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F E AT U R E S
CAMERA PHONES

52 Best Camphones
With five megapixel sensors and DVD quality video recording, camphones have become objects of desire, we compare the latest camphones in the market to clear the cloud on which one should be on your shopping list.
FREE STUFF

68 51 Fantastic Freebies
In our collection of the finest free offerings available, you will discover fullfeatured tools that can help you do just about anything.
NETWORKING

74 Easy Fixes for Network Problems
From disappearing Internet connections to poky downloads to incompatible hardware, we diagnose ailments and prescribe cures.
BUYERS GUIDE

58
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82 Easy on the Eyes
Practical advice for evaluating the alternatives before you shop, and selecting the right LCD monitor for your needs.
O N TH E COVE R
32

C OV E R S T O RY

58 Virus Stoppers
The nefarious business of creating computer viruses has grown increasingly sophisticated and lucrative, requiring antivirus software of equal sophistication. We tested eight packages to see which ones are up to the job.

74 52

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CONTENT PAGE

R E V I E WS & R A N K I N G S
32 Processors 11 14

D E PA R T M E N T S
Letters

Six latest processors priced below 10K put to the grind.
36 Video Card

Reactions to our Indian Web Awards.
Up Front

Budget DX 10 video cards from Asus and MSI compared
38 40 42 48 49 Camera

Cellphones are morphing into devices that function as the best reflection of our wired identity.
24 Lateral View

Kodak V1003
All-In-One

32
25 26

Complement your knowledge search on the web with user generated content.
The Other Side

Canon MP450
Music Phone

We can see our future through video games.
Tech Tonic

Sony W200i
Imaging Software

Cutting edge technology does not necessarily call for copious amounts of money.
28 30 Bugs and Fixes

Adobe Dreamwaever CS3
UMPC

A Microsoft security component proves flawed.
Hassle Free-PC

Asus R2H See page 32 for a complete list of products reviewed.
W H AT ’ S O N D V D

Fight back against spyware hidden in your PC.

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116

Full Disclosure

Drowning in updates from chatterbox software.

Essentials
PC World Super Suite 1.7GB of software including Windows patches, codes, multi-media players and editing tools etc
Full Products

N E WS & T R E N D S
16 19 Vista Security

New operating system may be safer— but take care.
Hard Drives’ Failing Grade

Failure rates are higher than thought.
20 Cool Gadgets

Ubuntu 7.04 ( for 32 bit and 64 bit systems ) Kubuntu 7.04 ( for 32 bit and 64 bit systems )

Latest products and gadgets in the global market.
22 Plugged In

16
Tech Videos 10 Exclusive Tech Videos Catch a sneak peek at products and technology of today and tomorrow with tech videos, complete with a video review of Sony’s T100 8.1MP camera. Movies The Scene : Season 2 Game Demo and Vids Stonghold 2 CC3 - Behind the scenes

iPhone , therefore I am; nicer Linux interface and second-gen UMPCs.

H E R E ’ S H OW
88 91 92 Network Storage Tips

Share files on a LAN via a NAS box.
Windows Tips

Find files and folders in the easiest ways.
Hardware Tips

Ease the transition to Windows Vista.

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93

Answer Line

See page 102 for a complete list of software on DVD.

Set your PC to filter cookies wisely.

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JUNE 2007

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REVIEWS | NEWS | FEATURES

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CONTENT PAGE

LETTERS
LETTERS@PCWORLD.IN

APPRECIATION

SOLUTIONS

ONLINE

biles were considered as a sector for the evaluation, but as mentioned by you too, it may be very exciting in the coming few months. We felt that the sector has not matured as much, so as to be covered in the rankings at the present moment. As for the future, it is for anybody to predict. We would definitely consider it, if the sector is popular enough at the time of our next ranking.

Editor’s Reply: We’re so glad that you both saw value in our rating of Indian websites. We’ll definitely keep your suggestions in mind, when we assess sites the next year around.

QUERIES

OVERWHELMING RESPONSE

i recently made up my mind to buy a 32-inch LCD TV. Can you please help me choose between Sony and Samsung? I am really confused about which is better.
Kush Shah, By E-mail Editors Reply: Sony and Samsung are the top 2 brands in LCD TV market in India. Samsung has more range in the 32-inch LCD TV segment as compared to Sony. If you do not have any budget constraint you can opt for the top end Sony model that supports 1080P and offers HDMI connectivity. If you have a budget constraint, the Samsung LA32R81B priced at Rs 65,000 is a good option.

i would like to appreciate your article on the Best Indian Websites of 2007. Our group runs IndiaProperty.com, BharatMatrimony.com and Clickjobs, which have been extensively covered in your article. Such kind of benchmarking was very much needed as the DotCom industry is on the upswing. However, I would like to add on that an important category i.e Automobile has been seriously overlooked upon whereas there are almost half a dozen websites in this category . These include the likes of Indiaautomobile.com,carwale.com, driveinside.com, carsalesindia.com and autoindia. com. This category is fast catching up and would see lots of excitement in the coming months. Hope to see this category covered in your next edition.
Gurjot Singh, Marketing Manager for IndiaAutomobile.com, By E-mail Editor’s Reply: We appreciate your feedback. We would like to share that Automo-

I really liked your cover story on the Best Indian Websites, I know some of the websites featured in the article but completely unaware of some like Tech2. The article is quite informative and I would like to see more Indian websites covered in your magazine. Also, as user and volunteer; I would like to suggest a website name CGIndia (http://www. cgindia.org/), which is about 3d Computer Graphics and CGToolbar, which they have created for connecting people in CG Community. Keep up the good work.
Tushar Chakraborty, By E-mail

This is with regards to the latest issue of P C World, in which you have produced a list of the Best Indian Websites. I would request you to consider adding a couple of new categories - Equity Research & Financial Planning. I hope you will consider this suggestion.
Rahul Goel, By e-mail

Recently I bought a Samsung 160GB hard disk [SP1644N] and installed it on my Compaq Presario PC SR1530IL. Due to my carelessness I didn’t notice the capacity while the technician partitioned. Next day it showed up as 128GB. What could be the problem of the capacity barrier and please help me out of this situation as I have less knowledge of hardware.
Eddie, By E-mail Editors Reply: The best option in your case is to repartition the hard drive but if you want to have only one partition, you can resize the existing partition and claim the lost space by using partition magic software from (http://www.softpedia.com/get/ System/Hard-Disk-Utils/Partition-Magic. shtml). We suggest you reformat and repartition the hard drive with at least two equal partitions, this will help you manage your storage better.

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I would like to know if I can read any previous month’s issue from your website www.pcworld.in. Please let me know if it is possible.
Meenakshi, By e-mail Editor’s Reply: There is no section as such where you can read the stories sorted by our print issues. But all the stories that appear in our magazine are posted online, in different sections. You can search for them easily on the website using the search box or browse through the sections of the site for relevant articles.

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V I J AY E K C AA C H A NY R R AN N RAM RCcM DRA H

The New Swiss Army Knife
Mobiles are morphing into devices that function as a reflection of our wired identity.
Some months ago, MIRS Communications, an Israeli mobile provider launched a new cellphone. So what’s the big deal? Cellphones are launched every other day. The interesting thing about MIRS’ handset was that it did voice. Nothing else. No SMS. No ringtones. No games. Zip.
A bit like using my dad’s 1967 Standard Herald to take on the Suzuki SX4, you might think. While the Israeli ‘kosher phone’ was a response to orthodox religious requirements, it seems anachronistic in a world where an increasing number of features are being squeezed into cellphones from longer lasting batteries to good camera optics to music players and radios to GPS locators . The cellphone’s future seems to be more about lots more. It’s also about changing mobiles into the Swiss Army Knife of personal technology — devices that function as the best reflection of our wired identity. Accessing e-mail seems passé; the cellphone is getting transformed into a device that also delivers not only mobile video, but also TV programs with a slight delay in transmission. While the service is a tad nascent in the US, it’s already gained momentum in countries like South Korea. According to forecasts the Asian mobile video market will top $3 billion over the next three years! But, if you think that craning your neck trying to take in a cricket match on a cell phone is stretching it, how would you react to using it in place of your wallet? Hold it close to a reader and voila, those With WiMax touted to be the next big thing coming our way (and which might see us leap frog into highthroughput broadband), this might just fuel a cellphone revolution. There could even be a day when mobile warriors give their aching backs a rest and pack just a cell when on the move. Of course, I don’t see an executive trying to make sense of a spreadsheet on a mobile – to do that he’d have to be a wizard. As cell phone penetration increases in India a lot more things are going to change. This isn’t just wishful thinking. A recent McKinsey study found that raising wireless penetration by 10 percentage points can lead to an increase in a country’s gross domestic product of about 0.5 percent. That translates to over Rs 8,000 crore for the Indian economy. If you want to see the impact cellphones can have on a micro level take the fisherfolk of Kerala, who were among the early adopters a decade ago. In just three years since that point in time, their ability to figure out the best markets to land their catch, allowed them to cut waste to zero while increasing profits by 8 percent. Oh, and did I mention that consumer prices for fish dropped by about 4 percent during the same period? Cellphones with cameras is what one of the shootouts in this issue is all about (Page 52) . Let me know what you think about it.
Vijay Ramachandran is the Editor-in-Chief of PC World. Send him your comments at vijay_ramachandran@idgindia.com

multiplex tickets are yours (Nokia, At&T, Citigroup and MasterCard are already in a pilot to do just this). In a country like ours, with 60 lakh connections being added every month, this may mean a lot more than just new sleeker and fancy handsets. It might mean that cellphones and not PCs may become the favorite way that our nation logs on to the Internet — we already have 20 times more cell phones than PCs with Net access. Understandably, cell phones and PCs / laptops do very different things and that too at very different price points. However, given their proliferation, as cell bandwidth begins to approach those that we’re used to on PCs, things may start to change.

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ILLUSTRATION: UNNIKRISHNAN A.V.

NEWS & T REN DS

INSIDE

19 20 22

HARD-DRIVE FAILURES SUR PRISINGLY FREQUENT COOL GADGET PLUGGED IN

W H AT ’ S N E W A N D W H AT ’ S N E X T I N T E C H N O L O G Y

Vista Security
THOUGH WINDOWS VISTA MAY BE SAFER THAN XP, MICROSOFT’S FAR-FROM-IMPREGNABLE NEW OPERATING SYSTEM IS ALREADY PROVING TO BE VULNERABLE. BY RYAN NARAINE
in late march, when security researchers stumbled upon drive-by download at tacks exploiting yet another serious Windows hole, they had an eye-opening surprise: The vulnerability—caused by the way Windows handled animated cursor (.ani) files—didn’t affect just Windows XP. It also hit Vista, Microsoft’s new security-centric OS. Security experts still proclaim Vista a major im provement over previous Windows versions, and readily say that its important new safety features—including an improved firewall, a “Protected Mode” for Internet Explorer, and User Account Co n t r o l — m a k e i t m u c h more resistant to the most common forms of spyware and malware. But this latest
16

safer, but its users must still be on their guard.
NAGGING DEFENSE

flaw (now fixed) is a major black eye for Microsoft; along with two other critical security patches issued for Vista in its first three months

on shelves, the problem has tarnished Vista’s security sheen (see “Vista’s Vulnerabilities” on page 17 for details). The new OS may be

user account control (UAC) has the best of intentions behind it. According to Microsoft’s own estimates, a whopping 95 percent of all pre-Vista Windows users perform everyday tasks logged in with Administrator credentials that let them make any kind of system changes—but that also allow malicious hackers to hijack a PC easily. By default, UAC requires a password for such tasks, keeping users—or malware—from haphazardly changing sensitive parts of the OS. But UAC is its own worst enemy. Its frequent pop-up prompts seriously annoy many users, particularly dur-

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ILLUSTRATION: PC ANOOP

N EWS & T R ENDS

VISTA’S BUILT-IN ANTISPYWARE app, Windows Defender, offers daily scans but missed a third of spyware and adware samples in tests.

ing setup of a new machine. The prompts appear less often after about ten days of heavy use, but some early adopters have never made it that far. “These alerts just kept popping up constantly and unnecessarily,” says Sergio E. Yáñez, a Vista user who works as a vice president at a New York bank. “I would try to move a file between folders and have to deal with these prompts. Very, very annoying.” Like many other people, Yáñez responded by turning off UAC completely. In his case, he had to turn it back on to run
RISKS

some older games that required additional user rights, but the fear within security circles is that many irritated users will disable UAC and leave it off, or else get into the habit of clicking ‘Allow’ at every prompt, defeating the purpose entirely. “The average user will be programmed to click ‘Allow’ for everything,” says Roger Thompson, chief technical officer for security vendor Exploit Prevention Labs. Also, security researcher Joanna Rutkowska says that UAC has a design weakness in that it requires giving all

program installations full system access whether they need it or not. (Rutkowska’s report is at http://theinvisiblethings. blogspot.com/2007/02/ running-vista-every-day. html .) Microsoft says that it included the potential weakness to ensure a smooth user experience, and it has not announced any plans to change UAC’s design. A second major addition to Vista’s security arsenal is Windows Defender, an antispyware tool that is available at no cost for XP and is baked into Vista’s guts. Though not meant to be a full antivirus utility, it can easily scan for spyware applications that suck up system resources and bombard you with pop-up advertising. Defender also offers additional protection when you download files via Internet Explorer 7. A great idea. But in independent tests performed by the AV-Test security lab (AVTest.org), Defender detected only 65 percent of 14,517 adware and spyware samples in

IN BRIEF

Product Pipeline

AD-AWARE UPGRADE: Lavasoft says that a new version of its popular AdAware antispyware program due in June will feature improved detection of adware and hidden malware, a scanning engine that goes easy on PC system resources, and an updated interface. A personal-use version will remain free, while the Rs. 1,800 Ad-Aware 2007 Pro will include advanced features such as Ad-Watch TrackSweep, a tool that clears the cache, cookies, and history in Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Opera. END OF XP: In early 2008 Microsoft will end shipment of Windows XP to computer makers and stop selling XP retail licenses. According to Dell, however, Windows XP sales to small and mediumsize businesses are still strong. The PC maker says that it plans to offer “Customized with XP” Dimension desktops and Inspiron notebooks this summer for small businesses that may want extra time to contemplate a possible switch to the Mac OS or Linux.

VISTA’S VULNERABILITIES
• Animated cursors: A flaw in animated cursor code used by Windows 2000 SP4 through Vista. With a poisoned .ani, .cur, or .ico file, remote attackers can create a buffer overflow, overwhelming a program with more data than it can handle and allowing takeover of a victim’s PC. Fixed with Microsoft’s critical MS07-017 patch (www.microsoft.com/technet/security/Bulletin/MS07-017.mspx). • Malware Protection Engine: A vulnerability in all versions of Windows using the Microsoft Malware Protection Engine, built into Vista’s baked-in Windows Defender anti-spyware and the Microsoft OneCare antivirus program. The flaw can force the engine to execute attack code when it scans a hacked PDF file. Fixed in Microsoft’s critical MS07-010 patch (www.microsoft.com/ technet/security/Bulletin/MS07-010.mspx). • CSRSS privilege escalation: A flaw in the Windows Client/Server Runtime Server Subsystem’s (CSRSS) error handling could allow an attacker to make an end run around Vista’s UAC (User Account Control) protections. Fixed in Microsoft’s critical MS07-021 patch (www.microsoft.com/technet/security/Bulletin/MS07-021.mspx

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NEWS & T REN DS

an on-demand scan. By comparison, detection rates for eight antivirus programs with built-in antispyware ran between 73 and 99 percent for the same test sample. “Windows Defender is not very good in my eyes. Most, if not all, stand-alone and integrated antispyware solutions are performing a lot better,” says Andreas Marx, CEO of AV-Test in Germany.
A BETTER FIREWALL

vista’s improved firewall is another story. It offers the ability to block both inbound and outbound connections (XP’s firewall blocks only incoming traffic). Outbound filtering provides a second layer of defense in blocking so phisticated forms of malware that make invisible connections from your system to remote hacker-controlled servers—but as with many forms of secondary protection, deciding which apps should and shouldn’t be blocked takes some technical know-how. For that reason, Microsoft turned it off by default. But even without outbound filtering, the firewall “is better than good enough,” says Ed Bott, coauthor of Windows Vista Inside Out. “It blocks all unsolicited incoming connections and is almost invisible in operation,” he says. And advanced users can configure outbound filtering for additional protection, while nontechnical users— who would be just as likely to break something as to prevent an attack, Bott says—are not forced to set up any rules for outbound filtering. The Vista firewall passed most tests in AV-Test’s analy18
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“People will still execute that file to see Paris Hilton’s next video,” says Thompson of Exploit Prevention Labs. Social-engineering techniques that send malware in the guise of a game or a sexy video exploit people’s curiosity or ignorance to get them to click a tainted link or attachment. If someone clicks, the malware has already evaded half of their computer’s automated defenses, including the firewall. “Vista is an improvement,” says Thompson, “but it’s not the end of the malware industry. Not by a long shot.” Another potential end run around Vista’s defenses is to attack programs rather than the operating system. Media players such as the Adobe Flash player and Apple’s QuickTime have suffered recent attacks as hackers discover and exploit serious software vulnerabilities—with poisoned online movie files, for example. To keep your machine safe, patching your programs has become just as important as fixing the operating system they run on. VISTA’S UPGRADED FIREWALL can block an unknown program’s attempts “The applications are sitto connect to the Internet, but that functionality is turned off by default. ting on every desktop, Ra n d o m i z a t i o n m a k e s i t The Vista firewall, along with and they all have known vulharder for malware to find many others, may do a good nerabilities,” says Andrew and infect running processes. job at blocking outside Jaquith, a security analyst in Finally, several changes to the attempts to infiltrate your The Yankee Group’s Enakernel, the heart of any opercomputer. But Internet probling Technologies Enterating system, increase its regrams must go through the prise division. sistance to hacker attacks. firewall to browse a Web page, For PC users, the message access your e-mail, or carry on is clear: Though Vista may HUMAN (IN)SECURITY an IM chat—and this itself make things more difficult creates an avenue for attack. for crooks, it is far from but while vista is safer than Because Internet Explorer impregnable. You will still XP, experts expect online opens up the door to your PC need to apply patches to thugs to quickly look for ways and has such a huge user close the inevitable holes. to circumvent Vista’s protecbase, the browser is conAnd you must still use the tions. One increasingly comstantly under attack. To same type of antivirus mon method is to use socialimprove IE 7’s defenses, the protection that you needed engineering tactics to target Windows Vista version of the with XP. the person, not the PC.

sis. However, it was not able to filter incoming mail attachments, as some firewalls do. Also, it failed a large percentage of so-called leaktests, which use a specially crafted program to see whether a firewall will block outbound connection attempts. Still, many security companies and researchers, including AV-Test’s Marx, argue that since these programs are artificial (as op posed to the real malware thrown at antivirus products), they may not provide accurate assessments of a firewall’s abilities.

browser by default runs in Protected Mode, preventing IE—or any successful Internet attack that hijacks it— from changing sensitive parts of the operating system. This defense tactic has already been successful against current attacks that target holes such as the animated cursor flaw. Besides these up-front defenses, Vista also includes a number of back-end protections. PatchGuard attempts to block rootkits, which can hide virus infections. A technique called Address Space Layout

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N EWS & T R ENDS

STO R AG E

Hard-Drive Failures Surprisingly Frequent
TWO RECENT STUDIES OBSERVE MORE DEVICE FAILURES THAN VENDOR ESTIMATES SUGGEST.
your hard drive may not be as reliable as manufacturers would like you to think. Recent studies by researchers at Carnegie Mellon and Google suggest that vendor Mean Time To Failure (MTTF) ratings for hard drives are a bit misleading. The Carnegie Mellon study, conducted at several locations, found typical failure rates of 2 to 4 percent and a high of 13 percent, in contrast to the less than 1 percent you’d expect based on vendor MTTF ratings (see chart). Google’s study pegged the annual failure rate at about 3 percent. Both studies were based on observations of approximately 100,000 drives, with Google looking at its own farm of consumer-grade disks and Carnegie Mellon examining both consumer-grade drives and the ostensibly more reliable enterprise variety; the latter have beefed-up actuator magnets, more-robust spindle motors, and advanced features such as rotational vibration safeguards.
DEFINING FAILURE

the test bench. Vendors say that, by that criterion, nearly 40 percent of returned drives have not actually failed. The two new studies, however, consider failure to be any

symptom that causes a user— presumably, in both cases, experienced IT types—to replace the drive. Such symptoms include software problems, driver conflicts, and the like, as well as drive failure as defined by vendors. Also, vendors base MTTF numbers on the past performance of similar drives; no one
FA I L U R E R AT E S

tries running a new model for years to prove it will last. Surprisingly, Google’s study found no correlation between drive failure and elevated heat and activity levels. The largest percentage of failures occurred on drives operating within a mild 77-to-88-degree range. However, desktop PCs typically operate at temperatures well over the maximum of 125 degrees reported in the Google study, so the findings do not support running hard drives without adequate airflow to cool them. Google found that failure rates varied significantly according to make and model, but the company declined to identify failureprone models. Carnegie Mellon points out that bad manufacturing runs occur and that improvements over the past few years may be yielding more-reliable drives.

Google’s study relied in part on SMART (Self-Monitoring And Reporting Technology) data from drives that have this feature. But so many drives failed without any SMART warnings that Google concluded the feature was not helpful in predicting realworld failure patterns. Google’s findings do support one tip: If you encounter a scan error during a routine error check (by running Scandisk, for example), your drive is 39 times more likely to fail within 60 days than drives that don’t show such errors. IT pros recommend replacing a drive with scan errors.
FEWER FIGURES

Studies Challenge Claims
BASED ON THE hard-disk industry’s Mean Time To Failure estimates, you’d expect less than 1 percent of hard drives to fail each year. But studies of facilities with many hard drives found significantly higher failure rates.
Annual failure rate

vendors attribute part of the discrepancy between their ratings and the findings in these reports to differing definitions of disk failure. For vendors, it’s when a drive fails on one read or write attempt within a set period— typically about 24 hours—on

Carnegie Mellon report (typical sites) Carnegie Mellon report (maximum observed) Google report

2–4 percent 13 percent 3 percent

CHART NOTE: By definition, MTTF is the average lifetime of a hard drive. A year has 8760 hours, so the probability of a hard drive failing in a given year, or the estimated annual failure rate, is 8760/MTTF.

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ILLUSTRATION: TAVIS COBURN

Industry claims (based on MTTF of 1 million hours)

0.88 percent

the most likely immediate fallout from these reports is that vendors will stop touting MTTF figures. In my online research, MTTF figures for consumer drives were already few and far between. Corporate buyers might rethink purchasing plans in light of Carnegie Mellon’s finding that fiber-channel and SCSI drives appear no more reliable than the cheaper SATA variety. But IDC analyst David Reinsel says fiber-channel and SCSI drives are still worthwhile when performance matters. For most of us, these reports simply reemphasize the need for smart practices. Keep your drives cool and, most important, backed up so that if failure occurs, it’s merely an inconvenience and not a financial or emotional disaster. —Jon L. Jacobi

NEWS & T REN DS

TEC H N O LO GY TR E N DS

COOL GADGETS
LATEST PRODUCTS IN THE GLOBAL MARKET.
It’s that time of the year when people get a chance to get out of the city for their first big holiday with family. On the other hand, for many companies the holidays also mark the start of the build-up to the summer sales season. —Martyn Williams

TOSHIBA EXPANDABLE HDD RECORDER TV SET
Toshiba ‘s latest series of flat-screen LCD televisions goes one better than other hard-disk video recorders by offering the user room to expand the storage space. Typically you’re stuck with the drive that ships with the TV (or recorder) but the H3000 series sets sport an eSATA (external serial ATA) connector on the back for plugging in an external disk drive. The sets ship with an internal 300G-byte drive and the expansion socket should work with any eSATA drive. They are available now in sizes from 32-inches to 52-inches.

SONY MEMORY STICK CAMCORDER
Meet the HDR-CX7, Sony’s smallest high-definition camcorder to date. The camera records 1080i high-definition video directly to a

NTT DOCOMO MOTION SENSITIVE CELL PHONE
Mix the Nintendo Wii and a cell phone and what do you get? Something like NTT DoCoMo’s new line of motion-sensitive cell phones. In a boxing game users can throw punches or duck, and their movements are picked up by the phone’s camera. In another game, the phone can be tilted in different directions to guide an on-screen ball through a maze. To be sure, the cell phones aren’t nearly as reactive as the Wii console. You need to make a motion, such as a punch, then wait a second for the punch to get registered on the phone screen, but it’s a start! The handsets come from Mitsubishi Electric, Panasonic and Sharp.

MemoryStick Pro Duo card. Until now its camcorders have relied on MiniDV tape, DVD discs or hard-disk drives to store video, but the memory card slot and associated electronic take up less space and mean a smaller, lighter camera. However, memory cards are quite expensive, and users will be able to store only about 30 minutes of video on a 4G-byte card in the camera’s highest quality mode. Behind the lens is a 3-megapixel image sensor, and the camera can also capture 6-megapixel still images. Other features include a 10x optical zoom lens and a 2.7-inch wide-screen, touch-sensitive LCD (liquid crystal display) monitor. The CX7 weighs 450 grams and measures 69 millimeters by 67mm by 129mm.

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N EWS & T R ENDS

SAMSUNG’S Q1 ULTRA ULTRAMOBILE
Ultramobile PCs have often been criticized as falling into a gap between laptops and smartphones, but Samsung Electronics hopes to change that perception with a reduced price and upgraded performance for its Q1 Ultra. The Q1 Ultra has the same size 7-inch display as its predecessor, the Q1, but adds a new split QWERTY keypad for thumb-texting. It also has 802.11 wireless networking and optional HSDPA (high speed downlink packet access) cellular connectivity. It uses Intel’s new McCaslin A100 and A110 ultramobile processors instead of the power-hungry Celeron and Pentium chips used in the first-generation. Combined with an improved type of lithium ion battery, the design extends battery life from a minimum of 1.5 hours to at least 4.5 hours. The company will sell four models of the Q1 Ultra for a range of US$799 to U$1,499 (Rs. 35,955 to Rs. 67,455 approximately).

SAMSUNG SYMBIAN SMARTPHONE
The latest Symbian OS-based smartphone from Samsung Electronics has an uncluttered face so it doesn’t look like a traditional all-buttons-and-switches smartphone but its Symbianbase means it can be loaded up with applications to make it just as powerful. A full Web browser comes pre-installed and there’s Bluetooth, a 2-megapixel camera and stereo speakers. The GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) tri-band phone has a 2.3-inch display.

SHARP HDTV RECORDER
As consumers continue to snap-up high-definition TVs, Sharp continues to push out HD capable hard-disk recorders. The latest, the DV-AVC52, combines a DVD drive and VHS deck with a 250Gbyte hard-disk recorder. The machine will copy your old VHS tapes onto DVD so you can finally dump another relic of the 20th century and you’ll also be able to get up to 31 hours of HDTV on the disks. But like almost all hard-disk recorders it remains stuck there. Pretty much the only way to store HD content is on Blu-ray Disc or HD DVD but since this doesn’t have either you’ll have to keep it on the disk — and thus lose some recording space — or transfer it to DVD at standard definition and lose the high-definition picture.

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21

ERIC DAHL

ERIC DAHL

iPhone, Therefore I Am
PLUS: A (MUCH) NICER LINUX INTERFACE AND SECOND-GEN UMPCs.
THE IPHONE COMETH
The Buzz: As the iPhone

HERE\NOW

1
LINUX GRAPHICS
The Buzz: If you’ve ever

TWITTER: Megatrendy social network

built around text-message updates. twitter.com

2 XBOX 360 ELITE: Updated model priced at
$479 adds HDMI, 1080p, and a 120GB hard drive.

countdown continues, I thought I’d chime in with my reflections on Apple’s uberdevice and its rivals. I spent some quality time with an iPhone at Macworld Expo in January, and it truly is impressive. Its mobile Web browser alone is worth the price of admission—the touch-based pinch and stretch zoom controls are beautiful. The music, photo, and messaging features are cool as well. But the touchbased keyboard isn’t great for thumb typing, and Apple’s decision to ban third-party apps is a big disappointment. Unfortunately, competition may not arrive for a while: LG’s Prada phone won’t be sold in the States; and Samsung’s neat F700, a touch-screen phone
FUTURE TECH

with a slide-out keyboard, may not reach our shores either. Bottom Line: Unless the iPhone can magically get an AT&T signal to my house, I’ll skip it. Too bad Apple locked out third-party solutions—I was all set to take Skype calls over the iPhone’s Wi-Fi.

MIND CONTROLLERS
SAY GOODBYE TO controller thumb and Nintendinitis—the latest innovation in game controllers takes its orders directly from your mind. Emotiv Systems and NeuroSky each use electrodes positioned in a helmet or headset (Emotiv’s prototype looks a bit like a deconstructed bike helmet—see below) to detect emotions or brain patterns and translate that data into actions in games or software apps. By concentrating on a word or emotion, your mind can actually interact with a game. Both companies hope that games tailored to their technology will arrive in 2008.

considered switching to Linux, the user interface was probably pretty far down your list of reasons. But that could change this year, thanks to the Beryl Project, a hardware-accelerated window manager to rival the visual flash of Vista and OS X. As of this writing, Beryl has barely reached its 0.2 release, but already it boasts some very cool features (see http://berylproject.org/features.php). It has transparent windows and title bars, a Mac OS Exposé–like task switcher that scales windows to thumbnails, and a 3D cube interface for switching between virtual desktops. Bottom Line: Beryl could drive up Linux adoptions once it’s stable enough to be included in default Ubuntu installations. Combine that with Dell’s expanded lineup of Linux PCs (check out www.dell.com/content/topics/global.aspx/ideastorm/ideasinaction?c=us&l=e n&s=gen), and this should be a good year for penguins.
REFOLDING ORIGAMI
The Buzz: Microsoft isn’t

3

BOOTCAMP 2.0: B e t a o f t h e p re -

Leopard dual-boot utility for Macs now supports Vista. www.apple.com/ macosx/bootcamp/

4 OCZ TRIFECTA: The enthusiast memory
maker produces 1GB and 2GB MicroSD flash media that also fits SD and USB. www.ocztechnology.com/products/flash_ d r i v e s /o c z _ t r i f e c t a _ secure_digital-memory_cards

done with Origami yet. The first generation of Ultra Mobile PCs were marred by high prices and limited hardware, but the latest ones aim to change that. Samsung’s nicely designed Q1 Ultra packs a split-

style thumb keyboard and a 7inch, 1024-by-600-pixel display. Asus and Gigabyte have keyboard-equipped models coming, too. The Asus T83 swivels tablet-style to reveal a QWERTY keyboard under its LCD. Samsung’s and Gigabyte’s UMPCs should have arrived in May; Asus’s, later this year. Bottom Line: This is a step in the right direction, but between powerful smart phones and smaller subnotebooks, I still can’t see where UMPCs are going to fit in.

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IPHONE PHOTOGRAPH: COURTESY OF APPLE

LATERAL VIEW
G E E TA J C H A N N A N A

The New UGC
Using published content and user generated content for knowledge search.
okay I am not talking about the Universities Grants Commission here; that had exceedingly boring programs on Doordarshan in the afternoons. This on the other hand is User Generated Content. It is the latest phenomenon sweeping across the Internet, which is giving most media companies the creeps and has got Google and Murdoch interested enough to invest their precious billions. But, we have to remember that they are just enablers as Google recently said, it does not want to own any content (apparently they just want to store your personal information so that they can show you the ad for the right sized blazer). They are providing a platform for users of the Internet to make their views public. Which, for most parts, is interesting, especially if you are the person who is penning, or rather keyboarding, your views. Give this a thought; when do you really feel like expressing your views the most? It generally happens when, either you are totally exhilarated with your experience or you are totally disappointed. This makes blogs and wikies, which make the most of user generated content, a bit too opinionated and biased. Its best to take whatever is said on both with a pinch of salt. All the controversy around Wikipedia further exemplifies the point. True, non-influenced information is a bit difficult to find. So how do we get the right mix of information and user opinion? I have been looking to buy a new car, and have been searching the internet
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for any kind of reviews, scoops or information that I may get on my dream machine. Once the car was launched I was able to get to some reviews on personals blogs, which were not only highly biased but at times factually incorrect. If I had not cross checked this point with other sources, I may have been mislead. And, I would have lost on a good car.

My guide at this time were my regular visits to a car forum website (www. team-bhp.com) and from my subscription to a google alerts. The similarity between forums and blogs ends at both of them being written by users who are not necessarily experts. But, forums have the edge for authentic information since they are moderated and attract counter views. Wrong information is most often than not spotted and countered well.

