34) www.datarecovery.co.nz computer Forensics NZ Ltd

COMPUTER INVESTIGATIONS
(SINCE 1999)

e
How to choose an ISP for your small business
Discover which connection type and features are best for your business, and learn what to look for when comparing services
ALL INTERNET CONNECTIONS may
seem the same, but you can find some differences - beyond price - between internet service providers, and between the types of connections ISPand the connection that an ISP that best suit offers. Here are tips on choosing the your small or midsize business. monthly service rate. Some prices may be discounted or locked in for a limited time or may apply only when you subscribe to a bundle of internet and phone services. Most ISPsoffer a service-level agreement (SLA) that spells out performance and support terms, including guarantees on uptime and response time for support or fixes, and support availability; usually they also state your compensation ISPfails to meet its obligations if the

Internet connection types
These are the most common connection types you're likely to see when shopping for an ISP. DSL: Generally this is the cheapest connection type. Though DSL uses lines, you can carry depends the more bandwidth you'll need. In are - for example, VolP traditional telephone

under the

agreement. Compare the SLAs of providers you're looking at before you sign a contract. Other policies of note are the ISP's subscriber agreement, its terms of service, and its acceptable-use These documents governing addition, the more performance-intensive your users' requirements watching or streaming video, downloading large files, or using Web-connected phones - the more bandwidth you'll policy. state the rules or data usage

on voice calls and transfer data at the same time. DSL performance on how far your location is from the ISP's exchange, but speeds may reach 15 mbps for downloads simultaneously and 1 mbps for uploads, or a point-of-sale system. technology speeds which can support a dozen typical users Fiber: This newer connection offers superior performance. connections permit download

how you may use the service,

including any bandwidth

limits. Browse the ISP'ssite for them, or run a Google search for the company name and the word "policies."

need. On the other hand, those users who intend to employ their connection just for email and web browsing won't demand as much bandwidth. Some ISPsmay use data caps that automatically throttle back your speeds for the remainder of the cycle once you reach a certain limit, or may apply a surcharge to your bill. But unless you stream lots of video or download many large files, you probably won't run afoul of a data cap.

Equipment/installation

fees

Fiber-optic

Consider the hardware each ISP provides. Some services furnish nothing more than a basic modem; others may give you a gateway that includes a router with ethernet ports, firewall protection, or even a built-in Wi-Fi router.ISPs rarely post this type of information - call the service's sales line for details. Some companies provide free installation and activation, but most make waiving the associated fees contingent on accepting a one-, two-, or three-year contract. An ISP'stech support is another important variable. Keep these and other concerns in mind when shopping for a provider. Eric Geier

of 15 to 150 mbps and upload speeds of 5 to 35 mbps. Monthly pricing is around double that of DSL, in general. Since fiber allows for such high bandwidth, service for 24 simultaneous it can easily provide TV, phone, and Internet users.

Bandwidth Speed
ISPsoffer a couple of service levels or plans

~ ~ ~ ~ o
cc

g

c

for each connection distinction

type. The main point of

The fine print
Read and analyze the fine print of a service provider's contract before signing up. The prices most companies post online are conditional: Many require contracts, for one to three years, to get the advertised

between levels is the bandwidth

speed. Choosing a suitable speed is one of the key decisions that you must make. Generally, the greater the number of people who'll be using your connection,

J

20

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April2012

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BusinessTime

Six steps to picking the right workgroup printer
These days your choices are myriad; we help you through the hard decisions
THE GOOD NEWS about buying a workgroup printer is that you have a lot of laser choices. The standard monochrome may offer less functionality or a worse laser for most users, and an inkjet for the users that need colour. Inkjets are best for photo-quality prints; lasers and LED printers with versatility: produce better text and solid graphics. 5. Balance volume and a networked If you already have a copier, a fax machine, scanner, you may get from stand-alone are versatile but better performance experience for Mac users. If you have PCs that still run Windows Vista or earlier, or Linux, you'll want to make sure that the printer includes drivers for those operating systems. Go to the manufacturer's website to download drivers for the printer; if no drivers are available for the ass that you have, find another printer. 3. Know who needs colour (and who doesn't): Monochrome printing is the bulk of printing for many businesses, and good monochrome printers are much less expensive than colour models. If you need only a few colour prints occasionally, an inkjet printer can handle low volumes easily and won't break the budget. Consider using an outside service bureau for once-in-a-while colour print runs. If you pages, but inkjet it may be regularly need lots of multicolour 4. Laser and LED dominate, and solid ink compete: need to print colour documents, better to buy a higher-quality or LED printer is now joined by colour laser and LED models, as well as by multifunction variants that offer scanning, faxing, and copying. Higher-end inkjets claim good speed, better image quality, and comparable or better consumables costs. How do you decide? Know what you need your printer to do. A workgroup printer is built for speed users. and capacity, typically ready to juggle the needs of 10 to 20 networked It will have its own processor, expandable memory, and a standard or optional hard drive for storing fonts and forms. Its monthly duty cycle will run into the tens of thousands of pages (this is an indication of durability rather than of how much you would actually print - usually a much smaller number). Its paper trays will hold hundreds of sheets, and its ink or toner cartridges will last for thousands of pages. Paper-handling options include folding, tools collating, and stapling. Workgroup printers also offer management such as software that can keep track of pages printed, or control which users have permission to print in colour. 1. Match the printer volume: text documents a monochrome to the task and prints mostly If your workgroup

printers. Multifunctions lighter-volume

have to juggle more; they're better for use on all functions, or for mostly printing with light copy/scan/fax duties. Plus, one software installation covers all the functions. On the downside, if an MFP has a hardware problem, you may not be able to fax, copy, or scan either. 6. Research costs and reliability: Cost of ownership components includes the longterm need for replacing ink or toner, plus such as a laser or LED's fuser or waste toner bottle. Gather all the pricing and page yields up front to make sure they'll work with your print content and volume, and especially your budget. Logan G Harbaugh

consider a high-end inkjet or colour laser. If only a few users monochrome

and spreadsheets, laser or LED printer will

do the job. For simple graphics, a colour laser or solid-ink printer would fit the bill. For photographs, an inkjet is the best bet. Choose a printer that can hold enough paper for at least a few days' worth of printing, with toner cartridges that can last for at least a month. 2. Check Windows, compatibility: many art-oriented Mac, and Linux If you use Macs, or do projects, this will affect

the kind of printer you'll need. Some printers oriented toward Windows users

April2012 pcworld.co.nz

21

Samsung Galaxy Note
Smartphone
The Samsung Galaxy Note is a unique beast, as it has a massive, 5.3-inch screen built into a flat, lightweight body. A friend, on seeing the Note, was reminded of an old brick phone that had been flattened by a steamroller. The screen isjust one of many of the device's features, but it's by far the biggest selling point - and also its biggest problem. For most, the Note will be too big for a phone, but too small for a tablet. Rather, it's an awkward in-between device, and will only appeal to a niche consumer base. Despite the screen being much bigger, the build of the Galaxy Note is very similar to that of the Galaxy S II. It has a glass front with a tactile home button in the bottom centre and two touch buttons on either side that are only visible when the device is unlocked. The back panel is made of flexible plastic that seems flimsy out of the box, but once snapped into place it feels sturdy. Despite the long, thin form, the build of the device as a whole seems solid enough that if you kept it in your pocket, it wouldn't flex. We didn't try putting it in a back pocket and sitting on it to see if it snapped, however. Let's face it-you're going to have difficulty putting it in your pocket, anyway. It may fit if you're 193cm tall with a palm like a plate; about an inch stuck out of the pockets of my women's jeans. The big screen, while a hindrance, is beautiful to behold. It's highresolution, at 800 x 1280 pixels, and on Samsung's 'Super AMOLED' display the colours appear bright and bold. The size of the device allows for some extra little UI changes that are really nice - for example, the number pad is on the same screen as the QWERTY keyboard, so you don't have to switch between them every time you type a password with numbers in it. It may seem like a minor thing, but ifyou're security-conscious enough to have super-secure passwords, it's a big help. The big screen also brings some new features that you'd expect from a tablet rather than a phone - like a host of drawing apps. The screen is still too small for you to draw accurately with your finger, so Samsung has instead included a stylus that tucks into the bottom of the device, called the'S Pen'. The S Pen may seem like a regular stylus, but using it is quite intuitive - to open the primary drawing app, S Memo, you hold down a button on the pen and tap the screen twice. Then once you're in the app, pressing down lightly on the screen with your stylus will produce light, thin lines, whereas pressing down hard will create thicker, darker lines. The flexibility of the S Pen might lead you to think that the Galaxy Note is a good choice for artists or designers. However, while the S pen is kind of nifty, it's not actually very accurate. The markings on-screen always seemed to appear slightly above where I'd put the pen, and the drawings lagged behind my hand's movement. It would be possible to

22

pcworld.co.nz

April 2012

Wo Id
MASSIVE: Photo is (not quite) actual size.

- ·n et New&lmpToved S

get used to those issues, but it's tricky to get used to the fact that it's difficult to gauge how hard to press down to get the desired line. Press too lightly and nothing will show up at all, but press much harder and you've accidentally created an abstract masterpiece. With all of that said, anything your Android phone can do, the Galaxy Note can do better. It's running Android 2.3 - currently the latest version - and has a dual-core, 1.4GHz processor. It's also packing a Mali-400 MP GPU, the same as Samsung's Galaxy S II, and 1GB of RAM. When we bench marked the phone, it blazed on past every Droid we've ever tested, including the Galaxy S II, and then kept going. On top of that, it has a decent 16GB of on-board storage and can take an extra 32GB of microSD storage. Specwise, there's no better phone on the market in New Zealand, and you'd have a hard time finding one elsewhere. Given the power of the rest of the hardware, the Galaxy Note's camera is rather unimpressive. The rear-facing lens is 8MP, but the auto-focus just doesn't work very well, so photos were often blurred even when holding the device as still as possible. There's also a significant lag between pressing the shutter and the photo being taken. The camera performed better than average in low light, however, and it didn't produce much of the ugly grain that many phone cameras are famous for. It also had fantastic colour accuracy in natural, incandescent and low light. Vibrant colours were still vibrant when recorded on screen. If anything, the camera actually 'corrects' colours so they look better on-screen, using oversaturation. Reds, in particular, appear much more saturated in pictures and video than they do in real life. When on a phone call, the call quality on the Galaxy Note is great (keep in mind that we were using a 2degrees SIM, but rhe phone retails through Vodafone). However, the phone is just so darn big that it becomes

difficult to hold the speaker to your ear in the exact right spot to hear properly. We constantly had to adjust the phone's position while on a call, because moving slightly would throw off the sound. The phone's bigger size leaves more room for its enormous (for a phone, anyway) 2,500mAh battery, and it shows: the battery life of the Note is exceptional for a phone. The battery does take a long time to charge, however. If you're purchasing on pure specifications, the Galaxy Note is a great smartphone-slash -tabler, but we hope you like being stared at. On the bus, in the supermarket - wherever you go, people will stare at you for talking on a phone the size of your face. We also hope you don't mind having your hand stretched to its limit - particularly if you're not gargantuan. If you've got small hands, you're guaranteed to get a cramp after talking on the phone for half an hour or so. The Sam sung Galaxy Note is not a bad product, by any means. It's solidly constructed, feature-packed and lightningfast. But it's not going to be a good fit for the majority of people. It's a niche product for those who really want or need the extra half-inch of screen real estate, bur we wouldn't recommend it to the average consumer. Siobhan Keogh

AT A GLANCE
• Massive 5.3-inch screen • High-end hardware • Comes with a stylus for drawing • Camera has flaws

A speedy phone with a beautiful display, but how big is too big?

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HP Envy 14 Spectre
Ultrabook
You know how, when you plug in a USB cable, it's always the wrong way up first time? The HP Envy 14 Spectre is a little like a USB stick - every time I picked it up and went to open it, I got it the wrong way round, and tried to open it hinge-first. Whoops. The reason for this is the design of the Envy; its monolith-like symmetrical black glass has just one directional cue in the form of the HP logo. Even the lid latch is just a wafer-thin nubbin of plastic - barely visible in bright sunlight. Still, as complaints go, that's not a gadgetkiller, and the rest of the Spectre is rather pleasing. Unlike many Ultrabook models, the Spectre isn't trying to look like the MacBook Air - okay, it's true, the black, backlit island keyboard and silver wrist-rest does look suspiciously familiar, but there are a few unique design touches here. Take, for example, the Gorilla glass lid and screen. It makes the whole lid an even 5mm thick, but it feels astonishingly robust. We don't recommend throwing it at the nearest footpath, but it'll resist scratches. Sadly, it won't resist fingerprints. The chassis is mostly plastic, which seems a little bit of a step down from the Asus Zenbook's aluminium and Toshiba Satellite's magnesium-alloy enhanced bodies, but it's attractive enough. The Envy Spectre is 23mm thick in total, and weighs 1.8kg. There's a bit of flex in the lid, but nothing worrying - the screen shows little deformation even with heavy pressure. The chassis feels plasticky around the keyboard, but the underside is solid and reassuringly sturdy. Honestly, the fact that it looks so very Maclike probably makes me judge the silverplastic more harshly than I might otherwise. The screen is a 14-inch 1600 x 900 glossy number, with excellent colour reproduction and sharpness. When you consider that this model also comes with Beats Audio, it works very well for video. I watched my favourite football team crush its opposition in 720p with plenty of atmosphere. In fact, the Beats Audio is quite impressive. There's no subwoofer, but the speakers underneath the front chassis produce decent quality for a laptop of this size. The Beats Audio controls, however, are tucked on the front right side of the chassis. It's very convenient for quick access, but I found myselfbumping the volume up or down by accident frequently. The specifications make up for any disappointment, though. As with the Asus Zenbook, the Spectre runs the fast Intel Core i7-2677 processor with Intel HD 3000 graphics. The Core i7 is enough to provide a bit of oomph for those considering graphical tasks. The lack of a dedicated graphics card limits any pro-gaming aspirations you might have, but at least you'll be able to manage monster-sized photo editing and a little gentle video editing, with luck. To support that kind of workload, the Spectre packs in 4GB RAM and a fast Samsung 128GB SSD for additional speediness. The only downside is the HP motherboard - the only potential weak point in an otherwise tasty souffle of parts. More on that later. The keyboard is fairly standard for an island, or 'isolated', keyboard, with a nice soft feel to the keys and good travel. We found it comfortable for long stretches of typing, and while the keys at the four corners of the keyboard are rounded for design reasons, this didn't hinder anything. The touchpad is a single flat area, with flex in the bottom corners to register left and right clicks. It's nothing special, but it works. Connectivity is via Wi-Fi 802.l1b/g/n, and it offers Bluetooth 3.0 in addition. Ethernet access is via an expandable socket, and it sits alongside one USB 3.0, one USB 2.0, card reader, DisplayPort, and HDMI ports. Performance isn't the key thing for most ultraportable laptops, but HP calls this a premium Ultrabook, and we were interested to see how it performed compared to our current best-of-breed Asus Zen book. The HP is neck-and-neck with the Zenbook for CPU and RAM-based benchmarks, putting it firmly among the best of the Ultrabooks we've seen so far. When it came to

FINGERPRINT MAGNET: The Spectre has a Gorilla glass lid.

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SPOOKY: Beats Audio adds atmosphere.

(-----..-• ...!=====~storage-based benchmarks, the HP recorded some very fast times indeed - in some cases, double the transfer rates of the Zen book. The Samsung SSD chosen by HP looks like a winner in the storage stakes. So far, so great, but then we checked the graphics benchmarks. Our experience thus far with the Intel HD 3000 graphics is that it performs moderately well, but the HP, unlike the Toshiba (page 37) and Zen book, just doesn't come up to speed. In fact, it performs 25% slower than those two models, even with the exact same settings. We can't think of a good reason why this might be, unless there's some factor in HP's motherboard that is throttling the speed. We asked HP for comment, but unfortunately nobody was able top respond before we went to print. This graphics performance issue won't affect too many aspects of the Envy Spectre - it will affect gaming, but since the HD 3000 is capable mostly for 2D gaming anyway, it's not a major flaw. We didn't run our usual productivity battery life test - instead, a small error on my part meant that I ran a slightly more intensive version. However, the HP managed four hours and 20 minutes even with the more heavy duty battery life testing. While we can't compare that directly to the likes of the Zenbook, and didn't have time to retest it, the six-cell battery will handle several hours of hard work comfortably. HP claims up to 9 hours of battery life, and we wouldn't be surprised if, with brightness lowered, you got close to that figure. It doesn't wake up quite as rapidly as we'd expected, or as fast as other Ultrabooks we've tested, but again, this is a minor grievance. The major grievance is the price. At $2,899, the high-spec Envy 14 we tested is more than $1000 more than the Asus Zenbook, for almost equivalent performance. The screen is better, and the storage-based performance is better, but it's not $1000 better. And really, it's the overall price that prevents the Spectre from earning a Platinum Award.
ZaraBaxter

ATAGLANCE
• Beats Audio provides good laptop sound • Screen is crisp, bright and with good colour accuracy • FastCore i7-2677 and Samsung SSD provide good peformance

RRP incl GST: $2,899 Contact: hp.co.nz Slick and fast Ultrabook with a lovely screen, but that price tag!

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lOADS OF SPACE: Just in case.

Corsair Carbide Series 400R
PC case
In our experience, Corsair has made a habit of releasing awesome hardware. None of this awesome factor is lost even when they make an 'affordable' product. Case in point: the Carbide 400R mid-tower chassis. My first impression taking it out of the box was that this is a solid and sturdy case. It's not much to look at - a plus in many people's books - with a simple all-black finish inside and out. The only design features that stop it from being a plain old box are mesh filters on the front, back and side, along with a carry handle on top. Opening the side panel reveals a cavernous interior with large gaps around the motherboard in all dimensions. This allows for discrete cable management and good airflow. There is space for graphics cards up to 316mm in length as well as 240mm radiators (with 15mm spacing). The only snag for me was that the 120mm fans that attach to my Corsair Hydro HlOO CPU cooler blocked access to my motherboard's CPU power connector - a tad frustrating. It could have been avoided by moving the motherboard holes down by lOmm or so (there is ample room to do this). Admittedly that's only a problem if your CPU power connector is located right at the top of your motherboard like
rrune is,

• Mid-tower chassis,520 x 205 x 503mm • Supports most 240mm dual radiators • Two white-LED 120mm front fans and one 120mmrearfan

Tool-less drive bays were the icing on the cake and the 400R accommodated my i7based system with ease.Highly recommended.
Paul Urquhart
RAIDING PARTY: Getinthe redundant mood.

RRP incl GST:$299 Contact: www.altechcomputers.co.nz Apart from a very minor design flaw, a great case with quality and features above its price point.

*****

Raidon InTank
Internal RAID module
Whilst most modern motherboards support RAID (redundant array ofindependent disks), for many users it can be a hassle to get it all going. And what if you want a RAID array but your motherboard doesn't support it at all? Enter the Raidon InTank iR2620 internal RAID module. All you need to do with the iR2620 is slot it into the front panel of your PC (it takes up two 5.25-inch bays), put a couple of hard drives in it, then plug in the SATA and power connectors. Voila, instant RAID. On the back is a little switch that allows you to choose RAID 0 or 1. RAID 0 (striping), improves read and write performance by splitting data over multiple disks, whereas RAID I (mirroring) provides data redundancy by writing the same data on multiple disks in case one of those disks fails. I started by testing the performance improvements of RAID o. After booting into Windows, all I had to was initialise the drive in DiskManagement and assign it a drive letter just like any other unformatted drive. The two 750GB Western DigitalnOORPM

drives combined for a total of roughly I.4TB usable space, and provided maximum read/write speeds of just over 180MByte/s, compared to around llOMByte/s speeds for a single drive. Not quite the theoretical maximum improvement of 2x, but a large boost nonetheless. Likewise in RAID I mode, read speeds peaked at over 180MByte/s but write speeds were the same as single-disk speeds. The total usable space was about 700GB. To test out the data safety feature of RAID I I loaded up the iR2620 with files and literally pulled one of the disks out of the device while it was running. Not a beat was missed - all files were still accessible from the other drive, and once I put the removed disk back in, it automatically started rebuilding (which took a few hours). The LCD panel on the front of the device gives you the basic status of the drives, and the included software can also be set to email you if one of the drives fails. While I found the iR2620 incredibly easy to use, with great functionality, the price tag is crippling. At $566 excluding disks, it seems like

a heinously expensive way to buy convenience, as you could get a decent external NAS drive with much the same functionality for almost half the price. If the price dropped to a more reasonable level then I'd recommend the iR2620. As it stands, I'd leave it sitting on the shelf
Paul Urquhart

AT A GLANCE
• Two-drive RAIDdevice that fits in two 5.25-inch bays • Supports RAID0 and RAID 1 modes • Auto-rebuild feature (RAID 1) • Realtime status via LCDdisplay

RRP lncl GST:$566 Contact: raidon.com.tw An excessively easy way to get into RAID, also excessively pricey.

