M A Y

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F E AT U R E S
M P 3 P L AY E R S

44 Music in a Flash
These feature packed entertainers give you a reason to own an MP3 player. We compare 10 of the latest 2GB models from top brands to help you choose the best.
OFFICE SUITE

70 Word 2007 Cheat Sheet
Microsoft Word 2007’s new interface is likely to confound veteran Word users. Here’s everything you need to know to make the switch.
THEMES

77 Dress Up Your Desktop
Theme packages let you create a snazzy workspace with matching wallpaper, screen savers, cursors, icons, and sounds.
BUYERS GUIDE

81 Talented Performers
Advice for evaluating options before you shop and select the best MFD that suits your needs.

52

C OV E R S T O RY O N TH E COVE R
14

52 BEST INDIAN WEBSITES
Spoilt for choice, on what website to choose? Our panel of 15 judges evaluate more than 125 websites in 20 categories, to help you find your way easier on the web. We evaluate these websites on design, navigation, functionality, usability and their customization for India, to declare the winners.

77 44

52

xxx
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CONTENT PAGE

R E V I E WS & R A N K I N G S
28 Spacious Storage 10 11 23

D E PA R T M E N T S
Letters

Top storage brands wrestle it out to claim the best buy in the 320GB category.
31 32 33 Music Phone

Readers share views on the latest technology
Up Front

Human interaction has discovered Web 2.0
The Other Side

Sony Ericsson W880i
Video Card

Does our imagination stop us from exploiting technology?
24 Tech Tonic

Asus EN8800GTS 320MB
Antispyware Utility

28
26 30 112

Vista has a rival out there. It’s XP
Bugs and Fixes

PC Tools Spyware Doctor 5.0 Beta
34 35 36 38 Earphones

An IE graphics flaw exposes your PC to danger.
Hassle Free PC

Creative EP 630
MFD

A Microsoft security component proves flawed.
Full Disclosure

Canon Pixma MP510
LifeStyle PC

Drowning in updates from chatterbox software.

Sony Vaio VGC LA-38G
Budget Slider Phone

Samsung e250

42
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N E WS & T R E N D S
Connect in Style

See page 28 for a complete list of products reviewed.
17

Sandisk plays the Wi-Fi card, threatens to edge out the iPod and Zune.
Windows Mobile 6: New E-mail Options

W H AT ’ S O N D V D
18
Full Products

Microsoft’s forthcoming update of its operating system for handhelds has Office functions.
Tech innovations Fuel Low- Cost Laptops

Mandriva Linux Free 2007 East-Tec Backup Lite
16
Essentials-PC World Super Suite

Non-profit organization creates a tough, simple and cheap notebook for kids in developing countries.
Google personal homepage gets sinkable.

Dynamic themes for Google personalized homepage.
20

Our Super Suite includes software for almost all tasks. Right from browsers, office tools, codecs to system tools and patches, you will find them all here. This time we have included Autopatcher for Windows Vista as well.
Video Tutorials for Windows XP

14
22

Cool Gadgets Latest products and gadgets in the global market. Plugged In

Kodak’s cheaper ink; graphics cards outside the box; a Windows roadmap; Web 2.0 campagning.

H E R E ’ S H OW
84 Online Storage Tips

Learn how to enable hibernation, hide taskbar icons, disable autorun for CD / DVD drives and use magnifier tool and event viewer in Windows XP

Use online services to create automatic backups of your files while you work on them as usual.
87 89 Windows Tips

Encryption lets you keep your files truly private.
Hardware Tips

84

Pump up PC graphics; see all your network data.
90 Answer Line

Manage your PC’s problem reports to Redmond.

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CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER: Louis

N. Bringi Dev D’Mello
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ADVERTISER’S INDEX
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REVIEWS | NEWS | FEATURES

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CONTENT PAGE

LETTERS
LETTERS@PCWORLD.IN

FEEDBACK

DVD PROBLEMS

TECH QUERIES

WORDS OF APPRECIATION

problem, I bought transcend 2 GB pen drive. When I connected it to any of the ports on my computer it is showing as unknown device. Although I went to device manager and uninstalled that driver and chose for hardware changes in action menu the problem persists. However, it worked on my friends system who is also running XP. What do I do?
Vamsi Krishna , By e-mail Editors Reply: Firstly, you should patch your Windows XP with the latest service pack to ensure maximum compatibility with all USB devices. In case you have a slightly older motherboard, the USB 2.0 drivers might be required for the USB 2.0 controller to work smoothly. Download and install latest USB 2.0 drivers from the motherboard manufacturer’s website and then the drive should be recognized as UMS (universal mass storage) device.

solved. Problems are - it automatically restart the PC while running any media player like Window Media Player and sometimes CPU fan is howling when keys and mouse button are kept in hold and sometimes it is silent. What is the exact cause of these problems ?
Shur Chandra, By e-mail Editors Reply: Going by the sequence of event, in all probabilities your processor might be overheating or components like the power supply or video card might be faulty due to which the PC restarts intermittently. We suggest you first check the power supply and the video card separately on other computers. If these components are fine, you processor could be over-heating. Reinstall the processor and fit the cooler properly with a fresh application of thermal paste and you should be good to go.

i am a reader of PC World and I respect what you say in the column “New Tech Products? They’re Evolutionary. I congratulate you on having completely analyzed Apple products to their true value. It is true that the iPhone has created much hype, but it really isn’t a superior advancement; rather a cocktail of an iPod and a mobile phone (with, I assume, PDA features). As you so rightly say, many mobile phones already have these aforesaid features, (and more) probably for the same price. Personally, Apple products do not appeal to me due to their high prices and impracticality.
Nitin Malapally, By e-mail

DVD SOLUTIONS TECH WOES

i am a big fan of PC WORLD. In the April month edition, you guys rock by providing such a cool software bundle and articles in the magazine. I appreciate your efforts to make us happy. I have a
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i have a problem in my PC , I played IGI 2 last month without installing antivirus program. But now I took out IGI 2 from my PC and newly installed Windows XP Prof. and also installed Norton Antivirus 2005. After newly installing Windows and Norton Antivirus 2005 my problems are not

I have a request, a few months ago PC World had bundled along Open Ause 10.2 with the DVD, I tried out the distro very recently and it did not work, it gave an error couldn’t read from source during the installation, I think there is something wrong with the the distro bundled on the dvd.
Amit Patnaik, By e-mail Editors Reply: A ‘could not read from source’ error is generally to do with a faulty disc or a faulty drive. If other PC, the problem could be with the particular DVD. While we try and maintain the highest standards of mass replication of DVDs, sometimes a DVD can be faulty. PC World will replace such DVDs free of cost. Just write in to us at mydvd@pcworld.in
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Dear sir, i have been reading PC WORLD for a few months now and am impressed with the overall quality of the magazine. In the April issue, the article about working from home was very good and timely. I hope more IT companies realize the benefits and encourage the trend! Also, your product reviews are well balanced covering both the good and bad parts. Keep it up.
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DVDs / CDs are working fine on your

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H A RJ AY M cA M A C K E N D R A N V I RY R C R C H A N

The Human Web
People are dictating the way the Net’s evolving, analysts be damned.
In the beginning was the browser. And, that browser was Mosaic. Released 14 years back, this graphical browser was the original online killer app. It fuelled both the consumer Internet revolution and the browser wars that followed — both Internet Explorer and Netscape
Navigator drew inspiration and code from it. Today, many mouse clicks later, Microsoft, Mozilla and other vendors seem to have gotten out of the one-upmanship game and moved on to looking at the browser as a platform for a whole new generation of rich Net applications. It’s the debate about Web 2.0 technologies, that’s responsible for this transformation. It’s talk that’s filled with words and phrases like mash-ups and wikis and social networking and user generated content. And, yes, even blogs. Web 2.0 is about collaboration. It’s about creating a global online village one hut at a time and getting you to bring along the bricks. While whether it’s going to work (i.e. make a site some money) or not is one of the commonest reasons for the debate, there’s no disputing its disruptive nature. It’s already got the entertainment gurus in the US running scared. Research by Accenture reveals that over half of them believe that user generated content in the form of amateur videos, podcasts, and blogs are three of the biggest threats they face. The study feels that the entertainment industry’s key to keeping the revenues flowing has to be getting onto new forms of content in addition to the more traditional streams. Most visitors who click on to these sites thus seem to be passive recipients of the trivial details of other peoples’ lives. So where’s the collaboration? That fundamental aspect of Web 2.0? I wonder, is that really that important? Do all or large portion of users have to generate content? I believe the interaction of people with these sites reveals more about human nature than analysts and gurus of the Net give them credit for. After all, what’s so out of the ordinary about a storyteller keeping a campfire audience entranced 4,000 years ago or even the way we react to reality TV. Don’t tell me you’ve never eavesdropped on your neighbors. The fact remains that millions of people the world over find reading other’s blogs and looking at other’s pictures and videos quite compelling. They’re only being human in that. The way they access information and exchange notes is the only thing that’s changed — podcasts are today’s radio, streaming video, tomorrow’s TV and blogs, the newspapers of this digital village. It’s this changing landscape of the Net that’s so fascinating. Sites that’ll keep you informed, entertained, help get a job and even married. We really are spoiled for choice and levels of interaction. So we thought we’d assist you by cutting through the clutter and giving you the low down on the Indian sites most useful to you. That’s what the cover feature 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

ILLUSTRATION: MM SHANITH

And, surprise, surprise, the denizens of the Net are making it easy for the moguls of Hollywood. Take strong community sites like YouTube or Flickr or Wikipedia. While such sites have seen traffic growing close to 700 percent over the past two years, interactivity seems to have taken a downward plunge. The latest stats from the Internet traffic researcher Hitwise states that only a tiny fraction of users actually contribute content to the sites. How tiny you ask? Well, only 0.16 percent of YouTube’s users actually uploads videos to the site. Similarly, a mere 0.2 percent of Flickr visitors u p l o a d p h o t o s . Wi k i p e d i a h a s i t positively good with a tad over 4.5 percent of its visitors actually editing or adding information.

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NEWS & T REN DS

INSIDE

16 17 18

PERSONALIZE GOOGLE THEMES NEW MAIL OPTIONS FROM WINDOWS MOBILE 6.0 LOW COST LAPTOPS BENEFIT FROM INNOVATIONS

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

Connect In Style
SANDISK’S SANSA CONNECT WI-FI-ENABLED MEDIA PLAYER IS THE FIRST SIGNIFICANT RETHINKING OF PORTABLE MEDIA PLAYERS AND THE PROCESS OF ACQUIRING DIGITAL MEDIA. BY DAVID HASKIN
in many ways, the 4GB Sansa Connect surpasses the iPod. For one thing, its bright and simple interface is arguably, more engaging than the iPod’s. But its most notable capability is the built-in WiFi, which is missing, so far, in Apple’s offerings. Like the iPod and the iTunes store, Sansa Connect is tied to an online media services and in this case it’s the digital music and image services offered by Yahoo!. Those services allow you to easily download music from the Internet, listen to Internet radio and view digital images stored online. In other words, the Sansa Connect dramatically increases what you can do with your media player and, for the first time, highlights the potential of subscription music services.
14

SUPERIOR CONNECTIVITY OVER ZUNE

to date, the highest visibility Wi-Fi-enabled media player is Microsoft Corp.’s Zune,

but it’s wireless capabilities are stunted compared to the Sansa Connect. For one thing, Zunes can only connect with other nearby Zunes, and users can use the wireless capabili-

ties only to temporarily share music. By contrast, the Sansa Connect connects directly to Yahoo!’s Internet-based music and image services. If you subscribe to Yahoo! Music Unlimited, once you are connected, you can find and download individual tracks and albums. You also can view photos stored on Yahoo!’s Flickr service. And it’s a rush listening to streaming Internet radio offered by Yahoo!’s LAUNCHcast radio, which offers about 150 streaming stations, making SanDisk’s omission of an FM radio seem like a logical choice. Sansa Connect also does music sharing far better than Zune. With Zune, you connect only to other Zune users who are near enough to con-

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ILLUSTRATION: BINESH SREEDHARAN

N EWS & T R ENDS

nect directly via Wi-Fi. By contrast, Sansa Connect uses Yahoo! Messenger to look for friends who are connected anywhere using a laptop or desktop computer or another Sansa Connect. You then can see what music they are listening to and download — from Yahoo! — songs they recommend. Once downloaded, you can listen to the music all you want. Zune only allows three plays before you must purchase the song. Getting connected is simple. Once you are within range of a wireless network, you select an online task from the menu, such as looking at your images. After that, connecting works, more or less, the same as connecting to a wireless network with a laptop or desktop computer. If you need to enter a password to log on to the network, an onscreen list of letters and numbers appears and you select digits and letters using the device’s thumbwheel and buttons. You use the same method to log on to Yahoo! While powerful and simple, there are a few additions to the wireless capabilities we’d like to see. The most glaring omission is that the Connect doesn’t yet support the type of authentication needed to log on to public Wi-Fi networks. That means this device, which otherwise is nearly the perfect toy for lounging in Baristas and Coffee Days, won’t work there.
THE INTERFACE

icons are brighter and more engaging than those used on the iPod interface. SanDisk clearly copped the Connect’s navigation from the iPod. The primary navigation tool is a round, rubberized thumbwheel with a large button in the middle. Pressing on the left and right portions of the thumbwheel moves you forward and back; the bottom portion is for playing and pausing music and pressing the top portion displays the home screen. On the home screen, you scroll among the icons by rotating the thumbwheel. The icons rotate on-screen with brief descriptions beneath them. You select the function

activity, you select specific actions by pressing two buttons just below the display. On the left is the Options button, which enables you to do things like rate or delete a song or album. On the right is the socalled Zing button (Zing is the company that masterminded the user interface), which enables you, for instance, to download the entire album if you’re listening to a specific track or automatically create a mix of songs similar to the one you’re listening to.
BIG AND BEAUTIFUL the device itself is made of black plastic, which feels a bit flimsy and certainly isn’t as exciting as Apple’s iPod. And at about 2 inches wide and 3.5 inches high, plus a small stub antenna on top, the Connect is significantly larger than similarlyspec’d 4GB devices. In particular, it’s about twice as thick, about 10 percent percent wider and slightly taller than the iPod nano. But, then, you may like the reasons for its size. For one thing, there’s the built-in Wi-Fi capabilities. Second, it has a satisfyingly bright 2.2-inch TFT color display that is significantly larger than any other display we’ve seen on a 4GB flash device. Sansa Connect is a significant step forward in terms of usability and access to digital music and images, for now surpassing even the vaunted iPod to become the most fun and flexible media player we’ve seen. It also provides a strong glimpse into the future of digital media and how we’ll be able to access it from virtually anywhere.

IN BRIEF

HTC ultramobile PC to have Intel inside

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX H i g h Te c h C o m p u t e r XXXXXXXXXXX (HTC) plans to use Intel microprocessors in its forthcoming ultramobile PC. The news puts to rest speculation that the gadget would use a microprocessor from Via Technologies, and could be a sign of renewed vigor for Intel in ultramobiles. Via had been gaining traction in the area, with design wins in several devices, including one from top-tier vendor Samsung Electronics in its Q1b. The Shift runs on Windows Vista and has a slide and flip 7-inch touch-screen that reveals a QWERTYkeyboard for easy typing. It is also a 3G (third generation t e l e c o m m u n i c a t i o n s) mobile phone, and it can access the Internet wirelessly using HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) as well as WiFi. The Shift, which is due before the end of the year, will also come with a host of other features, including a 30G byte hard drive for holding songs, movies and other data. It will use the Intel Ultra Mobile platform 2007 aimed at extending battery life in small devices. Shift

Zunes wireless capabilities are stunted compared to the Sansa Connect.
you want by pressing the button in the middle of the thumbwheel. As long as Sansa was copying iPod’s time-proven navigation tools, it would have done well to enable adjusting volume by rotating the thumbwheel. Instead, it has two buttons on the left side of the device for volume. This isn’t a huge problem, but it’s easier to adjust volume with the thumbwheel, and that technique also simplifies one-handed operation. On the right side of the device is a microSD slot for adding more storage. That slot could be useful because, curiously, the device so far only comes with a capacity of 4GB, although Sansa is indicating it will offer other capacities before long. In the midst of an

t h e m os t im m edi at e l y noticeable things about the interface are the bright, animated 3D icons with descriptions below each one. These

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NEWS & T REN DS

SEARCH ENGINES

IN BRIEF

Google Themes Get Skinnable
USERS CAN PICK FROM SCENES SUCH AS A BEACH, BUS STOP OR A CITY.
when I think of Google, I think of a site with a relentlessly consistent—and ultimately mundane—look and feel. Which is why a fairly minor new Google feature— dynamic themes for the Google Personalized Homepage— is worthy of comment here. The Google Personalized Home Page, which is almost two years old now, is among Google’s most practical features, especially now that you can customize your home page with thousands of useful gadgets from Google and third parties. But Google Personalized Homepages have been pretty prosaic, visually speaking—they’ve looked very much like every other Google service out there. Dynamic themes change that, but they’re as striking for what they don’t do as what they do. They have a remarkably modest effect on the color scheme of your gadgets, but that’s about it. Mostly, what they do is add a customizable graphical bar around the Google log—a sort of offshoot and expansion of the holiday logos that have been part of Google ever since there’s been a Google. In other words, a themed homepage has a dash more personality than an unthemed one, but both retain an essentially Googley look and feel. This is a modest launch in other ways, too: There are a grand total of six themes for now, involving subject matter like a Japanese garden, a cityscape, and a bus stop.
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HP aims to speed business printing

The “dynamic” in these dynamic themes means that you should notice changes in them from login to login. The image you see might reflect the time of day. Or maybe the weather in your area. Or possibly other factors which might lead to entertaining surprises. The launch of dynamic themes for Google’s Personalized Homepage is as striking for what it isn’t as for what it

So you’ll get the themes that Google makes available. And they’ll only appear if you have a Google Account and customize your Homepage—not in other Google features such as Gmail. Little by little, Google seems to be allowing customizable, fancy-schmancy visuals to be part of its once relentlessly Spartan world—I’m thinking also of the Google Desktop’s Sidebar, which has evolved from a plain-

Hewlett-Packard has built XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX its Edgeline XXXXXXXXXXX print head into two new departmental printers designed for print volumes up to 50,000 pages a month. The printers offer the speed of laser printing with the color quality and reliability of ink. The CM8050 and CM8060 color multifunction printer-copier-scanners, print in black at speeds up to 50 or 60 pages per minute (ppm), respectively, and in color at 40 or 50 ppm. The new print heads deliver pigment-based ink and a bonding agent across the full width of an A4 page in one go, allowing the printers to run faster than inkjet printers that must scan back and forth across the paper. The heads have a life of around 2 million pages, allowing them to run for three years under a typical service contract, the company said. The CM8050 and CM8060 contain six such heads arranged in pairs. The first pair delivers the bonding agent, the second the yellow and black ink, and the last cyan and magenta. The printers also sport HP’s EasySelect Control Panel, a common user interface it introduced six months ago. By Peter Sayer

THE NEW PERSONALIZED Google homapage adds a customizable graphical bar around the Google logo.

is. For now, there are a grand total of six themes. All the ones I’ve seen look pretty slick and tasteful; Google wants them to be all about personalization rather than, say, tying into movie promotions. All in all, they’re modest and minimalist in the way that new Google features often are. Can Web developers or regular folks create these dynamic themes? Well, maybe eventually—technically, there’s nothing standing in the way of it being an open platform. But for now, Google said , it wants to keep things simple and limited.

jane add-on to a Windows utility that’s as rich and good-looking as Windows Vista’s identicallynamed feature. These dynamic themes are slick, too. And while they don’t seem to advance Google’s mission—”to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”—in any way whatsoever, they do look like they’ll be fun, especially if the graphical surprises keep a coming. And like many a new Google feature before this one, it could be the start of something bigger.... —By Harry McCracken

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N EWS & T R ENDS

MOBILE COMPUTING

Windows Mobile 6: New E-Mail Options
HANDHELD OPERATING SYSTEM ALSO ADDS NEW EDITING POWERS IN CORE OFFICE APPS.
formatting in the new windows mobile 6— OS. And now you can Microsoft’s generally edit data in an Excel modest update of its spreadsheet (you still operating system for can’t create formulas handheld devices and or new spreadsheets, smart phones—will though). Borrowing debut by midyear with from Office 2007, the enhancements for ecalendar has a vaguely mail and editing of ribbonlike interface Office documents. that shows your free Previously known by time. It also checks the code name CrossNEW SHORTCUTS TO common tasks speed up for schedule conflicts bow, Windows Mobile e-mail management in Windows Mobile 6. whenever you receive 6 simplifies e-mail acaddress book. In addition, you a meeting invitation. count setup and also provides can read messages formatted Windows Mobile 6 supports new shortcuts to a multitude in HTML, where applicable. some Windows Live services, of common e-mail manageincluding Windows Live Mesment tasks such as replying to MOBILE OFFICE senger. If your business works all or deleting a message. with Exchange Server 2007, You can flag messages more the three core applications you’ll find some useful im easily, as well as view a history in Office—Word, Excel and provements, such as the abilof activity (calls and text mesPowerPoint—more faithfully ity to search your mail folder. sages) with contacts in your re-create and preserve desktop
U LTR A M O B I LE P Cs
AN EVER-

Microsoft says that people will be able to upgrade certain Windows Mobile 5 devices— like the T-Mobile Dash—to the new version. HP’s first line of iPaq smart phones, the 500 series Voice Messengers, will be based on Windows Mobile 6. Previous versions of Windows Mobile provided more functionality for Pocket PCs than for phones with keypads, but those distinctions are now largely gone. However, Microsoft will still offer two editions of Windows Mobile 6, based on a handheld’s screen type: a standard version intended for devices that don’t have touch screens, and Windows Mobile 6 Pro for devices equipped with touch screens and styluses. —Yardena Arar

NEW FACE FOR TINY PCs
HIGH HARDWARE PRICES put a bit of a damper on the first generation of Ultra Mobile PCs. Despite this, Microsoft says it remains committed to the platform, and as hardware manufacturers work on new products, the software giant continues to improve applications for the devices. Here’s a look at its most recent effort: a program launcher called “Origami Experience” included in the version of Windows Vista that runs on UMPCs. —Eric Dahl

PRESENT Home button enables you to return to the main screen of Origami Experience, where you can choose to browse through your media or launch programs and favorites. CRITICAL STATUS indicators are located on the title bar, making it easy for you to hop onto a wireless network without leaving the app.

WHEN YOU’RE VIEWING media, the edges of the screen become tabs that let you switch between your library and the Now Playing view.

CONTROLS FOR media playback are accessible from nearly every screen in Origami Experience, and the app remembers which media you were playing last, so you can easily pick up where you left off.

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NEWS & T REN DS

P O R TA B L E P C

Tech Innovations Fuel Low-Cost Laptop
STURDINESS AND SIMPLICITY ARE KEYS TO $150 NOTEBOOK FOR THE WORLD’S POOREST KIDS.
how do you make a laptop that can tolerate sandstorms and monsoons, run on a car battery, and cost just Rs. 6,750? That was the challenge facing One Laptop per Child
(www.laptop.org), a nonprofit group founded by MIT Media Lab veterans to get youngsters in developing nations online. OLPC’s XO notebook PC attains its ultralow price through a combination of innovative technology (such as its dualmode LCD) and old-fashioned streamlining (it doesn’t have a hard drive, and it uses a Linuxbased operating system). OLPC plans to start distributing 5 million XOs in July. As production ramps up, the price should approach the original Rs.4,500 target, OLPC says. —Tom Spring

DESIGN: THE XO’S case is made of 0.08-inch-thick plastic (standard laptops use a less sturdy 0.05inch-thick plastic). Mesh network antenna “ears” double as covers for USB and audio ports.

UNDER THE HOOD: The XO has no moving parts; it relies on 512MB of flash and 128MB of RAM. Heat from its 366-MHz AMD Geode CPU dissipates via the keyboard and display. Antennas Audio ports and one USB port Two USB ports under antenna

WIRELESS: THE BUILT-IN
802.11b/g Wi-Fi allows XO units to function as mesh network nodes that can connect and communicate with other laptops even when no link to the Internet is available.

DISPLAY: A SWIVELING lid with a 7.5-inch LCD screen has a latch that can lock it against the keyboard to turn the XO into an electronic book reader. The display has a high-resolution blackand-white mode for easy reading in direct sunlight, and a back-lit, lowerresolution color mode. Power on/off button Battery indicator Stereo speakers Game pad Microphone Video camera

Directional pad Back-light control

Keyboard LEDs

OPERATING SYSTEM: THE XO’s Linux-based operating system can run only software that isn’t hobbled by the notebook’s storage and memory limitations (see “Under the Hood,” above center). OpenOffice, for example, can’t run on the XO—but the XO does come with a version of the Opera Web browser. INPUTS: THE RUBBER keyboard is sealed to keep out dirt and water. In addition to the keyboard, the XO’s inputs consist of a touchpad mouse (below the keyboard), a game pad (at lower right of screen), and a directional pad (at lower left of screen). Touchpad mouse BATTERY: THE XO consumes just one-tenth the energy of a standard laptop. Powered by a
PHOTOGRAPH: MIKE MCGREGOR

nickel-metal hydride battery, the XO can run for 3 to 22 hours on a charge from a car battery, a foot pedal, a pull string, or a conventional wall outlet.

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NEWS & T REN DS

TEC H N O LO GY TR E N DS

COOL GADGETS
LATEST PRODUCTS IN THE GLOBAL MARKET.
If you’re like me then no matter how many new gadgets you see everyday some still make you say “wow” when you first lay your eyes on them. This month it’s an impressively small digital TV tuner that’s doing the trick. —By Martyn Williams

PANASONIC AVCHD CAMCORDERS
They’ve only been on the market a few months but Panasonic’s high-definition camcorders are already getting an upgrade. The SD card-based HDC-SD3 and DVD-based HDC-DX3 will capture video at 1920 pixels by 1080 pixels in their highest quality mode compared to just 1440 pixels by 1080 pixels resolution on the two previous cameras, the SD1 and DX1. That’s an interesting jump, especially since the older cameras were advertised as “Full HD.” Apparently the HD wasn’t quite as full as it could have been. At the two lower quality recording modes the resolution remains unchanged. They record in AVCHD, the new HD format jointly developed by Sony and Panasonic

LG NEW BEETLE MP3 PLAYER
LG Electronics is teaming up with car-maker Volkswagen on a digital media player styled along the lines of the New Beetle car. The player sports an aluminum body and will be available in three of the same colors as the car: Salsa Red, Shadow Blue and Sunflower Yellow. The design of the player’s user interface was inspired by the car, and the device also has a small VW badge on the front panel and a New Beetle logo on it’s rear. However the inspiration doesn’t extend to the shape of the player, which looks like other MP3 players on the market. The specifications are fairly standard for a media player of its class. It has a 2.4inch color LCD screen and can play MPEG-4, Windows Media Video 9, MP3, Windows Media Audio and Ogg-format files. It will come in two versions: 2G-byte and 4G-byte.

DIGITAL TV ON AN SD CARD
ELSA Japan’s Telebit card is compatible with Japan’s “OneSeg” digital TV system and even includes a built-in antenna, although an external antenna can be connected if needed. It comes packaged with a Windows viewing application that also allows for time-shift viewing of TV shows and access to the electronic program guide. Because the OneSeg system is unique to Japan, don’t expect to see it on sale elsewhere.

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N EWS & T R ENDS

SONY 120HZ BRAVIA LCD TVS
Sony’s latest Bravia TVs are about to hit the market and they pack the latest in LCD TV industry buzz-speak: 120Hz scanning. This involves refreshing the picture at double the rate of a conventional TV set, a benefit when watching programs where there is a lot of horizontal motion, for example in a football game. The double refresh rate (it would be 100Hz in Europe) means the motion appears smoother and the overall picture better. The new Bravia J5000-series has this, with the bonus that the TVs are DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) compliant, so you can network them with other home electronics devices.

TOSHIBA GIGABEAT U
Toshiba pleasantly surprises with a colorful choice of models each time it launches new Gigabeat music players, and the Useries are no exception. Available in white, orange and blue, the players have a 1.1-inch color EL display, can play Windows Media (unprotected or DRMed), MP3 or WAV audio files and have a built-in FM transmitter so you can listen to your songs through a radio and don’t have to worry about audio cables. Battery life is about 20 hours and a 10-minute quick charge will get you 3 hours of playback.

IO DATA 1TB HIGH-DEF RECORDER
High-definition TV is great when you watch live but recording it often presents problems. For a start most recorders just can’t handle HD signals and those that do often come with a hefty price tag. So it’s nice to see a lower price high-def recorder from IO Data. The snappily-named HVRHD1000LE packs 1T-byte of storage space and does not have a tuner from the recorder. Instead it hooks up to a TV or satellite tuner over an IEEE-1394 connection. There’s room to record 103 hours of terrestrial digital TV in full high-definition.