For instance, in my case a wrongly reported feature in the car was flogged by counter views and was corrected promptly by the person who had posted it. This balanced view to the information is at times better than what you may get from single person reviews, which may not be factually correct. But, you still need to filter the forum posts manually to dig out the information. Thus, like a talk show on television, the forum is as good as its moderators. Also, as you differentiate between a newscast and a talk show, blogs and articles are passive. You can comment on blogs, but it is simply not as interactive and intuitive as forums. Google news alerts were also a saviour here, since they provided me with the latest news on what was happening with the car, thus balancing out the user views being thrown at me from all directions. You can easily set a Google alert for a term to be searched in most news reports filed. An email is sent with a link to those news reports to your e-mail ID. I feel that as consumers we are kings in this situation. Using a bouquet of complementing magazine websites, blogs and forums, we can benefit no end. We should not get influenced by just one of these but make sure that they complement each other for our benefit.
W R I T E B AC K
What do you think about user generated content? Write to me and let me know at feedback@pcworld.in.
ILLUSTRATION: MM SHANITH

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THE OTHER SIDE
SACHIN KALBAG

The Future in a Video Game
Who would have thought that filmmaker George Lucas could double up as the Nostradamus for the 21st century? A raconteur with tales of mythological overtones? Definitely. A whiz at creating fictional alternative worlds across the universe? Of course. But a crystal ball gazer whose
ideas in a video game are so realistic and plausible that they almost frighten you? Perhaps not. That’s exactly what happened when I saw Lucas’ video game company LucasArts unveil a preview of Fracture (to be released in 2008 for PS3 and Xbox 360). Admittedly, the realism of the game was as much an experience of shock and fear of what the future holds for us as the excitement of watching a great game unfold in front of you. To be sure, the game’s scenarios may just not come true. Yet, you just cannot stop thinking about them. Combine the game with former US Vice-President Al Gore’s brilliant documentary An Inconvenient Truth, the debate over stem cell research and cloning, and the current crises around the world, especially in the Middle East, and you’d know what I mean. Fracture is set in 2161 – just about 150 years from now – and is a chilling reminder (or a forebear) of humanity’s ugly side. It seems like fantasy, but it could well be real. Even though it is essentially a story set in the United States, but like several mythologies you hear around the world, you could easily extrapolate its themes to any other region, and into our lives. The game’s fundamental premise is the same as any other – conflict. But herein lies the rub: the conflict happens as a direct consequence of our actions today. Pollution causes global warming which in turn results in natural catastrophes including earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and tornadoes. Also, as a direct result of our research today, the future is divided between those who believe in genetic engineering and those who don’t. It seems to be the perfect recipe for disaster, and an inevitable war between those on either side of such beliefs — the American East (the conservative lot that has banned genetic engineering) and the West (a more liberal area that welcomes disgraced scientists from East with open arms). As Lucas himself says, “Technology without a story can be pretty boring.” But, with this story, Lucas has put a mirror in front of us – to reflect on the notion that what we do today has a direct impact on what we (or our children) face tomorrow. You could, theoretically, escape into your online alter egos via Second Life or any of the MMORPGs that dot the Web today. Yet, when we get out of our chairs and move away from our LCD monitors, what’s happening is as real as the unrealism that we tend to take solace in. And so it is with Fracture. It is unreal realism, if you would want to put a oxymoronic explanation to it. In Lucas’ masterpiece series Star Wars, the stories tended to be outlandish; however, the themes were real, and the characters were just like us. There were good people, and there were terrible villains who wouldn’t think twice to kill their own children. There were families that were separated, and there were friends who were united. There were great teachers and greater students who could get lured into the dark side. To cut a long story short, Star Wars was about us, but in a more mythological sort of way. Fracture is also about us, but in a real way. I would have never imagined the day when a video game would actually interest players in making sense of the world we live in, nor had I thought that we would, one day, step into the real world to escape the realism of a video game. But then, Lucas’ Fracture could do just that to all of us. Forget the groundbreaking technology, forget the new weaponry in the game and forget the custom software that was built to create this game... Fracture could well have us thinking. A video game that does that – not a bad idea, huh?
Sachin Kalbag is the Washington, DC, correspondent of Daily News and Analysis, a Mumbai-based newspaper.

I would never have imagined a day when a video game would have made sense

ILLUSTRATION: PC ANOOP

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TECH TONIC
SOHAM RANINGA

Ultraportables under 20K, Quite Possible!
Intel’s Classmate PC has the right ingredients for a mainstream solution.
a notebook weighing 1.3 kg with a bright 7-inch display, 4 hour battery life, wireless connectivity, rugged construction running on Windows XP. Isn’t this what you wished for when you were on that business trip or vacationing in Goa and needed a light, compact computer just to check your mails and be in touch with your world? The problem is that you will have to spend close to a lakh to own one and not everybody has that kind of money at their disposal. What if it was offered to you for Rs. 20,000? Chances are you would jump to it! Intel is offering the same, packaged as the “Classmate PC” for school students and is meant for the emerging markets worldwide. Its approximate pricing is about 300$ and would end up roughly with a price tag of Rs 15,000 in India. Some cosmetic changes along with minor component upgrades can actually transform the Classmate PC into a valuable ultraportable notebook that will bring mobility to the masses. Intel’s Classmate PC is not a powerhouse by any stretch of imagination, but it’s got just the right amount of power under its hood to run your office applications, let you browse the web and stay connected with your friends and family through instant messaging. Most of the ultraportables in the market are meant for these applications and hence I dared to compare the Classmate PC to the ultraportables at the application level and not core performance capabilities. What works for the Classmate PC is the fact that it already incorporates some of the latest technologies which haven’t made
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their way into the notebook segment yet. Armed with a solid state flash memory based hard drive (gives faster boot times and more rigidity when compared to regular notebook hard drives) and an OLED backlight (saves power and has better brightness levels over the conventional CFL based backlighting) based 7-inch screen, the Classmate PC is relatively more rugged and battery efficient than any of your regular ultraportable notebooks in the market. Its modest weight (1.3Kg) and a 4-hour battery life come as a bonus. The drawbacks of limited graphics capabilities, limited storage and cramped keyboard might bother you initially but when you compare the fact that it is still a better solution compared to any PDAs that are twice as expensive and almost competes head-on with the UMPC (Ultramobile PC) that costs close to a lakh , the Classmate PC is truly perfect for its price. The missing optical drive option does not

W R I T E B AC K
Share your views on the Intel Classmate PC, Write to me at feedback@ pcworld.in.

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ILLUSTRATION: UNNIKRISHNAN A.V

bother me much when I compare it to the Lenovo X60, a top rated ultraportable notebook that offers a USB based IDE drive option; the same is possible with the Classmate PC. Intel plans to roll out two more versions of the Classmate PC by 2008 and these will be even more capable, sporting Intel’s latest mobile platforms. If the pricing for these offerings follows a linear curve, one can expect even better versions of Classmate PC to retail under the Rs 25,000 range. A perfect case of bringing mobility to the masses in the true sense, just what reliance did a few years back by crashing the cell phone market and introducing handsets priced 5 times lower than the existing ones in the market. Satyajit Singh who leads the Classmate PC project in India said they are currently focused on the school children as their primary consumers for the Classmate PC but also acknowledged the potential that the Classmate PC had for other mature markets. From the business point of view, Intel obviously is not too encouraged to get into the sub 20K ultraportable category for obvious reasons. It will not go down well with the likes of HP, Dell and almost all major laptop vendors who are Intel’s key customers and are selling ultraportables for a lot more.

BUGS & FIXES
STUART J. JOHNSTON

Critical Attack Slams IE 6 and 7, Outlook
Plus: An IE 7 phishing risk, QuickTime holes, and Vista compatibility updates.
just as microsoft’s security mavens celebrated a rare month of no patches, cyberthugs took the wind out of their sails by hitting a serious Windows hole in Vista and XP. Attackers could hijack your PC if you simply viewed a Web site or read an HTML e-mail laced with a poisoned animated-cursor file (.ani). The flaw can be targeted through browsers, including Internet Explorer (6 and 7) and Firefox, as well as via Outlook versions 2002 SP3 and later, on Windows XP SP2 and Vista systems. Microsoft says that the risk with IE 7 under Vista is mitigated because of IE’s protected mode, and that Outlook 2007 is safe because it uses Word to display HTML e-mail. What galls me is that Microsoft knew about the hole three months before the attacks began. You can get the patch over Microsoft Automatic Updates
or at www.microsoft.com/ technet/security/bulletin/ ms07-017.mspx. destination. The impostor site would show the real site’s URL in the address bar, potentially tricking even careful surfers. As always your best bet is never to click an e-mail link to access your bank or other financial ac count, even if you’re sure that the e-mail is legit. Instead, type in the address yourself or use a bookmark. For more, including a vulnerability test, see http://secunia.com/Internet_Explorer_7_navcancl. htm_Cross-Site_Scripting_ Vulnerability/#.
CARING TOO MUCH
IN BRIEF

Apple OS X Bugs
APPLE PATCHED 45 bugs in OS X, including several critical security flaws. The new, corrected version is Mac OS X 10.4.9 with Security Update 2007-003. Get the update at http://docs. i n fo. a p p l e.co m /a r t i c l e. html?artnum=305214.

An animatedcursor attack allows PC hijackings.
IE 7’s troubles continue with a proof-of-concept phishing exploit published by security researcher Aviv Raff. Using it, an attacker could fool you and IE with an e-mail or Web link to a doctored error page that, when refreshed as directed, would send you to a phishing site disguised as a legitimate

So Long, Firefox 1.5
TWO RECENT PATCHES correct critical security holes in Firefox 2.0 and 1.5 (the fixed versions are 2.0.0.3 and 1.5.0.11). But Mozilla stopped supporting (and fixing) version 1.5 as of April 24, so if you haven’t yet upgraded to version 2, do it now. Find the upgrade at getfirefox.com.

MORE SERIOUS QUICKTIME FLAWS
APPLE RELEASED YET another update to fix multiple dangerous holes in its QuickTime media player software for both Mac and Windows (affecting XP, 2000, and Vista). The patch closes eight critical vulnerabilities in how the player handles a variety of media files—and annoyingly it will put QuickTime on your desktop and in your system tray whether you want it there or not. An attacker exploiting any of the flaws could hit you with a drive-by download if you visit a rigged site or click on an e-mail link to a poisoned movie, so make sure that you have version 7.1.5 or later (grab it from www.apple.com/ quicktime/download/win.html). Learn more at http://docs.info. apple.com/article.html?artnum=305149

microsoft has patched a problem with the way its OneCare antivirus application was handling Outlook (.pst) and Outlook Express (.dbx) e-mail files. Instead of pulling out one suspect e-mail, OneCare quarantined the entire message file, making all the user’s e-mail seem to vanish. Versions 1.1.2306.0 and later have the fix, sent through an automatic OneCare update. To get further details, scroll down at http://windowsonecare. spaces.live.com/?_c11_blogpart_blogpart=blogview&_c= blogpart&partqs=amonth%3d 3%26ayear%3d2007. On a more positive note, Microsoft is shipping another patch batch that improves Vista compatibility for a range of programs, includ-

ing Trend Micro Internet Security 2007 and Microsoft Money 2006. For the patch and a list of af-fected apps, see http://support.micros o ft . c o m / ? k b i d = 9 3 2 2 4 6 . Expect such fixes to be a regular thing.
Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing editor to PC World.
ILLUSTRATION: P.C. ANOOP

BUGGED?
FOUND A HARDWARE or software bug? Tell us about it by sending an e-mail message to feedback@pcworld.in.

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HASSLE-FR EE PC

HASSLE FREE PC
STEVE BASS

-

Top Tricks for Safe, Smart Downloads
Plus: Download and play videos, and unclutter your machine’s system tray.
are you ready to download a file? Don’t—until you’ve read this column. I’ll tell you how to download files efficiently and safely, and share a trick for transferring downloadresistant videos onto your PC. The Hassle: I download lots of free software, but I’m worried about picking up adware. What do you suggest? The Fix: Fire up your standard defensive shields (firewall, antivirus, and antispyware); then add an extra coat of armor. I recommend giving Cyberhawk Basic ( www. pcworld.com/downloads/file/ fid,64144-order,1-page,1/description.html) a try. Unlike antivirus software that checks for virus signatures, Cyberhawk watches for and blocks suspicious behavior as it occurs. But Cyberhawk doesn’t play well with all computers, so I have two alternatives that thwart malware by running your browser, e-mail, and instant messaging apps in a protected sandbox. That way, you can end a session and easily reverse potential damage to your system. GreenBorder Pro with SafeFiles (http://
TOOL OF THE MONTH

pcworld.in/downloads/index.jsp/ dsecId=1468/dsubSecId=1474) throws a border around your browser and puts downloaded files into a special folder, so that you can run them in a protected session. At Rs, 1,350 per year, it’s not dirt cheap, but you do get a 15-day free trial. Or try Sandboxie (http://pcworld.in/ downloads/index.jsp/dsecId=1468/ dsubSecId=1474), a free but complicated tool that quarantines downloads and their

Clear Away Clutter With WinPatrol
WINPATROL IS A must-have tool: It helps keep your system tray free of clutter and warns you when a program insists on loading at system boot-up. The latest version—WinPatrol 2007— has Delayed Start, a smart feature that lets you delay launch of nonessential programs for up to an hour after the system boots, so Windows loads faster. That’s ideal timing for applications such as backup programs. Also new is a right-click function that opens the startup program’s folder in Windows Explorer. WinPatrol costs Rs. 1,350 (and I promise you, it’s worth the money), but there’s a free version as well. Compare the two versions at http://www.winpatrol.com/whyplus. html?index, and then download either one of them according to your liking.

— Steve Bass

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ILLUSTRATION: OTTO STEININGER

installation routines in a sandbox until you decide they’re not harmful. Warning: Be sure to try each program separately. The Hassle: I’m an avid downloader, but I hate downloading files one at a time. The Fix: You need a download manager. FlashGet ( http:// pcworld.in/downloads/index.jsp/ dsecId=1468/dsubSecId=1474) is a remarkable free tool. Click a link to download a file, or just copy the link into the clipboard, and FlashGet pops up to perform the download. Even handier: Drag and drop multiple links onto the program’s floating dropzone. The default setting can download ten files simultaneously and resumes the transfer if it’s disrupted midstream by, say, a browser or unlikely (ha!) PC crash. If you have a manager but it won’t work with Firefox, use FlashGot (http://pcworld.in/downloads/index.jsp/ dsecId=1468/dsubSecId=1474). The Hassle: Is there a good way to download YouTube or Google video files? The Fix: Many sites contain Flashbased streaming videos that are yours for the taking. Just use the Web-based t o o l s a t Ke e p Vi d . c o m o r Vi d e o Download.com. Both sites have links you can add to your browser’s toolbar to handle drag-and-drop video downloading. For multiple YouTube videos, download TubeMe. To watch the fi les, use VLC or FLV Player—or convert the videos into AVI files at the Online FLV Converter site. All of these tools are at http://pcworld.in/downloads/index. jsp/dsecId=1477/dsubSecId=1491.

R EVIEWS & RAN KIN GS

REVIEWS
36 GEFORCE 8500GT VIDEO CARDS FROM ASUS AND MSI 38 SONY DCR-HC96 CAMCORDER 38 KODAK V1003 10MP DIGITAL CAMERA 39 OPEN OFFICE 2.2 40 CANON MP460 ALL-IN-ONE 41 LH 20A1S LITE-ON 20X SATA OPTICAL DRIVE 41 MICROSOFT NOTEBOOK PRESENTER MOUSE 8000 42 SONY ERICSSON W200I MUSIC PHONE

REVI WS & VIEWS RANKINGS ANKINGS
L A B -T E S T E D A N D H A N D S - O N T E D LU AT I A N P A N A H E T E NE S TNP & O DA M OS D U M O U R E D I E VA B Y K O L S O F T E T L AT S O R R UCT N

Dual Cores Get Cheaper And Better
AGGRESSIVE PRICING BRINGS MAKES PERFORMANCE DUAL CORE CPUS AFFORDABLE
C P U S

‘which is better? AMD or Intel?” is something we folks at the test labs keep getting asked by pretty much everyone. There are several CPUs out there by both Intel and AMD, but there is no single best CPU. The answer to the ‘better CPU’ question depends on your budget and needs. We tested six CPUs, three each from Intel and AMD to figure out who offered
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the best buy under Rs. 8,000. This covers the best CPU if you are on a budget (Rs. 3,500), or seek better performance for a slightly higher price (Rs. 5,000) and of course, the best CPU that Rs. 8,000 can fetch you. It’s old news that AMD lost the performance ground to Intel when the latter launched the Core 2 Duo CPUs last year at about the same time. AMD was forced to lower prices of its CPUs

to retain market share, and in turn Intel came out with lower priced models based on the Core 2 architecture. All of this translates into good news for buyers as faster CPUs are available at lesser cost.
HOW WE TESTED

we used CPU intensive tests from PCWorld’s WorldBench 5.0 and also ran PCMark05’s system suite and CPU test. These tests give an

indication of the CPU’s ability to handle various jobs such as multimedia and multi-tasking. Gaming tests were conducted with DOOM 3 and F.E.A.R. to note the frames delivered by each CPU for the same resolution and quality setting. The results of these tests can be seen on the graphs and you can compare the performance of the different CPUs yourself. The tests were conducted using a 10,000 rpm WD Rap-

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REV IEWS & RA N K I NGS
44 44 45 46 47 47 MICROSOFT WIRELESS LASER DESKTOP 6000 DRAGON VOICE RECOGNITION SOFTWARE CANON POWERSHOT A570 IS DIGITAL CAMERA RIM BLACKBERRY 8800 SMART PHONE D-LINK DWL 142 USB WIRELESS ADAPTER KINGSTON DATA TRAVELER 2GB PEN DRIVE 48 ADOBE SYSTEMS DREAMWEAVER CS3 GRAPHIC SOFTWARE 49 ASUS R2H UMPC 49 STYLETAP PLATFORM FOR WINDOWS SMARTPHONE MOBILE COMPUTING 50 SOCIAL NETWORKING SOFTWARE

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tor 150GB hard disk; Kingston HyperX DDR2 1150 1GB x 2 modules with latencies set default (5 5 5 15, 2T); Asus 7900GT graphic card and the motherboards used were the Asus M2N32 SLI for AMD processors and the Intel D975XBX beta motherboard for the Intel CPUs.
When Budget Calls the Shots:

WIRELESS ACCESS POINT

PCW Rating

Performance • WorldBench 5.0 Multi-tasking: Very Good • PCMark05 CPU Test: Excellent • Gaming Performance: Excellent

Features • Operating Frequency: 2.7GHz • Total L2 Cache: 1MB • Manufacturing Process: 65nm

1

AMD Athlon 64 X2 5200+ Best Price: Rs. 8,200 BUY

88
Very Good

3 Bottom line: If Rs 8000 is all that you want to spend, this is the best CPU out there currently.

Intel Core 2 Duo E6300

2

Price: Rs. 8,000

85
Very Good

• WorldBench 5.0 Multi-tasking: Very Good • Operating Frequency: 1.86GHz • Total L2 Cache: 2MB • PCMark05 CPU Test: Very Good • Manufacturing Process: 65nm • Gaming Performance: Very Good

3 Bottom line: AMD’s price cut has relegated this competitive CPU to second place. A good choice if you prefer the Intel platform.

Intel Core 2 Duo E4300

We feel Rs. 3,500 ought to be a fair amount to spend on a CPU if you wish to use your PC for anything more than MS Office, Internet and music playback. At this price point we have the AMD’s entry level dual core, the Athlon 64 X2 3600+ and its counterpart from Intel the D820. The X2 3600+ costs about Rs. 3,400 while the D820 is costlier by Rs. 100 or so. The D820, though an older architecture, is made attractive by its pricing. However when you take into account similarly priced X2 3600+, the D820 pales in comparison. In all tests, the X2 3600+, clocked at 1.9GHz and a 1 MB cache was clearly ahead of the Intel dual core. In gaming tests for example, we saw up to 33 percent bet-

3

Price: Rs. 5,000

83
Very Good

• WorldBench 5.0 Multi-tasking: Good • PCMark05 CPU Test: Good • Gaming Performance: Good

• Operating Frequency: 1.8GHz • Total L2 Cache: 2MB • Manufacturing Process: 65nm

3 Bottom line: This toned down Core 2 Duo with more cache than the X2 4000+ makes for a good choice at the Rs 5,000 mark.

4

AMD Athlon 64 X2 4000+
Price: Rs. 5,000

82
Very Good

• WorldBench 5.0 Multi-tasking: Good • PCMark05 CPU Test: Good • Gaming Performance: Very Good

• Operating Frequency: 2.1GHz • Total L2 Cache: 1MB • Manufacturing Process: 65nm

3 Bottom line: Has a slight edge over the E4300 in some games, but otherwise equal. Lesser cache makes it the second choice in this budget.

AMD Athlon 64 X2 3600+

5

Price: Rs. 3,400

78
Good

• WorldBench 5.0 Multi-tasking: Good • PCMark05 CPU Test: Good • Gaming Performance: Good

• Operating Frequency: 1.9GHz • Total L2 Cache: 1MB • Manufacturing Process: 65nm

3 Bottom line: Great pricing and performance makes the 3200+ the best budget CPU for cash strapped gamers.

Intel Pentium D820

6

Price: Rs. 3,500

65
Fair

• WorldBench 5.0 Multi-tasking: Fair • PCMark05 CPU Test: Good • Gaming Performance: Fair

• Operating Frequency: 2.8GHz • Total L2 Cache: 2MB • Manufacturing Process: 90nm

3 Bottom line: Intel’s entry level dual core fails to impress - not recommended, especially for gamers. CHART NOTE: The prices mentioned are street prices as on 17/05/2007 and are subject to change.

ter frame rates on the X2, though the Intel boasts of a higher clock and L2 cache. Another significant factor in favor of the X2 in the budget category is the availability of motherboards that have onboard GeForce 6150 or 6200

video chipsets. These deliver better performance than the current Intel GMA solutions which will aid gaming in case you don’t wish to spend on a separate video card. We also tested the single core Athlon 64 3200+ which

is available for Rs. 2,800. Even this single core CPU delivered better performance than the D820 except in multimedia applications, in which the latter’s dual core advantage showed. If you are cash strapped, the Athlon 64
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PERFORMANCE

WorldBench 5.0
800 600

Time in Seconds

400

200

0 Athlon 64 X2 5200+ Core 2 E6300 Core 2 E4300 Athlon 64 X2 4000+ Athlon 64 X2 3600+ Pentium D820

Adobe Premier Discreet 3ds max 5.1 (DirectX)

Discreet 3ds max 5.1 (OpenGL) Microsoft Windows Media Encoder 9.0

Multitasking: Mozilla and Windows Media Encoder

3200+ or even its younger sibling, the 3000+ (cheaper by Rs 500) will make a for good choice.
The Price-Power Balance:

We scouted for the best offerings at Rs 5,000 from both manufacturers and finally picked the Athlon 64 X2 4000+ and the new Intel Core 2 Duo E4300. The E4300 is a cheaper and mellowed Core 2 running at 1.8GHz and having an FSB of 800MHz (the E6300 runs at 1.86GHz and has a 1066MHz FSB). The X2 4000+ exists in two flavors

– a 90nm 2.0GHz, 2MB L2 cache and a newer 65nm 2.1GHz, 1MB L2 cache which we received. The Intel E4300 and the AMD X2 4000+ are matched evenly overall in the performance charts. And, they are priced identically as well. This leaves us looking up the features table to see which of these will be more future proof. With a total of 2MB cache, the E4300 is the winner here, but with only the slightest of margins. The X2 4000+ , with a cache handicap made up by only 300MHz lags one point behind in the final score.

Another point going against the X2 is that it cannot make full use of the memory bandwidth. This 65nm 4000+ can only do DDR2 700 speeds instead of the full DDR2 800 speed that the 90nm version could manage.
Best CPU at Rs 8000: AMD’s recent price cuts have placed their higher end CPUs at what was once the mid-range price point. An example of this is the winner, the Athlon 64 X2 5200+, that retails currently at just a little over Rs. 8000. When set against the Intel E6300, the Athlon

is a clear winner, with about 20 percent higher scores in almost every benchmark and game. This X2 is made using 65nm process similar to the E6300 and both of them are efficient processors running cool and have a power dissipation of 65W.
THE MODEL NUMBER PUZZLE

like many other AMD CPUs, the 5200+ exists in different versions. Initially there was a 5200+ rated CPU with 2MB L2 cache and 2.6GHz clock manufactured on the 90nm platform. With

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AMD’s move to 65nm, the CPUs lost half their cache and gained some clock speed - the 5200+ that we received for review has only 1MB cache but a 2.7GHz clock. It is rather puzzling that AMD decided to increase the frequency by a meager 100MHz to compensate for half the cache that is missing (the X2 4000’s is also a similar case to note). An advantage of this approach is that the reduced production costs with less cache can be passed on to the consumer.
GAMING PERFORMANCE

it is common to hear someone say ‘the game does not work properly! But I have a 3GHz CPU…’ and not realize that it is the onboard video that is the culprit! The X2 5200 delivered the highest frame rates. In DOOM3 it was 15 percent higher than the E6300 but with F.E.A.R., the advantage dropped to about 3 percent. It was a similar case between the X2 4000+ and the E4300. In gaming performance, the less said about the Pentium D, the better. Even the single core Athlon 64 3200+ outperformed it despite a lower clock speed and cache.

It needs no saying that our budget segment winner, the X2 3600+ has impressive performance in gaming as well, with a 15-20 percent advantage over the Pentium D. We also conducted a test with F.E.A.R. set at high graphic details and 1280 x 1024 resolution. The budget 3200+ delivered an average of 68 fps while the X2 5200+ was only slightly better at 70 fps. Gaming tests indicate what a CPU can do provided the graphic card is up to the task. If you look for gaming performance, you are better off with a faster video card than a high end CPU. For example, if you are thinking of a Rs. E6300 CPU and a 7600GS graphic card, it would be wiser to get a E4300 and a Rs 7600GT or a 7900GT graphic card.
SAVE PRECIOUS POWER

PERFORMANCE

PCMARK 2005
7000 6000 5000 Scores 4000 3000 2000 1000 0 Athlon 64 X2 5200+ Core 2 Duo E6300 Core 2 Duo E4300 Athlon 64 X2 4000+ Athlon 64 X2 3600+ Pentium D820 6478 5505 5645 4689 5858 4523 5508 4290 3890 5226 4300 3624

PCMark Total Score

PCMark CPU Score

PCMARK 2005 Video Encoding
500 400 Encoding kBps

402 343 320 320

300

288

200

188

100

0

Athlon 64 X2 5200+

Core 2 Duo E6300

Core 2 Duo E4300

Athlon 64 X2 4000+

Athlon 64 X2 3600+

Pentium D820

for most users, the full processing power of a CPU remains unutilized most of the time. For the usual browsing or documentation work you don’t need your CPU to be running at 2 GHz. Intel and AMD both have auto under-clocking mechanisms which kick in

when the processor load is minimal. The CPU speed is reduced in conjunction with a lower Vcore and a lower CPU fan speed (if Q-fan control is enabled). The benefit is that you save on your power bill, reduce fan noise and increase the life of the CPU. Intel calls its technique EIST (Enhanced Intel Speedstep Technology) while AMD terms it Cool’n’Quiet. For

these features to work, you need a motherboard that supports the respective feature. You can enable them as follows: Open Power Options in Control Panel and select the Minimal Power Management scheme. Now, your CPU will under-clock when it is idling. All CPUs that we have tested here except the Pentium D820 support power management. — Kailas Shastry

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Value DirectX 10 Offerings from Asus and MSI
CPU to run smoothly. With the 8500GT, a PC with an entry level processor be it a Celeron or Sempron, will manage HD content fine. The reference 8500GT comes with 256MB DDR2 memory running at 800MHz. The core houses 16 stream processors with 450MHz core THE MSI NX 8500GT T2D256E uses a standard copper based cooler while the clock and 900MHz Asus offers a silent card that uses passive cooling. shader clock speed. is very little to choose Both the cards that we while being absolutely silent between the two; both the tested stuck to reference with its passive cooling is a cards dish out identical perspecifications and offered real scorcher with the heatformance across all the same 256MB DDR2 memory. sink reaching alarming tembenchmarks. At the chipset While sporting reference peratures in no time. Ironilevel, the Geforce 8500GT is specifications, the cards did cally while Asus markets the strictly an entry level solution vary in their cooling card as an ideal HTPC soluwhich can just about manage approach. The MSI comes tion, with the kind of heat 30-40 FPS (frames per secwith a standard cooper cooler generated, the card will ond) at medium details levels while the Asus card belongs cause ambient temperatures and a max of 1280x1024 resoto the “silent” category, t o r i s e d r a s t i c a l l y. T h e lution. Given the fact that the employing passive cooling. default package by both the 8500GT is a DX 10 card, Targeted at HTPC applicavendors is basic and hence these cards might further fall tions, the card is cooled by a the cooling solution along short in pure muscle power slab of heatsink that covers with pricing is the two decidin delivering playable experiboth the core as well as the ing factors amongst the two ence in the DX 10 titles which memory chips. We ran our cards. The MSI card has s will obviously be more standard set of benchmarks slight edge over the Asus demanding. Thus, we can comprising of3DMark 2006 card with its more efficient safely conclude that the and games like Doom3, F. cooling and lower price tag. 8500GT isn’t anywhere close E.A.R. and Half Life 2 Lost —Soham Raninga to being a gamer’s card, it’s Coast. The graphs to the botjust a step above the integrattom clearly indicate that there EN8500GT Silent ed graphics solutions and a COMPARISON Asus value proposition for users PCW Rating 70 Good wanting a bare minimum While being a silent solution, the DirectX 10 solution. Asus isn’t thermally efficient As far as the two cards are Video Card 3DMark 2006 Game Test Game Test Price: Rs 6,200 concerned, the MSI card DOOM 3 * F.E.A.R * Faster impressed with a fairly NX 8500GT-T2D256E 47 40 2121 Asus 8500GT Silent silent cooler and good clean MSI design with a large cooper PCW Rating 71 Good 40 46 based cooler that keeps the A good option to jump to DirectX MSI 8500GT T2D256E 2119 card cool even under 100 10 without spending a fortune. * DOOM 3 1280 x 1024 No AA - High Detail * F.E.A.R 1024 x 768 No AA - High Detail percent load. The Asus card Price: Rs 5,800
V I D E O C A R D

directX 10 cards have been in the market since almost six months now and Nvidia clearly leads the race with its 8800 series of GPUs catering to the high-end video card s e g m e n t . Bu t i t i s t h e mainstream and the entry level cards that bring numbers, especially in the Indian market. We finally have the entry and mainstream range launched by Nvidia in the form of the Geforce 8500GT, Geforce 8600GT and the Geforce 8600GTS. We got our hands on the most economical of the lot; the Geforce 8500GT launched by Asus and MSI, two video card veterans. The 8500GT is typically placed in the Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 6,000 price bracket, bringing DX 10 to the masses. While the Geforce 8500GT chipset is very much a value offering in terms of pure muscle power, it has a lot many features crammed in for a sub Rs. 5,000 card. With native support for rendering HD content using Nvidia’s PureVideo technology, these cards off load the pressure from the CPU to render those high definition movies and clips which otherwise require a beast of a

Performance Comparison Table

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Sony Upgrades its MiniDV Line-up
C A M C O R D E R

the Sony DCR-HC96 is without doubt a classy DV camcorder, but the DCR-HC96 isn’t the cheapest camcorder around. The Sony DCR-HC96 is Sony’s high-end MiniDV Handycam camcorder, and this is reflected in its price tag. It offers step-up features such as a higher-capacity battery, a charging dock and the ability to capture video at higher resolutions than other HC family members. Sony
Sony DCR-HC96 PCW Rating 76 Good While sporting an upgraded feature set and giving good still-image quality, the Sony DCR-HC96 could improve on its low-light performance. Price: Rs. 29,990

Although the Sony DCR-HC96 scored points for its still-image performance, its low-light video quality and battery life proved to be only average. The Sony DCR-HC96 features a 2.7in widescreen LCD with touchscreen controls. Play, record and stop buttons are located below the screen, allowing you to keep your eye on the action while controlling the camera. Other Sony DCRHC96 design niceties include a built-in lens cap and top-loading cassette mechanism. The colour accuracy and sharpness of the Sony DCR-HC96’s stills was impressive, as was its video quality. Assessed in both standard and low-light scenes, we were very pleased by the results. Add to this the Sony’s

ability to capture pleasingly clear audio and this counts as a top performer. The Sony DCR-HC96 has a night-vision feature that makes it possible to record video in low-light conditions that would otherwise THE SONY DCR-HC96 has a 2.7-inch be impossible. How- widescreen LCD with touch screen controls. ever, the results have video before shutting down. a strange, otherworldly look That’s about average. The Sony to them – It’s probably best DCR-HC96 performs well and to use this only when absoluteprovides impressive still-image ly necessary. quality. Nice features such as a The Sony DCR-HC96 also touchscreen LCD and an acceshas an electronic image stabisory shoe make it more attraclisation feature, which worked tive, but we expected better lowwell, with no noticeable drop in light video quality at the given quality. Our battery tests showed price point. that the Sony DCR-HC96 was —James Galbraith able to capture 85 minutes of

Kodak’s New 10MP Needs Work
D I G ITA L CA M E R A

the EasyShare V1003 will overwhelm you with its 10MP label and a petite frame; it boasts of features like digital anti-blur and offers a “perfect touch” mode that enhances images on the fly. Aimed at the compact lifestyle digital

camera segment, the V1003 surely has the looks and style that will please most. Offering a bright 2.5-inch LCD screen the V1003 comes with 32MB internal memory and uses SD/MMC cards for storing images. Being a point and shoot camera, it offers tons of

THE KODAK V1003 is quite a looker, but those looks are deceptive.