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And where it comes to life.

tntuos.c,
Discover creativity in a new dimension: with all new multl-touch, Express View and wireless capability, Intuos5 boosts the productivity and creative expression of photographers, designers and artists.
© 2012 Wacom Company Ltd. All rights reserved. Wacom and Intuos are registered trademarks of Wacom Co., Ltd .• wwwwacom.asialau

uiacorrr

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Samsung Omnia W
Smartphone
With the Omnia W, Samsung joins the likes of HTC, LG and Nokia in offering a Windows Phone 7 (WP7) smartphone in the New Zealand market. I've been a WP7 user since the platform launched locally in 2010, with the HTC 7 Trophy. The Trophy is a great phone - we scored it an 'excellent' four stars. A year down the track however, the Omnia W feels like a real upgrade and not just a switch in brand and model. The Omnia's display is a 3.7-inch, 800 x 480-pixel Super AMOLED panel. It's bright and readable, but not as colour-rich as the NokiaLumia 800's (the Lumia being the other hot WP7 device of the hour - see our review on page 35). The entire face of the phone is a single surface, indented very slightly into its bezel to give your finger a nice clear stoppingpoint at the left and right edges. The Omnia isn't record-breakingly thin - it's llmm at its thickest point. However, it's more than slim enough to fit into the average pocket. It's also sturdy enough not to break in half doing so, despite weighing in at just 115 grams. WP7 (technically Windows Phone 7.5 'Mango') is running atop a single-core 1.4GHz Snapdragon processor, with 512MB of RAM. Apps are quick and responsive, though there seems no appreciable performance difference from the older HTC 7 Trophy or the current Nokia Lumia 800. Storage is a fixed 8GB, of which 6.34GB is available to the user. Bya limitation ofWP7, there's no external storage via microSD card or anything similar. That 6.34GB is all you've got for whatever apps, photos, music or movies you want to carry around. WP7 also won't appear as a USB flash drive when plugged into a PC (as Android phones can), so those that like to use their phone a general-purpose storage device will be left wanting. Sam sung has thrown in a few applications of their own, but nothing that redefines the Windows Phone experience or givesthe phone some massive advantage over its competitors. Nonetheless, Samsung's AIlShare DLNA

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STRONG OFFERING: But it doesn't redefine WP7.

server is pretty neat, letting you wirelessly stream videos, photos and music to any DLNA-compatible entertainment devices such as TVs or PCs. Through plain-old WP7, the Omnia W includes deep and powerful Facebook integration. Contacts and calendar entries sync up perfectly, and you can even opt to treat Facebook messages exactly like text messages. If you do so, you can then swap midconversation from text to Facebook Message or vice-versa, just by tapping a single button. Excluding the very meagre data costs it incurs, it's essentially free text messaging with anyone on Facebook. Thanks to WP7.5, there's also Twitter integration - it is, however, nowhere near as deeply tied in as Facebook. That said, the official Twitter app for Windows Phone is clean and functional. Skype is also on its way to the platform via a public beta in the US, but not currently available in New Zealand. The only thing that really annoyed me about the Omnia W was the nature of its 'back' and 'search' touch buttons beneath the screen. On my HTC 7 Trophy they're painted-on. The Omnia W's are backlit; at night, you can't see them all the time. Despite

my familiarity with Windows Phone, I still found that led to a number of 'how do I go back' moments before I realised that I had to tap a certain part of the dark area beneath the screen. By daylight, it's not an issue as the outlines of the two buttons are visible. The Omnia W is not a groundbreaking phone, other than that it's Samsung's first WP7 offering. It is, however, a very strong offering for existing Windows Phone 7 fans. At a midrange $699, it's also a good starting point for Facebook addicts or those looking for a simpler interface than Android or perhaps even iOS can provide.
Harley Ogier

ATAGLANCE
• 3.7-inch, BOO x 4BO-pixel Super AMOLED display • l.4GHz single-core Snapdragon CPU • Windows Phone 7.5'Mango' • Incredibly tight Facebook integration

RRPind GST:$699 Contact: samsung.co.nz A great option for the first-time smartphone owner or Facebook fan.

*****
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AMD Radeon HD 7970
Graphics card
It's been roughly 18 months since AMD launched its last family of graphics processing units (CPUs) but we now finally have some hot new silicon from the California-based semiconductor company. Codenamed Southern Islands (replacing last season'sNorthern Islands family) the series initially consists of the Radeon HD 7970 and 7950 high-end cards, as well as the mid-range 7770 and 7750, all of which we've had the honour of testing in our labs this month. These will be followed by a mid-range HD 7800 and entry-level HD 7500 and 7600 series of cards, as well an enthusiast level HD 7990 (codenamed 'New Zealand', true story bro), Our focus here however is squarely on the HD 7970, AMD's current flagship cpu. Under the hood it has 2,048 stream processing units running at 925MHz built on a 28nm manufacturing process, and 3CB ofCDDR5 memory running at 1375MHz (5.5CHz effective) over a 384-bit bus. Compared to the older HD 6970 which it replaces, the 7970 boasts over 33% more raw processing power (almost 3.8TFLOPS), 50% more memory bandwidth (264CByte/s) and 50% more CDDR5 memory. Physically the card measures 275mm long (including shroud), requires one 8 pin and one 6 pin PCI-E power connector (estimated power draw is 220W), has a 75mm blower fan with an aluminium heatsink sitting on a vapour chamber cooler, supports 3-way Crossfire and includes an HDMI, DVI and two mini-DisplayPort outputs. Retail units should also ship with HDMI-to-DVI and DisplayPort-to-DVI adapters, meaning one card can support up to three DVI monitors straight out of the box. As with any launch of a new family of C PUs, there's a whole swag of new functionality introduced as well. First and foremost, judging by the size of the sticker placed on the retail boxes at least, is the PCI Express 3.0 specification. If you have both a motherboard and video card which support PCI-E 3.0 then theoretically your video card can transfer up to twice as much data per second to and from the CPU and the rest of your system as the previous PCI-E 2.0 and 2.1 specifications. I say theoretically because very few games even come close to saturating current PCI-E bandwidth capabilities, let alone require more bandwidth. It provides a level of futureproofing that may comfort some people however, and this is without mentioning the potential benefits to general purpose computing on graphics processing units (CPCPU) which we'll look at shortly. One possibly more tangible benefit to consumers is AMD's new Zero Core Power technology. This feature creates two idle modes where there used to be only one. Firstly there's 'regular idle' - the state where, for example, your computer is displaying your desktop and
;.

not sending any processing tasks to the CPu. This consumes about 15W of power. This is a nice reduction from the roughly 25W idle power usage of AMD's previous generation of cpu. Secondly there's the new Zero Core Power mode, 'long idle', which is the state where the CPU is not displaying an image at all- e.g. if you have your screen saver settings set to switch your monitor off but keep your PC running after a certain amount of inactivity. In this mode, the CPU consumes a measly 3W, a figure so low that the card doesn't even need to keep the fan spinning to keep cool.
I I I I I I

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(score) 3 (FPS) Performance (1280x720) High Ultra, DX11, 4xAA, HBAO high + Tess. Default Very high, 4xAA Very high

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6689 68.4 88.2 55.7 117.0 42.9 74.44 $799 $10.73

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3DMarkll Battlefield

7857 88.2 102.9 67.3 84.5 51.7 78.92 $899 $11.39
2 x 2GB

6759 73.6 86.4 58.7 83.5 42.4 68.92 $699 $10.14

3467 39.3 42.3 30.4 62.3 25.1 39.88 $239 $5.99

2682 29.3 32.1 24.6 56.9 21.3 32.84 $179 $5.45

3696 38.9 43.5 31.6 69.6 26.2 41.96 $249 $5.93

STALKERCO.P. (FPS) Heaven 2.5 (FPS) Trackmania Nations Forever (FPS) Anno 2070 (FPS)

Average FPS (Higher=Better) RRPinci GST Dollars per FPS (Lower=Better) Test system: Intel Core i7 2600K@l.4GHz,

Kingston DDRl·1600 (L9, 120GB Mach Extreme SATAII SSD, Windows 7 Professional 64·bit, 1920 x 1080 (unless stated)

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POWERFUL: and powersaving.

Same goes for unused Crossfire cards - if you have three cards hooked up but you're not doing any heavy GPU processing or gaming, then the fans on the two unused cards shut down - this will be a godsend for some noiseconscious garners. Moving on, the HD 7970 also introduces FastHDMI, an AMD technology which can push up to 4000 x 2000-pixel resolutions over an HDMI connection, as well as 120Hz (60Hz per eye) full 1080P stereoscopic 3D image signals. Also on the topic of displays: with a multimonitor setup and AMD's Catalyst 12.2 drivers you get Eyefinity 2.0, which has the ability to set custom desktop resolutions and relocate your Windows taskbar to any screen you want. On top of this the HD 7970 gives you Discrete Digital Multi-point Audio (DDMA); a fancy name for the ability to send different audio streams to separate monitors, useful for video-conferencing with multiple people. Now, coming back to GPGPU - a big part of Southern Islands is what AMD calls Graphics Core Next (GCN). Essentially, GCN is the architecture which AMD built from the ground up starting with the HD

7000 seriesof video cards, to bring its GPGPU performance up to par with rival Nvidia. GPGPU is a whole novel in itself, suffice to say however that things like digital image, audio and video processing (and k-NN nearest neighbour algorithms if you're a real propellerhead) now have the potential to perform just aswell on AMD hardware as they do on Nvidia hardware, once developers write software that can utilise the new architecture at least. The built-in H.264 Video Codec Engine is supposed to be on par with - or better than - Intel's Quick Sync encoder as well. Now for the all-important gaming metrics. To test the HD 7970 we put it up against the rest of the 7900 and 7700 series cards, as well as Nvidia's closest competitor the GTX 580, plus an HD 6850 from AMD's last generation ofGPU.The test suite is a mix of old and new game titles, real life gaming scenarios and synthetic benchmarks. As you can see from the results, the HD 7970 comes out about 20% better than Nvidia's fastest single-GPU card, the GTX 580, in all test excepts for Trackmania Nations Forever, in which the Nvidia card absolutely dominates. This seems to have skewed the average FPS a little in the GTX 580's favour

however the HD 7970 still comes out on top overall. You pay for this privilege though, with the high 'Dollar per FPS' rating across the entire line-up. What is not shown in the statistics is the noise and heat which the HD 7970 pumps out, neither of which is insignificant. No worse than the GTX 580, to be fair, so I feel this is endemic to high-end cards. I also managed to have a quick go at overclocking the HD 7970 - core speed happily went from 925MHz to 1125MHz (the highest I could set it using the Catalyst Control Center) and memory speed was safe at 1500MHz (6GHz effective). With these settings the HD 7970 returned a 12% higher 3DMarkll Performance score - not bad for a free performance boost with minimal tinkering. Overall, while we're not totally blown away by this new card, the Radeon HD 7970 from AMD certainly doesn't embarrass itself. It's clearly the new king of the ring of single-GPU video cards. It brings an interesting bag of new tricks with it, too.
Paul Urquhart

AT A GLANCE
• The new fastest single-GPU video card • 2,048 stream processing units • 3GB of GDDRS memory • PCIExpress 3.0

Contact: amd.com AMD regains the 'most powerful singleGPUvideo card' crown, and has tossed in a few new bells and whistles too.

*****
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adhere to the latest ONFI 2.2 standard which basically means that they handle flash memory better. Intel has also had a hand in writing the controller firmware, and promises improved reliability, rating life expectancy at 1.2 million hours between failures. The drive is also preconfigured with AES 256-bit encryption for security, suggesting that they are intended for high-end or enterprise use. Intel ships the drive as a kit with management software, mounting brackets and both SATA and power cabling, making it straightforward to install. In most of our tests, which included PC Mark 7 storage, our 240GB review drive performs comparably to other Sandforce SF2281-based drives such as the OCZ Vertex 3. The Intel drive has substantially better write performance, however. With sequential writes, the 520 scored 240Mbyte/s compared to 175Mbyte/s for the Vertex 3 in AS SSD. Random 4kbyte writes, as measured by CrystaiDiskmark3 were 15-20% faster with the 520. Excellent performance is a big draw card, but unfortunately, Intel charges a premium - our 240GB review model costs around $800, $200-$250 higher than other Sandforce SF2281-based drives. Serious enthusiasts and enterprise users may consider the 520 drive worth the premium however. Juha Saarinen

Intel Cherryville 520 Series SSD
240GB solid state drive
Chip giant Intel has been at the forefront of solid-state storage for a while now, but its new Cherryville represents a slight departure from past models. As it lacks its own SATA 3.0-capable controller, Intel used the third-party Sandforce SF2281 controller for the 520 drive. However, Intel has used its own multi-level Flash chips, using its 25nm process. These new chips

ATAGLANCE
• Great performance backed by Intel commitment to reliability and security • Steep price

, o·

RRP incl GST: $839 Contact: intel.com

Premium SATA 6Gbps SSDfrom Intel based on the Sandforce SF2281 controller.

QUICK AND SECURE: Performance

over price.

*****

Kingston SSDNow V200
120GB solid-state drive
The SSDNow 200 series is designed for business users after a performance boost without massive cash outlay, and by and large, the drive delivers on this promise. You get a fair bit for the money. The 120GB drive comes with a Sandforce SF2200 controller and Intel 25nm multi-level cell NAND Flash memory connecting via a 6Gbps SATA 3.0 interface. In addition, Kingston provides mounting brackets and cabling, a USB enclosure for migration of the existing drive and a copy of Acronis True Image HD drive-cloning software. The drive uses the first-generation Open NAND Flash Interface, or ONFI 1.0. This is known as asynchronous NAND and has a performance limit of 50Mbyte/s as opposed to ONFI 2.0 (synchronous NAND) that revs it up to 133Mbyte/s. In real life usage, the asynchronous NAND thing doesn't put the brakes on performance as much as you'd think. Kingston promises read speeds of535Mbyte/s and write speeds of 480Mbyte/sexcellent figures that are borne out in the ATTO benchmark. PC Mark 7's applicationcentric benchmark shows the SSDNow 200 can keep up with speedy drives such as the OCZ Vertex 3 in some areas, but in others, such as starting apps, it's roughly half as slow and only manages 37Mbyte/s compared to the Vertex 3's 55.65. The SSDNow 200 manages 205Mbyte/s with uncompressed data reads where the Vertex 3 hits 510Mbyte/s. Enthusiasts will want to look for an SSD with synchronous memory instead, such as the Intel 520 series SSD above, but if you don't need top-notch performance in every situation and you can find the SSDNow 200 120GB for less than its stated $278 RRP, it's worth considering as an upgrade for a electromechanical hard drive. Juha Saarinen
NOT FOR PROS: Price over performance.

• Moderately priced SSD upgrade kit aimed at business users that works well with day to day productivity applications • Performance takes a hit with incompressible data

RRP incl GST: $180 (60GB), $241 (90GB), $295 (120GB), $552 (240GB) Contact: kingston.com

Wellthought-out upgrade kit but the Kingston SSDnow 200 120 only delivers moderate performance in certain usage scenarios.

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Turtle Beach Ear Force Z6A
Gaming headset & amplifier
Turtle Beach's 'Earforce' Z6A headset adds 5.1 channel surround sound to your gaming experience, using four separate speakers in each ear cup. You might wonder if you lose something, packing so many speakers into something that will still fit comfortably on your head. The answer appears to be 'yes', at least in terms of frequency response - the range of sounds those compact speakers can reproduce. The 'front' and 'surround' speaker pairs have a very average range of 20Hz-20kHz (the hearing range of an average adult), while the 'center' speakers are limited to 80Hz-16kHz. The lack of bass frequencies below 20Hz would be countered by the tiny 40mm 'subwoofers', except that those also bottom out at 20Hz with a 20- 500Hz range. The lower, barely-audible rumble of a stirring volcano in-game, or the bassiest notes of your favourite musical performance might suffer when compared to some headphones that drop as low as 15Hz. However, the quality of the source material you're listening to, your PC's sound card, and your own hearing all have an impact on this. I found the audio quality high, though not quite as rich and clean as you'd find from audiophile-grade headphones which focus on pure sound quality and don't provide a surround-sound effect. The Z68 features an in-line amplifier, with separate analogue volume control for each of the speaker pairs, as well as overall volume which doubles an on/off switch. This amplifier is USB-powered, and that's where we come to an important and potentially confusing point: while they use a USB plug for power, these headphones are not USB-connected. Often surround-sound headphones connect solely by USB. What you may not realise is that this means the headphones aren't using your sound card at all. You could have a thousand-dollar, ultra-audiophile-quality sound card, but plug in a pair of USBconnected headphones and that card does nothing: the job of converting digital sound from your PC into an analogue signal for your USB headphones or speakers is done by

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NO SUMMER?: At least you can have the beach all year round.

circuitry within those headphones or speakers themselves. The advantage with USB-connected surround-sound devices is that you just need a single USB plug to carryall the audio data, and the technicalities of surround can be handled by the hardware itself This is not the case with the Turtle Beach Z68 headset, which uses standard 3.5mm audio jacks to connect to a surround-sound enabled sound card. This means that to get surround sound, you need a sound card with three 3.5mm audio output jacks (usually found on the rear of your PC only, not on the front panel): front left/right, surround left/right, and centre/ subwoofer. If your sound card isn't designed to provide surround sound, these headphones won't work for you. Most mid-range and higher desktop PCs are likely to be fine. Entrylevel or small-form-factor desktops may not be, and analogue surround sound outputs on laptops are essentially unheard of This does limit the market for the Z6A somewhat. If you particularly want these headphones, and don't have the right outputs, desktop users can invest in an appropriate internal sound card. Laptop users will be able

to find USB -connected surround sound cards also, though just going for a USB-connected headset would be a simpler and more portable option. At a reasonably-priced $189, the Turtle Beach Z6A presents a great option for those with an existing high-quality surround sound card, as it lets you take advantage of that card's audio capabilities as you would with a good set of surround speakers. However, that same nature makes it impractical (or just plain unusable) by those with cheap onmotherboard sound solutions, or with the average laptop.
Harley Ogier

ATAGI!ANCE
• Four separate speakers per ear • Requires S.l-channel • USB-powered capable sound card amplifier in-line headphone

RRP inc! GST: $189 Contact: turtlebeach.com

Great surround-sound headphones for those with an existing high quality sound card.

*****
pcworld.co.nz 33

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Rdio
Online music streaming service
Rdio is a global online music service that the press release tells us was started by the creators of Skype. In late January this year, Rdio launched in New Zealand with surprisingly little fanfare. I have a confession: I buy CDs. I don't use iTunes, despite having a Mac. I don't download music. Sometimes I watch officially-uploaded YouTube music videos with the browser minimised, in the least efficient example of music streaming possible. But mostly I buy CDs. This makes Rdio diametrically opposed to my usual music-consumption philosophy. With Rdio, you don't buy music. Ever. You subscribe to a service that gives you all the music you want, via one of two monthly plans. For $8.90 per month you get the service via your web browser (Flash required), plus the Windows and Mac OS X desktop clients. $13.90 per month gives you all that, plus access via the Rdio apps available for iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone 7. Unless you never leave your house, the extra $5 per month is a no-brainer, We'll get back to the mobile apps, though. Admittedly, I never tested the Windows and Mac OS X clients due to time constraints. I use both platforms at home, but neither seemed necessary when the web app is just so good. The web player's Flash-driven design is simple but slick, the user interface is easily navigable and the whole thing runs better than a fair few desktop apps I've tried. Finding the music you're after is a snap. Assuming, that is, you're allowed to listen to it. Here is the only place Rdio fell flat on its face during my testing: thanks to the complexity of international music licensing, there is a tonne of content that we in New Zealand can see, but cannot play. Some of the issues are frankly ludicrous; in one example, I was presented with two identical versions of an album. One I could play, the other I could not. One was the US release, the other our local release. The tracks, length and even album text did not vary between the two.

SOUNDS GOOD: The range isn't complete,

but it's pretty impressive.

Other examples made more sense, but were equally maddening. Several albums I owned, bought on CD, were not available to be played in New Zealand at all. Sure, some were obscure international artists. Others were albums or singles from The Feelers and Shihad, both New Zealand bands. The same issue carries over to a multitude of other local artists, old and new. Complaints aside, the library of music we can access from New Zealand is undeniably huge. It's also widely varied in genre and country of origin. Streaming quality is good, and I experienced nothing worse than three or four brief interruptions (of a few seconds each) in a week of very heavy use. The mobile apps for iOS and Android seem very solid. Sadly I did most of my testing on Windows Phone 7, the app for which is so buggy that I'd have avoided it entirely had it not spewed free music into my headphones. The concept behind the mobile app is simple: you can stream music, as you do on the desktop, via Wi- Fi or 3G. Audio is heavily compressed over 3G to keep data costs down (costs will vary depending on your mobile carrier), giving you something a little better than radio quality. You can also 'sync' music to the device, which gives you an offline copy

you can listen to when you're disconnected. The best way to handle this is to sync your favourite music to your device over Wi-Fi, then pop the app in 'offline' mode and listen to that music without data costs or Wi-Fi-related battery consumption. Should you use Rdio? Absolutely, if it'll agree to play whatever you want to hear. Take the seven day free trial, and you can check that out yourself Me? I'm a convert. My CD budget's going to my Rdio subscription from now on.
Harley Ogier

• Browser-based (Adobe Flash) version • Windows and Mac OS X desktop apps • Mobile apps for iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone 7 • Playlists and favourites sync across all devices

RRPinc! GST:$8.90/month subscription (desktop only), $13.90/month (desktop & mobile) Contact: rdio.com

A wonderful service, let down only by region-locking annoyances and a buggy
WP7app.

34 pcworld.co.nz

April2012

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Nokia Lumia 800
Smartphone
The design of the Nokia Lumia 800, as with its near-identical twin, the Meego-running Nokia N9, is simply gorgeous. The body is polycarbonate - soft to the touch, scratch-resistant, and sufficiently grippy that you'll have no fear of it slipping out of your hand or pocket, even if you don't use the silicone case. Nokia has long excelled at producing smartphone hardware - while PC Worldhasn't been so keen on Nokia's Symbian softwareand the Lumia 800 is no exception. The screen is covered by Gorilla Glass and it's fantastically robust. Aside from that, the key features are the three Windows Phone soft-buttons and the neat method of adding the SIM: as with the N9, the microSIM is inserted through a sliding opening at the top of the phone and a pop-out flap reveals the micro USB power socket. The phone is not especially lightweight, at 142g, and it's 12mm thick, but it never feels hefty. The 3.7-inch 480 x 800-pixel jewel-bright AMOLED screen is exceptionally bright. We compared it to the Samsung Omnia W, but the Lumia 800 won hands-down on colour saturation and brightness. There's a rear 8-megapixel camera and dedicated hardware camera button - a long press on it will wake the phone up and activate the camera, which is very handy. The 8MP camera is a particularly striking feature. Its touch auto-focus and shooting is fast, and produces crisp, bright images. The settings cover a range of scenes, white balance and exposure adjustment and it handled Auckland's dreary wet days and poor light as capably as it managed in sunlight. The processor, while only single core, is a 1.4GHzwith plentyofspeed-and 1GB RAM - to run the Windows 7 (actually WP7.5 Mango) interface. It comes with 16GB of onboard storage to fillwith some of the 60,000 apps from Windows Phone Marketplace. There are also a few apps available via what's called the Nokia Collection, which includes Nokia Maps, Nokia Drive and CNN. You also get Contacts Transfer (away to send your

- ·n et New&lmpToved S

NO PINK FOR YOU: But you can get black and blue with the Lumia.

contacts via Bluetooth between phones) and TuneIn Radio - there's a 35mm headphone jack. Surprisingly, there's no Nokia/Ovi Music. The small range ofN okia-specific apps is not a huge selling point, however. What is a selling point is the camera and screen for the Lumia 800, as well as the way that Windows Phone 7 encourages a kind of sharing, via Windows Live, Twitter and Facebook integration, that brings the camera's photos and your social interactions to the fore. The great hardware from Nokia makes for better visuals and a better social experience, quite simply. I'm not a fan of the way Windows Live integrates everything, but I can't deny that it works seamlessly. The sound quality was a little muddy at times, but for the majority of our testing voice volume and coherence was good. Battery life is surprising - we got more than a day using it out and about, which ismore than for the N9. For now though, the main advantage of Nokia hardware is that it is a gorgeous phone with an attractive as, which I think can only be a good thing for the vastly underrated WP7.