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21

ERIC DAHL

ERIC DAHL

Cheap Ink? Say It’s So!
PLUS: OUTSIDE-THE-BOX UPGRADES, ELECTIONS IN THE WEB 2.0 ERA.
PRINTS FOR PENNIES
The Buzz: Line up all

HERE\NOW

1

COOLIT ELIMINATOR: Self-contained proc-

essor water cooling system installs in 10 minutes. www.coolitsystems.com/ index.php?option=content &task=view&id=132

EXTERNAL PCI EXPRESS
The Buzz: Thanks to a

the pages you could print using a gallon of ink, and you’d get almost as far as you would on a gallon of gasoline. Unfortunately, that gallon of ink would cost upwards of Rs.1,57,500. And you thought gas prices were out of control. Well, Kodak aims to change that with its new line of EasyShare all-inone inkjet printers that make use of cheaper pigment-based ink and special paper. Kodak says a color cartridge for one of the new models will go for Rs. 675, or a little over half the cost of most competing inks. That should drive the cost of printing a4 by 6 photo down from Rs. 4.50 to around
FUTURE TECH

Rs. 11.25. A black ink cartridge good for 300 pages will retail for Rs. 450, compared with competing offerings priced at about Rs. 765. Bottom Line: We’ll have to wait and see how the output looks before we can render a final verdict; still, any news of cheaper printer ink—from a company as solid as Kodak, no less—is always welcome.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR WINDOWS
HAVING FINALLY SHIPPED Windows Vista after years of development, Microsoft may feel its programmers are due a nice, long vacation. Hence, perhaps, the code names for the next major releases on the Windows road map: Fiji and Vienna. Microsoft won’t say much about them, but observers point to Fiji as an interim release—either a service pack for Vista slated for the end of the year, or a larger Vista revision set for 2008. Vista’s true successor won’t arrive until 2009 at the very earliest, when Microsoft tentatively plans to roll out Vienna. According to Windows watcher Paul Thurrot, Vienna will be 64-bit only and should have a new Internet Explorer (designed by the team that created Office 2007’s ribbon), an increased focus on virtualization, and (finally) the long-delayed file system update known as WinFS.

new PCI Express spec, your next graphics card might reside in a box outside your PC. The PCI Ex press group approved its first external cabling specification, which means system builders can bring the full speed of PCI Express x16 to external peripherals up to 10 feet away. With high-end graphics boards approaching 200 watts per card, the power and cooling demands they put on a system have become enormous. Gamers should quickly embrace this technology to move high-end graphics setups outside the PC case—even though such solutions could cost as much as Rs. 54,000. External graphics boxes, with cooling and a power supply built in, should start arriving this year, yielding some interesting new designs. Bottom Line: Imagine having a one-box PVR upgrade with a tuner and a hard drive, thanks to external graphics. External PCI Express should make both of them possible.
CAMPAIGNING 2.0
The Buzz: Bloggers, Internet polling, and MoveOn.org each had their moment in the sun during 2004’s presidential election. Three years later, it’s clear the

2 3

CLIPMARKS: Grab the best bits of a Web

page to blog about or save for later. clipmarks.com CUTS: This beta online video editor al -

lows you to remix clips from YouTube, Google, and MySpace. cuts.com

4

D UA L- F L I P : Samsung’s SCH-u740 dual-

hinge cell phone is one of the cooler handsets to hit Verizon in years. http:// samsung.com/Products/ MobilePhones/Verizon/ SCH_U740CDAVZW.asp

5

NING: Ever wanted to have your own social

network? Ning will let you build one. ning.com

Internet will play an even larger role in the 2008 campaign. Staff bloggers now are nearly a requirement for presidential campaigns. And with socially filtered news sites and a burgeoning political blogosphere ready to seize on any misstep, the stakes at any public appearance have never been higher. Bottom Line: If you thought political debate couldn’t get any more high-minded, just wait till the first text message from a campaign leaks: OMG LOL, you call that policy?!

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ILLUSTRATION: GORDON STUDER

THE OTHER SIDE
SACHIN KALBAG

The Age of Multimedia Entertainment
Just before its scheduled late March premiere, Planet Earth could have been just another lavish documentary on the Discovery Channel, a 21st century jazzed up version of the groundbreaking David Attenborough series in the 1980s, The Living Planet. Attenborough, however fascinating
his series was, would not have imagined what the creators of Planet Earth did when it aired a month ago. It was not just about the technology that they used (after all, many documentary filmmakers have access to the same technology), it is also about how they used it. If you have not seen it yet, I would recommend an instant replay – the photography from space, the rare images of some of the most endangered species and even the scope of production, take your breath away. Yet, what I am truly happy about the series is not just my hunger for nature programming being satiated, but also the fact that, as a viewer, I am able to interact with the creators in real-time, participate in a programme rather than just be a couch potato and even express my opinion instantly. Discovery ensured that Planet Earth – now regarded as one of the best documentary series ever made – would get real-time multimedia play on both television and the Web. The series premiere had millions watching the programme nationwide on television, and thousands on its official website simultaneously interacting with conservators, answering real-time quizzes and getting the inside dope on every single aspect of the programme as it was being aired. For instance, if there was a segment on the Polar Bear on TV, the website would give you all the inside dope on a Polar Bear’s habitat, why the species is endangered, an instant trivia section and a live chat with M Sanjayan, the lead scientist of the world renowned Nature Conservancy Group. The synchronicity was such that the information spiel on the website would pause the moment there was a commercial break on TV and later, throw up exactly the same information you were looking for when the programme talked about, say, the fascinating species of the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador – the place where Charles Darwin became convinced of evolution. In short, we were watching one of the most successful experiments in multimedia entertainment (OK, infotainment, if you like!). A few months ago, on this very column, we had discussed how entertainment would define and drive innovation in personal technology during this decade and beyond. Consumers such as you and me no longer talk about single-medium dispersion of news and entertainment – along with newspapers, we want television programming on our cell phones; we want breaking news on television as well as on the Web and on cell phones; we don’t just want photos or live coverage of the Aishwarya-Abhishek wedding, we want to put up our phone videos (if we’re invited, that is!) on YouTube. If we have an opinion to share, we don’t just express our opinion in a letter to a newspaper’s editor, we blog it; sometimes even videoblog it. With Planet Earth, however, the bar is now set even higher for both entertainment programming and for multimedia technology – we will no longer accept production qualities anything lower than what have seen, or would not expect leading broadcasters to adopt a multimedia simulcast policy with enriched content and instant interactivity. The media, in general, and entertainment, in particular, are on its way to become a fulltime two-way street, and the only handicap I can see would be our imagination. Discovery Channel’s Planet Earth is one of those rare victories in multimedia entertainment that need to set the pace for Indian entertainment conglomerates to work out a multimedia attack. What, for instance, stops Ektaa Kapoor – now surely India’s leading television producer – to have her actors or directors or script writers to speak with their viewers in real time as an episode airs, or even solicit ideas from them for alternate endings that can be played exclusively on the Web? The point is that, the technology is already there – it’s only our imagination that stops us from exploiting it.
Sachin Kalbag is the Washington, DC, correspondent of Daily News and Analysis, a Mumbai-based newspaper.

The media and entertainment are on its way to become a full-time two-way street.

ILLUSTRATION: MM SHANITH

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TECH TONIC
SOHAM RANINGA

Bye-Bye Windows XP ?
Is Microsoft desperately attempting to force its new OS upon you?
being already in the middle of a lawsuit over the “Vista Capable” certification being misleading, Microsoft now finds itself in the middle of another brewing controversy. The announcement of closing doors on Windows XP by Microsoft is not going well with users and manufacturers alike. On its Microsoft Life-Cycle Policy Web page, Microsoft has announced plans to discontinue shipments of Windows XP to OEMs from January 31, 2008. With countless applications standardized on Windows XP, the transition to Windows Vista won’t be simple and in many cases almost impossible. With the current hardware requirements for Windows Vista, users will have to invest in more powerful machines to be able to run the applications with same speed and performance as their current Windows XP based machine. Microsoft’s Windows XP has been a popular choice amongst SMB and home users alike and it is by no stretch of imagination nearing the end of its product life cycle. So the decision to shun Windows XP within a year of Vista’s release is being met with a lot of flak. Microsoft obviously wants to ensure that the OEMs and PC manufacturers gear themselves up for Windows Vista but taking the Windows XP option out of the system won’t go down well with vendors either. Dell has announced its decision to continue selling XP-based PCs to cater to the SMB market which according to Dell needs more time to migrate to Vista. The costs involved in training staff in adapting to a new OS is a clear deterrent for small and medium busi24
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the magic wand they expected it to be and it will take a while to get its grip on the market. Sighting a preference for Windows XP over Vista, Microsoft’s wants to keep its equation on the sales revenues and penetration figures for Vista intact.
AN OPPORTUNITY TO LOOK ELSEWHERE

ness houses who seem to be content with Windows XP and hence do not see a need to upgrade in near future.
VISTA FAILS TO MEET THE HYPE IT’S CREATED

while Windows Vista might look a lot cooler and offer some fancy features, it’s not as polished with regard to core functionality and compatibility side yet. Windows XP has extensive software and driver support which makes it a lot more hassle free to adopt and maintain. With experts not yet convinced on the security aspects of Windows Vista, users are also cautious about making the switch. Microsoft’s trick to keep DirectX 10 exclusive to Vista might help them get the hardcore PC Gamers on their side but this will take its own sweet time. DirectX 10 hardware is in a nascent stage and very few DX 10 games have been announced. Gamers clearly prefer to hang on to Windows XP for its superior compatibility and better performance yield with current games. It’s quite possible that Microsoft has realized that Windows Vista isn’t quite
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“a reason to go open source!” a colleague responded to Microsoft’s announcement. While the open source community will give numerous reasons why we should upgrade to Linux, Microsoft itself has given OEMs and home-users a reason to consider other alternatives. Vendors might just offer a wider range of products without bundled operating systems, giving users a free hand in choosing the OS that best suits their needs. It may not be surprising to see SMBs and home-users considering a shift to the popular Linux distributions that offer required functionalities. Hovering around the numerous local tech forums and community websites, I clearly gathered that common opinion of users not convinced with Vista revolved around deciding to stick to Windows XP while trying out various Linux distros. Microsoft may do well to heed its community of dedicated users and continue to support Windows XP a while longer.
ILLUSTRATION: ANIL T

W R I T E B AC K
Share your views and experiences on technology hits and misses. Write to me at techtonic@pcworld.in.

BUGS & FIXES
STUART J. JOHNSTON

Microsoft Security Programs Create Risk
Plus: Fixes for Internet Explorer and Office, and changes to Windows support.
a new fl aw in Microsoft security software turns the software that’s supposed to be protecting you into a threat. This critical hole appears in Microsoft’s Malware Protection Engine, a part of Windows Defender and Windows Live OneCare, as well as of the Microsoft Antigen and Microsoft Forefront Security business programs. Through it, attackers could take over a vulnerable PC running the security software on any supported version of Windows, including Vista, if one of the affected programs scans a doctored PDF file sent as an e-mail attachment or downloaded from the Web. No active attacks against this hole are known to exist, but if you haven’t already received the fix through Automatic Updates, get it now from www. microsoft.com/technet/security/Bulletin/ms07-010.mspx.
Microsoft also patched a fistful of critical holes affecting Internet Explorer 6. Some of the flaws actually reside in via Automatic Updates; the fixes appear to have come out before any known attacks. The first two fixes close holes in two different ActiveX controls used by Windows (and loadable by IE) for HTML Help and Microsoft Data Access Components. The second two repair flaws involving IE’s handling of COM objects. Get more on the Help flaw at www.microsoft.com/technet/security/Bulletin/ms07008.mspx and on the MDAC problem at www.microsoft. com/technet/security/bulletin/ms07-009.mspx. Details on the COM flaws are at www.microsoft.com/technet/ security/bulletin/ms07-016. mspx, along with info on the final hole, which can be targeted if you click a poisoned FTP (file transfer protocol) link in an e-mail or on a hacked site.
OFFICE ATTACKS
IN BRIEF

Firefox Update
NEW VERSIONS OF Firefox (2.0.02 and 1.5.0.10) and Thunderbird (1.5.0.10) close a number of holes, two of which are critical. Upgrade via either program’s automatic update feature, and obtain more information at www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/2.0.0.2/releasenotes/.

A virus scan could trigger the attack.
Windows, but all create the risk of drive-by downloads if you browse a poisoned site with IE 6 on Windows 2000 SP4 through XP SP2. Vista is not affected, and IE 7 offers additional protection by requiring multiple confirmations to run ActiveX. All the patches have been distributed

Google Desktop Fix
RESEARCHERS discovered that an infected Web site or e-mail could trick Desktop into divulging your data (www.networkworld.com/ news/2007/022207-googledesktop-flaw.html). If Google’s auto-update fix (to 5.0.701.30540) didn’t reach you, grab the new version at desktop.google.com.

VISTA PHOTO GOTCHAS, SOFTWARE FIX
IF YOU CREATE digital photo tags using Microsoft’s Photo Info program in Vista, existing tags can become unreadable. Worse yet, photos in Nikon’s raw format can become unviewable. Until camera companies provide driver updates, the workaround is, first, to avoid using the Photo Acquisition Wizard. Instead, use the camera maker’s software to upload pics, or drag and drop them directly from the camera. Second, don’t use Windows Photo Gallery or Windows Explorer to edit photo tags or properties. Read more at http://support.microsoft.com/kb/927527 /en-us. In other Vista news, a compatibility patch allows a slew of older programs and games to run under the OS. For the fix and the list of affected software, see http://support.microsoft.com/kb/929427.

just as microsoft thought it had fixed the last of a string of exploited holes in its Office applications, another one popped up. The fixed portions (distributed via Automatic Updates) close vulnerabilities considered critical in Word 2000 and rated important in Works and in other Word versions (more at www.microsoft. com/technet/security/Bulletin/MS07-014.mspx ). The new, as-yet-unpatched bug is

rated the same, and involves the usual tainted e-mail attachments or downloaded file (details at www.microsoft.com/technet/security/ advisory/933052.mspx).
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 to feedback@pcworld.in.

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R EVIEWS & RAN KIN GS

REVIEWS
31 W880I - 3G WALKMAN PHONE 32 ASUS EN8800GTS VIDEO CARD 32 STYLISH AND PORTABLE NU DVD WRITER 33 SPYWARE DOCTOR 5.0 BETA 34 MICROSOFT’S EXPRESSION WEB 34 EP-630 - NOISE ISOLATION EAR PHONE FROM CREATIVE 35 CANON MP510 INKJET MFD 36 SONY VAIO SLEEK PC 37 ZONEALARM INTERNET SECURITY SUITE 7.0 38 SEAGATE 750 GB BACKUP

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
S T O R AG E

Spacious Storage Gets Cheaper Still
HIGHER SPEEDS AND LOWER PRICES MAKE 320GB THE WAY TO GO FOR DESKTOP STORAGE
just as you upgrade your system and think you’ll not run out of space for a while, the movies just get bigger, your music collection grows, games demand close to 10GB and operating systems are getting space hungry as well. The storage industry is one of the most dynamic in the IT field as even enterprises constantly need more storage owing to wear out of older drives and demand for more space. Hard drives are available today in all capacities upto the 1TB mark, but for most home users, the best buy (cost per GB) rests at the 160GB and the 320GB marks. With storage, no matter how much you have, you’ll always want more and hence we recommend a 320GB if you can afford its relatively higher purchase
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cost. Do bear in mind that 320GB drives offer the lowest cost per GB in hard drives as of now and will also futureproof you for some time to come. We tested 320GB hard

mine which of these offers the best buy over all.
PERFORMANCE

we used Everest 2006 Ultimate’s low level disk

disks with 16MB buffer and SATA interface from the four leading manufacturers – Hitachi, Samsung, Seagate and Western Digital, to deter-

benchmarking tool to test the read and write speeds (in linear and random modes) of the drives. A low level testing ensures that operating system’s inconsistencies do not affect the result of the test. At the

top of the performance chart is the ST3320620AS from Seagate’s much acclaimed Barracuda 7200.10 family that features perpendicular recording. It posted a random read speed of 68.5MBps, much faster than the 55-58 MBps that the other drives managed. The low level random read and random write tests give a reliable indication of drive behavior in real world usage. Though the transfer rates will be lesser in real world scenario owing to operating system overheads and inconsistencies, you can expect all drives to be affected by the same proportion. The Hitachi and the Western Digital are third and fourth respectively in the performance tables, both managing about 58MBps in random read. You can see the graphs on page 42 for better under-

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PHOTOGRAPHS: SRIVATSA SHANDILYA

REV IEWS & RA N K I NGS
38 SAMSUNG SGH-E520 SLIDER PHONE 39 AMD 690V BASED MOTHERBOARD

FROM JETWAY
40 SIGHTSPEED’S VIDEO CALLING SOFTWARE

41 41 42 42 43

NOD32 ANTIVIRUS SYSTEM 7MP A700 CAMERA FROM FUJI 22 INCH MONITOR FROM SAMSUNG LEADTEK’S TV2000 XP GLOBAL TUNER FINGERPRINT LOCK PEN DRIVE FROM WEP

36

32

standing of the differences in the benchmark scores. Most internal hard drives offer high transfer speed in the beginning sectors and gradually decrease to just about 50% of that figure towards the end of the drive. This decrease is not linear and hence the average speed that you see on the graph next page does not always tell the full story. Hence, we included two other factors in our calculation – percentage of the drive where write speed is above 60 MBps and 50 MBps. The Seagate a n d t h e Sa m s u n g w e r e the most consistent, with about 70% of the drive area showing transfer speeds up to 60 MBps and 88% above 50 MBps. The WD was the weakest with not even half the drive area (47%) above the 60MBps mark. The implication is that with the WD, data transfer beyond the half capacity mark will be slower, but with the Seagate or the Samsung, you have 70% of the drives’s capacity to go before you see speeds drop.
FEATURES
Perpendicular Recording is

INTERNAL HARD DRIVE

PCW Rating

Performance • Overall performance: Very Good • Random write speed: 64.3 MB/s • Random read speed: 68.5 MB/s

Features • NCQ : Yes • Number of platters : 2 • Perpendicular Recording : Yes

1

Seagate Barracuda 72100.10 ST3320620AS Best Rs.4,450 BUY

84
Very Good

3 Bottom line: Offers best performance and priced less as well. Coupled with its 5 year warranty, you can’t go wrong with this drive.

2

Hitachi Deskstar HDT725032VLA360
Rs. 4,600

81
Very Good

• Overall performance: Good • Random write speed: 59.7 MB/s • Random read speed: 57.5 MB/s

• NCQ : Yes • Number of platters : 2 • Perpendicular Recording : No

3 Bottom line: Good performance and competitive pricing sees this drive in second place. Has lowest power consumption as well.

Samsung HD321KJ

3

Rs. 5,200

78
Good

• Overall performance: Very Good • Random write speed: 66.8 MB/s • Random read speed:54.5 MB/s

• NCQ : Yes • Number of platters : 2 • Perpendicular Recording : No

3 Bottom line: Performance almost on par with the Barracuda, but the higher price tag bogs the Samsung to third place.

Western Digital WD3200KS

4

Rs. 4,600

75
Good

• Overall performance: Good • Random write speed: 58.4 MB/s • Random read speed: 58.1 MB/s

• NCQ : No • Number of platters : 3 • Perpendicular Recording : No

3 Bottom line: Last in the performance table costing about the same as other drives, this is not an attractive option. CHART NOTE: The test rig consisted of an Intel D975XBX motherbaord with 2x 1GB DDR2 800MHz RAM and a WD 150GB Raptor hard disk. The prices mentioned above are indicative street prices as of the time of this review, and are subject to change according to various factors.

a hot topic amongst drive

manufactures and enthusiasts alike. Seagate has been the first manufacturer to use this technology in desktop drives with the 7200.10 series, including the 320GB that is featured in this test. This new concept promises upto 10 fold increase in drive capacities when compared the conventional longitudianal recording. NCQ or Native Command Q u e u i n g i s a S ATA I I feature that is primarily aimed to increase hard drive

performance in servers. Except WD, all other drives in this test are NCQ enabled. Put simply. NCQ allows a drive to reorder the read / write instructions it receives from the operating system such that the various operations can be performed more efficiently. This works to advantage in cases where data has to be read from or written to multiple scattered areas of the disk – typical of a server. Note that your motherboard must also

support this function, else NCQ will get disabled on the drive. The notable advantage in a single user scenario is not consistent, however. Number of platters (or physical disks) that a hard drive has will have a bearing on its reliability and performance as well (for a given capacity). Though we simply say ‘hard disk’, most of today’s high capacity drives are actually composed of two or more physical disks. All drives e x c e p t f o r t h e We s t e r n
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T E S T R E S U LT S

T E S T R E S U LT S

Everest Ultimate 2006 Random / Lenar Write Speeds
M B p s 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0
Seagate Samsung Hitachi WD

Everest Ultimate 2006 Random and Linear Read
M B p s 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0
Seagate Samsung Hitachi WD

80

Random Write

Linear Write

Linear Read

Random Read

Digital (that has 3) have two platters, each with 166MB unformatted space. The lesser the number of disks - the lesser the chances of failure and generally, better performance as well. We s t e r n D i g i t a l a n d Hitachi have molex power connectors (apart from the standard SATA connector)
TIPS

which is useful if you have an older power supply.
VERDICT

this time around, for a change, spotting the best buy was not too difficult. The Seagate is clearly ahead in the performance arena with consistent transfer speeds over 70% of the drive area and

with equally impressive average read and write speeds. The Samsung is in a close second place while the Hitachi and WD lag behind somewhat. Hard disks do not have vast variations in pricing amongst similar capacities. The average street price for 320GB hard disks with 16MB buffer is between Rs.4500 – 4,700, except

Optimise your hard disk’s performance
NO MATTER WHAT hard drive you have, here are some tips for you to get better speeds and increase the life of your disk. Defragment your drive: This is one of the oft repeated tips, yet we say this again - and for a good reason. Defragmentation put together in contiguous locations various chunks of individual files scattered across the disk, so that it can be accessed faster and with lesser mechanical strain to the hard disk. Use the Windows defragmentation tool or a free tool like AusLogics Defragmenter (www.auslogics.com/disk-defra). Use power saving options: The lesser you make your hard drive work, the longer it lasts. If you are used to leaving your PC idle while you step out, enable hard disk power off under Power Management or just Hibernate your PC which will switch power your hard disk off. However, do Not use this option if you are going to be away for just a few minutes or you frequently take such breaks, as frequent start-stops can actually reduce the drive’s life. Use it if you are going away for a couple of hours and you dont want to switch off and on your PC. Avoid tilting or otherwise moving your PC when the PC is on. Hard drives do not take too kindly to being moved around while they are working! And, if you hear a screeching noise from your PC that coincides with the hard drive activity indicator (usually the red or amber LED), it’s time for you to backup immediately and be prepared for a new hard disk.

for the Samsung which is costlier by 10% with an average selling price of Rs 5,200. Seagate’s performance, coupled with its competitive pricing makes it the best buy in the 320GB hard disk category. The five year warranty from Seagate must take care of any ‘just in case’ hard disk crash scenarios. Western Digital offers on-site replacement through its ‘WD Express’ scheme. The Samsung’s higher Rs 500 does not seem justifiable. It is this pricing differential that puts the third fastest drive, the Hitachi in second place, ahead of the Samsung. When you go hard drive shopping, be sure to specifically ask for one with a 16MB buffer (preferably quote the model numbers that you see here). Do not buy the 8MB versions, given that the latter are cheaper by just a few hundred Rupees which is no great saving. —Kailas Shastry

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Slim Walkman with 3G
M U S I C P H O N E

DESIGN

simply a stunning piece of industrial design, Sony Ericsson’s latest entry into the Walkman range is one of the thinnest 3G mobile phones ever released. The W880i features a sleek, brushed steel face, a 2 megapixel camera, push e-mail support, and a 1GB Memory Stick Micro (M2) - all of this squeezed into a device measuring just 9.4mm thin.
WALKMAN

produced a crisp and warm sound with good bass. The headphones include an adapter which allows a standard 3.5mm headphone jack to be used.
FEATURES

the W880i includes the latest version of Sony Ericsson’s proprietary music software, Walkman version 2.0. The new edition offers some welcome features, as well as a stylish new look. An icon representing each menu has been added for a sleeker and more structured feel. It still uses the previous tiered system with artists, albums, artists, tracks and playlist menus. The W880i also features A2DP which enables you wirelessly stream your music to a pair of Bluetooth headphones. In terms of sound quality, the W880i is on par with previous Walkman handsets. For a mobile phone its audio quality is quite notable and the included earphones

the W880i handled voice calls fairly well, although we did notice that in-call volume could have been much louder. It’s fine for using the phone to your ear, but using the handsfree speakerphone with some background noise isn’t ideal. The W880i is a 3G phone, so it includes dual cameras - a 2 megapixel camera on the rear for taking photographs and a VGA camera on the front for video calling (which can’t be used for taking photos). Unfortunately, the camera doesn’t include auto focus or a flash, but it does have 2.5x digital zoom. The W880i’s camera should be enough to keep users happy for the odd photo thanks to panorama, frames and burst shooting modes, night mode, a 10 second self-timer, black and white, sepia and negative effects as well as the ability to adjust white balance. Video recording is below average at best. The W880i also offers plenty of entertainment options.

THE NEW SLIM Walkman is not only a head turner but filled with features too

In addition to the Walkman feature, there is a video player and games, as well as some of Sony Ericsson’s proprietary applications such as VideoDJ, PhotoDJ and Music DJ. There’s also remote control and sound recording functions as well as Bluetooth 2.0 and USB 2.0 connectivity. Unfortunately there is no FM radio included. One cool feature of the W880i is the ability to blog. In a couple of easy steps you can take a photo, write a small snippet of text and publish it on the Internet as a blog - all through the phone itself.

the W880i has to be seen to be believed. It measures 103mm x 46.5mm x 9.4 mm and weighs 71g. It is a delight to hold in your hand and easily slides into a pocket or bag. The brushed steel finish gives a feel of excellent build quality, sophistication and class. The keypad, Although small, are very responsive, and the generous spacing between keys means that users should be able to achieve reasonable, if not lightning fast messaging speeds. Both the keypad and controls have a bright, white backlight, so using the phone in the dark isn’t a problem. Despite being so thin, Sony Ericsson hasn’t failed to include any controls. The W880i includes a volume slider and dedicated camera button on its left, and a dedicated Walkman button on the right. Battery life is about average. On average, we charged the handset every two or three days, depending on usage patterns. —Ross Catanzariti W880i
Sony Ericsson PCW Rating 84 Very Good Slim Walkman with 3G, dual camera but without FM. Price: Rs. 23,999

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A Premium Graphics Package
V I D EO CA R D

last month we reviewed the Geforce 8800GTS 320MB from Leadtek and it proved to be an excellent choice for a DirectX 10 video card that offers a sufficiently future-proof solution without breaking the bank. The Asus EN8800GTS 320MB is also based on the same Geforce 8800GTS chipset backed by 320MB of memory. Priced at Rs 23,000 this Asus card is a thousand rupees dearer than the Leadtek. On the perforEN8800GTS 320MB
Asus PCW Rating 85 Very Good Asus delivers with great performance and a generous bundle to match. Price: : 23,000

mance front we compared it to the Leadtek’s Geforce 8800GTS and the results were right on the mark as expected. The card logged 96 FPS (Frames Per Second) while running F.E.A.R. with all the image quality settings maxed out and resolution set to 1280 x 960, scoring one frame higher than the Leadtek 8800GTS that logged 95 FPS. Scoring 8519 points in 3DMark 2006, the Asus EN8800GTS is about 15 percent slower than the Geforce 8800GTX based cards which are priced 30-40 percent higher. With excellent video playback functionalities, and ability to render high definition content without taxing the CPU, these 8800GTS 320MB based cards offer superb value

THE ASUS EN8800GTS 320MB sticks to the reference design. The heavy duty cooler keeps the temperatures in control

in the high-end segment. Asus betters the deal with an excellent package that consists of full versions of two popular games. Ghost Recon Advanced War Fighter and GTI Racing. Given the list of freebies, the Asus branding and three year warranty, the

additional thousand rupees you spent on the card is absolutely justified. If you are looking for a meaty video card upgrade, the Asus EN8800GTS 320MB should top your list for its performance, features and package. —Soham Raninga

Sleek and Stylish DVD Writer from NU
S T O R A G E

can you associate style with a DVD writer? Well, if it’s an NU, then you can! Known for making rather impressive looking computer peripherals, NU has made an external DVD writer that can double up as a mirror. Yes, we mean that literally – the top of the casing has an extremely reflective finish that surprises any-

one seeing it for the first time. The drive, called SuperMulti Drive ESW846 is extremely sleek, measuring less than 2 centimeter in thickness. The drive can handle all current DVD formats including DVD RAMs. When we used a 16x rated HP DVD+R, the NU burnt it at 2.4x taking a leisurely 23 minutes to burn 4.1GB of data, even though it

THIS STYLISH DVD writer is less than 2 cm thick and can be carried with ease.

is marked as being 8x capable. A regular internal drive would do it in about 5 minutes (at 16x). Burning a DVD+RW at 4x (both media and the drive were rated at 4x) saw a slighter difference in speeds. The NU did the job in 14 minutes while internal drives take about 12 minutes. The combination of the bundled Nero 6.6 and the NU present issues in detecting optimal burn speeds for different makes of DVDs, so be prepared to see some tortoise timings with certain DVDs. CD read / write times are rated at 24x, and thankfully, the drive sticks to this speed. The loading mechanism is slot-in type (like car CD players) and has no drive door. Just

slide the CD / DVD in and watch the NU accept it gracefully. An acrylic stand enables the drive to be placed vertically as well. Noise and vibration levels are minimal and the drive scores high on design. There are no visible screws as well – all adding up to make this a life style product rather than a sheer utility one. This NU can handle all DVD formats, has appeal, but is pricey as well. —Kailas Shastry

SuperMulti Drive ESW846
NU PCW Rating 75 Good Ably complements a stylish notebook, has great appeal, but is pricey. Price: Rs. 5,750

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PC Tools Spyware Doctor 5.0 beta
S O F T W A R E

it seems like only yesterday that Spyware Doctor 4.0 was launched, but version 5.0 is already with us. At first glance, the two versions look remarkably similar. Probe a little deeper, though, and the feature set has been noticeably extended. Spyware Doctor is now able to integrate with other PC Tools products. With this release there’s a free optional upgrade to the PC Tools antivirus engine, so that incoming emails are checked for spyware and viruses, while the scanner looks for both sorts of malware. Plus, there are plans for integration with Firewall Plus to provide an integrate d suite.
HEALTHY UPDATES

one criticism concerning updates has been addressed. Previously, updates had to be manually initiated, but now it’s possible to set up automatic ‘silent’ updates that require no user intervention. This means updates are incremental and download faster. Spyware Doctor 5.0 has a commendably light system footprint – even on an antique 450MHz P3 laptop it made little difference to performance. Plus, home PCs will benefit

from revamped multi-user support, since version 5.0 supports the removal and detection of threats from all logged-in user accounts. Incoming and outbound emails are scanned through the Email Guard, although we weren’t able to test this feature in the beta. File Guard scans files in real time, while the Process Guard has better rootkit detection – although it’s switched off by default. As before, Spyware Doctor’s protection breaks down into two components: an ondemand scanner and a number of real-time monitors. File scanning has been accelerated thanks to its patent-pending spider-scanning technology. A complete Intelli-scan of 3.5GB of data took just three minutes on our ageing laptop. At the heart of version 5.0 is OnGuard Protection, which comprises a range of tasked guards: Browser, File, Keylogger, Network, Popup Blocker, Process, Site and Startup. Another is on its way: the Behaviour Guard will detect zero-day attacks. Each one can be disabled and you can configure exclusions for websites or files only. This will prevent new

SPYWARE DOCTOR 5.0: one of the best antispyware utility available

programs initiating automatically with your PC, block programs that collect your keyboard input, stop known malicious programs running and prevent access to malicious sites. The Process Guard can even kill kernel-level spyware processes. One of Spyware Doctor’s enduring strengths is its ease of use. Its clear interface makes it easy to drill down to tweak a configuration setting, although the range of options seems smaller than in version 4.0. You could accuse it of being overly paternalistic, but most users will welcome the jargonfree description of each threat. However, one minor criticism remains. It still over-eggs

the malware pudding a bit, describing tracking cookies as infections – a trifle fanciful.
VERDICT

spyware Doctor 5.0 continues the good work laid down by its forebears and manages to combine ease of use with effectiveness. Indeed, we’d go so far as to suggest that Spyware Doctor might be the best antispyware utility available. —Roger Gann Spyware Doctror 5.0 Beta
PC Tools PCW Rating 80 Very Good High detection rate and strong features make this a good security software Price: Rs. 1,400

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Microsoft’s Web-Design Software Grows Up
W E B D E S I G N

microsoft has finally embraced Web standards. The proof is its new Expression Web program, which puts Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), XML, and other standards at the core of the application’s site design and management strategy.