preset modes to ensure you get the best results in varied shooting conditions. In our image quality tests, Kodak was just about average in overall image quality. The images at 10MP were fairly noisy and the low-light performance wasn’t impressive as well. With an evident shutter lag, the camera needs ideal conditions to perform at its best. The rather awkward controls make it almost impossible for the user to operate the camera with a single hand. The digital anti-blur is hardly effective and is no comparison to the optical image stabilization offered in the latest Canon and Panasonic cameras. On the positive side, the abundant preset modes come in handy for beginners

and casual users, the perfect touch feature enhances brightness and contrast to make the picture vibrant. While it might not be the most natural way of correcting pictures but it works for users wanting enhanced contrast levels without getting their hand dirty with photo editing applications. Overall, it’s hard to recommend the V1003, it’s below average low-light performance combined with noisy images and hefty price tag translates into very little value. —Soham Raninga

V1003
Kodak PCW Rating 64 Fair Don’t get carried away with the 10MP label, the V1003 doesn’t quite cut it for its price tag and positioning. Price: Rs. 17,990

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Free Alternative to MS Office Rocks
S O F T W A R E

while Microsoft’s Office continues to dominate the general market, in recent years corporate desktops have begun to adopt either Star Office 8.0 or OpenOffice. The latter alone accounts for more than 60 million downloads. It’s not hard to see the appeal of such alternatives. OpenOffice is, after all, free and has a comprehensive feature set. OpenOffice is available only via download. However, it’s now up to version 2.2, which offers a bunch of cosmetic changes to the interface. The core applications of OpenOffice 2.2 are just as you would expect, comprising a word processor, spreadsheet, database, drawing application and a presentation package.
TECH TREND

Writer, the OpenOffice 2.2 word processor, isn’t as snazzy as Microsoft Word 2007, but includes a few elements Microsoft has only just caught up with – such as the ability to save to PDF. More important to most users is the fact that compatibility and performance have been greatly improved, with OpenOffice Writer capable of opening multiple file formats. OpenOffice can merge documents as e-mails, but the support for macros in StarOffice doesn’t extend to OpenOffice 2.2.
BEYOND THE BASICS

BEHIND THE SIMPLE and effective interface lies a host of features and tools that will satisfy the most demanding of users.

the OpenOffice spreadsheet application, Calc, compares well to Excel, providing a range of functions and formu-

Brighter Laptop Screens
LAPTOP SCREENS TRADITIONALLY have been lit by fluorescent lamp technology, but several new notebook models are offering a superior display technology: light-emittingdiode (LED) backlighting. Compared with standard fluorescent displays, LED-backlit alternatives tout up to 30 percent greater brightness (better for use outdoors), lower power consumption, and greater uniformity of the image throughout the screen. Equally important, the technology lets manufacturers build thinner laptop lids. Three ultraportables (Toshiba’s Portégé R400, Asus’s U1F, and Fujitsu’s LifeBook P7230) use LED-backlit displays—we found them noticeably brighter and easier to read. Sony also has LED-backlit models, and Apple and HP are expected to follow suit soon. —Danny Allen

lae that’ll enable you to perform calculations quickly. Users can create multiple worksheets and analyze data using a DataPilot (the equivalent of Excel’s Pivot Tables). The only area in which Calc suffers is in the range of charts and graphs that can be created, but these are more than sufficient for most users. Impress is a perfectly adequate presentation package. If this is important to you, however, it’s best to opt for the StarOffice rather than OpenOffice as more templates are included. These are inferior to those included with PowerPoint, but if you’re willing to put in a little extra work then you can still create decent presentation. M o r e i m p o r t a n t l y, OpenOffice Impress provides you with plenty of help in terms of structuring your ideas. It can export presentations as Flash files, too. The database tool, Base, is a complex relational database, which will be fairly forbidding to the casual user but offers sophisticated tools for creating forms and reports that can work with several database engines. The drawing component,

Draw, is a charting component (akin to Visio). OpenOffice also includes Math, with which you can create complex equations for your documents.
SPOT THE DIFFERENCE

in terms of features, there’s little difference between the two applications, but StarOffice includes the Sun Java Runtime Environment. Java is required for both suites, although OpenOffice will run with free Java software and the Sun implementation isn’t essential. More important will be support, which is where StarOffice may have the edge.
VERDICT

openOffice 2.2 provides a superb, very stable office suite, that offers a challenge to Microsoft Office. Free doesn’t mean sub-standard. —Jason Whittaker Open Office 2.2
Open Office PCW Rating 86 Very Good Open Office is truely an excellent free alternative to MS Office. Free

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Canon’s New MFD is a Potent All-rounder
A L L - I N - O N E

the PIXMA MP460 from Canon is the successor to the MP450 and has much of the latter’s impressive performance and features. The MP460, at the Rs 10,000 mark is slightly faster and bigger than the MP450 but otherwise maintains the same print and scanning quality traits. A printer targeted at a users looking for more than just basic printing has to fulfill two duties – print in above average quality and do that fast enough. The max print resolution of 4,800 x 1,200 is hardly startling, while the optical scanner resolution is easily matched by the HP Photosmart C3188. The Canon can hold up to 100 sheets of paper, but while the output tray works fairly effectively, it lacks the polished looks of the rest of the MP460. As a text printer, the Canon works very effectively. Basic speed is good, and although

the print is rather faint at the lowest quality settings, it’s always legible. On the middle setting it can generate very pleasing text prints while the slowest setting offers sharp character definition. We noted somewhat longer spool times which delayed the first page. The best time we saw for first page print at normal quality text was 17 seconds, which went as high as 28 seconds on few occasions. There after, full A4 page text printing in normal quality took 12 seconds, a good figure for a MFD in this category. Colour printing is good for a MFD in this category but the printed photos appeared somewhat over saturated, especially skin tones – something can be easily set right by reducing saturation levels in your image viewing software. Faint horizontal lines were seen but hardly and pixelation was observed. Ink consumption is rated at

THE MP460 DOES A4 borderless printing and boasts of a 1.9 inch LCD, Pictbridge, IrDA connectivity and media card slots.

THE PANEL OF the MP460 has a 1.9 inch LCD that allows you to preview photos before printing.

120 prints of 4 x 6 borderless photo printing. We found that the ink and printing on the MP 460 seems optimised for thick gauge papers – when we took test prints on ordinary copier paper, text showed some smudginess. Using the much thicker Executive Bond paper this issue was solved almost completely. Printing a full A4 colour in best quality took over two minutes – not quite the fastest we have seen. Scanning is impressive in both speed and quality. Preview takes a blazing 6 seconds and at 600dpi scanning the MP460 takes 20 seconds. Quality is more than sufficient to convert your paintings or old photographs into digital form. Copying works up to expectations, and like most Canons, resizing can be done from 25 percent to 400 percent of the original, set up to 99 copies and also do auto exposure. But beware

that the ink consumption is the same as that of regular printing. For bulk copying, your neighborhood photo-copy shop is the best bet! The Pixma is also bang up to date in terms of features. Digital camera enthusiasts are well catered for with a PictBridge port and a full complement of memory slots. It has a 1.9 inch display with which you can preview photos before you print them. You can also make the MP460 bluetooth capable by purchasing an optional Bluetooth adapter. Fully featured and sleek, the Canon certainly looks the part, and its text printing and scanning facilities are very competent. However, it lags behind the cheaper HP Photosmart C3180 when it comes to colour graphics reproduction. — Kailas Shastry

MP460
Canon PCW Rating 76 Good Good overall performance and features – a recommended buy. Price: Rs 10,000

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Lite-On’s SATA Drive Throws Tantrums
O P TI CAL D R IVE

we generally are all praise for Lite-On products – they burn discs fast and are competitively priced. But this time around with Lite-On’s 20x SATA drive, when we put the drive to DVD RW burning test, we were surprised by its inability to burn common media (the primary reason for a low PC World score). The drive refused to write to the Moser Baer and HP DVD + RW media. It is rather surprising that a drive launched in LH 20A1S
Lite-On PCW Rating 68 Fair SATA interface is handy for those who use motherboards that don’t have IDE ports. Price: Rs 2,350

India does not support one of the most commonly available media here. Finally, we got a Sony DVD+RW with which the drive was happy. Now, moving on to things that this drive can do, it is as fast as its IDE companion (that we reviewed in the April 2007 issue) in most tests, taking a little over 5 minutes to burn 4.1 GB of data at 20x on 16x rated Moser Baer media. Burning a dual layer disk (Verbatim media) took 27 minutes – the only area in which we have seen Lite-On drive get slower than others. CD Writing was brisk at 160 seconds for burning a 700MB ISO file and is one of the fastest times we have seen. When we finally did manage to get a DVD+RW written, it was

LITE-ON’S BRINGS A 20x SATA based DVD RW drive with the 20A1S.

again on par with the 20x IDE version, at 7 minutes for a 4.1 GB burn. The SATA version of the fast 20x writer makes great sense if you are buying an Intel motherboard that does not have IDE ports, or if you have a slim cabinet in which cable clutter is an issue. Or, for someone whose board has only one IDE chan-

nel which is already occupied, a SATA optical drive is a good buy (provided the incompatibility issue is resolved or if you can stock Sony’s RWs!). For anybody else, the extra money you pay for it is not justifiable as performance wise there is little to tell between the 20x IDE and SATA versions. —Kailas Shastry

Versatile Notebook Mouse from Microsoft
I N P U T D E V I C E

offering excellent versatility in a portable package, the Microsoft Wireless Notebook Presenter Mouse 8000 gives users of notebooks a variety of functionality primarily for the purpose of giving presentations. Comprised of the mouse itself and a USB dongle that acts as a Bluetooth 2.0 receiv-

er, the Presenter Mouse 8000 works as both a mouse and a remote control of sorts. In Mouse Mode the left and right mouse buttons work like normal and a third button on the left of the mouse works like a Back button. A further two buttons make things a little more interesting. The button on the far right brings up a magnifier and holding this button down allows you to increase the magnification and also the size of the viewing glass. This is an excellent feature if you wish to highlight

A GOOD OPTION for presentation purposes comes at a price.

something on a shared screen for many people in a large room - all in a pinch. The button in the centre, behind the mouse wheel, switches the device into Presenter/Media Mode. Once in this mode you can pick up the mouse and flip it over. There, on the bottom, are a whole collection of new controls including play/pause, skip track and volume controls. The obvious use for this is during playback of a movie or audio track, but when in programs such as Microsoft PowerPoint it can also be used to skip between slides with ease. Also found amongst the media controls is a laser pointer button, which activates a laser pointer that

comes from the tip of the mouse. On the down side, the mouse is a tad on the heavier side and the smooth surface doesn’t provide the most secure grip. The biggest drawback is of course the price, at Rs 5,250; it is more than twice the price of a regular wireless notebook mouse available in the market. —Jesse Sutton

Microsoft Wireless Notebook Presenter Mouse 8000
Microsoft PCW Rating 76 Good If money is not a constraint, this notebook presenter offers very unique functionality in a tiny package. Price: Rs 5,250

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Thump is Here ?
M U S I C P H O N E S

e v e n a s m ob ile phones converge take on the functionality of an increasing manifest of devices, there is still a need for the basics and Sony Ericsson has come to the party with the release of their W200i. The W200i is a standard GSM handset, without the bells and whistles. Though it still offers the popular Walkman function, an FM radio and digital camera, the lack of Bluetooth is a real negative.
FEATURES

the best feature of the W200i is the Walkman function, although it isn’t the newer 2.0 version of this software. A press of the orange ‘W’ button on the left side of the phone takes you straight into the music application, which is both simple and effective in its design. The

THE WALKMAN BUTTON launches the music player and the volume can be controlled with the dedicated keys on the right.

W200i includes menus for Now Playing, Artists, Tracks, Playlists and Videos. Any tracks loaded onto the device are automatically sorted into these folders, which makes searching for a specific file simple and easy. You can create playlists by searching through your files and marking which tracks you want to add to that particular list. Unfortunately the W200i doesn’t allow users to rename music files from within the device. This has to be done using the PC Suite software (which doesn’t support Mac). You can also send files to another phone or computer directly from the Walkman application via e-mail, infrared or as a picture message. The omission of Bluetooth is disappointing, despite this handset’s low-end placement in the market so infrared and USB are the only connectivity options. The W200i also includes an FM radio with 10 presets and features RDS (Radio Data System) which displays station broadcast information. Sony Ericsson hasn’t installed a 3.5mm headphone jack on the W200i, but they have boxed a headphone adapter with the unit that allows connection of any standard 3.5mm headphones. Like most Walkman phones, the sound quality of the W200i is pretty impressive and the included headphones are of a surprisingly good standard. Also included in the Walkman application is a five-channel equalizer that you can adjust

THE 3.5MM ADAPTER and excellent ear phones compliment the Walkman phone.

manually, as well as four presets including Sony’s proprietary Mega Bass. The W200i includes a digital VGA camera with 4x digital zoom, but naturally, the quality of VGA cameras means it’s barely good enough for a few happy snaps. A more notable feature is push e-mail, which is a welcome surprise on a handset with such a low RRP. In addition to push e-mail, the W200i supports standard SMS and MMS messaging with T9 predictive text input. Other features include a loud and clear hands-free speakerphone, sound recorder and a host of personal information manager (PIM) features including an alarm clock, calculator, calendar, notes, stopwatch and a timer.
DESIGN

design is solid, if unspectacular and the unit is finished in a matte black plastic with orange trim, thanks to the Walkman branded design. The biggest let down in design is the display, which has outdated specifications and lacks clarity and crispness. The smaller-sized 120 x 160 pixel resolution means the screen can’t emit as bight an image as we would have liked. Thankfully, the keypad is comfortable and the raised keys are well spaced, so typing long messages or e-mails is a breeze. Controls are fairly standard, consisting of a fiveway navigational joystick, two selection buttons, and dedicated keys for back and clear. The navigation stick is a hit and miss affair as it is too short and small and will cause discomfort for anyone with large fingers. A power button on the top of the handset and a volume control on the right side of the unit round out the controls. Sony Ericsson rates the W200i battery life at up to seven hours of talk time and 300 hours standby time. We averaged two days of moderate use before we had to charge the phone, which is done via either the included USB cable or the AC adapter. —Ross Catanzariti

Sony Ericsson W200i
Sony Ericsson PCW Rating 76 Good The W200i is a solid budget mobile phone, but the lack of Bluetooth may be enough for some to give it a miss. Price: Rs. 7,300

t h e W 2 0 0 i m e a sur e s 101mm x 44mm x 18mm and weighs a very light 85g. The

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Comfort Comes at a Price
I N P U T D E V I C E S

i t is not just Windows and Office that Microsoft makes. The company is also regarded as a maker of some fine input devices. While the world seems to be going wireless, keyboards and mice are also trying to shrug off their cords, giving you a desktop with less clutter. The Microsoft Wireless Laser Desktop 6000 is a wireless keyboard and mouse set that comes with a host of features. The Desktop 6000 is Wireless Laser Desktop 6000
Microsoft PCW Rating 70 Good A bunch of extra keys and good layout come at a steep price. Price: Rs. 5,750

THIS KEYBOARD HAS more keys than an average user would require, the sideways scrolling of the mouse is a handy addition.

ergonomically designed, but it may be hard to say if this is the ‘best’ design out there. However, the Desktop 6000 is a lot more comfortable than the sub Rs 500 models from unknown brands. The mouse is bigger than the average one and ‘fill’s your hand. The recesses for the thumb and the ring finger enable you to grip the mouse

more naturally, and causes far lesser stress after a long day’s work. The keyboard on its part lets you place your wrist at slight angles that are more comfortable and there is also a padded support for the wrists. The keys are very soft to press and make minimal noise. If you prefer tactile feedback over a soft press, you will not take to this keyboard.

The mouse uses a laser tracker but one cannot immediately tell the difference between this and an ordinary optical mouse. The advantage becomes noticeable only for very minute movements. The mouse wheel can also move sideways giving you a 4-way navigation – something that is of great use when working with spreadsheets. It includes customizable keys and a magnifier. Extra keys on the keyboard include a Gadgets button for Vista, a Windows Live call button, magnifier and more. The standard multimedia keys are present as well. This Desktop 6000 must help in reducing the aches associated with keyboard and mouse use. But at Rs 5,750 it is a tad bit too pricy, which is the reason for its relatively low score. —Kailas Shastry

Talk to Your Computer with Dragon
VOICE RECOGNITION

speech to text has been a huge gray area when it comes to computing. The right accents, noise, slurring, everything has an impact on the way the software interprets your version of slang. Dragon Naturally Speaking has been improving itself

THE LATEST VERSION IMPROVISES ON SOME key areas but isnt perfect.

with each version that it has come out. Though, it may still be quite a while before the computers understand what you say, right away. With these efforts you are deemed to think that the day is not too far. For instance, this version has an option for Indian English, that attempts at understanding the Indian accent which is substantially different from the American or British way of speaking. With a simple 15-20 minute tutorial, the software was easily able to learn my style of speaking and we were ready to go. Though with this version, Nuance (the publishers of DNS 9) have made it quite easy to use the software, negating the use of the keyboard wherever possible, you would still have to work

towards getting used to the software itself. As you have commands on the keyboard, that you may need to remember while using a software, you would need to use similar commands here. Though, easily understood, they still present a learning curve. Thankfully, this curve is not too difficult to master. It understood most of the words that I said. The ones that are not in the vocabulary can be easily added, all with caps in the beginning, with a simple voice command. And it is quite easy to correct your mistake using a series of easy to master commands. And when you compare the kind of errors you make while touch typing with dictation; it clearly shows that it’s faster to dictate than to type.

The software also learns with time and it is advisable to run the acoustic optimizer one in a while to make that learning even better. But, speech recognition itself has its pitfalls too. For instance you may not want to use it in office as it may present privacy issues and there is bound to be too much noise in the office that will impact the performance of the software. But, if you have a quiet workplace, without any close neighbors, the latest update can prove to be a releif for your wrists. —Geetaj Channana

Nuance
Dragon Naturally Speaking 9 PCW Rating 76 Good This improvised version works well but requires patience Price:9,000

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Canon’s 7MP Cam Offers Face Detection
D I G I TA L C A M E R A

canon’s PowerShot line of cameras usually impresses, and the A570IS is no different. A nice return to form for the camera giant, after the rather lackluster , the A570IS is one of the best mid-range, advanced cameras on the market. It combines the usual Canon functionality with superb image quality and Canon’s relatively new face detect focus mode, making a brilliant all-purpose consumer camera. Traditionally, Canon cameras have been renowned for their image quality and in this regard the A570IS certainly impressed. When we opened up our preliminary test shots we were greeted by clean, smooth edges and great detail. The pictures were consistently sharp and crisp, showing that not only is the sensor excellent, but the image stabilisation technology works very well. Normally our outdoors tests return several blurry shots in amongst the clearer pictures, but we encountered none when using the A570IS. For those w h o fi n d h a n d s h a k e a

IN-LINE WITH THE PowerShot series, the A570IS sports the same classic looks but adds a little bulk to its frame.

problem, the image stabilisation (IS) on this model is an ideal solution. In our image noise tests, the A570IS performed slightly worse than in the other areas, but it was still about average and was roughly on par with most other units we’ve looked at lately. There was some minor, extremely fine speckling across our shots, but it wasn’t large enough to really detract from their overall look and won’t have an impact at smaller magnifications. As this is an advanced model, you’d expect it to have a bevy of features and as usual Canon has packed in a fairly strong array of them. As mentioned, ISO sensitivities extend up to 1600. Shutter speeds from 15 seconds to 1/2000th of a second are on offer, along with apertures of f/2.6 to f/8. The burst THE BACKSIDE HOLDS the 2.5-inch LCD mode snaps along with controls and a built-in speaker.

shots are a little over 2.5 frames a second and all the standard white balance presets are included, along with a custom mode. The real gem in the features list is the new facedetect technology, which Canon has just begun to pack into their new compact and advanced models. At the touch of a button you can tell the camera to detect any faces in the picture and make them the focus point. It is extremely effective. In our testing, it successfully differentiated between a tiger’s face and a person’s face, and furthermore, as you move the camera around, the little focus crosshair actually moves with you, following the face. This is a brilliant inclusion. The majority of photos taken by the average consumer involve people, and by not only making sure they are always the focus of the shots but also allowing users to see the tracking in action, Canon has created a brilliant, consumer friendly technology.

In our speed tests, the A570IS performed fairly well. Its shutter speed of .08 of a second was about average, but its 1.9 second power up time was quite impressive. With a delay of just 1.1 seconds between shots, the A570IS will be more than speedy enough for most people’s needs. The A570IS follows the standard PowerShot design, with a slightly chunky, jutting hand grip and a silver plastic body. It isn’t the sturdiest unit we’ve seen, as there is little metal in the construction, but it should survive some rough treatment. The controls and interface will be familiar for regular Canon users, with a five-way directional pad used to navigate the two separate menus; one for picture options (ISO, white balance etc) and one for everything else (format, reset etc). The controls are a little cramped for our liking, but they shouldn’t pose too many problems. Measuring 89.5mm x 64.3mm x 42.8mm and weighing 175g, the A570IS is a little smaller than some previous PowerShot models. At Rs 16995, the A570 is a good option for someone who wants a well balanced package. — Andrew Kliem

Powershot A570 IS
Canon PCW Rating 83 Very Good The A570 IS from Canon scores with good image quality, ample resolution and image stabilization. Price: Rs. 16,995

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A Smart Workhorse
nately, e-mails are still date stamped with the time they are downloaded to your handset, rather than the time they were actually sent. For personal e-mail, such as POP3 accounts, setup is a simple process of entering your e-mail address and password and letting the 8800 do the rest. The 8800 also supports instant messaging clients such as AOL, ICQ, MSN, Google Talk and Yahoo!. As a mobile phone, the FEATURES 8800 is a well equipped device, offering voice activatdespite the design overed dialling, conference callhaul and addition of a ing, speed dialling and call number of entertainment forwarding. For voice calls, functions, the 8800 is forethe 8800 was clear, though most an e-mail device, and not as crisp or loud as some it supports the standard regular mobile phones. The RIM push e-mail technolohands free speakerphone gy that BlackBerry handsets function also worked quite are well known for. It allows well in our tests, but backaccess of up to ten e-mail ground noise was an issue, accounts simultaneously and again, volume could and supports many popular have been louder. ISP e-mail accounts as well RIM has also included as Microsoft Exchange and some PDA-like functions; a IBM Lotus Domino. calendar, address book, alarm The e-mail application of clock and to-do list are all the 8800 is similar to previincluded as standard applicaous units, and each mailbox tions. The lack of a stylus and is automatically synchrotouch screen may limit the nized whenever you read, 8800’s use as an organizer, send or delete e-mails on but the QWERTY keyboard the handset itself. Unfortuand intuitive trackball should be fine for most users. Like most smart phones, 8800 users can synchronize their calendar, address book, e-mail and task lists between a desktop PC and the phone THE INNOVATIVE TRACKBALL can be too using the bundled BlackBerry desktop sensitive for some users.
SMART PHONE

blackBerry has long been synonymous with business and substance, but with the release of the 8800, its clear RIM has decided that business and substance can also be achieved in style. At just 14mm the 8800 is the thinnest BlackBerry ever released and offers all the functionality of previous units, but adds built-in GPS to an already impressive array of features.

WITH A FULL Qwerty keypad the phone still manages to stay slim and compact.

software. The 8800 also has Bluetooth 2.0. The 8800 includes a media player that supports most common file formats including MP3 and AAC audio and MPEG4 and H.263 video. Unfortunately, the headphone jack is 2.5mm rather than the standard 3.5mm. Video isn’t anything to write home about, as the small screen makes it less than ideal. Photos on the other hand looked quite sharp and vibrant. Oddly enough, the 8800 doesn’t include a digital camera like the BlackBerry Pearl 8100. Content is stored on either the 64MB of flash memory, or a microSD card (not included). The latter is easily accessible underneath the rear cover and conveniently users don’t have to remove the battery to swap the microSD card.
DESIGN

tures with its baby brother, the BlackBerry Pearl 8100. It has the same attractive, shiny black and silver finish, as well as the incandescent pearl-white trackball for navigation. Once again, we’re not sure how the trackball will hold up after a few months of use. It doesn’t feel strong or sturdy and accuracy is an issue. The phone measures 114mm x 66mm x 14mm and weighs a comfortable 134g. The improvement in design does have one compromise; the 8800’s QWERTY keyboard is much smaller than previous models, so typing does take some time to grasp. We weren’t able to achieve speeds as fast as we did on the BlackBerry Pearl 8100, or the , both of which have more space between the keys. The 8800 includes a 1400mAhr Lithium-Ion battery and it provides up to 528 hours of standby time and five hours of talk time, according to RIM figures. With medium usage, we managed to squeeze about three days out of the 8800, which is a fairly good result. The 8800 is charged via a standard mini-USB cable, or the included AC adapter. —Ross Catanzariti BlackBerry 8800
RIM PCW Rating 82 Very Good The 8800 adds built-in GPS to a device already packed with features. Combined with the design overhaul, this sleek and stylish BlackBerry is a class act. Price: Rs. 31,990

the candy bar style 8800 shares many design fea-

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Draft N for Your Desktop
WIRELESS

Wi r e l e s s ne t wor k i ng adds the last touch to portable computing – something that laptop users on Wi-Fi will vouch for. While this can work pretty much ‘out of the box’ between laptops, a desktop will need a Wi-Fi adaptor, much like a LAN card that you

would install before onboard LAN became common. The D-Link DWL 142 USB based adapter includes Draft N capability which can speed up your Wi-Fi when connected to other Draft N devices. This is going to be one costly investment for making your desktop Wi-Fi capable, but then, with Draft N you will be reasonably future proof. Installation was smooth and required no restart before the adapter showed up as a net-

THIS SLEEK USB based Wi-Fi adapter offers good performance in b/g mode.

work connection. D-Link has included a Connection Wizard and a Connection Manager to take care of setup and maintenance. We tested connectivity with a D-Link DWL 2100AP wireless access point. Draft N devices are designed to be backward compatible with a/ b/g devices and the DWL 142 had no problems in talking to the access point. Being powered by USB alone does not mean that signal strength is heavily compromised. At close range (about 25 feet) there were no losses during pinging and at about 50 feet we saw some lost packets. When we took it outside our office and tried connecting to the access point placed in the lab, we saw signal strength drop well below 50 percent and at times vanish altogether. This

however will not be a problem for most users at homes where connection is mostly required between two rooms. PCI based b/g adapters are available at around Rs. 3,000, but the extra money you pay for the D-Link gives you easy USB connectivity (meaning, you can shift it from one PC to another) and makes your investment somewhat future proof. If you are merely trying to connect your desktop to a non Draft N laptop wirelessly, an ordinary adapter will do. —Kailas Shastry

DWL 142
D-Link PCW Rating 70 Good

Easy to install and configure, but expensive. Price: Rs 8,000 (approx)

Affordable But Slow Storage
S T O R A G E

a pen drive is turning out to be a PC accessory that everyone wants – thanks to its obvious usability and, of course, lower prices and higher capacities that we have seen in the last 6-12 months. We did a 4GB flash drive comparison in February this year – but if a smaller capacity is enough for you and you don’t want to spend any more money than necessary, a 2GB drive such as this Kingston Data Traveler will be a nice choice. Priced at about Rs 1,100 this is a no frills drive that simply does its job of storing data. In Everest 2006 Ultimate’s disk benchmark test, the Data Traveler scored a measly 2.3 MBps in random write test – 1 MBps less

THIS DATA TRAVELER from Kingston is an affordable pen drive provided transfer speeds are not very important for you.

than the second slowest drive in our earlier 4GB round up. Linear Write was thankfully more acceptable at 5.4 MBps, in line with the Transcend JetFlash V10 (the winner of the earlier comparison). Read speeds are again just about average at 13MBps for linear read and 14MBps for random read. In a real world scenario, this drive will be slow to write assorted files when it has data

already scattered across (say, up to 1GB). But, if you are transferring large files (like videos) when the drive is mostly empty, the transfer speed will be higher and hence you will notice a lesser delay. Reading data from the drive is again going to present only average delays. There is no syncing or password protection available with this drive. You may also need to note that this drive is not Vista

Ready Boost certified, so, get a faster drive if you want to use it with Vista for improving system performance. If you desire higher speeds (for office environments or Vista Ready Boost for example), you can try the Data Traveler II series from Kingston, but be ready to shell out more money for them. At the same price point (Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,200 for 2GB) you can also look at the Transcend V10 which is not only faster, but also offers syncing facility through its software. —Kailas Shastry

Data Traveler 2GB
Kingston PCW Rating 71 Very Good Good build quality and modest performance does not cost too much. Price: Rs 1,100

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Dreamweaver Now Integrates With Photoshop
G R A P H I C S S O F T WA R E

f or w e b - de si g n professionals, Dreamweaver CS3’s integration into Adobe’s Creative Suite bundle of programs is the ideal marriage of graphics applications. Fundamental to the revamped Dreamweaver is its tight integration with Photoshop. Former Macromedia Studio users might take a while to adjust to seeing Photoshop open when they double-click an image on a Dreamweaver page (in the past, Macromedia’s Fireworks application would have handled such tasks). But Dreamweaver and Photoshop go together so well that we are betting it won’t be long before those same people are saying, “Firewha?”
Q U I C K TA K E

DREAMWEAVER CS3 BOASTS not only integration with Photoshop CS3, but also enhanced Cascading Style Sheets management tools.

We tested a shipping version of Dreamweaver CS3. Alone, it costs Rs. 17,955; alternatively, you can buy it as part of Creative Suite 3 Design Premium (Rs. 80,955 or Rs. 26,955 as an

Flash Joins Adobe’s CS3
ANOTHER FORMER MACROMEDIA product now in Adobe’s Creative Suite design and publishing tool set is Flash CS3 Professional (Rs. 31,455), the de facto standard vector-graphics program for Web animation and navigation. Just as you can now move images between Dreamweaver and Photoshop, Flash’s CS3 label means that you can also copy and paste Photoshop (.psd) a n d I l l u st ra to r (.ai) files into Flash projects. When you import a .psd or .ai graphic, a dialog box appears so that you can choose settings, including the layers to import. We noticed minor changes to the interface, made to modify Flash so that it looks more like the other Adobe applications in the suite. Longtime Flash users may need a slight adjustment period. —Dennis O’Reilly

upgrade from CS2) or Creative Suite 3 Web Premium (Rs. 71,955, or Rs. 22,455 as an upgrade from CS2 or Macromedia Studio 8, Studio MX, or Studio MX 2004). The bidirectional integration between Dreamweaver and Photoshop works well: You can copy all or part of a Photoshop image and paste it directly into Dreamweaver; a dialog box lets you choose options for optimizing the image for the Web. Doubleclick the image in Dreamweaver, and it opens in Photoshop with all of its original layers, masks, and other Photoshop file format attributes.
INTERACTIVITY

The Spry JavaScript library includes XML-based tables, tabs, and form-field validation, the appearance of which you can customize via CSS. Spry effects let you make elements fade in or out, grow smaller or larger, or move across the screen, all without scripting, and without requiring any server components. Adobe says that the Spry code is 99 percent HTML, so it should be easy to customize to suit your needs. The program also adds a Browser Compatibility Check that lists the problems your site may have in various versions of Internet Explorer, Firefox, Netscape, and any other browsers that you want to add; meanwhile, Dreamweaver’s code view highlights potential CSS-related problems in green. Current Dreamweaver users can upgrade to the new standalone version for Rs. 8,955 and continue to use it with Fireworks and the other former Macromedia apps, but they will be missing out on the new version’s biggest productivity booster: that is, its direct links to other tools in CS3. The tandem of Dreamweaver and Photoshop is greater than the sum of its parts. —Dennis O’Reilly

t h e p ro g r a m h a s two other noteworthy additions. Its Spry framework of Ajaxlike interactive widgets lets you drag and drop links to XML data onto your pages. Enhanced Cascading Style Sheets management tools include the new CSS Advisor online resource for troubleshooting browsercompatibility issues.