Lesswell-known manufacturers, such as HTC and LG, may not have encouraged consumers to try it out - the Lumia 800 can change that. The Lumia 800 is available from Vodafone and Telecom now; 2degrees will release it later this month. At $899, it's not quite as polished as our current top phone in this price range, the 5-star HTC Sensation, but it's close.
ZaraBaxter

AT A GLANCE
• Great camera with useful settings • l.4GHz processor, reasonable for internet speed and apps • Windows Phone 7.5Mango offers good social experience • Nokia apps don't add anything substantial

RRPinel GST: $899 Contact: nokia.co.nz It's fast, with good battery life, and features an underrated as on great hardware.

*****
35

April2012 pcworld.co.nz

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Hooking it up to my Fritz!Box 7340 was similarly easy. Unlike the Linksys RElOOOwe reviewed in December 2011, the WN3000RP usesa unique SSID, so you'll need to reconfigure devices to connect to it. Note that the WN3000RP is only single-band. It extends 2.4GHz 802.l1 Wi-Fi, up to the N standard, but not 5GHz. The improvement in signal strength was marked: from the initial -65dB to -75dB in the bedroom, the Wi-Fi signal jumped up to -50dB. That's a five to eight-fold improvement, and it meant data zipped along at a steady 35 to 40Mbit/ps upstairs. Good performance and easy set-up means the WN3000RP isa no-brainer to recommend, but don't pay the $169RRP for it; at $110 street price, it's a much better buy.
Juha Saarinen
DEVIL HORNS: but the device is a saint.

NetgearVVN3000RP
Wi-Fi Range Extender
Range extenders are useful devices that improve your wireless network reach, ensuring it covers the nooks and crannies of your house without the need for further cabling and other complications. Netgear's WN3000RP is a fairly chunky unit that plugs straight into the mains outlet, with two moveable antennae on each side and an Ethernet jack for wired connectivity. Four green LEDs show status and link diagnostics - useful, but unfortunately, there's no way to turn them off. I set up the WN300RP in a socket upstairs, half-way between a bedroom and the downstairs Netgear WNDRMACv2 router. It was very easy to accomplish: press the WPS button on both devices, and the WN3000RP connects within seconds.

: '..~

• 2.4GHz 802.11N Wi-Fi range extender/ repeater with minimal configuration and web-based administration • Good performance but somewhat high RRP

RRPind GST:$169 Contact: netgear.com.au An easy to set up 2.4GHz Wi-Fi range extender that works as advertised.

~

Netgear VVNDRMACv2
Wireless Dual-Band Gigabit Router
Netgear's naming scheme uses the first letter of each feature built into the router. This can make product names such as WNDRMACv2 confusing but underneath the acronym is a pretty solid Wi-Fi router. To start with, the WNDRMACv2 ticks all the right boxes: 2.4 and 5GHz wireless radios with nominal speeds of 300Mbps and guest access on both, WPA2 security, WPS onebutton registration, support for USB storage and printers, and a one-up four-down gigabit Ethernet WAN/LAN switch. IPv6 is also supported, which is great to see. Getting the WNDRMACv2 up and running could have been easier if Netgear had provided better documentation. The webbased Genie admin interface has online help, but lacks some details and isn't searchable. Working out how to use the WNDRMACv2 as a network bridge was a case of trial and error until I discovered the undocumentedAP (AccessPoint) Mode tick box under Advanced Setup/Wireless Settings on the Advanced screen. Using the AP Mode means you lose access to most features that are available in router mode, but this is par for the course. Wireless performance was pretty good overall. The radios on the WNDRMACv2 have good reach throughout the house, with even the shorter-range 5GHz being usable upstairs. At close range, I recorded 120Mbit/s file transfers on 5GHz and 70Mbit/s on 2.4GHz. At distances where the signal dropped to -60dB, the speeds fell to 35-40Mbit/s for the former, and 20-30Mbit/s for the latter. The router in the WNDRMACv2 was able to handle plenty of simultaneous connections over the gigabit LAN and my 70/10Mbps VDSL2 broadband without choking, which is excellent. The WNDRMACv2 is 'Mac Friendly' in that it supports Time Machine backups and printer sharing via the ReadySHARE feature - which usesApple's Bonjour protocol. Getting the latter feature to work was easy, ditto Time Machine backups to an HFS+ formatted Seagate USB 2.0 external drive that went at a solid 55 to 65Mbit/s on 5GHz.

--_ --PERFORMS WELL: But setup is hard.

--- --_

For Windows content sharing, there's DLNA support with a built-in Media Server. At $319RRP, the WNDRMACv2 is wellperforming router that's a bit too expensive for what it is, and should come with better documentation.
Juha Saarinen

AT A GLANCE
• Good performance and features suited to home or small business • Mac Time Machine backup and printer sharing support • Reasonable set up, but sparse online help

RRPind GST:$319 Contact: netgear.com.au Quick and Mac-friendly, the WNDRMACv2 won't disappoint if you can find It for a good price.

*****

36 pcworld.co.nz April 2012

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Toshiba Satellite Z830
Ultrabook
The Satellite Z830 isToshiba's first Ultrabook, available in New Zealand since October last year. Rather than shamelessly following the design of Apple's MacBook Air, Toshiba has taken a traditional 13.3-inch laptop design and seemingly shaved off every millimetre of dead weight that today's technology would allow. Just 16mm thick and weighing in at an impressively minimall.lkg, the Z830 has the 'portability' part of the Ultrabook equation covered amply. The body is clad in thin magnesium-alloy - attractive, but less solid than the chiselled aluminium unibodies of the Asus Zenbook or Apple MacBookAir. The body of the Z830 flexes easily in your hands, screen in particular. I was able to generate wobbly patches of colour on the screen, even when applying only minimal pressure. It's far from ideal for a laptop designed to be carried anywhere and everywhere. The keyboard seems cramped rather than slimmed down, with awkwardly shallow key travel and flat rectangular keys that seem just a little too widely spaced. It took longer than usual to get to full typing speed, and even then I continued to make lots of mistakes. The touchpad is reliable and accurate, though the click buttons at the bottom are separated from the pad by a wide border and suffer from the same shallow travel as the keyboard keys. Given the sacrifices to structure and usability for the sake of thinness, it's nice to see the inclusion of three USB ports (one of them USB 3.0), full-sized HDMI and VGA outputs, both headphone and microphone sockets, and - unusual from our experience with Ultrabooks - an Ethernet port. Powering the Z830 is an Intel Core i52467M CPU, with 4GB of RAM. Graphics are provided by the processor's on-board Intel HD Graphics 3000 engine, which means no DirectX 11 support for gamers or the graphically-inclined. Storage isa 128GB SSD. Graphical performance closely matches that of the Asus Zenbook, which runs the same engine within a marginally higher-spec CPU. Good enough for basic photo and video work, but not equipped for 3D manipulation or gaming. Overall computing performance almost exactly matches the Acer Aspire 53 Ultrabook we tested in February, as the two share the

- ·n et New&lmpToved S

SATELLITE: Looks like a star, but isn't one.

same CPU. However, in storage-dependent tasks the Toshiba Satellite Z830 comes closer to the likes of the Asus Zenbook or HP Folio 13, which both also use SSD storage (our Aspire 53 featured a mechanical hard drive). In summary, performance is average for the form factor. You can do your office work, resize photographs and watch 1080p video. You can't replace a high-powered desktop, or hope to engage in anything but casual 2D gaming. That's not necessarily a downside; just a reminder of Ultra book capabilities. Battety life is advertised as "up to 8 hours". Our relatively heavy-use 'productivity' test yielded 3 hours, 51 minutes- justa little below the average set by the three Ulrrabooks we've had through our labs in previous months. Under more casual use, with lower brightness settings and Toshiba's power-saving utilities enabled, 7-8 hours is an achievable figure. Is all this worth the $1,999 price tag? If weight and connectivity are your two greatest concerns, yes. If you want something that can take a few hard knocks, or is comfortable to type long documents on, look elsewhere. You'll end up spending less if you do so.
Harley Ogier

AT A GLANCE
• Exceptionally thin and lightweight • Fair balance of battery life and performance • Too much flexibility in the body, especially the lid • Keyboard isoverly shallow and oddly scaled

RRP incl GST: $1,999 Contact:toshiba.co.nz

Beautifully thin, but at too great a cost to structure and comfort.

April2012

pcworld.co.nz

37

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Windows 8
Operating system
The plan was to install Windows 8 Consumer Preview on a touchscreen device and see how easy it is to use fingers to navigate the Metro user interface, but that's not how it worked out. Due to a driver issue, the touchscreen didn't work, so the only option for getting around was mouse and keyboard, which was certainly doable, but revealed that touch is really the way to go with this radically different Microsoft platform. While it is designed to also support mouse and keyboard, Windows 8 is built for touchscreen and is often clunky without it. It remains to be seen whether there will be a professional version of the operating system and how it will differ from the consumer preview, but if mouse and keyboard remain unwieldy that will make it unpopular in businesses. End users learning new ways of performing tasks will present hurdles, as will finding out that some of these new ways take longer than the old ways. Here are some experiences with Windows 8 Consumer Preview that point out a few of these shortcomings. For the purposes of trying it out, Windows 8 was downloaded to an HP TouchSmart 520-1070 desktop. The software wouldn't install directly over Windows 7, although it is designed to do so. So it was installed to a disk partition via an ISO image burned to a DVD. That left the partition without the touchscreen driver, which, when downloaded from HP, wouldn't support Windows 8. That precluded trying to use the touch interface. That issue aside, Windows 8 booted up just fine to a screen that allows a choice between Windows 7 and Windows 8 Consumer Preview, and selecting the latter leads to a screen of a tree in autumn foliage against a blue sky and the date and time in large lettering. Typing Windows Key-C leads to a login screen, then the famous Windows 8 Start screen with 22 live tiles on it. Clicking on the Store tile leads to the Windows Store, a screen that shows a cluster of tiles labelled Spotlight and half a cluster labelled Games. With touch, swiping from right to left would bring more tiles into view. Without touch, dragging a slide across the bottom of the screen from left to right reveals other clusters: Social, Entertainment, Photos, Music & videos, Books & reference, News & weather, Food & dining, Shopping, Travel, Finance, Productivity, Tools and Security. Clearly, this would be much smoother with touch. Without, it's not a big change, except the content is arranged horizontally rather than vertically as it would have been in a traditional Windows layout. Attempts to download DocStoc Premium failed. It is a business application with templates of common documents such as job performance reviews, nondisclosure agreements and lease agreements. After the failure, the app icon had a link marked: "Why didn't this app install?" Clicking on it yielded this: "Something happened and this app couldn't be installed. Please try again." While waiting for that download, returning to the Start screen for more options required running the cursor into the bottom left corner where a mini Start screen pops up. Clicking on it brings up the actual Start screen, and getting to another application requires clicking on it. Alternatively, clicking in the upper left corner brings up a mini image of the last app the user engaged. Dropping the cursor below that image reveals mini images of all the applications that are running in the background. Clicking on them brings up their full screens. With a traditional desktop, switching from application to application would have required clicking the appropriate icon on the task bar. So even after learning how Windows 8 works, this operation is still slower than the Windows 7 method because it requires more clicks to navigate from application to application. For repeated switching back and forth between two particular apps, it's possible to snap one to the right or left side of the screen. To do so, run the cursor to the top of the screen until the hand appears, click and draw it down. The app will shrink and can be slid with the mouse to the right or left side. When it enters the last inch or two before the edge, it morphs to fill the screen from top to bottom but remains just an inch or two wide. Another app can be called up to fill the rest of the screen. To switch back to the app crammed to the side, drag the vertical bar separating the active and waiting apps and
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NEW DESKTOP:Zoom out and view everything. ALL ABOUT APPS: It's not 'software' anymore.

38 pcworld.co.nz

April20l2

g5

·n et New&lmproved

THE TILES ARE LIVE: But is the OS?

SEARCH AND DESTROY: Internet Explorer 10, with Bing.

tug it toward the centre of the screen. The squeezed app will snap to be the active one and dominate the screen, while the other will snap into a narrow column on the other side. Moving on to email, sending messages proved just as easy as with a traditional desktop. Clicking on the Start page Mail tile brought up a Gmail account previously registered, and clicking on a plus sign opened up a clean, full screen form. A 'To' box appeared in the upper left for an email address with a cc: box below it. The rest of the screen was a field for writing the text. At the top of the text space was an area for a subject line. Clicking on an envelope icon in the upper right sent the message. Right-clicking on the text area brings up a toolbar across the bottom of the screen with font choices and styles as well as a pop-up box to set priority, an attachment button and an emoticon button. The downside is that it wasn't apparent how to get to other folders such as Sent, Draft and

Starred. Perhaps this has to do with the beta nature of Windows 8's mail application and its integration with Gmail. There's a set of tools called 'charms' that pop out of the right side of the screen if the cursor is run to the bottom right corner. They are live buttons marked Search, Share, Start, Devices and Settings. Search yields icons for the same set of options that appear on the Start screen. Share gives options for sharing content in the active application. Devices yielded options for a second screen and Settings calls up options for Accounts, Permissions and Rate and Review and others, depending on the active application. Settings also includes icons for Network, sound, notifications and language choice. This is also where the power button is, so it's important to remember how to get to it. It's far from intuitive, and would no doubt be the source of a lot of help-desk calls in a work environment.

All of these could have been reached in Windows 7 via the Start button in some cases with fewer clicks. The Metro Style Internet Explorer that comes with Windows 8 has a very clean look with no bars across the top and the address bar across the bottom. Once that becomes clear to the user, it's actually a better option visually than having it across the top where it acts as a frame for to the page being viewed. The address bar is black and white with just four icons, back, forward, refresh, pin-to-start and tools. The fact that it's dark helps it remain unobtrusive. The scroll wheel still works on the mouse to move the page up and down. The big drawback of Metro Style Internet Explorer 10 is that it doesn't support plug-ins, so an attempt to use YouTube resulted in a message that the browser doesn't support any of the formats that YouTube offers. IE 10 does support HTML5, but YouTube doesn't. The most convenient thing to do is go to the traditional Windows desktop that is an alternative to Windows 8's Metro look by clicking on the Desktop tile on the Start screen and launching a more traditional version of the browser that does accept plug-ins. Overall, Windows 8 represents not just a huge change in the operating system's appearance, but in the way you physically interact with the desktop and applications. From our first impressions, it seems that users without the capability or desire to use touch come second-class to the more handson crowd.
Tim Greene

ATAGLANCE
• Touch works betterthan a mouse • Good luck finding the power off button • Prioritises consumers over business users

Contact: microsoft.co.nz Initial impressions show Windows 8 is very much geared toward touch-screen devices and their hands-on users.

April2012

pcworld.co.nz 39

&beinto lof4Microsoft giftpacks
Make over your workspace!
Thanks to Microsoft, PCWorld has four ultimate gift packs to give away. Each pack contains: • LifeCam Studio • Wireless Comfort Desktop 5000 • ExplorerTouch Mouse Valued at $397
The LifeCam Studio is the perfect tool to provide superior video quality,

The Wireless Comfort Desktop 5000 is the perfect keyboard to provide ultimate ergonomic comfort. The ExplorerTouch mouse will allow you to navigate your PC with ease, allowing you to access what you need with natural gestures instead of clicks.

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Little has been heard or seen of Windows 8 tablets, as yet. PC World finds out where they are and what's to come in the future
THE FINAL VERSION of Windows 8,
the next iteration of Microsoft's operating system, is due to go onsale this year. There's been plenty of news about what features to expect, but few details about the hardware required to run Windows 8 have been forthcoming - specifically in regard to tablets. And that's odd, since Microsoft demonstrated the OS on a Samsung tablet PC at its Build conference last September. We expected January's CES tradeshow to be littered with Windows 8 tablets; it, too, was surprisingly quiet on this front. The same three companies that showed off Windows 8 running on ARM processors at Build were in the mix once more at CES. Nvidia demoed Windows 8 running smoothly on a reference platform, the Qualcomm tablet already seen at Build made a second appearance, and Texas Instruments also displayed a Windows 8 reference platform. A few Chinese manufacturers demonstrated generic tablets running Windows 7, but only one spoke specifically about its Windows 8 plans: Kupa ran the Windows 8 Developer Preview on its XII, a tablet that's currently running Windows 7 on an Intel Atom Z670 processor. It said the XII was Windows 8-ready, thanks to its 1366 x 768-pixel, 16:9 display (which matches Microsoft's optimised target for Windows 8), and a specification in line with the Samsung Series 7 tablet demonstrated by Microsoft at Build. As well as this 1366 x 768-pixel resolution, Microsoft has stated that a tablet PC will require a minimum of 1GB available memory, a nop camera and Direct3D 10 support. Furthermore, all Windows 8 tablets and tablet-laptop hybrids must have at least five hardware buttons, for power, rotation lock, volume up, volume down and a Windows key. Tablets must support five touch points at a time, and include an ambient light sensor (most likely for auro brightness adjustments), a magnetometer (for compass applications), an accelerometer and a gyroscope (for motion controls). Microsoft has not stated minimum processor and system memory requirements, but has said that all Windows 7 machines will be able to run Windows 8. The Windows 8 Developer Preview listed requirements of a IGHz processor, plus either 1GB or 2GB of RAM for 32- and 64-bit systems respectively.

Windows 8 tablets
is encouraging a clean look on tablets that will run the new OS. But it's "been a bit vague so far", he admitted. Fujitsu's Stylistic Q550 tablet runs Windows 7 on an Intel Atom CPU, bur the company plans to roll out some updates to its specification by mid-20l2. It hopes to boost performance for better video playback. "That seems to be the biggest challenge on Atom," Moore said. "And that's the noticeable complaint customers have: the video is a little choppy."

What LO expect:

Wo Id

.n

s

Not ready to talk
Beyond the few demonstrations we've mentioned, few tablet makers were ready to talk abour their Windows 8 plans, nor even to discuss what we might expect to see in that form-factor. Even Samsung had nothing to add to the information we already have. Paul Moore, senior director of product development at Fujitsu, hinted that Microsoft

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The CPU question
It remains unclear as to whether Microsoft will hold any advantages in the tablet market when Windows 8 goes on sale. That's in part because Microsoft hasn't yet clarified if and how existing Windows apps will work on ARM processors. ARM tablets will have a distinct weight, power and potentially price advantage over tablets running x86 processors, which makes the ARM tablet space an intriguing one to watch. Expecting an onslaught of ARM-based tablets, Intel is readying a dual-pronged defence. Its single-core 'Medfield' platform built for Android is expected in the second quarter of this year; while 'Clover Trail', designed specifically for Windows 8, will come later in 2012. Clover Trail will replace the Atom chips used in most Windows 7 tablets available today - only Samsung, with its Core is-based Series 7, has released a Windows tablet that uses the beefier CPU common to laptops.

Always-on operation
Qualcomm demonstrated the second public Windows 8 build of its reference system at CES, this time showing it with the connected standby feature enabled. Connected standby, a state in which the system powers down but can be immediately resumed, will enable Windows 8 tablets to save power and extend battery life. "Microsoft has discussed this new [to its OS] concept of always-on, alwaysconnected. We see this as a marriage of smartphone functionality and computing," said Steve Horton, director of software and product management at Qualcomm. While tablet makers remained tightlipped when asked how ARM platforms will influence their tablet designs, the use of ARM processors will no doubt keep things interesting. In a previous conversation at Build, Horton noted that there's no restriction on ARM tablet designs beyond a 16:9 display. This aspect ratio allows

the display to match the optimal screen size for Windows 8's Metro interface. When asked about Windows 8 tablets running on ARM processors, senior designer Junghwan Hong and principal designer Sangwon Yoon, who were involved in creating the lightweight Samsung Series 9 laptop, shied away from the specifics. They did admit that the prospect of ARM processors presents a new design opportunity and challenge, however. "As designers, we are studying ARM," said Yoon. "We have a lot of different form-factors for ARM devices. ARM has no [cooling] fans, so that's a good feature." Yoon explained one logistical challenge designers are facing: the probable low price of ARM tablets restricts the use of "fancy" materials, yet still the tablet must look good. Without any solid teasers to cling to at CES, 2012 promises to shape into an interesting year for tablets running Microsoft's next operating system.
Melissa Perenson & Jared Newman

Manufacturers will turn their backs on 3D TVs over the coming year. So is 3D just another fad technology?
3D HAS LOST its spark. Few people were interested in the technology at this year's CES IT tradeshow, which took place in January. It's as iflast year's CES, where 3D TVs were all the rage, never happened. So how can it go from darling to dud in one short year? The answer is a combination of things, such as a lack of content, a technology that hasn't evolved fast enough, and the growth of more-compelling HDTV tech. LG, Panasonic, Samsung and Sony will tout new OLED technology over the coming months. They will promote new content-delivery services, TV-based apps and voice commands - though we may not see those in New Zealand for some time - but no 3D TVs. But 3D isn't dead; it's just gone into hibernation. You can expect to see little progress for the technology over the next year or two, but then it'll come back with a vengeance. Here, we'll explain the reasons behind its vanishing act. major consumer electronics brands were able to use their 3D TVs to push sales of 3D cameras, smartphones and tablets. But 3D image quality hasn't improved in that timeframe, hovering around a generally good, but not amazing, level. This makes it hard to sell to new and existing 3D HDTV customers, who have to dig deep into their recession-hit pockets. Unlike with other tech niches, where the chips get faster and the laptops get thinner, in 3D the technology hasn't evolved fast enough to keep consumers interested. If you were one of many who loathed TV makers pushing 3D on you, there was no breakthrough content or technology to make you a convert.

3D TV takes a back seat

The 3D dilemma
For the past two years, 3D technology has been rammed down our throats with varying degrees of success by HDTV makers. For manufacturers, 3D has been a compelling feature on multiple grounds. First, it gave consumers a reason to upgrade their TVs; and second, once TV makers had developed the 3D technology, they were able to add it to their sets at little cost to them and great expense to us. More importantly,

What do you want to watch?
In short, 3D hasn't been an easy sell to consumers, with relatively few buyers proving to be overly enthusiastic about the technology. Consumers ask two

GOGGLE BOX: 3D
TVs still require you to wear special glasses.

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WOW FACTOR: Expect to find more 3D movies at the cinema in 2012, but fewer new 3D TV sets.

questions: "Do I want to watch this show?" and "Do I want to watch this show in 3D?" To which the answers are "Yes" and "I'm not bothered". Practically no-one is excited enough about 3D that they'd watch something they wouldn't normally watch just to get the 3D experience. And not all of us are going to be interested in A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas 3D or the Ultimate Fighting Championship 3D. Still, if you do want to watch what limited 3D programming there is available, then we come to the third question: "Do I like the 3D effect enough to put up with active-shutter or passive 3D glasses?"