While the program still shields Web designers from much of the code that underlies their pages, the resulting sites should meet a l l We b d e s i g n a n d accessibility standards. The trade-off for all of the added functionality is the hours of

EXPRESSION WEB ALLOWS you to edit your site’s CSS style sheets easily by selecting from a drop-down menu of available styles.

training the program requires for noncoders. Expression Web goes to considerable pains to make CSS as approachable as possible. For example, when you choose a style, a drop-down menu lists the attributes you can use for that style. The IntelliSense function enables you to type just a letter or two to select options, and you can drag small pieces of code from one of the program’s palettes directly onto your page to add navigation elements, form fields, or other components. But even with all that help, making the switch to CSS requires quite a bit of training. Another feature that many designers will welcome is Expression Web’s support for

XML and Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformations (XSLT), which permits you to drag and drop links to dynamic XML data into your pages and format them easily for presentation on the Web. Despite a few lingering traces of old FrontPage features (such as the spinning-globe icon you see as files transfer), Expression Web is a giant step up from that program. —Dennis O’Reilly

Expression Web
Microsoft PCW Rating 80 Very Good With its focus on CSS and XML, this app lets you create modern, data-driven sites—but it presents a difficult learning curve. Price: Rs. 13,455

Quality at Affordable Price
E A R P H O N E S

creative’s EP-630 are in-ear noise isolation ear phones. The “in-ear” ear phones offer a certain amount of noise cancellation by cutting down the ambient noise, ensuring minimal disturbance and immersive listening experience. Locally there isn’t too much of a choice for in-ear earphones, simply because not everyone is comfortable with the concept of partially plugging ear phones in their ear. Sony and Shure are the other brands offering in-ear earphones but finding them can be a task. Creative’s EP-630 is a welcome change, with its popularity in the market and sensible pricing, getting an in-ear earphone does not necessarily
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THE EP 630S from creative are perfect companions for MP3 players and music phones.

involve spending copious amounts of money. With a 9mm neodymium driver, the EP-630 carries impressive specifications with a 106dB SNR ratio backed by a 6Hz - 23kHz frequency response. The higher SNR (signal to noise ratio) and a wider frequency response indicates ample loudness and ensures that you hear the smallest of details.

In our tests, the EP-630 produced clean and loud sound with most applications, be it music, gaming or movies. Given the tiny 9mm drivers, the EP-630 does a surprisingly good job with punchy bass response and crisp vocals. There are instances when the high frequencies sound a tad too sharp and tinny, unlike the warm sound delivered by

some of the high-end headphones. But with a price tag of Rs. 1,050, you cannot expect them to match full sized highend headphones that cost almost 10 times as much. While the 1.2m cable is long enough for in-ear headphones, the cable is too thin for our liking and the plastic feel to the earphones are typical of a value product. All-in-all, the EP-630 provide good clean immersive sound without burning a hole in your wallet. —Soham Raninga

EP-630
Creative PCW Rating 85 Very Good Well priced in-ear earphones give you a reason to dump those default ear phones that came with you MP3 player. Price: Rs. 1,050

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Quality Prints at a Price
A L L - I N - O N E

canon’s Pixma MP510 is an affordable combination of printer, scanner, and media card reader. The Rs. 13,995 MRP model lacks the frills that come with many multifunction printers, such as film scanning and faxing, but you can get the basics done quickly and with a minimum of fuss. A flap to the right of the printer folds up to reveal the control panel. The 1.9-inch color LCD is smaller than that of many competing models. The MP510’s in-printer editing functions are limited to automatic photo optimization and face-brightening options, which don’t require the larger screens and fancier controls of its pricier siblings. If you expect to work mostly from your PC, then the LCD size and controls are largely irrelevant. The two media slots, which sit behind a door on the front panel, accept most types of digital camera memory cards, but you’ll need a third-party adapter to read xD-Picture, Memory Stick Duo, and Mini SD Card formats. The PictBridge port, for printing directly from compatible cameras, is hidden beneath the media-slot door in the recessed base of

THE MP510’S PRODUCES good prints on Canon photo paper but image printing is not as great on plain paper.

the unit, making it a little difficult to access. Unlike several rival MFDs and many photo printers, the MP510 doesn’t let you read images from a USB flash drive attached to its PictBridge port. However, you can attach an optional Bluetooth adapter (costing about Rs 3,600) to print from suitably equipped camera phones and PDAs. The MP510 also sports an infrared port that lets you beam images from many mobile phones. The MP510 lacks an automatic document feeder, so you must scan each sheet (up to letter-size paper) one at a time from the platen glass. Two separate 150-sheet trays hold paper for printing: a cassette in the

base and an upright feeder at the rear, which is convenient for swapping among different sizes of photo paper. Each of the printer’s four ink cartridges incorporates a red LED that flashes when the ink runs low. The device uses a pigmentbased black ink to produce darker text on plain paper. In our lab tests, text looked dark and solid, though the characters’ edges could have been crisper. Line art was sharp, but we saw wide banding across the page and diagonal interference patterns in blocks of closely spaced lines. On plain paper, graphics appeared grainy with overly bright colors and posterized blacks. However, the MP510 printed superb-looking

photos on Canon’s Photo Paper Pro; they looked very sharp, with bright colors and plenty of shadow detail, though skin tones seemed a little too orange. Scans and copies scored well across the board for an MFP in this price range, with no notably strong or weak points. Against the clock, the MP510 showed solid performance. On plain paper, it printed slightly above average at 8.2 pages per minute for text and 3.3 ppm for graphics. It printed our test photo on letter-size photo paper in a commendable 40 seconds. The MP510 scans quickly, completing our test scan of a 4-by-5inch photo at 100 dots per inch in only 7.1 seconds. Its 5.0 ppm average copy speed is among the fastest showings we’ve seen for an inkjet MFP. The Canon Pixma MP510 makes an excellent choice if you’re looking for a straightforward printer/scanner combo capable of printing good-looking photos, though its color LCD could be bigger. —Paul Jasper

Pixma MP510
Canon PCW Rating 81 Very Good This general-purpose all-in-one prints high-quality photos at an affordable price. Price: Rs. 13,995.00

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Slick, Petite and Pricey
PC

the Sony VAIO VGO-LA38G, part of the VAIO L series, uses a unique form factor that Sony calls the “Panel PC”. We were impressed by every facet of the design, especially the transparent frame, flip-up keyboard and half-screen display (with Sony soundFLOW music player). A handle mounted at the top rear of the unit means it can be easily carried with one hand. The L series sits somewhere between a desktop replacement notebook and desktop PC. Built using notebook components, such as a Core 2 Duo T5600 1.83GHz CPU, a 120GB (5400rpm) notebook hard drive, a GeForce Go 7400 graphics card and a notebook battery (for mobile use), the L series offers a light, portable alternative to a desktop without conforming to the standard notebook chassis design. One of the best features of this Panel PC is the half screen display, which instantly turns on when the keyboard flips up. When the play button (this VAIO has a set of basic media controls) is hit, any music that’s loaded into the Sony soundFLOW software will start to play. When

THE LA38G - a stylish looking ‘PC’ morphs a notebook into a desktop

music is playing, the track details join the clock and calendar on-screen as well as an animated equaliser (depending on which soundFLOW background you’ve selected). The soundFLOW software is fairly simplistic in itself, offering nothing more than skip, play, stop and volume controls as well as a basic filter by artist and album (albums also include playlists). However, soundFLOW can’t create playlists or add albums from sources other than CD without the help of the Sony SonicStage application, which comes installed. If you wish, you can use any audio player software as your default

A

B

A- THE KEYBOARD of the VAIO folds up neatly while the soundFLOW software gets displayed on the top portion of the screen. B- THE VAIO’S slim factor makes it extremely portable.

application, but we found that they don’t transition as smoothly when the keyboard was closed. The speakers produce a good, clear sound and are loud enough for music and movies within a reasonable distance, although they would benefit from the addition of a subwoofer. The 15.4in widescreen LCD has a native resolution of 1280x800 pixels and has good brightness and contrast, but a very shallow viewing angle. From vertical positions it’s difficult to see and has terrible colour inversion from side angles, making the image look like a photo negative. With the 1.83GHz Core 2 Duo CPU and 1GB of DDR2 RAM the LA38G will have no problems running the most commonly used software in the market and doing everyday computing tasks. The GeForce Go 7400 graphics card allows this system to run Windows Vista’s Aero interface and also gives the system enough graphics power to play some newer games, albeit at lower settings. Older games will run with ease as

indicated by the 3DMark 2001 SE score of 9421. As a worst-case scenario battery test, we played a DVD on a looping repeat, and the LA38G ran for 91 minutes, which is just short of an average hollywood film. The flip-down keyboard is slightly smaller than the average notebook keyboard, so using it feels a little cramped and it may not be ideal for writing long documents. While the keyboard has a built-in touchpad, the four USB 2.0 ports allow for an external mouse to be used or a larger keyboard if you wish. There’s also FireWire to connect a camcorder, a media card reader for MediaGate, SD and MS media cards, plus a PC Card slot (type I/II) and Express card slot for any additional devices. For networking, the unit has a 10/100 LAN Ethernet connection and a 56k modem, but the WiFi 802.11 b/g will be the most useful connection option for this type of PC. Finally, a 1.3 Megapixel camera sits in the clear bezel above the screen for basic webcam needs. The bulk of the PC is mounted flat against the back of the screen and is barely noticeable. An adjustable stand on the rear allows you to tilt the screen to the desired angle and the keyboard folds out at the same angle regardless of the position of the PC. —PC World Team

VAIO VGO-LA38G
Sony PCW Rating 78 GOOD A desktop and a laptop are morphed in a sleek and attractive package but pricey package Price: Rs.89,990/-

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ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite 7.0 Performs
S E C U R I T Y S O F T WA R E

check point’s new ZoneAlarm Internet Security Su i t e 7 . 0 s i g n i f i c a n t l y improves on version 6.0. The mediocre antivirus engine licensed from CA has been replaced with a superior one from Kaspersky Labs, re sulting in a high-performance suite whose only weakness is its antiphishing protection. The suite’s core components include antivirus, antispyware, and anti-adware protection, courtesy of the Kaspersky engine, along with the house-developed network firewall and the OSFirewall, a supplemental protective layer to block malicious changes to your PC. In a battery of tests conducted by AV-Test.org, the suite’s Kaspersky engine performed creditably, halting 98.3 percent of backdoor programs, 97 percent of bots, and 99 percent of Trojan horses. It also caught 74 percent of adware samples. The OSFirewall detected a similarly solid 80 percent of network and e-mail worms, based on their behavior alone. The suite spotted all pieces of malware hidden inside common compressed file formats,

and the firewall prevented all attacks from both inside and outside the PC. T h e s u i t e’ s o n - a c c e s s scanner, however, failed to detect the PP97M/Tristate.C macro virus, which targets Microsoft Office 97 files. AVTe s t . o r g r e p o r t s t h a t Kaspersky’s own version of its virus engine successfully identified this threat, which suggests that the problem relates to Check Point’s implementation of it. While most security companies rate this virus as a low-risk threat, ZoneAlarm’s overlooking of it came as a surprise. ZoneAlarm offers most of the usual suite extras. Its Privacy section selectively blocks Web site cookies, advertisements, and embedded objects and scripts. Its instant messaging security protects users of AOL, ICQ, MSN, and Ya hoo services from bad links and attachments, though it added so many warnings to my outgoing IM messages that I turned it off. Spam protection, provided through MailFrontier, adds a configurable toolbar to Outlook and Outlook Express. Parental controls block all

ITS EXCELLENT VIRUS protection comes from a Kaspersky engine.

sites included on Check Point blacklists, along with unknown sites identified via effective dynamic analysis. The Vista version of this product is expected to arrive in the second quarter of 2007, and ZoneAlarm customers within the one-year subscription window will be able to upgrade to it for free. Noticeably missing from the suite is an antiphishing toolbar. In fact, the suite lacks anything capable of blocking known phishing sites instantly (though you can download a free tool such as the Netcraft Toolbar, available at toolbar. netcraft.com). But ZoneAlarm does provide other, less effective Web protection. The MyVault tool will block data such

as Social Security, credit card, and password digits from exiting your PC—but first you’ll have to enter the information (encrypted if you want). The ZoneAlarm security suite is priced on a par with competing suites. It performs well, though it could benefit from better phishing protection. —Narasu Rebbapragada

ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite 7.0
Check Point PCW Rating 88 Very Good A new antivirus engine from Kaspersky significantly improves performance, but the suite still lacks antiphishing features. Price: Rs 2,250.

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Endless Backup with Seagate
S T O R A G E

we are now seeing several large capacity external storage devices based on existing internal hard disks to cater to increasing backup. Seagate’s 750GB Pushbutton Backup is currently the second largest single unit external backup solution available (a 1TB model is also available from Seagate). The drive is available with a USB 2.0 hi-speed and two Firewire 400 ports for connectivity. One of the Firewire ports can be used to connect to a 750GB Pushbutton Backup
Seagate PCW Rating 78 Very Good Convenient backup and large storage solution, but pricey. Price: Rs. 23,000

second unit to increase storage capacity. There is only one button on this 750GB Pushbutton Backup to power the unit on and initiate backup as well. Once the drive is powered on (with an external power supply), you only need to press the button once to activate the backup process using the bundled BounceBack software that offers enough options for a power user. Drives like this are primarily meant for backup and not outright performance. So, we’d have to look closely at price per GB, the ability to scale easily (stack two or more drives together) and backup functions. On these fronts, this Seagate does not disappoint. When it comes to sheer

performance however, in Everest 2006 Ultimate’s disk benchmark, the drive managed a modest and consistent 26MBps in linear as well as random write tests and a little over 32MBps in read tests (less than half of what internal drives manage today). In real world tests, we saw the drive do 25MBps (for a 1.3GB file) in writing data, and read speed at was a higher 33MBps, both in agreement the benchmark scores (with USB connection). The performance is close to that of the competitors – Western Digital My Book Premium and the Buffalo DriveStation Duo. Although it is possible to make a back solution by buying a 3.5” hard disk and a

THE USB 2.0 hi-speed and the Firewire interface produce near idential transfers.

casing separately for a much lower price, devices like this Seagate offer one touch backup, the ability to stack more drive together, and a neat looking case and reliability – important factors in an office environment. —Kailas Shastry

Poor- Man’s Slider and a Thief Catcher
M O B I L E P H O N E

no doubt a slider is a phenomenal style statement compared to the drab candy-bars and clamshells. Samsung has an exhaustive range of good looking sliders in the market. The SGH-250 joins the same league with some innovative features and great price point. To start with, the phone does everything that you would want a mid range phone to do. A VGA camera, FM radio, a ravishing design, easy to use buttons, a 128 x 160 and 262k color screen. SGH- E250
Samsung PCW Rating 75 Good Stylish low budget slider Price: Rs. 7,250

The phone also boasts of some unique features that it shares only with the Samsung X520 and C140. All these three phones have security features that can be used in distress or in the case of phone loss. The mobile tracker sends a SMS to two pre-designated numbers of your phonebook when the mobile thief changes the SIM card. The Emergency SMS feature on the other hand can be utilized to send SMS messages to up-to ten numbers in the time of distress. The calls from these numbers would be automatically accepted to help in rectifying the situation. While these features of the phone are nice, there are some basic problems with the device that defer it from being an abso-

MOBILE TRACKER HELPS locate this phone when lost

lutely killer device. To start with the slider mechanism of the phone is made of plastic and not metal, as with most slid-

ers. Excessive usage may thus cause a malfunction in this area. Also, the voice clarity in the phone was not much to talk about. We did experience call drops and disturbance in low signal areas. The battery life of the phone is also about average, with about 1.5-2 days of backup time with normal usage. The screen, though quite big, is low resolution and thus you may be able to see the pixel squares quite easily in usage. In a nutshell the phone looks drool-worthy, has enough and more features to drive away a lot of others in competition but falters a bit in some basic areas. Ideal for first time users looking for a slim looking device that refuses to get lost and can help them in time of distress. —Geetaj Channana

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AMD’s New Chipset Offers Great Value
M O T H E R B O A R D

good news for AMD enthusiasts - you can now get an AMD chipset for the AM2 CPUs. AMD’s 690G / 690V chipset caters to home users on a budget. The 690G uses the X1250 video chip that is HDMI capable while the 690V is supported by the non HDMI X1200. We received the competitively priced (about Rs 3,800 street price) M2A692-VP motherboard from Jetway, that is based on the non HDMI 690V chipset. On the performance front, the motherboard is equal to the best that we have seen so far, with a score of 133 in our real world benchmarking software, WorldBench 5.0. This is in the league of much more expensive boards such as the Asus M2N32 SLI or the MSI K9A Platinum. Be assured that this affordable motherboard will not give you a performance hit even in demanding applications. We initially tested graphics performance of the M2A692VP with our reference Asus 7900GT video card and found that games fared equally good or even marginally better on this motherboard when compared with other high perform-

using any of these – even a nominal increase of CPU reference speed from 200MHz to 210MHz rendered the board unstable. The shortcomings of a micro-ATX form factor are tell-tale. The CPU heatsink comes extremely close to the RAM slots.
VERDICT

WITH A MODEST price tag, the M2A692-VP offers great value with its high performance and acceptable onboard video.

ing motherboards. Half Life 2 – Lost Coast, for example ran at 80fps on the M2A692-GDG, while the MSI K9A Platinum (reviewed earlier) did 76f ps at 640 x 480 using the same video card and other hardware. The X1200 video chip offers decent performance but is certainly not the best onboard video around. DOOM 3 was barely playable at 26 fps average with the lowest detail and resolution. Nvidia’s 6150 on the other hand handled the same game at 30 fps. This difference of about 15 percent will reflect across most games. Having said that, this X1200 is still better than many other onboard video chips like those

from SiS or Intel’s current onboard offerings. For all the smiles that this Jetway offers, it is disappointing to note that the board has its share of glitches. During our testing, it failed to boot after we removed our Asus 7900GT and tried using the onboard video. We had to do a BIOS reset to get the board working. Also, with DRAM Command Rate of 1T the board was not stable and hung frequently and we had to settle for 2T. Though a motherboard in this category is not meant for overclocking the BIOS offers options to change the CPU / HT reference speed and RAM and CPU voltages. Don’t think of

At Rs 3,800, the M2A692GDG’s price is in line with nForce 400 series chipset based boards featuring the Geforce 6100 onboard graphics. This Jetway has demonstrated performance equal to the high-end nForce 590 based motherboards and makes for a more tempting buy. If you are looking at a budget motherboard, this makes for a nice alternative to the tried and tested nForce platform – a warning though – you might need to do a BIOS reset in case the motherboard throws tantrums. —Kailas Shastry M2A692-GDG
Jetway PCW Rating 75 Good Offers performance equal to the best of the AM2 motherboards, but has some stability issues. Price: Rs. 3,800

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SightSpeed 6.0 Lets You Make Video Calls Easily
VIDEOCONFERENCING

v ide o c on fer e nc ing software has come a long way since the late 1990s, when un sophisticated programs and limited bandwidth made participants sound and look like astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle. In those days I halfexpected to see a coffee mug float across the screen, but no longer. I tested the new videocalling app SightSpeed 6.0, and though its video quality wasn’t perfect, I was impressed by its performance—in particular at syncing audio and video. SightSpeed is available in two versions, a free edition and a Pro package; the latter costs $5 per month and adds features designed for business users, such as multiparty video calls and priority tech support.
GOTCHA!

WHEN YOU’RE CONNECTED on a video call, SightSpeed lets other users know that you’re busy so your call won’t be interrupted.

Both versions require a Webcam plus devices for audio input (microphone) and output (speakers or a headset). To try it out, I used various combinations of speakers, Webcams with integrated mi -

Can Cameras Do SDHC?
JUST BECAUSE YOUR digital camera uses SD Cards to store photos doesn’t mean that it will work properly with just any SD Card. Older cameras can’t recognize new Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) media, which can hold 4GB to 32GB of data and cost as little as $50. Older SD Cards have typically maxed out at a storage capacity of 2GB. Some 4GB SD Cards appeared prior to the new highcapacity format’s release, but using these cards isn’t recommended, due to compatibility issues. Unfortunately, most digital cameras sold before summer 2006 are unlikely to be SDHCcompliant (though a couple of models can be made compatible with a firmware upgrade). If a camera (or other device) does not state support for the SDHC format (look for the SDHC logo on the box), you won’t be able to use the higher-capacity cards with it. —Eric Butterfield

crophones, and headsets with embedded microphones. Downloading and installing the software is a snap. It automatically locates your audio and video source, and helps you adjust their settings for peak performance. Following the initial setup you can tweak the settings, but unfortunately you can’t do so when you’re on a call. That means that if you’re in the middle of a conversation and you notice, for example, that the tint of your camera is slightly off, you will have to hang up before attempting to correct the problem. Version 6.0 sports a new tabbed interface for access to all of SightSpeed’s features. To add a contact, you simply enter an e-mail address on the Contacts tab; if the person is already a SightSpeed user, you’ll see their name appear on your list. If the person isn’t a user, SightSpeed will issue an e-mail invitation to download the software. All of your contacts are listed on the main screen, with a green icon indicating when they are available. When you mouse over a

name, you’ll see icons for connecting via video call, PC-toPC voice call, or text chat. In addition, you can send video e-mail to your contacts. According to SightSpeed, the video quality in version 6.0 is 25 percent better than that of past versions. I can’t verify that claim, but overall the video seemed quite good, although some colors looked dim. When I tested SightSpeed at home over a cable modem, the video looked very clear, with audio and video in sync. When I used a speaker-and-microphone setup, my caller noticed an echo. This probably occurred because my microphone picked up her voice as it came out of my speakers, so she heard her own words shortly after speaking them. The problem vanished when I switched to a headset. The quality of SightSpeed’s PC-to-PC voice calls is on a par with that of services such as Skype. In version 6.0, the textchat feature occupies its own window, and as a result it feels more like a stand-alone IM app (though you can chat only with other SightSpeed users). Though you wouldn’t mistake a SightSpeed video call for a movie, the image quality is good. Unlike PC-calling apps such as Skype that have added video features, SightSpeed’s focus has been on video from the start—and it shows. —Liane Cassavoy

SightSpeed 6.0
SightSpeed PCW Rating 88 Very Good This easy-to-use, no-cost program supports good-quality videoconferencing and calling. Free

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Eset NOD32 Antivirus System 2.7
S O F T W A R E

NOD32’s claim to fame is its sophisticated heuristics-based detection of malware; it doesn’t try to match virus signatures, but rather looks for suspicious activity. This means NOD32 is much better placed to deal with zero-day attacks. And it makes for a lean, mean antivirus tool – it won’t impose a noticeable burden on even old or inexpensive PCs. Version 2.7 incorporates support for Vista, alongside much NOD32 2.7 Antivirus System 2.7
Eset PCW Rating 71 Good Its fast, flexible and effective antivirus product. Price: Rs. 2,295

improved protection against rootkit infections. And its efficacy against viruses remains top notch. It is certified by ICSA Labs and has won the Virus Bulletin VB100 award more times than any other antivirus vendor. But NOD32 isn’t aimed at ‘fit-and-forget’ novices, and a couple of tricky techie questions will doubtless wrong-foot some users. Exploring the options and settings can be rather intimidating, while version 2.7 sports the centrally managed enterprise version’s array of relatively complicated settings. That said, the interface is clear and easy to navigate, with alert pop-ups to warn the user of any problems encountered. Features are accessed via the NOD32 Control Centre – a central system divided into the dif-

NOD32 HAS WON the Virus Bulletin VB100 award more times than any other antivirus vendor

ferent areas of protection. Four monitors provide real-time protection for file-, Office document-, email- and internetaccess. These are backed up by an on-demand file scanner.

However, the options telling the program to look for potentially unsafe and unwanted applications are disabled by default. —Roger Gann

A Fine Budget Choice
D I G ITAL CAMERA

even in the lower price range, many cameras look rather sophisticated, but the Fujifilm’s styling is a little frumpy. It has an unflattering podgy profile and a lifeless silver finish. While its curves may not win any beauty pageants, the A700 is a comfortable handful. The thumb nestles against the zoom rocker on its rear. At the A700’s heart is a 7.3MP CCD (charge-coupled device), which is impressive for a camera that can be picked
A700
FUJIFILM PCW Rating 81 Very Good Good option for shutterbugs on a tight budget. Price: Rs. 9,995

up for little over Rs 9,995. It’s blessed with a healthy assortment of features, including a 3x optical zoom that’s married to a handy f2.8-f5.2 aperture spread and a 2.4 inch LCD. Unlike some of the other compact cameras we’ve tested recently the A700’s ISO range sticks to safe territory, with a high point of 400. Fujifilm includes a smattering of sceneshooting modes, although if you wish to take manual control you may be disappointed by the camera’s settings. These don’t even stretch to aperture and shutter control. Thankfully, the A700 is pretty capable of gauging shooting conditions and producing good results. As is typical of Fujifilm cam-

WITH 7.3 MP, standard 3x optical zoom and a modest price tag, the A700 makes for a great buy.

eras, this model exhibits slightly boosted color saturation and reasonable finer detail – providing the ISO level is kept at conservative levels. There’s evidence of slight fringing, but overall the Fujifilm consistently performs beyond its budget price tag.

VERDICT

it’s not pretty to look at or blessed with many settings, but at this price you can’t argue with a 7.3MP sensor and 3x optical zoom. Picture quality is good and there’s a healthy assortment of features. —PC World Team
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Expensive Wide Screen from Samsung
LCD MONITOR

the Samsung SyncMaster 226BW is a 22in widescreen LCD monitor with a native resolution of 1680x1050. With a slick design, exceptional image quality, and a reported response time of 2ms, it is sure to become a favourite amongst gamers. We connected the 226BW to our test PC via DVI and ran the desktop at the native 1680x1050. The clarity and detail was quite stunning. There were no problems at all with the desktop SyncMaster 226BW
Samsung PCW Rating 81 Very Good Excellent display provides bare minimum connectivity Price: Rs. 35,000

icons, and the colours where rich and accurately reproduced. Using DisplayMate Video Edition we ran a series of extensive test patterns designed to reveal any image quality abnormalities. Throughout the entire test, the Samsung performed brilliantly with no problems whatsoever. The greyscale test was delivered with no discolouration and an excellent blend along the scale without stepping. The uniformity test back light bleed test showed no blacklight leakage. We ran World of Warcraft and Doom 3. Warcraft is an excellent test for colour due to the rich environments and motion in the battle action. We had no problems at all during this test. Spinning the camera

around our character did not cause any ghosting or speed trails and particles/ visual effects were displayed with high detail. The enveloping darkness of Doom 3 is an excellent test for contrast and black levels and during our session we found no problems with either. There were no contrast issues to speak of and the blacks were accurate. The connection options are a little limited with only one DVI and one 15pin D-Sub. We would have liked to see two DVI ports on the 226BW, and even some component ports like the similarly priced Asus PW201. For gamers though, this is an excellent monitor. It’s fast, it has awesome colour and the

THE 226BW LOOKS impressive with a classy all black finish and a thin frame.

piano black design will suit the need for all things fancy. It will also work brilliantly for office tasks, but the response time and the 8 bit colour processing means the 226BW is targeted squarely at the gaming crowd. —Dave Jansen

Leadtek Renders Quality Video
T V T U N E R

a TV tuner can bring a PC to within touching distance of a complete entertainment center. We are seeing an increasing number of tuners based on high quality chipsets which is a pleasant change from the budget ones the market had just a couple of years back. The Leadtek Winfast TV2000 XP

Global that we received for review is based on the competent Conexant CX23883 chipset that offers very good video quality. First, the good part – the performance is amongst the best that we have seen from TV tuners so far. There are no signs of vertical or diagonal lines that some tuners tend to produce. Similarly, the picture was devoid of any noise and made for clear viewing. Colour contrast was high, making the picture look rich on our Lacie 319 reference moni t o r. So u n d had minimal

S-VIDEO AND COMPOSITE inputs add versitality to the TV2000 XP Global.

hiss and ably complimented the video. A TV tuner’s usability is dictated by the software it comes with (unless you are adept at using a generic capture software like DScaler). This is where the tuner is a let down. The buttons in the bundled WinFast PVR software are too small and unintuitive while the various options under configuration are also difficult to figure out. A simpler and well laid out interface would have been appreciated by many users. Other small issues like lack of a slider to fine-tune a channel only add to the irritation. This tuner requires a fine-tune (the auto-fine-tune is not effective) and the lack of a slider with a large preview

window will have you do a lot of trial and error before hitting the right frequency. On the functionality front, the TV2000 XP Global has several media center goodies – time-shifting (pausing live TV), recording to hard disk in various formats, scheduling a recording, picture-in-picture, direct burn to DVD, remote control, etc. justifies its higher cost over lower end models, but you may need to live with a PVR software that isn’t quite the friendliest around. —Kailas Shastry

Winfast TV2000 XP Global
Leadtek PCW Rating 78 Good Good performance, features, includes FM as well. But software is a let down. Price: Rs. 2,450

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Secure Storage from WeP
S TO R AG E

it needs no telling just how convenient a pen drive can be, but a major concern associated with them is that of data contained in them falling into wrong hands in event of the drive being stolen or misplaced. Most pen drives today come with a password security feature that allows access only upon a entering a pass-

When it comes to reading and writing data, this WeP ‘s performance is slightly above average – you should not face any unreasonable delays in copying data to and from this drive. In Everest 2006 Ultimate’s drive benchmark test, linear read and write speeds were 9.8 MBps and 5.8 MBps respectively. In comparison, the fastest drive we tested thus

word. This drive from WeP takes security a step forward with a fingerprint sensor. You have the option of either keying in the password or by simply moving your finger across the sensor. The advantage of this system are many – you don’t need to type a password every time you use it to ferry data across, for instance. In the event of lending the drive to someone, you can just share the password that will ‘open up’ the drive. This luxury comes at a price though – the 512MB version that we reviewed costs about thrice as much as other 512MB drives that have a passwordonly security. Fingerprint Lock
WeP PCW Rating 74 Good Useful fingerprint security feature comes at a high price. Price: Rs. 1,500

far, the Kingston Data Traveler Secure managed 15 MBps and 7.8 MBps – about 50% faster. The linear and random read speeds are 16.9 and 18.6 MBps, slower by a similar 50% when compared to the fast Kingston. Manually copying data to the WeP saw speeds of about 7 MBps – thus, filling the drive to its usable 480MB takes about a minute and 10 seconds. The fit and finish of the drive is excellent and its classy white exterior lends it a corporate worthy feel. For the fingerprint scanner and the excellent fit and finish along with acceptable speeds, you do need to pay a premium for this drive – Rs.1,500. If the features appeal to you and you wish to get this drive, we strongly suggest the 1GB (Rs 2,200) version which offers much higher value per GB. The 2 GB version is priced at about Rs 3,250. —Kailas Shastry
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BY SOHAM RANINGA
P H O T O G R A P H Y : S R I VA S T A S H A N D I LYA I M A G I N G B Y U N N I K R I S H N A N AV

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Flash based MP3 players have come a long way from being plain music players. With boosted storage capacities these devices are filled to the brim with features and style that will make you want them bad!
An MP3 player has almost become a must-have gadget. With rising commuting times and frequent travelling, MP3 player is the perfect device to liven up your mood when stuck in a traffic jam by tuning into those favorite tracks or listening to the Radio. If you are in need of a compact, sturdy and zippy music player, a flash memory based MP3 player is the perfect choice.