Dreamweaver CS3
Adobe Systems PCW Rating 82 Very Good Integration with Adobe Photoshop and other Creative Suite apps will help save sitedesign and publishing time. Price: Rs. 17,955; Rs. 8,955 upgrade from Dreamweaver 8 and Studio MX; also part of the various Creative Suite 3 bundles

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Feature Packed Ultra Mobile from Asus
UMPC

UMPCs are starting to mature by offering features you can’t get in a notebook or desktop PC. In fact Asus R2H packs more features in its 9.25by-5.25-by-1.25-inch box than you’ll find in many PCs. The jam-packed Asus device’s connectivity and security are hard to beat. The R2H has 802.11g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless built in, and USB 2.0 ports are located on either side and on the top of the device. A fingerprint scanner built into the front-left side of the R2H offers an extra level of security (the included software captures two finger scans in case the first one can’t be recognized). The few times that we logged on with this scanner, it

recognized the user without hesitation. The 2-pound R2H also includes an SD Card slot, an ethernet port, an AV-out connector, an earphone port, a built-in microphone, and a combination expansion port and VGA analog monitor connector. Just above the screen is a built-in 1.3-megapixel video camera. To top it off, the machine has a SiRF III GPS transceiver to use along with the bundled copy of Microsoft Streets & Trips 2006; we found this combination a workable GPS solution, though it can’t match the accuracy of a dedicated GPS device. We were pleasantly surprised to find a real-live Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005 DVD provided with the

THE R2H FROM Asus looks more like a portable media player but it offers an exhaustive set of connectivity options for the road warriors.

package. As with other UMPCs, you have to furnish your own USB 2.0-connected external DVD drive to run the disc. The R2H’s one drawback is its short battery life, the unit ran out of juice after only 2 hours, 10 minutes of use. The sheer functionality and flexibility of the Asus handheld, and its plethora of built-in features,

make the R2H a potent option in the UMPC category. —Thomas Jungbluth

R2H
Asus PCW Rating 83 Very Good The R2H from Asus is a well priced UMPC offering an attractive feature set. Price: Rs 77990

Run Palm Apps on Windows Smart Phones
MOBILE COMPUTING

you’ve invested in a fair number of Palm applications over the years, but now you find yourself coveting a skinny Windows Mobile–based handset. StyleTap’s eponymous software may ease your

STYLETAP’S NEW VERSION puts Palm apps to work on the Windows Mobile OS.

transition to Microsoft: StyleTap runs Palm apps on a Windows Mobile device— even if the device doesn’t have a touch screen. We tried a preview version of StyleTap Platform for Windows Smartphone on a Samsung BlackJack. Unlike previous versions of StyleTap, which could support only Pocket PCs with touch screens, the latest version works with newer display formats (for instance, the BlackJack’s small, wide-aspect-ratio screen) and doesn’t require the device to have a touch screen. Getting started with StyleTap is easy: We installed the associated desktop software—a 1.2MB download. (Windows Vista users must have the latest version of Windows Mobile

Device Center) StyleTap’s icon appeared on the BlackJack after our next desktop synchronization. On subsequent sync sessions, StyleTap installed the Palm programs and files we chose. Whenever we ran a Palm app, StyleTap created a cursor that functioned like a stylus: To move it, you use the smart phone’s directional control (a four-way wheel on the BlackJack), pressing either the ‘select’ or ‘OK’ button in lieu of tapping. By default, the cursor moves one pixel at a time when you press the wheel; a cursor setting lets you increase the number of pixels the cursor moves on each wheel press. Differences in screen resolution make programs look a little

funky. For example, we had trouble telling spades from clubs in a Palm card game on the BlackJack. And some pieces of software won’t run at all: Another application caused the BlackJack’s screen to go white until we rebooted the phone. StyleTap may not be perfect, but it could help you make the move to one of the increasingly popular Microsoft Windows Mobile–based handsets. —Yardena Arar

StyleTap Platform for Windows Smartphone
StyleTap PCW Rating 80 Very Good Useful software lets you run many Palm apps (awkwardly) on Windows Mobile devices. Price : Rs. 2,250

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Ning and Nexo: Do-It-Yourself Social Networks
SOCIAL NETWORKING

sites like myspace and Facebook have popularized social networking via the Web. The next step: social networks that you start yourself, away from the spam and adolescent silliness that can accompany the big sites. Ning and Nexo’s eponymous, competing services let anyone create, at no cost, a site for their bowling club, theater company, or other group. In many ways, Ning and Nexo aren’t that different from services like Homestead, which for years have helped people create pers o n a l We b p a g e s . B o t h services offer a variety of design templates and let you point and click to add elements to the page (no need to download an application, as site creation is entirely Web-based). Both will provide you with a URL within their domain. And both let you put blogs, discussion forums, and
ASK OUR EXPERTS

video modules on your site so that visitors can interact with you—and with one another.
MAKE YOUR SITE YOUR WAY

we found both Ning and Nexo easy to use: If you have all the materials you need (photos, logos, and such), you could have your site up in half an hour. Of the two, we prefer the look of Ning’s templates and the basic organization of the Web sites it creates. And if you know what you’re doing, Ning—which was cofounded by Net scape pioneer Marc Andreessen—is a tweaker’s paradise. You can easily adjust everything, from the font used for body text to the background color of the title bar. If you know Cascading Style Sheets, the editing possibilities are endless. Ning has opened the site’s source code, so programmers can build small apps to perform whatever function they need

NING LETS YOU customize a Web page for any interest, but the highly visible ads from Google mar the otherwise attractive looks.

Laptop Battery Life
SHOULD I ALWAYS leave the lithium ion battery in my notebook or should I take it out until I need it? Even if you use your laptop primarily when it is plugged in, removing the battery is not a very good idea. Your battery will function better and last longer if you keep it in the machine. However, if the battery is unused for a long time, it can lose its ability to hold a full charge. To use your battery optimally, make sure you charge it up all the way when you first buy your notebook. You should then discharge it all the way down, and then charge it up again. This procedure calibrates the battery and enables it to run for more cycles.

and embed them on sites. Largely spoiling the look of free Ning sites, however, are the Google text ads that take up most of one of the four columns on the page. (For Rs. 900 a month, you can remove the ads.) Nexo, which was in a public beta when we tested it, doesn’t allow as much flexibility as Ning. But for now Nexo has one great advantage: No ads appear on your site. Nexo CEO Craig Jorasch says the company plans to include ads on most pages, probably in the last quarter of this year. You’ll be able to pay a nominal monthly fee (price to be determined) to prevent advertisements. Nexo does offer more preprogrammed modules, however, so you can show product

information pulled from Amazon.com, say, or post a one-question poll. We didn’t like the default organization of Nexo sites, though: The first page of a site shows just a boring list of the site’s pages. Ning has another advantage over Nexo: Its blog and forum creation tools are a bit more sophisticated than those of the other service. Ning lets you thread forum posts, and blog entries have formatting that makes them look more substantial than Nexo’s. If you want a Web site that can be heavily customized, and you have the skills to make changes, Ning is a great choice. But if all you want is a simple site, go with Nexo, especially while it’s ad-free. —Edward N. Albro

Nexo
Nexo Systems Beta site; not rated Service lets you easily set up a Web page with lots of module options and no ads—for now. Free

Ning
Ning PCW Rating 79 Good Ads mar the looks of this service for creating Web communities. Free (Rs. 900 per month without advertisements)

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CA M E RA P H O NES

Around the world, more cameras are sold in phones than as stand alone products, making Nokia and not Canon or Nikon the largest camera maker and seller. We put eight of the best imaging phones in the market to the test.
B Y G E E TA J C H A N N A N A
P H O T O G R A P H Y: S R I VA S TA S H A N D I LYA I M A G I N G BY P C A N O O P

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CA M ERA PH O N ES

Yes, most cameras in phones are not even a spec on even an entry level camera’s quality. To compare an oft used but mis-interpreted spec, entry level cameras are 4-6 mega-pixels (MP) as compared to the top end camera phones that are 5 MP.
But, phone makers have plucked the chord of instant gratification in human beings at the right note. They provide the thrill of capturing a moment anywhere, anytime without carrying an additional device. But sometimes, it comes at the cost of the battery life, or size. In this comparison, we keep the cost factor low, the thrill factor high, see which camera phone gives the best experience of the lot. Where it compromises on features and where on performance.
STILL PHOTOGRAPHY

t h is is t h e nerve centre of every camera phone, all devices in this category strive to outdo the other in this criteria. What the consumer has

THE N73 TAKES good stills but the sluggish response is a dampner.

play here is the time taken between shots. It includes the number of button phone that money can buy today. clicks required as well as the time the phone takes in saving the file on the memory. Most of the time it is a multiple of the load on the phone at particular time, the capacity of the card, free available memory and the basic processing speed of the phone. The Samsung D900 and the Nokia N73 were the slowest in this regard, taking forever to save pictures. Whatever the shortcomings, these phones offer a lot of digital camera features. The Cybershot and N series phones exemplify this point with the kind of features that are on offer. You can have exposure compensation, choose from automatic scene modes like landscape, portrait, beach and snow, shoot in burst mode or even set a timer so that you can feature in to understand is that the megapixel the shot with your friends and family. value is not the end of the world here. One of the features that we really It’s like cubic capacity in engines, or liked though was the panorama mode PMPO in music. Often hyped up but in the S/E phones. Using this mode you mostly useless. can click three photographs in a row In this set of phones, the Samsung and stitch them together to form an D900 has a 3 MP camera that is not even extremely wide angle panorama shot. as good as the 2 MP camera sported by This is helpful when you are taking a Sony Ericsson (S/E) K750i in quality. Not picture of a huge bunch of people or a only that, another important feature great looking landscape here is the autofocus that cannot be captured in in all these cameras. one frame. If shot properSome are faster than ly using the small image the others in focusing, guide, which appears resulting in faster capbefore taking every phototure of images and graph, the photos can turn preventing the “loss of out to be really great. moment”. The S/E Coming down to actual K790i and the Nokia N95/ N93i were par- WITH CYBERSHOT BRANDING the picture quality, we found ticularly good in this. Sony Ericsson K790i takes great stills that the S/E K790i performed the best, despite But the N95 was not its lesser MP rating as compared to the able to auto focus objects at a distance. Nokia N95 in outdoors, with bright light On the other hand, the S/E K550i was conditions. The photographs were phejust a bit slower than the other S/E nomenally clear, devoid of any noise as phones. Where it excelled was in the compared to the Nokia N95 which was camera startup time. As advertised the just a bit noisy. Comparing it to the S/E K550i was one of the fastest to get other 3 MP phones, the Nokia N93i does the camera going. not even stand a chance. The photos How often do you take only one shot? produced are a bit too noisy for comfort Typically, it’s about 2-3 shots at a time. and not as good as the S/E K790i. The important aspect that comes into
the N95 from nokia is the best imaging

WITH A 5 MP sensor and Carl Zeiss optics,

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In low light conditions though the results of the Nokia N95 and the S/E K790i were quite comparable, both with and without flash. The Nokia N73 performed quite well, but the N93i was a huge disappointment again. The blueish flash distorted the colors in the photos in low light conditions, beyond repair. And, the flash throw was not good enough. As a matter of fact, we found that the flash of the K790i was the best of the lot.
F E AT U R E S C O M PA R I S O N

SHOOTING VIDEOS

THE SONY ERICSSON K750I offers fast focussing and good overall image quality.

though the phones may be comparable when it comes down to shooting still photographs, they are miles apart when it comes down to shooting videos. The Nokia N9x series soars above the others here. These phones are the most accomplished of the lot when it comes to moving pictures. The N93i form factor, though bulky and odd, it is absolutely apt for shooting video.

IMAGING PHONES
THE N95 FROM Nokia is the king of video while the Sony Erisson K790i captures crisp stills with its 3.2 MP sensor.
MULTIMEDIA PHONE
PCW Score Features and Specifications • Camera Resolution: 5 megapixel • Style: Slider (both side) • Memory card type: Micro SD • Auto Focus: Yes • Camera Resolution: 3.2 megapixel • Style: Candybar • Memory card type: Memory Stick Duo • Auto Focus: Yes • Camera Resolution: 3.2 megapixel • Style: Candybar • Memory card type: Micro SD • Auto Focus: Yes • Camera Resolution: 2 megapixel • Style: Candybar • Memory card type: Memory Stick Duo • Auto Focus: Yes • Camera Resolution: 3.2 megapixel • Style: Clamshell - Swivel • Memory card type: Micro SD • Auto Focus: Yes • Camera Resolution: 2 megapixel • Style: Candybar • Memory card type: Memory Stick Duo • Auto Focus: Yes • Camera Resolution: 3 megapixel • Style: Slider • Memory card type: Micro SD • Auto Focus: Yes • Camera Resolution: 2 megapixel • Style: Slider • Memory card type: Micro SD • Auto Focus: Yes Performance • Still Camera performance(out of 10): 6 • Features (out of 100): 92 • Design and usability score (out of 100): 81 Bottom line A truck load of features, the highest camera resolution, great video capture quality, dedicated music playback buttons, an intuitive new interface are some of the things that make this one a winner. But for the speed of the phone, Nokia has got it right this time. The best performer when it comes to still photography, there is no other phone to look at if you want just a camera in a phone. Not as feature rich as the N95, it does the job of a camera phone wihout any frills. A potential killer phone by Nokia, that comes bundled with a 2GB memory card. But it is a bit of a let down to use. The phone is too slow, but the camera is quite usable, and so are the music features.

1

Nokia N95
Best Price: Rs. 34,872 BUY

74
Good

2

Sony Ericsson K790i
Price: Rs. 17314

71
Good

• Still Camera performance(out of 10): 8 • Features (out of 100): 73 • Design and usability score (out of 100): 74

3

Nokia N73 - Music Edition
Price: Rs. 22870

71
Good

• Still Camera performance(out of 10): 7 • Features (out of 100): 81 • Design and usability score (out of 100): 76

4

Sony Ericsson K750i
Price: Rs. 9307

71
Good

• Still Camera performance(out of 10): 7 • Features (out of 100): 66 • Design and usability score (out of 100): 76

If you are on a budget for a camera phone, then there is nothing better than the K750i. A good 2 MP camera, with music features, EDGE and a radio at less than 10K is a killer deal.

5

Nokia N93i
Price: Rs. 32699

70
Good

• Still Camera performance(out of 10): 6 • Features (out of 100): 85 • Design and usability score (out of 100): 69

A bit of a dissapointment in the performance, the phone lost out mainly because of its size and the sub standard still photographs. The video though was something to marvel at.

6

Sony Ericsson K550i
Price: Rs. 11339

67
Fair

• Still Camera performance(out of 10): 6 • Features (out of 100): 64 • Design and usability score (out of 100): 70

The latest from the Sony Ericsson stable, it replaces the joy stick with a D-pad, making it more durable. Had good camera startup time, but takes a bit of time to focus in low light conditions.

7

Samsung SGH-D900
Price: Rs. 23499

61
Fair

• Still Camera performance(out of 10): 5 • Features (out of 100): 69 • Design and usability score (out of 100): 75

The blonde in all the phones here, it looks the best of the lot, with exceptionally good industrial design and a slim form factor. Compared to the others, the camera is best used sparingly.

8

Motorola RIZR Z3
Price: Rs. 9899

57
Poor

• Still Camera performance(out of 10): 5 • Features (out of 100): 44 • Design and usability score (out of 100): 75

The RIZR is a disspointment compared to the others here. The picture quality is not too happening, and nor the styling. It’s high time that the RIZR, rises up to the competition.

CHART NOTE: * Prices mentioned above are indicative market prices as on 10-05-2007

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The flip-and-swivel action that it has is quite similar to a lot of digital camcorders. It has a really good grip and prevents the photograph from shaking while taking the video. The large record button is extremely easy to use, along with the zoom options. Along with all these options you can shoot videos in TV resolution (640x480) at 30 frames-per-second. Which is similar to any good digital camera’s feature sets. But, do not look for absolute clarity here as the images are still a bit pixilated, but easily useful to satisfy that urge for instant gratification. Some adventurous documentary makers have even made documentaries using their N series phones. As mentioned all the others phones record measly 320x240 (max) .3gp videos good enough to be watched on the bonsai mobile phone screen. Yes they may give you an option of a TV out, but don’t even think of taking all except Nokia to the television, since you will be highly disappointed.
AUDIO/ VIDEO PLAYBACK

this is one big grey area when it comes to camera phones. Different vendors have varied takes on this. While the Nokia view is to cram it all in the N series devices, the
C O M PA R I S O N

Sony Ericsson uses both its camera and digital music player brands in phones, WITH HANDYCAM-LIKE styling, the N93i from Nokia does a good job namely the Cyber with video capture but the still images were average at best. Shot for camera phones and builds in a more than handy music player Walkman for Music phones. Nokia does with an even better camera. All the Nokia manage to provide decent performance phones here also sport visual radio, which in its do-it-all phones, but the phones is still at an experimental stage with most perilously come close to halting. They radio channels. are so slow at times, that you feel that all they lack is the Windows blue screen. USABILITY On the other hand, the Sony Ericsson phones, do one job and do it well, while w h at w e ne e d t o still providing the functionality for the r e m e m b e r, w i t h o u t other. The Walkman phones have usable getting too carried cameras and the Cybershot phones have away, is that these devices are predoma handy music player built in. inantly phones and not cameras or But, the N95 here defies convention, music players. when it comes to Nokia phones. This Ones that look most phone like here are phone is not too bad when it comes to the the Motorola and the Samsung D900. usual Series 60 culprits like the N73 and Both are sliders, but unlike the Motorola,

STACKING THEM UP
WHILE CAMERA PHONES aren’t exactly slim and sleek, the Nokia N95 is surprisingly small for its feature set.
i i 00 750 550 R NK NK -D9 RIZ i SSO SSO SGH G RIC RIC OLA N93 SUN YE YE TOR KIA SON SON NO MO SAM 0i K79 NO KIA N73

KIA NO

N95

N SSO RIC YE SON

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The Samsung D900 defines slim and style. NOTABLE Its an extremely good looking phone, and FEATURES definitely one to own if you are looking for style with something better than the usual the most notable camera functionality. But the Motorola feature for me here was RIZR is a total disappointment. It comes the GPS in N95. It is the first phone in across as a product that is too late for its this category to have GPS functionality, time and too dated. and works pretty well. And so does the The next devices are the Sony Ericsson new interface. One of the most important phones, that take the shape you want. and commendable feature of this phone When you want to use them as a phone is the use of standard ports. Finally, Nokia they are the absolute phone like, but as has risen to the challenge and given a soon as you want to use them like a camera standard USB mini and 3.5mm audio just tilt them on the top and open the cover port. No difficult flat cables to manage. at the back. The phone instantly changes And you can use your favorite headinto a proper camera with well placed camphones too. era shutter and zoom buttons. All of them The Nokia N93i’s swivel and shoot are in the absolutely right places. An absomodel is also good, but not implemented lutely neat design job by the engineers at properly, and leaves a lot to desire. If it S/E. The device looks and works like a were just for camera phones the S/E phone when you need to and a camera K790i has the best size, and implementawhen you want to be the shutter bug. tion. The easy to use phone’s only probAll the Nokia phones on the other hand lem is the joystick, which gives away after follow individual approaches to design. a while in S/E phones. They have started The N73 is similar to the Sony Ericsson, the change with the K550i, using a D-pad. but is extremely slow to use. You may be We hope it continues in the future. able to take a power nap while shuttling CONCLUSION between modes, especially when you are using the big 2 GB card filled to the brim all the phones have one USP or the other, with music. but one of them, the Nokia N95 shines far The N93i on the other hand, though as and above the rest when it comes to design, slow as the N73, gives a lot better feel while and performance and the sheer number of using the camera, especially as the camcorder. The grip is steady, but the THE D900 FROM SAMSUNG is a stylish slider but its buttons on the phone disappoint no imaging capabilities are off the mark by a long way. end. They are big but sticky and rubbery. They Simply do not deserve to be on the phone of this class. But the N95, deserves a special mention here for the phenomenal design. Though the phone is a bit slow again, if you can get past that, a whole barrage of goodies open up using a new intuitive series 60 interface. The phone has everything and the kitchen sink thrown in as goodies. GPS, Wi-Fi, a 5 MP camera, 640x480 30 FPS video recording, a media player, visual radio, Did I mention it’s a pretty capable phone too? Yes, it comes at a price, but compare that to the number of devices that it replaces, and it’s really something.

PERFORMING SIMILARLY tO K750i the Sony Ericsson K550i is slimmer and gives EDGE connectivity.

features on offer. It is the first phone to score above 90 in our features chart. A job well done to say the least. But Nokia does need to get over its nagging speed issues that can sometimes leave a bad after-taste. The N93i is a bit stuck in no-mans land after the launch of N95 and the N73i – Music Edition and needs to spruce up its sluggish software to get back in the race. On the other hand, the Sony Ericsson K790i needs to be commended for its excellent still camera. Not even the 5MP N95 camera comes close to being as good as the K790i when it comes to still shots. Yes the video recording is a bit sub-par and needs to improve. If you just want a still camera and phone, this is the one to buy. The K750i and K550i are good budget options in camera phones, but both have some tradeoffs because of the price. Samsung and Motorola need to catch up fast here. Though the Samsung retains the premium positioning because of its looks, it acts more like a blonde. If you want a Paris Hilton of phones, you have it in the Samsung. The Motorola on the other hand is stuck with its four-letter pseudonyms that seize to have an effect after the RAZR. The RIZR simply does not rise up to the challenge.

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june 2007

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a n t i vi ru s

Twenty years after the first one appeared, PC viruses are more diabolical than ever. How do you keep them off your system? Read on for the results of our rigorous lab tests of the top antivirus progra ms.
B Y r Ya n n a r a i n e
i L L U S T R AT i O n S B Y U n n i K R i S HnAn

STOPPERS
trojan horses. rootkits. botnets. keyloggers. These terms might not mean much to the average computer user, but to the average computer they’re the equivalent of the bird flu and Ebola viruses. With money serving as the main motive, tech crooks have turned these one-time playthings of maladjusted geeks into a serious business.
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a ntivirus

To see which programs offer today’s best protection, we tested eight stand-alone antivirus apps: Alwil’s Avast 4 Antivirus Professional Edition, BitDefender’s Antivirus 10, Eset’s NOD32, Grisoft’s AVG 7.5 Anti-Virus Professional Edition, Kaspersky’s Anti-Virus 6, Panda’s Antivirus 2007, Symantec’s Norton AntiVirus 2007, and Trend Micro’s AntiVirus plus AntiSpyware 2007. These apps allow users to pick and choose their other security software (such as firewalls), and they cost less than security suites. All include antispyware protection, and many have antirootkit components to defend against devious attempts to hide malware deep within a system. To protect against unknown viruses, all of the apps we tested come with some form of proactive protection to supplement more-traditional signature-based approaches, which must match incoming threats against a database of known threats in order to block them. After rigorous analysis, we awarded Kaspersky’s well-designed Anti-Virus 6 the Best Buy. It ended up in a virtual dead heat with the entries from Symantec and BitDefender for best malware detection honors, and it also did the best job of cleaning malware infections. At Rs. 2,250, however, it’s relatively expensive. In partnership with security research company AV-Test.org, we tested the programs under Microsoft Vista Ultimate; all eight have a Windows XP version as well. By far the most important tests that AV-Test conducted pitted each app against a “zoo”—a collection of nearly 900,000 viruses, Trojan horses, bots, and other forms of malware. After this, each app had to try to detect current threats using one- and two-month-old signature files to simulate how well it could block unknown malware. Our three best-rated apps were, not surprisingly, those that performed best in these critical tests. We also rated each program on its design and ease of use, including whether the application installed with an appropriate default configuration. We then factored in performance, support policies, and whether the app had features such as Web-traffic scanning. Finally we rated cost. To
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BEST BUY KASPERSKY Excellent virus detection and speedy signature delivery make it the tops.

choose our contenders, we selected from Vistaready popular sellers and best-of-breed programs. Alwil and Grisoft offer feature-limited free versions of their programs—but to compare apples to apples, we selected their paid versions. Wondering why McAfee isn’t on the list? The company no longer sells a stand-alone antivirus app (its VirusScan Plus programs include a firewall). Another noshow is F-Secure, whose popular app wasn’t Vista-ready in time for inclusion in our testing.

Best BUY

nORTOn The Protection Center affords a useful at-a-glance summary of system security status.

our best buy antivirus program, Kaspersky Anti-Virus 6 delivered top-notch success rates for malware detection (96 percent) and disinfection performance (86 percent of all items). It was fastest at producing new signatures, too, with a response time of 0 to 2 hours. You’ll pay for this stellar performance, however. At Rs. 2,250 for the downloaded product, AntiVirus 6 is the most expensive program we tested, though the renewal cost drops to Rs. 1,575 per year. In addition, its proactive protection was only middling, catching approximately half of the 200 new malware samples it was exposed to when tested using a one-month-old signature database. Anti-Virus 6’s polished interface makes it easy for users to schedule scans. And clearly labeled, one-click drill-down options make finding and setting up various advanced features a breeze. In dealing with e-mail and news traffic, the program scans incoming and outgoing data over the POP3, SMTP, IMAP, and NNTP protocols. It monitors HTTP traffic for Web-borne threats, too. It doesn’t set up a default scheduled scan, however—you’ll need to set one up yourself. Built-in antiphishing protection can block scam e-mail, and Kaspersky’s “proactive defense” module looks for the hidden processes and Registry changes that can signal malware hidden with a rootkit. If you buy this program, do so online— the download costs Rs. 450 less than the retail box. If you want to get the Vista-

1

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compatible flavor, you’ll have to download the program anyway. Just be sure to download the right version; it’s easy to click the wrong link among the many offered on the downloads page.

2

Symantec

symantec norton antivirus 2007 is a solid performer, with an overall virus detection rate of 96 percent, placing it firmly in the upper echelon of the test group. Like the other top-rated products, it has an attractive and easy-to-use inter-

Norton Antivirus is a solid performer, but support calls come at a price.

face. It was the slowest to respond to virus outbreaks, however, taking 10 to 12 hours on average to deliver new signatures. And like Kaspersky’s, its proactive protection was only middling, catching about half of the unknown threats in our test. At Rs.1,800, Norton Antivirus 2007 costs less than Kaspersky Anti-Virus 6, but Symantec offers only a paltry Rs. 45 discount for yearly renewals, making it one of the more expensive antivirus options in the long term. Tech support is similarly costly:

f e at u r e s c o m pa r i s o n

Top Antivirus Performers
KASPeRSKY’S fiRSt-RAte but pricey program offers a smooth, easy-to-use design and excellent protection against malware.
AntiViRuS SoftwARe
PCW Rating Design and ease of use Malwaredetection rate 1 Proactive detection of unknown threats 2 Falsepositive detections 3 System slowdown 4 Outbreakresponse time (hours) 5 Bottom line

Kaspersky Anti-Virus 6

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Rs. 2,250 (Rs. 1,575 renewal)

85
Very Good

Superior

96%

51%

6

10%

0 to 2

This effective but expensive program has solid malware detection and the fastest outbreak-response time among currently tested competitors. Symantec’s solid program wins top marks for antivirus detection and cleanup, but its renewal and support costs are high. BitDefender has excellent malware detection and a good price, but it causes a noticeable (though not show-stopping) system slowdown. NOD32 provides the best proactive protection by far, but its overall malware detection is second-tier, and it has an overly technical interface. This competitively priced option offers good proactive protection, average overall malware detection, and a poor disinfection rate. This program has decent overall malware detection, but poor proactive protection, and an awkward design. The least-expensive program we tested, AVG has average overall malware detection, the worst proactive protection, and a clunky interface. Trend Micro’s poor performance at detecting malicious software (overall and proactive) put it at the bottom of the barrel in our ranking.

Symantec Norton AntiVirus 2007
Rs. 1,800 (Rs. 1,755 renewal)

84
Very Good

Superior

96%

49%

3

10%

10 to 12

BitDefender Antivirus 10
Rs. 1,350 (Rs. 990 renewal)

84
Very Good

Superior

96%

61%

14

124%

4 to 6

Eset NOD32
Rs. 1,755 (Rs. 1,215 renewal)

84
Very Good

Very Good

90%

79%

6

5%

4 to 6

Panda Antivirus 2007
Rs. 1,350 (Rs. 1,350 renewal)

79
Good

Very Good

90%

56%

3

4%

6 to 8

Alwil Avast 4 Antivirus Professional Edition
Rs. 1,800 (Rs. 1,260 renewal)

78
Good

Good

92%

37%

5

4%

6 to 8

Grisoft AVG 7.5 Anti-Virus Professional Edition
Rs. 1,350 (Rs. 675 renewal)

77
Good

Good

91%

34%

1

2%

6 to 8

Trend Micro AntiVirus plus AntiSpyware 2007
Rs. 1,800 (Rs. 1,800 renewal)

71
Good

Very Good

82%

43%

0

9%

6 to 8

FOOTNOTES: 1 Tests conducted using AV-Test.org’s collection of 884,164 malware samples. 2 Tested using one-month-old signature files. 3 The number of harmless files incorrectly identified as suspect, out of 20,000. 4 The amount of slowdown seen on a computer running Microsoft Office with the antivirus software installed, compared to the same computer without the software. 5 The number of hours, on average, that the company took to deliver signatures for new malware during the first part of 2007. CHART NOTES: Street prices are as of 3/31/07. The PCW Rating is based on the program’s malware detection rate (overall and proactive), performance (including scan speed and system slowdown tests), price, specs, and product design.

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Norton performed well in our disinfection tests, finishing second only to Kaspersky. It cleaned up 18 of 22 possible items, missing just one of the two changes to the Hosts network settings file and three less-important Registry items. Symantec has incorporated the new SONAR behavioral analysis technology for proactive protection. The program scans e-mail and Web traffic, covering the POP3, SMTP, and HTTP protocols. In addition, it ties into the MSN, Yahoo, and AOL instant messaging programs (though it protects only MSN by default). During our tests of Norton AntiVirus’s de sign and ease of use under Windows Vista Ultimate, the program turned off the built-in Windows Defender antispyware utility without notice. This is not because the two utilities conflict, according to the company, but because Symantec feels that “Windows Defender offers no value beyond what Norton offers.” BitDefender was the only other program that disabled Defender when it installed. Symantec Norton AntiVirus 2007 was also the only program that triggered multiple UAC (User Account Control) alerts when we changed settings; that behavior could easily annoy power users who might want to customize the app.

BiTDEFEnDER Glitches with the Vista version’s performance sabotaged the product’s ranking.

ESET nOD32 The company plans to revamp its difficult-to-decipher program interface.

3

BitDefender

bitdefender antivirus 10 nearly took top honors overall. It did a fine job of detecting malware, with a 96 percent catch rate. And it ranked second in our proactivedetection tests (behind Eset’s NOD32) when relying on one-month-old signature files, nabbing 61 percent of new malware samples. And at Rs. 1,350, with a Rs.990 renewal fee, it’s one of the least-expensive apps we tested. The program was badly hamstrung by serious slowdowns in our application performance tests, however. One Firefox test, for example, which loads a large number of different Web pages, took three times longer with BitDefender than with any other program we tested. The company attributes the slowdown to a known bug in the Vista version and says that a future BitDefender update will fix it.
june 2007

Though it excelled at detection, BitDefender was less adept at disinfection. It successfully cleaned just 13 of 22 items, missing one malware file and both of the changes to the Hosts file. BitDefender also turned in the highest false-positive rate, mislabeling 14 harmless files (out of a total of 20,000 in the test) as malware. On the plus side, BitDefender has a well-designed interface, with a slider bar in the main window that lets you easily modify protection levels, and clearly marked icons for launching full scans or setting up custom scans. It was also the only product to offer free 24/7 phone support, with easyto-locate phone numbers and support e-mail addresses listed in the app’s Help section. By default, the program runs a fullsystem scan daily. It monitors e-mail traffic on the POP3 and SMTP protocols, and integrates nicely with Microsoft Outlook, Outlook Express, and Windows Mail (on Vista) for antispam filtering. BitDefender provides a basic level of instant messaging protection, but unfortunately it doesn’t scan HTTP traffic by default to identify Web-borne threats— you’ll have to turn that capability on yourself. A unique “privacy guard” feature detects when personal information—such as a credit card number or Social Security number—is being stolen from a computer, without your first having to tell the program what those numbers are. On the other hand, BitDefender was one of only two programs we tested that automatically disabled Vista’s built-in Windows Defender antispyware utility, however.

4

Eset

when it comes to proactive protection, Eset’s NOD32 clearly wins. In our tests it caught 79 percent of unknown malware samples when using one-month-old signature files. The next-closest app, BitDefender, was a distant second at 61 percent. NOD32’s overall malware detection rate wasn’t stellar, however. Pitted against the huge AV-Test. org zoo of Trojan horses, viruses, and other malware, NOD32 spotted only 90 percent of the baddies, compared to the top performers’ 96 percent rate. It fared surprisingly poorly with 32-bit Windows viruses (which account for approximately 1 of every 11 samples in the zoo), catching only about 75 percent of these. In disinCONTENT PAGE

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fection tests, NOD32 cleaned up all malware files but missed any resulting changes to the Hosts network settings file and most Registry changes, for a disappointing 55 percent success rate. The program installed without a hitch, and the default settings were almost ideal for the average customer. One annoyance: NOD32 doesn’t enable the full-system scan by default; you have to schedule it yourself. And when you try to set that up or want to change other settings, you may be turned off by an overly technical interface. For instance, you’ll need to open up the ‘DMON’ interface module to figure out that it’s responsible for scanning Microsoft Office documents. Also, if you do need help, the program offers no guideposts for finding support; you must go to the company’s Web site. The program ties into Outlook and Outlook Ex press for e-mail scanning, though it doesn’t directly integrate with any IM applications for scanning sent links or files. In addition, it offers integrated virus, spyware, and adware scanning, where other programs require two separate scans, one for antivirus and one for antispyware. The multithreat engine can also detect malware-hiding rootkits.
p r oac t i v e D e f e n s e

At Rs. 1,755 for a single-user license and Rs. 1,215 for yearly renewals, Eset NOD32’s pricing is about average for the group. E-mail and phone support is free.
PAnDA So-so malware detection translated into a middle-of-thepack ranking for Panda Antivirus 2007.

panda antivirus 2007’s middle-of-theroad detection re sults, inadequate default settings, and uninspired disinfection performance offset its strong features to produce an unimpressive fifth-place ranking in our tests. The application discovered 90 percent of AV-Test.org’s malware samples, a detection rate that was dragged down by a relatively poor showing at catching Trojan horses (87 percent) and back-door programs (86 percent), two increasingly common types of malware. It turned in the third-best showing for proactive detection, however, catching 56 percent of new samples with onemonth-old signatures. Unfortunately, several important protective features of Panda Antivirus 2007 are turned off by default. You’ll need to enable e-mail scanning yourself in a complicated process that sends you to the Windows Control Panel. Protection against “potentially dangerous files”—a euphemism for adware and other annoying junk

5

Panda

When a Signature Isn’t Enough
one PRoACtiVe APPRoACH uses a method called heuristics to examine a virus’s programming for suspect commands or segments of code. often this method can catch a new variant of some existing malware—one of the many Storm worms, for example—by recognizing commonalities with previously analyzed variants. the heuristics approach looks inside a potential piece of malware, but behavioral analysis, another proactiveprotection technique, looks at it from the outside to see how it runs. if a file behaves suspiciously, such as by executing from a temp directory, antivirus programs may flag it as potential malware. Some newer, advanced types of behavioral methods create what’s called a sandbox, in which part or all of a suspect program can be analyzed in a protected virtual environment. the top two performers in our proactive tests, which subject PCs protected by month-old signatures to new malware to simulate future unknown threats, rely on the sandbox approach. eset’s noD32 program intercepted 79 percent of malware, and BitDefender Antivirus 10 stopped 61 percent. on the other hand, Grisoft AVG finished last, at 34 percent, despite using a sandbox. these numbers demonstrate that though proactive protections are important supplements, they are not yet ready to replace traditional signatures altogether. to see how effectively our tested programs handled proactive scanning, consult the “Proactive detection of unknown threats” column in the chart on page 105.