Goofy glasses
Both active-shutter and passive 3D glasses technology have stabilised. Passive 3D was big news at CES 2011, and activeshutter the year before that. But it seems as though we'll see mostly incremental updates for the next year or so -lighter glasses, minor advances in image-processing features, and so on. There's much talk of glasses-free 3D displays, but that technology is still best suited for smallscreen devices such as the Nintendo 3DS and phones such as the LG Optimus 3D. The road to progress for 3D is sluggish, and HDTV buyers won't hold off a purchase in order to wait for the next big thing in 3D. production to expand its audience. Sony and Panasonic aren't giving up on 3D over the coming year, but they are less concerned by the technology inside the TVs themselves. In other words, you can expect to see more 3D films at your local cinema. Lenovo reportedly has an Android 4.0-based TV with natural language processing and speech-recognition technology. The pool of potential 3D TV buyers will increase at a slow but steady rate as more 3D content makes its way on to Blu-ray discs, streaming video channels and live broadcasts. For now, though, we're keeping tabs on OLED screens and Sony's Crystal LED technology. Both will improve an HDTV's ability to display 3D, while glasses-free 3D tech will continue to improve as we find ways to solve the viewable-angle problem. We wouldn't be surprised to see a satisfactory glasses-free 3D prototype in 2013, a ridiculously expensive one in 2014, and a reasonably priced one in 2015.
Patrick Miller

Smart TVs in demand
You might have thought internet-connected smart TVs would be the big thing in HDTV over the past two years. Instead, HDTV enthusiasts were saturated with 3D features, whether consumers liked them or not. In 2012, the buzz is expected to surround smart TVs that stream content and have apps. Samsung and LG are promoting smart TVs that run gaming apps and connect to movie-streaming services.

Content conundrum
Content is also holding back the technology. If the TV industry wants to sell more 3D sets, glasses and Blu-ray players, the lack of available content must first be addressed. Companies such as Samsung and LG can't do much to fix this problem - they're tech manufacturers, not entertainment producers. Instead, their focus is on forthcoming OLED technologies, apps and services. Sony and Panasonic, however, dip their toes in both entertainment and tech. Sony has the PlayStation 3, which supports 3D gaming. Sony also has a massive presence in the film and music industries. Panasonic is deeply entrenched in Hollywood and provides many of the professional-grade cameras used to make 3D films and sports broadcasts. It can drive more 3D content

BIG PICTURE: LG's smart TVs include 3D but are more concerned with apps.
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via Prezi Meeting. When it's time to give the presentation, you can play the show online (it's Flash-based) or download a .zip file, extract it, and play it locally using the included prezi.exe file. Signing up for the pro version ofPrezi (US$159 a year) entitles you to download Prezi Desktop, and you work on presentations locally.
prezi.com

.net

as the software you run on it, so you should keep your PC's software current and not necessarily with the latest version of a program that's getting long in the tooth. Sometimes, switching to a new application can help you speed up your work or make your system more efficient.
PC WORLD EXAMINED software tools for handling 11 categories of common (and essential) PC tasks: presentations, financial planning, note taking, file management, photo editing, email, word processing, music organising, remote access, cleanup/ optimisation, and backup. In each instance, we identified the dominant program, a promising challenger, and (where applicable) an online alternative. Our category coverage invites you to consider the pros and cons of each type of contender: incumbents, up-and-comers, and web apps. (available as a component of various Microsoft Office bundles or separately for $200). The application is so dominant that the phrase "send me the PowerPoint" has become ubiquitous in business circles.
microsoft.com/powerpoint

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• Web app: Transmedia Glide Presenter Part of the browser-based Glide desktop operating system (free with 30GB of storage, or $50 a year with 250GB), Glide Presenter works in a slide-by-slide format. It's easy to use, and you can export creations as PowerPoint files or PDF files. You can stream audio and video in presentations, and create presentations collaboratively.
transmediacorp.com

Presentations
• Incumbent: Microsoft PowerPoint The 600-pound gorilla in the world of presentations is Microsoft's PowerPoint

• Up-and-comer: Prezi Easily the most interesting alternative to PowerPoint, Prezi has both local and online components. The free, public (and web-only) version lets you create arguably better presentations than PowerPoint can deliver. Instead of being slide-based, Prezi uses a single-pane approach. The process may seem strange at first, but Prezi's tutorials and inline help will get you up to speed in a hurry. Prezi is collaborative, so multiple users can work on the same presentation simultaneously

Financial planning
• Incumbent: Quicken Quicken (starts at $35) is desktop software and is the go-to resource for budgeting.
quicken.com

• Up-and-comer: You Need A Budget Part budgeting tutorial and part money management guide, this intuitive program walks you through setup and fund allocation, helping you add accounts and project spending in dozens of categories. YNAB then maintains a running tab of

Prezi's single-pane approach to creating presentations can take some getting used to, but the finished results can be remarkably effective.

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your spending, with graphs that illustrate how much you've spent over the months and how your net worth has progressed. Security-conscious users will appreciate that YNAB can't automatically download activity from your bank account. You can import OFX, QFX, and QIF files into the ledger, but YNAB encourages selfreporting because that approach forces you to think more concretely about your spending habits. You can try out You Need A Budget for free, but it costs US$60 ($73) to keep. The price of admission also buys you entry into YNAB forums and financial-planning classes, where you can glean advice from experts.
youneedabudget.com

information organising, Evernote (free) keeps coming up with ways to make the data you need easier to keep track of Its latest iOS apps, EvernoteHello and EvernoteFood, are designed to keep records on all of the people you meet and all of the food you eat.
evernote.com

way as Dropbox, but with a clear notebook and to-do list function. You can also check out files that your Springpad-using friends unlock, making it an easy way to share videos and create collaborative lists.
springpad.com

• Web app: Hello Wallet If you need to balance your books but you have trouble finding time to record everything you earn and spend, try Hello Wallet. This free app syncs with online accounts and lets you flag spending as 'wish I hadn't', 'glad I did', 'had to', and so forth, so that you can identify expenditures to eliminate in the future. The site walks you through budget setup and notes how much, on average, other people in your city with your income spend in each expense category.
hellowallet.com

• Up-and-comer: Microsoft OneNote Microsoft's note-taking program comes bundled with the most basic version of Microsoft Office (it costs $125 when purchased by itself), and it's easily the most overlooked program in the 2010 Office Suite. That's too bad, because this little notepad makes capturing your thoughts incredibly easy. Press <Windows>-S to capture any portion of your computer screen and automatically drop the image into your notebook. It's a great way to generate web clippings if you're shopping around for something. Also, you can click anywhere in the notebook and start typing, so your notes have more visual appeal than a simple list might have.
microsoft.com/onenote

File management
• Incumbent: Microsoft Windows Explorer The file management utility that comes preloaded on all Windows PCs does an adequate job, and most people tend to overlook it. Generally it loads quickly if you're searching for local files (network searches are a different story, though); and in Windows 7, right-clicking any file allows you to perform a multitude of actions, depending on what other programs you've downloaded to your computer. Overall, Windows Explorer is easy to use and intuitive - but it isn't always for everyone.
windows. com

Note taking
• Incumbent: Evernote A multipurpose tool for note taking, note syncing, offline bookmark creation, and

• Web app: Spring pad Some people believe that note taking works better online, because syncing is faster, notes don't take up local storage space, and sharing is easier. To exploit these advantages, Springpad's free web service and mobile apps let you add not just notes but also links, photos, videos, and files to your box of 'stuff' - in much the same

• Up-and-comer: CodePlex Better Explorer Maintained by CodePlex, an open-source software development community, Better Explorer (aka BExplorer) looks and behaves the way Windows Explorer will in Windows 8 - except that it runs in Windows 7. At the top of the file-finder window, Better Explorer adds options that behave much as the Ribbon at the top of Microsoft Word's newest layout does, letting you more easily arrange, copy, move, and delete files. The

April2012

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Even though it operates entirely within a browser window, Pixlr provides a surprisingly strong array of well-designed and artistically appealing photo-editing tools.

free tool also has a button for accessing a file's properties when you're using a device (such as a tablet) that doesn't support rightclicking. Best of all, you can view folders in tabs at the top of the window, so you can see multiple folders at once without getting lost. bexplorer.codeplex.com

Photo editing
• Incumbent: Adobe Photoshop The de facto standard for photo editing, Photoshop starts at A$l,OOO ($1,280) and remains in a class by itself, with a vast array of tools and plug-ins, plus an unparalleled ability to automate repetitive tasks. The free, almost-aspowerful alternative (if you can live with a slightly clunky interface) is GIMP - the GNU Image Manipulation Program. adobe.com gimp.org • Up-and-comer: CyberLink PhotoDirector CyberLink may be best known for its video-editing and disc-burning software, but it has put a lot of its tech prowess into an independent photo-editing program called PhotoDirector. The program is

a combination librarian, editor, and slideshow creator, with good import capabilities. PhotoDirector's powerful editing and tweaking controls are easy to use, and they're readily available on a scrolling pane to the left of the main window. Compared to programs where you must endlessly open dialog boxes, windows, or panes to apply settings, it's a joy to use. PhotoDirector provides numerous presets for users who want to get creative, and the company's online DirectorZone lets you share those presets and explore presets made by others. You can post photos on Flickr and slideshows on YouTube from within the program. At $200, PhotoDirector is a bit pricier than some of the low-end competition, but the time that you'll save by working with its interface makes it well worth the price. cyberlink.com • Web app: Pixlr The free Pixlr is like a superclean online version of Photos hop; and considering that it operates within a browser window, the software is amazingly robust. Pixlr's various tools have a distinctly artistic bent. For instance, the pencil tool

simulates using the tip or edge of a pencil, depending on how you move the cursor. The software also comes with excellent filters galore. Your first impression is likely to be, "Is this really free?" pixlr.com

Email
• Incumbent: Microsoft Outlook Seamless support for Microsoft Exchange and integrated calendaring functions explain the dominance of Outlook (available in assorted Microsoft Office bundles, or separately for $200) in the business email market. Mozilla Thunderbird is a venerable free downloadable alternative that handles multiple accounts, though it doesn't offer Exchange support. microsoft.com/outlook getthunderbird.com • Up-and-comer: eM Client Though it supports only IMAP and POP accounts, eM client is in other respects a virtual clone of Outlook. Besides being able to handle multiple accounts with ease (in some ways it manages this task better than Outlook does), eM offers junk mail

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control, task management, calendaring functions, and contact management. It even imports data from Outlook and syncs seamlessly with Gmail. In addition, eM Client works with various flavours of instant messaging, including Facebook and Skype. In lieu of Exchange, eM Client relies on its own Sync2eM service, which works just like Exchange. At $20 a year, it costs much less than hosted Exchange does, with clients for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone 7 devices. For nonbusiness use, eM Client is free, but you're limited to two accounts unless you buy the $50 Pro version. Still, even that option is a bargain compared to Outlook.
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start up. It costs an arm and a leg, whether you get it in an Office suite or buy it separately, but it's the word processor that people are most familiar with, so you'll probably never get lost when using it.
microsoft.com/word

• Web app: Google Gmail The free Gmaillets you compose, read, and organise email from any internet-capable device in existence. A Google account comes with Calendar and Chat functions, as well as access to Google Docs, where you can share and collaborate on documents.
gmail.com

Word processing
• Incumbent: Microsoft Word The most widely used word processing software around, Word (available in various Microsoft Office bundles or separately for $200) is huge and can take forever to

• Up-and-comer: Pomarancha WriteMonkey Though it can save what you write only as .txt files, this free word processor clears away distractions so you can focus on writing your words down - and worry about presentation later. Part of the 'zenware' software movement, WriteMonkey is designed to occupy your whole screen, without toolbars or spelling-check lines. The program is compact, and there's no installation process. Just download the zip file from the WriteMonkeywebsite, unzip the file, and run the application. Because it consumes little space, you can take the software with you on a USB drive and use it on different computers. Despite the absence of a toolbar, you can change your preferences, run a spelling check, and look up words in your text, with the help of reference websites such as reference.com and urbandictionary.com.

Why desktop software is stiLL vitaL
ONLINE APPS MAKE sense for a lot of people these days, but sometimes desktop software is essential. Here are five advantages of such apps. Even a seemingly stable company may fold, or change its privacy standards. For important documents, family photos, and business presentations, you may want to use desktop software to ensure that the preservation and confidentiality of that content don't depend on an outside company's good behavior. If your internet connection goes down, or if you can't pick up a wireless signal on the road, you need on-board software to stay productive. Conveniently, many tools offer a sync button so your online database can catch up with your offline database when you reconnect. Web services are sometimes agonisingly slow. Though offline programs may feel sluggish, too, you can take steps to speed them up. Online, you're powerless. Web services can't keep your system up and running the way local file management and cleanup utilities can. Web-based photo editors are improving, but editing video from a browser is still next to impossible. The better way is to use the resources of your own PC.

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Songbird offers an app or a desktop version, for those without iOS.

You can mark up font styles (bold, italic, and underlined) real formatting featured without writemonkey.com in the text that will become when you export or print manages to be full being bloated or distracting.

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the file. WriteMonkey

• Up-and-comer: Songbird
If you don't use an iOS device, consider moving to Songbird. organiser's ofiTunes. proprietary navigation This attractive largely mimics that can sync

• Web app: Zoho Writer
Google Docs isn't always intuitive; and if your office happens to use it, your personal documents can get buried in an avalanche of spam. (Also, storing your servers is the very all of your eggs in shared-document

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lets you edit track information various add-ens developers written

email, your calendar, and your documents on a single company's definition of putting

• Web app: jOin.me
For occasional Join.me TeamViewer, use within a browser, is an even simpler option than since using it doesn't even software. Simply click, send

for such things as social

media communication,

one basker.) In contrast, Zoho Writer is a 'what you see is what you get' text editor that closely resembles an older version of Microsoft documents Word. You can store and share online, and toggle between by using the tabs at

tab music for your songs, and access to Last.fm and the 7digital music store. getsongbird.com

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Remote access
• Incumbent: Citrix GoToMyPC
Install this program and then let it sit waiting for system via the quietly in the background, you to log on from another company's

you want to share your screen with, and have that person enter it at join.me to attend ad hoc web presentations. me is part ofLogMeIn's http://join.me clicking. You can also invite multiple users family of services.

the top. Zoho Writer remains in beta despite having been around since 2005, so the service is unlikely to see an update anytime soon. Zoho Writer is a good cloud-based alternative to Google Docs - and to costly software. and weighty word-processing writer.zoho.com

online portal. GoToMyPC

works well and is available for subscription prices as low as US$1O ($12) per month, or US$99 ($120) per year. gotomypc.com

Cleanup/optimisation
• Incumbent: Piriform CCleaner
A longtime standard programs, for optimising PCs, the lightweight CCleaner helps you remove unnecessary clear cookies from similar tasks. This

Music organising
• Incumbent: Apple iTunes
The heavyweight music organiser is free and capable, and it makes syncing tunes to iOS and Windows Phone 7 devices a breeze. But its interface can drive

• Up-and-comer: TeamViewer
Very fast, and free for noncommercial TeamViewer connection can be configured to your desktop; in the background use, to sit ready

your browsers, tidy your system's Windows Registry, and perform ccleaner.com utility is free, solid, and time-tested.

for an always-available or you can uses

simply run it as needed. The program

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• Up-and-comer: Slimware SlimCleaner SlimWare Utilities just released version 2.0 of SlimCleaner (free) last fall, and the app is looking better than ever. It provides colour-coded and graphic descriptions of what's on your computer, all the way down to CPU and RAM dials that tell you how much of each you're using. Tabs on the left side toggle between different SlimCleaner functions - the desktop cleaner, the optimisation tool, the uninstaller, and so forth. SlimCleaner also assigns ratings (ranging from Unnecessary to Good) to most of the programs, apps, and files on your computer. It draws these ratings from reviews that other users have posted, and from SlimCleaner's own proprietary antivirus scanner. In our tests, the ratings were fairly accurate, and they certainly simplified decisions about which files to keep and which ones to delete - no Google searches necessary. If you want to delete files permanently, Slim Cleaner offers the same levels of overwriting or 'shredding' - that CCleaner does, though in slightly snazzier fashion. sllrnoleaner.corn

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Backup
• Incumbent: Acronis True Image Although this $80 mainstay among consumer PC backup programs has many worthy competitors, it combines drive imaging, file and folder backup, and disaster recovery in a very professional package.
acronis.corn

images as virtual drives, scheduling, and a lot more. Todo Backup's interface is a tad obtuse at times, but even the least technical user should be able to set up a backup without much fuss. The software provides full disaster-recovery features, including a Windows PE-based recovery boot disc. And unlike many for-pay competitors, it also supports Windows Dynamic disks and RAID.
easeus.corn

• Up-and-comer: Easeus Todo Backup Free Honestly, you don't need to pay a dime to get a capable backup program. Easeus Todo Backup Free is a sterling backup suite that provides 90% of what you'd get with pay software - drive imaging, file and folder backup, mounting of backup

• Web app: Crash Plan Graced with an elegant interface, this program backs up to a local destination as well as online, and it carries an extremely competitive price - US$SO ($60) a year for unlimited backup. You can even let friends back up to your account. Combine that Hexibiliry with clients for Windows, Mac, Linux, and even iOS and Android mobile devices, and you have a winning service. You'll like its style. pew
crashplan.corn

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PC World's desktops guru picks the best components for outfitting your tailor-made computer, whether you're on a budget or the sky's the limit

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CPU: THE BRAINS
In your search for hardware, start with the CPU. It can influence many other choices you make, such as finding a compatible motherboard, CPU cooler, or power supply
INTEL CORE IS-2S00K (S295, pictured below) Though the 3.3GHz Core i5-2500K is a quad-core processor, it lacks Intel's hyperthreading technology, so you won't expect from see the eight virtual cores that you can otherwise which automatically applications INTEL CORE 17-2600K (S436)

If you're building a PC for gaming,
video editing, or other CPUintensive tasks, we recommend going with the highest (reasonable) entry in Intel's Sandy Bridge line, the 3.4GHz Core i7-2600K. This quad-core processor is equipped with Intel's hyperthreading technology, which provides eight virtual threads for your applications to play with. The CPU includes Intel's Turbo Boost and integrated graphics technologies, as well. If your work (or play) is graphically intensive, however, it remains in your best interest to buy and install a proper discrete graphics card, even with a CPU this formidable.

Intel's quad-core wares. It does offer Intel's Turbo Boost, overclocks the processor to 3.7GHz when demand it,

provided that the CPU hasn't hit its maximum heat and power thresholds. You'll also get Intel's integrated graphics, which have greatly improved in the Sandy Bridge era. You could spend less on another Intel CPU, such as the S164 3.1GHz Intel Core i3-2100. But ultimately the Core i5-2500K will net you superior performance to be overclocked, and improve the longevity of your (You want to is a nice PC. The K on the model number means it's unlocked and ready if you're feeling adventurous. build a PC that will last a long time, and overclocking Take a look at the Core i7-3930K, Intel's

Have plenty of room in your performance-PC

budget?

new Sandy Bridge

Extreme Edition six-core processor. With hyperthreading, this CPU offers 12 virtual cores, and it delivers incomparable levels of performance. Note, though, that it's priced at S900 supporting the X79 chipset. - which puts it out of the reach of most mortals - and that it requ ires a motherboard

way to eke out a bit more power a few years from now, if you're careful.) The 2500K costs just S15 more than the standard locked CPU, however; if you have no intention of ever dabbling with your processor's frequencies, that's money you can save.

AMD FX-81S0 (S350, pictured above) If you prefer to stay on AMD FX-4100 (S171) To save cash, you could choose AMO's side, check out the FX-8150. Although this processor currently resides at the top of the company's much anticipated the Intel however, Bulldozer line, in most situations it barely outperforms Core i5-2500K. It's very friendly to overclockers, allowing you to make substantial CPU frequency gains the new 3.6GHz FX-4100. This quad-core CPU sits at the bottom of AMO's recently launched Bulldozer line. It offers AMO's Turbo Core technology, which follows the same principles as Intel's Turbo Boost: When your CPU has a bit of thermal headroom, it will automatically up to 3.8GHz, to give applications with overclocking overclock a bit more oomph. CPU usage, but

without stressing your machine's CPU cooler extensively. Why choose an AMO processor if you're not planning to overclock? The FX-8150's price has fallen considerably funds to save, or to splurge on pricier components since it launched, so buying this CPU would leave you with extra elsewhere. tend And if you shop judiciously, AMO-ready motherboards to be a bit less expensive than their Intel counterparts.

The FX-4100 is unlocked. The Bulldozer line is generous too; you can expect substantial frequency gains with minimal effort. In real-world

this CPU isn't nearly as fast as Intel's Core i5-2500K,

given that it's half the price, you probably expected that.

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GRAPHICS CARD: THE BRAWN
A graphics card can speed up many common tasks, whether you're touching up vacation photos or compressing videos. And it will make all the difference on new games
AMD RADEON HD 6850 ($230) Adding a discrete graphics card to your machine is a simpLe way to enhance its performance. card's flexibility Graphics cards aren't and features are more important to you. mereLy about power, however - you might discover that a NVIDIA GEFORCE GTX 570 ($540) Cream-of-thecrop graphics cards wiLLcost you upwards of $500 each, and modeLs at the highest end remain difficuLt to find due to suppLy constraints. the Nvidia GeForce GTX 570, a mainstream card. So we're going to keep things sensibLe here, and recommend The GTX 570's main advantage is sheer power. For exampLe, in Dirt 2, it posted an average frame rate of 99 frames per second, a significant improvement over our budget choice. And in our test using the shooter Crysis 2 at a resoLution of 1920 by 1200 with 4x antiaLiasing, the GTX too. 570 reached 42.6 fps, noticeabLy higher than the 34.8-fps rate of a direct competitor, the AMD Radeon HD 6970. Beyond that, though, the GTX 570 is a bit Less featurefiLLedthan the HD 6850. For instance, if you want to run three dispLays simuLtaneousLy, you'll need to buy a second graphics card. Nvidia's dispLay options on this board are Limited compared to AMD's, as weLL,consisting of just two DVI connectors and a Mini HDMI connector. On the pLus side, the GTX 570 supports 3D Vision, Nvidia's 3D technoLogy. 3D Vision has been on the market for years now, and as a resuLt you can find a sLew of monitors and games that support it.

If you're buiLding a budget system, we recommend the
AMD Radeon HD 6850. This card doesn't break records, but the price is fair, and the performance is strong: In our tests using the raLLyracer Dirt 2, it pumped out an average of 40 frames per second when we ran it at 1920 by 1200-pixeL resoLution, at maximum settings. The HD 6850 has treats in store for non-gamers, AMD's Eyefinity DispLay technoLogy Lets you drive up to three dispLays from one card. The board has two mini-DispLayPort connectors, two DVI ports, and an HDMI connector, which Leaves you pLenty of options when you're shopping for a monitor. And the card supports AMD's HD3D, for fully hardware-acceLerated 3D pLayback, including 3D BLu-ray. that supports integrated However, if none of those features interest you, and if you've picked a motherboard graphics, feeL free to skip the discrete graphics card entireLy, or to choose a Less-expensive option.