MUSIC IN A FLASH
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M P 3 PLAY ERS

possibly can in these tiny devices. The i-Audio D2 is the very latest from the Cowon stable and is on the bleeding edge of MP3 players with an excellent high resolution 16 million 2.5-inch touch sensitive color screen that can play Best video clips at 30 FPS BUY (Frames Per Second). The D2 also comes with an image viewer; photos look great on the vibrant screen. CREATIVE ZEN V PLUS COMES ON top as the Best While it claims to support Buy, thanks to the excellent sound quality and useful line-in and video-out features like the line-in recording option that records functionality, one needs to audio from any source to the player. purchase the cables separately to use these features. At its price point, falls short in the features department the cables and add-ons should be with no FM radio, line-in or video playbundled with the player to make the back support. The bright 1.5-inch LCD package complete. With a built-in SD display along with a photo viewer and card slot, D2 allows users to add some bundled games try to make-up for additional storage, just pop-in a 4GB the otherwise scanty features list. SD card and you will have 6GB of The Sony NW S205 is one of the most storage at your disposal. FEATURES GALORE! unique MP3 players in the compariOur best buy winner, the Creative Zen son. Its built-in “Calorie Counter” V Plus is equally puffed up with a long with Fl ash based MP3 players, allows you to see how many calories list of features. The vibrant scratch manufacturers are on a rampage, you’ve burned based on your weight resistant 1.5-inch OLED display is very squeezing in as many features as they and length of workout. Going a step easy on the eyes. The Line-in further the “Music Pacer” feature crerecording feature along with ates running and walking playlists the ability to listen and record which the player will automatically play FM simultaneously will please based on whether you are running or all radio fans. Creative sweetwalking. With just a single line OLED ens the deal with a bundled display, the NW S205 from Sony won’t universal charging adapter, display photos or play videos like the ensuring you are not restricted rest of the players in the comparison. to USB as the only From a music player perspective, the mode of charging. NW-S205F provides only an FM radio The Cowon i-Audio as an extra apart from the MP3 playU3 is almost ditto back support. to the Creative Zen The Sansa E250 from Sandisk also V Plus in the feadeserves a mention for its FM playback tures department and recording feature along with SDexcept for the fact Card slot for memory expandability. The that the U3 comes 1.8-inch color screen on the E250 supwith a much smallTHE COWON IAUDIO D2’s unique mix of features include touch ports video and photo playback but the er screen and isn’t as screen controls, SD card slot to upgrade storage and the ability to screen quality is not conducive to video bright as the Zen V play 30FPS video on the brilliant 2.5-inch screen. or photo playback. All the three Samsung Plus. The iPod Nano They are rugged, compact and very responsive unlike the hard drive based MP3 players that are more suited for higher storage needs and video playback. We put ten 2GB flash-based MP3 players from brands like Apple, Creative, iAudio, Sony, Samsung, Philips and Sandisk to the test, separating the winners from the losers. 2GB of storage lets you store about 500 songs in MP3 format. Most of the MP3 players we received came with color screens and offered video playback and photo viewing possibilities. While video playback is a handy feature to have, it does not go well with flash based MP3 players because of their limited storage capacities and smaller screens. Besides, none of the players in the comparison can play those video files out of the box, you need to convert them to specific compressed format in order to play them. Thus, when opting for a flash based MP3 player, the core areas of consideration should be sound quality, design and usability and the audio features it offers.

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M P 3 P LAY ER S

players are unique by themselves; the YP-K3 and the YP-K5 offer touch sensitive controls backed by bright OLED displays. In the extras department the YPK3 has a FM radio and a photo viewer while the YP-K5 comes with built-in speakers. The speakers are loud and clear and serve their purpose well.
F E AT U R E S C O M PA R I S O N

DO THEY SOUND AS GOOD?

All these features and extras in a music player stand for nothing if the player does not sound good. Ultimately the sound quality is the single most important factor for MP3 players and that’s where we were able to separate the chalk from cheese.

The Creative Zen V Plus, the i-Audio U3 and D2 along with the Sony NW-S205 top our charts for sound quality. The i-Audio players offer a clean sound and their strength lies in their ability to deliver accurate and distortion free sound at maximum volume levels, thanks to their 95db SNR (signal to noise) ratio. The Creative

Feature Rich MP3 Players Offer Great Sound Quality
THE ZEN V Plus from Creative bags the first spot with the D2 and U3 from iAudio not too far behind.
MP3 PLAYER
PCW Score Features and Specifications • Built-in Capacity: 2 GB • Screen Size (inches): 1.5 • Line-in Recording: Yes • FM Tuner: Yes • Video Support: Yes • Photo Support: Yes Performance • Sound Quality: Excellent • Usability and Design: Very Good • Screen Quality: Good • Ear Phones Quality: Excellent • Sound Quality: Excellent • Usability and Design: Good • Screen Quality: Excellent • Ear Phones Quality: Excellent • Sound Quality: Excellent • Usability and Design: Good • Screen Quality: Good • Ear Phones Quality: Excellent • Sound Quality: Very Good • Usability and Design: Excellent • Screen Quality: Excellent • Ear Phones Quality: Average • Sound Quality: Excellent • Usability and Design: Average • Screen Quality: Average • Ear Phones Quality: Excellent • Sound Quality: Average • Usability and Design: Good • Screen Quality: Average • Ear Phones Quality: Poor • Sound Quality: Good • Usability and Design: Good • Screen Quality: Good • Ear Phones Quality: Average • Sound Quality: Good • Usability and Design: Good • Screen Quality: Average • Ear Phones Quality: Average • Sound Quality: Good • Usability and Design: Average • Screen Quality: Good • Ear Phones Quality: Average • Sound Quality: Very Good • Usability and Design: Good • Screen Quality: Good • Ear Phones Quality: Good Bottom line With excellent sound quality and friendly interface, creative manages to offer tons of features in this tiny device.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Creative Zen V Plus
Best Rs. 8,600 BUY

82
Very Good

Cowon iAudio D2
Rs. 12,500

81
Very Good

• FM Tuner: Yes • Built-in Capacity: 2 GB • Screen Size (inches): 2.5 • Video Support: Yes • Photo Support: Yes • Line-in Recording: Yes

The D2 impresses with innovative touch screen controls and prestine sound quality along with superb video playback and stellar battery life. A no-mess player with features and sound quality on its side, U3 is the most compact of all MP3 players in the comparison. While the classic scroll wheel controls ensures seamless operation, the Nano skimps on features and offers average quality ear phones.

Cowon iAudio U3
Rs. 12,501

80
Very Good

• Built-in Capacity: 2 GB • Screen Size (inches): 1 • Line-in Recording: Yes

• FM Tuner: Yes • Video Support: Yes • Photo Support: Yes

Apple iPod Nano
Rs. 7,800

76
Good

• Built-in Capacity: 2 GB • Screen Size (inches): 1.5 • Line-in Recording: No

• FM Tuner: No • Video Support: No • Photo Support: Yes

Sony NW S205F
Rs. 10,990

74
Good

• Built-in Capacity: 2 GB • Screen Size (inches): 1 • Line-in Recording: No

• FM Tuner: Yes • Video Support: No • Photo Support: No

The NW 205 sounds great but will only appeal to fitness enthusiasts and the high price is a deterent as well.

PHILIPS SA3125
Rs. 4,999

73
Good

• Built-in Capacity: 2 GB • Screen Size (inches): 1.5 • Line-in Recording: No

• FM Tuner: Yes • Video Support: Yes • Photo Support: Yes

Priced almost half of the rest of the players in the comparison, the Philips is a budget offering. We wish it could offer better sound quality. The touch panel in K3 can be tricky to operate. The smooth surface is scratch prone and the supplied ear buds don’t do justice to the player. In an attempt to cramp maximum features, the E250 ends up with an average screen and an awkward navigation system.

Samsung YP-K3
Rs. 9,000

72
Good

• Built-in Capacity: 2 GB • Screen Size (inches): 1.8 • Line-in Recording: No

• FM Tuner: Yes • Video Support: No • Photo Support: Yes

Sandisk Sansa E250
Rs. 8,200

71
Good

• Built-in Capacity: 2 GB • Screen Size (inches): 1.8 • Line-in Recording: No

• FM Tuner: Yes • Video Support: Yes • Photo Support: Yes

Samsung YP-T9
Rs. 12,500

70
Good

• Built-in Capacity: 2 GB • FM Tuner: Yes • Screen Size (inches): 1.8 • Video Support: Yes • Line-in Recording: No • Photo Support: Yes

Cramed with features, the YP-T9 is sluggish in operation and is rather expensive for a 2GB MP3 payer.

Samsung YP-K5
Rs. 14,500

69
Fair

• Built-in Capacity: 2 GB • Screen Size (inches): 1.7 • Line-in Recording: No

• FM Tuner: Yes • Video Support: No • Photo Support: Yes

It’s nice to have built-in speakers but the K5 is a bulky MP3 player with an equally heavy price tag.

CHART NOTE: All price mentioned are indicative as on 17/04/2007

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player with its equally impressive 92db SNR ratio sounds fuller with excellent bass response. Even with the volume cranked to max, the Zen V Plus maintained the sound quality with no crackling or distortion. The Sony NW-S205 is very much suitable to Rock and Pop music, with warm neutral sound, the NW –S205 is conducive for extended listening sessions. The Apple iPod Nano and Samsungs YP-K3, YP-K5 and YP-T9 can be clubbed together in the second spot for sound quality. The Nano is accurate in sound reproduction but at maximum volume level it fails to hold against the iAudio and Creative players. The Samsung players also offer above average sound quality but they are limited in their ability to proTHE SANSA E250 from duce extremely high or low freSandisk has a built-in SD card slot for boosting quencies accurately. The Sansa E250 storage capacity. from Sandisk is almost in the same league as the Samsung players but for the fact that the Sansa E250 shows signs of distortion beyond 90 percent volume level. The Philips SA3125 leaves us asking for more, with strictly average sound quality and very flat frequency
C O M PA R I S O N

response when compared to the rest of the lot. The sound enhancement and tweaking features such as preset equalizers and bass boost features can go a long way in customizing the output to suit your tastes and particular genres of music. The iAudio leads the pack with its list of presets along with the option of user customizable equalizer mode and some handy sound enhancement modes like bass boost, 3d surround and MP3 enhance.

WHILE THE CIRCULAR control pad on the i-Pod Nano is very responsive and effective; the i-Audio U3 employs the classic joy-stick based navigation that works very well in changing tracks and adjusting volume levels.

DESIGN AND USABILITY

after sound quality the next most important aspect to a music player is the usability factor. A music player which is simple, smart and responsive to use will serve the purpose better over players that give tons of options but are difficult to operate and use. The Apple iPod Nano is the undisputed king in the navigation department, thanks to the smooth one hand operation courtesy the popular two way circular scroll dial that is easy to master. Having said that, the player at times struggles to keep pace with the ultra

sensitive scroll dial, there is a clear lag when you moving multiple steps forward or backward. The Creative Zen V Plus also sports a simple navigation system with a four-way joystick that does its job well. The ability to change the screen orientation from portrait to landscape allows the user the freedom if using the device in more than one ways, giving the Zen V Plus and edge over the rest. The iAudio D2 with its touch screen approach does take some getting used to and the idea of tapping the screen everytime you need to skip a song is slightly cumbersome, an inline remote would make

STACKING THEM UP
WE LINED ALL 10 players starting from the chunky Samsung YP-K5 to the tiny iAudio U3
5 P-K GY UN MS SA 3 F 50 P-K O 205 E-2 AN GY SA WS UN DN AN MS PO YN 2 I -T KS SA ON YP PLE DIS 125 S AP NG SAN SA3 SU LUS AM IPS VP U3 S IL DIO ZEN PH VE IAU ATI ON CRE COW

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M P 3 PLAY ERS

the job so much simpler, not having to pull out the player from your pocket/bag just to skip a track or change the radio channel. The Philips SA3125 impressed with its no-nonsense approach, the buttons are tacky and responsive and the menus are straightforward, despite the small size of the player the navigation is smooth and accurate. Connectivity is also a major factor with MP3 players, the proprietary connectors on the Apple and Samsung players implies that one has to be extra careful not to misplace the cables. The rest of the players use mini-USB connectors which are standardized and the cables are easily available off the shelf. Transferring music/videos to the players can be daunting task, especially if the player does not provide UMS (Universal Mass Storage) support. While all the players allow you to drag and drop data on them, transferring media is not that straight forward. Apart from iAudio that allows you to drag and drop MP3 files to its music folder, the Creative, Samsung and Apple MP3 players require you to install their media applications that have to be used to transfer songs from your computer to the device. The Sony NW-S205 scores low on the usability aspect mainly due to the tiny buttons and the confusing controls. The twist mechanism in the player makes it easy to jump to the next song or skip songs but the rest of the features aren’t easily accessible while you “wear” the player.
LOOKS, BUILD AND BATTERY-LIFE

AC C E S S O R I E S

EAR PHONES MAKE A DIFFERENCE
THE CREATIVE ZEN V Plus and the i-Audio D2 and U3 provide excellent ear phones with the package, doing full justice to the fine output that the players are capable of. The Sony NW-S205F offers behind-the-ear earphones, they sound good but they might not be comfortable for everyone. The default earphones bundled with Apple i-Pod Nano, Philips SA3125 and Sandisk Sanse e250 produced rather mediocre sound quality, marring the overall listening experience.

with its ultra fast recharge times; it gives one hour of playback time with a three minute charge and takes less than 3o minutes for full charge. The Apple i-Pod Nano and Samsung YP-T9 and YP-K3 will hold enough juice on a single charge to last you for 10 days with about 2-hours of music every day. On the build quality front, the Sony, Apple and iAudio players are of the top draw while the Samsung players are scratch prone due to the shiny reflective surface. The Sandisk Sansa E250 has a metal back but the feel of the

front scroll wheel is not quite reassuring. The Creative Zen V Plus comes with a scratch resistant body and that makes up for the all plastic frame which seems a little weak against the other players. In the looks department, the iPod Nano is slim and looks sophisticated; both the iAudio players look geeky while the Creative Zen V Plus is looks cool and funky.
TAKE YOUR PICK

flash based MP3 players are lot more power efficient compared to the hard drive based MP3 players. The Cowon, Apple, Samsung and Sony players deserve a special mention for their battery performance. The i-Audio D2 player claims a stupendous 52 hour battery life for MP3 playback and a 10 hour back-up for video playback. In reality, on a single full charge the D2 lasted for five days with 5-6 hours of music/FM and about 3 hours of total video playback. The Sony NW-S205 with its 18-hour claimed battery life does not break any records but
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THE SONY NW-S205F is a wearable MP3 player that comes with an arm-band, allowing users to strap the player on themselves during those gym sessions.

while we have the Creative Zen V Plus as the overall Best Buy winner, we would also like to pick particular players from the list of ten that will appeal to distinct type of users. The iAudio D2 is the obvious choice for the gadget freak and the Sony NW-S205 is made for the fitness freak who end up spending two hours in the gym every day. The Apple iPod Nano will find fans among the brand, image and style conscious, it makes a style statement wherever you go. The Budget buyer should be happy with a simple and tothe-point Philips SA3125, priced at Rs 4,999, it’s a steal deal. The Creative Zen V Plus and iAudio U3 are meant for purists who demand nothing but the best music listening experience. The larger and brighter OLED screen and superior design of the Zen v Plus gives it an edge over the i-Audio U3.

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A Trillion Thanks!
rahul nanda – VP, Web Chutney Studios. An economics graduate fortified with an MBA, Rahul is a techie at heart. He has over a decade of path-breaking experience in the ecommerce and new media domains.

PC World thanks our distinguished and eminent jury members who wholeheartedly gave us their time, experience and trenchant views, thereby making these awards possible.

krishna kumar – AVP Delivery, GCI Solutions With over two decades in the software space post an MBA from IIMA, Krishna Kumar is responsible for delivery of key projects for GCI, formerly known as Planetasia.

GV sreekumar – Associate Professor, Industrial Design Centre, IIT Mumbai. Prof. Sreekumar is an acknowledged teacher and practioner in the fields of visual design, typography and information graphics as well publication D . i n design. 55 w asw . P C w O R L& magazinem a y 2 0 0 7 w

sriniVas katta - GM & CTO, Changepond Technologies An IIT engineer, IIM Lucknow, Srinivas excels in new technology adoption and architecting innovative customer solutions, for client mega-sites, including the FIFA World Cup and the A1 Grand Prix. CONTENT PAGE

Vinayak sinha – MD & CEO, Advent InfoSoft Vinayak founded Advent, which runs eIndiabusiness. com, a leading B2B marketplace for export-import, manufacturers and distributors. Advent boasts a base of over 3000 clients in a short period of seven years.

best in dian w ebsites anirudha joshi – Associate Professor. Industrial Design Centre, IIT Bombay. Prof. Joshi teaches and conducts research in human-computer interaction design. He brings a unique perspective to the jury given he is both an engineer and a PG in visual communication and design. shamit khemka – Founder & CEO, Synapse Communications The pioneer of the first BBS with e-mail services in India, Shamit has over 12 years’ experience in internet technology, management, software and professional development.

roshen chandren– CTO Plynt. Co-founder of Paladion/Plynt, Roshen is an author, software security practice evangelist, teacher, speaker; in short a security guru. Need we say more?

sujata keshaVan Guha – Co-Founder & MD, Ray + Keshavan Design. Sujata is the first Indian woman to obtain a post graduate degree in graphic design. Sujata has won several international awards for her work, and is a two-time Designer of the Year honoree by A&M.
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sudarshan dheer – Founder, Graphic Communication Concepts Design Studio. With more than three decades of experience, Sudarshan has won dozens of international design awards, and has published two books on design . He is an advisor, juror, speaker and lecturer in the global milieu.

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b est i n d i a n w e b s i t es

technology will dominate the future and the web is clearly one of its greatest manifestations. Forget the dotcom bust that many sceptics will remind you of The Web is going to become our way of life in India.
There are enough statistics to point to the rapid growth of the Internet in India – number of connections, e-mail accounts, transaction revenue – all very convincing. But who needs statistics? Just a quick look around will reveal how web is fast replacing traditional brick-n-mortar operations. Be it picking new stocks or new friends, finding a job or a bride, there’s a web way to things that is proving far more effective, and rewarding. Websites today are built with robust understanding of users and available technology. They purposefully pursue fulfilling the needs of their audience but are grounded in strong business reality. And hence, unlike the fairy-tail era gone by, this time round the web is geared to deliver all your needs. Yes, the web has answers for almost all your needs and the problem is one of being spoilt for choice. There are scores of websites wooing you with the same content or service. There are those who promise to be a one-stop-shop while others claim they are better because they are focused and specialised. As a user one is left wondering where to begin and typically end up with familiar sites or recommendations. Perhaps not the best way to reach the site. The best site should use technology to deliver solutions. Information should be presented intuitively and concisely. Design should aid the overall experience. And that is what our Best Indian Websites represent. In its first year, the award focuses on 20 prominent categories – products and services that are most useful today and are not based on fancy future roadmaps. The 126 nominees that we evaluate represent the best known names as
well as some not-so-famous-yet sites that our panel of experts believe do justice to their mission. The awards aim to capture the framework and user understanding that the site has – embodied in its design and
r at i n G

deployment of technology - rather than to rate its specific content, something that changes very dynamically and perhaps impossible to judge objectively. We’ve also stayed away from making popularity a criteria or viewing traffic reports to declare winners. The winners here are based on what our experts believe are the most promising and deserving sites and we hope you agree with the verdicts when you try them yourself.

HOW WE EVALUATED
Judging websites on design and technology usage required us to call in the experts. Our expert jury represent the very elite from the design and technology domain and have a collective experience of over 150 years. Besides design and the use of technology, PC World and other group publication editors (CIO and Channel World) rated the site as users to arrive at the overall winner. Our emphasis was more on technical aspects of the site development which meant that design and technology carried 40 points each, while user experience was 20 points adding up to a total of 100. The overall winner of a category was the site with the highest combined score on the three groups – design, technology and user experience. Design Score (40 points): Our design experts rated sites on two broad sub-levels - design and usability. Color, graphics, typography, visual appeal and consistency in design contributed to 25 points. Usability which took into account interactivity and customization to India added another 15 points to complete the total score of 40 points on design. In recognition of outstanding work done in this area, we have ranked the Best Designed website in each category.
Technology Score (40 points): Similarly, our technology experts rated sites on the basis of two broad sub-categories with 20 points each. One component, navigation, covered structure or framework of the site, interface and scope. The other, functionality, focussed on use of technology to enhance user experience, diversity, error handling and security. The site which scored the maximum on 40 points possible was adjudged the Best Technology website in each category. User Evaluation (20 points): Our editors, who represent actual users of these websites today scored the sites on content and overall experience. In content, they looked for scope, relevance, ability to find it easily (search) and layout. On the overall experience they considered navigation, interactivity and design as end-users would. Overall Winner: The user evaluation of 20 points was then added to the Design Score and the Technology Score to arrive at our overall winner. The highest score was crowned the Best Indian Website. In case of a tie the site with a higher technology score has been declared the winner. In case of a tie on design or technology scores, the vertical specific sites were given preference over the portals rewarding extra credit to their specialization in a particular field to arrive at our Design or Technology winner. Thankfully, we were not left with any tied scores to handle beyond that!

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Gaming
yahoo! games
There is nothing like taking some time off from work to look for gaming action online. No, we are not talking about Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing games or (MMORPGs) as they are called. What we are talking about here
are small arcade-style games that can either be played multiplayer in online mode or single player offline. In India, Yahoo! games has became quite a hit with youngsters, with games such as pool, Literati (a scrabble clone), Chess, and Reversi etc. Based on the Games.yahOO.COm PROviDes a good combination success and hit rates experiof design and content to emerge as the winner. enced by Yahoo, Reliance jumped onto the foray with Zapak. mention for providing a networking area, com. However, to say the least, where gamers can discuss games. A great Zapak failed to satisfy the jury. implementation. Funtoosh.com, on the Though the site has many games, other hand, sports a nice compilation of it scores low on the usability, navflash games that are really interesting. igation and functionality scale. But, Yahoo! games rules the roost with And besides functionality, why a great mix of free-to-use, shareware and on earth should a gaming site subscription games with a games news have trailers, recipes and fashsection. They could make the site even ion videos is totally baffling. more interesting by adding game reviews, Indiagames.com deserves a special said the jury.

Flowers and Gifts
fernsnpetals
Cards and gifts are a great way to communicate with loved ones across the country, or for that matter anywhere in the world. It is even possible to send flowers, cakes, sweets and gifts to friends and family at the click of a button. Dedicated websites and special sections on shopping portals allow you to communicate your feelings easily. Unlike many other sections where portals have emerged as winners in vertical niches, fernsnpetals.com bags the honors here. This click-and-mortar operator has a clean look that seduces the user into buying flowers. But the images on the site leave a lot to be desired. Being a florist website they could have made them more natural, rather than using Photoshop touchups. The site does offer a lot of user interactivity, employing chat options on MSN and Yahoo.
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does not provide any IndiThe other floritst player, an customization (in the Rajindra Florist, sports a form of special arrangesite a bit too busy for comment for festivals for fort. The site design is far instance). They could do from great without much with a better registration visual appeal. The site has “Fernsnpetals. and payment page. All a couple of good concepts com has a clean portals have tie-ups with like tailor-made orders, and decent look, local vendors to fulfill which however, are not you feel like buy- orders. Though this procimplemented correctly. ess may work for them, There is much scope for ing flowers.” the quality fo flowers improvement. anirUDha JOshi deliverd cannot be guaranOf the shopping portals, teed. Even if you choose indiaplaza.in emerged as not to use the winner, use a specialist the main challenge to fernsnpetals. The who delivers in the desired location. site provides consistent information, but
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Best Design games.yahoo.com fernsnpetals.com Best Technology Usage games.yahoo.com fernsnpetals.com Overall Winner games.yahoo.com fernsnpetals.com

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Cricket
cricinfo

of the others come close to providing such comprehensive content, and in such a good packIndia's unofficial national sport age. Though the site could do rouses passions like few other issues. with a bit of less clutter. It is Almost everyone has an opinion on the phenomenally well game. And that has resultupdated, so much ed in websites being operso that at the time ated by everybody and his of testing it was neighbor in this category. already ready to On one hand you have CRiCinFO FeatuRes a section where a live 3show the next television channels such Dimentional rendering of the current game is available match. It also feaas ESPN STAR; on the tures a unique way of filterother you have the specialIndian as well as foreign audiences. Kudos ing commentary by playists — Cricinfo and Crickto them for a great job done. “Cricinfo.com is ers, and does the same et next. Newspapers and None of the other cricket websites manthing for player stats. portals are also not far aged to impress the judges. They were very good in To take this to the next level behind with Rediff, India- terms of content, either out of date, as in the case of Cric Crickinfo also features a new times, Hindustan Times or have poor navigation, data, live 3-D rendering of the cur- Buzz,as was the casenavigation and planand Express India putting ning with cricket next. rent game. Here, 3-Dimentogether verticals on their site structure and As for the others such as Indiatimes planning.” sional characters depict the respective websites. and Express India, they seemed to be happenings on the cricket In terms of design, ESPN treating cricket as a necessary evil rather field graphically. Though it vinayak sinha STAR bagged the honors. than adopting a focused approach would be akin to watching a The site provides excellent towards the vertical. They do have news cricket computer game, it adds the exciteinfographics within the live scorecard, and analysis of games, but no in-depth ment, without stretching your bandwidth though take a bit of time to load. It also information is available to enhance requirements. It is also well customized for has an excellent flash-based cricket centhe experience. tre. The site design itself has good color balance and visual appeal. Having said that, the one site that stands out of the crowd is Cricinfo. None

shopping
futurebazaar

Classifieds
though classifieds did not feature in our awards as a category, predominantly because it has not peaked yet. But, it is one of the most important sectors that may make a transition to the online world a lot faster. there is already a no nonsense site called craigslist for classifieds around the world with a secion on india. But, we also have some homegrown classified websites that are trying to make a mark. some of these sites includes rediff classifieds, oneindia.com, indialisted.com and sulekha.com.

During the dot com boom and bust, shopping was touted as one of the major drivers of e-commerce growth. As it turned out, the concept was a bit ahead for its time. With the Internet coming of age in the recent time, and increased trust in online transactions, this category has found many more takers. The jury evaluated Rediff, Indiatimes, Sify, ebay, Indiaplaza, Chennai Bazaar, Future Bazaar and India Mall. Though Ebay is predominantly perceived as an auction site, it was included in the comparison because most of the trades that are posted on the site are for new products. This was one of the few categories where
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we saw very keen competition with different winners for design, technology and overall performance. Future Bazaar took

FutuRebazaaR wOn On the design front and provides good shopping experience.

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gmail

e-mail

ag g r e g at o r s

The have-it-alls
there are portals, there are verticals and then there are search engines. But, out of all of these, there is a new category of sites that are emerging in the horizon. these are called the aggregators. they are helpful in finding information on a particular vertical. generally this vertical has a lot of competition and these aggregators enable you to choose from this competition easily. in india they are not too common yet, but they are getting there. there are a couple that you may want to try out, bixee.com and zoomtra.com. Bixee.com searches through various job sites for openings matching your criteria. on the other hand, zoomtra.com makes your search for the lowest airfare easier. it would search through all the major websites for you. yes, it could be a bit slower than a standalone site but its quite helpful.