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that normally gets caught by antispyware in the course of its standard operations—is also turned off, and you’ll need to schedule your own full-system scan. Once you switch these features on, however, Panda Antivirus scans will cover a good range of e-mail and news protocols—POP3, SMTP, IMAP4, N N T P — a l o n g w i t h We b t r a f f i c . I t flags suspected phishing e-mail sent over POP3 and SMTP, and integrates with Yahoo, MSN, and AOL IM applications. Panda Antivirus 2007 scored poorly in our disinfection tests. It missed one existing infection entirely, and failed to clean up another’s changes to the Hosts and Registry files. Including Registry changes, it scrubbed up just 41 percent of all in fections. And after we uninstalled it, Panda left behind a stray .dll file that some other antivirus programs then flagged as potentially dangerous. At Rs. 1,350 for two PCs (there is no single-license rate), Panda Antivirus 2007 is among the most affordable programs we tested, but unlike with most apps, you receive no renewal discount.

AVAST The basic layout option is easy to use but hides advanced configuration settings.

6

Alwil

the paid version of Alwil’s software, Avast 4 Professional Edition, finished a disappointing sixth, despite a decent, 92 percent success rate at detecting

malware. It spotted only 37 percent of the malware in our proactive tests, the second-worst showing. In our disinfection tests Avast was about average, cleaning all infected files but missing changes to the Hosts network settings file and some Registry entries. Its catch rate was 78 percent. The program installed smoothly, with appropriate default settings for the average person. It offers two interface options: a distinct, media player–type control panel that makes it easy to figure out how to launch a scan or set a manual boot-time scan; and an “enhanced interface” that permits you to access and fine-tune more settings, but that seems far less user-friendly than the first option. After installation, Avast runs one full-system startup scan. But in the awkward advanced interface, we could not find a place to set up a regularly scheduled scan. One option enables scans whenever the screen saver is running, but again, this program setting was difficult to locate. The program scans a good range of e-mail and news protocols, including POP3, SMTP, IMAP, and NNTP. It also scans all Web traffic. And Avast 4’s comprehensive instant messaging protection fully supports a number of the most popular IM clients—AIM, ICQ, MSN, Skype, Trillian, and Yahoo Messenger—and even several lesser-

p r oac t i v e D e f e n s e

Security Suites by Indian Players
we ALReADY MentioneD the reason for leaving McAfee and f-Secure out of the list.there are a couple of indian programs that we could not include in the comparison. unlike the current participants in the comparison, they offer standalone antivirus protection, eScan from Microworld and Quick Heal both offer security suites that escan internet security suite the eScan internet Security Suite from Microworld offers Antivirus, Anti Spam, Parental Control and Privacy Protection for your computer. we will be evaluating eScan when we conduct a Quick Heal antivirus 2007 Quick Heal offers Antivirus, Antispyware and fireoffer overall protection. Here is a brief preview of what the two of them offer. security suite comparison. Microworld also offers a free antivirus toolkit utility. Download it from http:// www.mwti.net/products/ mwav/mwav.asp the toolkit offers basic scanning and does not come with mail protection or virus shields. wall as a total solution. Priced at Rs 1,350 it is one of the cheapest security suites that is available today. the latest version offers some additional features like “emergency CD” that lets you create your own bootable recovery CD to clean and revive badly infected PCs, which cannot be fixed at the operating system level.

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a n t i vi ru s

known chat tools, such as Gaim, Miranda, and Pal Talk Messenger. At installation, Avast 4 places on your PC a useful, built-in Virus Recovery Database, which you can theoretically use to repair infected program (. exe) files (we didn’t test this functionality). The paid Professional version of Avast 4 costs Rs. 1,800, with a Rs. 1,260 yearly renewal fee. A free Home version lacks some features such as the ability to run scheduled scans and view previous scan results.

paid Professional version is Rs. 1,350, and renewal costs only a scant Rs. 675 per year thereafter.
AVG This low-cost but clunky app performed poorly in our proactiveprotection tests.

7

Grisoft

grisoft avg 7.5 Anti-Virus Professional Edition was the leastexpensive option of the eight programs we tested, and its 91 percent malware detection rate put it in the middle of the pack in that critical category. Unfortunately, the software’s last-place proactive protection performance and clunky interface dropped it to seventh place in our rankings. AVG did a fine job in the disinfection tests, reversing more than 80 percent of all changes made by malware. It was the only program that removed every malware file and reversed both changes to the Hosts network settings file, though like every other app it missed some Registry changes. But in proactive protection, AVG ranked last, failing to detect two out of every three new malware samples. Also, the program puts the user in charge of too many decisions that require advanced know-how. To schedule a scan, for example, you have to wade through a “test manager” and figure out what the differences are between a complete test, a detailed test, a detailed user test, and a simple user test. Grisoft intends to revamp the interface, but we found this one hard to manage. Grisoft’s AVG integrates nicely with Eudora and Microsoft Outlook to quarantine suspect e-mail messages, and it scans all programs’ e-mail traffic over POP3 and SMTP protocols. However, it was only one of two programs (Trend Micro being the other) that don’t scan Web traffic, and it doesn’t directly support any specific IM clients either. The

TREnD miCRO The worst overall malware detection rate all but guaranteed this package last place.

the last-place ranking of Trend Micro Antivirus plus AntiSpyware 2007 was primarily determined by its lackluster performance at detecting malware samples. The program missed almost one in every five samples, for an entirely disappointing catch rate of 82 percent. Trend Micro did somewhat better at proactively detecting unknown malware, but even here it had the third-worst showing. It caught 43 percent of threats when tested with a one-month-old scanner. Weighed down by a relatively expensive Rs. 1,800 price tag and the lack of a renewal discount, Trend Micro’s antivirus product left much to be desired. On the plus side, the program installed smoothly, was easy to use, and includes good default settings—such as an automatically scheduled full-system scan—for the average person. It provides a user-configurable scheduled scan, and it checks for definition updates every 3 hours. These defaults are a snap to change via an intuitive and smooth interface that will appeal to even the most nontechnical user. One particularly useful feature scans for known Microsoft product vulnerabilities. If a machine is missing an important security patch, for example, the application guides the user to Microsoft’s Windows Update site to download and apply the appropriate updates and patches. Trend Micro’s AntiVirus scans e-mail traffic over the POP3 and SMTP protocols, but unlike practically every other program we tested (except for Grisoft’s AVG), it does not scan HTML traffic. Also, it stands alone in being unable to launch a manual file scan when you right-click within Windows Explorer, a weakness in the Vista version that the company says it will remedy in future updates. And finally, the application’s antispyware protection has an annoying habit of labeling tracking cookies as dangerous spyware.
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PLUS
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FREEBIES
Want to make your PC more productive, secure, informative, and entertaining? These software do the trick—and they don’t cost a rupee
Once upon a time you actually had to pay for great software or use illegal cracked versions. Luckily, we no longer live in that world. Want to tune up your PC, keep it safe, create graphics, or back up your system with gobs of free storage space? You can find free software to do all that, and plenty more. We revved up our cable modem and searched for the most intriguing free offerings out there. Here are our hand picked goodies for all your tasks.
BY P R ESTO N G RA L L A
ILLUSTRATIONS BY ANIL T

FANTASTIC

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F REE ST UFF

TWEAKING WINDOWS VISTA
TweakVI Basic: If you want to do some

SECURITY TOOLS

Ad-Aware SE Personal: Lavasoft’s free Adserious Windows Vista tweaking, you Aware Personal 1.06 does a good job of need this utility. Microsoft seems to have protecting you against adware and spygone out of its way to make Vista ware that have already made the trip to unfriendly to power users. But this great your PC, but it lacks the preventative profreebie gives you hundreds of ways to tection features that are available only in adjust the operating system, tasks that Lavasoft’s paid products. otherwise would be extremely difficult to Avast: In a world filled with high-priced do. Whether you want to, say, hack the subscription-based antivirus programs Start menu, put an image on Internet that bog down your PC while protecting Explorer’s toolbar, or optimize your it, Avast stands out. This program is one CPU’s cache, this program has someof the few free antivirus applications thing for you. that do as good a job as any of the big TWEAKING WINDOWS XP boys. Avast includes more than seven VistaBootPRO : Want to change how different varieties of shields, safe-surfWindows Vista boots? Ordinarily you’d Fresh UI: Fresh UI is a tweaker’s heaven: have to learn the ins With it you can change scores of settings and outs of the incomin XP, many of which you probably never prehensible BCDEdit knew existed. Want to alter any aspect of command-line tool. But the Windows interface? Go ahead. Custhis simple, graphical tomize the Start menu? No problem. program lets you masChange global menu settings and dozens ter Vista’s boot-up and of network and Internet settings? You can startup without ever do them all, and a whole lot more. touching the dreaded Microsoft Power Toys for Windows XP: BCDEdit. Who says Microsoft can’t write great software? These easy-to-use tweaking EasyBCD: Another BCD tools allow you to customize XP in editor, this one is great AVAST CAN STOP viruses threatening your inbox and chat client. countless ways. for setting up a machine ing tools, and real-time virus protection with Vista and other operating systems, Tweak and Tune: This freebie doesn’t have for your OS, as well as for Outlook. The such as Linux or XP. Setting up and configas many options and tools as Fresh UI program downloads and installs updates uring Windows boot entries is simple, and does, but it’s simple to use and well laidautomatically, and Avast works with there is no easier way to quickly boot right out. It is extremely simple to use for anyboth Windows Vista and XP. Given all into Linux, Mac OS X, or BSD straight from one who wants a straightforward this, why pay? the Windows Vista bootloader - on the fly. approach to tweaking. ZoneAlarm: This free firewall still beats anything Microsoft puts into Windows, including the features in Windows Vista. To further limit your exposure to attack, specify which applications can access the Internet. The program lets you stop e-mailborne Visual Basic Script worms, too. AVG Anti-Virus Free: Protecting against viruses and hackers, this application works with both Windows Vista and earlier versions. For home users AVG allows unlimited use and unlimited updates. SMAC: This utility lets you change the MAC address (the unique ID) of a wireless adapter. Use it to perform vulnerability testing, or to keep your identity private. FRESH UI GIVES you the tools to mold Windows XP to look and act just as you want it.

SYSTEM UTILITIES

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FREE STUF F

Microsoft Windows Defender: Though not

SpeedFan: This must-have for serious over-

FILE SHARING
AllPeers: Need to share files? AllPeers, which works from within Firefox (an Internet Explorer version is planned, but not yet available), lets you set up folders for file sharing. You can specify who has access to those files, and you can send messages to those people to alert them when files are ready. In addition, you can share Web pages or images from Web pages, and you can view any media files you receive from other people right inside Firefox. It’s the easiest way to share files of any kind with anyone. Pando: This peer-to-peer software lets you easily send and receive large files through e-mail or instant messaging clients. The utility is particularly helpful because most ISPs have size limitations for sending or receiving e-mail file attachments. uTorrent: uTorrent is a standalone app and is extremely small in size. But that does not compromise on features. Skype: Phone other Skype members for free, enjoy video calls, and make cheap international calls. Yahoo Messenger: One of the earlier IM services, this software has gotten more

everyone is a fan of Microsoft’s antispyware program, we love some of its tools. We’re particularly fond of the Software Explorer feature, which lets you disable programs that launch on Windows startup. Spybot Search and Destroy: We still adore this perennial favorite. But remember — since no single antispyware program can detect and kill all spyware, Spybot should be just one piece of your security arsenal.
REGISTRY CLEANERS
TweakNow RegCleaner Standard: The reg-

clockers touts itself as a monitor for your system’s temperature and fan speed. The real reason it’s worthwhile is that it lets you easily overclock your PC and adjust the fan speed so it doesn’t overheat. M2 Information: This program performs a quick scan of your computer and lists details such as the processor type and speed, the amount of RAM, and disk information.

istry is a scary place and TweakNow RegCleaner Standard is your virtual Virgil, a guide into the depths of the registry. It automatically scans your registry and reveals problems. After you examine the changes and tell the software to do its magic, it cleans the registry for you. Clean My Registry:This Registry cleaner will not show you quite as much information as TweakNow does, but it is fast and it does a good job of sweeping away the junk.
SYSTEM INFORMATION

INTERNET UTILITIES
E-MAIL CLIENTS
Thunderbird : This e-mail client has a

nice, simple interface, spam filtering, antiphishing features, RSS news-feed functions, quick search, and a spelling exquisitely detailed audit of your hardchecker. It’s from the folks who brought ware, this is the download you need. The you the Firefox Web browser. program starts with the basics, such as the computer manufacturer, installed Eudora: Sure, this freebie e-mail favorite RAM, hard-disk size, and processor type has been around for quite some time. But and speed. But it also shows you the there’s a good reason for that: Eudora motherboard maker, hard-disk manufacincludes features like Mood Watch (which turer, chassis serial number, PC service rates messages on a mood meter) that no tag, bus type and speed, multimedia other tool has. People who suffer from edevices...the list goes on. mail overload (and that’s everyone, isn’t it?) will treasure the program’s unique folders-based approach to message organization. Spamato : Tired of wading through the spam clogging your inbox? This add-on for Outlook, Thunderbird, and Mozilla Mail does everything it can to WITH BELARC YOU can quickly take an inventory of your PC’s eradicate the junk. installed hardware and software.
Belarc Advisor: If you’re looking for an

ALLPEERS LETS YOU share pictures, music, and videos within Firefox.

attractive with group videoconferencing, emoticons, and sounds. Trillian: Like Meebo, Trillian lets you log into multiple instant messaging systems simultaneously. The difference is that it’s a download, not a Web site. Windows GAIM:This Windows version of the open-source client lets you log into and
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communicate on multiple IM networks, including AIM, ICQ, IRC, Jabber, MSN Messenger, Yahoo, and more. Google Talk: Though Google Talk doesn’t have the big installed base of other instant messaging systems, its clean, simple interface and voice features make it a good choice. Microsoft Windows Live Messenger : Windows Live Messenger’s easy file and video sharing is a big plus.

GOOGLE’S DESKTOP SEARCH brings the familiar interface of Google Web search to items on your PC, including files and browsers.

PRODUCTIVITY AND OFFICE APPS
DESKTOP SEARCH
Google Desktop: Google has done more than just conquer the Internet — with Google Desktop, it has conquered your PC as well. The program brings the same kind of fast, accurate searching to your desktop that Google does to the Web. It searches as you type, and displays the results in your browser. One nice touch: When the program is installed and you search via the Google Web site, the results will also include those from your computer. Copernic Desktop Search: With an interface designed for your PC rather than for the Web, this search tool may be the easiest to use. Windows Desktop Search: One big benefit of Microsoft’s desktop search program is its integration with both Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express e-mail.

OFFICE SUITES AND WORD PROCESSORS
OpenOffice.org : OpenOffice.org, the

complete suite, it provides a word processor, a spreadsheet, a presentation program, a database — and, for übergeeks, a “mathematical function calculator” (but if you have to ask what it is, you don’t need it). Backpack: Juggling multiple projects has never been so easy. For every project you create a separate page, each of which can include to-do lists, freeform text, notes, links, files, images, and reminders. Backpack also has a calendar, and if you use Apple iCal, Mozilla Calendar, or any program that supports the iCalendar format, your reminders will be automatically added to your Backpack calendar. You can even have reminders sent to you via e-mail or to your cell phone. Sticky Notes: This program does exactly what its name says: It allows you to create virtual sticky reminder notes that you place right on your computer’s desktop. Easy To-Do : With this small, simple download, you can quickly create and track to-do lists. NoteTab Light: This utility improves on Windows’ Notepad in so many ways, it’s hard to count them. Start with the basics: You can open multiple files, not just one, as you must in Notepad. Each file runs in its own tab, so switching between them is easy. The program comes with all kinds of nifty built-in tools, too, such as a feature that strips HTML out of a document, a Paste Board that saves text clips automatically, macros, and plenty more.
Crimson Editor

programmers includes syntax highlighting for HTML, C/C++, Perl, and Java. EditPad Lite: This text editor opens multiple files (each in its own tab), opens files of any size, and allows you unlimited undo and redo — in other words, it has everything that Notepad doesn’t.
BACKUP AND FILE SYNCHRONIZATION
Microsoft SyncToy: This great Microsoft

freebie permits you to keep folders on different machines automatically synchronized — so it’s perfect for synchronizing folders on a laptop and a desktop.

NOTETAB LIGHT CAN open many documents at once and strip the HTML; it has lots of editing utilities, too.

free competitor to Microsoft Office is a
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Do you need a geeked-out Notepad replacement? Look no further. This text editor for

Everyday Auto Backup: If you’re looking for a simple, no-frills download that will back up your data, this is the tool to try. Microsoft Foldershare: Use this tool to synchronize files with multiple desktops — including Apple machines — over the Internet.

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FREE STUF F

MULTIMEDIA APPLICATIONS
VIDEO
VLC Media Player: If you play a lot of video and use Windows Media Player, you’ve probably come across a number of files that you can’t play — you’re told you need to have a codec to handle them. Good luck finding that codec. Instead, try the VLC media player. This software plays pretty much every media type you can think of — and likely a few you haven’t imagined. Not only will it play audio and video formats, but it will also play DVDs, VCDs, and many streaming protocols. iTunes Foobar2000 : This straightforward audio player won’t take up much RAM or system resources, and plays a wide variety of audio formats.

Irfanview: Yes, we know this one has been around a while. But it’s still one of the best free image viewers for just about any file type, showing detailed information about images, helping you create slide shows, and performing tasks like eliminating red-eye. StudioLine Photo Basic: Here’s a great program for archiving photos and for organizing your collection. Microsoft Photo Info: This useful freebie, which integrates directly into Windows Explorer, lets you preview an image and embed metadata into it by right-clicking it. FastStone MaxView: This petite (1.3MB) image editor is small enough to store on an old floppy disk! Don’t let its size fool you, though: FastStone MaxView sports lots of photo manipulation tools, such as those for rotating, flipping, resizing, and blurring. GIMP — GNU Image Manipulation Program: This program

cial skins and dozens of color schemes keep it looking good. iTunes: Amonst other things, iTunes offers MP3 and pristine-quality AAC-encoding from audio CDs, smart playlists, burning custom playlists to CDs and MP3 CDs and of couse, transfer music to your iPod. Audacity: If you want to create media, not just consume it, try this program, which includes audio recording tools and sophisticated editing functions. You can even create audio soundscapes from scratch. You can add any of several dozen effects, use a sound mixer...in short, the app has everything you

IMAGE
Google Picasa Snapfire: Snapfire juggles

all your image editing, management, and sharing tasks with ease.

is a favorite of openvarious audio files. source software fans everywhere. No, it isn’t the easiest to use, but it’s nearly as powerful as Photoshop. Paint.Net: This surprisingly powerful image editing and manipulation program includes unlimited undos and special effects, and even provides the ability to work in layers.
AUDIO
AOL Nullsoft

AUDACITY AUDIO EDITOR lets you record, play, convert, and edit

Winamp : There are

GOOGLE PICASA MAKES organizing and editing photos easier.

lots of MP3 players available, but this popular program is one of the best beloved. Winamp saves playlits and equalizer settings, and the spe-

need. While you don’t have to be well-versed in sound editing to use it, people with some experience will particularly enjoy its power. Free iPod Video Converter: This tool does precisely what its name says: It converts videos from a variety of formats so that you can watch them on your iPod’s screen. PSP Video 9: Sony’s PlayStation Portable handheld makes a terrific video player. The PSP Video 9 program converts PC video files (.avi, .mpg, DivX, etc.) into the PSP video format for playback. DVD Shrink: If you have ever attempted to make a backup copy of a DVD movie to a DVD-R, you’ve probably discovered that you can’t do it because DVD movie discs are dual-layer and have more data than can fit on a recordable disc. DVD Shrink solves the problem by compressing the DVD data, letting you make the copy fit on a DVD.
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EASY
FIXES
FOR YOUR
BY BECKY WARING
ILLUSTRATIONS BY MM SHANITH

Network Problems
Here’s help for real-world hassles, from dead spots to security threats to streaming-media hiccups.
Networks are dandy when they hum along behind the scenes, but all too often they fail. When your printer goes AWOL or your Skype calls break up every time your spouse starts watching YouTube, it’s time to get your geek on and learn what makes your network tick. Here are some tried-and-true strategies — and some new tricks — to help you make your network behave.
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D-LINK’S USB RANGEBOOSTER G

Domain-name Multifunction Print Server supports system (DNS) scanning as well as printing over a Wi-Fi services are anothor ethernet network. hands down, the most common neter possible factor work problems are disappearing Internet that can contribute connections, printers, and PCs. to lost connecLost connections: Usually these can be tions. DNS servers solved by rebooting your broadband are the PCs on modem, network router, and/or computer. which your ISP But if you have to do this repeatedly, your stores the databasrouter and PC settings are likely culprits. es that it uses to Start by extending your router’s DHCP translate individulease time (the amount of time the router al URLs (like www. reserves an IP address for a device on the pcworld.in) into their corresponding network) to a period of at least a week. DISAPPEARING PRINTERS numerical IP addresses on the Internet. You can access this setting through your If you receive messages informing you router’s browser-based firmware. if your shared USB printer seems to If disconnects are affecting a laptop, come and go with a mind of its own, that Web pages can’t be found or that echeck the power management setting for make sure the computer it is attached to mail can’t be retrieved, try using the DNS its network adapter. In Windows XP, go to isn’t hibernating. If possible, connect servers at OpenDNS.com in place of the Device Manager’s Network Adapters your printer to a desktop PC (as opposed those at your ISP. Start by accessing the area, find your adapter, and select Properto a notebook), and leave it on. (To cut wide-area network (WAN) settings in ties. Under the Power Management tab, back power consumption, allow the disyour router’s browser-based firmware; uncheck the box that turns off the adapter play —rather than the PC —to go into then change the IP addresses for DNS to when power saving kicks in. Your battery sleep mode.) 208.67.222.222 and 208.67.222.220. may run down a little quicker, but you’ll In Windows XP, also verify that ‘File OpenDNS is free, and it blocks known have a stable network connection. and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Netphishing sites. works’ is installed for all network adapters so that switching between wired and IP PRINTING wireless networks doesn’t kill printer sharing. In XP, go to Control Panel, Network Connections, and (for each network YOU BROUGHT YOUR corporate notebook home, but now you find that you can’t adapter) right-click the device and select print on your home network—or over a VPN connection to a printer in your office. Properties. If you don’t see File and PrintWhat to do? IP printing, which most newer networkable printers support, is your er Sharing for Microsoft Networks in the best bet. You’ll need the printer’s IP address (get it from your IT staff, or check with window that appears, click the Install butyour printer vendor on how to find it—by printing a test page, for example). Then ton to add it. run the Add Printer wizard in XP’s ‘Printers and Faxes’ window. Check Local Printer, Better yet, set up a print server so that and under ‘Select a Printer Port’, choose Create a New Port and Standard TCP/IP you don’t have to worry about working Port in the dropthrough a host PC. Some routers have down menus. Enter built-in USB printer ports; stand-alone the printer’s IP adprint servers plug into your router. If you dress, click Next, use a multifunction device for printing, and you will initiate look for a print server that also supports the usual printer inscanning, such as D-Link’s USB Rangestallation routine, Booster G Multifunction Print Server.

Nail the Basics

Print Across Networks and the Net

where you can pick a driver (either Windows’ default driver or the vendor’s driver, if you have it).

INVISIBLE PCS

in many cases, network file-sharing problems stem from improper workgroup and PC naming. Make sure that each computer has a unique name; multiple PCs identified as

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(network address transla‘Desktop’ or ‘Dell’ can cause tion) alone rather than using mixups. Don’t use spaces in SPI (stateful packet inspecnames (Windows ME and tion) technology — a supeearlier Windows OSs don’t rior approach designed to support it), and don’t create ensure that your computers names of more than 15 receive only data they have characters. Also, confirm specifically requested. Be that all PCs use the same sure, however, to change workgroup name. The your router’s default passdefault name in Windows word when you set it up, XP Home is ‘MSHome’; in and periodically thereafter. older versions of Windows Establish a second line of and in Windows Vista, it’s defense at each computer by ‘Workgroup’. To change THE VIEW FROM VISTA: Windows Vista’s Network and Sharing Center turning on automatic Wineither the workgroup or the shows you what’s connected and simplifies configuration. dows Updates, and installing computer name in XP, click antivirus, antispyware, and personal fireStart, Control Panel, System, and choose wall software. Either buy a security suite the Computer Name tab. or use individual best-of-breed utilities like the only way to guarantee the security THE VISTA DIFFERENCE Webroot Spy Sweeper, BitDefender antiviof your network is to barricade it from rus, and ZoneAlarm firewall software the outside world —no Web, no e-mail, still having major unresolved sharfrom Check Point (in its basic form, nada. But you need not adopt NSAing issues? It’s time to consider upgradZoneAlarm is free). appropriate tactics to keep your data reaing to Windows Vista. The new operating Whichever approach you take, don’t sonably safe. system’s Networking and Sharing Center rely on Windows XP’s Windows Firewall lets you know which sharing features are PUT UP WALLS for your protection, because it can filter enabled and makes configuring them incoming data only. ZoneAlarm and easy. Vista’s Link Layer Topology Discovthe road to a secure home network other third-party firewalls are bidirecery automatically detects network devices begins with a hardware firewall. Most tional, protecting both incoming and and allows you to see their locations on a routers have one, but those built into outgoing information. Windows Vista’s Network Map. some inexpensive routers rely on NAT

Beef up security

BREAKTHROUGH FIREWALLS

vista’s firewall is smart enough to permit sharing within a workgroup. But if that’s a problem with XP’s firewall, try a free third-party utility. ZoneAlarm’s Trusted Zone feature lets workgroup computers communicate. Or sidestep XP’s file and printer sharing complexities altogether by adopting a program such as Network Magic . Like Windows Vista, Network Magic puts all sharing and networking functions in one place, and it simplifies sharing folders and printers. A special mode even protects shared folders when your laptop is connected at a Wi-Fi hotspot, a major security concern. A free version of Network Magic provides Internet connection repair and wireless network protection, but only the paid version supports printer and file sharing as well.

SECURITY

Add a Second Network for Safety
IF YOUR KIDS open lots of ports on your router for games and video chats, or if you want to run a home Web server or public Wi-Fi network, consider setting up a second router to isolate these risky activities from the rest of your network. In a nutshell, you plug one router into the other, and assign each a different starting IP address (such as 192.168.1.1 and 192.168.2.1). Then you attach your servers—or the at-risk PCs—to the router that’s directly connected to your broadband modem, and all your other computers to the second router. Internet traffic to and from the unsafe area will not reach your secure subnetwork at all.
Router directly connected to Internet Internet (WAN) Router indirectly connected to Internet Protected networked devices

Devices with open ports

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firewall is bidirectional, too, but you have to configure outgoing filtering yourself in a screen that you reach by typing wf.msc at a command prompt. Vista also comes with Windows Defender antispyware, but not antivirus software. Keep things simple by using the same utilities on all your PCs (look for economical “family packs”). Then install them while signed in on an administrator account, or — if appropriate — work with the parental controls found in many packages (and in Windows Vista). Keep your password secret: Remember, your network is only as secure as its weakest link.

panies often run their own VPN servers for employees; or you can sign up for a VPN service such as WiTopia PersonalVPN or JiWire Hotspot Helper. Next, in your WiFi settings, turn off ad hoc (computerto-computer) networking and prevent automatic connections to non-preferred networks. In XP, you can change both of these settings by clicking the Wi-Fi icon in the system tray and selecting Change advanced settings. Under the Wireless Networks tab, click Advanced, followed YOUR ODDS OF picking up malware decrease if you COVER THE AIRWAVES by Access point (infrastructure) netdeny automatic connections to unknown networks. works only. Also, uncheck Automatifirewalls and security suites are (Media Access Control, a unique hardcally Connect to Non-Preferred Networks. futile against packet sniffers that capture ware identifier) address filtering nor In Windows Vista, turn off the Vista wireless traffic on a given frequency. Use turning off SSID (service set identifier Network Discovery feature (which allows the strongest encryption standard your — basically your Wi-Fi network’s name) other computers to see you on a network) Wi-Fi equipment supports: From stronbroadcasting is an effective security when you’re at hotspots. Vista will switch gest to weakest, the options are WPA2, measure. Both are easier to bypass than it off automatically if you designate a conWPA, and WEP. WEP, and they can create connection and nection as ‘Public’, but alternatively you Intruders armed with readily available administration hassles. can disable it manually in the ‘View Netsoftware can break into WEP in minutes, MAC address filtering, for example, work Status and Tasks’ control panel. rendering it virtually worthless except as requires you to enter a device’s MAC a method to prevent bandwidth hogging address into your router’s firmware to by your neighbors. We recommend that authorize it to connect to your network. you invest in new adapters if necessary to But anyone listening in can spoof your ensure that you can make the switch to if your Wi-Fi downloads take forever, authorized MAC addresses on their WPA. To provide both your old and your network backups bog you down, or your own equipment. Similarly, sniffers can new adapters with maximum security, Slingbox won’t sling, give these tips a try. detect even nonbroadcast SSIDs, so choose a router that offers a simultaneturning off broadcasting only makes it ous WPA+WPA2 mode. USE WIRES WHENEVER harder for legitimate users to connect Regardless of anything you may have POSSIBLE to your network. heard to the contrary, neither using MAC a wired network (ideally one based on SAFE TRAVELS wired ethernet) is inherently more reliable and usually much faster than the open airop e n hot sp ot s THE D-LINK DWA 142 USB waves. There’s generally no reason for you are notorious sourcrouter gives an easy to locate a network storage drive at a dises of infection. For solution to creat wireless tance from your router, so instead plug it in true security on pubnetwork at home. to an available ethernet port. The same goes lic networks, use a for a network printer. virtual private network to encrypt all GET GIGABIT I n t e r n e t t r a f fi c between your commost recent PCs have built-in gigabit puter and an interethernet, which means that they can mediate server. Comtransfer data at a whopping 1000 Mbps

Speed up transfers

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— but only if your router also possesses a gigabit switch. For network backups, the extra throughput can mean the difference between an all-night operation, and one that completes itself in a fairly short amount of time.
BUY MATCHING WI-FI GEAR

to achieve the top speeds promised by the latest Wi-Fi standard, draft-802.11n, every wireless device on your network must have a draft-n adapter. Be sure to update the firmware on any draft-802.11n devices regularly, as vendors are now bringing the first products into compliance with the second draft of the standard, and this should help with interoperability.
CHANGE THE CHANNEL

the biggest obstacle to good Wi-Fi reception is no longer distance (since most MIMO and draft-n routers provide whole-house coverage), but interference resulting from nearby networks: In any urban area, you’ll probably see a long list of available networks. And because the
B AC K U P

Multiplatform Network Backups
IF YOU HAVE several PCs running different operating systems that you plan to back up on one network drive, you may run into a problem with file names that work fine on one system but are illegal on another. If you truncate or change the names when you back up the files, the backups won’t be useful. So instead of using USBattached storage devices, which usually can be formatted only as Windows drives, purchase a NAS drive that offers specific support for each platform you use; afterward you can designate shares as appropriate (for instance, Windows or Mac).