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CASE: THE SHELL
Selecting a case is a personal decision, but keep size and port layout in mind. While a smaller chassis will work almost anywhere, some components simply won't fit inside
FRACTAL DEFINE R3 (SI90) For a budget PC, I recommend the FractaL Define R3. At just wide, it's spacious, You can find cheaper cases, but the Define R3 is weLLworth the investment. over 43 centimetres taLLand 20 centimetres just shy of 71 centimetres COOLER MASTER COSMOS II (S670) The CooLer Master Cosmos II is unquestionabLy big. This imposing performance-PC chassis measures taLLand 34 centimetres

but not dauntingLy so. On the face of the chassis are audio I/O ports, two USB 2.0 ports, and a USB 3.0 port - a nice touch. The internaL Layout is simpLe: it has a pair of 5.25-inch drive bays, eight hard-drive bays, and a wide cavity that's roomy enough for aLLbut the Largest graphics cards. OnLy the dearth of 5.25-inch drive bays might be troubLesome, particuLarLy if you'd Like to install extra opticaL drives or a card reader. The design of the internaL space is an important overLooked consideration but oftwhen shoppers pick a case. The

wide, and it weighs a hefty 22 kiLograms, empty. Easy access to the essentiaL ports around your computer is instrumentaL on a case this massive, and the Cosmos

II does its best to compensate for its girth: a paneL
on the front provides four USB 2.0 ports, a pair of USB 3.0 ports, an eSATA port, and audio I/O ports. Inside the Cosmos II, you'll discover three 5.25-inch drive bays, as weLLas a staggering 13 3.5-inch drive bays - with this case, you wiLLnever want for storage. Two of the drives are hot-swappabLe, and can be Locked down with keys. The Cosmos II is a bit busy inside, with fan-Lined compartments dividing the chassis into sections to maximise money can hoLding neat. the cooling potential. You'll stiLLfind pLenty of room for the Largest graphics cards and motherboards wires out of the way and keeping everything buy, however, with the included rubber grommets

Define R3's interior dispenses with awkward metaL bars, giving you free rein whiLe you're tinkering. Rubber grommets heLp to optimise cabLe management, Letting you snake wires And out of the way; using them may increase setup time, but you'LLenjoy better airflow and a neater presentation. seven fan sLots are scattered about, prefitted with a noise-

dampening fiLter shouLd you prefer the siLent treatment.

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MOTHERBOARD: THE SPINE
Support for USB 3.0 is a must. Also, 6Gbps SATA ports support faster data-transfer rates on newer hard drives and SSDs, and offer room for attaching more devices
INTEL: ASROCK P67 PRO (S200) If you're using a Sandy Bridge CPU such as the Core i5-2500K or Core i7-2600K, you'LLneed a motherboard with the 1155 Socket. computer, we recommend is buiLt on the P67 For a budget Sandy Bridge-based INTEL: ASUS P8Z68-V GEN3 (S340) For a highperformance PC, seLect a board with at Least one PCI -Express 3.0 sLot. Currently, not too many products take advantage of PCI-E 3.0's extra bandwidth, but you'll want the capability in the future. Our choice is the Asus P8Z68-V PRO/GEN3. It's buiLt on the new Z68 chipset, which essentiaLLy combines the P6l's overcLocking support and the H61's integrated-graphics support. On top of that, the chipset supports InteL's Smart Response technoLogy, which Lets you section off part of an SSD to serve as a cache for a hard drive, speeding up performance. This motherboard has four DIMM sLots for up to 32GB of RAM, and it supports overcLocked RAM at speeds up to 2200MHz. NotabLe features include two PCI Express 3.0 x16 sLots; four 6Gbps SATA ports and four 3Gbps SATA ports; two USB 3.0 ports; and six USB 2.0 ports. Among our favourite features are the buiLt-in power and reset switches, which are heLpfuL for troubLeshooting when you're tinkering inside the PC. PROf

the AS Rock P67 Pro. This motherboard

chipset, which takes advantage of the overcLocking potentiaL of the unLocked Core i5-2500K, but doesn't support the CPU's integrated-graphics to seLect a motherboard This motherboard features. (If you'd rather not with the H61 chipset instead.) have a graphics card but want to keep costs Low, you'LL need offers four DIMM sLots to accommodate

a maximum of 32GB of RAM, and it supports overcLocked RAM at speeds up to 2133MHz. You'LLaLso find a pair of 6Gbps SATA ports, as weLLas four 3Gbps SATA ports. The AS Rock P67 Pro supplies six USB 2.0 ports and two USB 3.0 ports, as weLL,but onLy a singLe PCI Express 2.0 x16 sLot; this arrangement Limits you to one graphics card, but that shouLd suffice for a budget PC. AMD: GIGABYTE GA-970A-D3 (S160, pictured above) motherboards with

AMD: ASUS CROSSHAIR V FORMULA (S429, pictured above) You can find Lots of options for high-end PCs buiLt on AMD CPUs, but we Likethe V FormuLa. It too packs four DIMM sLots for up to 32GB of RAM, and it supports memory overcLocked to speeds of up to 2133MHz. You get six 6Gbps SATA ports, 12 USB 2.0 ports, and six USB 3.0 ports. This board adds a third PCI-E 2.0 sLot; the sLots support x16 data-transfer but the board throttles Lanes, power down to x8 Lanes when two or

For systems using AMD processors, GA-970A-D3

the AM3+ socket are the way to go. ALthough the Gigabyte is inexpensive, this motherboard doesn't scrimp on features. BuiLt on the AM3+ socket, the GA-970A-D3 offers four DIMM sLots to hoLd up to 32GB of RAM, with support for memory overcLocked to speeds of up to 2000MHz. It aLso provides a pair of PCI-E 2.0 x16 sLots, six 6Gbps SATA ports, eight USB 2.0 ports, and two USB 3.0 ports. For just S160, you're getting an excellent package here.

more graphics cards are instaLLed. You can use that third sLot for a third graphics card, a Wi-Fi adapter, or a TV-tuner card.

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POWER SUPPLY: THE HEART
Power supplies are tricky. If your budget is limited, you can save a pretty penny by choosing a low-voltage power supply - but in doing so you limit your upgrade options
ENERMAX NAXN ENP450AST ($74) If COOLER MASTER SILENT PRO RSAOO-AMBAJ3US ($390) The 1000W Cooler Master Silent Pro is modular: since its cables are detachable, you connect only the ones you need, which can go a long way toward preventing internal cable clutter. Certified as SO Plus Bronze, the Silent Pro is at least S2% power efficient. That means you can expect roughly SODof the 1000 watts it draws to feed directly into your PC, so they aren't wasted. Efficient power supplies are generally quieter, too, carrying large fans (like the one on this model). And the Silent Pro is SLI Ready, meaning it will deliver enough power to run two Nvidia or AMD graphics cards in tandem. you're assembling a budget machine, we

suggest installing the Enermax NAXN ENP450AST. As the device's model number implies, this product is a 450W power supply, so it's comfortably capable of running a fairly heavy-duty system - one equipped with several hard drives as well as a lower-end graphics card. This power supply holds a pair of 12V power rails. Most of the more substantial components inside your computer will draw power from a 12V rail; the graphics card is the most notable example. Multiple 12V power rails have become increasingly common in recent years, and having more than one in a power supply offers you a little more flexibility.

RAM: THE PULSE
Here's an easy one: since RAM has become incredibly cheap, you have little reason not to grab a hefty amount
G SKILL RIPJAWS 1600MHZ The modules themselves that is). More important, to minimise multitasking DDR3, 8GB ($S3) The G Skill Ripjaws are speedy, and equipped with heat spreaders to regulate temperatures. happen to look great, too (if RAM turns you on, you can find SGB of this memory for as little as bottlenecks, this choice of RAM is a steal.

$S3. Faster RAM is available on the market, but if you're simply looking

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STORAGE: THE STOMACH
Your data and programs need a home. But bigger isn't necessarily better: Solid-state drives have decidedly smaller capacities, yet offer a noticeable bump in performance
WESTERN DIGITAL CAVIAR BLUE ITB ($140) FLooding in ThaiLand has made storage expensive. Even so, fiLes still need to be stored, and the devices uncharacteristicaLLy lTB Western DigitaL Caviar BLue hard drive is spacious and (reLativeLy) speedy. At lTB, the Western DigitaL Caviar BLue hits our bare minimum for totaL storage capacity. You'll have room for gobs of music, photos, and movies, as weLLas space for any applications you'll install aLong the way. It's a 7200RPM drive, and it uses the 6Gbps SATA interface - it's nowhere near as fast as an SSD, but it's a Lot cheaper per gigabyte. If you need more space, Larger 2TB or 3TB 7200RPM drives are on the market.

SOLID-STATE:

CRUCIAL M4 64GB ($160)

SOLID-STATE:

SAMSUNG SSD

Though SSDs are stiLLnot as inexpensive as we'd Like,they've come a Long way LateLy. A drive as smaLLas the CruciaL M4 64GB shouLd be reserved for Windows and important applications; with few competitors a lTB storage drive (see above) wiLLbe the main repository for your data, but this SSD will add pep to your workflow. This year wiLLsee more inexpensive SSD options. Companies such as Corsair have announced smaLL,affordabLe drives that wiLLanaLyse your computer frequently usage and store used programs and fiLes so your PC can access

830 SERIES 128GB ($350) The Samsung SSD 830 Series modeLs offer blistering speeds, avaiLabLe. But paying for a big SSD remains a daunting prospect, since 128GB of space for $350 just feeLs wrong, no matter how fast that storage is. MiserLy misgivings aside, the 830 Series won't disappoint. Samsung says each drive offers data read speeds of up to 520MB per second, and write speeds of 400MBit/s. (The lTB storage drive above operates at a reLativeLy poky 126MBit/s.) An SSD is quieter than a traditionaL hard drive - siLent, actuaLLy. And an SSD wiLLimprove boot time, enhance filetransfer and search speed, and reduce Load times in applications and games. It's a gift that wiLLkeep on giving, and it shouLd prove weLLworth the cost. You'LLstiLLwant to use a Large storage drive for your fiLes, but applications wiLLsoar on a fast SSD.

them more quickLy. We've seen iterations of this idea most recently with InteL's Smart Response technoLogy, which Lets you dedicate an SSD (or a portion of it) as a memory cache. And we can't forget Windows Vista's ReadyBoost, which never really took off. The idea is sound, however - and if SSD prices drop, it couLd be a great addition to an inexpensive PC.

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OPTICAL DRIVE: THE APPENDIX
I f you want to install disc-based programs or watch Blu-rays and DVDs on your PC, grab an optical drive. They're inexpensive, and prices for blank discs have dropped too
SAMSUNG the primary internet component. BD-ROM SH-B123L means of getting ($130) Though an optical drive was once and media onto a PC, broadband however, this Samsung center, but software

and streaming

services have largely replaced this vestigial

For accessing disc-based content,

drive is a great choice. It burns DVDs and CDs, and it can play Blu-ray Discs.

A Blu-ray player would be better off in your entertainment
having one at your desk won't hurt.

CPU COOLER: THE LUNGS
The CPU cooler is something of an unsung hero. Its job - keeping your processor from overheating - is obvious, but its importance goes largely unrecognised
AIR: COOLER MASTER HYPER 212 PLUS (S60) TypicaLLy AMO and Intel package a CPU cooler when you purchase a processor in a box. Overall, these stock fans do a fine job, but they are noisy. And you certainly wouldn't want to attempt overclocking a processor that has just a stock cooler - they simply aren't large enough to handle the task. LIQUID: CORSAIR HYDRO SERIES HOD (SI70) Installing liquid cooling once required cut tubes, reservoirs, and pumps. That's still the case at the advanced end, but enclosed products now integrate the pump, reservoir, and fan into a single piece. The Hydro Series H80, for example, consists of a radiator, a cold plate, and two connecting tubes. Thermally conductive fluid runs in the tubes; the cold plate mounts onto the CPU, and heat transfers from the CPU into the cooling fluid. The fluid flows from the cold plate to the radiator, where the heat transfers away, blown out of the case by fans. when Compared with air cooling, a liquid product offers greater cooling potential with less noise, a boon for overclockers who don't want a jet engine sitting under their desk. If you aren't interested in overclocking, you can buy a slightly less expensive liquid cooler that wiLLstiLLmake your PC significantly quieter. The H80 comes with mounting brackets for most modern CPUs. Its radiator is thick, and it fits standard 120mm fans you can instaLL it almost anywhere in your case, in minutes.

If you want to use a traditional air cooler, we recommend the
Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus. It's inexpensive, yet it doesn't sacrifice on build quality or construction. You'LLbe able to find variants that fit both Intel and AMO CPUs; just check the product description The Hyper 212 Plus delivers on aLL counts. Copper pipes transfer heat from the processor up to the aluminum fins, and the 120mm fan circulates that warm air out into the case. It won't be the quietest option, but that larger fan wiLLbeat the stock AMO or Intel heat sink handily, and the improved cooling capability leaves your system with a bit of thermal headroom, if you'd like to experiment with some overclocking later on. you're shopping around.

pew

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g5

.net

Howwetest
WE TESTED EACH keyboard and mouse on a Windows 7 PC using the latest versions of any official drivers or companion software. We assessed typing speed using the online typing test at lOfastfingers.com and it also gave us an idea of the learning curve involved for each keyboard. Each 'desktop', or combination of keyboard and mouse, was scored together on style, comfort and gaming.

Style

Subjective as it is, we couldn't look at the most prominent of desktop accessories without considering style. Here your opinions may differ from ours, but we've also factored in more objective assessments of build and material quality.

Gaming
Not every PC user is a hardcore gamer, and not every keyboard or mouse is made with such garners in mind. Here we looked at gaming functionality. We looked for gaming-friendly features such as programmable macro buttons, fast keyboard and mouse response and anti-ghosting technology, among others.

Comfort
When assessing comfort, we focused on high-speed typing and day-to-day mouse work; not heavy gaming. Wrist support, a comfortable keystroke for keyboards and good button position for mouses all factored in .

••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

Microsoft Wired Desktop 600
MICROSOFT'S WIRED DESKTOP 600 is the most basic of peripheral packages the company produces. It consists of the cheerfully named Microsoft Wired Keyboard 600, and Microsoft Basic Optical Mouse; both are USBconnected. For less than the cost of a family night at the movies, it's really not a bad setup for an office or home Pc. The keyboard uses a standard 104-key US layout with number pad, and has adjustable feet (up or down). The only extras are a dedicated key for Windows Calculator and four media buttons - play/ pause, volume up and down, and mute. The keys have good travel, and are comfortable to type on for lengthy periods and at speed. Typing produces fairly little noise: good for a shared office or living room. The only downside is a row of undersized function keys that lack the travel felt across the rest of the board. Shortcut-key-jockeys and garners beware. The Basic Optical Mouse is just that; it has two buttons, and a scroll wheel that functions - a little awkwardlyas a third. Solid construction makes it comfortable to hold, but there's really no weight or precision to it. It's not great for designers or garners, but for web browsing and office work it can be used it all day, every day, without complaint. If your PC came with a mouse and keyboard, this setup won't be an upgrade. If you're building from scratch and want something dirt cheap, but comfy and reliable, it's a good option. AT A GLANCE • USB connected • Function keys are undersized, lack travel • Basic 3-button mouse

WIRED DESKTOP 600 RRP incLGST: $39 Contact: microsoft.co.nz Comfy and reliabLe, but about as basic as it gets.

*****

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Microsoft Wireless Desktop 2000
THIS PACKAGE CONSISTS of Microsoft's Wireless Keyboard 2000 and Wireless Mouse 2000, with a single 2.4GHz radio transceiver that connects both devices to your PC via a single USB port. The adjustable-angle keyboard is very similar to Microsoft's Wired Keyboard 600, with a row of shortcut and multimedia buttons added to the top edge. The shortcut buttons can be used either to switch applications on the Windows taskbar, or assigned to launch specific applications or web links. Unfortunately for garners, they can't be used as fully programmable macro keys. Keys are generally comfortable and responsive, though the function keys have been demoted to small, shallow buttons - not ideal for shortcut users or garners. The horizontal spacing between the typing keys, cursor (arrow) keys and number pad has also been removed, which takes a bit of getting used to. A 'quilted' plastic wrist-rest and piano-black accents add a bit of style to

the equation. Construction feels very solid on both the keyboard and mouse, though the bottom of the mouse looks likely to wear down with constant use. The two-button mouse (three if you count the scroll wheel) is generic. It has a very high-traction finish on top, with rough plastic buttons and a rubberised grip around the edge. I found it a little uncomfortable; your mileage may vary. The scroll wheel also defies convention, rolling smoothly instead of clicking as it turns. Again, whether you love or hate that will be a matter of preference .

AT A GLANCE • Wireless, transceiver uses one USB port • Shortcut keys for Windows taskbar apps • Mouse texture may be uncomfortable WIRELESS DESKTOP 2000 RRP incl GST: S89 Contact: microsoft.co.nz A good midrange wireless setup for the home or office, though some may find the mouse's texture uncomfortable.

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Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Desktop 7000
THE MOST COMMON 'ergonomic' desktop, Microsoft's Natural Ergonomic Desktop 7000 aims to improve your typing and mousing comfort. The box stops short of any medical claims relating to repetitive strain injury or carpal tunnel syndrome, though it does claim the mouse will "help relieve the pressure on your carpal runnel area". Both mouse and keyboard connect to your PC wirelessly, via an included 2.4GHz USB wireless transceiver. The keyboard incorporates the widelyrecognised twelve-degree split down the middle that some users swear by, and others swear at. It does steepen the learning curve; on my first try, my hundred wordper-minute (WPM) touch-typing speed was reduced to just 19 WPM. However, within half an hour I was pleasantly surprised to be up to 75 WPM. Even more surprisingly, the keyboard really is delightfully comfortable. With the split design putting all the left-hand keys in comfortable and easy reach, it even earns a tiny bit of gaming cred, although it doesn't include dedicated gaming features such as quick-response and anti-ghosting. The tall, rounded mouse feels comfortable enough and reduces pressure on the sensitive underside of your wrist, but eighteen years of mouse-related muscle memory are hard to overcome when dealing with the ergonomic mouse's unusual body shape. At least the buttons are straightforward: two click buttons, a smooth-rolling scroll wheel and two user-programmable thumb buttons. If typing comfort is your top priority, this package is a good investment for the keyboard alone. Don't be put off by the learning curve: it's steep, but not as steep as you'd think. AT A GLANCE • Wireless, transceiver uses one USB port • Notable learning curve for both keyboard and mouse • Keyboard allows a variety of typing angles

NATURAL ERGONOMIC DESKTOP 7000 RRP incl GST: S199 Contact: microsoft.co.nz A comfortable typing experience, once you're back up to speed.

*****

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LOGITECH'S ENTRY-LEVEL WIRELESS offering costs just $10 more than its Desktop MK120 or Microsoft's Wired Desktop 600. For $50, you get an unremarkable keyboard and mouse that both connect to your PC through a single USB-connected 2.4GHz wireless transceiver. Though feature-wise there's little to note, setup is amazingly simple. The batteries even come pre-loaded, so all you have to do is pull out a couple of plastic 'pull this' tabs and plug in the USB stick. No software is required, and there's no 'pairing' process between the peripherals and their transceiver. Purists will admire the adjustable-angle keyboard's standard 10l-key layout - there are no dedicated media or shortcut keys. However, the context menu (Windows right-click) keyboard key has been replaced with a 'function' key that enables media shortcuts doubled-up with various other keys. I use the right-click key frequently and found that a right pain: I wouldn't be surprised ifI were the only one, however. The mouse includes two buttons and a nice 'clicky' scroll wheel that pulls double-

li~D

& MOUSE ROUNDUP

Logitech WireLess Desktop MK250
duty as a third button. The body has a low profile, particularly compared to the bulky gaming mice I'm accustomed to. If you used it eight hours a day, it might prove uncomfortable. For casual home use, it's unlikely to be a problem. This basic desktop's greatest strength is its value for money. Unless you specifically need a wired setup for some reason, spending an extra $10 lets you add a capable wireless keyboard and mouse to even the lowest-budget PC build. AT A GLANCE • Wireless transceiver uses one USB port • Amazingly quick and mindless setup • No extra keyboard keys or mouse buttons WIRELESS DESKTOP MK250 RRP incLGST: $50 Contact: logitech.co.nz Capable and great value

for money•

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Logitech WireLess Combo MK520
THIS COMBO CONSISTS ofLogitech's K520 wireless keyboard and M310 wireless mouse, both of which share a single ultracompact 'Logitech Unifying Receiver' that connects to your PC via USB. The receiver is so tiny that you could happily leave it in the side or rear of a laptop and still get that laptop into the tightest of slip cases. The adjustable-angle keyboard is particularly attractive, thanks to a matte black plastic face, piano-black accents, and thin clear-plastic rim around the entire outer edge. The keys use Logitech's usual rounded, slightly concave design. It's comfortable, but the keys are let down by too soft a motion - there's not enough of a 'click' when typing. On the upside, that means it's one of the quieter keyboards we've tested. There are six dedicated media keys (including volume control), and four dedicated shortcut buttons: back/forward, internet favourites and Windows calculator. A 'fn' key replaces the Windows contextmenu key. 'Fn' gives access to twelve further shortcuts such as email, media player and My Computer, via the F1 through F12 keys. The M310 mouse is attractive and comfortable to hold. The top is smooth plastic, and the scroll wheel and sides are made of a rubbery material that provides more grip and give than common rubberised-paint on plastic, and it won't wear off with frequent use. Mouse buttons include the usual two, with the scroll wheel serving as an adequate third. For the price, you get a stylish and comfortable pair of peripherals. The tiny wireless transceiver makes this package a little more attractive to laptop users than some of the cheaper models on offer. AT A GLANCE • Wireless, micro transceiver uses one USB port • Stylish but functional design • Key motion may be too 'soft' for some typists WIRELESS DESKTOP MK520 RRP incLGST: $100 Contact: logitech.co.nz Stylish, decently priced and would suit laptop users.