There were days when Hotmail was the only free specialty e-mail service on the block. Yahoo and AOL moved in later to provide it some stiff competition. Our home grown services like Rediff and Sify also have a loyal fan following, but are still not too high on the popularity charts. We evaluated Indiatimes, Yahoo India, Sify, Rediff, Epatra, MSN India and Gmail in this category. In the past few months, the interfaces of some old websites have gone in for a huge makeover. Instead of using the age-old HTML most now use Web 2.0 technologies enabling interfaces similar to desktop e-mail clients. Some of these features like emails, conversations or web page shortcuts. were first introduced by google. The others have followed up with more dynamic features such as multiple selections, drag and drop functionality and right clicks. The Jury found MSN LIVE, with its new interface, to be visually appealing. Its design is quite sophisticated and refreshing. The usage of refined gradients & fine thin lines give a good feel to the user interface. It scored the highest in our design rankings, countering popular belief. Yahoo Mail, on the other hand, boasts of a good overall interface with new features to hook the user. Google was ranked much lower in design because of its aging interface, compared to the other contenders in the category. But it certainly wins overall because of the sheer number of features it has. “Gmail.com has a great Epatra.com offers number of features, but good features like the interface is not very vernacular e-mails but the one-off feauser friendly.” tures did not get them even close to the winners. rahUl nanDa

the top spot on the design front. Though this site sells a limited range of products it has a decent, no-nonsense approach, while providing a good shopping experience. Ebay, wins on the tech side of things. It provides diversity in functionality, good user tools and an intelligent error handling system. Overall, we found futurebazaar.com to the be the winner. It does not feature at the top on technology, but performed consistently across parameters to come up numero uno. In terms of design and functionality the site is well planned. The look is clean and un-cluttered, while supporting good user interaction. The product comparator is however, difficult to use. Long time veterans Rediff, Indiatimes

and Sify were more than OK in their performance, and trailed very close behind future bazaar. Once again, we see a case of a new website(futurebazaar.com) winning because of better technology adoption. The incumbents need to take notice of this and re-invent themselves inorder to come upto steam with the winners.

the perils of using these services are that sometimes the information being fed to these sites may not be current and you may get stale results. or, in some cases you may not even come to know of any special deals or promotions on the sites that the aggregator searches through.

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Design espnstar.com futurebazaar.com hotmail.com Technology usage cricinfo.com ebay.co.in yahoo.com Overall PerfOrmanCe cricinfo.com futurebazaar.com gmail.com

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Real estate
india property
The click-and-mortar approach to a brick-and-mortar business is becoming increasingly the way online realty is heading. With real estate prices shooting up like never before, online real estate businesses are spreading slowly, overlapping with the services offered by your friendly neighborhood broker. India Properties, Magic Bricks, 99 Acres, India P r o p e r t y, came up for our scrutiny. It's love at first site with India Property, and India Properties (yes, these are two different portals). While India Property has a large number of interactive options, India Properties has very attractive colors, good layout and informative graphics. The pleasant blue-ish feel of India Property lends
itself to a nice surfing experience while the good background picture makes it visually very appealing. At India Properties, the large number of categories make it easy to locate precise information. Besides this, the testimonials and other interactive tools also make it a good site. When it comes to navigation, users found India Property to have an advantage over its closest competitor. Its structure/ framework, interface and functionality are better geared to user comfort. Also, the use of technolog y t o enhance user experience, and security are better in India Property.com. It was therefore really not surprising, given its appealing, fresh colors, highquality graphics that make the layout so appealing, and the in-depth and informative content that India Property stayed ahead in our ranking.

on lin e gaming

second life
if you are a pessimist you may even call it escapism, or you may also perceive it as good clean way to have something you never had in the real world. and, if you don’t already know about second life, you can already consider yourself a part of the stone age. it is a virtual community built and managed entirely by more than 5 million inhabitants. if you have seen the matrix, its very similar to that, just without as much realism. you are an avatar inside this world and trade in real money, as you would trade in the real world. the currency, linden dollars, can be converted to and from us dollars. the seriousness of the 'game' can be judged from the fact that the management institute iNsead is already in the process of opening its institute inside, and reuters already employs a full time reporter there.

technology
tech2
Of all the technology websites, tech2. com emerged as the clear winner. It sports a clean and easy-to-use design with a smart color palette to attract the target audience. The dark background of the site enables it to maintain focus on the right areas while infusing a fresh feel to the site. Besides this, the addition of video in collaboration with CNBC-TV18 adds a new dimension to the website and moves it to a different paradigm altogether. However, the site also does not come without its own set of problems; the Google ads on all pages creates a lot of confusion and
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is distracting whilst reading content. Also, the videos page does not allow users to comment and discuss videos.

teCh2.COm emeRGes as the winner because of current content, videos and a refreshing feel.

Techtree.com was one of the fore-runners in this category , but has not leveraged technology adequately to enhance the user experience. It sports a very average interface, which proves quite difficult to find a specific product, even though they have used tag clouds in places. CIOL. com on the other hand, is quite comprehensive when it comes to certain categories but does not span across horizontally. ZDNet India has a clean interface and is easy to navigate. The light colors on the website are soothing to the eye and makes the website very readable. On the content side however, this website falls short, as it is nowhere as comprehensive as tech2.

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Portals
yahoo
Everything that used to be on terra firma a few decades ago is now done better online. There are a huge number of portals that make up the world that we inhabit in cyberspace. Among them, Yahoo!, MSN, Sify, Indya, Indiatimes and Rediff are unarguably the most- visited Indian portals. In terms of design and usability Yahoo! tops the charts. The color palette, graphics and layout of the portal is the best. The subtle blue gradient and the good pixel iconography results in great aesthetic appeal. In addition, its interactivity and the degree of customization for the Indian audience are also better than most websites. The interface and layout utilize the available space just right. On the technology side too, Yahoo! takes the top spot, using the latest technologies such as AJAX to ensure that user has a desktop- like interface. This provides the kind of personalization that instantly puts the user at ease. Yahoo!’s navigation is also good, and despite the great diversity of its content there is extremely effective utilization of space. However, when it comes to quality, relevance and scope of content, Rediff beats Yahoo! to the finish line. The coverage, content quality as well as layout get full marks. It has, very good coverage for a portal. Its layout is also consistent, and there is no overlap or structural confusion. On the other hand, the one portal that disappoints, especially in terms of design, is MSN India. First-off, the single color
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palette is extremely boring, most other sites on almost and the video advertisement all counts. Providing a wide on the homepag edoes not range of distinct features serve much purpose, except such as Yahoo Go!, the to irritate the user. desktop feel and the mesOn content organization senger toolbar, while incor“Clean, efficient, porating the latest technolside, every section in MSN user-friendly has a box on the homepogies around, enhaces the design. Yahoo. age, which makes it look user experience, and makes quite cluttered. Indiatimes co.in does a very it a winner. is also not too far away Localization and persongood job in prefrom MSN where clutter is alization add toYahoo!’s dissenting so much tinctiveness. Close on its concerned. It could do with content in a lim- heels, however are Rediff a better structure leading ited space.” to a more intuitive user and Indiya.com. The latter e x p e r i e n c e . C l a s s i e r, is somewhat unique on sUJaTa keshavan brighter colors could also account of its animated give this portal a new life. graphics that stand out Not surprisingly, Yahoo heads the lineonsite as do the headlines of the day, givup, with the jury finding it superior to ing a very unique touch to the portal.

Job sites
monsterindia
Its hard to imagine how people got jobs before these sites showed up. With the economy booming and HR managers trying hard to curb attrition rates these sites have become a one-stop resource for employers, job seekers and job consultants alike. The job-site wars sparked-off by Naukri.com and Jobsahead, and were fanned to a blaze by the entry of Monster India. And now we have a couple of new promising contenders in Job Street, Click Jobs, and Times Jobs. From the design point of view, clickjobs stood out of the crowd because of its clutterfree interface. The site design is quite subtle in keeping with the demands of the category, and does not come off as loud and noisy. The use of shading on the site is also quite inspiring and pleasing to the eye. All these websites extensively use Web 2.0 functionality. Clickjobs gives you chat -enhanced search. Naukri.com, has tag clouds which make it very informative. Monster.com has one of the best search tools using a single search box. It also has a well integrated and organized registration and application process. It also has an absolutely clutter-free homepage that is pleasing to the eye and easy to use. All these features make Monster India the choTechnology usage Overall Winner sen one based on our test results. indiaproperty.com indiaproperty.com In conrtast, the timesjobs.com interface tech2.com tech2.com is quite cluttered . Value-adds like ‘Career Services’ are hidden and not comprehenyahoo.co.in yahoo.co.in sive. It does have its good parts with Ascent monsterindia.com monsterindia.com Job Postings standing out as an example.
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social networking
orkut
In today’s 36-plus hour workdays, meeting up with friends is usually possible only due to the benign powers of your computer and the magnanimity of the world wide web. Moreover, social networking today is not only about reaching out with the proverbial human touch but also about getting and staying connected, for a variety of purposes, be they family, friends or work. We evaluated Mingle Box, Yaari, Sulekha, Rediff, MSN Spaces, Yahoo India and Orkut in this category. At first look, Yaari.com has the best visual appeal. The colors, graphics, consistency and typography make it the bestdesigned site in the domain. It also takes the cake for user interactivity and it is
praiseworthy for its customization to suit the Indian audience. Orkut however, has been voted as the best of the lot. Though it is a global site, there are hordes of Indians using it, making it one of the most popular social networking sites. In terms of user experience it is the easiest to navigate, with its straight forward, uncomplicated and clean interface. However, it may not be the best bet for those looking for business networking. It could also do with brighter colors. Orkut also faces some charges of unsuitability for an increasingly younger audience. There are special sites now that cater to younger audience; one such is Minglebox.com that focuses mainly on teenagers. On the other hand, sites like kincafe. com are positioned for family networking, incorporating features such as photo albums and family trees. And then you have techTribe, which is a professional networking site, one that promotes entrepreneurship in addition to networking.

more than Orkut
m i N g l e B ox i s oNe of the new sites that has come up to suit the indian customers need in more ways than one. the site specifically caters to the youth in india, and suitably shows that on the home page also. has sections on blogs, groups, pictures and video; while still being in alpha. hopefully the site would come around to being as engrossing if not better than its international counterparts. KiNKafe.com, oN the other hand, brings about another concept altogether. it is a family networking site. a phenomenally good idea to keep families together in this age of increasingly nuclear culture. it offers features like family albums that supports pictures of different sizes and even a family tree, that you can easily grow horizontally and vertically. this is as interesting as it can get.

Members are encouraged to propose and discuss business start-up ideas, which could be funded by techTribe . Though we have not evaluated these sites, they do deserve a special mention here. MSN Spaces is predominantly focused on blogs. It uses webparts while creating spaces, using rich text editors which impart an extremely user-friendly and intuitive touch. However, the site provides the option of creating your own page within the space, something that actually creates a lot of clutter. Also, as is the case with Yahoo, MSN Spaces is not really an appropriate platform for social networking. Among the sites we studied, Yahoo India scored best on relevance of content, layout and search options available.

news
ibnlive
Is this an exciting space or what? Be it newspapers, TV companies, Internet giants or portals, everybody wants a slice of the online news pie. While for some it’s their bread and butter, for others it’s a necessary evil. And this can be seen from the various kinds of news site implementations on the Internet. Starting with the Indian portals, both Sify and Rediff provide enough and more content than a user can handle. Though Sify could do with a little less clutter, Rediff scores better on account of its increased user interactivity. Amongst the TV channel-owned sites we evaluated IBN Live and NDTV.com. Both
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offered almost identical features and scored much the same. Though NDTV stands out for its superior user interactivity, the clean design and good technology usage of IBN Live won the top spot amongst all news websites. Being one of the pioneers of videos on

ibnLive tOOk the top spot in news websites with a clean design and good technology

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web 2.0

youTube, flickr, Wikipedia killers
hitwise has tapped the six web 2.0 companies most likely to reach the soaring success of youtube, wikipedia or flickr. the list includes: yelp offers an online guide that allows users to rate various goods and services. stumbleupon allows users to recommend web sites to others with common interests. Veoh provides software to allow users to collect, publish and watch high definition videos. weeworld allows users to create a graphic alter ego to be used for online or mobile communications. imeem is an online community to allow users to promote their content, blogs, music, photos and videos. piczo is a site that allows users -- it targets teenagers -- to create their own customizable web sites.

astrology
sify
Hurtling top speed into the twenty-fifth century has not deterred mankind from charting the stars in order to foretell the future. The ubiquitous astrologer now comes packaged as a website that does all the necessary jobs, sometimes for a fee. Whilst almost every portal has an astrology “Sify.com has channel, there are a few pure-play astrology sites. Amongst good navigation... the sites our panel evaluated was Vedic Astrology Prediction, however the Astro Yogi, Sify, Cyber Astro and Astrology India. content is too Vedic Astrology prediction eclipsed others by its simple, focussed on clean design, relevant colors (a soothing blue), best visual "forecasting". ” appeal and consistency of presentation with a robust type style. However, the site comes across as being too nonmoving with too many static pages. In addition, the lack krishna kUmar Tk of interactivity makes it dull for the user. Astrology India ranked alongside this site for interactivity and local customization. In things as traditional as astrology, the Indian colors on the site impart a good feel to the whole visual experience. When it came to the navigation and interface structure, Sify’s astrology portal was judged as the best. This portal also boasts of the best use of technology to enhance the user experience, error handling and security options. This site also has the highest level of security when it comes to payment by credit card, and with the SSL option provided. Sify’s astrology portal and Cyber Astro both have very comprehensive as well as relevant content which is elegantly laid out Sify comes across as a very interactive site that allows interface with experts but it focuses too much on content. In the long run, this may create credibility problems for the site. With all these parameters in play, Sify beats Cyber Astro by a hair’s breadth to emerge as the winner in this category.

a website, it enjoys a large fan following. Even so, it could do with better implementation of its user comment handling. Though both the Hindustan Times and The Times of India sites provide great content, neither provides adequate support for user opinion or contribution. In this mad race for grabbing the reader, the old ladies of news appear to be laggards. Having said that, and despite its shortcomings, on account of strong site structure, effective interface and its ability to target a diverse variety of users, HT got the top honors in application of tech segment. The other newspaper site evaluated was Indian Express. It was one of the first newspaper sites to be launched, but has not kept up with the times. The content is

still fragmented and the site leaves a lot to be desired. Finally, moving to the pure-Internet giants, MSN and Yahoo come out as just about average in performance. It almost feels that they are in the news space more as a necessary evil rather than out a desire to provide news. Although Google is not in the news
winners

segment, being an aggregator it deserves a special mention. The site provides a lot of room for customization of news and alerts. You can individualize alerts and webpage based on the product, service or keyword that you may want to track. If you are not particularly attached or hooked to any of the other news sites, then Google News is the best way to go.

Best indian weBsites
category
Design yaari.com ibnlive.com vedicastrologyprediction.com Technology usage orkut.com hindustantimes.com sify.com Overall PerfOrmanCe orkut.com ibnlive.com sify.com

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travel
cleartrip

Web 2.0 - a Definition

weB 2.0 could be a meaningless marketing buzzword or it We tested six of may represent a whole new paradigm for the internet. But, these sites. Yatra. it’s never really been adequately defined. com emerged as With the rise of modern India, young accordiNg to tim o'reilly, "web 2.0 is the business revoluthe numero uno people want to step out and travel around tion in the computer industry caused by the move to the from design point to see the world. What this means is a internet as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules of view. The site is a humungous business case for travelfor success on that new platform." great combination related websites, evidenced by the numBut tech expert Berners-lee says, “web 2.0 is of course a of features, design ber of them that have mushroomed piece of jargon, nobody even knows what it means. if web 2.0 and technology, across the web. These are no longer mere for you is blogs and wikis, then that is people to people. But providing a great ticket booking sites that offer you the best that was what the web was supposed to be all along.” user experience, fares; they now provide comprehensive while efficiently information about the best holiday destiaccomplishing the job at hand. The colors, nations, hotel ratings and bookings, travbe a winner when it does what it is supgraphics and visual appeal of the site are eler blogs, pod casts, and almost anything posed to and does that really well. clearly miles ahead of the others. The only else that helps make your travel simpler. We observed web 2.0 implementations in grouse that we had was the lack of most of these sites, as also a focus on user a SSL login, though the payment generated content. NDTV travels in particgateway of the site is secure. ular has a lot of user generated content in Cleartrip was the overall winner the form of reviews and travelogue. Make with its simple My Trip offers pod cast travelogues. At first and clear strucglance these appear to provide a lot of info ture, good error on various topics, but the content could be handling and a quite biased. It appears that travelers chose clear security to write only about extreme experiences, policy. It is all either when overly impressed or totally disthe other sites sans the frills, and appointed. Our advice is to tread carefully therefore great functionality. It is when you look at such reviews, and try and CLeaRtRiP.COm emeRGeD as the winner because a good example of how a site can filter out the bias, if any. of its clear security policy and simple structure

matrimony
bharatmatrimony
Matrimonial sites on the web today make us wonder how anyone got married before these sites bought potential soul mates together! Their deep and expansive reach outdoes ways of finding a match. Amongst the clutter, there are a few that stand out. We evaluated Shaadi.com, Matrimonial India, Jeevansathi, Bharat Matrimony, SimplyMarry (Times), and Rediff. In terms of design, Shaadi.com was the most popular. Great design and layout, good blogs, Q&A, video and photo gallery along with interesting links provide great value addition to this site. Fresh, appealing colors, interesting graphics and convenient
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layout reinforce visual appeal. However, at times, Shaadi’s pages appear to be somewhat cluttered. Equally positioned, Bharat Matrimony also uses pictures extensively making the site visually attractive, adding appeal to the layout. Every aspect of Indian marriages is special in more ways than one, and that includes the search for the bride or groom. Few websites understand these individual demands, and among ones that do, Times’ SimplyMarry was voted right alongside Shaadi. Shaadi is also very user friendly and has very useful links and options for

“Bharatmatrimony.com is visually attractive as the emphasis is more on the photographs and then the layouts which is appealing too.”
sUDarshan Dheer

more effective search functionality. Bharat Matrimony boasts of the best navigability, in terms of structure/ framework interface, scope and functionality. It comes across as simple and helpful, with useful data that aids navigation. Rediff was also rated as a very functional site, so these are obviously the most user friendly websites for choosing a life partner today. At the end of the day, Bharat Matrimony got the most votes for overall best website.

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bill Payment
well as a large number of services sometimes make it took a bit cluttered. But in select categories it has the potential to Life has never been cushier, now that be a winner. utilities, banks and other bills can be paid Bangalore One, though not a winner online. There are a number of websites deserves special mention. The way the site that make the dream of queue-less bill has been conceived is great. You can pay all payment come true. We picked up Visa kinds of bills and other dues on the website. Bill Pay, Bangalore One, Bill Junction, and Being backed up by service centers across Itzpay, and had a long hard look at which Bangalore, makes it of them make our a robust click-andlives the easiest. mortar story too. Visa Bill Pay offers A somewhat different bill payment option Though the site the best in terms of deserves a mention here. Though not totally holds out great promcolors, graphics, visuonline, Easybill has centres across India that ise, it is nevertheless al appeal, consistency allow you to pay a wide variety of bills witha bit too cluttered for and typography. It is out logging on to the Internet. It would be our liking and could useful only to a limitgreat to see them extend this service online. do with a facelift. At ed number of cusVisa Bill Pay appeared to be the best the risk of being overtomers, but its layout thOuGh visa biLLPay accepts only visa performer across all criteria, with a great optimistic, if Bangais clean and easy, and cards, it is the most comprehensive site interactive design, in-depth content and lore One could scale offers a range of paysmooth functionality, not to forget its to provide similar service on a pan-India ment options. It also tops for usability, extremely interactive interface. basis, it would be really great. interactivity and customization for Indian users. While finance or bill payment sites could be slightly confusing if the navigation and site maps are not clearly laid out, Visa Bill Pay takes good care of this aspect. Its structure and interface are very well designed, resulting in easy usage. It is also the widest in terms of scope, relevance and depth. Most definitely the site to go to News of any kind is extremely important, right? Everybody wants to know about if you are looking to pay your bills online. their favorite film or TV stars’ lives, marriages, love affairs, work, or light hearted gosHowever, in terms of sheer functionality sip. This content category usually forms a very important part of most portals , and and content, Bill Junction takes the cake. It thus in our shootout was considered a separate category. The last four contenders in is user-friendly, has loads of information the race were India FM, Indiatimes, Rediff and MSN. and even provides the option for payment Amongst the websites evaluated in this category Rediff.com came out on top. via SMS. The fact that it supports payment While India FM scored higher in the design department, surprisingly Rediff topped operations across a long list of cities as in the content department, ahead of all the others. This was suprising, as we expected that the specialist, niche players, India FM for one,would sail through this winners aspect of the shootout .Adding insult to injury, Rediff was also the winner in the usability tests, the site providing superiBest Design Best Technology usage Overall PerfOrmanCe category or interactivity. yatra.com cleartrip.com cleartrip.com travel Indiatimes, on the other hand, flattered shaadi.com bharatmatrimony.com bharatmatrimony.com matrimony to deceive and did not live up to the expectation. Yahoo got the most points for visabillpay.com visabillpay.com visabillpay.com bill payment being the best technology implementaindiafm.com yahoo.com rediff.com entertainment tion amongst the entertainment sites.

visabillpay

entertainment
rediff

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Photo Printing
structured interface. It edges ahead of Picsquare on account of its very interesting doodlepad application The advent of digital cameras has which lets you create interesting posed an uprecedented problem, how graphics that can be used on mugs does one get the photos taken printed?. If and t-shirts, that can be ordered off you date back to the time of Flintstones, the website. It lets you add borders, you may still want to wade through city graphics, multiple pictures and such traffic and give your photos to the neighlikes to your photographs. borhood photo-lab; alternatively, you The sites that really disappointed us were Kodak and Snap Galaxy. Kodak is the oldest photo printing service in India, but the site fails to live up to that reputation. It is an extremely basic website that depends on a downloadable software to print photos. The interface is extremely simplistic, and best avoided. Snap Galaxy, on the other hand, is not a very user-friendly website. Fobaz and Merasnap, two other sites, do a reasonitasveeR FeatuRes inteRestinG elements like
doodlepad to make online photo printing fun

itasveer

able job, but are barely average when it comes to design and interactivity. All said ,done and evaluated, iTasveer barely nudges ahead of Picsquare to finish first, and mainly on account its superior navigational design and the doodle pad.

could use one of the many photo-printing services available on the Internet. Today, online photo printing is mushrooming everywhere in Indian cyberspace, and that too with hard to resist price and service offerings. Amongst the websites Rediff emerges at the top of the pile for design in the mobile content area with its reviewed by us the two that clearly stood decent coverage of the latest mobile offerings with a focus on the entertainment space. out were picsqaure.com and itasveer.com. The site appears to be clean, uncluttered, structured with well-designed icons. The type Picsquare has a very style used, and font color add to its visual appeal. This site has outstanding clean and contemporary functionality, while providing quick and relevant search results. design. The colors used Content appears to be the best on the Yahoo! Mobile content portal, for the interface and pictowhich provides very good , feature-rich coverage communication, logisrial representation of eletics, entertainment, even such diverse topics as finance and sports. This ments are really cool and makes.Yahoo! Mobile a really interesting site to visit. However, some of fresh and completely suitthe experts on our panel felt that the positioning of the key features and ed to the milieu. They specific entries could have been done better. The site also provides have used Web 2.0 techunique value-added features; SMS backup, picture previews, creating of nologies such as Ajax, the (optional) personalized logos, to name just a few. “Mobile.yahoo. photo resolution is high, On the usability front,mobile.yahoo.com rates alongside Rediff, and com has Very and password module it’s a neck to neck race. These two sites also provide great customization good coverage… refreshing. Overall the for Indian surfers, catering to our region-specific needs. According to ample scope for site comes out as extremeexpert opinion, even though it is easy to find info and links on the site, ly clean and user friendly. navigation could be made simpler on mobile.yahoo.com. a sustainable iTasveer also espouses a Indiatimes also boasts of easy navigation and a clean user interface. revenue very clean and focused Its clear content categorization makes for easy readability too. generation model” approach, while providing All things considered Yahoo! Mobile stands above the rest, the strongest srinivas kaTTa a highly user-friendly and point of this site being its content quality and extremely simple interface.

mobile Content
yahoo mobile

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auction
from latest gizmos to crafted jewellery. With more secure payment gateways in place, buying online is hardly an issue The sound of the proverbial hammer and more and more users are jumping with the solid “sold’ may be missing here, on the bandwagon to buy from websites but online auction sites are no less excitsuch as eBay, Rediff and Indiatimes. ing or useful as a great means of ordering A study of popular auction sites threw up and buying from the comfort and conthese names and it was a dead-to-head fight. fines of your keyboard. Today, auction The judges rated each site on visual appeal, sites, are a great place to buy everything, interactivity and their convenienceoriented options, - links, add-ons and, in this case payment security. Looking at design and usability, eBay India came up on top for its great graphic interfaces, colors, visual appeal, consistency and typography, as well as enhances interactivity and customization for Indian needs. This site has information flow, tabs, links and a very clearly charted-out information the wORLD LeaDeR in auction sites emerges as a flow that a the user needs. winner in india too

ebay

vernacular mania
there has BeeN a bit of a thrust towards making websites go vernacular. hindi, as one of the major languages in india does get a precedence in this regard too. w ebdunia. com offers its services in hindi, telugu, tamil and malayalam. it is a portal similar to rediff, indiatimes and sify, but totally vernacular in nature. msN india and BBc also have a hindi channel to cater to vernacular audiences across india.

stock broking
moneycontrol
A large crowded room with suited guys and gals shouting and gestivculating , scenes of utter confusion, and millions of rupees at stake. All these remind us of the usual stock market scenario not so long ago. Not any more. As with other online categories, stock broking has witnessed disruptive change with the coming of the Internet. Although one might still see the bulk of the population riding on so-called tips as a basis for investment; serious investors are always on the lookout for authentic and up-to-date information about the companies that they have invested in. A secure platform to transact stocks, IPOs and Mutual Funds is also on top of their wish lists. Nowadays, some of these websites also allow you to trade in commodities, which are one of the hottest items in the business. We evaluated way2wealth.com, jvfinancials.com, HDFC Securities, Money Control, ICICI Direct, IDBI Paisa Builder, 5 Paisa and India Bulls in this category. Moneycontrol.com emerged as an outright winner, providing an absolutely clean and easy w i n n e r s to use interface, with all the features that you might desire at your fingertips. The site also Best Design category deals in commodity trading unlike many other picsquare.com sites. A live market map, watch list, current photo printinG news and market advice are some of the other rediff.com/mobile mobile content features on offer here. In contrast, ICICI direct was the winner on the technology side of auction ebay.in things. The use of technology to enhance user moneycontrol.com stock brokinG experience was the best here too.

While all three sites boasted of similar technology, eBay India added more value in terms of using technology to enhance user experience, handling both errors and security risks. In fact, eBay India also has an e-mail authenticity check, which is an interesting security option. Indiatimes excelled in scope of site content, the relevance of that content, interface layout as well as information search options. It has a wide variety of well-categorized offers, (though some products are in the wrong categories). Its simple interface made the site easy to comprehend and use. Rediff did not cover enough products, and suffers from content shortfalls, specially while searching for information. Though certain jurors found it welldesigned and easy to interface with, it did not clear the bar set by eBay India or Indiatimes on these counts. Predictably, eBay India came up as the best of the auction sites.

Best indian weBsites

Best Technology usage itasveer.com mobile.yahoo.com ebay.in icicidirect.com

Overall PerfOrmanCe itasveer.com mobile.yahoo.com ebay.in moneycontrol.com

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BY PRESTON GRALLA

IMAGING: VIKAS KAPOOR

Microsoft Word 2007’s new interface is likely to confound veteran Word users. Whether you have already made the move or are only considering moving to the latest version, there’s everything that you require in this article to make the switch and master the new Word 2007.
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O FFIC E SU I TE

Baffled by Microsoft Word 2007's new interface? Join the club. Making the switch to Word 2007 from Word 2003 can be exceedingly disorienting — like coming back home from work and finding out that not only has all your furniture been
rearranged, but the house itself has been moved to the next county. Despair not. We're here to help. We'll guide you through all the major changes in the interface, offer tips and tricks for getting the most out of Word 2007, and clue you in on how to use the best of the new features. When you're done, not only will you know where the new virtual furniture is, but you'll also know the way around your new neighborhood — and you might very well find it a better place than your old one.

l

A Whole New Look
Office Button Quick Access Toolbar The Ribbon Scrollbar

Status Bar

View Toolbar

Switching to Word 2007 can leave you exceedingly disoriented. The Office button, the Ribbon and Quick Access bar are some of the first changes that you may notice.

Get a quick lay of the land
when making the move to Word 2007, throw away everything you know about the interface. Just about everything has changed. Whether you're opening files, changing the document view or using the menu, you're about to enter a brave new world. Here's a quick guided tour to the Word 2007 interface:
1. The Microsoft Office Button. The big button on the upper left-hand corner of the screen replaces the old File menu from previous versions of Word. You'll find familiar features for opening files, saving files, printing files and so on, but there's a lot more here as well, as you'll discover later in this guide.

2. The Quick Access Toolbar. Just to the right of the Office Button is the Quick Access toolbar, with buttons for using Word's most common features, including Save, Undo, Redo, Print Preview and more — but you can add and remove buttons for any functions you please. More on that later. 3. The Ribbon. Love it or hate it, the Ribbon is the main way you'll work with Word. Instead of old-style menus, in which menus have submenus, submenus have sub-submenus and so on, the Ribbon groups buttons for common tasks together in tabs on a graphical interface. So, for example, when you click the Insert tab, a Ribbon appears with buttons for items that you can insert into a document, such as clip art, a hyperlink, a picture or a table. Even if you hate the Ribbon, it can be your friend; check out the section "Learn to Love the Ribbon" for details.