2.4-GHz band that LINKSYS’S 802.11b, g, and WIRELESS-N Gigabit most new n gear Gaming Router operates within prioritizes timehas only three sensitive multimedia nonoverlapping and VoIP data. channels, networks neighboring yours are likely to degrade your throughput. In fact, the latest 802.11n draft effectively mandates a 50 percent reduction in performance when your network is in the video, HomePlug AV was the least presence of other active Wi-Fi networks. susceptible to interference from other To minimize interference, install and electrical devices. run a utility such as the free NetStumbler Products such as Linksys’s Powerto determine the signal strength and Line AV Ethernet Kit, move data over channel of each available network; then your home’s electrical wiring. Adapters set your router to the channel that is farplug into standard wall outlets; to set thest from those of the strongest nearby up the network, begin by connecting networks. (A router’s automatic channel one adapter to an available ethernet selection feature does this for you). port on your router. Then add other In addition, you might consider getdevices by running cables from their ting a dual-band draft-n router, such as ethernet ports to other plugged-in the Buffalo Nfiniti Dual Band Router, adapters. You will not have to worry which supports draft-n traffic on both about overloading your wireless net2.4-GHz and 5-GHz bands. This lets you w o r k w i t h h i g h - d e fi n i t i o n v i d e o keep older 802.11b/g devices on the relastreams, and performance will be far tively crowded 2.4-GHz band, while more reliable than on a wireless netusing the uncluttered 5-GHz band work, especially in a large home. (consisting of some 20 non-overUPGRADE YOUR WI-FI lapping channels) for your highbandwidth apps such as video if you still want to use wireless for streaming, as new 5-GHz draft-n streaming media, make sure that you get products arrive. draft-802.11n gear: Not only is it fast, but it has so-called quality-of-service (QoS) technology that prioritizes media streams, VoIP phone calls, online game play, and other particularly time-sensitive applications. when it comes to smooth video playAnd don’t forget to upgrade your firmware back and voice-over-IP phone calls, speed to Draft 2.0 of the standard; practically all of alone isn’t always enough. the biggest Wi-Fi vendors are expected to be TRY POWERLINE posting free firmware upgrades to Draft 2.0 by the time you see this. if you can’t install ethernet, consider adopting powerline (rather than Wi-Fi) INVEST IN A GAMING ROUTER gear. Several powerline technologies support near-ethernet speeds; in our does World of Warcraft rule your tests with streaming high-definition house? For advanced gaming, a spe-

Get media-ready

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cialized router helps deliver maximum performance for both Internet and local multiplayer game play; this is especially important if several users access the network in your household simultaneously. Gaming routers have QoS prioritization, are tuned to reduce network latency, and usually have faster processors, all of which increase the responsiveness of PCs on the network. Linksys’s Wireless-N Gigabit Gaming Router supports draft-802.11n Wi-Fi, gigabit ethernet, and game tuning.

Make better backups
too often, people plan to use a network drive for regular hard disk backups, but never actually do so. Maybe the network share isn’t mounted (visible to your backup program) when backup time rolls around (add it to My Network Places to avoid this situation). Or the system to be backed up is turned off, asleep, or on the road. Or the backup is interrupted. Here’s how to increase your odds of success.
CHOOSE NETWORK DRIVES CAREFULLY

shared network stor age drives come in two basic types: regular external

USB drives designed to attach either directly to the USB storage port included on some routers or via an ethernet adapter such as D-Link’s Express EtherNetwork DNS-120 Network Storage Adapter ; and network-attached storage (NAS) drives that have built-in ethernet. If you go with a USB drive, you can usually detach it from your router and plug it into a PC (say, at another location) if you like. USB drives tend to be easier to set up, and you may use an old USB hard drive you already have as your storage device. True network drives, in contrast, have their own processor and OS, and can be attached only to your network. They generally have many more features, and they normally allow setup of private user accounts (“shares”) as well as public areas of universal access. The models topping our Network-Attached Storage Devices chart are the Infrant ReadyNAS NV and the Maxtor Shared Storage II . For best security and performance, use a NAS drive that has gigabit ethernet (buy a gigabit router if you don’t have one) and RAID 1 or 5 redundancy. Don’t risk losing a 500GB music collection stored on a NAS drive without any backup; the best way to maintain a copy of your NAS drive is to mirror it using a RAID array. Whichever type of drive you choose, make sure that it’s large enough to accommodate future growth. Backups often fail because the backup drive is full. We recommend setting aside 1.5 to 2 times the storage capacity of your current network for your backup drive; double that if you intend to mirror your network drive.
PERFORM NCREMENTAL BACKUPS

THE MAC OPERATING system carries all the software it needs to join a Windows network and use a network-connected printer.

Cobian Backup (free) can perform full or incremental backups with or without compression, and can encrypt your data for better security on shared network drives.
KEEP YOUR PC AWAKE

the need to ensure that your PC is up and running at backup time may seem obvious, but offline computers are the most common cause of failed backups. Don’t turn off your computer at night — just let it hibernate. And make sure that your backup software can wake up your computer. If it can’t, use XP’s Scheduled Tasks wizard (under Programs, Accessories, System Tools) to wake it up at backup time; for more on how to set this up, see “ Schedule Your System to Start Automatically .”

Add a Mac
okay, you’ve networked your Windows PCs. But now a new Mac is in the family. How will it fit in? Will it work with your printer? Will you be able to share files with it the way you can with your PCs? In most cases the Mac OS X operating system provides everything you need to connect your Mac to your Windows network and share files and printers. You can plug your new Mac into your wired network or access your wireless router,

THE BUFFALO LINKSTATION PRO LS 250GL isn’t scary to set up, and is much cheaper and reliable network storage option.

by copying only files that have changed since the most recent previous backup, you’ll vastly reduce the load on your network, and the length of time it takes to do a backup.
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just as you would with a new PC, by selecting your SSID from a list of available Wi-Fi nets and then entering your wireless encryption key. All recent Macs support WEP, WPA, and WPA2. In order to share files and printers, the Mac cleverly assumes the guise of a PC. It does so by implementing the SMB/CIFS Windows file-sharing s t a n d a r d a n d u s i n g Wi n d o w s workgroup naming. The default workgroup name for any Mac is Workgroup; however, you can change this name to MSHOME, for example, by running the Mac’s Directory Access utility, which also supports the Windows Active Directory (used by corporate servers). Next, turn on ‘Windows Sharing’ in the Mac’s Sharing Preference Pane and enable each of the user accounts that you’d like to be able to share. The new Mac should appear as a member of your workgroup when you browse your network. After selecting it and entering your user name and password, you’ll be able to navigate the Mac drive and copy or upload files by dragging and dropping. This works in both XP and Vista. Similarly, you can print from your Mac to shared Windows printers via SMB, though the setup process is not obvious. In the Mac’s Printer Setup Utility, click Add. If your Windows printer does not show up in the resulting list of available printers, choose the More Printers button, which brings up the Printer Browser. Now select Windows Printing and Network Neighborhood from the dropdown menus. Your local workgroup will appear in the window; when you select it, you’ll see a list of shared printers to choose from. Thereafter, the Windows printer will appear in the Mac’s Print dialog box. If all of this sounds like too much of a hassle, consider buying Pure Networks’ Network Magic for Mac. A preview version is available for download. It promises to do for the Macs on your network what its Windows counterpart does for PCs.

SECURITY

SECURITY CHECKLIST
USE A HARDWARE router, even if you have only one computer. Change your router’s default password to ensure that intruders can’t fiddle with your settings. Use a bidirectional personal firewall, such as ZoneAlarm. Turn on automatic updates to keep your Windows OS secure. Use both antivirus and antispyware utilities, and make sure that you keep them up-to-date. Configure file sharing carefully if you’re sure you need it — and if you don’t need it, turn it off. Use the strongest Wi-Fi encryption scheme that all of your wireless equipment supports. Turn off ad-hoc Wi-Fi networking and automatic connections to networks you’re unfamiliar with. Install a second router to isolate at-risk PCs on your network (for details, see “Add a Second Network for Safety”). Use a VPN when traveling, to avoid picking up a virus that could otherwise spread to other PCs on your network when you get home.

Online resources
are you looking for help with a networking problem? Chances are you’ll find the advice or instructions you need at one of these sites.
PRACTICALLY NETWORKED

It’s required reading for the network administrator in your home.
SECURITYNOW

the leading home and small-business networking site, with tips and tutorials on everything from setting up file sharing to using dynamic DNS services. The troubleshooting guides are invaluable, and an active peer-help forum is another great resource.
WI-FI PLANET

great network security resource, with transcripts of Steve Gibson’s and Leo Laporte’s weekly SecurityNow podcasts, which translate complex security issues into plain language for a broad spectrum of visitors.
SHIELDS UP

the place to go for truly deep wireless tutorials and testing. Don’t miss the site’s articles discussing SSID spoofing and the use of VPNs at public hotspots . Has an active discussion area, too.
CERT HOME NETWORK SECURITY

also from Steve Gibson, a very popular free Internet security test site. Go here to find out about holes (such as open ports) in your network that potential hackers could exploit, as well as useful tips on how to close them.
PORT FORWARD

a c om p r e h e nsi v e a nd unbiased guide to home network security, maintained by the Carnegie Mellon-based Computer Emergency Response Team, a federally funded Internet security research and development center. The guide also serves as a fantastic primer on networking terms and technology.
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ne ed h e l p r e m ov ing roadblocks obstructing desirable traffic to and from your network? At this site you can examine a comprehensive list of ports used by Internet games, streaming video, and other applications, with port-forwarding setup guides for most popular routers.
MACWINDOWS

your best resource for cross-platform problem solving, including details on how to connect Macs to Windows servers and vice versa.
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P R AC T I CA L A DV I C E B E FO R E YO U S H O P

BIG PICTURE

SPECS EXPLAINED

SHOPPING TIPS

Easy On The Eyes
OUR GUIDE WILL HELP YOU PICK THE RIGHT LCD MONITOR FOR YOUR NEEDS.
everyone needs a good monitor to get the most out of a PC. But which monitor you need depends on several factors— what applications you use, how much room you have on your desk, how much space you need on a virtual desktop, and of course how much you want to spend. From standardissue 19-inchers to 24-inch monsters, here’s how to sort out what you need.
THE BIG PICTURE

if you’ve replaced an old PC in the last few years, you may have kept your old monitor to use with the new machine. That’s okay if it’s in good shape—most monitors have a life span of about five years—but if it’s a worn-out 15-inch CRT that produces barely legible text at 800 by
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600 pixels, you’re hobbling your productivity. Most monitor manufacturers offer entry-level LCD models that combine very low prices with pared-down features. These monitors work well enough for Web surfing, e-mail, and other office tasks—as long as they provide adequate resolution and screen adjustment controls for brightness, color, and other settings. Midrange and professional lines often provide better image quality and extensive features, such as superior image-adjusting controls, USB ports (make sure you get a monitor with USB 2.0 ports—some models with USB 1.1 hubs are still on the market), a larger set of ergonomic options (such as height adjustment), and higher reso-

lutions. Some professionallevel monitors include asset control—to help IS managers keep track of their company’s property via a LAN—and hardware calibration, which adjusts the monitor and/or graphics card to ensure precise hues. (Third-party calibration packages are also available.)
CRT vs. LCD

historically, graphics professionals have preferred CRT monitors because they support a greater range of resolutions (including very high resolutions) and show truer colors and greater nuance in color. However, manufacturers ceased making the aperture-grille models—generally agreed to be the top-performing type of CRT for photos and general graphics work—in 2005. Many pros now use

high-end LCDs, which approach the color quality of CRTs yet consume half as much power or less. The development of color-calibrating hardware and software specifically designed for LCDs has helped persuade many professionals to make the switch to flat panels. Promises of improvements in black level (perfect black—which is traditionally somewhat soft or grayed in LCDs) and a wider color gamut should make this transition still easier in the near future. Another bonus: The greater brightness of LCDs also frees graphics pros from the confines of their darkened studios. People who work mostly with text have always gravitated toward LCDs because pixels on an LCD have well-defined

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display will use only a portion of the pixels it contains and will scale up the resulting image to fill the screen. Keep in mind that you can never exceed the native resolution of an Key Features LCD monitor. So, for Native resolution: Because an LCD uses a THE OSD (on screen display) for LCD monitors example, you will not be matrix of pixels to dis- is similar to CRT monitors, allowing you to able to display 1600-by1200 resolution on an play its image, it has a adjust image quality. LCD with a native resolufixed (or native) resolution of 1280 by 1024. 1200, and 30-inch widetion at which the display looks Though scaling technoloscreens have a resolution of best. A 15-inch LCD has a gies have improved in recent 2560 by 1600. If you are using native resolution of 1024 by years, you’re still likely to be Windows XP or earlier and set 768, while most 17-, 18-, or 19disappointed with their the monitor to a lower-thaninch models use a 1280 by results. On Windows XP and native resolution—to upsize 1024 native resolution. Wideearlier, text most readily shows very small text, for instance— screen 23- and 24-inch widepronounced jaggedness at the image will almost certainly screen models usually have a nonnative resolutions. Winbe less defined, because the native resolution of 1920 by dows Vista may reduce this effect with its vector graphics, S P E C TA B L E but it’s still advisable to use a AS WITH MOST PC peripherals, monitors introduce you to a ton of unfamiliar specs. While price monitor at its native resoluor specifications alone shouldn’t determine what you buy—what you’ll use it for is important as tion. So a particular LCD is a well, and image quality is the most important thing to most users—here are some things to look good choice if its native resofor to narrow your search lution is one you are comfortable using for all applications. Low end Recommended High End FEATURE In the PC World Test Center, 1280 by 1024 1280 by 1024 to 1680 by 1050 1680 by 1050 to 1920 by 1200 all monitors are tested at An important consideration. Images look best when displayed at an LCD’s native resolution. You can go native resolution. Native resolution lower (and in some cases higher), but the image will appear blurry. Some models are better than others at Aspect ratio: Most LCDs have a handling non-native resolutions. If you need to change your monitor resolution frequently, you’re probably better off with a CRT monitor. screen aspect ratio of about 3:4, much like a regular-format TV. 17 inches 17 to 20 inches 20 to 24 inches However, wide-screen moniPanel size An important consideration. Unlike CRT tube size, LCD panel size indicates viewable size as well. As with CRTs, the tors have an aspect ratio closer measurement is made diagonally from one corner of the screen to the opposite corner. to the 16:9 aspect ratio of 300:1 to 400:1 400:1 to 500:1 500:1 to 1000:1 HDTVs. The wide-screen forContrast ratio Somewhat important. Contrast ratio can help you determine how rich the color will be in on-screen images. A mat becomes useful for workhigher ratio is better, but vendor specifications are not always accurate. ing in large spreadsheets or in 120/100 to 140/120 degrees 140/120 to 170/170 degrees 160/160 to 170/170 degrees programs that contain many Somewhat important. Indicates how far you can move to the side of (or above and below) the center of the screen Viewing angle (horizonand still see what’s displayed. This is important when you use the LCD to make presentations, or when you work toolbars or palettes. It’s great tal/vertical) with another person. Vendors use different methods to measure viewing angles, so make the final judgment for watching DVDs as well, yourself by visual comparison. although the image quality 12ms rise-and-fall 12ms to 8ms rise-and-fall 6ms or lower rise-and-fall may not be as good as on a TV. A minor consideration. Indicates the time required for a pixel to change from black to white (rise) and back to Many users see a wide-screen Response time black (fall). A low figure in milliseconds should indicate a screen that will not display motion artifacts in moving monitor as an upgrade from images during games or video. Gray-to-gray response time does not have a standard definition, and is a less reliable indicator. smaller dual monitors. A dualmonitor setup is usually the 250 to 300 cd/m 2 300 to 350 cd/m 2 350 to 500 cd/m 2 Brightness less expensive proposition. Somewhat important. All LCDs generally provide more than enough brightness. edges, resulting in sharply focused letters. Some gamers still prefer CRTs because LCDs redraw their screens more slowly, which can produce blurring and motion artifacts in moving images. However, response time—the spec that governs image motion in LCDs—continues to drop, minimizing the ill effects. Modern LCDs can refresh quickly enough to make them game-worthy for most users. Budget restrictions may still drive some buyers to CRTs, which usually cost less than LCDs that have a comparably sized viewable screen area. As LCD prices fall, though, more users and companies are going for the slim form and low power usage of the LCD. So from this point on, this guide will discuss LCDs only.
Tilt only Tilt and height Tilt, height, pivot, swivel

One important thing to keep in mind: The screen size is measured diagonally, and the area

Physical adjustments

An important consideration. Height adjustment lets you adjust your monitor to a comfortable physical level. Swivel is useful for sharing your work, and pivot is handy for viewing applications that are taller than they are wide.

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of a wide-screen monitor’s display is smaller than that of a regular-format display of the same size. In other words, a 21-inch wide-screen monitor shows about as many pixels as you’d expect from a regular-format 19-inch monitor. In the days of CRT monitors, vendors would state a tube size, say 21-inch, but the diagonal of the viewable screen would be from one to two inches less. With LCDs, the stated diagonal is always the true measurement from the viewable screen. Viewing angle: Measured in degrees, an LCD’s viewing angle indicates how far you can move to the side (or above, or below) from the center of the display before the image quality deteriorates to unacceptable levels. No matter what size monitor you use, a wide viewing angle becomes increasingly important the more you care about getting accurate, consistent colors for design work or for tweaking digital photos. Each vendor determines its own criteria for this, as no industry-standard method has been established for measuring

viewing angle. As a result, the numbers may not be comparable from one vendor to another, but they can indicate relative performance among models from the same company. The best way to judge viewing angle is to see the monitor for yourself, but you can eliminate some models from consideration if their vendorreported viewing angles are below a certain value. The larger the monitor, the more important a wide viewing angle is. On monitors measuring 17 inches or more, the edge of the screen is at a greater angle to someone sitting directly in front of its center, and people are more likely to be able to share the monitor when working or giving a group presentation. A viewing angle of at least 150 degrees is advisable for these monitors. The choice of panel technology affects the viewable angle. Some LCDs use twisted nematic panels, which have small viewing angles. On a TN screen, brightness drops and colors change as you move to the side or up and down. This can mean that your work will

SOME MONITORS LET you tuck away cables out of sight.

look different if you adjust your chair or your posture. It also makes it difficult to share your work with someone who sits next to you (although a physical swivel adjustment can help with this). A few years ago, TN panels appeared to be on their way out, but recent interest in TN’s fast pixelresponse times has brought more new models to the market. Other panel types, such as in-plane switching, multidomain vertical alignment, and patterned vertical alignment, have wider angles of view than TN panels can offer. Contrast ratio: This term refers to the difference in light intensity between the brightest white and the darkest black that an LCD can produce. Look for a contrast ratio of 400:1 or better—with anything lower, colors may wash out when you turn up the brightness and may disappear when you turn it down. However, higher is only better up to a point. Contrast ratios over 600:1 are unlikely to provide any advantage, and monitor vendors are likely using “fuzzy math” to calculate those values, anyway. Brightness: Expressed as candelas per square meter (cd/ m2) or nits, this specification measures the greatest amount of light that comes from a screen displaying pure white. Nearly all LCDs have a brightness level of 250cd/m2 or greater, which should be more than sufficient. (In comparison, CRT monitors typically average about 100 cd/m2— though you might see some high-brightness CRTs.) Vendors usually set the brightness level to maximum on new monitors to impress custom-

WHILE BUILT-IN SPEAKERS save space, the sound quality may suffer.

ers. High brightness can be eye-catching for video and graphics, but it can be uncomfortable over time, particularly for text viewing—and it may cause certain photographic nuances to wash out. After using the monitor for a while, you will likely want to turn the brightness down a bit to spare your eyes. Many monitors offer screen modes that change the brightness (and sometimes color and other characteristics) to make certain types of content look best. Digital versus analog: If you have a graphics card with digital video-out—and if your computer is less than two years old, you probably do— choose an LCD that has DVI digital input. The image won’t have to convert from analog to digital and back again, so it will be clearer. Even if you don’t have a DVI port on your system, choosing a digital LCD makes sense, because your next desktop PC probably will have a DVI port—and most digital-capable monitors also have a VGA (analog) con-

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nection. Digital inputs tend to be found on more-expensive LCDs. Very few notebook PCs come with digital outputs for external monitors. However, some notebooks can gain a DVI connection when they attach to a docking station or port replicator. (Note that there are two types of DVI connections found on typical LCD monitors: DVI-D and DVI-I. DVI-D is a digital-only port; DVD-I can accept either an analog or a digital input. You’ll need a special connector to hook up to your PC’s VGA analog port, however.) DVI-I obviously provides greater flexibility. Special inputs: As users do more video and photo editing at their PCs—and as more watch DVDs on them—more monitors offer inputs we used to see only on TVs or peripherals. Photographers and videographers may be interested in SVideo ports and memory card

MODELS WITH TILT and swivel capabilities allow you to adjust the monitor to suit your needs.

slots; DVD aficionados may want to keep their eyes peeled for monitors with component and/or composite inputs. Response time: Pixel response time governs the time (measured in milliseconds) required for a pixel to change. In theory, a low response time signifies an LCD with minimal motion artifacts in moving images. This spec is especially important to video watchers and gamers. There are two main types of LCD response time. Rise-andfall response time measures the time it takes a pixel to turn from black to white (rise) and back to black (fall). Gray-to-gray response time measures the time it takes for a pixel to change from one shade of gray to another. Each type has its uses. Rise-and-fall response time has been clearly defined and has been the industry standard for years. As of yet, no such definition for gray-to-gray response time exists. In theory, gray-to-gray response time could be a useful spec, since it can measure the time required to switch between shades (as opposed to black and white). This should make it useful for indicating how an LCD will look showing the subtle shades of movies and games. However, the lack of an agreed-upon definition means vendors may use different ways of determining the spec. In short, response time specs are not always comparable from vendor to vendor. Size: Though it may seem obvious, bear in mind the size of your workspace when deciding on the type of monitor to buy. A huge monitor may look appealing, but you want to make sure your desk is deep enough to let you view

it from a comfortable distance. Just as you would with a television, you want to sit at a distance of about two times the diagonal measurement from the screen. Physical adjustments: Almost all monitors come with tilt adjustment. If you spend a great deal of time in front of your monitor, you may want to find one that lets you adjust the height of the screen as well. You may find that it’s worth a few extra money to get a monitor that will keep the screen at a comfortable height instead of making your neck do all the work. A monitor with side-to-side swivel adjustment makes it easier to show your screen to a nearby customer or coworker. Finally, if you need to see view anything that’s longer than it is tall—a full-page document, a long Web page, or a screen full of e-mail— you could get a lot of use out of a screen pivot function. Just bear in mind that not every monitor with a pivoting screen includes image pivoting software; you’ll need that to make your screen adjust to portrait mode.
THE SPECS EXPLAINED

IN BRIEF

4 CHECK POINTS
SIZE A 17-inch monitor is adequate for most users. Look for a widescreen. INPUTS While analog inputs are common, DVI is better. ADJUSTMENT Check if the monitor has tilt, swivel and height adjustments. Some can also be pivoted. RESPONSE TIME Models with a response time of more than 12ms will exhibit ghosting with motion video. Lower is better.

as with most PC peripherals, monitors introduce you to a ton of unfamiliar specs. While price or specifications alone shouldn’t determine what you buy—what you’ll use it for is important as well, and image quality is the most important thing to most users—here are some things to look for to narrow your search.
Flat-Panel LCD Displays: Features and Specifications Guide Important: Native resolution.

Images look best when dis-

played at an LCD’s native resolution. You can go lower (and in some cases higher), but the image may appear blurry. The vector graphics of Windows Vista may lessen this, but native resolution will always look sharpest. Some models are better than others at handling non-native resolutions. (Remember that with LCDs the native resolution is the maximum resolution you can display.) Important: Panel size. Unlike CRT (which indicates both tube-size and viewable-screen diagonals, LCD panel size indicates viewable size as well. As with CRTs, the measurement is made diagonally from one corner of the screen to the opposite corner. Too small a panel, and you’ll have trouble cramming everything you need to see on your screen; too large, and may have to crane your neck.

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Important: Physical adjustments. Height adjustment lets

you adjust your monitor to a comfortable physical level. Swivel is useful for sharing your work, and pivot is handy for viewing applications that are taller than they are wide.
Somewhat important: Contrast ratio. Contrast ratio can help you determine how rich the color will be in on-screen images. A higher ratio is better, but vendor specifications are not always accurate. Somewhat important: Viewing angle. Indicates how far you
THE DELL E228WEP, reviwed in the April 2007 issue of PC World, is a good option for a value large screen display.

can move to the side of (or above and below) the center of the screen and still see what’s displayed. This is important when you use the LCD to make presentations, or when you work with another person. Vendors use different methods to measure viewing angles, so make the final judgment yourself by visual comparison.
Somewhat important: Brightness. All LCDs generally pro-

vide more than enough brightness. In fact, most users find they have to turn the monitor’s brightness down after purchasing. Minor: Response time. Riseand-fall response time Iindicates the time required for a pixel to change from black to white (rise) and back to black (fall). A low figure in milliseconds should indicate a screen that will not display only minimal motion artifacts in moving images during games or video. Gray-to-gray response time does not have a standard definition, and is a less reliable indicator.
General Monitor Buying Tips
■ Try before you buy. When it comes to choosing the moni-

tor you will be staring at for the next few years, only your eyes can tell you if a monitor’s image quality, resolution, and size are right for you. Checking out models in a store can be helpful, but keep in mind that they are often hooked up to low-quality video signals and placed under different lighting from what you have in your office or home. If possible, try to find a vendor with a liberal return policy, so you can try the monitor in your own setting before committing to the purchase.

switching from an LCD with a regular aspect ratio to a wide-screen one, the widescreen will have less real estate at the same diagonal measurement. A 19-inch wide-screen is comparable to a 17-inch regular-format LCD. The current sweet spots for display size are the 19-inch regular-format LCD and the 20-to-22-inch wide-screen LCD, both of which provide plenty of desktop space for most users.

■ Consider USB ports. Universal Serial Bus connections are designed for quick and easy attachment of numerous peripherals. When USB debuted, the physical accessibility of a monitor made it a natural choice for housing a number of the new, smart, hot-pluggable ports (although the inclusion of USB adds to a monitor’s cost). The number of ports provided varies with different models, as does the number of ports that are up front versus on the back. Current monitors are likely to include USB 2.0 hubs. USB 1.1 is fast enough for hooking up lower-performance devices, such as keyboards, mice, and even broadband modems. USB 2.0 devices, such as CD-RW drives and hard drives, will work with USB 1.1 ports, but at lower speeds than with USB 2.0 ports. ■

Decide whether you want

speakers. The inclusion of

Gain more screen space by

using two monitors. Consider

Check screen real estate.

Make sure you have enough screen for what you need to do. Remember that the viewable area of a wide-screen monitor is generally comparable to the viewable area of a regular-format monitor that’s 2 inches smaller. Similarly, the viewable size of a CRT is an inch or two smaller than the advertised tube size—so if you’re switching from a CRT to an LCD, you may not need as big a monitor as you think. Also bear in mind that if you’re

using multiple smaller monitors instead of one big one. With the right video card, you can run both simultaneously off the same PC. A pair of 17-inch LCDs will let you do video or image editing in one window, and word processing or Web browsing in the other. This can be a great way to get more use out of old monitors. If the double footprint gives you pause, consider mounting two small LCDs on a stand. Look for monitors with good screen quality and the VESA Flat Panel Mounting Interface and an FPMI-compatible stand.

speakers in a monitor can be a nice way to save space on your desktop. But despite recent advances, their sound will rarely satisfy the discerning ear. If you’re picky about sound quality, save the money for a nice set of speakers with a subwoofer.
Donate or Recycle Your Old Monitor: Never, ever send

your old monitor to the dump. Recycling is very good for the environment. CRTs contain lead plus other toxic materials that could leach into the soil and water in minute quantities if not properly disposed of. At this point, most LCDs contain lead and nearly all contain mercury. —PC World Team

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HERE’S HOW
E X P E R T A DV I C E O N H A R D WA R E , S O F T WA R E , A N D T H E W E B

Easy, Low-Cost Network Storage for Everyday Use
STORAGE TIPS

if you’re tired of leaving your PC on continuously so that other machines in your house can access the files you store on it, you’re ready to step up to networkattached storage. As you might guess from the name, NAS devices connect via ethernet directly to your router. Your network storage device can be a stand-alone unit designed specifically for centralized storage, or you can convert an old PC into a file-sharing device. Either way, you’ll have a 24/7 data repository for backups and for sharing documents, images, videos, and other files. A NAS device should be isolated in a safe, cool, dry, out-of-the-way place to make it less vulnerable to bumps, spills, and other physical dangers. (Plus, hiding your storage device keeps
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it safer from theft.) Though off site is the safest destination for your backups, NAS can be the next best thing—barring tornadoes, tsunamis, and other acts of nature. NAS boxes are isolated from most of the software dangers that networked PCs fall prey to, as well: Even if the files stored on a NAS device get infected, the box’s operating system resides in its firmware (unless you’re using a retasked PC), and is therefore very difficult to attack.
DEDICATED TO STORAGE

the easiest way to add NAS to your network is to buy a box designed for that task. I kicked the tires on two units: the Rs. 31,455 Maxtor Shared Storage II 1TB, and the Iomega StorCenter 500
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(see FIGURE 1). The quoted prices average about 70 and 78 cents, respectively, per gigabyte, versus 50 to 60 cents per gigabyte for general-purpose external hard drives. Nearly every PC under four years old supports gigabit-per-second ethernet. If yours doesn’t, spending Rs. 900 or so for a gigabit ethernet adapter is a good idea. With gigabit ethernet, a movie streamed from a PC or NAS box looks as smooth as silk, large files transfer at blazing speed, and backups are far faster than with older 10/100 ethernet cards, which are limited to 100 megabits per second (note that these are theoretical speed limits; real-world speeds are slower). That said, my old reliable 10/100 500GB Maxtor Shared Storage Drive still manages the small-scale backups for my office network. Gigabit ethernet is not a perfect solution, however. Router vendors have been focusing on boosting the speed and reliability of their wireless networking gear. Only a few pricier wireless routers— such as the Rs. 6,750 D-Link DGL-4300, D-Link’s Rs. 8,100 DIR-655, Netgear’s WNR854T, and Buffalo’s WZRAG300NH—include a gigabit-capable ethernet switch. Some NAS boxes can connect wirelessly, but they transfer data at a considerably slower pace than a cabled connection does. Linksys’s WRT350N pre-N wireless router has a quartet of gigabit-ethernet ports, as well as other features that make it an alternative to a dedicated NAS box. The WRT350N sports a USB 2.0 port to which you can attach a normal USB hard drive, effectively turning the router itself into a NAS controller

ILLUSTRATION: MICK WIGGINS

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WINDOWS TIPS Save time by placing a shortcuts to your most used files and folders to keep them close at hand. INTERNET TIPS Protect your site’s domain name from would-be interlopers; Whois tools tell you who owns that site.

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ANSWER LINE Keep the helpful Web cookies around, but give the syping ones the boot; disable your Windows key; back up your Registry.

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Another option: Buy a NAS enclosure that lets you plug in your own hard drive to build a NAS box with as little or as much storage as you can get on a drive (or two, for enclosures that support multiple drives). Tritton’s TRI-NSS001 NAS Enclosure works with any 3.5-inch ATA drive and supports up to 400GB.
FIGURE 1: IOMEGA’S STORCENTER 500 (left) and Maxtor’s Shared Storage II offer 500GB and 1TB, respectively, of storage for your network’s PCs to share.

REPURPOSE AN OLD PC

(see FIGURE 2 ). USB 2.0’s real-world transfer rate of about 200 megabits per second can’t match gigabit-ethernet speeds, but it’s faster than standard ethernet and most wireless connections. The WRT350N, like the Iomega StorCenter and Maxtor Shared Storage II, also functions as a Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) server to stream photos, MP3 files, and movies to your PC, TV, stereo, portable player, or other playback device equipped with a UPnP media adapter. Like gigabit ethernet, UPnP is an important feature to have if you’re planning a home multimedia network. For even more flexibility, get a NAS box with USB ports for attaching a printer that you can share across the network or for expanding the network’s storage capacity via standard USB hard drives. With a high-end NAS box, you can back up your network storage by attaching a backup device directly to the box, rather than having to go through your PC. Most people, however, will store the backup of their NAS box on DVDs, or on a hard drive or tape drive attached to their computer.

instead of donating your old system when you upgrade to a new model, retask it as a NAS box. Its ethernet connection makes converting it into a storage device easy. Don’t worry about its slow processor or lack of RAM: CPU speed and memory are less important when you’re just sending files. The network’s limited bandwidth is more of an inhibiting factor than even a ten-yearold PC’s processor speed. Turn the old machine off, unplug its power cord, open its case (ground yourself by touching a piece of metal first), and remove all extraneous hardware (such as a sound card or a TV tuner card, but not the network adapter, if the ethernet port isn’t on the system board). Next, close the case, turn the system on, and enter its PC Setup program (look on the screen for the appropriate key to press before Windows starts loading). Once you’re in the BIOS, disable any unnecessary features: If you won’t be attaching a parallel printer, for instance, disable the parallel port. Other candidates for deactivation are audio devices, serial ports, secondary ATA
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channels, and unused USB controllers. You can expand your NAS PC’s storage or back it up easily via USB, FireWire, and eSATA ports, so you might want to keep those. But less hardware means fewer potential driver conflicts and better reliability. I don’t recommend this, but you could add wireless to your pseudo-NAS box via an add-in card or a USB adapter. Data transfer won’t be nearly as fast as across a wired connection, and this s e t u p w o n’ t w o r k v e r y w e l l f o r streaming multimedia. But it’s a viable alternative in places where cable is difficult to run. With your hardware pared down, it’s time to clean out your unnecessary software. First, create one last backup in case you need to recover a vital bit of data. Then reformat the PC’s hard

PHOTOGRAPHS: MARC SIMON

FIGURE 2: USE YOUR WIRELESS router as a network storage device via its USB port, such as the one on the Linksys WRT350N.