*****
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seen on the K520 keyboard: comfortable in shape, but some typists may find the keypress too 'soft' despite reasonable travel. One notable feature is the row of status indicators on the keyboard: battery level, caps lock, function, scroll lock, num lock and mute. This is the only wireless keyboard we've tested that includes these indicators. Instead of battery-sucking LEOs, the MK700 uses a small LCD screen. It's not visible at night, but it won't massively reduce the keyboard's battery life. The M705 mouse is comfortable and packed with nifty features. The scroll wheel can be switched on-the-fly from smooth to 'clicky' scrolling, and its left-tilt, right-tilt and click functionality are all user-reprogram mabIe. Add to this three user-programmable thumb buttons, and you have a great mouse for the occasional gamer. The keyboard's media and function keys are equally programmable through Logitech's included SetPoint software, though the positioning of these makes them more useful for general Windows shortcuts than for garners. Altogether, the MK710 is the best wireless desktop we tested in this roundup and earns our Editors' Choice Award. At $170 it's also pretty reasonably priced for what you get. AT A GLANCE • Wireless, micro transceiver uses one USB port • Keyboard with programmable keys and status display • Comfortable mouse with six programmable buttons

Logitech WireLess Desktop MK710
THE MOST EXPENSIVE ofLogitech's 'MK' series of desktop packages, this setup includes the M705 mouse and MK700 keyboard. Both connect via the same 'Logitech Unifying Receiver' used by the MK520 desktop, which consumes a single USB port and is small enough to leave plugged in. The piano-black keyboard includes a comfortable, generously sized and padded wrist-rest. Additionally, it can be set fiat or raised at either four or eight degrees. The keys use the same 'bubbly', concave design

WIRELESS DESKTOP MK710 RRP incl GST: S170 Contact: logitech.co.nz A good high-end setup for the heavy PC user, that stretches to the occasional gaming session.

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*****

Logitech G510 Keyboard & WireLess G700 Mouse
LOGITECH RECOMMENDED THIS combination to us, paired up, as a highend gaming-oriented desktop setup. The G510 is a gaming keyboard with an integrated monochrome LCD that can be configured to display in-game stats, system performance information, instant messages, or just the date and time. RPG players will appreciate the 18 macro keys on the left-hand side. There's also a nifty 'game mode' switch that disables the Windows keys. The keyboard even has its own USB sound card, giving you a headphone output and microphone input within easy reach. Downsides? The whole thing looks and feels overly plastic, and they keystroke is too soft to provide an 'instant response' gaming experience. The G700 mouse is a gorgeous piece of hardware, and fits the hand well. It connects to your PC via a high-speed USB wireless transceiver, and charges its internal battery via USB cable. There are 13 programmable buttons, including left/right click and the scroll wheel's left/right/press functions. Like Logirech's M705 mouse, the scroll wheel can be switched on the fly from smooth to 'clicky' motion. The G700's only real flaw is that the four thumb-buttons are placed above the thumb, so you're forced to choose between slow access to those buttons or an uncomfortable grip with your thumb hovering at the ready. Together, the G510 and G700 make a fair gaming setup. At $420 for the pair, however, it's hard to look past even the small annoyances both suffer from. AT A GLANCE • Macro buttons: keyboard (18), mouse (8) • Monochrome LCD screen on keyboard • Mouse can operate wirelessly or by USB cable G510 KEYBOARD & WIRELESS G700 MOUSE RRP incl GST: S250 (G51O keyboard), S170 (G700 mouse) Contact: logitech.co.nz A great setup, with a few small but significant annoyances.

*****

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Razer Anansi Keyboard & Imperiator Mouse
RAZER HAS A REPUTATION for producing top-notch gaming hardware. The company's mid-range Anansi keyboard is aimed at MMO players, while the Imperiator is an all-around gaming mouse. Together, the two make a stylish but very much 'normal-looking PC desktop setup that barely hints at its powerful gaming functionality. Oddly for an MMO-focused keyboard, the Anansi doesn't feature a huge number of macro keys - just five along the left side, and seven below the spacebar. Instead, the Anansi's software makes every key on the keyboard reprogram mable, including letters, numbers and function keys. That's just about as flexible as you can get. The keys have good travel and a clear 'click' at the end, but require a fair bit of force to press. I found the Anansi tired my hands a little more than other keyboards when typing or gaming, even for short periods. However, it had no impact on my gaming performance or typing speed; the only detriment was to comfort. The Imperiator mouse takes the same flexible approach as the Anansi: everyone of its seven buttons is reprogrammable. The two thumb-buttons can even be physically adjusted forward or backward to best fit your hand, and the scroll wheel's forward/backward motion can be reprogrammed to adjust mouse sensitivity on the fly (anywhere from 100-6400dpi), or to launch macros. This, in effect, gives you a nine-button mouse if you're willing to lose the scroll wheel. At $350 this setup may look expensive, but it's quite reasonably priced compared to some of the competition. As a wired gaming setup, the Anansi keyboard and Imperiator mouse make a good pair. AT A GLANCE • Wired USB keyboard and mouse • All keyboard keys are reprogrammable • Mouse has adjustable thumb buttons

ANANSI KEYBOARD & IMPERIATOR MOUSE RRP incLGST: S200 (Anansi keyboard), S150 (Imperiator mouse) Contact: razerzone.com High quality gaming desktop, with equally good out-of-game performance.

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*****

Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Stealth Keyboard & Mamba Mouse
RAZER RECOMMENDED THIS pair to us as a top-shelf gaming setup. The build quality of both devices is certainly exemplary, and the gaming performance excellent. The BlackWidow Ultimate Stealth Keyboard uses mechanical switches for every key, and each boasts its own LED for the keyboard's brightness-adjustable blue backlighting. Anti-ghosting technology means that all possible key combinations are registered correctly, while fast polling gets your keystrokes from finger to game as rapidly as possible. The keystroke has good travel and a well defined 'click' at the bottom, but feels a little uncomfortable when typing at speed. However, gaming performance is brilliant and I didn't experience any comfort issues there. Part of the comfort problem may be due to the keyboard being set at quite a forward-leaning angle, which you can make steeper but not shallower. The Mamba mouse, a previous version of which we've tested at PC World, is one of the best gaming mice out there. Its comfortable and 'normal' shape make it equally useful for day-to-day computing and gaming, though at $250 it's hard to justify if you're not using all of its features. The mouse features seven fully programmable buttons, adjustable sensitivity with an on-mouse LED indicator, and either wired or wireless connectivity. An included docking station can be used to charge the mouse, or it will charge during use if connected directly by cable. If gaming is your number

one priority, these two are among the best out there. However, the BlackWidow's steep incline and the Mamba's mighty price make them unsuitable and overkill respectively for a casual-gaming home or game-free office desktop. AT A GLANCE • Wired USB keyboard and mouse • All keyboard keys are reprogrammable • Mouse operates wired or wirelessly

BLACK WIDOW ULTIMATE STEALTH KEYBOARD & MAMBA MOUSE RRP incLGST: S167 (BlackWidow keyboard: USSI40, online only), S250 (Mamba mouse) Contact: razerzone.com A capabLe gaming keyboard, with a near-perfect but pricey wireless gaming mouse.

*****

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KEYBOARD & MOUSE ROUNDt'jP.

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gaming feature is a button to disable the Windows keys. The rest - ultra-fast response, anti-ghosting technology to make sure no key combination goes unnoticed - is all hidden away within the hardware. The mechanical keys provide plenty of travel and sensitivity for a great gaming experience, but I found the key design and the lack of any kind of 'click' at the end of each keystroke led to around a 10% reduction in my typing speed. Optional rubberised WASD keys and a left-palm rest further optimise gaming performance, while doing nothing for regular typing. In the M60 mouse, Corsair have created something truly brilliant. Comfortable to hold, it also offers adjustable sensitivity, eight programmable buttons, rubbercoated scroll wheel, thumb-button precisely where your thumb naturally sits, braided USB cable and adjustable weight distribution. As a wired mouse for either FPS gaming or everyday computing, it's fantastic. I've never had my hand on anything more comfortable or functional.

Corsair Vengeance K6D keyboard & M6D mouse
VETERAN HARDWARE MANUFACTURER Corsair's first stab at the gaming peripherals market, the Vengeance K60 keyboard and M60 mouse are intended for firstperson-shooter (FPS) gamers. Both peripherals have a beautiful 'industrial' aesthetic, with brushedaluminium chassis and plastic only where necessary. For the K60 that's the undercarriage and the keys themselves; for the M60 it's the palm rest, outer sides and buttons. The K60 features no programmable macro buttons, no special sofrware, and just a small cluster of media playback buttons in the top-right corner. The only obvious

If you're ryping as much as you're gaming, the K60 keyboard may not be ideal. Its lack of macro buttons or programmability makes it unsuitable for RPG or MMO players, for example. However, the M60 mouse is truly an impressive piece of hardware, worth every cent of its $149 price tag - and a Platinum Award.
AT A GLANCE • Wired USB keyboard and mouse • Keyboard has no macro buttons, optimised for FPS players • MBO mouse does everything right

VENGEANCE K60 KEYBOARD &M60MOUSE RRP incl GST: $299 (KBO keyboard), $149 (MBO mouse) Contact: corsair.com Avoid the keyboard unless you're a full-time FPS player, but the M60 mouse is an all-around winner.

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*****

Corsair Vengeance K9D keyboard & M9D mouse
THE VENGEANCE K90 and M90 are Corsair's desktop complement to RPGs and MMOs; a keyboard and mouse with enough programmable macro buttons to satisfy even the most hardened World of Wareraft player. The K90 is essentially Corsair's K60 with 18 macro keys (with up to 3 macros each, making 36 macros in total, via mode switches), added to the left-handside. There's also shiny blue backlighting, though not on the function or macro keys. The number, letter and cursor keys all use Cherry Red mechanical switches, which provide a smooth and responsive gaming experience. However, they're loud and not entirely comfortable when you're typing, particularly at length and at speed. Though the M90 mouse feels like a downgrade in comfort from Corsair's FPS-focused M60, it pushes the button count up to 15. Up to six user-defined profiles can be saved to the mouse itself, and switched between via buttonts) of your choice. A row of six tiny LEDs just forward of the thumb-buttons indicate which profile is currently selected. If you play games or use applications that benefit from a large number of programmable controls, this desktop will serve you well. On the other hand, the keyboard is unsuitable if most of your work is high-speed ryping, and the mouse is overly complex and sacrifices comfort if you don't need all of those extra buttons. The price is also astoundingly high - $548 for the pair - which is difficult to justify even if you do need the features.

AT A GLANCE • Wired USB keyboard and mouse • Keyboard includes 18 macro keys • Mouse has 15 programmable buttons

VENGEANCE K90 KEYBOARD &M90MOUSE RRP incl GST: $349 (K90 keyboard), $199 (M90 mouse) Contact: corsair.com A great gaming keyboard and mouse, particularly for RPG players, but highly priced and not ideal for day-today computing.

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D & MOUSE ROUNDUP

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WE TESTED ELEVEN desktop setups; six keyboard-and-mouse bundles, and sets we paired up with the advice of their respective manufacturers. No setup we tested is perfect for fortyhours of typing each week followed by two days of hard core gaming over the weekend. A keyboard and mouse are the parts of your PC you interact with the most directly, and have a huge impact on the comfort, ease and productivity of your computing or gaming experience. What's best for you is always going to depend on your own individual needs and preferences. We can, however, make a few suggestions. If you're typing, surfing the web and occasionally gaming, Logitech's MK710 wireless desktop is a strong offering. At $170 it's the most capable all-rounder and unlikely to bankrupt the average PC enthusiast. It should give you years of reliable usage, so it gets our Editors' Choice award. Those worried about ergonomics should check our Microsoft's Natural Ergonomic Desktop 7000. It looks a little dated and not everyone will adapt happily to its unique design, but those that do are apt to praise its comfort and low impact on your wrists and fingers. Garners have a wide range of peripherals to choose from, and it's equally hard to make a singular recommendation. Keyboards, in particualar, are really more a matter of preference than quality. All the gaming keyboards we tested had their own unique strengths and weaknesses, and none stood out above the pack. In terms of gaming mice, pay close attention to 2012's re-release of the Razer Mamba. Its combination of wired and wireless functionality, well-placed programmable buttons and ultra-precise tracking help to justify its steep $250 RRP. Corsair's newly-released M60 is equally proficient, if not superior, particularly in terms of comfort. It lacks the Mamba's wireless functionaliry, but comes in at a much more reasonable $149 and earns a Platinum Award. pew

GAMING KEYBOARD SPECIFICATIONS

Razer Anansi Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Stealth Corsair Vengeance K60 Corsair Vengeance K90

$200

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GAMING MOUSE SPECIFICATIONS

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April 2012 What's inside
74
Windows legacy
Video editing specs; data recovery and Chrome errors

Press Fl

76

Overclock your graphics card

Hardware tips

We show you the whys and hows of great performance

79

Windows tips
Uninstall drivers
To fix hardware errors: rollback or uninstall Windows drivers

80

Workshop
HTMLSvideo
Add HTML 5 video to your website using our guide

84

Teensy board music
James Sugrue shows how to play tunes with Arduino

PC project

86

PC buyers' guide
We spec gaming rigs for all budgets

PC marketplace

April2012 pcworld.co.nz

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Windows legacy
• Legacy apps in Windows 7
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Home ExploreWindows Products Sea"," Shop
M/=o~com

I'm considering buying a Windows 7 pc, but I know the 64-bit version doesn't support Clipper or Quicken 2000 Deluxe. Is the 32-bit edition compatible?
Bob Cowell

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Help & How-to

Windows 7 Compatibility Center
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Home> Software> Quicken 2000

You're correct, Bob. Clipper is a 16-bit MSDOS program, as are the programs it creates, and these are not supported in a Windows 7 64-bit environment. There's no such restriction in the 32-bit edition, but be aware that your PC will be limited to around 35GB of usable RAM if you go down this route. Regarding Quicken 2000 Deluxe, the Windows 7 Compatibility Center notes that an upgrade is recommended for use with the OS (see tinyurl.com/d5qucek). The update can be downloaded from quicken.intuit.com/support. An upgrade is also available to make the application work in Windows 7 64-bit. If you opt for Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate or Enterprise editions, you'll be able to run legacy apps in Windows XP Mode. This is a virtualised XP installation, and any programs that work in that OS will continue to do so here - including Clipper.

QUicken 2000

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Inspiron 530 PC so I can edit and burn HD videos captured on a Panasonic HDC-HD90 camcorder? My PC runs Vista and has a 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6750 CPU, 4GB of DDR2 RAM, an Nvidia GeForce 8600 GT graphics card with 256MB of video RAM, and twin 320GB hard drives. I also have separate DVD-RW and DVD-ROM drives and a 19in Dell monitor.
BarryAdams

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Video-editing requirements

What upgrades should I make to my Dell

Perhaps more than any other type of consumer PC application, HD video editing places huge demands on your hardware, often resulting in very long rendering times.

PINNACLE:Video-editing

software often requires high hardware

specs.

You don't say which editing software you will be using. Below are the minimum system requirements for the most popular suites. Pinnacle Studio: 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Quad or Core i7 processor. Adobe Premiere Elements 10.0: 2GHz or faster dual-core CPU with SSE2 support. AVS4YOU: 3GHz single-core/1.SGHz dual-core processor. CyberLinkPowerDirector 10.0: AVCHD and Blu-ray burning profiles require a Pentium Core 2 Duo E6400 or AMD Phenom II X2 processor; full-HD H.264 and Mpeg2 profiles require an Intel Core i5/7 or AMD Phenom II X4 processor. Your choice of editing software can have a measurable impact on performance, and your PC's current specification is at the low end of what is practical for the task. Hard-drive capacity is likely to be an issue, but external storage is relatively inexpensive and simple to use. A Blu-ray burner would be useful if you intend to archive a lot ofHD footage. Your Dell monitor has a native display resolution of 1440 x 900 pixels, and won't be able to display full-HD video without scaling. We recommend upgrading to a 1920 x lOSO-pixel display.

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The latest video editors use the power of your graphics card to significantly boost rendering performance. Upgrading your graphics card may be helpful here. You don't say whether you've already attempted to edit HD video on your Pc. Give it a try before you get out your wallet; if it struggles, then you can start to consider upgrades. And if this is the case, you may be better off buying a new PC with a faster processor, which your current motherboard doesn't support. Look for a PC running a second-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 chip for the best performance; their multiple cores are well-suited to HD video editing. And if you haven't yet chosen your video editor, install free trials to see which works best with your current setup.
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FLASHY: Get the version right to solve Shockwave

Data recovery
My husband recently passed away and I'm keen to retrieve what I can from his PC,but it refuses to start up. Iget the message: Auto Detecting SATA Port2. Atapi Cdram Data portl: st3750528AS CC44 Ultra DMA Mode-6 S.M.A.R.T. capable and status BAD DataPOrT2:HL-DT-STDVDRAMGH47NMN07 Ultra DMA Mode-5 Hard master hard disk: S.M.A.R.T. Status BAD, Backup, and replace. PressF7 To resume'. Pressing F7 takes me to a black screen. Please help.
Amy28john32

it would be best done by an experienced professional. Be sure to make it very clear that you require data recovery and not a simple repair with a new hard drive.

... ..

Shockwave errors in Chrome

Can you help resolve the regular crashing of Shockwave Flash in Google Chrome?
zso/utions4u

We're sorry to learn of your bereavement. We'll do our best to help you get the computer working again. The message you're seeing suggests there is a problem with the hard drive. Do not attempt to boot this PC again. Attempting to reinstall Windows on a hard drive failing in this way can cause permanent data loss, so this is also a no-no. To prevent any further damage to your precious files, data recovery will need to be performed - and, in this case, when it's so important that you get back those files,

Google Chrome, unlike other browsers, has its own version of Adobe Flash Player built in. If you're also running another web browser that requires a downloaded version of Adobe Flash player to be installed, the two versions of the software are likely to be causing a conflict. To check Google Chrome's configuration, type about:plugins into the address bar and press Enter. This will bring up a page of information about all the plug-ins currently configured within Google Chrome. Look for the Flash section. If it states that you're using two or more files, you have more than one Flash plug-in installed. At the top right of the page you'll see the word 'Details'. Click the plus sign next to this to reveal more information. The filename of each plug-in will be listed

next to Location. Look at this information, and you'll see that one is stored under [Your User FolderlAppData\Local\Google\Chrome. This is Chrome's integrated plug-in. The other will be under 'C:\Windows\ ...' . The path names used will vary depending on your version of Windows, but one will be stored with Chrome's application data and the other in a Windows system folder. Ifboth these files offer a Disable link, both are active and likely to be the cause of your browser crashes. You can now choose which player you want to retain, by clicking Disable on the other one. Chrome will now use whichever version is enabled on your Pc. If you decide to use the installable plug-in rather than the integrated one, it's advisable to make sure you have the latest version installed. Head to tinyurl.com/Lzqp4 to get the latest version. If the crashing behaviour continues, try going back to about:plugins and selecting to use the other Flash player. Got a question? Get it answered by another reader or moderator at pressfl.pcworld.co.nz

PCWorid PressFl
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Overclock your graphics card
You can construct a high-performance gaming system in a small box, suitable for carrying to LAN parties or gaming in small spaces
MANY PC GAMERS eagerly await the release of next-generation graphics cards, hoping that the new hardware will boost frame rates and enhance eye candy in the latest games. However, while a graphics card upgrade is almost always a good way to increase game performance or improve image quality, new cards tend to be expensive - and they aren't always necessary. Today, even midrange graphics cards are generally fast enough to pump out butterysmooth frame rates in cutting-edge games at all but the highest resolutions. If your current graphics card is serving you well, and you're just looking for a little something extra to increase performance, overclocking may be the better way to go. And it will certainly be more affordable.

Why overclock?
In its early days, overclocking may have been a black art reserved for the most hard-core computer geeks, but nowadays it's about as easy as can be, and it's usually safe too. Yes, overclocking a component can shorten its life span. But if you don't push things too far, and if you keep temperatures under control, you have little reason to worry. You'll want to make sure that your system has adequate cooling and a power supply (PSU) that's sufficient for handling an overclocked card. Modern graphics cards typically have thermally controlled fans that will spin faster to better dissipate heat from the overclocked board. The card may become somewhat noisy as a result, but if the overclock remains stable and the graphics card's cooler

MID-RANGE: Eke more performance out of any card.

can keep up, you should be good to go. Both AMD and Nvidia (the big two graphics-card makers) have built overclocking tools into their drivers. AMD's are readily available (on supported cards) in the AMD Overdrive tab, listed in the Performance section of the company's Catalyst Control Center software suite. Nvidia's overclocking tools aren't exposed by default in its GeForce drivers, but installing its System Tools utility will make them available. You'll need to grab the Systems Tools utility from the Nvidia website (bit.ly/wiZjpB); once you've installed the utility, frequency controls will be visible in the performance and tuning section of the GeForce driver. Disregarding software/driver optimisations, game engine tweaks, and system interface speeds, the performance of a graphics card is typically determined by the compute speed and fillrate of its graphics processing unit, as well as by the amount of memory bandwidth its frame buffer memory affords. (The amount of frame buffer memory on the card can also come into playas resolutions and texture sizes increase, but that's a discussion for a different article.) By increasing the frequencies of the GPU and the frame buffer memory on your graphics card, you can make them process and move more data, more quickly, increasing overall performance.

How to overclock
Overclocking a graphics card is a fairly straightforward process. All you need is a working and properly configured graphics card, and a few of your favorite games or a benchmark like Futuremark 3DMark 11 (3dmark.com) to test stability. For the purposes of this article, we used a brand-new

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AMD Radeon HD 7950 installed in a highend, Intel-powered test rig running Windows 7 Ultimate (64-bit). Before you begin overclocking, install the latest drivers for your graphics card (and Nvidia's System Tools if necessary), and playa few games to ensure that the system is stable. If all is working well, restart the system, open the graphics card's control panel, and navigate to the overclocking or frequency control section; we used the Overdrive tab built into AMD's drivers. First, enable Overdrive by ticking the necessary box, and max out the power control settings to eliminate any power-related frequency restrictions. Next, increase the CPU frequency by moving the appropriate slider by

a few MHz at a time, and apply the settings. Then, playa game or loop a benchmark to test stability. For example, our Radeon HD 7950's CPU was clocked at 800MHz by default. We started by moving the CPU clock settings slider in lOMHz increments, until our test system became unstable. That is, once we encountered any visual anomalies, or a game or the system crashed, we turned the CPU frequency back down by lOMHz and tested for stability again. Ultimately we settled on a stable CPU frequency of 1000MHz - an increase of 200M Hz over stock speeds. With our peak CPU frequency known, we set it back to its default clock speed and then focused on the graphics card's memory.

By default, the Radeon HD 7950's memory is clocked at 1250MHz. We used the same procedure ofincreasing the memory frequency by 10MHz at a time, testing stability each step of the way. In the end we achieved a stable memory frequency of 1500MHz. We recommend overclocking the CPU and memory individually to isolate any instability that the tweaks may introduce to that particular component. Once you know the peak frequency for both, set the CPU and memory to those speeds simultaneously and test for stability once more. If all is well, enjoy your newfound performance. If not, back the frequencies down a bit further for both, and test the graphics card again. I must also point out that some graphics cards

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STOCK UP: You

can often get 20% over stock speeds.

may remain stable while overclocked, but offer lower performance when running at higher frequencies due to thermal or power throttling. If your system remains stable but the performance degrades while you're overclocking, reduce the GPU and memory frequencies until performance begins to scale properly.