4. The Scrollbar. This is largely unchanged from previous versions of Word; use it to scroll up and down. There are a couple of minor changes — at the top, there's a small button that looks like a minus sign that lets you split your screen in two, and just below that, there's a small icon that displays or hides a ruler when you click it. 5. The View Toolbar. The View toolbar, which used to be on the lower left-hand side of the screen in earlier versions of Word, moves over to the right in Word 2007. It lets you choose between print layout, full screen, Web layout, outline and draft views, just as it did in earlier Word versions. There's also a nice addition — a slider that lets you zoom in or out on your document. 6. The Status Bar. This is in the same place as in earlier Word versions and has the same function — to display information such as the number of pages in your document. It has one nice little extra: It displays the word count of your document as well. If you highlight

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an area of text, it will display the number of words in the highlighted area.
LEARN TO LOVE THE RIBBON

The Word 2007 Ribbon

at first, the Ribbon may be offputting, but the truth is, once you learn to use it, you'll find that it's far easier to use than the old Word interface. It The Ribbon is one of the basic changes in Word 2007 interface. The tabular interface may does take some getting used look overwhelming to start with but it grows on to you quite fast. to, though. The Ribbon, by default, is divided into seven tabs, with mailings, from something as simple as Pa g e L a y o u t : He r e ' s w h e r e an optional eighth one (Developer) that creating labels to the more daunting you'll change margins, page size and you can display by clicking the Office task of mail merges. orientation, set up columns, align objects, Button and choosing Word Options > add effects and so on. There are some Review: Need to check spelling Popular > Show Developer tab in the gray areas between this tab and the Home and grammar, look up a word in a Ribbon. tab. For example, on the Page Layout tab thesaurus, work in markup mode, review Here's a rundown of the tabs and what you set paragraph spacing and indents, other people's markups or compare each one does: while on the Home tab you set paragraph documents? This is the tab for you. alignment and can also set spacing Home: This contains the mostView: Here's where to go when you between lines. used Word features, such as changing want to change the view in any way, fonts and font attributes, customizing including displaying a ruler and gridlines, References: This tab handles tables paragraphs, using styles, and finding and zooming in and out, splitting a window of contents, footnotes, bibliographies, replacing text. and so on. indexes and similar material. It also lets you insert a "Table of Authorities," Insert: As you might guess, this one Developer: If you write code or create which sounds like something straight handles anything you might want to forms and applications for Word, this is out of a Soviet bureaucracy but in fact is insert into a document, such as tables, your tab. It also includes macro handling, a list of references in a legal document. pictures, charts, hyperlinks, bookmarks, so power users might also want to visit headers and footers, WordArt ... well, you here every once in a while. Mailings: As the name says, this is get the idea. Each tab along the Ribbon is organwhere you'll go for anything to do with ized to make it easy to get your work done. Each tab is organized into a series of groups that contain related commands for getting something done — for example, handling fonts. Inside each group is a set of what Microsoft calls command buttons, which carry out commands, display menus and so on, the featured command button changes the font size. There's also a small diagonal arrow in the bottom Another addition is the right corner of some groups that Quick Access toolbar next to Microsoft calls a dialog box launcher. the Office button. This bar is Click it to display more options related similar to the Windows Quick to the group. Access ba r a n d ca n b e All that seems simple enough ... So it's cutomized to perform time to throw a curveball at you. The Ribrepetitive tasks faster. bon is context-sensitive, changing according to what you're doing. Depending on

Quick Access Toolbar

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greatly expanded File menu from the Word 2003 days — the File menu on steroids. As you can see in the nearby figure, it's where to go for the various Open, Save, New, Add and related options and also includes a list of all your recently opened files. But there are three particularly noteworthy new features here as well — Prepare, Publish and Convert. Use Prepare when YOUR NEW BEST FRIENDS you've finished writing or editing your document and you're ready to send it to there are two more new Word tools someone else. There are plenty of great that you'll want to get to know — the new options here, such as marking a docuOffice Button and the Quick Access toolment as final or marking it read-only; bar. Think of the Office Button as a encrypting the document; inspecting it for hidden metadata and information you'd prefer remain private; and editing the document's properties, such as title, keywords and author. Publish does exactly what it says — it gives options for publishing a document. You'll be able to publish your document as a blog to a variety of blogging services, including Blogger, Windows Live Spaces, TypePad and WordPress. If your company uses a document management server or SharePoint, you can publish it there as well. Convert lets you convert documents saved in older formats to the new Microsoft Office Open XML format (.docx), which is the The down arrow button next to the Quick Access toolnew Office standard. bar helps you customize it. Once you add the most used For those who like to fidcommands to it you would rarely use the Ribbon. dle with the Word interface

the task you're engaged in, it sometimes adds more tabs and subtabs. For example, when you insert and highlight a picture, an entirely new tab appears — the Format tab, with a "Picture Tools" supertitle on top. Other "now you see them, now you don't" tabs include Blog Post, Chart Tools, Table Tools and SmartArt Tools — all of which appear in response to various actions you take in Word.

Customize the Quick Access toolbar to your liking, and you will hardly ever have to use the Ribbon.
and how it works, the Word Options button, located at the bottom of the Office Button's box, lets you customize Word in many ways, including its display and editing options. It has many of the features that you accessed via Tools > Options in previous versions of Word. One thing you won't find, however, is the plethora of customizable toolbars that were in previous versions. There's just one customizable toolbar in Word 2007, but you'll love it. Even those who can't stand the Word makeover and the Ribbon will find at least one thing to cheer about — the Quick Access toolbar. This nifty little tool, sitting just to the right of the Office Button, seems innocuous enough, but spend some time with it and you'll see it's one of the best additions to the new interface. The three buttons on the left aren't particularly noteworthy — Save, Undo and Redo — but the nearly invisible Down arrow to the right of them is the key to the toolbar. Click it, and you'll be able to add and remove toolbar buttons for a preset list of commands. Customize the Quick Access toolbar to your liking, and you will hardly ever have to use the Ribbon. And as you'll see in the next section, there are plenty of other ways to customize the Quick Access toolbar as well.

Office Button and Quick AccessToolbar

Customize Quick Access

Five tips to work with Word 2007
if you're a longtime Word user, you no doubt have accumulated a set of shortcuts and customizations. Many of those have gone away under Word 2007. But fear not, because there are plenty of ways for
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O F FI CE SUI TE

you to bend Word 2007 to your will. Here are some tips to get you started. 1. Add Commands to the Quick Access Toolbar Probably the most helpful customization for Word 2007 is to add buttons to the Quick Access toolbar. The simplest way to do this is by clicking the small Down arrow to the right of the Quick Access toolbar and selecting a new button to add. But this is quite limited, because there are only a small number of commands you can add in this way. A better method is to click the Office Button, choose Word Options and then Customize. The screen below appears. Choose a command from the left-hand side of the screen that you want to add to the Quick Access toolbar and click Add. You can change the order of the buttons by highlighting a button on the right side of the screen and using the Up and Down arrows to move it. The list of commands you see on the bottom may seem somewhat limited at first. That's because Word is showing you only the most popular commands. There are plenty of others you can add. Click the drop-down menu under "Choose commands from" at the top of the screen, and you'll see other lists of commands — All Commands, Home Tab and so on. Select any option, and there will be plenty of commands you can add. Finally, there's an even easier way to add a command. Right-click any object
SHORTCUTS

RESIZE PICTURE Turn off the Ribbon

There are several ways to turn off the Ribbon such as click the down arrow to the right of the Quick Access toolbar button and select Minimize the Ribbon; press CtrlF1 and double-click the current tab above the Ribbon.

on the Ribbon and choose "Add to Quick Access Toolbar." You can add not only individual commands in this way, but also entire groups — for example, the Font group. 2. Use Keyboard Shortcuts If you're a fan of Word 2003's keyboard shortcuts, take heart — the same ones work in 2007. So keep using them. You can also use a clever set of keyboard shortcuts for working with the Ribbon. Press the Alt key and a tiny letter or number icon appears on the menu for each tab — for example, the letter H for the Home tab. (See the table below.) Now press that letter on your keyboard, and you'll display that tab or menu item. When the tab appears, there will be letters and numbers for most options on the tab as well. Once you've started to learn these shortcuts, you'll naturally begin using key combinations. So instead of pressing Alt then H to display the home tab, you can press Alt-H together. The table (on the left side) shows the most useful Alt key combinations in Word 2007. 3. Turn off the Ribbon Here's what may be the best tip you'll ever come across for Word 2007 — how to turn off the Ribbon. Doing this will get

you back plenty of screen real estate, as you can see in the screenshot above. The Ribbon will still be available when you want it — all you need to do is click on the appropriate menu (Home, Insert, Page Layout, etc.) and it appears. It then discreetly goes away when you are no longer using it. There are several ways to turn off the Ribbon: Click the Down arrow to the right of the Quick Access toolbar button and select Minimize the Ribbon. Press Ctrl-F1 (Press Ctrl-F1 to make it appear again). Double-click the current tab above the Ribbon. 4. Use Macros At first glance, macros — ingenious shortcuts you can create for performing repetitive tasks — seem to have been banished from Word 2007. But they're still there; display the Developer tab, and you'll find them in all their glory. In fact, the Developer toolbar puts the macro tools at easier reach than they were in previous versions of Word. You'll find everything you want in the Code group on the Developer tab. Record a macro by clicking the Record Macro button, manage your macros by clicking the Macros button, and configure security for a macro by clicking the Macro Security button. (See Microsoft's Online

WORD 2007 ALT KEY COMBINATIONS
Key combination Function
Office Button Home tab Insert tab Page Layout tab References tab Mailings tab Review tab View tab Developer tab

ALT-F ALT-H ALT-N ALT-P ALT-S ALT-M ALT-R ALT-V ALT-L

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O FFIC E SU I TE

Office site http://office.microsoft.com/ en-us/word/HA100997691033.aspx for more information. 5. Find Your Old Friends In Word 2007, no features or functions are where they used to be. But it's easy to find them. You can also download a complete spreadsheet at http://office.microsoft. com/en-us/templates/TC102128591033.a spx?pid=CT102130321033&AxInstalled=1

The Ribbon and Quick Access toolbars are key innovations, but also useful are the new mini toolbars, themes, blogging etc.
the Ribbon and the body of your document is a big time-waster, and annoying to boot. So Word 2007 includes the clever mini toolbar. Highlight text and point the cursor at it, and a nearly transparent mini toolbar appears above the text, with a set of commands relevant to the text you've chosen. Move your cursor to the mini toolbar and it becomes solid; click a command to use it. For example, if you select text, a mini toolbar will appear with various text-related commands, including font face, size and color, indentation, and list options. If the mini toolbar disappears for some reason, right-click the selection or reselect the text, and it springs back into action.
NEW FILE FORMAT

New features in Word 2007
there's plenty new in Word 2007, and a complete description of all that's new is beyond the scope of this article. The Ribbon and the Quick Access toolbar are key innovations, as you've already seen, but also useful are the new mini toolbar, Live Preview and other features. The following are the most important ones.
THE MINI TOOLBAR

In addition, the new format makes it easier to recover damaged files because it saves different data components — such as tables and charts — separately from one another. This means files can be opened even if an individual component, such as a chart, is damaged. That's the good news. Here's the bad news: Most of the world doesn't use the new format and won't for sometime. So if you want to exchange files with others, you'll need to use the old .doc format. To save a file in the .doc format, click the Office Button and choose Save As > Word 97-2003 Document. To have Word save all of your files in the old .doc format automatically, click the Office Button, choose Word Options > Save > Save files in this format > Word 97-2003 Document.
THEMES

under the hood, the biggest change to Word is the new Office XML format — all Microsoft Office applications now use it. By default, Word saves in this new format, which has the .docx extension, or the . docm extension if the document contains macros. For businesses, this can be a big plus, because it allows for easier integration with enterpriselevel applications and for exchanging data. In some instances, it also creates files of a smaller size, because files are automatically compressed when they're saved to disk Word 2007 also enhances photo editing. Now you will be able and then automatically to perform basic functions like brightness, contrast etc. in uncompressed when the interface itself. you open them.

having to move back and forth between

Picture Editing

have you ever tried making sure that your Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents all include a common look and feel — for example, incorporating a corporate logo, certain colors and so on? If so, you've most likely struggled mightily and come out on the short end of the stick. Themes, new to Word 2007 and Office 2007, are designed to make doing that easier. You can create a single, overarching theme, with colors, logos, paragraph styles and so on, and then use that theme for all of your Office documents. Themes may sound suspiciously like templates, but they're somewhat different. You can have multiple templates that use the same theme. So, for example, you could create a theme that includes your company logo, colors and font choice. You could then have one template in that style for letters, another for budget proposals and many others for different purposes.
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To use Themes, select the Page Layout tab and click the Themes button to choose a new theme. You can also customize any theme and create new ones. One important caveat: Be aware that themes only work if you're using Word's new Office XML format; they won't work on old-style .doc files.
QUICK PARTS

SHORTCUTS

DIFFERENCE IN WORD 2003 AND 2007 FILE MENU
Word 2003 Location File > New File > Open File > Close File > Save Office Button > New Office Button > Open Office Button > Close Office Button > Save or Quick Access toolbar > Save Icon Office Button > Save As Page Layout > Page Setup ( click dialog box launcher for more options) or Office Button > Print > Print Preview> Page Setup (click dialog box launcher for more options) Office Button > Print> Preview Office Button > Print Office Button > Recent Documents Word 2007 Location Keyboard Shortcut Ctrl-N Ctrl-O Ctrl-W Ctrl-S

if you need to create sophisticated documents that include complex headers and footers, objects such as decorative text callouts, and fields for dates, file names, bar codes and the like, you'll appreciate the new Quick Parts feature. To insert just about any object, field or style, click the Insert tab, then click Quick Parts and choose what you want to insert. Choose "Document Property" for objects that relate to the entire document, such as Author, Company and Keywords. Choose Field to insert a field such as the number of words or the page number, and choose Building Blocks Organizer to see every single Quick Part available.
LIVE PREVIEW

File > Save As File > Page Setup

F 12 In Word 2003: Alt-F, U In Word 2007: Alt-P, SP Alt-Ctrl-I Ctrl-P Alt-F

File > Print Preview File > Print File > Recently Used Documents

size you're considering changing the text to. You'll see the text in the new size. You can choose that text size by clicking it, preview other sizes or leave the text as is.
BLOGGING SUPPORT

blog accounts and performing similar blogging-related tasks.
MORE HELP

if you often change formatting in your documents and text, you'll welcome the new Live Preview feature. Highlight the text or area of a document you want to change. Then, on the Ribbon, move your cursor over the format you want to apply. The text you highlighted will change so that you can see how it will look with the new formatting. Move the cursor away to revert to the original formatting, or move it over a different format to preview different formatting. When you find formatting you want to apply, click it. For example, if you are considering changing the font size of 10-point text, highlight the text. On the Home tab of the Ribbon, click the font size drop-down menu and hover your mouse over the text
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does your grandmother have her own blog? If she doesn't, she will soon. Word 2007 recognizes that everyone and their pets blog these days, so it includes a set of tools for creating blog entries and then posting them to your blog. Open a document, click the Office Button and choose Publish > Blog. A screen appears, asking you to register information about your blog account. Choose "Register Now" to enter information, including where your blog is posted, along with your username and password, so that you'll be able to post entries from directly within Word. If you don't want to register and you want to first create a post, choose Register Later. At the top of your screen, you'll see an [Enter Post Title] field for filling in the title of your post. The Ribbon will also display a Blog Post group, with buttons for publishing your post, managing your
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if you follow the advice in this article, you'll go a long way toward getting familiar with Word 2007. For more tips and help on Word 2007, head to Microsoft's Word 2007 site.
QUICK REFERENCE CHARTS

wondering where your favorite Word 2003 commands went in Word 2007? Worry no more. Just use these quick reference charts (http:// pcworld.in/features/index.jsp/ artId=5537818), which list the most commonly used Windows 2003 commands and tell you where they are in Word 2007. They're listed according to the menu on which they're found in Word 2003. We've also included keyboard shortcuts for all the commands. Most of them are the same in Word 2003 and Word 2007; we've noted where they differ. For a full listing of every menu and submenu item, download the Word Ribbon mapping workbook from Microsoft. Microsoft also lists more Word 2007 keyboard shortcuts at its Office Online Web site.

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BY KIM SACCIO-KENT

I L L U S T R AT I O N : P C A N O O P

Nearly all of us have played around with wallpapers or screensavers at some point of time. Changing these can not only give the PC a fresh look, but also connect the user to his favorite movies, locales or even abstract ideas. And, there is no limit to the variations you have with themes!
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A theme is like a matching outfit for your computer’s desktop. In addition to wallpaper, you get icons and cursors, and your windows and menus receive a makeover as well. Many desktop themes also come with screen savers.
Themes can lighten up a humdrum workday and add a dash of personality to your workspace. Initially, this article seemed easy: Find themes that work with Windows XP, make sure they’re not loaded with malware, and review them for our Downloads library. For most folks, dressing up a desktop isn’t mission critical, so these themes had to be simple to install and either free or very inexpensive. You can find these themes in the current PC World DVD.
SOFTWARE

WALLPAPERS ACCOMPANIED BY other elements can set a mood as you work on your PC. This wallpaper from the Cars theme is colorful, vibrant and can put a smile on your face!

MOVIES AND CARTOONS

Talisman
IF YOU WISH for the ultimate makeover for your desktop, this is perhaps what you should get. After applying this pack, you m ay n o t b e a b l e to te l l that the OS running on your PC is the all too common Windows! Talisman can create a look and feel that is totally customizible with rich graphics to back it up. This is a shellreplacement program – and that means nearly every aspect of the GUI can be changed. Alas, some things in life are not free and Talisman costs about Rs 1,100, but a 30 day trial is available. http://www.lighttek.com/talisman.htm

are you a movie fan? You’ll probably enjoy desktop themes based on The Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Producers, or Superman Returns. Fond of animated features? How about a desktop theme based on Cars or Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit? What about a blast from the past? I found a fun ScoobyDoo theme package that includes nine different scenes from the original series and the cartoon’s theme song. All of the themes here are free.
CARS

a snappy rendition of “Route 66” while showing pictures of the characters.
WALLACE & GROMIT: CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT

Wallace and Gromit fans, take notice: This desktop theme could make computing so much fun it might cause you to miss a few deadlines. The wallpaper is a terrific photo of the dynamic duo at home. The icons are pictures of the main characters, and for cursors you get a carrot and a garden gnome. The screen saver provides a slide-show overview of Wallace and Gromit’s life together, presented with the Wallace and Gromit theme music.
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING

fans of Disney/ Pixar’s animated movie Cars will like this theme. You can select from two wallpapers: a red background with a big Cars logo, or the movie poster. The icons are tiny pics of the cars, and the cursors are equally eye-catching—a forklift, a small red and white arrow, and an odometer. The sounds are snippets of dialogue or a revving motor. The screen saver plays
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Th is pac k a ge i nc lu de s s e v e n wallpapers, each featuring a different character from the movie. Your pointer is a sword that turns into the One Ring when the computer is busy. Icons are small pictures of the main characters. There are very few sounds, mainly clashing swords—but in a nice touch, error alerts are a chilling Nazgul cry.

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The screen saver displays movie-poster images on a black background.
MATRIX THEME BUNDLE

Growing tired of Matrix knock-offs that merely fill your screen with green code? Give this package a try. These nine original wallpapers are based on characters and scenes from the Matrix movies. Your windows and menus get different color schemes to complement each wallpaper. The sounds—odd electronic effects—are used sparingly. For cursors and icons, the program includes various futuristic-looking gadgets. The screen saver features squidlike robots flying through Matrix space.
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST

THEMES REPLACE THE boring pointers with other symbols that tie in with the theme, completing the look and feel of the theme. Some of the cursors from the Lord of the Rings theme are shown above.

THE PRODUCERS

Get in touch with your inner pirate. This package includes three wallpapers based on Pirates of the Caribbean, plus coordinating sounds, cursors, icons, and a screen saver. The screen saver is the most entertaining part of the bundle: Against a backdrop of ships being attacked by a giant octopus, a pirate chest floats around the screen, opening to show movie stills while the theme music plays in the background.

Mel Brooks lovers will enjoy this theme based on his 2005 musical. The wallpaper shows Matthew Broderick, Uma Thurman, and Nathan Lane posed against a backdrop of old Broadway. The cursors—a hand holding a drink, a marquee arrow, and an old-time camera with a flashing bulb—are clever. Unfortunately, the screen saver is uninspiring: Against a brick-wall image, four small screens flash movie stills.
SCOOBY-DOO

bundle contains nine wallpapers depicting Scoob and the gang encountering various ghouls. The icons feature all your old pals. The sounds include catchphrases like Velma’s “Jinkies!” and Scooby’s “Rooby-doobie-doo!”
SUPERMAN RETURNS—MAN OF STEEL

This theme pack is based on the original Scooby-Doo series of the sixties. The

This theme pack offers lots of eye candy based on the latest Superman movie. You get three wallpapers: Superman in flight, Superman looking down on Earth, and the Superman logo. I found the sounds—a swelling chorus, plus random swooshing noises—a little annoying. Also included is a screen saver called “Flying Through Space” that shows what you’d see if you were, well, flying through space.
THE GREAT OUTDOORS

Perhaps you want to bring a bit of the outdoors into your office. Autumn Brook and Sea Dance are beautifully designed themes that add serenity to your working environment; Golden Gate is a quirky little theme that features San Francisco’s famous landmark and soothing ocean sounds. What about something way outdoors, like outer space? Worlds Upon Worlds presents an artist’s view of our solar system.
AUTUMN BROOK

COLOR SCHEMES ADD that dash of character or personalization. Many themes change the color schemes while some others go the extra distance and replace fonts as well.

Enjoy the colors of fall with this pleasant and free theme. The wallpaper is a photograph of a mountain stream banked by many-hued trees. The icons and cursors are fall leaves, and the sounds are birdsong. The screen saver is also pretty: The desktop image remains on screen, but the water flows softly, accompanied by piano music and the twittering of birds. Very Zen.
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GOLDEN GATE

This unusual desktop theme is worth the fee to register it. The wallpaper is a digitally enhanced photo of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, with an odd little sailboat-like vessel floating on the water. This image appears in the screen saver, as well, although there the water is animated. The icons are clever, too: The Recycle Bin is a foghorn, while the pointer is a lighthouse that turns into a rain cloud when the computer is working.
SEA DANCE

inky blackness a ringed planet whirls against a cloud of glowing gas. Your pointer, a little rocket ship, turns into a spinning Earth when the computer is busy. Although this theme runs fine under Windows XP, the sounds didn’t work during my testing; the readme file that accompanies this download has a complicated troubleshooting section, but I didn’t take the time to follow its recommendations. Silence seems appropriate for deep space, anyway.
THE HOLIDAYS

TIPS

Customize your themes
THEMES ARE ALL about personal taste. You may feel like changing something to your liking in an existing theme – the wallpaper, the color schemes or screensaver. Windows XP allows you change these elements without too much effort. Right-click on your desktop and choose ‘Properties’ to open the display properties settings. Click on the ‘Themes’ tab and select the theme you want to modify and Apply it. Next, change to any wallpaper and screensaver if you so wish. You can change color schemes as follows: Click on the Appearance tab, then on the Advanced button. Under Item choose the element which you want to change and then colors and fonts. Come back to the Themes tab and click on Save As and choose a name for your theme. Now, this theme that has been created will appear in the drop-down menu.

This soothing desktop theme should help you keep your equilibrium—and it’s free. The wallpaper depicts a tranquil beach with mountains in the distance; it appears to be evening, and fog sits on the water. A screen saver is included, but it’s rather odd: Against a black background, shapes filled with bits of the wallpaper move around the screen, accompanied by a jazzy piano piece.
WORLDS UPON WORLDS

download this free theme and be transported to deep space, where in the

time to decorate for the holidays. I unearthed two terrific Christmas packages: It’s Cold Outside is based on a jazzy version of the classic holiday tune, while Holiday Wrapping Papers presents nine themes based on different gift wraps. (Sorry, all of the Thanksgiving themes I came across were, well, turkeys.) And even though Halloween 2006 has passed, it’s not too early to think about this year: In the package called This Is Halloween, you get two beautifully rendered spooky scenes. All of these theme packages are free.

IT’S COLD OUTSIDE

here’s a holiday hit inspired by the song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” The wallpaper shows two pairs of shoes by a cabin door that opens onto a winter scene. The included screen saver is particularly clever: The wallpaper remains on screen, but falling snow, bows, and snowflakes slowly appear while you’re treated to Vanessa Williams’s jazzy rendition of the Christmas classic.
THIS IS HALLOWEEN

EXPLORE THE VARIOUS themes and choose one for your liking and mood – from movies to solar system to nature.

this stellar package lets you choose between two wallpapers: a Jack-o-Lantern or two Jack-o-Lanterns in a spooky forest. The unobtrusive cursors include a small orange arrow and a flying witch. Among the icons are a pumpkin for the Recycle Bin and scary eyes for My Documents. The spooky sounds, taken from Danny Elfman’s The Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack, are used sparingly.

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SMART BUYER
P R AC T I CA L A DV I C E B E FO R E YO U S H O P

THE BIG PICTURE

SPECS EXPLAINED

BUYING TIPS

Talented Performers
THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO BUYING THE PERFECT MFD YOU ALWAYS WANTED.
copy, scan, fax, and print: Four separate machines could handle those needs. But why tax your budget and your desk space when one machine can do it all? Most multifunction devices (sometimes called a multi-function printers) handle these tasks with great flair and performance—rivalling that of standalone units. And a number of them let you to carry out more than one of these tasks simultaneously. Either laser or inkjet printers, MFDs will print photos and a variety of other document types. Some print in color while others only print in black and white. They have various features and networking options, and range in price from Rs. 4,000 to Rs. 50,000. High-end devices tend to be faster, have color printing, and also more networking and office functionality.
THE BIG PICTURE

for years multifunction printers have saved scarce office space, but the latest all-in-ones print as well as general-purpose printers do, at comparable prices. While MFDs can’t match the output and functionality of a photo printer or stand-alone scanner, but for standard office tasks they fit the bill. For business and enterprise applications MFDs can be a way to increase productivity, streamline tasks and potentially decrease costs . Once you’ve settled on purchasing an MFD rather than a stand-alone product, you need to decide whether an inkjet or a laser model better suits your needs. The choice is easy if you use your printer for business. Inkjets can produce colorful documents and outstanding photos, but they simply can’t match the speed and professional document quality of a laser printer. Most of today’s

laser MFDs compare favorably to dedicated laser printers in speed and print quality. They also offer a good range of officeoriented features and match the performance of single-function printers. With color models also available in laser MFDs, you no longer have to sacrifice color to get sharp text quality in business documents. For home and SOHO applications, MFDs are an attractive option to save upfront cost and space. They can handle faxing, scanning, printing (both photos and documents) and copying on a regular basis. And with more households acquiring broadband connections, the combination of scanning and printing enables easy sharing of photos and documents with friends and family. Many MFDs have built-in memory that lets them store documents and send them straight to e-mail—becoming intercommunication portals.

When looking for an MFD for the home or the office, ask yourself what sort of functionality you need. Maybe you don’t need a fax machine? Or, perhaps a network adapter? Asking yourself these questions will narrow down your search for a machine, and will also allow you to save money by not purchasing an extravagant device. It is also a good idea, before you start looking, to estimate the maximum number of pages per month that you need to print, and buy a printer that can handle that workload. As a rough guide, for small offices 5,000 pages per month is more than sufficient, and a bigger office could budget for up to 15,000 pages per month. Printers that are networked and shared will need to have the capability to produce up to 50,000 pages or more per month, depending on the size of the network.

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SM ART B UY ER

Also, evaluate whether you want an inkjet or a laser device. Inkjets will be cheaper to buy, and do a better job on photos. But lasers are generally faster and have better overall print quality, making them the logical choice for business. Many MFDs are now designed to be easy to use as standalone devices without the need to be plugged into the PC. This is useful if you want flexibility, portability, ease of use and quick set up.
SPECS EXPLAINED

A DEVICE WITH clearly labelled screen is easy to use.

Speed: The main weapon in the

marketing war among vendors, speed is often one of the first specs you will see in any advertisement. Vendors frequently cite ratings based on printing only the simplest text documents, or printing in draft mode, and many don’t even include the time it takes for the PC to send a job to the printer. To further confuse the issue, laser and inkjet speeds are measured and quoted differently. In any case, claimed speeds are frequently two, three, or more times the speeds you’ll see in real-world printing. Quite often, the print engines in laser all-in-ones tend to lag about a generation behind engines in stand-alone alternatives. It’s also a good idea to look for a device with a number of print speed modes, e.g., extra fast, fast, normal, fine, extra fine. A final note about speed is that you can normally expect it to be compromised when you are networking the device, when it is carrying out more than one task simultaneously or there is a de-screening feature on the scanner. Find out how much the claimed speed is reduced when two tasks are happening at the same time. That is, for example,
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when the device is printing and faxing simultaneously. Optical resolution: For displaying photos on the Web or printing 3-by-5 or 4-by-6 snapshots, 100 dots per inch is plenty of resolution; for capturing text using optical character recognition, 300 dpi is standard. Color depth: The amount of color (and grayscale) data a scanner can recognize and save, termed color depth, is measured
TIPS

in bits per pixel. Since a scanner can usually capture more data than its driver can save, you’ll frequently see a qualifier appended to the bit-depth spec, such as 48bit internal or hardware color, which describes how much data the scanner can recognize. External or true color describes how much data the scanner’s driver can save. For almost all types of general-purpose use, 24-bit external color depth is sufficient. Sensor technology: Scanners have one of two types of sensor technology: a charge-coupled device (CCD) or a contact image sensor (CIS). CIS sensors are a more recent innovation. Although they produce slightly lower-quality scanned images, CIS-based scanners can be much smaller and use far less power than CCDbased scanners.

If you need a scanner to digitize documents for storing, copying, or faxing, an MFD will deliver good-enough results. But if you want to capture photos or other art for reproduction, we recommend that you get a stand-alone flatbed scanner. In general, the more quickly an MFD scanns, the lower will be the quality of its output. Scanner: MFDs usually sport a flatbed-style scanner (which requires you to lift a lid to place your document on a glass), and some have automatic document feeders as well. A flat scanning glass works well for most tasks, and provides the only way to scan pages in books or magazines.An ADF comes in handy when you’re scanning lots of documents at once, or when you want to scan a sheet that’s longer than the scanning glass. Check that the scanning area is large enough for your needs—some of them can handle legal size paper, while oth-

Extra features that you might need
OCR: Optical character recognition (OCR) software is sometimes supplied with the machine. This allows you to scan in documents to extract the text for editing. One of the biggest challenges for OCR software is whether it can accurately pick up the characters “r” and “rr” and not confuse them as “t” or “n”. A good feature that is sometimes available with OCR software is an interface which allows you to directly compare the scanned text to the original document side-by-side to find any errors. ADF: An Automatic Document Feeder (ADF) is convenient if you need to frequently fax, copy or scan multi-page documents and don’t want to individually feed each sheet. Most ADFs should be able to handle at least 30 pages. Printing onto CD/DVD surfaces: Some devices on the market will enable this, usually using a special disc-holding tray, which is handy if you want to make CDs and DVDs. Printing on other surface/media: Other media may include overhead transparencies, labels, stickers, envelopes etc. Support for different paper sizes and types: 4x6in photo paper, A4, A3 etc and glossy/semi-gloss, matt etc. Scan 3D images (physical objects) with relatively good accuracy. Scanning directly to a number of different formats eg, PDF/JPEF/TIFF/WORD. Digitally sending documents or to scan direct to e-mail or particular folders on your PC/network. Scanning film or slides: This can be handy for photographic enthusiasts though you will invariably lose image quality, and often pick up dust, which will result in a grainy appearance.