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HERE’S H OW

STORAGE TI PS

drive, or the drive partition that holds the operating system. Repartition the drive to create a partition solely for the operating system; set the size at the minimum amount the OS requires, plus 1GB or so for a safety margin. Since you won’t be installing many apps, this partition won’t need much extra storage. Rule of thumb: 10GB is fine for Windows XP or Linux; 20GB will work for Windows Vista. Partition the rest of your drive as you see fit for storing the actual shared data. After you’ve finished repartitioning the drive, reinstall the operating system, enabling as few options as possible. Then remove the unnecessary apps and services running in the background that you couldn’t opt out of during the installation, such as Windows Messenger. This will save you some CPU cycles. If you uninstall the wrong app, you can

reinstall it via your Windows disc, but it’s a good idea to be cautious about removing Windows utilities. Adventurous and/or techn i c a l l y p r o fi c i e n t u s e r s should consider a minimal Linux in stallation. Using Linux to serve files to a Windows network ensures that your do-it-yourself NAS box won’t fall prey to a Windows-specific malware attack. I like Xubuntu for its small footprint and friendly installation. FIGURE 3: ENTER YOUR ROUTER’S configuration program After you connect your to set up your network storage device. NAS box to your router with an ethernet cable, you’ll want to configprovide software utilities that walk you ure the unit via the HTML setup applithrough the setup process—or you can cation in its firmware, which opens in administer the unit directly. To do so, your PC’s browser. Most NAS boxes open your browser, type 192.168.0.1 into the address bar ( 192.168.1.1 for some Linksys routers, and 192.168.2.1 GET YOUR PC-BASED NAS BOX READY TO SHARE for others), and press <Enter>. If you’re Windows 95 through 2000 as well; go to not sure of the IP address to use, open IF YOU PLAN to convert a PC for your http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/ your router’s setup page and look in its NAS device, you must reconfigure it and details.aspx?FamilyID=80111f21-d48dquick-start guide for the correct define an area to store files in. It will need address. Log in, locate your router’s a keyboard, a mouse, and a display, which 426e-96c2-08aa2bd23a49&DisplayLan DHCP table, and note the address of may not be practical to attach and use in g=en for the free download. your NAS box (it may be similar to a closet or other out-of-the-way location. If you installed your OS on a small par‘192.168.0.120’; see FIGURE 3 ). The Windows XP’s Remote Desktop Connectition and created one or more other entry name will likely give you a clue as tion lets you configure and administer partitions for data, XP lets you share to which device you’re looking for. the machine remotely, so you can skip files by simply right-clicking a drive icon, (Hint: It’s the new device on the netthe peripherals—though the BIOS in some choosing Properties•Sharing, and checkwork!) When in doubt, turn the device PCs requires that a keyboard be attached ing Share this folder (see FIGURE 4; the off, look at the table, turn it back on, unless you change this setting manually. option on some systems is Share this and look for the new address in Remote Desktop Connection works with folder on the network). (The context the table. menu’s ‘Sharing and SecuNext, type the address of your NAS rity’ option invokes an unbox into your browser’s address field related Windows utility.) and press <Enter>. You may be greeted Most routers use the deby a log-in screen demanding your user fa u l t W i n d ows g ro u p , name and password, which you’ll find named ‘MSHome’ or ‘Workin your manual. More likely, you’ll have group’. If you have renamed to create a password. Use the configuyours, you must reset it: In ration utility to handle such options as XP right-click My Computer formatting and partitioning the device’s and se lect Properties ; in drives, adding or deleting users who Vista right-click Computer can access the drive, making folders and click Remote settings. public or private to individuals or In both versions, se lect groups of users, joining a workgroup, Computer Name• Change and setting RAID levels. and enter the workgroup FIGURE 4: SET YOUR NAS DEVICE to share its files by
enabling this option in its Properties dialog box.

and computer names.

—Jon L. Jacobi

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H ERE ’S HOW

the new shortcut. For a bigger view, click the down arrow next to Folders to collapse the pane. Drag and drop to rearrange items. To eliminate or rename a link, right-click it and choose Remove (applications not designed for Vista Link or Rename Link (or simply Rename). WINDOWS TIPS being a notable exception). To customize Some links (including Desktop and there you are, rummaging in an this list, locate the folder you want in the Computer) aren’t removable, but you ‘Open’ or ‘Save As’ dialog box, navigatFolders pane (below Favorite Links) on can customize links in the file list by ing furiously through a maze of files and the left, or select a folder or file in the clicking Links in the Folders tree that folders in search of the one you need. appears below Favorite Links. Isn’t there a better way? Glad you asked. These tips will get you where My Recent Documents: Most file diayou’re going faster. log boxes have a History (Windows 2000), My Recent Places Bar: Array the two or three foldDocuments (XP), or Recent ers that you access most often on the Places (Vista) shortcut in Places Bar on the left side of the dialog the Places Bar. Click it to box. (Windows’ Places Bar is separate see a list of recently from the Places Bar in Office apps, so accessed files and folders. changes to one won’t affect the other.) In Windows 2000 and XP, Another option: Put shortcuts to the you can filter the types of files in this folders and documents you frequently list via the ‘Files of type’ drop-down use in a separate folder, and then add menu at the bottom. In Vista, you a shortcut to this folder o’ shortcuts FIGURE 1: CUSTOMIZE your favorite links in Vista can remove the current batch of on the Places Bar. You’ll have to click dialog boxes instantly with a simple drag and drop. shortcuts in Recent Places by rightat least once more to select the one main file window in the center of the clicking the icon and choosing Clear you want, but it’s still faster than digging dialog box; then drag the item into Recent Items List. through layers of folders. Favorite Links until a line appears In Vista, the Places Bar is called ‘File name’ drop-down: A shorter list of between two existing items (see FIGURE Favorite Links and is located both in recently used files lies in the ‘File name’ 1 ). Release the mouse button to create Explorer and in most file dialog boxes drop-down menu near the bottom of the dialog box. Click the arrow to the right WI N D OWS TO O LB OX to see the path of recently accessed files. To filter this list by file type, select the type from the ‘Files of type’ drop-down http://pcworld.in/downloads/index.jsp/ list (2000 and XP) or from the pop-up VISTA LETS YOU press the <Windows> dsecId=1494/dsubSecId=1499. There is menu located to the right of the ‘File key, type a few letters until a match to name’ box (Vista). your application of choice appears, and also other helpful downloads like AcroTo open a recently used folder rather then press <Enter> for a quick launch. If bat Reader 8.0. Surprisingly, considerthan a file, in Windows 2000 and XP, you aren’t yet ready to move to Vista ing every manual and many marketing use the ‘File name’ drop-down menu to (or if you use Vista’s Classic Start brochures are distributed this way, select a file located in the folder you menu), try Launchy, a free, open-source there’s no PDF reader built-in to Vista. need, press the right arrow key once to tool from Josh Karlin. Press <Alt>Thankfully, Adobe has already made its deselect the text in the ‘File name’ box, Vista version of the free Acrobat Reader <Space> (or another hot-key combinaand press <Backspace> as many times 8.0 available for download. One of those tion of your choice) to pop open a comas necessary to delete the file name, invaluable applications you’re bound to mand-line window; type a few letters, leaving only the path. Finally, press need. www.adobe.com and Launchy anticipates your target <Enter>. The file list above switches to On the other hand, One of the main file, displaying it (and other alternathe desired folder. In Vista, the dropways Microsoft will be pushing Vista is tives). When the file that you want down list at the top of Explorer and appears in the window, press <Enter>. with its strengthened security setup. At most file dialog boxes displays the full the core of its Security Center is Windows Launchy enables you to customize the path to recently used folders and Web Defender, a two-way firewall that provides directories it searches and the file types addresses. To return to one of those antivirus protection and squishes both it shows, so you can use it to open piclocations, just select the desired path spam and spyware. Download a free copy ture or music files as well as to run and away you go. for Windows XP at tinyurl.com/dyvaw. applications. Download Launchy at —Scott Dunn

The Fast Track to Your Favorite Files and Folders

Open Your Favorite Apps and Files Faster With Launchy

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HERE’S HOW

Minimize Your VistaRelated Hardware Hassles
H A R D W A R E T I P S

when windows xp launched, some PCs and peripherals wouldn’t work with the new OS because device drivers had not yet been written. The same is true for Vista. Whether you plan to install Vista on your current PC, or to buy a Vista-equipped system to use with your existing peripherals, these tips will help smooth the transition. Study up beforehand: To run the barebones Vista Home Basic, Microsoft recommends a CPU running at 1 GHz or faster, plus 512MB of RAM and 15GB of hard-drive space. Home Premium, Business, and Ultimate editions with the new Aero environment require at least 1GB of RAM, and for systems without integrated graphics, a DirectX 9–capable graphics processor with 128MB of its own RAM, DirectX 9, and a few other features. Go to www.microsoft.com/windows/products/windowsvista/editions/systemrequirements. mspx to read Microsoft’s Vista System Requirements. Microsoft’s Vista Upgrade Advisor ( www.microsoft.com/windows/products/windowsvista/buyorupgrade/ upgradeadvisor.mspx) scans your PC to determine which editions of Vista will run on it, and which of its hardware components are incompatible with Vista. When I ran Upgrade Advisor on my year-old machine, the program found no compatibility problems—but it did list ten components for which it had no data, including the PC’s USB port.

You can also check Microsoft’s Hardware Compatibility List (http://winqual. microsoft.com/hcl/), or the Vista hardware list on IeXwiki (www.iexbeta.com/ wiki/index.php/Windows_Vista_Hardware_Compatibility_List). Need to identify what components are in your system? The free Belarc Advisor utility ( http://pcworld.in/downloads/index. jsp/dsecId=1494/dsubSecId=1497/ type=M) will quickly scan your PC and identify all its hardware.

FIGURE 1: CHECK VISTA’S DEVICE Manager for peripherals or devices the OS considers problematic—they’ll be flagged as shown.

If Vista doesn’t support one of your PC’s components, look for updated Vista drivers on the vendor’s Web site. If you can’t find them, the drivers may still be in

HELP YOUR COMPUTER BEAT THE SUMMER’S HEAT
DOES THE SUMMER sun leave your system a little hot under the collar? Antec’s Rs. 900 SpotCool (http://www.antec. com/us/productDetails. php?ProdID=75018) may be just what your machine needs to keep cool and quiet. SpotCool’s three-speed fan is less than 3 inches in diameter; it attaches to any motherboard mounting hole and draws power from an open three-pin connector on your board. The fan’s flexible arm lets you focus its cooling air current on your CPU, graphics card, or other internal component.

development—so ask the company about it. RadarSync, a device driver update service, has created a list of links to Vista drivers at http://www.radarsync. com/vista/. After you have identified which drivers lack Vista equivalents, copy the XP versions to a CD or anyplace you can easily access them once you’ve installed Vista. Make sure you have your network drivers handy so you can go online and download other device drivers and updates. Be prepared for trouble: Back up your old XP installation to a second hard drive or to a different partition on your main drive so you can revert to XP if something goes wrong with Vista. (What can go wrong? One possibility: A PC World editor found that, after installing Vista on his home PC, he could no longer log in to the office network because no Vista version of the Cisco VPN client existed.) As an alternative to doing a complete backup on a separate hard drive, use a drive-image program such as the Rs. 1,800 Acronis True Image 10 ( http://www.pcworld. com/product/pricing/prtprdid,33724817-sortby,retailer/pricing. html ) to burn an image of your XP installation onto recordable DVDs. Browse to http://lifehacker.com/software/top/windows-vista-beta-how-todual-boot-windows-xp-and-windowsvista-179906.php for instructions on installing both versions of Windows on a PC set to dual-boot. Once you’ve installed Vista, open Device Manager to check for problems: Right-click the Computer icon and choose Manage•Device Manager. Nonfunctioning devices are flagged with an exclamation point in a yellow triangle (see FIGURE 1). If Windows can’t find a driver, it may list the device as ‘Unknown Device’ under ‘Other devices’. HunterSoft’s free Unknown Device Identifier utility helps you find the name of the mystery hardware (http://www.zhangduo.com/ udi.html). — Kirk Steers

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H ERE ’S HOW

Block Spying Cookies, But Keep the Helpful Ones
ANSWER LINE

IS THERE A way to tell which of the cookies on my PC are helping, and which ones are spying?

a cookie is merely a small file that a Web site puts on your PC to identify you, or to store information about you or your computer, such as your IP address. The good ones save you the trouble of logging on to the site on return visits, a big help if you use subscription news services such as that of the New York Times (nytimes.com). The bad cookies are placed by ad companies that pay for the right to place advertising on the sites’ pages (some sites also leave their own ad cookies). These files track your visits to pages that display their clients’ ads (or their own), and they may tailor FIGURE 1: SET INTERNET EXPLORER to allow firstthe ads you see to your browsing hisparty cookies but block all third-party cookies. tory. Over time, cookies can reveal In the Advanced Privacy Settings dialog your browsing habits, though standard box, check Override automatic cookie hanad cookies, like those that DoubleClick dling (see FIGURE 1 ). Under ‘First-party uses, can’t attach a name to a specific Cookies’, select Accept; under ‘Thirdsurfing trail. party Cookies’, choose Block. Ignore the That means, if you wipe out your cooksession cookies option. Click OK twice. ies as soon as you close your browser, the
MYTH BUSTER

ad networks never get a chance to track your surfing from session to session. Internet Explorer 6 and 7 and Firefox 1.x and 2 have good cookie-handling procedures. IE lets you keep first-party cookies (left by the site you’re visiting) but block those from third parties: Select Tools•Internet Options•Privacy•Advanced.

Firefox 2 can accept, and regularly wipe away, any cookie you haven’t explicitly told it to keep: Click Tools•Options•Privacy, check Accept cookies from sites, and in the ‘Keep until’ drop-down box, select I close Firefox. To keep cookies from a few trusted sites, click Exceptions, and in the dialog box, enter the URLs of the sites whose first-party cookies you wish to keep in the ‘Address of web site’ field. Click Allow for each, and when you’re done, click Close and OK. If you’re using Firefox 1.5, click Tools•Options•Privacy•Cookies , check Allow sites to set cookies , and choose for the originating site only. Many security programs, including Norton Internet Security, PCCillin, and Ad-Aware, also identify and destroy known spying cookies.
DISABLE THE WINDOWS KEY
I’M A COMPUTER gamer. Accidentally hitting the Windows key in the middle of a game is a disaster. Can I disable it?

Dual core CPUs are twice as fast as single core CPUs
REALITY: DUAL CORE CPU does not necessarily mean double the performance over a single-core. Benefits from a dual core can be seen only with applications that support it. Today you can expect multimedia creation software to be faster by up to 50 percent compared to similarly clocked single cores. Note that the benefit is restricted to audio/video encoding and decoding and certain games. However, office suites, browsers, media-players (for non HD playback) will hardly make use of the second processor. Hence for most general use as of today, a single core CPU should suffice. With multi-core support in the latest operating systems like Windows Vista, dual cores will yield smoother multitasking as the OS itself will split tasks to the two cores. If you are upgrading from an old platform or building a new system altogether, dual core is the way to go. However, if you already have a single core CPU that is only about a year old or so, an upgrade to a similar clocked dual core will not double your performance overnight. —Soham Raninga

you c a n w i t h a little Registry tweaking. But back up the Registry first; see the boxed item at lower left for details. Once the Registry is backed up, select Start•Run (just Start in Vista), type regedit, and press <Enter>. In the left pane, navigate to and select HKEY_ LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Keyboard Layout (this is not to be confused with the ‘Keyboard Layouts’ option just beneath it). Click Edit•New•Binary Value, name the new value Scancode Map, and then doubleclick it. Enter the code below, which will wrap automatically as shown here: 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 03 00 00 00 00 00 5B E0 00 00 5C E0 00 00 00 00 Click OK , close the Registry Editor, and reboot Windows. Your Windows key will be no more. If you want to disable the Windows key only for specific applications, try the free WinKey Killer utility ( http://www.majorgeeks.com/download304.html).
Answer Line is anchored by contributing editor Lincoln Spector. Send in your queries to answeline@pcworld.in.

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INSIDE

SOFTWARE REVIEWS
D U M M Y E D IH A N D P I C K EL P A N A D IT T EF R O M T HR AD V D T E D BY K A D G O O E E S N S O N & E M O N

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PREVIEW ■ Tech Videos ■ Ubuntu and Kubuntu Linux

102 WHAT’S ON DVD 8GB of fun, freebies and power tools

For a Healthy PC...
USE THESE FREE SOFTWARE BUNDLED IN THE DVD FOR SYSTEM MAINTENANCE.
just like your body, or for that matter your car, your PC also requires care to ensure that it works reliably and springs no unpleasant surprises when your work is dependent on it. On every PC World DVD we include software in the PC World Super Suite that can be used for tasks collectively called system maintenance – security software, registry cleaners, defragmenting tools, patches, etc. This month, our Fantastic Freebies collection also has many system software. Here is a preview of just some of those utilities.
Ad-Aware and Spybot-S&D:

These are the two most famous spyware removal tools that we include in our PC World Super Suite. The Internet is getting increasingly plagued by spyware and trojans which can harm your computer by merely tracking your surfing habits

and popping up annoying ads, to slowing down your PC and even crashing it. The fact that damages from spyware are incidental rather than intentional unlike viruses does not make them any bit more desirable! We recommend using both these tools to scan

your PC and keep it clean, as one of them might catch a malicious file that the other missed out on. Although we try and include updates on a regular basis, we suggest you upgrade them on a weekly basis or enable autoupdate on them. Also, note

that using anti-spyware must be in conjunction with an anti-virus tool. Cobian Backup: It is a multithreaded program that can be used to schedule and backup your files and directories from their original location to other directories or drives in the same computer or another in your network. If you are wondering why a backup utility is discussed here, let us tell you that any system is prone to failure and taking adequate precautions with security and other tools can only reduce chances of failure and not eliminate it. Thus it is a smart idea to backup important data to a secondary hard disk, another PC on the network, a pen drive or even the Internet (a FTP site can be very handy) Cobian supports FTP backup in both directions (download and upload). The program uses

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ILLUSTRATION: ANIL T

SOFTWARE

FREE STUF F

very few resources and can be running on the background on your system, checking your backup schedule and executing your backups when necessary. Cobian Backup supports several methods of compression and strong encryption. KillProcess: You would have come across an application that simply refuses to close, forcing you to use the Ctrl+Alt+Del option. Sometimes you see names of running processes that you dont recognize and wonder if it belongs to a legitimate application or if it is a malware. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could google it up in one straight step? KillProcess is an application which can do that, and a lot more. You can even create lists of processes that you want to keep or delete. If you understand

Windows better and are ing software that are willing to risk an abrupt included on the DVD. restart, you can even shut Most applications use down system services. the registry to store configuration and TweakVI: Microsoft’s other important data. TweakUI for Windows XP When you install an was and is still a hit with application, new regisusers who wanted to fine try entries will be cretune the operating system ated and not all of them including some performget removed when you ance related settings. And uninstall the applicanow a similar tool exists tion. In due course, for Vista users in the name your registry will be left of, well, TweakVI, the V presumably standing for SPYBOT S&D SCANS your system for malware with a lot of unnecessary data which increasVista. This time however and removes them after your confirmation. es the registry size and the software is made not for free while extra plugins can results in a slower PC. Use by Microsoft, but a company be purchased. This is a recomthese free registry cleaners called Totalidea. Amongst sevmended software for serious to remove invalid registry eral other things, you can creVista tweakers. entries. With either of the ate a RAM drive, clean up the applications, make sure you registry and optimise RAM, TweakNow RegCleaner Standback up your registry before etc. The main application and ard and Clean My Registry: doing anything else. a set of 13 plugins are available These are two registry clean-

PC World Exclusive Tech Videos
TECH REVIEWS

every month, PC World brings exclusive videos produced by the IDG network, including PC World teams from across the globe. These videos include reviews, product launches, technology previews, coverage of international meets like CeBIT and even how-to’s. This month, we treat you to 10 tech videos that let you have a glimpse of today and tomorrow’s technology. Video Review of Sony’s T100 camera: The 8.1MP compact digital camera has a 3 inch display which when coupled with the brush aluminum exterior lends the camera a nice look.

You don’t need to spend too much time wiping data off, and here is a tutorial that tells you exactly how to do it.
Games for Windows Live:

FIND THE VIDEO review of the Sony T100 in PCW World’s Tech Videos.

Microsoft Forefront line of software is designed to integrate into existing IT infrastructure and increase security in businesses and enable secure access to resources on a network. The product has been under testing for a year now and is expected to be available by end of June. Steve Ballmer, CEO, Microsoft talks

about the entry of the company into the Security business. Tutorial : Safely wipe data off your hard drive: Most people do not bother to permanently remove sensitive files from hard disks and other storage devices before disposing or giving them away. It is possible that this data could fall into wrong hands.

Microsoft plans to create a gaming platform to bring together the Xbox and the PC. Also glimpse game play from Shadowrun from Microsoft’s game studios. Optimus Keyboard: The much awaited Optimus keyboard that can be user customized and has OLED display to show functions of each key. The creator, Artemy Lebedev speaks on his creation. UMPCs still need to come of age: Battery life, graphic capabilities and connectivity all have to improve for Ultra Mobile PCs to be a bigger hit. Acer president speaks about the future for UMPCs.

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F REE ST UFF

SOFTWARE

Ubuntu
L I N U X

ubuntu needs no introduction unless you are a complete Linux newbie. Ubuntu is one of the most easy to install and use Linux distributions around. If you are considering moving to or dual booting with Linux, Ubuntu is a great way to start. The June PC World DVD is bootable with Ubuntu for 32 bit systems. The DVD also contains ISO (CD image) files of the 64bit version as well as Kubuntu for 32 bit and 64 bit versions. These ISO files can be found in the \Data\Full Products folder on the DVD.
ABOUT UBUNTU

and for KDE fans, there is a flavor called Kubuntu. There is also the Xubuntu that uses the Ubuntu base and the Xfce deskop environment which is typically a lightweight desktop environment suitable for lower-end systems.
LIVE CD AND INSTALLATION

Similarly, the GIMP for image editing can be found under Applications > Graphics.
SOME APPLICATIONS IN UBUNTU

ubuntu is an African word meaning ‘Humanity to others’. Its makers, Canonical claim they want to bring the spirit of Ubuntu to the software world and will continue to offer Ubuntu for free. A desktop and server release is scheduled every six months with the latest being the 7.04 version. Ubuntu integrates the GNOME desktop environment

to install Ubuntu (32 bit) just place the DVD in your drive and boot the PC with the first boot device set as DVD drive. From then on it is pretty much intuitive – the live CD allows you to sample the operating system and then installer guides you through the installation process. Like all other Linux distros, this one too does not kill your existing Windows (unless you ask it to or accidentally delete the Windows partition yourself!) and will enable you to have a multiboot system. For greatest ease of installation, move clear an an existing partition by moving data elsewhere. Then, you can simply ask Ubuntu installer to format and use this free space for

FEATURE PACKED AND easy to install, Ubuntu is a must try if you want a Windows alternative.

itself. You also need to set aside a smaller (about 1.5GB) partition for a swap partition. With this preparation, the installation will be pretty much straightforward.
MIGRATING FROM WINDOWS

a handy tool in this release is the inclusion of a Migration Tool on the Live CD that can import your Windows XP’s Documents and Settings (documents, email, desktop, settings) for use in Ubuntu. This means, you can more or less ‘continue’ working with Ubuntu after switching from Windows, rather than spend time setting up your account from scratch.
WORKING WITH UBUNTU

WALLPAPER CONTEST
Bring out the shutter bug in you! Every month we carry on the DVD wallpapers contributed by readers as well as some inhouse creations. If you think your photography or illustration can adorn others’ desktop, do send us a sample of your work to contests@pcworld.in. Photographs can have any subject except persons or children (silhouette shots are OK). You may send us the photo as shot by you or crop it to 1024 x 768 resolution. Adjusting levels or applying filters is also permitted, but do let us know of the post-processing done. WINNERS CAN EXPECT GOODIES INCLUDING FREE SUBSCRIPTIONS!

ubuntu’s navigation will not leave the first timer user lost. At the top left of the screen you will find the menus for Application, Places and System. Under these, you have sub-menus or items leading to various tasks. For example, if you want to use OpenOffice that is bundled with Ubuntu, you will find it under Applications > Office.

just like Windows XP can run only those applications that are written for it, so also is the case with Linux- you need applications that are written to work under Linux. Thankfully, this is hardly a problem as there are literally 1000s of software available for download. By default, the OpenOffice suite is installed (Kubuntu installs Koffice) and you can choose to install other applications like Abiword, Scribus (a page layout software) GnuCash (personal money management software), etc. For multimedia playback U b u n t u i n s t a l l s To t e m , the official movie player of GNOME, Sound Juicer (a CD ripping tool), and Serpentine (a CD burning tool). On Kubuntu, you get AmarocK for music playback and Kaffeine for video; K3b for CD and DVD authoring – these apart you can manually choose to install other software like VLC Media Player as well. This is a only brief introduction to a worthy Windows alternative. Official as well as community documentation can be found at help.ubuntu.com

Installation Details
System Requirements:

Live CD requires at least 25 6 M B R A M , I n s t a l l requires 2GB disk space.

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LINUX

Ubuntu ( for 32 bit and 64 bit systems ) Kubuntu ( for 32 bit and 64 bit systems )
Ubuntu is a great way to start off a tryst with Linux. The PC World June 2007 DVD is bootable with Ubuntu 32 bit edition while ISO (image) files for Ubuntu 64 bit and the KDE flavor – Kubuntu (32 and 64 bit) are found in the DVD.
F R E E WA R E

50+ Fantastic Freebies
This is a collection of some of the most loved free software out there today. From anti-virus to browsers to office suites, there is everything that you need for fun and utility.
E SS E N TI A L S

PC World Super Suite
1.7GB of software including Windows patches, codes, multi-media players and editing tools etc...

TECH VIDOES

10 Exclusive Tech Videos
Catch a sneak peek at products and technology of today and tomorrow with tech videos, complete with a video review of Sony’s T100 8.1MP camera.

E N T E R TA I N M E N T

The Scene : Season 2
All 19 episodes of The Scene, a show that is distributed on the Internet. The story is about a group of ‘sceaners’ whose interest lies in acquiring movies and music before their release and then distributing them freely on the net.

LEISURE

PC World Wallpapers
Images contributed by readers as well as in-house creations. Let creative flow on your desktop

Game Demo and Vids
The Secrets of Da Vinci: The Forbidden Manuscript Uncover the secrets hidden in the Master’s last residence.

Stonghold 2
A RTS game set in the medieval age.
FULL PRODUCT

CC3 - Behind the scenes MacWorld
The current and complete edition of MacWorld in PDF. For all you Apple fan Some behind the scene footage of Command + Conquer 3 Tiberium Wars (you can find the game demo on the April 2007 DVD).

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Incorporating Mac User

CONTENTS June 2007
ON THE

OPINION

DVD

From the Editor’s Desk
I’ve been waiting for a device like the Apple TV for years. Now that it’s here, here’s what I think.

Feedback
Readers respond.
ON THE

MAC BEAT

DVD

Inside the Apple Stores
What’s behind six years of retail success?

EMI Offers DRM-Free Music on iTunes
Higher-quality tracks come with a higher price tag.

Wilkes University Moves to Macs
Pennsylvania school dumps PCs in favor of Intel Macs.

Hot Stuff
Check out the cool products we’re into right now.
ON THE

REVIEWS

DVD

Spam Fighters
What can you do about the junk e-mail that clogs your inbox? We go out on a quest for software that helps you fight the good fight.

macworld.com/reviews
We’re constantly reviewing the latest Mac hardware and software on Macworld.com. Here are quick summaries of this month’s online exclusives.

Top Products
Looking for a new printer, monitor, digital camera, or other hardware? Check out our current favorites, as well as a complete listing of all current Macs and iPods.

ADD MORE STORAGE TO ANY MAC p. 60

www.macworld.com | May 2007

The Mac Experts

Mac Gems
Put some serious style in your text, easily follow up on sent e-mail messages, connect almost any drive via USB, and silence your Mac’s startup sounds.

The Ultimate PC
It’s a Mac!
Run OS X and Windows Together Build the Perfect Home Office Why Mac Users Shouldn’t Fear Microsoft

On the Cover
Photograph by Peter Belanger

PLUS:

$6.99 U.S./$7.99 CANADA

Adobe CS3 | AirPort Extreme

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June 2007

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COVER STORY

Apple TV: Ready for Prime Time?
With its new entertainment hub, Apple is hoping to change the way you watchTV. We’ll show you how to set it up and tell you if it’s worth the effort.
ON THE

FEATURES

DVD

State of the Mac
How reliable are Macs? How happy are their owners? We surveyed Macworld readers about what they like—and don’t like—about their Macs.
ON THE

SECRETS

DVD

Working Mac
Being energy efficient isn’t just good for the environment—it’s good for your wallet. Here’s how to go green with your Mac.

Apple TV: Ready for Prime Time?

Playlist
Get in shape with Apple’s iPod and some great fitness accessories.

! ear iG

Term

ina l C1 6

Digital Photo
Even if you’re not a high-end photographer, these strategies can help you benefit from the slick features in Apple’s Aperture.
MAC CLASS

Ter min

al C1 6

Mobile Mac
Get rid of—and prevent—screen smudges, chipped paint, and other unsightly blemishes on your portable Mac.

State of the Mac

Geek Factor
Put your Mac Pro’s four hard-drive slots to use by setting up a RAID array and boosting performance.
ON THE

MACWORLD.COM’S TOP 5
The top 5 stories on Macworld.com are: France Bans Citizen Journalists from Reporting Violence The French Constitutional Council makes it a crime for people other than professional journalists to film acts of violence (macworld.com/2677). Apple to Hold Special Event at NAB Apple announces plans to hold a special event at the National Association of Broadcasters trade show (macworld.com/2678). Apple Releases Mac OS X 10.4.9 Apple rolls out its latest OS update for PowerPC and Intel-based Macs (macworld.com/2679). Adobe to Release Two Versions of Photoshop CS3 Latest Photoshop update will come in two flavors: standard and extended (macworld.com/2684). PC World: Apple TV Just Plain Works Our colleagues at PC World take a look at the Apple TV and find it easy to use (macworld.com/2680).

HELP DESK

DVD

Mac OS X Hints
Set Office zoom levels quickly, insert line breaks into iTunes Comments field, privatize your PDFs, and customize OS X’s alert sounds.

1

Mac 911
Clear out iPhoto’s trash, make Microsoft Word multilingual, remove Spotlight from the menu bar, and more.
ON THE

BACK PAGE

DVD

Spotlight
Between Apple’s recent triumphs (the iPod, the Intel transition, and the iPhone) and Microsoft’s stumbles (hello, Vista), Christopher Breen feels that there’s been a big shift in the way folks think about the Mac.

2 3 4 5

(Ranking valid as of April 4, 2007.)

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Ready for Prime Time
What you need to know about Apple’s new entertainment hub. Plus: the Macworld review.

I
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n October 2005, Apple demonstrated its interest in selling video content alongside its digital music offerings by adding TV shows to the iTunes Store. Great as it might have been to watch these programs on a computer or—in very small form—on an iPod, most people prefer viewing digital diversions from the comfort of a couch. When the company augmented

the store’s catalog in September 2006 with full-length movies, it became clear that Apple’s interest in the video business was no mere flirtation. That same day, Apple

committed to digital content with the unveiling of what’s now called the Apple TV, a simple piece of hardware that gives your iTunes content— movies, TV shows, music, photos, and podcasts—new life on your TV. Now that it’s finally here, we’ve put the Apple TV through its paces to learn how you can make the most of this intriguing digital device. Our hands-on guide walks you through setting up and working with the Apple TV (and don’t miss the review on page XX).

By Christopher Breen

PHOTOGRAPHY BY

PETER BELANGER

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Also on

Resize Partitions On-the-Fly

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FEATURE Apple TV

Out of the Box
The Apple TV box is a neat and tidy package that includes the device itself, a power cord (the power supply is built into the device rather than part of an external power brick), a 47-page user’s guide, some fine-print documentation you probably won’t read, the customary white Apple stickers, and the same Apple Remote that ships with most current Macs. Not included with the Apple TV are cables for connecting the device to your TV, so you’ll have to provide your own (see “What You Need” for more information on outfitting your Apple TV with the necessary accoutrements). Given that Apple would have to bundle five cables to satisfy the most common connections— HDMI to HDMI, DVI to HDMI, component video, analog audio, and Toslink digital audio—this omission doesn’t surprise me. At about 7.75-inches square and just over an inch tall, the Apple TV’s footprint is a bit larger than the Mac mini’s. Arrayed across the back are power, USB 2.0, Ethernet, HDMI, component video, analog audio, and optical digital audio ports (for help deciphering these and other terms common in the world of high definition video, see our glossary in “Picking an HDTV”). The front of the device bears a single light that can shine or flash white or amber. The purpose of all of these ports is pretty clear, barring the USB 2.0 port. Apple tells us that the USB port is not for users; rather, Apple will employ the port to conduct repairs on your Apple TV in the event it needs them. You can’t connect an iPod or a hard drive to the USB port. That’s the story—at least for now. But I wouldn’t be surprised if a future update to the Apple TV brings other capabilities to that port.

iTunes Interface You decide which content you want to sync to the Apple TV via six tabs in iTunes.