The results
To give you an idea as to how overdo eking affects a Radeon HD 7950's performance, we ran a handful of benchmarks on our card while it was configured a few different ways. First, we ran a set of benchmarks on the card while it was in its stock configuration. Then, we overclocked the GPU from SOOMHz to 1000MHz and ran a second set of numbers. Next, we overclocked only the memory from 1250MHz to 1500MHz, and ran another set of tests. And finally, we retested the card with both its GPU and memory overclocked in concert. Note that we performed all of the benchmark tests at a resolution of 1920 by 1200, with 4X MSAA enabled and all ingame graphical options set to their maximum values. We chose those relatively taxing

settings to ensure that the graphics card not another component, such as the CPU or RAM - was the performance bottleneck in our test system. As you can see in the chart above, with the Radeon HD 7950, overclocking the GPU had a larger impact on performance than overclocking the memory did. Boosting the GPU frequency by 25% resulted in performance increases of 6.96% to S.95% in the applications we ran. Increasing the memory frequency by 20% also yielded better performance, but the improvements were much smaller, falling in the 1.39% to 3.91% range. Note, however, that memory-bandwidthstarved graphics cards would benefit more than the Radeon HD 7950 did from memory overclocking. A stock Radeon HD 7950 already offers upwards of 240 GBps of memory bandwidth - much more than most lower-end cards supply - so adding a few more gigabytes per second didn't help much. That said, overclocking the GPU and memory simultaneously yielded performance increases much larger than the sum of the two overclocks: With both the GPU and memory overclocked, the Radeon HD 7950's

performance increased by at least 20% across our tests. The proportionally larger performance increases that result from overclocking the GPU and memory concurrently are the result of the GPU being more fully utilised. Increasing memory bandwidth while simultaneously overdocking the GPU allows data to pass to and from the GPU more quickly, which results in better resource utilisation and in turn increases performance.

Going the extra mile
While you can gain plenty of additional performance simply by moving a few sliders in your graphics card's driver control panels, third-party utilities such as MSI's Afterburner give users the ability to take overdocks even further by introducing voltage tweaks into the equation. Without performing any cooling modifications, however, we advise against altering your graphics card's voltages. Increasing the voltages may allow for even higher overclocks, but doing so will also drive up heat output and power consumption significantly, over and above the increases resulting from the higher frequencies alone.
Marco Chiappetta

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Uninstall Windows drivers
If your computer is acting up, hardware drivers may be to blame. We explain how rolling back drivers can help
INSTALLING DRIVERS can be a hair-raising adventure, even on the latest operating systems. These finicky pieces of code act as the middleman between your PC hardware and its OS. Although drivers install with ease, they integrate deeply into the as, sinking their teeth into areas most other software doesn't go near. Most of the time the driver installation process is simple, seamless and transparent to you, as it should be. But when things go wrong, they can go reallywrong. A poor driver can even crash your Pc. For example, when Microsoft launched Windows Vista in 2007, critics lambasted it for being slow and prone to crashing; Microsoft investigated and found that a majority of computer crashes were due to driver issues. Should you encounter a problematic driver, a couple of tricks can help. Microsoft has introduced an easy way to roll back to a previous, hopefully more stable, version of the driver, or remove it from the system altogether, giving you a clean slate to try again or install a different version.

Uninstall a driver
The best and safest method of uninstalling a driver completely is to use the device's uninstaller program - if it has one. If you used an installer to set up the device (as is the case with most graphics card and sound card drivers, for example), you can uninstall it just as you would any other program on your rc. Click Start, type Uninstall Program and press Enter. In the Uninstall window that appears, go through the list and find your device or drivers. Double-click the entry to begin the uninstallation process. Sometimes a device won't have an un installer or it doesn't appear. You can use the Device Manager to remove such drivers. Click Start, type Device Manager and press Enter. Find and double-click the category of device whose driver you wish to un install. Right-click the device and click Uninstall. Windows will prompt you to confirm the device's removal. Click Ok to remove the driver then reboot as soon as possible. After you roll back or uninstall a problematic driver, you can try downloading and installing

Mobile ~Driver

Intel(R) 4 Series Express Chipset Details Resources

Family Properties

.~.

Mobile lrrtel(R) 4 Series Express Chipset Family

OriverProvider: OriverDate: OriverVersion: Dig~alSigner:

Intel Corporation 211,nOl' 8.15.10.2302 Microsoft Windows Hardware Compatibility Pub~sher To vie' ....details about the driverf~es. To update the driver software for this device. If the device fails after updating the driver, roll back to the previously installed driver. Disables the selected device.

DriverOetails Update Driver ... Roll Back Driver

UninstaD

To uninstall the driver (Mvanced).

DRIVE-BY:The properties tab offers removal options.

the latest version from the manufacturer's website, or try a specificversion that previously worked to get your computer back on its feet. You can use the Device Manager to un install troublesome driver software. Use the Properties menu to uninstall your driver software or roll back to a previous version.
Michael King

Roll back to a previous driver
Click Start, type Device Manager, then press Enter. Find and double-click the category of device causing the issue (for instance, the graphics card is listed under Display Adapters). Double-click the problematic device to bring up the Properties window. Click the Driver tab. Click the Roll Back Driver button. Click Yes to confirm your choice. Windows will automatically remove the current driver for the device and reinstall the previous driver. You may receive a notification that the system settings have changed, and be prompted by Windows to reboot. In this case, restart your PC as soon as possible.
• • • Display adaptU'S

L. .. Mobile lntcl{R) 4 Series &PlesS Chip~et F~mlty
~ Human Interface Devices . It!; USB Input Om" JOE ATAIATAPI controllers Imaging devices : ~ Integrated Camera Keyboards
Mice ilnd other pomtlng devices

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Modems Monitors Nrtwoftt.dapttfS Cisco AnyConnect Secure Mobility Client Virtu,,1 Miniport Adopter (or Windows ...., lntel(R) 82.S67lf Gigabit Network: Connection lntef(R) WiFi lint 5300 AGN
MIClo5OftVirtu{lIW.t£i.Mii""" ..... rlanIte<.. --,

Updne Driver Software. .. Oiublc

DEVICE MANAGER: From here, you can uninstall even if there's no uninstall option.

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We explain how to add HTML5 video to your website, and the exciting possibilities this holds
THE WEB HAS been through two distinct phases, usually referred to as Web 1.0 and 2.0. We're now considering how the third phase will shape up. One technology that will be central is HTMLS, the latest generation of markup code that forms the backbone of every web page. The HTMLS standard makes some radical changes to the way pages are structured, so that element tags refer to their roles in the page in a more fundamental and meaningful way. An important part of this process is that audiovisual content has finally been brought into the fold. For as long as the internet has existed, text has been rendered directly by every browser. Shortly afterwards, Mosaic popularised web graphics - again, rendered by the browser. But audio and video have always required plug-ins. This has made interaction between the streaming content and the other elements of the page problematic, and universal browser and platform compatibility impossible. With HTMLS, however, both audio and video can be rendered directly by compatible browsers, in all platforms. Mobile web browsers will eventually be included, too. This has enormous implications for video on your website. It simplifies the process, so you no longer need a proprietary streaming server and can host the files within your own web space. It also allows audiovisual elements to function in broadly the same way as text and images. Such content is more easily addressed by interactive scripting elements, letting your video drive other actions within the web page. In this tutorial, we show you how easy it is to add HTMLS video to your website. Some complications remain, and backwards compatibility is still important, given that older browsers don't support HTMLS content. We'll show you how to take advantage of HTMLS and ensure your site continues to be accessible.

Pushing the boundaries of HTMLS
Having video as another HTML element has opened up a world of creative possibilities, particularly when allied with other experimental HTMLS-oriented technologies such as WebGL. The latter brings 3D acceleration within the browser, most famously allowing a Google developer to port over the game Quake 2 (seetinyurl.coml yhczcLm for more details). But there are a number of extremely impressive examples of the capabilities of HTMLS video, when combined with WebGL or other technologies. The innovative independent band OK Go, habitually at the forefront of web video, produced a promo using HTMLS video and scripting, for the track 'All Is Not Lost'

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(allisnotlo.st). It's a great example of the raw capabilities of HTML5, and wouldn't be possible with video plug-ins. Chris Milk's video for 3 Dreams of Black by Rome (ro.me), the collaboration between producer Danger Mouse and composer Daniele Luppi, allows you to pan the scene with your mouse. Most elaborate of all is the One Millionth Tower project (highrise.nfb.ca/onemillionthtower), which blends numerous interactive elements to explore the collapsing high-rises found in every city, and re-imagine them. Many of these examples were created with Chrome in mind, but will work in other HTML5-capable browsers, particularly Firefox. Mozilla is backing the Popcorn. js framework (popcornjs.org) and Popcorn Maker (mozillapopcorn.org), an online tool for creating interactive HTML5 projects.

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no single video format you can use to address every web browser. If you want to create a site that contains video everyone will be able to watch, you'll need to create multiple versions in different formats. Three basic video formats are supported by HTML5: Mpeg4, Ogg Theora and WebM. Coogle Chrome supports all three, but Firefox and Opera support only Ogg Theora and WebM, while Safari and Internet Explorer support only Mpeg4. You'll therefore need to create at least two versions of your video files; we recommend Mpeg4 and OggTheora.
James Morris

Web video format issues
There are clear discrepancies III the implementation of HTML5. Although different browsers display and react to the tags we've discussed in various ways, there's a more fundamental variation in the video formats that the different browsers will handle using the HTML5 <video> tag. The reasons for this are too complicated to go into here. But suffice to say that there is

Getting started with HTMLS
. ~ MiniCoder Encoding GUI

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Your first task is to create your video files. You'll need to create at least • two versions to ensure your video is compatible with every browser. EasyHTMLSVideo (easyhtmISvideo.com) will encode everything for you, and even creates the associated HTML files. It's free for non-commercial use.

1

For better configuration options we recommend MiniCoder (videohelp.com). • Install the software and run the updater to download the necessary encoder files. Load the files you want to encode into the list. You can encode multiple files simultaneously, but only one encoding template can be used at a time.

2

.-~ MiniCoder Encoding GUt ~ Settings Video Options @ Bit Rate:

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@ Bit Rate:

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Bit Rate: Codec:

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Container Format: iMP4

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Filter Option.~d First, we're going to create an Mpeg4 file with MP3 audio. Choose x264 • for the Codec, and MP4 for the Format. Set the audio codec to Lame MP3. Specify the video bitrate to 700kbps and the audio to 128kbps. You can also resize in the Filter Options. Save your settings as a preset for later use.

3

Follow a similar process to create an Ogg Theora version. Selecting Theora • greys out most of the Audio Options and Container option, but you can still choose bitrates for both video and audio, and resize settings. Again, we recommend saving your settings as a preset using the Save button at the bottom.

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Getting started with HTMLScontinued
J index!
File Edit - Notepad Format View Help

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<!doctrpe html> «ht ml ang="en"> <head> <meta charset="utf-8" /> <title>pc Advisor HTML 5 video</title> </head> <body> </boCfy></html>j

<!doctrpe html> <html ang="en"> <head> <meta charset="utf-8" /> <title>pc Advisor HTML 5 video</title> </head> <body> <video src="video/porscheExperience.mp4"> </video>j </body></html>
Place your HTML index file and videos in a well organised folder structure, such as the index in the root and videos in a subfolder called 'video'. You can now add a basic <video> tag. We've also added the 'src' (source) parameter to tell the browser where to find the video and closed the section with a </ video> tag.

Now you're ready to create a raw HTMLfile. Whereas previous HTML • standards required a long and confusing <!DOCTYPE> tag, HTML5 merely needs <!DOCTYPE htmb, plus a tag indicating the language used. NonHTML5 browsers will fall back to a default state, which should be fine for the compatibility elements we'll add later.

5

6.

]I index3 - Notepad
File Edit Format View Help

<! doctrPe html> «html ang="en"> <head> <meta charset="utf-8" /> <title>pc Advisor HTML 5 vi deo</title> </head> <body> <video src="video/porscheExperience.mp4" </video>j </body></html>

autop

In an Mpeg4-compatible browser, you'll see something like this. The first frame of the video will be loaded, but nothing else. The video won't autoplay and you can't click on it to play. 50 the next stage is to add some more parameters to our <video> tag to provide controls and add other features (see HTML5 video tags, opposite).

.,

I.

We've now added the parameters 'autoplay' and 'controls'. The first will set the video playing as soon as enough has been loaded over the web connection for the browser to be confident of getting to the end without rebuffering. The 'controls' tag adds the default playback controls for your browser.

8.

]) index4 - Notepad file fdit F!l.rmat ~iew Help <!doctrpe html> <html ang-"en"> <head> <meta charset-"utf-8" I> <title>pc Advisor HTML 5 video</title> </head> <bod}'> <video autoplay controls> <source src-"video/PorscheExperience.mp4" <source src-"video/PorscheExperience.ogg" </video> </body></html>

l==..l.!!

type-"video/mp4" type-"videologg"

< The video now looks like this in Chrome, but in a non-Mpeg4-compatible • browser such as Firefox you won't see the video at all. You'll see only a non-functioning player with an incorrect video frame size. The browser won't have been able to parse this from the video file header, since it can't read the file. Fortunately, there is a fix.

9

We've taken out the 'src' parameter from the <video> tag and added it • to an extra <source> tag. We've also added a second <source> pointing to the Ogg Theora file. Finally, we've added 'type' parameters - 'video/mp4' for Mpeg4 and 'vide%gg' forOgg Theora. These <source> tags must come between <video> and </video>.

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]I indexS - Notepad
!I I

file ~dit F12rmat Y.i- !:!e1p <! doct pe html> <html ang~"en"> <head> <meta charset."utf-S" /> <title>pc Advisor HTML 5 video</title> <bhead> < ody> <video autoplay controls> type.·'video/mp4 .. <source src."vldeo/porscheExperience.mp4" <source src."video/porscheExperience.ogg" type."vide%gg" / YOU HAVE A NON-HTML 5-COMPATIBLE BROWSER! PLEASE UPGRADE TO </video> </body></html>

1


The video will now play in any HTMLS-compatible browser. After loading • the HTMLfile, a browser will go through the list of possible video files until it finds one it can play. Put the Mpeg4 <source> first because some versions of iDS require this. Next, we need to add instructions for legacy non-HTMLS browsers.

11

You can add text telling visitors to upgrade their browser, or you can • provide a fallback option for legacy browsers that support Flash. Use JW Player (tinyurl.com/San8yw) to create a Flash-based player for your video. Place the <object> code you create within your <video> and -c/videcc- tags, after the <source> tags.