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S M A RT B UY E R

ers are limited to A4. Although many MFDs come bundled with an automatic document feeder for the scanner, you usually won’t get a transparency adapter—a common accessory for ordinary scanners. Fax: In general, most MFDs compare well with standalone laser or inkjet fax machines in terms of output quality, and speed. Check that the device supports high speed faxing (14.4kbps and more), the amount of memory provided for storing outgoing and incoming fax messages. For improved usability, see if can store frequently called numbers. Cartridges: If you are planning to buy an inkjet MFD, you may also want to look for a model that has separate ink cartridges for each color. Inkjet running costs can get quite high, especially if regular photo printing is required. Separate ink cartridges will allow you to replace ink on a per color basis. Paper Handling: A machine with a large paper tray or even dual paper trays will allow you to print a larger amount of documents without worrying about constantly re-filling the trays. An automatic document feeder is usually found on machines that have a fax-modem built in, and allows for multi-page documents to be photocopied or scanned without having to

place each sheet in the scanner flatbed individually. Connectivity: You will find that multi-function devices will often offer some degree of multi-connectivity. Obviously, the more connection options available, the more flexibility you have in how you use the device. Check the number and type of ports the device will support. If you want to print wirelessly you will have to make sure there is a built-in wireless network adapter in addition to a 10/100 Ethernet port and that it will work on existing 802.11b or 802.11g networks. A final point on connectivity is that you may want to check the location of the ports, and the subsequent likelihood of cables being disconnected by accident.
SHOPPING TIPS

while you can buy MFDs from Rs. 4,500 to Rs. 20,000, the machine running costs are equally important. The biggest ongoing cost for inkjets is the cost of the ink cartridges. Vendors generally charge Rs. 2,500 to Rs. 5,000 for multi-color cartridges and Rs. 1,200 to Rs. 3,000 for a separate black cartridge. Yields range from about 300 to 800 pages per cartridge. Many vendors also offer higher-capacity cartridges which although are more expensive contain twice

A DEVICE WITH shortcut buttons and a LCD screen is convinient to use.

the amount of ink, so they cost less per page. Laser printers will be more expensive than inkjet printers, but cost per page will generally be cheaper. Laser toner cartridges often cost between Rs. 5,000 and Rs. 15,000 each, but yield over 5000 to 6000 pages. There are several commonly perceived downsides to multifunction devices. At the top of this list is quality. Many feel that although an MFD can perform multi tasks, the quality of those tasks is compromised. PC World testing has indicated that most MFDs (especially laser ones) match or nearly match stand-alone devices in terms of print speed, but print and scan quality can vary. While some MFDs can match standalones in quality and speed, others don’t. But overall, the performance gap has narrowed. Another major downside to a MFD is the vulnerability of having all your eggs in one basket. If one part stops working, you can lose the other functions too. While it’s true that if the printer breaks, you will generally not be able to photocopy, most MFDs are designed so that you will still be able to scan. A cost for businesses using MFDs is downtime. Check the kind of support available for the device, and how quickly it can be fixed. For example, high-end models may have a “call home” function that is activated when there is a problem. Also check whether it’s possible for one part of the machine to continue working if another goes down. Noise can also be a factor when using one of these machines. Smooth roller, paper feed and paper eject mechanisms contribute to a device with lower

IN BRIEF

3 CHECK POINTS
SPEED Find out how much the claimed speed is reduced when two task happen simultaneously. COLOR For general-purpose use, 24 bit external color depth is enough. CONNECTIVITY You may want to check he location of the ports and the subsequent likelihood of cables being disconnected by accident.

noise emission. Ease of use will probably be an important consideration too, especially if the device is to be used by a number of people with varying technical skills. Shortcut buttons can help in using the machine quickly, though too many of them could become a handicap. Machines that have programmable buttons are also useful. The accompanying software interface on the PC will vary in terms of user friendliness and efficiency. Look for a point and click interface which allows as many tasks as possible, enable efficient management of the machine. At the very least, it should enable you to easily scan, print, copy and fax. Space saving is probably one of the major reasons to buy an MFD. One aspect that saves space is having input and output paper trays located in the bottom of the unit, which does away with the need for longreaching paper-support flaps. — 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

DOCS AND SPREADSHEETS

Back Up Your Files Online Without Even Trying
ONLINE STORAGE

i’m sure that by now all of you back up critical files weekly or even daily, and religiously refresh your full-diskimage backup once every few months, right? No? Well, you’re not alone. And while there’s no substitute for a genuine backup strategy, the move toward desktop-caliber online applications has made it easier than ever to get some degree of backup protection without even trying. New, mostly free online services with snazzy features allow you to effectively get backups for many of your irreplaceable files just by doing what you normally do—but with a twist. Through such services, you can ensure that your text documents, spreadsheets, browser bookmarks, digital pictures, and music
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files not only survive a catastrophic crash but also become more accessible to you and anyone you choose to share them with. Of course, using a company’s online storage means you’ll have to be comfortable with the site’s stability, Web security, and privacy policy—or those of any company that may buy that site. Real backups (see http://pcworld.in/hereshow/index. jsp/artId=3538958) and perhaps a RAID mirror on a second hard disk are still the best solution, and, like car insurance, they can make the difference between a bad day and a disaster. By using some or all of these Web services, however, you can easily gain some measure of backup in case of catastrophe, or add another level of redundancy to the backups you already have.

a host of new sites are eager to challenge Microsoft for a slice of Office’s huge pie. My two favorites are Zoho’s suite for documents (www.writer.zoho. com) and Google’s Docs & Spreadsheets (www.docs.google.com) for spreadsheets. Both free services include storage space for your files (Zoho offers 1GB; Google limits the number and size of documents and spreadsheets you can store—for details see http://docs.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=37603&quer y=storage+limit&topic=&type= ). Anything you create is autosaved to an online server, providing a de facto backup. You’ll also be able to access all of your documents from any browser, without having to install software first. Like many other advanced Web sites, Zoho and Google use Asynchronous Java Script and XML—or Ajax—to present a desktop-app-like feel. Both offer hot-keys for common features, background auto-saves, and other musthaves. Neither comes close to replacing Office if you need its full spread of features, and you may encounter an annoying though not game-stopping bug here and there in relatively new services. But for files you use at home, you probably won’t miss a thing. I love Zoho’s sleek interface for documents, but I prefer Google’s service (see FIGURE 1) for spreadsheets. You can easily use both services side-by-side. If you do have Office, Zoho recently released a great plug-in (see FIGURE 2) that ties its service into Word and Excel. Install it, and a toolbar added to either app lets you open Zoho files straight into Office. When you make changes and

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ILLUSTRATION: MM SHANITH

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WINDOWS TIPS Need ironclad file security? Lock down your files and folders using Windows File Encryption.

90

ANSWER LINE Report problems to Microsoft, or not; customize Menus in Office; personalize Explorer shortcuts.

89

HARDWARE TIPS Upgrade or overclock your PC’s graphics to prepare for Vista or to boost speed; simplify network setup.

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matting. And you can forget about using Excel formulas, Word macros, and page numbers, as well as several other advanced features; if you import a file that contains any of these, it will break.
ONLINE BOOKMARKS

browser bookmarks are another painful loss in the case of hard-drive failure. If you’re like me, you’ve sunk click the Zoho Save button, the online hours and hours of effort into discovering document gets updated. You can also add the best online information sources, both Office-created documents and spreadpersonal and professional. Losing them all sheets to your repository on Zoho. would not make for a good day. Neither service is perfect, however. Here again, though, free online Both require a stable Internet connecofferings can come to the rescue. Several tion for accessing your files (though the Firefox extensions not only automatically Zoho plug-in does mitigate that need). back up your bookmarks to an online Also, while you can import Office files server but also synchronize them between into either service (through a site option browsers on multiple PCs. Foxmarks or the Add button in the Zoho plug-in), ( FIGURE 3 ; www.foxmarks.com ), my doing so typically messes up the forfavorite, has some great setup options: If your ma chines get out of sync, you can replace all of your bookmarks with those that you’ve stored online, or replace what you’ve stored with your local favorites. After installation, the add-on invisibly syncs your bookmarks with no additional effort on your part. You’re not only able to FIGURE 2: ZOHO’S WORD AND Excel plug-ins allow you to access bookmark something Zoho’s service from within those applications.
Docs & Spreadsheets, and let the service handle the backups.

FIGURE 1: CREATE YOUR SPREADSHEETS online with Google

FIGURE 3: KEEP YOUR BOOKMARKS synced and safe with Foxmarks, a free Firefox add-on.

at work and have it ready at home (without having to e-mail yourself the URL), but if your computer goes south, you merely need to reinstall Firefox and Foxmarks and then log in to restore all of your bookmarks. Google offers a Browser Sync plug-in for Firefox (www.google.com/tools/firefox/browsersync/) that syncs your bookmarks, as well as your cookies, passwords, history, and even open tabs. The truly security conscious will want to avoid syncing passwords to someone else’s server. I use Browser Sync strictly for passwords and browsing history—I got frustrated with the plug-in’s frequent screw-ups in syncing bookmarks (possibly because I tend to keep my browsers running on my work and home computers simultaneously). If you give either Foxmarks or Google Browser Sync a try, here’s a tip for keeping your work and personal favorites distinct: Preface your bookmark folders with a designation such as Home- or Work-, and then group those folders together.
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ON LI N E STORAGE

pictures for a fee. And as with Yahoo Phocollection, with some room for growth. tos, you can upload an unlimited number Storage space is getting cheaper for PCs half the fun of digital pictures is showof images to Shutterfly. and portable devices alike, so a number ing them off, so odds are you’ve already To order a CD, select Shutterfly Store, of choices for players can fit the bill. uploaded your digital snapshots to a and from the drop-down menu under Aside from the ubiquitous iPod (availaphoto-sharing site such as Flickr (www. Products choose Gift Certs and CDs. ble in 30GB and 80GB versions), Creaflickr.com) or SmugMug (www.smugmug. You’ll need to pay up to Rs. 1,800 for the tive’s 60GB Zen Vision:M and Microcom). Some of these sites have features first 1000 images and Rs. 675 for every soft’s 30GB Zune are also good buys. that provide a decent de facto backup additional set of 1000 (plus shipping). It’s With an iPod and iTunes, your bail-out solution for your photos, as well. procedure is simply to reinstall You can upload an unlimited iTunes and reconnect your iPod, number of photos (JPEG only) to and then follow the prompt to the new version 3 of Yahoo Photos restore your music from your (photos.yahoo.com). If you have a iPod. To reactivate music you’ve bunch, the upload will take a bought from the iTunes store, while. But afterward you (or anyyou may need to connect to the one you share pictures with) can service and clear out your download the full-size image for authorizations (click free: Double-click the picture you Store•Deauthorize Computer ) so want, and a Download option (see that your new PC can acquire FIGURE 4 ) appears in the site’s the rights to play the songs. menu; choose the full-resolution With most other players, you image on the next screen. can connect the unit to your comOne thing to keep in mind is puter as a USB mass storage or that while you can upload as FIGURE 4: YAHOO’S NEW PHOTO service offers unlimited storage Media Transfer Protocol device many photos as you like (in what- and lets you download full-size images from your collection. and then drag and drop your ever resolution you choose), you music back onto your hard drive via Winmust use your Yahoo ID (on the photo pricey, but this alternative could be a dows Explorer. You can use a similar site, Yahoo Web mail, or any other Yahoo much faster way to restore your entire method with an iPod: Either set your PC site or service) once every six months. photo collection. to show hidden files and folders, and Otherwise, the site will send a warning DIGITAL MUSIC then navigate to the hidden folder iPod\ e-mail; and if you still don’t log in, it will Control and copy the Music folder to your delete your pictures. the most painless backup option for hard drive; or grab an app like the donaIf disaster strikes and you lose all of the music is somewhat old-school, since it tionware EphPod ( www.ephpod.com ), photos on your hard drive, downloading doesn’t involve a snazzy new online servwhich can do it for you. pictures one by one to your (new) hard ice: Just use the original CDs. But if you’d drive could be a long and tedious chore. rather avoid the painstaking task of reIf the directory or file names aren’t Another backup option is to upload your ripping each and every CD when your PC properly preserved when you restore your photos to Shutterfly (www. shutterfly. kicks the bucket, your portable music music this way, you can have either com), which doesn’t currently allow you player can come to the rescue. iTunes or Windows Media Player reorto download a full-size image, but will Make sure that any player you buy is ganize and rename your music according large enough to store your entire music to what it finds in the ID3 tags. send you an archive CD of your full-size In Windows Media Player, click Tools• Options , select the Librar y tab, ONLINE STORAGE FOR ALL TYPES OF FILES and then check the boxes for Rename music files using rip music settings and IF YOU WANT a catch-all option for storaccess the service as a network place Rearrange music in rip music folder. ing any type of file, try one of the plethfrom your PC and then drag and drop Select the Rip Music tab and choose a ora of online storage services. Typically files to it in Explorer, or you can save folder and file-naming scheme by clickyou can share files you upload, and of directly to it via most, though not all, ing the Change and File Name buttons. course you can retrieve them if your programs. Another good service, Box. In iTunes, select Edit•Preferences in the hard drive tanks. My favorite is the Gonet, offers 1GB of storage for free or menu and choose the Advanced tab. Daddy Online File Folder (www.godaddy. 5GB for $5 per month. It sports a nice, Check the box labeled Keep iTunes co m /g d s h o p/e m a i l /vsd b _ l a n d i n g . uncluttered Web interface, but doesn’t Music folder organized . let you map that storage as a drive or asp?se=%2B&ci=270), which costs $20
per year for 2GB of storage. You can network place. — Erik Larkin

PHOTO BACKUPS

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H ERE ’S HOW

The Simple Way to Keep Your Private Files Private
W I N D O W S T I P S

there’s only one way to keep your files truly confidential: Encrypt them. The Encrypting File System in most versions of Windows Vista, XP, and 2000 scrambles the contents of files and folders, making it very difficult for snoops to read them. It’s easy to make encryption a part of your security arsenal. Get ready to encrypt: Encrypting File System is in Windows Vista Business, Enterprise, and Ultimate; XP Pro; and Windows 2000. XP Home lacks EFS, and Vista Starter, Home Basic, and Home Premium allow only decryption—so you can read encrypted files but not encrypt them. To use Encrypting File System on a partition, that partition must be formatted using the NTFS file system. Not using NTFS? The switch is easy. See “Go With the NTFS Flow” at http:// pcworld.in/hereshow/index.jsp/ artId=5537798 (the same steps work in Vista). Also, encryption requires that you use a password-protected account. Stow your files: To encrypt a file or folder, right-click it in Explorer or any folder window and choose Properties (you can also right-click a group selection to encrypt several files or folders at once). In the General tab, click Advanced, check Encrypt contents to secure data, and click OK twice (see FIGURE 1). If you’re encrypting a folder, you’ll be asked if you want to encrypt its files and subfolders, as well. Once encrypted, the files or folders will

work like any others on your system; you don’t have to use any special passwords to open or save them. Other user accounts on the PC, and other PCs on the network, can’t view the file contents. Only someone who is logged in to your account with your password can access these files. Streamline the steps: You can shorten the process by adding an Encrypt command to your right-click context menu (the command switches to Decrypt when you right-click encrypted files). You can do this in XP with a quick Registry edit, but you might find it easier and safer to use Tweak UI, a free PowerToy from Microsoft ( w w w. p c w o r l d . c o m / downloads/file/fid,18220order,1-page,1/description. html ). If you al ready have Tweak UI on your system, you FIGURE 2: MAKE ENCRYPTION EASIER by adding a may need to upgrade to a more context menu command using the Tweak UI freebie. recent version. Once Tweak UI of encrypted and compressed files in is downloaded, installed, and running, color, which the OSes do by default. To select Explorer in the left pane, scroll open the Folder Options dialog in Visthrough the options on the right, and ta’s Explorer window, click Organize• check Show “Encrypt” on context menu Folder and Search Options . (see FIGURE 2). Click OK . Now when you right-click an unencrypted file, you’ll see Give others permission: To give people a new command: Encrypt (or Decrypt if who are using your system access to you’ve selected an encrypted item). encrypted files, you can specify the Choose that option, and respond to any individuals by their user name. First, prompts. As of this writing, Tweak UI right-click a single encrypted file (not a was incompatible with Windows folder or multiple files, unfortunately), Vista. However, Totalidea and choose Properties . In the General Software’s free TweakVI tab, click A d v an c e d , and next to Basic utility (www.totalidea. ‘Encrypt contents to secure data’, com/content/ choose Details . In the middle of that tweakvi/tweakvidialog box, click Add to open the Select down.php ) allows User dialog, which lists others who you to tweak many Vista have a certificate (a digital document that helps confirm authenticity) on settings, letting you add the your system (see FIGURE 3). Encrypt/Decrypt commands Users can acquire certificates in varito the context menu. ous ways, but one of the simplest is by Make encrypted files stand out: encrypting one of their own documents. FIGURE 1: ENCRYPTION IS JUST a few clicks away To see at a glance which files (For more about certificates, choose or folders on your system are via any file or folder’s Properties dialog box.

en crypted (or which use NTFS compression, for that matter), open Explorer and choose Tools•Folder Options . Click the View tab, and in the Advanced Settings box, make sure that Show en crypted or compressed NTFS fi les in color is checked. Encrypted items are green, compressed ones blue. On the other hand, if you don’t want others to see which files are encrypted or compressed, uncheck this option. Click OK . XP Pro and Vista users need this tip only if they want to disable the display

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WI N DOWS TI PS

named Scott goes on leave but may return, disable rather than delete Scott’s profile: In XP, choose Star t•Run , type lusrmgr.msc, and press <Enter>. In Vista, click Start and enter the same command in the Start Search field. Click the Users folder icon in the left pane and double-click Scott’s profile in the right pane. In the General tab, check Account is disabled and click OK ; when Scott resumes working, uncheck this box.
A free Encrypting File System alternative: You might need a stronger level of protection trusted users permission to your encrypted files. than Encrypting File System offers. Browse to http:// Start•Help and Support , type certifipcworld.in/downloads/index.jsp/ cates overview, then press <Enter>.) d s e c I d = 1 4 4 3 / d s u b Se c I d = 1 4 4 5 t o Select a trusted user and click OK . Note d o w n l o a d t h e f r e e Tr u e C r y p t that the Find User button in the Select encryption utility; also see the User dialog box won’t work unless your Windows Toolbox at right for another network uses Active Directory, a Winencryption alternative. dows service in which administrators Lock it all up in Vista’s BitLocker: can store and make available informaEncrypting your entire hard disk tion on network objects. makes it harder for malware to Disable, don’t delete: Because infect Vista’s system files, while encrypted files are associated with user also making it tougher for snoops profiles, deleting profiles prevents those to decrypt your files. The BitLocker people from accessing their encrypted feature in the Ultimate and Enterfiles. For example, if an employee prise versions of Vista encrypts the entire partition that the OS is installed on, and stores the encryption key in your PC’s Trusted Platform Module chip, or on a USB flash drive. Since USB drives have become ubiquitous, and since most of us lack systems with a TPM chip, the flash drive option is the most attractive. Unfortunately it’s disabled by default. To enable this option, click Start, enter gpedit.msc in the Start Search field, and press <Enter> to launch Vista’s Group Policy Object Editor. In the left pane, navigate to and select Computer Conf igur ation•Administrative Templates•Windows Components•BitLocker Drive Encryption, and double-click ConFIGURE 4: USE VISTA’S EXTRA-STRENGTH trol Panel Setup: Enable advanced startup BitLocker encryption utility without a TPM options. Next, select Enabled, check Allow security chip by editing Vista’s group policies.
FIGURE 3: LET OTHERS IN on your secrets by giving

WI N D OWS TO O LB OX

Get a Cloak of Invisibility With Free Hide Folders
SOMETIMES THE BEST way to keep people from prying into your personal folders is to keep the folders’ existence secret from the get-go. That’s easy to do with Cleanersoft.com’s Free Hide Folders (http://pcworld.in/downloads/index.jsp/dsecId=1494/dsubSecId=1502). The program lets you make any folder (and its subfolders and other contents) completely invisible with a just a little pointing and clicking. (Note that in Windows Vista, the program may not completely hide some known folders, such as Music in the Documents folder.) Free Hide Folders is password protected, so you’re safe even if the bad guys know you’re using the product. It also lets you back up your folders’ hidden states in case you have a system problem. And as the name says, it’s free.

BitLocker without a compatible TPM, and click OK (see FIGURE 4). Exit the editor. Now whenever you launch the BitLocker Drive Encryption applet in Control Panel, it won’t complain about the missing TPM module, and it will offer a new ‘Turn On BitLocker’ link. BitLocker requires that you be able to boot from your USB drive, and it also must have an additional nonencrypted partition. For further information, click the applet’s What should I know about BitLocker Drive Encryption before I turn it on? link. — Scott Dunn and Scott Spanbauer

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H E RE’S HOW

Help Your PC’s Graphics Make Vista and XP Sparkle
H A R D W A R E T I P S

driver to avoid problems. In XP, choose Start•Control Panel•Add or Remove Programs, select the current graphics driver, and click Remove (see FIGURE 2) . In Vista, click Start•Control Panel•Uninstall a program (Programs and Features in the Classic View). What if you don’t see your driver listed? Rightclick My Computer (Computer in Vista) and select Manage•Device Manager. Under ‘Display adapters’, right-click the graphics driver and select Uninstall. Upgrade on the inside: If you’re not quite ready for a new graphics board, you can squeeze more performance out of your system’s Get the right card for your PC: current graphics hardware by High-end graphics cards typically overclocking it. Both of the leadneed their own power connector. ing graphics card makers—ATI They also generate lots of heat, and nVidia—include an overand often are so big they require FIGURE 1: FIND ALL KINDS of useful data about your clocking utility with many of the space of two expansion slots. graphics hardware in Windows XP’s DirectX Diagnostic Tool. their cards. Using ATI’s OverMake sure your case has plenty downloading and installing the latest verdrive utility doesn’t invalidate the card’s of room inside. warranty, but using nVidia’s Coolbits sion of DirectX. Upgrade DirectX: Fast-action games and overclocking program does. Overheatother graphics-intensive programs reDo driver diligence: Download the latest ing is probably this trick’s biggest risk. quire a recent version of DirectX. Winversion of your card’s driver from the While ATI’s Overdrive utility monitors dows XP supports versions up to DirectX vendor’s Web site. Before you swap out a graphics card’s temperature and pre9c, but to use the improvements in the the cards, however, remove the old card’s vents overheating, most other overclocking utilities don’t. Rigging an inexpensive thermal sensor like HighDOWNLOAD A FREE NETWORK KNOW-IT-ALL Speed PC’s Rs. 675 Digital Thermal Pure Networks’ free Network Magic FOR THOSE OF us who’d prefer to think Probe (www.highspeedpc.com/Mervastly simplifies network maintenance of “IT” as a third-person singular proc h a n t 2 / m e r c h a n t . by consolidating data for all of a netnoun, the thought of setting up and mv?Screen=PROD&Product_ work’s devices on one screen. Go to maintaining a network’s various hardC o d e = Te m p 1 & Ca t e g o r y _ www.networkmagic.com/nmlp/homeware devices is about as appealing as networking.php?src=google&kw=pure% oral surgery without the anesthesia. Code=Overclocking) to monitor your Finding an IP address, a gateway ad20networks for the download (a Premigraphics card temperature could save dress, or other setting often requires a um version adds features like file sharyou the cost of a replacement. hunt through many Windows screens. — Kirk Steers ing and remote access).

windows vista clearly ups the ante on PC graphics power. No matter how basic or advanced your machine, chances are you can upgrade its graphics hardware to run Vista’s Aero interface—or improve XP— for viewing online videos, playing games, and using other graphics-heavy apps. Find the connection: If the video connector on the back of your PC is next to the USB, PS/2, and other ports that are attached directly to the motherboard, your system has integrated graphics. Make sure your computer has an open AGP or PCI Express x16 slot. If your PC does not automatically disable the old graphics processor when a new card is installed, enter your system’s BIOS (watch for the key to press when your system starts but before Windows loads) and disable the setting for integrated graphics.

latest, DirectX 10, you’ll need Windows Vista—and compatible graphics hardware that won’t be mainstream until late this year. To check your DirectX version in XP, click Start•Run and type dxdiag; in Vista, click Start and type dxdiag in the Start Search box. Y our DirectX version is listed under the System tab. The Display tab shows graphics RAM and other data on your video subsystem (see FIGURE 1). Go to http://support.microsoft.com/ ?kbid=179113 to see instructions on

FIGURE 2: MAKE SURE YOU remove your old drive before replacing it with a new one.

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HERE’S H OW

Should I Report Program Problems to Microsoft?
doesn’t leave you in a charitable mood, and clicking the tells me that one of my programs Don’t Send button will get has “encountered a problem,” you back to work a few secand asks to send Microsoft a report. onds sooner. But you don’t What’s the best procedure to follow? have to make that decision with each crash. You can this error message, added to the XP tell Windows ahead of time version of Windows, tells you the operatwhen it should, and should ing system halted a program that, had it not, report such problems been allowed to continue, might have to Microsoft. crashed Windows. Microsoft insists it In XP, select Start•Run, FIGURE 1: DECIDE FOR YOURSELF which Vista program crashes doesn’t use the information to track you, type sysdm.cpl, and press you encounter should be reported back to Microsoft. and the report could well help prevent <Enter>. Click the Advanced such program failures in the future. tab in the System Properties dialog box, Still, there is some security risk: Tests off, give other users permission to set this and then choose the Error Reporting butby the U.S. Department of Energy Comoption for themselves, read Microsoft’s ton that appears down on the lower right. puter Incident Advisory Capability found privacy statement, and list programs You can disable all error reporting, or have that the “memory dump” sent to Microsoft whose errors should not be reported (see errors reported for the operating system sometimes contained information from FIGURE 1). Click OK twice and close the only, for programs only, or for both. If you the user’s document (browse to www. Problem Reports and Solutions applet enable reporting, click the Choose Programs ciac.org/ciac/bulletins/m-005.shtml for once you’ve made your changes. button to select the apps whose failures you more). In any event, the message probably TRIM OFFICE MENUS wish to have reported. When you’re done, click OK twice. HOW DO I remove an item from a Vi s t a’ s e r r o r m e s s a g e Microsoft Word menu? doesn’t ask about sending removing items you don’t use information. Instead, the OS makes the menus easier to navigate. The just sends it—unless you following trick will work in Word, Excel, instruct it not to do so beforeand other programs in Microsoft Office hand. Select Start, and in the versions 2000, 2002, and 2003: Start Search box, type problem In the program with the unwanted menu reports and solutions. Press item, select Tools•Customize. With the Cus<Enter>, and click Change tomize dialog box open, click the menu at settings•Advanced settings. In the top of the program window that holds the ‘Advanced settings for the item you want to remove, right-click the problem reporting’ dialog item, and select Delete (see FIGURE 2); then FIGURE 2: REMOVING UNWANTED MENU items from box, you can turn reporting click the dialog box’s Close button. Microsoft Word makes the menus easier to navigate. Office 2007 doesn’t have menus, so there’s nothing to customize. Removing items from the ribbon isn’t an option. However, you can PERSONALIZE YOUR WINDOWS EXPLORER SHORTCUTS customize the Quick Access Toolbar and Properties. Position the cursor in the THE SIMPLEST WAY to open Explorer to keyboard shortcuts in Office 2007 applicaShortcut tab’s Target field, press <Home>, a specific file or folder is to right-click tions: Click the Office icon in the top-left and drag its icon out of Explorer and and type explorer.exe /e, (don’t forget corner, choose the options button for the onto the desktop (or the Start menu, the space before the slash or the comma program at the bottom of the drop-down list, quick-launch toolbar, or other location), at the end). For example, to open Explorand select Customize in the left pane. release the button, and select Create er to your D drive, type explorer.exe /e, Shortcuts Here. To open Explorer with D:\ . When you’re done, press <Enter>. Answer Line is anchored by contributing
A N S W E R L I N E

SOMETIMES AN ERROR message

the folder tree visible in the left pane, right-click the shortcut and choose

(Note that Vista displays folders by default, so no change for it is needed.)

editor Lincoln Spector. Send in your queries to feedback@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 ■ East-Tec Backup Lite ■ Mandriva Linux Free 2007 WHAT’S ON DVD 8GB of fun, freebies and power tools

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PC World Super Suite
A LOOK AT SOME OF THE GOODIES THAT MAKE UP OUR SUPER SUITE.
tired of popping in various CDs and DVDs to install all the various software? Ever wished for a single DVD that has most, if not all of the common, software you’d require? How convenient it’d be to choose and install all Microsoft updates in a few easy steps? Our PC World Super Suite has been designed keeping these in mind, and is updated to the latest versions of these software. It will take many more pages than what we have here to explain every software contained in our 1.7GB bundle, but here is a preview of some of the softwares. GAIM long before MSN and Ya h o o ! o f f e r e d u n i fi e d messenger service (add MSN contacts to Yahoo! messenger and vice versa) several clients existed that could connect simultaneously to different
96

others that you may not have heard of. This is a must have software for an IM buff. You will find this open source and free software in the Messengers section in the Super Suite.

messenger services and show all contacts in a single list – much easier and efficient than having three or four different software running for instant messaging alone! Gaim has been a favorite amongst the multi-protocol

IM clients for long and for a good reason. It is light on system resources, has hardly any stability issues, nice interface that is easy t o u s e , c u s t o m i z ab i l i t y, and importantly, supports Yahoo!, MSN, ICQ and few

IRFANVIEW there are image viewers and then there is IrfanView. Merely browsing through images can be done in XP’s very own Picture and Fax Viewer, but if you want a software that is more powerful, easy on system resources and just as easy, if not easier to use, then IrfanView is perhaps your best bet. What more, you can even view videos in IrfanView with the help of plugins! If you have a bunch of large high res images from your camera that you wish to convert, there is the handy batch conversion feature (press ‘B’ or File > Batch Convert). IrfanView

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ILLUSTRATION: ANIL T

SOFTWARE

FREE STUF F

can acquire images from scanners that are TWAIN compliant (most scanner are) and does this in batch mode as well! If you wish to add simple effects to an image without straining your PC and yourself with the likes of Photoshop, just use Effects (Image > Effects). There are several more features that you will find useful in this free ABIWORD IS AN extremely easy to use word processor and it is free. software. Again, a must have if you don’t want to buy a ZIP such that it can be opened formats such as TAR, Z, ZIP, image management software in systems that do not have BZ2, etc. You can set a password like ACDSee which can be WinRAR installed (Windows for your archive (compressed) file, sluggish on older PCs. XP and above. For older MS OS, split a large file into parts, assign you need the WinZip program). priority levels to WinRAR (so that Many files on the Internet are other programs are not affected) WINRAR compressed in the RAR format, winRAR, a worthy competitor and test archive for integrity making this program a handy amongst other things. WinRAR to the all too common WinZip one to have around. allows you to save an archive as supports various compression

ABIWORD if all you want for creating documents is a word processor that is easy to use, has all basic formatting options and looks similar to Microsoft’s Word, AbiWord is what you are looking for. On first glance it looks like an old version of Word, thus not making you feel lost. AbiWord is an opensource program and free to use. AbiWord for Windows takes just about 20MB on your hard disk and is compatible with all Windows versions from 95 to XP. Ab i Wo r d h a s a s p e l l checker, can track document history, supports tables and headers / footers. By using plugins you can enhance the functionality of AbiWord.