Getting Started
Setting up the Apple TV is almost child’s play. I plugged the power cord into the back of the Apple TV and into an outlet. I strung an HDMI cable between the appropriate port on the Apple TV and one of the HDMI ports on my Panasonic TH-42PX60U 42inch plasma TV. (The Apple TV will output video to enhanced definition [ED] or high definition [HD] TVs at 1,080i 60/50Hz, 720p 60/50Hz, 576p 50Hz [PAL format], and 480p 60Hz. And while it isn’t listed among Apple’s specifications, the Apple TV also supports 480i—so it will work with standard definition [SD] TVs that sport component connectors.) Using the TV’s remote, I selected the proper input and, in short order, there appeared the white Apple logo on a black background. HDMI connections just work. But if you use component video, you’ll be prompted to select the video output format for your TV (depending on your specific setup, you may have a few more steps to take than I did).

Streaming PIN Connecting to the Apple TV requires you to enter a fivedigit code into iTunes.

Much like when you install OS X, you’ll then see a Language screen where you pick from among 15 languages, using the Apple Remote. When you make selections and press the play/pause button, you hear the same cute “clunk” sound that Apple’s Front Row uses. Connecting the Apple TV to your TV is only part of the setup—the device also needs to communicate with iTunes 7.1 or later on your Mac (or on a Windows PC). If you’ve plugged a cable into the 10/100Base-T Ethernet port on the back, the Apple TV will check there first for a viable network connection. If it finds one, it’ll attach itself to the network and attempt to use DHCP. (If you manually assign IP addresses to your gear, you can do this as well.) Otherwise, the Apple TV then searches for wireless networks, using its built-in 802.11b, 802.11g, and 802.11n wireless capabilities. The Apple TV lists every wireless access point it can find. Just use the Apple Remote to select the one you want and then press the play/ pause button—you’re nearly ready to go. (You’ll also see an Other entry in the list of wireless access points. Select this, and you can configure wireless devices that are hidden from public discovery by using the on-screen keyboard to enter the name of the access point.) Most wireless routers automatically assign IP addresses to your networked devices via DHCP. Choose Using DHCP in the Network Setup screen, and then press the play/

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pause button. The router will establish a connection. If you need to enter an IP and subnet address manually, choose that option and a screen for doing so appears. You’ll see 12 blanks for the IP numbers: use the Apple Remote’s plus (+) and minus (–) buttons to change the selected number, and then use the forward button to select other blanks. Likewise, for secure networks, you’ll be asked to enter your password via an onscreen keyboard. In my case, I have a wireless 802.11n network setup, using the latest AirPort Extreme Base Station. It found the base station in just seconds. The Apple TV displayed its name and the name of my older 802.11g AirPort Extreme Base Station. I selected the 802.11n network, and I was in business.

What You Need

Also on

Resize Partitions For $299, you can buy Apple’s cool new digital On-the-Fly device, but you won’t find many accessories in the box. Besides the Apple TV itself, you get a power cable, the Apple Remote, and a user’s manual. So what else do you need to start using—and getting the most out of—it? Here’s a quick checklist.

Talking to iTunes
Once you’ve made the connection to your network, it’s time for the Apple TV to speak with its partner, iTunes. The Apple TV initiates this process by displaying a screen with a 5-digit PIN. Your job is to go to the computer that you plan to use to sync content with the Apple TV, select the Apple TV entry in iTunes’ Source list, and enter the Apple TV’s PIN in the space allotted. Syncing You’re allowed to sync an Apple TV’s internal 40GB hard drive (33GB of which is available to you) with one computer, so the computer isn’t necessary for playback. Apple says that the Apple TV’s hard drive will hold as many as 50 hours of video (based on 1.5-Mbps H.264-encoded video at a resolution of 640 by 480, with 128Kbps stereo audio), as many as 9,000 audio tracks (with an average of four minutes per song and AAC encoded at 128 Kbps), or as many as 25,000 pictures (JPEG, BMP, GIF, TIFF, and PNG images are supported, but

CABLE PHOTOGRAPHS BY PETER BELANGER

TIP power button on the Apple TV,
but if you want to give it a rest, you don’t need to pull the plug. Instead, press and hold the Apple Remote’s play/pause button to put the Apple TV into a power-saving standby mode.

Power Down There’s no

Wide-Screen TV The Apple TV is meant to work with certain types of TVs— specifically, widescreen EDTVs or HDTVs capable of at least 480p resolution with HDMI, DVI, or component video connections. So if you don’t have such a set, you may need a new TV (see “Picking an HDTV” for advice and recommendations). Although Apple doesn’t really say so, you can use the Apple TV with an SDTV (480i), as long as it has component video inputs. These TVs aren’t very common, but several Macworld readers have reported that they own them. Audio and Video Cables You’ll need either one or two cables, depending on your particular setup. If your TV has a free HDMI port, an HDMI-to-HDMI cable will carry both digital video and digital audio signals from the Apple TV to your TV. Otherwise, you can use an HDMI-toDVI cable if your TV has a DVI port, or component video cables (highquality analog cables that split into three parts, colored green, blue, and Analog audio red). The latter two options don’t carry audio, so you’ll need separate audio connections. If your multimedia stereo system has an optical digital audio port, use a Toslink cable. Otherwise, standard RCA-style red and white Toslink digital audio analog audio cables will do the trick. Even people using HDMI may want to use a Toslink audio cable to hear sound through a stereo (especially if they don’t have an easy way to route sound from their TV to the stereo). Apple has partnered with XtremeMac to sell each of these types of cables at very HDMI reasonable prices ($20 for each cable except analog audio, which costs $15). The cables are available from Apple’s brick-and-mortar and online stores (see mac world.com/2690 for more on the XtremeMac cables). HDMI Switchers Speaking of cables, many TVs that have the allDVI digital HDMI connection usually have one or maybe two such ports. If you’re already using your TV’s HDMI ports for other devices (a Series3 TiVo or Playstation 3, for example), you’re not out of luck. Products such as XtremeMac’s $100 HDMI Switcher will let you connect several HDMI devices to your TV and pick which one you want displayed at a given time. Component video Computer and Network You’ll also need a computer and a way of connecting the Apple TV to your network in order to transfer and stream content. That means a Mac running OS X 10.3.9 or later, or a PC running Windows XP Home or Professional with Service Pack 2 (currently, Vista is not officially supported) and running iTunes 7.1 or later. Then you can directly connect an Ethernet cable from a router or hub to the Apple TV’s 10/100Base-T Ethernet port, or use its built-in wireless abilities (the Apple TV supports 802.11b, g, and n) to connect to a wireless router such as an AirPort Extreme Base Station. For music streaming, 802.11b might be OK, but 802.11g or 802.11n are better for video streaming. And of course, the speeds of transferring data to the Apple TV will depend greatly on your connection speed. Compatible Content Finally, you’ll need content. Once you pair the Apple TV with your computer, you should be able to play most things in your iTunes library. That includes music, movies, TV shows, and podcasts downloaded from the iTunes Store. It will also work with AAC, MP3, Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV files that you’ve imported yourself, as well as with MPEG-4 and H.264 video that you’ve encoded in QuickTime or similar programs, and that fall within the supported parameters (see the Apple TV tech specifications at macworld.com/2685for complete details). —JONATHAN SEFF
The XtremeMac HDMI Switcher

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FEATURE Apple TV

Gain Control Once you add an Apple TV to your home entertainment system, the Apple Remote will probably join half a dozen other remotes on your coffee table. To cut the clutter, consider a programmable remote such as those in Logitech’s Harmony line (www.logitech.com). With a little effort, you can program them to use your Mac to control every device in your TV cabinet—including the Apple TV.

TIP

Movies Menu The Apple TV’s main interface starts with movies but gives you access to all your content.

For more Apple TV coverage, visit macworld.com/

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Ports Galore The Apple TV has all the ports you’d expect from a modern digital device: from left to right, you’ll find power, USB 2.0, Ethernet, HDMI, component video, analog audio, and optical digital audio connections.

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APPLE TV PHOTOGRAPH BY PETER BELANGER

not Raw). The Apple TV can play video encoded as MPEG-4 and H.264, and it supports the same audio formats that iTunes does (AIFF, WAV, MP3, AAC, and Apple Lossless). Unlike with an iPod, you can’t manually drag items from your iTunes library to your Apple TV. You must configure everything via the Movies, TV Shows, Music, Podcasts, and Photos tabs in the Apple TV preferences within iTunes to determine how content makes its way to your Apple TV. (The Apple TV prioritizes your media, first syncing movies, then TV shows, music, podcasts, and, finally, photos.) You can ask the Apple TV to sync all your content or selected playlists, or to omit certain types (no movies, for example). For photos on a Mac, you can sync JPEG, BMP, GIF, TIFF, and PNG files from iPhoto, your Pictures folder, or a folder of your choice. On a Win-

dows PC, you can sync photos from a supported photo application such as Photoshop Elements, your My Pictures folder, or a folder of your choice. Note that when you connect to iTunes the first time, the Apple TV will need to connect to the Internet to become authorized to play that account’s protected content (the Apple TV doesn’t count as one of the five computers that can play such content, however). To help manage your media files, iTunes provides shortcuts for choosing subsets of them. For example, you can choose to sync just TV shows, or request that only the most recent one, three, five, or ten unwatched movies or TV shows sync with the device. In such a scenario, once the movie or show has played through, it’s bumped off the list and deleted from the Apple TV, and then iTunes adds the next unwatched video. Because the Apple TV and iTunes are in constant communication, there’s no need to press a sync button to make this happen. Syncing is fastest via Ethernet but will also work wirelessly (for more on syncing speeds, see “Staying in Sync”). You can monitor syncing from the Apple TV’s Sources screen and select Apple TV. On the left of the screen, you’ll

see a picture of the Apple TV and a progress bar beneath. It will tell you what it’s copying and how much it has copied—Copying 251 of 589, for example. If you move to the Apple TV’s main screen, you’ll see a turning gear icon next to the category of media it’s syncing— Movies or TV Shows, for example. You’ll see this same information when you choose Syncing from the Sources screen. iTunes will show you what it’s doing in the information pane at the top of the window. Streaming As anyone with even a moderately sized iTunes library knows, 33GB isn’t a lot of space—especially when it comes to movies and TV shows (for information on upgrading your Apple TV’s hard drive, go to macworld. com/2686). Luckily, the Apple TV can also stream content from up to five computers. You can always stream content from the Mac to which the Apple TV is already synced. But to set up streaming for a new Mac, navigate to the Sources menu on the Apple TV and select Connect To New iTunes. A new PIN appears on your TV. Enter this PIN into the
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Picking an HDTV
HDTVs use many different technologies to produce images. Tube HDTVs use CRTs (cathode-ray tubes), as do traditional TVs and computer monitors. Flatscreen TVs use either LCD (liquid-crystal display) technology (pixels in front of a light source) or plasma technology (cells filled with gases between two panels of glass). Rear-projection TVs use CRT, LCD, digital light processing (DLP, which uses thousands of tiny mirrors), or liquid crystal on silicon (LCoS, which uses liquid crystals instead of mirrors) technology. HDTVs also come in many shapes, sizes, and prices, and each type has its pros and cons. Tube HDTVs have excellent picture quality and wide viewing angles, and they’re relatively inexpensive. But they’re bulkier and have smaller screens (34 inches or less) than other types of TVs. LCDs are thin and light; they come in large sizes (up to 46 inches or so), and their prices have fallen. On the downside, they don’t offer viewing angles as wide as those of tube TVs. Plasma TVs are also thin and light, come in large sizes (up to 60-plus inches), and have good picture quality and wide viewing angles, but they’re more expensive than other types of HDTVs at the entry level and don’t natively support the highest HD resolutions. Projection TVs (CRT, DLP, and the like) have very large screens (starting at around 42 inches and going up to 65 inches), are relatively inexpensive, and offer high resolutions; they can also be bulky, and some technologies have viewing angle, color, brightness, or uniformity problems. To view HD content, a TV needs hardware to convert the signal to something your television can display. Some TVs have HD tuners built in, which is useful for displaying digital content received over an antenna. But cable and satellite companies provide their own hardware for decoding their respective signals. As far as content from your Mac goes, the Apple TV is all you need to connect to an HDTV to watch TV shows or movies downloaded from iTunes. But note that Apple currently doesn’t sell HD content in the iTunes Store. However, the Apple TV will let you play HD broadcasts that you’ve captured on your Mac using compatible hardware, although you may need to re-encode the show first. And most (if not all) of the pictures in your iPhoto library are high definition and should look great on an HDTV. With so many HDTVs out there, how do you decide which is right for you? Once you have an idea of what you’re willing to spend and how big you want your viewing experience to be, you’ll only be looking at a subset of the various technologies. Then decide which features are most important to you, and try to see a bunch of TVs in action at a few different stores. (We’ve got some recommendations listed in “TV Picks”.) And if you don’t have a surroundsound stereo system, it might be a good time to check those out too.—JONATHAN SEFF
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TV Picks
Here are a few top-rated TVs from the lab of our sister publication PC World. The suggested retail prices listed can often be higher than real-world prices.

LG Electronics 42PC1DA $2,500
This 42-inch plasma TV has HDMI and component inputs, a 10,000:1 contrast ratio, an HD tuner, and a CableCard slot. It supports 720p and 1,080i video and has a 1,024-by- 768pixel resolution.

ViewSonic N3760w
$1,199 This 37-inch LCD TV has excellent color and image quality, a 1,000:1 contrast ratio, a 1,366-by-768-pixel resolution, an HDMI input, and an HD tuner. It supports 720p and 1,080i video.

RCA Scenium M50WH185 $2,099
This 50-inch DLP TV is attractive and easy to use, and it has good speakers. It also sports two component inputs and a 1,280-by-720-pixel resolution. It supports 720p and 1,080i video.

4:3: The squarish aspect ratio of SDTV broadcasts. 16:9: The wide aspect ratio of HDTV broadcasts. 480i: An interlaced-scan video mode with 480 lines of vertical resolution and; this is the traditional format used for SDTV broadcasts. 480p: A progressive video mode with 480 lines of vertical resolution and 704 or 720 pixels of horizontal resolution; this format is used on standard definition DVDs and for EDTV. 720p: A progressive-scan video mode with 720 lines of vertical resolution and 1,280 pixels of horizontal resolution; networks such as ABC and Fox use this mode. 1,080i: An interlaced video mode with 1,080 lines of vertical resolution and 1,920 pixels of horizontal resolution; networks such as CBS and NBC use this mode. 1,080p: A progressive video mode with 1,080 lines of vertical resolution and 1,920 pixels of horizontal resolution; this mode is currently used only on Bluray and HD DVD movies. Component Video: A high-quality analog connector that uses three separate plugs for a video signal. EDTV: Enhanced definition television; sometimes wide screen, EDTV can display at a higher quality than SDTV, but not as high as HDTV. EDTV is often used as a term to describe TVs that are capable of 480p resolution. HDMI: A digital connector that carries a high definition video signal and a multichannel audio signal over the same cable. HDTV: High definition television; HDTV is wide screen and capable of displaying at least 720p. Interlaced Scan: Used on most SDTVs and some HDTVs, an interlaced scan refreshes all odd lines of each frame and then starts over from the top with even lines; this can produce flicker. Progressive Scan: This method displays the lines of each frame sequentially, making for smoother motion. SDTV: Standard definition television; SDTV has a classic 4:3 aspect ratio set at 480i resolution. Toslink audio: A digital connector that carries a multichannel audio signal.
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FEATURE Apple TV

Apple TV’s preferences in iTunes on the new computer, and you can now stream content from that computer’s iTunes library to the Apple TV. How quickly it streams depends on the speed of your network connection and the kind of content you’re streaming. If you have an 802.11g or 802.11n network, video should stream fairly well. And although Apple supports only music streaming over 802.11b, I’ve gotten video to stream from a Mac with an 802.11b wireless card inside. (Note that you can’t stream photos with the Apple TV.)

Albums Abound Scroll through your music, complete with album-art previews.

Apple TV Alternatives
What if instead of watching your Mac’s video on your TV, you’d rather watch TV on your Mac? Or what if you’ve already got a Mac connected to your TV and you want to use it as a DVR or to view your media files?
Elgato’s $200 EyeTV 250 ( ; macworld .com/2411) acts like a computerbased TiVo; using its built-in TV tuner (or by connecting the 250 to your cable box), you can record TV shows for later viewing on your Mac or iPod. The EyeTV software and recording features aren’t quite as elegant as TiVo’s, but the EyeTV works well and doesn’t require that you pay a monthly fee. If you can pick up over-the-air HDTV in your area, the $150 EyeTV Hybrid ; macworld .com/2317) lets you pull those ( stations in and record them. Pinnacle’s TV for Mac HD Stick ($130; www.pinnaclesys.com) is similar to the EyeTV Hybrid; it lets you watch over-the-air HDTV channels, as well as analog TV, and uses Elgato’s EyeTV Lite software. If you’re looking to watch content from your TV on your computer, Sling Media’s Slingbox (pictured right: Tuner, $180; AV, $180; Pro, $250; www.slingbox.com) is a unique system that connects to your TV, cable box, satellite receiver, or TiVo and then streams video and audio over your broadband Internet connection to wherever you happen to be in the world (presumably with a broadband connection, as well). Using the SlingPlayer software, you can watch whatever is currently showing on your home entertainment center on a Mac, Windows PC, PDA, or other compatible device. For a combination of TiVo and Slingbox, there’s SageTV Media Center ($80; www .sagetv.com) and SageTV Placeshifter ($30). The Media Center connects your computer to your cable line or box and lets you record your favorite TV shows, in SD or HD, to your computer. You can even record multiple shows simultaneously, and then use Placeshifter to watch Media Center–saved programs from any networkor Internet-connected computer. Unfortunately, although Placeshifter is available for the Mac, you currently need a Windows PC with a TV tuner card to use the main Media Center software. Another technology, known as UPnP (Universal Plug and Play), lets computers and other networked devices easily communicate with one another. When it comes to home entertainment, UPnP is being used to allow media-center computers to stream content to other devices around the home. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many Mac products that support UPnP. However, if you’ve got a media receiver that supports UPnP, Elgato’s EyeConnect($50; www .elgato.com) can stream many types of media files—iTunes music and video, iPhoto images, videos in your Movies folder, and even EyeTV-recorded TV shows—from your Mac to your UPnP-compatible system. And finally, there’s always Apple’s Front Row (www.apple.com), an attractive, easytouse interface for your photos, movies, music, and DVDs. If you’ve got your Mac hooked up to your TV, you can browse your media files— including anything purchased from the iTunes Store and even content shared by other Macs on your local network— using the Apple Remote. In fact, Front Row on a Mac looks a lot like the interface of the Apple TV. It doesn’t let you sync your media with another Mac, but a Front Row–compatible Mac can double as a DVD player and, of course, a computer. (For feature stories on using the Mac mini and iMac as media centers, see macworld . com/2284 and macworld .com/2285, respectively). —DAN FRAKES

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Finding Your Way Around
If you’ve used Apple’s Front Row or navigated an iPod’s screen, you’ll feel right at home with the Apple TV (for a video walkthrough of the Apple TV interface, go to macworld.com/2688). Once you’ve configured the device, you’ll see the Apple TV’s main screen. In that screen, you’ll see entries for Movies, TV Shows, Music, Podcasts, Photos, Settings, and Sources. You glide around the interface by selecting entries, pressing the Apple Remote’s play/pause button, and choosing options in the resulting screen. As with Front Row, you move back through the command hierarchy by pressing the remote’s menu button. You’ll also find an iTunes Top Movies and Theatrical Trailers entry in the Movies screen. Just as in Front Row, you can watch movie trailers streamed from the Internet. And yes, just as in Front Row, they look wonderful and load quickly over a typical DSL or cable connection. Choose iTunes Top Movies, and you’ll see a list of the ten top-selling titles available from the iTunes Store. Select one, and a short description of the movie and a picture of its poster appear, and then you can play its preview. Within TV Shows, you’ll find an entry for iTunes Top TV Episodes with 30-second snippets of the programs. And the Music entry contains iTunes Top Songs and iTunes Top Music Videos entries, and it displays album covers when you select one. Again, you get a 30-second preview (there are no podcast previews or recommendations available through the Apple TV). The Settings screen is where you control how the Apple TV behaves: here, you can control its screen saver (useful for preventing burn-in on some types of flatpanel TVs), software update function, and settings for repeating music, Sound Check, sound effects, and HDMI brightness.

Staying in Sync
To get an idea of how well the Apple TV would handle syncing content, especially over a wireless connection, I connected a Mac running iTunes via Ethernet to an Ethernet hub, a new 802.11n AirPort Extreme Base Station, and an older 802.11g AirPort Extreme Base Station. I then tested how long it took to transfer a movie, an episode of a TV series, and a single album, all of which were purchased from the iTunes Store—a total of 1.57GB. In my tests, having the Apple TV connected via Ethernet resulted in the fastest transfers, while transferring wirelessly via the 802.11n base station was also quite fast. A switch to the 802.11g AirPort Extreme router, however, led to a serious
802.11n Ethernet

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Wi-Fi Transfer Speeds
802.11g

7:45 3:40 2:37

Times are in minutes:seconds. Shorter is faster.

slowdown; it took more than twice as long as transferring via the 802.11n router. Since every network is different, it’s hard to extrapolate hard advice from this data. But here’s my take: If you’ve got an Ethernet jack by your TV set, you’re living the good life. If you have an existing 802.11g network, there’s a good chance that it will serve you well. Does a shiny new 802.11n base station speed things up? If your 802.11g network suffers from speed or interference problems, a new router might help you out. At the same time, I had no problem playing back videos streamed over the network from my iTunes server, using the 802.11g base station. Only when I tested an extremely high-bitrate, high-resolution video did I see any stuttering, and that particular file had some pretty outrageous specifications. My point is, if you’ve got an 802.11g wireless network, you may be able to stream video from another room without a lot of trouble. And since you can sync overnight, the speed of your wireless network may not be a big issue anyway. —JASON SNELL

Watching It All
Viewing (or in the case of music, listening to) content is what the Apple TV is all about, and it works well. As you might expect, if you hold down the Apple

Remote’s back or forward button while watching a movie or TV show, the Apple TV will move backward or forward, respectively, through the video at increased speed. During this fast playback, you can press the same button (back or forward) again to double the speed, and once more to further speed playback; to return to standard playback, press the play/pause button. Alternatively, briefly pressing the back or forward button will jump back or ahead, respectively, by chapter (for iTunes-purchased movies) or by a specific amount of time. For the latter, the exact length of this time jump varies depending on the length of the video you’re watching. For example, for a video clip that’s only a few minutes long, each skip is ten seconds; for a feature-length movie, each click of the button jumps five minutes. Apple TV is also clever about picking up where you left off. If you halt a movie midstream and later return to it after playing, say, a song, you’ll be asked if you’d like to play from the beginning of the

AIRPORT EXTREME PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF APPLE

movie or take up where you last stopped (if only my DVD player kept track so well), whether the file is on the hard drive or streaming over your network. And because the Apple TV is in contact with iTunes, you can begin watching a movie on your TV, stop it, and then resume viewing it from your computer later, for example. It’s just as smart about video played on an iPod. Play part of a video on your iPod, sync it with iTunes, and your Apple TV will offer to play it from the point where you stopped watching it on the iPod.

The Last Word
Just as Apple broke ground in the consumer electronics market with the iPod, it has entered the video market in elegant fashion with the Apple TV. This product gives iTunes and your TV the language they need to converse amiably, and the result is the liberation of your digital content from within the confines of your computer’s and iPod’s smaller screens.
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REVIEW

Apple TV
Digital device provides solid link between computer and iTunes By Christopher Breen
As Apple’s missing link between the media files in your iTunes library and today’s modern televisions, the Apple TV simplifies the daunting process of viewing computerbased content on a television. While limited in several ways, the device is a solid first step in what I hope is a long line of increasingly capable Applebranded AV peripherals.
Setup and Sync

Configuring an Apple TV is a relatively simple process. Audio and video cables (not included) connect it to your TV, and Ethernet or wireless networking links it to iTunes. Then iTunes serves as the gateway for syncing or streaming media files. Once you’ve established this relationship between your computer and the Apple TV, you’ll encounter an interface within iTunes that’s very much like the APPLE TV
PROS: Streaming works remarkably well over moderate-to-fast networks; easy to set up and use; solid picture quality; beautiful interface. CONS: No support for 5.1-channel surround sound in videos; supports a limited variety of video formats. OS X COMPATIBILITY: 10.3 (Panther), 10.4 (Tiger) PRICE: $299 COMPANY: Apple Computer, www.apple.com

one you see when you attach a fifthgeneration (5G) iPod to your computer. You can sync content from only one computer at a time, and you can’t add content manually—for example, by dragging it from your iTunes library to the Apple TV icon on iTunes’ Source list, as you might do with an iPod. If you choose to sync with a different computer, all the data on the Apple TV will be replaced. Ethernet syncing is fast and reliable— your best option if you have a network cable running to your TV area. Wireless syncing can be slow, particularly over an 802.11b or 802.11g network, but also on an 802.11n network. If you have a lot of content that you want to sync to the Apple TV, it makes sense to start the sync before you go to bed. Make the first connection a wired one, then let iTunes update just the changes wirelessly.
Gently Down the Stream

If you have a moderate to large iTunes library, you’ll find the Apple TV’s hard drive too cramped to hold much of your content. This would be a serious drawback if the device’s streaming capabilities weren’t as good as they are. It can stream video and audio from up to five computers— from both Macs and Windows PCs. With content purchased from the iTunes Store, video streaming is quite good over 802.11g and 802.11n wireless networks, and over Ethernet networks. You can’t stream photos. Instead, on the computer synced with the Apple TV, iTunes formats the pic-

tures you select (from iPhoto albums or a folder of your choosing) and copies them to the Apple TV’s hard drive. Once they’re on the Apple TV, you can view a selected album or your entire photo library as a slide show. As with iPhoto, you can choose from a variety of transitions, as well as determine the display time for each picture. Playback of video files begins in a matter of seconds. When you press the Apple Remote’s forward button to fastforward or skip to the next chapter, there’s a delay of a few seconds while the Apple TV buffers the incoming content— a progress bar shows you how far along in the process it is. If you’ve ripped your own video at high bit rates, streaming can be dicier. I ripped House of Flying Daggers at a resolution of 720 by 304, at 24 frames per second, encoded in H.264 format, and with an average data rate of 2,608 Kbps. Over my 802.11n network, with a strong signal streaming from the Mac Pro, the movie briefly froze after playing for about 15 minutes. It did so again a couple of minutes later. If 802.11b wireless is part of your network, glitches with high-bit-rate videos will become apparent even more readily. Apple says that the Apple TV requires an 802.11g or 802.11n wireless network or a wired Ethernet connection to stream video. I was pleased to find that I could successfully stream Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (purchased from the iTunes Store) from an iMac that contains an 802.11b AirPort wireless card over my 802.11n network. The Apple TV

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PHOTOGRAPH BY PETER BELANGER

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fared much worse on the iMac with a ripped version of It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World encoded as an MPEG-4 movie, at a resolution of 720 by 288, and with a total bit rate of 2,391 Kbps. Just eight minutes into the movie, the Apple TV paused and stopped to fill its buffer. It then continued playing, but a minute and a half later, it paused and refilled again.
Around and About

Navigation via the Apple TV is easy. It’s responsive to the remote, and the screens look sharp on an HDTV. In typical Apple fashion, there are some lovely motion effects—icons smoothly rotate into place when you choose a new main-menu command, and the screen flips every so often when you play audio files. This screen flipping is more than cosmetic. Because screen burn-in is still a problem with some varieties of TVs, the Apple TV takes care not to leave static images on the screen for too long. The screen saver serves a similar purpose and is very attractive, displaying a swooping Apple logo, pictures from your photo library (or from the device’s internal bank of floral images, if there are no images synced to the device), or album covers from your iTunes library.
Watching TV

While watching Neil Young: Heart of Gold, I particularly missed the kind of 5.1-channel surround sound you get from today’s DVDs. The Apple TV doesn’t currently support videos with 5.1-channel audio—only stereo Dolby Pro Logic II audio—but some people have been successful at getting DTS-encoded surround sound content to play through it. Apple clarified that some formats encoded at certain bit rates may work as 5.1 files, but slip outside those specs and you and 5.1 part ways. Apple has chosen to say that generally, 5.1 audio is not supported.
What’s Missing

And finally, I’d Resize Partitions dearly love to use the On-the-Fly Apple TV’s USB 2.0 port. Specifically, I’d like to plug my 5G iPod into it so that not only could the Apple TV play content from the iPod but it could automatically sync purchased and rented media to my iPod. And if I feel cramped by the Apple TV’s 40GB drive, why not allow me to connect a 500GB hard drive to the USB port for additional storage?
Macworld’s Buying Advice

Movies purchased from the iTunes Store look quite good when played through the Apple TV—almost as good as most DVDs you’d play on your TV. True, Apple sells movies at a resolution no higher than 640 by 480—which is well below the HD mark. But withhold judgment until you see for yourself how the movies and TV shows look on screen. I viewed Cars and both Pirates of the Caribbean movies, and while I saw some subtle artifacts in dark-to-gray passages, the movies looked remarkably good. I ripped several movies, and they looked nearly as good as watching them from the original discs. On the other hand, if you have video at low resolutions—for example, the 320-by240 TV shows once sold through the iTunes Store—it’s going to look blocky on your TV.

Although the Apple TV packs a punch at a desirable price, there are several things missing that could make it an even better product. First, I’d like to be able to buy and rent content through the Apple TV. In the case of purchases, the device would need to be a two-way street so you could transfer that material to your computer and an iPod for playback and archiving. Second, even though the iTunes Store’s H.264-encoded content looks good on my big-screen TV, I know it could look better if it was offered in true HD quality. Third, MPEG-4 is a very popular video standard and H.264 looks great, but there is a lot of digital video flying around that uses neither. It would be lovely if Apple built a Convert For Apple TV command into iTunes’ Advanced menu, or, dare I say it, allowed the Apple TV to play additional formats such as DivX, AVI, Flash, and Windows Media.

With its simple setup, superb streaming, ease of use, and quality output, the Apple TV is a great piece of gear, but it will have more-limited appeal than the iPod, largely because of the nature of digital rights management and video (in other words, you can’t rip your own DVDs the way you do CDs). Add to this the fact that DVDs offer advantages the Apple TV doesn’t— 5.1-channel audio, higher resolution, and the kinds of extras that a movie purchase through the iTunes Store doesn’t provide—and it’s clear that the Apple TV isn’t for everyone. However, if you prefer to enjoy nearly all your media files through your TV and AV gear rather than splitting time between the living room and the home office, or if you have more media files in your iTunes library than you do DVDs on your bookshelf, moving to the Apple TV makes sense. You’ll certainly enjoy the quality of the experience.
Christopher Breen is a Macworld senior editor. He writes often about using Macs as media centers.

Top TV Apple TV can stream previews of top shows directly from Apple.

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STEPHEN MANES

The Next Step for Search: Beyond Words
i love search. It’s one of the things computers can do so much better than we mere mortals can. I first witnessed its magic back in 1989 when desktop search utilities gave me a cutting-edge look at the contents of my hard drive. And when search hit the Internet, it made all the difference between frustration and freedom. Today’s best search engines have text-based information pretty much nailed. If the material is publicly available on the Net and not buried in some database, you generally find it. There’s little left for search to do, except maybe simplify things for people who refuse to learn how to make more-relevant requests. But lots of innovating remains to be done. Phones are one promising platform. For bringing up phone numbers, Google Mobile already works better than dedicated online directories and the phone companies’ pricey directory assistance, but it’s not much good if you’re trying to keep your eyes on the road. Next up (and no doubt one reason that Microsoft just bought voice pioneer Tellme Networks): phone-based search you control by speaking, rather than with keypresses. I remain dubious, however. Ad-supported services are likely to waste your time with commercials before delivering help. And even with a screen, how can you scan quickly through the multiple results you’ll receive when the system doesn’t quite understand you? Whether you talk or type, text search works with what’s there: Nobody has to categorize something before you can find it. The next great search frontier involves things that aren’t text, like picit on Microsoft’s Live Search (www.live. com), and 18 of the first 20 images relate to the Black Dahlia murder case. Hey, if I want ‘black dahlia’, I’ll say so—and when I do, Google comes back with the gruesome images and movie posters I expect. This difference in accuracy is one reason why, in real life, I use Google constantly and Live never. It also helps explain why Microsoft reportedly has offered businesses a bounty if their employees use its third-rate offering. Even Google often veers wildly off base with images. Again and again when I look for a photo of some nonfamous person, I get images of their book covers or some PowerPoint they presented somewhere. Sorry, but that’s not what I had in mind. For now the fallback for nontext search is usually tagging—as seen on sites such as Flickr—whereby humans assign keywords to photos and the like. It mostly works, but if the categorization is wrong or missing, you won’t get good results. Still, companies are trying out plenty of clever ideas. Podzinger (www.podzinger.com), for instance, converts podcasts into text, then indexes their full content. And some services analyze TV clips by indexing their built-in closed captions. But un til someone develops algorithms to spot “Dorky guy dancing around to Strauss’s Blue Danube” from the video and audio alone, searching text will likely continue to provide the richest rewards.
Stephen Manes is cohost of a popular US television series and a columnist for Forbes. E-mail him at feedback@pcworld.in.
ILLUSTRATION: JOHN CUNEO

Search is superb at finding text. How about everything else?
tures, audio, and video. When search engines assume that the text near an image describes the picture, they’re sometimes right—but by no means always. Type ‘dahlia’ into Google Image Search, for instance, and you’ll see pretty pictures of flowers and a couple of odd nonfloral illustrations from Japanese Web sites. Try

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