12

]I index8 - Notepad
File Edit Format View Help

~~~~~t1~~g~~~~~> <head> <meta cher sec-vcct-e" l>i <t;tle>Pc Advisor HTML5 video</title> </head> <body> <video controls poster=";mage/poster. <source src="video/porsche£xperience. ~~~u~~~~ s~ -c/v+der»</body></html>

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Another useful <video> parameter is 'poster'. This allows you to define • an image to use as the initial thumbnail (else the first frame will be displayed). Grab a frame of your choice, save it as a Jpeg or PNG, then add the parameter to your <video> tag as shown. This picture will be used for every browser which supports it.

13

Here is the video, showing a still frame priorto playback, in Firefox, • Chrome and Internet Explorer. Note that the latter doesn't display the poster frame, evidence of the fact that there's still some way to go before HTMLS video can be used with total confidence that it will work as hoped in every browser.

14

HTMLS video tags
Attribute autoplay controls height loop muted poster Values autoplay controls pixel value loop muted source image URL Description Specifies that the video will start to play when it's ready Specifies that video controls should be displayed Sets the height of the video player Specifies that the video will restart each time it finishes Specifies that the video's audio output should be muted Specifies an image to be shown while the video is downloading, or until the user hits the play button media src type src width preload

These HTMLSvideo attributes can be used within the main <video> tag. The final three attributes in our list can be included by placing a <source> tag between <video> and </video>.
auto Specifies if and how the author thinks the video should be loaded when the page loads Specifies the URL of the video file Sets the width of the video player

metadata none

media_query video file URL MIME_type

Specifies the type of media resource Specifies the URL of the video file Specifies the MIME type of the media resource

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Bigger isn't always better: Teensy board
Arduino-compatible and barely larger than a mobile phone SIM? That's the Teensy board - here's how to get it making beautiful music
BACK fellow tinkerers. This month we'll dispel the myth that bigger is better, and introduce the Teensy board. The Teensy is an Arduino compatible board that's very small. When I say Arduino-compatible, it's true to an extent. Any regular Arduino code will work with the board, but not all sketches and libraries will. Go to pjre.coml teensy/td_libs.html to see a list of compatible libraries. For the most part, if you're using standard Arduino-compatible components, it should work with the teensy board. Did I mention small? As you can see in the picture below, the Teensy board is not much bigger than a standard SIM card. It is affordable too. You can get one from mindkits.co.nz ($27) or directly from pjre. com/teensy. There are two ways to program the Teensy board. You can use the native tools and application loader, which can be downloaded from the pjrc.com/teensy or you can download an add-on for the Arduino IDE called Teensyduino from pjre.com/teensy/td_ download.html. You'll find full installation instructions there. WELCOME
REFERENCE: he T pin configurations for the Teensy board are below.

(interior)

24

GND 0 1 2

+5V
21 20 19 18 17 16 AO Al A2 A3 A4 AS 15 A6 14 A7 13 A8 12 A9 11 AIO All
musical note for example, the clicks combine to produce that note. In this project I've set up our board to play the theme to Chariots of Fire, mostly because it's the only music I can remember the notes for off the top of my head, thanks to Form 2 (year 8) music and the Glockenspiel!

(interior)

3

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PWM 4 PWM INTO 5 INT! 6 RX INT2 7 TX INT3 8 9 PWM PWM 10

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You might notice that the Teensy board doesn't come with headers like the Arduino Uno board does. There are a couple of reasons for this, but it's mostly to keep costs and size down. You can purchase a board with headers soldered on, solder on your own, or you can use jumper wires placed in the holes. They fit, but there's a bit of movement. You should only do this for prototyping of course, and not in circuits where steady power is needed. Now that I've introduced the Teensy board, it's on with this month's project. I'll be using the Teensy, but the project is compatible with any Arduino board so don't worry too much if you don't have one. We're also using a Piezo speaker. A Piezo is a component that makes a clicking sound each time it is pulsed with a current. Ifit is pulsed at the right frequency, say the frequency of a

Project: Playa melody with Arduino
Hardware • Arduino or Teensy board (or other Arduino-compatible board) • Breadboard • Jumper wire • Piezo element • Schematic

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In this circuit, just connect the Piezo positive terminal to Pin 4 on the Arduino board and connect the negative terminal to the ground. This schematic (right) shows the Teensy board, but it will work exactly the same on a standard Arduino.

int

speaker

piD

4;

. . . .... . . ... .. • • • •• • •• • • •• • •
to

int length = 26; char not.esl l = ".cfga.ge 9(gag :9fgage' efecc '\ int beats [] = {.I, 1, 1, 1; 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 'I, 1, int
r, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1" 1, 1, 1, 1., 1, J.,

tempo

=

100";

1, .1" 8),;

Code
Unlike the schematic, the code complicated. get the Piezo working is relatively

e

1. First of all we set the speaker pin that will be connected from the Piezo to the Arduino board. In this instance it's pin 4. Then we create an array of chars that hold the actual song. Each char corresponds to a note, with space being pause. There are 26 notes in all (including spaces), so the length variable just holds the number of notes to play. Next up, beats, is an array of ints that holds the length of time to play each note, the higher the number, the longer to play the note. And tempo is well, the tempo the music is played in, with the lower the number, the faster it plays. 2. The next two methods are named the same, but they use overloading differentiate between them (more at bit.ly/w4vjm5). The first method instructs the Arduino to write to the speaker pin for the appropriate amount of time, given the tone that is passed in. The second method takes a char, which corresponds to a note, and converts that to the right tone. For example, middle C has a frequency of 261Hz. To reproduce this, we turn on the speaker for 1915fls, and off again for 1915fls, repeatedly for the duration of the note. So, each 'cycle' is 3830fls long (2 x 1915fls),giving us 261 cyclesper second (Hz). It then calls the first method, which does the actual playing of the note.
to

void pl-ayNote(i.n], tone', int duration) for' (long i = 0; i < duration·; i ++i dig'italWrite (speaker pin, 'HIGH); delayM~.crose8on.d?(torre); digitalWr-ite (speaker pin, LOW)}; delayMicrpse.c9nds (t0ne);

voi d pl ayuot e (char not.e, int durat.i-on) { crrar notes [] = {'c':, 'd',; 'e', 'f', 'g', '.a',
'C"};-

'b',

iQ:t .tones·[] = {1915, 1700, 1519, .143:2, 1275, 1136, 1014, 956 }; for' (int i = 0; i < 8; i++)' { if (notes [i] ==, note) { I?laYN.otet orres [il], duration); (

e

void setup(.) { pi nhode (,spe~ker

pin,

O{<JTPU'J::)';

3. The setup method just opens pin 4 for output. In the loop method, we read in the array of notes one at a time. If it's a space we wait the appropriate amount of time, if it's a note, we call playNote with the note to play and the beat from the beat array, multiplied by the tempo. And there we have it, a fully functional Arduino based music player! Well, kind of. You can adjust the code to suit whatever song you want, just put the notes in the notes[] array and make sure you adjust the length and beats array to match. Couldn't be simpler! Good luck and happy Tinkering.

void 100p() { f.or (dnt; i = 0; i « length,;. i++) { if (notes [i] == ' ') { delay(beats[i] * tempo)';
},

else { play,Note (notes [i], beats [:ilJ
}

*

t empo);

delay(tempo

/ 2);

When he's not writing for PC World, Timaru-based coding guru James Sugrue runs a small software company called SoftwareX, specialising in mobile applications. You can find their work in the Apple App Store, Android and Windows Phone Marketplaces.

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PC buyers' guide

If you're planning to build a new PC or upgrade an existing one, our PC Buyers' Guide should be your first port of call. We've compiled a list of PC components split into three separate systems covering entry level, mid-range and high-end. These are our picks of quality hardware and the approximate price you should be paying. We'll update this list with new prices and hardware each issue.

Extreme Performance Budget
This system costs well under $1,000 and offers plenty of power for everyday tasks such as web browsing, email, basic photo and video editing and, if you add in a cheap video card (this system uses onboard graphics), you'll have a decent gaming system.
CPU Mobo RAM Case Keyboard! mouse DVD HDD Monitor $95 $129 $49 $125 $27 $42 $135 $159 AMD A4·ll00 Dual Core 25GHz Gigabyte GA·A55M·S2H G.5kill4GB (2 x 2GB) DDRl·llll Cl9

If your budget stretches to around the $2,500 mark, you can buy yourself a rather powerful machine that'll excel at gaming, watching movies (in full 5.1 surround sound) and other high-end tasks just as well as it'll handle Facebook.
CPU Mobo RAM GPU Case PSU DVD HDD1 HDD2 Monitor Keyboard Mouse Mousepad $304 $259 $95 $396 $179 $129 $122 $239 $135 $299 $149 $89 $30 Intel Core is 2500K l.JGHz Sandy Bridge Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UolH-Bl Kingston HyperX8GB (2x4GB) oDRl-1600 CL9 Gigabyte GeForceGTX560 Ti 1GBGooR5 Lian-li LanCool oragonlord PC-K62B Antec High Current Gamer Series 620W Samsung SH-B12lA Blu-ray Reader + oVoWriter 120GB OCZAgility 1 550 lTB Seagate Barracuda 7200RPM Asus VE248H 24in 1920x 1080 2ms LED-LCD Logitech G510Gaming Keyboard Razer DeathAdderGaming Mouse RazerGoliathusStandard Speed Edition -

So you live at home and your dad is a highflying lawyer who keeps your trust fund topped up, or perhaps your student loan is about to take a massive hit - whatever the reason, if you've cash to burn then this is the PC for you.
Intel Core i7-l960X Six Core l.JGHz Sandy Bridge-E Corsair Hydro H100CPU Water Cooling System Asus P9X79 Deluxe Mushkin Ridgeback 16GB (4x4GB) ooRl2000CL9 2x Sapphire Radeon Ho7970 lGB GooRS (Crossfire) Cooler Master Cosmos II Full Tower Corsair AX1200 Gold Professional Series Asus BW-12B1LT DVoRW + Blu-Ray Writer (losupport) 240GB OCZRevoorive 1 X2 PCI-Express 550 2TB Seagate Barracuda XT64MB Cache SATA6Gb!s Samsung S27A9S0o 27in 1920 x 1080 2ms 120Hzlo Ready LED-LCD(lo Glasses included) Logitech G19Gaming Keyboard with LCD Display Razer Mamba 4G Wireless Laser Mouse Razer Ironclad Elite •• __ "

CPU Cooling Mobo RAM GPU Case PSU DVD HDDl HDD2

$1,437 $229 $649 $329 $1,746 $669 $529 $229 $1149 $299

CoolerMaster Elite l60 case with 420W PSU Logitech MK120 Corded DesktopKeyboard and Mouse Asus DRW-24BlST Black 24X DL-DVo burner lTB Seagate Barracuda 7200RPM AOCRazor II E20S1F20in 1600 x 900 Sms LED-LCD

-

Monitor Keyboard Mouse Mousepad

$919 $235 $219 $79

..S~."~k.~r~
TOTAL

..$2.1.•..•L~~ite.ch_Z1.0~2:0 Speakers . $782 Total incGST

Hardware and pricing and correctatthetime has not been included computerlounge.co.nz,

sourcedlrom a varietyolNew Zealand retail stores olgoingto print. PricesincludeGST. Thecostofshipping in the price. Stores include: playtech.co.nz, ascent.co.nz, ifocus.co.nz and pbtech.co.nz.

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86

pcworld.co.nz

April2012

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Review: Mass Effect 3
PLATFORMS: PC (TESTED), PS3, XBOX 360

Mass Effect is a sci-f epic in three parts, from
accomplished RPG developer BioWare. You could be forgiven for having missed the first Mass Effect, originally an Xbox exclusive that was later ported to PC and re-released on Steam, giving it a wider audience. Mass Effect 2 raised the profile somewhat, cutting out much of the original game's grind and micromanagement to focus on story and streamlined, more shooter-like combat. Mass Effect 3 is the conclusion to the trilogy, and follows the second game's tactic of widening the audience. This time, it's through the addition of online multiplayer (this review covers the single-player campaign only - check out the multiplayer review at pcworld.co.nz). Mass Effict is the story of Commander Shepard: an 'NT special operations soldier in the human Systems Alliance navy. It's late in the 22nd century and giant artificiallyintelligent starships, known as Reapers, are on their way to wipe out all life in the galaxy. The third game begins with the Reapers invading

Earth, leaving Shepard to unite the various races of the galaxy through a combination of diplomacy and bullets. Shepard's first name, specialisation, background and gender are all playercustomisable. I've played the whole series as a 'FemShep', or female Commander Shepard. Story-focused players should do the same; while both are excellent, the voice acting of Jennifer Hale as the female Shepard is widely regarded as the superior performance. If you're going to skip through the cutscenes anyway, that point becomes largely moot. The usual caveat: as I'm quick to tell anyone that will listen, I've spent five-hundred hours between Mass Effect 1 and 2. I've read all the books, the comics, and am as invested in the game's universe as anyone could be. If you're new to the series, you could start with ME3. However, be warned that the game will dump you in at the deep end. Besides a paragraph of scrolling text, there's no catch-up of the events of the previous two games; nothing introduces the various

recurring characters of the series.Without that background, a lot of the emotional impact is gone. It may also make it difficult to follow the story, as the game just assumes you know the events that preceded the Reaper invasion. In other words: if you're trying to follow the story, play the previous games first. For my first playthrough, I imported my main character, Kate Shepard, with whom I've played both previous games. Importing lets you carry through the decisions you've made in prior games, your specialisation, skill points, resources and face. At the time ofwriting, a commonly reported bug prevented my familiar Shepard's face from importing correctly, forcing me to partially rebuild it. That a game relying so heavily on continuation of storyline could ship with such a bug is near-unforgiveable. It's not a gamebreaker, but it's proven an extremely effective means of riling up the most passionate Mass Effect fans - those with several much-loved characters to import. If that describes you, then I'd recommend waiting for a patch before

EMPIRESFALL: Before the game is over, you'll have watched more than one world burn.

trying to import any ofyour highly customised and beloved Sheps. Gameplay is very much the same as Mass Effoct 2, with a host of new enemies and new squadmates (along with some old favourites on both sides of the equation). If you're new to the series, it's a fairly simple setup: you choose your guns and invest your experience points (gained by completing objectives) in powers and abilities. The class you chose - Soldier, Adept, etc - dictates the powers available to you. As an Infiltrator - essentially sniper-Shep - my abilities were all focussed on long-range combat and techniques that simplify the act of shooting enemies in the brain. Other classes allow you to do tasks that range from deploying sentry turrets to lifting and throwing enemies using your mind. Not surprisingly, these result in radically different combat experiences. Returning from the first game in the series are weapon modifications, albeit in a simplified and altogether less annoying way. You can find or buy upgrades for the various classes of weapon - there are five altogether, including pistols, submachine guns, shotguns, assault rifles and sniper rifles. You can then apply up to two upgrades per weapon to modify stars such as damage, accuracy and weight. Combat is fast-paced, and may be coverbased or otherwise depending on your class. Melee combat has been improved from previous games. Dodge-rolls and other such controls have been added to provide a fluidity of motion that was previously lacking. All this makes ME3 a brilliant third-person shooter: challenging and enjoyable with the added visceral appeal of close-quarters combat. Also, people's heads now explode when shot. The level design is gorgeous: several times I was left staring in wonder at complex rooms that existed only as hallways or antechambers you spend no more than a few seconds passing through. Mass Effoct has never been at the forefront of graphical perfection, and that hasn't changed; BioWare have certainly pulled

everything they can from the game's ageing engine, though, with admirable results. The story, always the principal selling point of the series, is mind-blowing in its complexity. The choices made in the previous games can radically alter the story of ME3 - even determining whether major characters are alive in the final game. On numerous occasions the big, powerful, emotional events that occurred were entirely dependent on decisions I'd made in the previous games. Imagining other ways the story could have worked out isdifficult, but it's obviously something BioWare has devoted a tonne of resources to. Those more interested in the story than anything else can even choose to play 'Story' mode, with reduced combat difficulty. Likewise, action-focused players can opt to have all dialogue play out as cutscenes, without player intervention. I chose the middle option: insanely difficult combat and full story control. Doing that, the game took me 41 hours from start to finish. That's almost double the average time reported online, so the game should take you 25-30 hours unless you play on the hardest difficulty and try to do absolutely everything. I could have given Mass Effoct 3 a platinum, five-starrating. Even with the character-import bug, I considered doing so; that, after all, will be patched eventually. However, two things made that score unreasonable. First, particularly near the game's end, there are some awful 'hold the line' moments. You defend territory against increasingly difficult waves of enemies, and it just becomes a grind. All those beautiful corridors and hallways that existed just for a three-second walkthrough? Why not spend some of that map-making energy in breaking up tiring combat sequences

with more varied terrain. I'm all for difficulty, but ifI wanted to hold a small area for half an hour, I'd go back to Team Fortress. Second, I believe I achieved the 'best' possible ending, as I completed every last sidemission and secured every ally available for the fight against the Reapers. That end is, for lack of a more descriptive phrase, platypus-crazy. I was given three choices, which really seemed to contradict everything the game had taught me up to that point. I can't really say more without spoiling it, but the ending to an epic trilogy should tie up everything that's been introduced to that point, not throw in new elements at the very last minute. Those points aside, Mass Effoct 3is a brilliant conclusion to one of the most immersive and important - contributions to science fiction in recent history. Combine that with a challenging and high-quality third-person shooter, and you've got an unmissable game. It's not perfect, but it's worth playing.
Harley Ogier R13
Developer: BioWare ..Publisher: Electronic Arts

A must-play for any action/RPG gamer, but greatly enhanced if you've played the previous two games.

April20l2 pcworld.co.nz

89

PLATFORM:

PS3 doesn't do average. distinctly of a

together

a story, but what the story means point

You get so used to having other people around to play with, in fact, thatthe segments that you complete intimidating. alone become quite It's made scarier by the fact that

Thatgamecompany

isn't certain. Symbols and metaphors from it is your own interpretation. Journey's art may be stylised,

There's almost nothing that's familiar about Journey, just as Flow and Flowerwere different from anything that came before

you in the right direction, but what you take but the

other parts of the game are sofun and fancyfree when you play with a partner. The game - which only took me two hours from start to finish but also only costs $25 - manages to pack in a whole lot of emotion short period of time. While some people will be put off by the length - or lack thereof - of the game, the multiplayer aspect makes every play through an entirely different experience. Everybody plays the game differently, so it's exciting to start the game all over again and see who'll join you this time. On top of that, you're able to choose your favourite chapter and start there, so you don't have to play through the bits you don't love. Frankly, though, all the chapters are great. Regardless of whether if you're like Flower a gaming before you'll play it once the money Journey, or several times, it'll be worth enthusiast. in a very

them. Journey is a trip from the bottom and figuratively. Your character figure - wakes

game's effects are some of the most realistic you'll ever encounter. When you traipse up a sand dune, the sand shifts underneath your feet, slowing you down, and as you kick it up, it glitters in the sun. The wind is a powerful force to be reckoned with, and at times you have to hide behind objects to prevent yourself from blowing away. You're virtually powerless against the elements, except for a scarf you collect early in the game that gives you the added power of flight. The longer your scarf, the further you can fly. The ability to play with others in Journey's unique multiplayer experience is what made the game fun. Players have no real language to communicate expressed in, only a low, musical noise the circle button. by pressing

valley to the top of a mountain, both literally - a robed, androgynous up in the middle of the by sand. Your

scorching desert, surrounded emitting

only clear goal is to head toward a mountain a strange glow. As you travel, you buried in the sands, with discover what appears to be the remnants of a civilisation towering buildings still standing alongside huts. Slowly, you piece

broken, delipidated

When you run into another robed figure you'll only run into one at a time - you can choose to play with each other or walk away. You can alert companions to things that might help them by making your noise and leaping into the air. At one point in the game, after demonstrating scale a particular satisfaction
PALS:Travelling with a friend makes the game fun.

it, is one of the most games, and there's just

creative, innovative no experience like it. Siobhan Keogh

to my partner how to obstacle, I got immense the and I
Developer: Thatgamecompany; Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

watching

them complete

task, though

it took a few attempts,

certainly murmured do it" a few times.

"you can do it, you can

A beautiful game that's over all too quickly.

*****

90

pcworld.co.nz

April 2012

PLATFORM: XBOX 360
When shooter

When you 'breach', your chip interacts with various devices. You hold a button for a certain length of time then use powers or interact with objects in the room. Using breaches tactically and strategically is the key to fighting the tough battles, but they have a cooldown to kill enemies. period. In order to replenish the breaches power, Kilo has of technology

The final boss battle took about ten minutes but it lasted two hours if you include respawns. It wasn't difficult to figure out it was difficult to actually do it. Once you're done with the campaign, you can move onto co-op multiplayer. Like

Syndicate was

first released as a tactical

in 1993, the concept

what

to do, but

megacorporations

going to war probably seemed

possible, but far off. Now we have vicious patent wars clogging court systems around the world. The 2012 reboot of

Left 4 Dead,

Syndicate

takes

the

you gather a group of four players - there are two women and two men to choose from - and run through special levels completing tasks. It could be that you have to wipe out all the enemies in the area, or you might have to collect objects and take them to a particular point on the map. You can heal and revive your squad mates and while it can be tough, you start to feel pretty badass gunning dudes down, breaching objects, healing others and completing objectives. Even makes are when you die a lot,

concept of these wars a step further. The year is 2069, and the majority of humans have been implanted with a chip from their preferred This chip is connected to giant conglomerate.

the "dataverse", as the game's intro puts it, and renders digital devices obsolete. Those without a chip are disconnected, homeless. Conglomerates both from data and are in competition a
HO HO HO: Now I have a machine gun.

from society - most without chips, it seems, are with each other for the best chip technology: violent, bloody war. Your character, Kilo, is an elite agent working for one of the big corporations, with chips to commit EuroCorp. The data overlay is essentially - pressing a button bullet time Kilo's chip enables him to force other people suicide, make weapons enemies into fighting backfire, and manipulate enemy corporations will turn on the overlay

Syndicate'smultiplayer
of

you feel powerful. None done of the mechanics - take

Syndicate

particularly before original

new, and the storyline

has been

Deus Ex,

or even the and data

and slow down time for your enemies, so you can fire a larger number of bullets in a shorter period of time. Power upgrades, microchips which you directly from healing. The gain by harvesting

Syndicate -

and those points are its feel novel, even if they're

major downfalls. overlay mechanics in combination Siobhan Keogh

But the breaching

on his side. He uses these abilities to infiltrate and steal information, that a tactical the original shooter shooter. game, interesting among other things. Some fans dislike has been turned Having never played into a first-person

not. The satisfaction of using these mechanics to pull off some really sweet moves makes the game well worth your time.

other people's heads, can give your data overlay extra powers such as additional data overlay also enables you to see any enemies you've previously spotted, even if they disappear behind cover. The 6-7 hour campaign can get tough even

however, I found the

Syndicate reboot

both in story and in gameplay. Aside from the vast collection of guns available, there are two main combat mechanics - 'breaching' 'data overlay'. and the

Developer:

Starbreeze

Studios; Publisher: Electronic Arts

on normal difficulty. The boss battles are hard, but there are also times when you'll get swarmed with hordes oflow-level bad guys; you'll die a lot.

A bleak look into the future of technology.

April2012 pcworld.co.nz

91

TheArcade

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Review: Wipeout 2048
PLATFORM: PS VITA Wipeout has always been about speed. It's always been about being the fastest on the track and always been about doing whatever it takes to be the best. So it is with Wipeout 2048, the latest in the long-time PlayStation series which first saw the light of day in 1995. That must seem like the dark ages for many young garners; back then, Wipeoutdeveloper Studio Liverpool was known as Psygnosis. From the beginning, it's been a series that sees you pilot cars that hover above the track rather than have four-wheels rolling around the tarmac. Oh, you also have a variety of weapons, including plasma cannons, rockets and guns, to blast opponents to smithereens in your quest to be the best of the best of the best. Although it's set in the future, 2048 is actually a prequel to the original Wipeout, taking the series back to its roots - when anti-gravity racing was first finding its feet. The opening movie shows the technological progression of the humble racing car, transforming from the very first racing jalopy to Formula 1 to, finally, the hovering cars you get to drive. These cars can be anything from agile and lightly armoured craft to heavilyarmed yet slower vehicles. Racetracks are a collection of fast straights, tight chicanes and gut-lurching drops, each dotted with speed pads, which, obviously, temporarily boost your craft, hopefully slingshotting it past a rival (waving as you go past is optional, though). There are also pads for weapons pick-ups and defensive tools. Races range from straight out 'beat the other guys' to the finish, to time trials and events where you have to earn a certain amount of points by damaging other vehicles. As fast-paced and chaotic as the single player is, there's also multiplayer - which is fast-paced and chaotic racing times ten and often a blur of explosions and crashes. In a strange move, though, at the start of each multiplayer race the game wants to take your photo, so it can send it to all the other players. I opted out of that: it was just too voyeuristic for my liking. The Vita's touch and tilt capabilities introduce a new control scheme where you can, ah, em, tilt the console left and right to steer around corners and touch the front screen to fire and absorb pick-ups. Self-explanatory, really.

HIGH-SPEED: You're barely more than a blur.

The tilt controls take some getting used to: also have to hold a finger on the rear pad to accelerate and I spent much of the first race (okay, first two races) playing kissy-kissy with the racetrack barriers - and I dare you to resist tilting yourself from side to side when you're using it! Negatives? My main complaint is the load times. Quite honestly, they're appalling - up to a minute sometimes - despite the game getting a post-launch patch that was supposed to reduce load times. I also ponder whether 2048 is as good as Wipeout Pulse or Wipeout HD but I can't decide. For speed demons, Wipeout 2048 is as solid a racing title as you can get on a portable. As a launch title for the PS Vita, well, it's easy to recommend as a must-have. Think of it this way: all the practice you get on it now will put you in good stead for when real hover cars are around ... in like 100 years.
Gerard Campbell

Developer: Studio Liverpool; Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

For speed demons, Wipeout 2048 is as solid a racing title as you can get on a portable.

92 pcworld.co.nz

April2012

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Review: Final Fantasy XII 1-2
PLATFORM: XBOX 360 Once upon a time, the Final Fantasy series had a massive following and consistently great games. FinalFantasy VIII was the first console RPG I ever played, and I've worked my way through nearly every game in the series. Every game, up to and including Final Fantasy X, was a fantastic experience. Final Fantasy XIII wasn't bad, but the game didn't live up to fans' expectations. They hated the linear gameplay, the automatic combat system, and the irritating character of Vanille. FinalFantasyXIII-2 is, in many ways, an apology for the significant disappointment that those fans felt. While XIII's hero, Lightning, features prominently in XIII-2, the main characters are her sister, Serah, and new protagonist Noel. As the game begins, Noel learns that he must bring Serah into another time to get her assistance in preventing the oncoming apocalypse. Serah has other motives - to bring her sister back from the dead and find her missing fiance. To reach the right time period, Serah and Noel have to hop through numerous 'time gates' and visit several different points in the future. The major change from XIII is that it's no longer a straight-forward narrative, and there are times when you'll have to choose your own adventure. XIII-2 has achieved a more open feel by having the two main characters travel along a timeline. You can jump from world to world, era to era, and at some points the timeline splits so you have to choose which way to go first. Each world, however, still has a linear path. Sure, it will occasionally branch off, and you have to revisit areas you've already been, but for the most part you walk straight ahead, fight monsters, and keep walking. Despite the twisted timeline, I foundXIII-2 easy to understand compared to XIII. I didn't have to read copious datalogs, and I cared about Serah and Noel. The battle system is, on the surface, very similar to XIII. You control one character at a time, and the others fight automatically. Strategy relieson changing 'paradigms'. When you change paradigms, your characters switch classes. There's a medic class, an attack class, a magic class, and so on. Creating a good paradigm requires playing to a character's strengths - I leveled up Serah in magic, so she was the medic and magician. I leveled up Noel in strength, so he was the attacker and defender. But some significant changes include limiting the selection of characters: you're stuck with Serah and Noel. Both of them can learn every battle style. My Serah was the medic, but your Noel might be yours. A third companion, who can be switched out, is not human - Serah has the ability to control monsters. These monsters are the only ones with a 'limit break', called 'feral link', and each monster has access to only one combat class. Three-quarters of the way through, it was quite addictive and very enjoyable. Sure, some of the voice acting wasn't great - the major villain, Caius, was terrible - and the dialogue was cheesy. The graphics were average by roday's standards, aside from the fantastic pre-rendered cinematics, but it was fun. Then came the final boss battle. Without

TheArcade

going into too much detail, let's just say that the final battle was unbearably long and repetitive. It relied more on quick button pressing than strategy - fighting paradigm, healing paradigm, fighting paradigm. Once, my characters all died and I nearly gave up out offrustration. But I got to the end. Oh, the end. Final Fantasy XIII-2 is the perfect example of how a bad ending can ruin an otherwise good game. After possibly the most annoying final boss of any Final Fantasy game - and there have been some doozies - you're treated to the worst ending of the series. The game feels like it should've come out a year later with a completed story, rather than deliver a halfbaked 'conclusion' and a setup for (another) sequel. Thanks for nothing, Square Enix I think I'll skip FFXIII-3.
Siobhan Keogh

Developer: Square Enix; Publisher: Square Enix

The first half is good. The second?
Not so much.

FANTASY

AND REALITY:

Timelines mix until Serah doesn't know what's real.

April2012 pcworld.co.nz

93

Yourguide to the weird, the wonderful, the futuristic & the retro-chic

A MARIO-THEMED

LAMP that switches on - and makes a game-inspired

sound - when you punch it from below? We want one so bad it's making us see stars. The 'Da Ding' lamp is available from Bbitlit, designed by Bryan

Wacky corkscrew
A STEAM PUNK,
clockwork-inspired corkscrew? It would take pride of place in any winebuff's collection, assuming you had room for it. It's best appreciated in action. The only downside is that the meteoric rise in screwcap bottles may render it as obsolete as it appears. youtube.com/watch?v=wSuH9uOkvhU

Duxbury and Adam Ellsworth etsy.com/shop/Sbitlit

Pinterest? BTDT
PINTEREST IS THE FLAVOUR of
the moment. It's a topic-based image aggregator, something akin to Tumblr meets Google image search. - if you haven't signed up, there are plenty of invites floating around. Boing Boing took an amusing look at the phenomenon, and the fact that its fastest uptake has been by women, by creating the Pinterest Bingo card. The PC World Team scored 10/25. You? boingboing.net

Pucker up IP
IF YOU'RE A BIG BANG Theory fan, you may be familiar
with the episode where Howard and Raj snag each other via a tongue-movement-relay-device, devised for long distance kissing. Forthose in real-life long distance relationships, the Kissenger robot - which looks like a pig mated with a bunny - can relay lip position and pressure, but it can't go full pash. lovotics.com

94

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April20l2

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