East-Tec Backup Lite
FULL PRODUCT

east-Tec Backup Lite is a software to back up and protect the files and data on your hard disk. East-Tec Backup Lite is very easy to use and features intuitive wizards, data compression (using the widely popular ZIP open format, a non-proprietary format, giving you full control over your backup), the ability to backup to any local locations, and more. Other features include backing up without the need to close running programs, file filtering (include or exclude certain fi le types from your backup), the ability to run programs/commands before or after the backup, and detailed backup logs.

THIS SOFTWARE MAKES the important task of backing up data easy.

When you open East-Tec Backup, click on the Task menu and then New Task. In the settings that show up, you can choose the source (the files and folders that you want to back up) and the destination (the place you want to back up to – like a

network drive or a different hard disk). Just click the ‘Scheduler’ tab to set the time and date when this back up task should run. You can choose to archive your files in ZIP format which not only saves space but also enables you to add a password to your backups. Similar to WinZip, you can also split the archive at selected file sizes that will make it easier for you to span your backups over CDs or DVDs. A warning can also be issued when an error occurs during backup, so you’ll be able to attend to the problem. East-Tec Backup Lite can be used for free. A registration window is displayed the first time the user runs the program, but it is optional. For more features, users can upgrade to East-Tec Backup 2007 from www.easttec.com/offers/pcworldin/

You can upgrade to EastTec Backup 2007 and be able to backup registry keys, mails and user settings, backup to local area network, removable disk, CD/DVD, FTP, Encrypt your backup using AES, create incremental and differential backup tasks, automate your backup tasks using a powerful scheduler send email notifications when backups are made.

Installation Details
System Requirements:
■ ■ ■ ■ ■

300 MHz or higher CPU 128 MB RAM 10MB free space 500 MHz or higher CPU 250 MB RAM or higher for Windows XP

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F REE ST UFF

SOFTWARE

Mandriva Linux Free 2007
L I N U X

m a nd r i va L inu x F r e e 2007 is the free version o f M a n d r i v a (f o r m e r l y Mandrake) Linux 2007. The PC World May 2007 DVD is bootable with Mandriva Linux Free 2007 for both 32 bit as well as 64 bit CPUs – and hence you do not need to transfer ISOs on DVDs or CDs. The installation is graphical and offers efficient hardware detection. Once you boot from the DVD, just click on ‘Installation’ to start the installation. Co m m e r c i a l p r o d u c t s f r o m Ma n d r i v a s u c h a s Mandriva Linux Powerpack Edition include more features than the Download Edition such as commercial add-ons and third-party software. Commercial products also provide documentation and access to Mandriva services such as support. The download editions such as this free distribution may be freely downloaded from www.mandrivalinux.com/ en/ftp.php3.

THIS MANDRIVA INSTALLER includes both 32 and 64 bit versions.

Both KDE and GNOME desktop environments are included in Mandriva Free 2007 along with an exciting 3D Desktop. The drak3D configuration tool chooses the best 3D solution for your hardware on either KDE or GNOME. System administration can be done completely via GUI without the need to get into the command console (knowing the commands of course helps). The Mandriva Linux Control Center allows a user to resort to a single panel

THE K-MENU SEEMS Windows-like and won’t leave a new user lost.

to administer the entire system. This must help first time users who might be wary of making changes to the system. Mandriva Linux also offers several preconfigured levels of security that a user can choose for his computer. The K-menu on the default KDE desktop is at the traditional bottom left of the screen and looks deceptively like a Windows OS. It feels better organised on closer observation – applications are sorted depending on their type – office, Internet, multimedia and system. Like other newer Linux distros, the various storage devices get mounted automatically, so you only need to click on ‘Devices’ on the desktop to access other partitions. The equivalent of a Control Panel is in the form of the Control Center that you can find under K-menu> Configuration, which allows you to make system administer level changes as well as changes to appearance a n d t h e m e s . To access some of these settings you need to be logged in as a root user. Some of the applications included in Mandriva Linux Free 2007 are OpenOffice.org, KOffice, Abiword, Gnumeric, C/C++ / Java , etc. Package management done by the all new RPMDrake gives you a quick view of what you have, what you can install, what Man-

driva recommends, which updates are available and much more. The commercial versions of Mandriva include additional features and functions that improve operability with certain network adapters and graphic cards. Furthermore, Mandriva’s commercial products often include support options (such as Mandriva Expert), documentation, and premium online services such as Mandriva Club and Mandrivaonline.
IN BRIEF

Installation Notes
L I K E A L L L I N UX d i stributions, Mandriva can be installed on a PC that already has a Windows installed. During the installation, Mandriva detects the presence of Windows and gives you a dual boot option. You need to choose the partition from which Mandriva can take space for its own installation and you are all set. The process is user friendly, but if you are not familiar with this operation, we suggest backing up of important data on a CD / DVD. Installation is very fast – it took us about 15 minutes to install Mandriva Free 2007 with all packages chosen.

Installation Details
System Requirements:

128 MB RAM; 256 MB preffered For 3D environment, a P3 or higher CPU with a 3D graphic card

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FULL PRODUCTS

Mandriva Linux Free 2007
Mandriva Linux Free 2007 is the free version of Mandriva (formerly Mandrake) Linux 2007. This DVD is bootable with Mandriva Linux Free 2007 for both 32 bit as well as 64 bit CPUs.

East-Tec Backup Lite
An easy to use backup software that can schedule backups to a network drive or a secondary hard disk. You can also use the ZIP format to archive your files which not only uses less space but also gives you the option of password protecting it.

DESKTOP ENHANCEMENTS

Themes, Screensavers, Wallpapers
The themes mentioned in our Dress Up Your Desktop feature (see page xx) are included on our DVD. We also have wallpapers contributed by our readers who are photography enthusiasts and illustrations created by our design team.

E SS E N TI A L S

PC World Super Suite
Our Super Suite includes software for almost all tasks. Right from browsers, office tools, codecs to system tools and patches, you will find them all here. This time we have included Autopatcher for Windows Vista as well.

V I D EO S

5 Tech Videos
Glimpse the technology of today and tomorrow with our exclusive tech videos. Creative Suite 3 from Adobe PC World’s review of Apple TV RFID in use in Germany’s supermarket Fuel Cell laptop prototype from Toshiba Acer at CEBIT 2007
GA M E S

Red Ocean
Get into an underwater station in the first person shooter

TUTORIAL

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

5 video tutorials for XP
Enable hibernation Hide taskbar icons Disable autorun for CD / DVD drives Use magnifier tool Open event viewer
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The first space ship to Venus
A sci-fi movie from the 60s to – The First Space Ship to Venus. Join a team of astronauts as they set out to the planet Venus in search of life. Trailers from the Fantastic 4 and Ratatouille are also included.

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101

4Ways
to

Windows
Find the best software for running Windows on your Mac

W

hen Apple introduced its first Intel powered Macs in early 2006, the company did

a copy of Windows from within OS X; CodeWeavers’ CrossOver Mac, which tricks Windows apps into thinking you’ve got Windows installed when you really don’t; and Apple’s own Boot Camp, which lets you choose to boot into Windows or OS X when you start your Mac. But those four choices lead to one big question: which one is right for you? What follows is a comparison of the four, as well as a critical look at how easy each one is to install and configure, how well each runs Windows software, and how well each supports hardware peripherals.

more than just launch OS X on a new platform. It also gave Mac users a brand-new way to run Windows apps. Eighteen months ago, Mac users who had to run Windows software used Virtual PC—and nobody really liked it. Today, we have a bunch of alternatives, with four that really rise to the top: Parallels Desktop for Mac and VMWare Fusion, which both let you install and run

By Rob Griffiths | Illustrations by Jack Gallagher

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SAMPLE ARTICLE
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Resize Partitions On-the-Fly

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As you read, bear in mind that this market is constantly evolving. During our evaluation, both Apple’s Boot Camp and MWare’s Fusion were still in public beta, Parallels’ latest release had just emerged from beta, and CrossOver had only recently been released. I used the most up-to-date version of each program available at the time I was testing, but some of the details may be out of date by the time you read this. Also keep in mind that it’d be impossible for us to do full compatibility testing for every version of Windows, every application, and every hardware peripheral on the Mac market. I chose to focus our software compatibility assessments on Microsoft Windows XP Pro Service Pack 2 (with all the latest updates) and Office XP Pro (2002). Unless specified otherwise, I tested each product on a 15-inch 2.33GHz MacBook Pro with 2GB of RAM.

Hardware Requirements To use any of the following software, you’ll obviously need an Intel-powered Mac; none of these programs run on a PowerPC Mac. CPU The faster your CPU, the better your performance will be. None of these programs are disappointing in terms of speed. I ran them through some timed

tests (see “How They Compare: Virtualization Software”) and some less formal evaluations (using them for everyday computing chores and comparing the feel to native OS X apps). My conclusion: Macs run Windows quite nicely in virtualization mode, and very well when booted natively into Windows. (To be more specific, they run Windows XP quite nicely; Vista is another story. For more on that, see “Which Windows?”) But even on a Core Duo mini, these programs all offer performance that’s worlds better than Virtual PC ever was on a PowerPC Mac. For typical Office applications, even a Mac mini will provide performance that’s more than acceptable. The main exception: if you want to use Boot Camp to run Windows games that require 3-D acceleration, you’ll want a more powerful machine; the mini and the MacBook lack the graphics hardware required for 3-D– accelerated video games. RAM You’ll also want a lot of RAM. In my testing, with Windows loaded and Word and Excel files open, CrossOver and Fusion used between 45MB and 60MB of real memory; Parallels used more than 100MB. By comparison, running Windows natively in Boot Camp with the same Excel and Word files open required almost

200MB. As you open more programs, and especially if you’re using OS X apps at the same time, your RAM requirements will go up. For Windows 2000 and XP, 2GB is a good starting point; you’ll need more if you’re considering running Vista. Extras You’ll also need to be careful about the kinds of peripherals you have connected to your Mac. These programs can vary widely in their support for FireWire, USB, and Bluetooth. If any of your Windows apps require such peripherals, see “How They Compare: Virtualization Software” to find out about compatibility. Who They’re Good For So which of these four alternatives is right for you? Not surprisingly, the answer really depends on what you need. For most Mac users, Parallels will let you do what you need to do in Windows with the least amount of trouble. Tinkerers and hobbyists will love Fusion’s downloadable appliances. Those who don’t need anything but the occasional Windows Office application can probably get by with CrossOver. For others—gamers, people with esoteric hardware needs, and people who pound their CPUs at 100 percent utilization—Boot Camp is the preferred route. The bottom line: we’ve come a long way from Virtual PC.

How They Compare: Virtualization Software
Parallels Desktop
Windows versions supported Other operating systems supported 64-bit support Drag and drop files between Windows and OS X Performance: scroll Word document (seconds)A USB support Bluetooth support FireWire support 3-D acceleration Utilizes both cores in Core Duo chips Memory usage
B

VMWare Fusion
3.1, 95, 98, ME, NT, 2000, XP, Vista, Windows Server FreeBSD, Linux, MS-DOS, Novell Netware, Solaris 1 1

CrossOver Mac 98, 2000, XP
none m m
D

Boot Camp
XP, Vista none m m

3.11, 95, 98, ME, NT, 2000, XP, Vista FreeBSD, Linux, MS-DOS, OS/2 , Solaris m 1

9.9

12.6

17.5

14.5

Good Poor Poor m m 105MB–115MB

Fair Good Poor 1C 1 50MB–60MB

Poor Poor Fair 1 m 45MB–55MB

Good Good Good 1 1 194MB

1= yes. m = no. AScrolling through a 3.9MB document with many images in Page Layout mode, using 125 percent zoom; by comparison, running the same test in Mac-native Microsoft Word 2004 on a MacBook Pro took 12.4 seconds. BWith a large Word document and an Excel file open. CExperimental. DApps that run on those operating systems, not the operating systems themselves.

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Multi-OS Powerhouse
arallels ( ; macworld.com/ 2598) came out in beta form in April of last year, not long after Apple released the first Intel Macs. Since then, the software has been greatly improved through a seemingly constant stream of betas, release candidates, and officially released updates. (This article is based on build 3170, Release Candidate 3; Parallels says that there are no substantial differences between that build and the official release, beyond some bug fixes.) Today, this $80 program is the most-refined option for running a full Windows installation next to OS X on an Intel Mac. (Parallels also supports nearly any non-Apple operating system you can think of, from Windows 3.11 through Vista, Linux, Free- BSD, OS/2, Solaris, and even good old MS-DOS).

Parallels

P

The process is just a bit more complicated if you want to install other operating systems. You use File: New to open the OS Installation Assistant, and tell it to create a Custom virtual machine. On the next screen, you select the type of OS (Linux, OS/2, and so on), as well as the specific version (Red Hat Linux, OS/2 Warp 4, and so on) you want to install. You’ll then have to specify a memory allocation and drivespace setup for your virtual machine, and then start the installation— you can install from CDs or from a disk image.

Installation Parallels has accomplished something amazing: it’s made it simpler to install Windows inside a virtual machine on a Mac than it is to install Windows on a “real” PC. Using the Windows Express setup assistant, you can install Windows XP or Vista in a couple of mouse clicks. You type your product key, name, and organization on one screen, and then Parallels takes over. Anywhere you’d typically have to interact with the Windows installer, Parallels does the job for you. After installing Windows, you launch your new virtual machine and run the Parallels Tools installer (in the Action menu). Parallels Tools adds a number of features that ease the integration of Windows with OS X, such as the ability to move your mouse seamlessly from Parallels to Mac OS X and back again.

Software Support Assuming that you’re using Parallels to run Windows, you’ll want to check out Parallels’ Coherence mode as soon as you can (see “Coherence Mode”). It’s a way of configuring Parallels so the Windows OS itself is hidden: all you see is an application window—which happens to belong to a Windows application—on your OS X desktop. Those apps have their own resizable windows, their icons appear in OS X’s Dock,

and the Windows Resize Partitions taskbar is present On-the-Fly along the bottom of the screen (though you can drag it to any edge, just as you can when running Windows natively). When running Parallels in Coherence mode, it’s easy to forget you’re even running the Windows OS; it’s more like you’re running programs that don’t look like the rest of your OS X apps. Further easing integration, Parallels supports full drag and drop between the Windows and OS X environments. You can copy a folder of files from one environment to the other, add items to the taskbar in Coherence mode, and even drop documents onto Windows’ application windows. At the other extreme, you can make your Mac look like it’s solely a Windows machine simply by switching to full screen mode. In full-screen mode, the Mac OS is completely hidden. When you want to get back to your native OS, just press option-return and you’re back in windowed mode. In addition to creating this OS transparency, Parallels runs Windows apps amazingly well. It will run nearly any Windows program you throw at it, with performance that’s nearly as good as you’d get on a similarly configured native Windows box. (You can also run Windows XP from a Boot Camp partition— meaning that you need only one copy of

Also on Also on

Coherence Mode With Parallels’ new Coherence mode, Internet Explorer 7 and Microsoft Word (running in Windows) integrate seamlessly with the Finder and Font Book.

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Player to work (it kept telling me I needed an MPEG-2 codec), but I was able to use the free VLC video player (www. videolan.org/vlc) to play Pirates of the Caribbean 2 (see “Playing DVDs”). There was some stuttering of the sound and the occaPlaying DVDs You can watch (and burn) DVDs in Parallels—if sional mild picture hicyou use VLC and don’t mind a little stuttering. The Windows cup, but overall, the Media Player complained about a missing codec. experience was much better than I was expecting. Windows XP.) I say nearly because Parallels can’t yet utilize both cores in the Core Duo chips. So if you’re running an appliHardware Support cation that’s particularly CPU-intensive, When Parallels first came out, its support it’ll take a bit of a performance hit. Also, for USB devices wasn’t great. Things have Parallels doesn’t yet offer accelerated improved since then. It now supports graphics, so many games are out of the USB 2.0, and more devices work. I had no question. And Parallels won’t run 64- bit trouble getting Windows XP Pro to recogWindows, but that’ll be a problem for nize a 1GB memory stick; USB hard only a small subset of users. drives work, too. I was even able to use For everything else, such as Micromy Wacom Intuos 2 graphics tablet. You soft Office, Quicken QuickBooks, may still run into problems with things Adobe Photoshop, and pretty much such as USB dongles, which some proany other application I tested, Paralgrams use for copy protection, but most lels works, and works well. Performother USB devices should work just fine. ance is nice and snappy—in fact, it’s Networking support is good; I had no the snappiest of the four programs I issues printing to a networked laser printer, tested (see “How They Compare: Virand I was able to see the other Macs on the tualization Software”). Even playing household network. back DVDs works reasonably well. I What hardware won’t work with Paralwasn’t able to get Windows Media lels? Pretty much anything that connects

via FireWire, Bluetooth, or ExpressCard. (The main exception is FireWire drives that have been mounted in OS X.) If you have peripherals that rely on these technologies and that need access to them in Windows, you should consider using Boot Camp. Also, Parallels can’t take advantage of both cores on Core Duo chips. In my experience, that didn’t interfere with performance much, but if you have processorintensive Windows apps, it might.

Who It’s Good For With its excellent application support, well-integrated Coherence mode, dragand- drop capabilities, and overall level of performance, Parallels is a great match for people who need to run the full Windows OS on their Macs— or people who’d like to experiment with other operating systems, such as Linux. But if you need accelerated 3-D graphics support or have FireWire and Bluetooth devices you need to use in Windows, look to Boot Camp.
PARALLELS DESKTOP FOR MAC
PROS: Coherence mode; drag and drop files from one OS to another; excellent performance; very good hardware support. CONS: Virtually no FireWire or Bluetooth support; no accelerated graphics; doesn’t utilize both cores in Core Duo chips; no 64bit Windows support. PRICE: $80 COMPANY: Parallels, www.parallels.com

The Security Question
Is Windows really unsafe?
At one point during my research for this article, I ran Parallels on my Mac Pro for the first time in a while. I wanted to tweak the virtual machine’s settings, which requires shutting it down. Before I could do so, Windows XP informed me it was installing a few updates. (I have the automatic update enabled.) Eventually, the updates were applied and the virtual machine shut down. I tweaked my Parallels settings and restarted the virtual machine. When XP finished booting up, I was surprised to see Windows’ built-in malware detector pop up on screen. Somehow, my virtual Windows XP installation had been infected by a member of the rbot family of malicious software. Thankfully, Windows found and removed this hack all by itself. I hadn’t done much more than surf the Net and run some Office applications on that particular machine. It’s certainly possible that I visited a malicious Web page. Or

maybe someone had sniffed out my machine from the Net and attacked it remotely. But I still have no clue how my Windows XP installation got infected. I’d turned Windows sharing off on my virtual machine, and my home network sits behind a router that uses network address translation to hide my machines’ IP addresses from the Net. From now on, I’m going to need a good security program for my virtual Windows machines. (Friends have suggested AVG Free [free.grisoft.com], for starters.) I’m not too worried about Windows infections getting to my OS X installation, at least not yet. But I’m glad I’m not a fulltime user.

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document from Resize Partitions top to bottom in On-the-Fly roughly the same amount of time it took me to do so while running Office 2004 in Rosetta on my MacBook Pro. Pirates of the Caribbean 2 played as well as it did in Parallels. Fusion has a full-screen mode, too, but nothing like Parallels’ Coherence mode. You can move files and folders between OS X and Windows via drag and drop, but setting up a shared documents folder is much tougher than it is in Parallels.

New Kid on the Block
M Ware (www.vmware.com) has been providing virtualization software for Windows users for years. VMWare Fusion, which has been available as a free public beta since late December 2006 (I tested build number 36932), is the company’s first Mac product. Fusion is still in beta. No ship date for a final version has been announced. Given that, many features are missing or incomplete.

VMWare

V

Installation Like Parallels, Fusion installs with a standard OS X installer. But when it comes to installing Windows, you have to run Windows’ installation program yourself. Fusion supports 19 different versions of Windows, from 3.1 through the 64-bit versions of Windows XP and Vista. You can also install Linux systems (including Red Hat and SUSE), Novell’s Netware, Sun’s Solaris, Free- BSD, and MS-DOS. Fusion’s other key differentiator is its support for what VMWare calls “virtual

appliances”—preconfigured bundles of operating systems and applications that you can download and install with a few mouse clicks. For example, I downloaded MindTouch Deki, which lets you collaborate on documents wiki-style. I expanded the archive and then doubleclicked on the resulting file. The appliance booted its operating system, configured itself, and was ready to use in about a minute (see “Virtual Appliance.”) If you’ve ever wanted to test-drive Linux, a Fusion virtual appliance is far and away the easiest way to do so.

Software Support Running Windows apps in Fusion is much like running them in Parallels: for the most part, they just work. I found the speed in both Word and Excel to be more than acceptable; I was able to scroll through a long Word

Hardware Support Fusion’s hardware support is mixed. It supports Bluetooth if you install Apple’s Boot Camp drivers. Like Parallels, Fusion will let you use your Bluetooth mouse within each program; unlike Parallels, Fusion lets you bind new Bluetooth devices to the virtual machine. And Fusion supports both cores in Intel Core Duo chips. In its latest release, VMWare has added “experimental” support for accelerated 3-D graphics, which worked just fine in my testing. On the downside, Fusion has no Fire- Wire support, except as a source of shared folders on a hard drive. I couldn’t get my Wacom graphics tablet to work. Who It’s Good For Overall, given that this is still a beta release, I was impressed with Fusion. It’s got a ways to go before it’s a polished Parallels competitor, and it isn’t ready for people who need a stable, fullfeatured Windows environment. But it’s a good start.

VMWARE FUSION BETA (BUILD 36932)
PROS: Prebundled “appliances” let you quickly install useful preconfigured systems and applications; uses both cores in Core Duo chips; can run 64-bit Windows. CONS: Tricky to set up shared folders; plenty of beta issues; sketchy USB support; no FireWire support; no accelerated graphics. PRICE: free (for beta) COMPANY: VMWare, www.vmware.com

Virtual Appliance VMWare’s virtual appliances are fully configured and ready-to-run software programs—such as MindTouch Deki, shown here—that you can download.

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FEATURE 4 Ways to Windows

Windows Applications without Windows
odeWeavers’ CrossOver Mac (www.codeweavers.com) is unique among virtualization programs in that it doesn’t actually require a copy of Windows. That’s right: once you’ve paid CodeWeavers your $60 ($70 for a CD), you’re ready to start installing Windows programs, without paying Microsoft a dime. How is that possible? CrossOver is a Mac implementation of Wine (www . winehq.com), which provides versions of Windows-native libraries, so it appears to Windows apps that they’re in a real Windows operating system.

CrossOver
to make some tweaks, you use CrossOver’s Bottle Manager, which lets you adjust all sorts of settings (see “Configuring Bottles”). From then on, you can launch the program from within CrossOver or by just double-clicking on the application in the Finder, as you would do for any other OS X application.

ports accelerated 3-D graphics. That means you can run some Windows games directly within OS X.

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Hardware Support CrossOver can see any external hard drives (USB and FireWire) and memory sticks that OS X can see, and you’ll have access to them from the Open and Save dialog boxes in Windows. Other hardware is trickier. If your device requires a Windows-specific driver, odds are it probably won’t work in CrossOver. Who It’s Good For If your Windows needs are limited—for example, if you just want to open and edit old Office documents and don’t want to pay for a Windows license, CrossOver is a fine alternative. It’s also a viable choice for PC gamers looking to play the occasional Windows game without logging out of OS X. But if you need a fuller Windows experience, one of the other programs will be a better fit.

Installation Installing CrossOver couldn’t be much simpler: you just drag its application icon into your Applications folder. You don’t need to run an OS X installer, install Windows, or even reboot before you start using the program. To install a Windows application in CrossOver, you can either insert the program’s installation CD or run CrossOver’s Install Software assistant. CrossOver uses bottles to organize your installed applications. A bottle is a virtual Windows environment, each with its own C: drive, fonts, and registry. You can install multiple applications in one bottle, or you can create a new bottle for each program you install. If you’re installing a program that CrossOver knows how to handle, it’ll create a bottle automatically. If you’re installing an unsupported program, you’ll need to specify which Windows it requires. (Your choices are Windows 98, Windows 2000, or Windows XP.) For most applications, that’s all the configuring you’ll need to do. If you do need
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Software Support Once it’s installed, how well does CrossOver actually work? The answer ranges from “incredibly well” to “not at all.” The company has classified more than 2,500 Windows applications for compatibility. Ratings run from gold (perfect compatibility) and silver (runs with CROSSOVER MAC 6.0 some bugs) down through PROS: No need to purchase Windows; supports the self-explanatory accelerated 3-D graphics; easy to install. “Known Not to Work.” Of CONS: Limited application compatibility; no access to the full Windows OS if you need those 2,500-plus programs, only 55 get a it; USB devices may not work with games. gold or silver rating; the vast majority are PRICE: $60 labeled Untested. COMPANY: CodeWeavers, www.codeweavers.com In my testing, those ratings proved accurate. Older versions of Microsoft Office (97 and 2000, both of which have a gold rating) worked quite well. Office XP (with a silver rating) worked OK, with an occasional graphical glitch and a crash or two. Newer programs can be problematic: you can run Internet Explorer 5, but you can’t use versions 6 or 7. Gaming is where CrossOver offers a Configuring Bottles CrossOver runs Windows apps inside pleasant surprise. selfcontained mini-Windows environments called bottles. Unlike Parallels, it supCONTENT PAGE

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SAMPLE ARTICLE
Also on

Which Windows?
A field guide to the other OS
Knowing how to run Windows on your Mac is one thing. Knowing which Windows version to run is something else altogether. There are not only four different versions of Windows Vista on store shelves, but also two different versions of Windows XP still available if you know where to look. grams missing from Home Basic. Windows Media Center, the major selling point for this edition, enables your computer to act as a television and video recorder. The Mac’s hardware doesn’t support many of these features. Media Center also includes DVD-burning and movie-creation applications, as well as some games. The full installation of Home Premium costs $239. Vista Business replaces Home’s multimedia capabilities with security, networking, and sharing features not found in the Home versions. Those features include Domain Join, Group Policy support, Encrypting File System (EFS), Corporate Roaming, and Remote Desktop. Microsoft asks $299 for Vista Business. Finally, Vista Ultimate includes everything found in the three less-expensive versions of Vista plus a few extras—a card game, additional language packs, and more security. Vista Ultimate comes at an ultimate price—$399 for a full installation.

Vista and Virtualization If you plan to run Windows through Parallels Desktop for Mac or VMWare Fusion, Microsoft has made your choice of Windows easy. The end user license agreements (EULAs) that come with Vista Home Basic and Vista Home Premium versions specifically forbid you to operate them under virtualization. I’ve found no technical reason why you can’t run these versions of Windows under virtualization, but it’s technically illegal to do so. The official reason for this restriction is security. Microsoft is happy to let you run Vista Business and Vista Ultimate editions under virtualization, because they include more-robust safety features. Because a Mac running Apple’s Boot Camp is for all intents and purposes a living and breathing Windows PC, Microsoft has no objection to your running any version of Vista on it. Regardless of which version of Vista you install, Microsoft demands that each installation have its own license. So if you wish to install it in both Boot Camp and a virtualization application, you’ll need two Windows licenses. What’s the Difference? Roughly speaking, the various Vista editions shake out this way. Vista Home Basic is just that, a very basic version of Windows that doesn’t include Microsoft’s Aero visual effects and also lacks Windows Media Center, Windows Flip 3D Navigation, Scheduled and Network Backup, Windows Meeting Space, and Tablet Technology. It sells for $199 for a full installation. Vista Home Premium adds the Aero effect as well as the features and pro-

Do You Resize Partitions Need Vista? On-the-Fly Vista is unquestionably the future of Microsoft’s operating system. But even PC users who like Windows have been complaining about Vista’s performance. Vista running under Parallels Desktop for Mac is no speed demon and is occasionally unpredictable. It’s better under Boot Camp but still far from perfect. Windows XP, on the other hand, isn’t half bad, no matter how you run it on your Mac. It’s a more mature version of Windows and therefore less buggy. It’s also less laden with eye candy, so it’s faster than Vista. XP is also much better than Vista when it comes to virtualization. Because virtualization wasn’t a threat when XP was released many years ago, there’s no provision in the EULA that forbids you to run it under Parallels, Fusion, or whatever else you want to use. And even under virtualization, XP Home, XP Professional, and most Windows applications (save 3-D games and other 3-D–intensive applications, which perform poorly) run at nearnative speeds on a modern Intel Mac. People running Boot Camp will find that XP is blazingly fast.—CHRISTOPHER BREEN

Windows Vista: What You Get
Features
Backup: Scheduled Backup Backup: Windows Complete PC Backup and Restore Collaboration: Windows Meeting Space Data Protection: Windows BitLocker Drive Encryption Eye Candy and Navigation: Aero Effect, Windows Flip 3D, and Live Thumbnails Media and Entertainment: Windows Media Center, Windows DVD Maker, Windows Movie Maker, Chess Titans, Mahjong Titans, Inkball Mobile: Windows Mobility Center, Tablet PC Support Networking: Networking Center, Remote Desktop Search and Internet: Instant Search, Windows Internet Explorer 7 Security: Windows Defender, Windows Firewall 1 1 1 1 1 1 1

Home Basic

Home Premium
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Business
1 1

Ultimate
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1 1 1 1

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FEATURE 4 Ways to Windows

Ultimate Compatibility

Boot Camp

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hile Parallels, Fusion, and CrossOver are good for running Windows apps from within OS X, if you want the complete Windows experience, you need Apple’s Boot Camp (www.apple.com/bootcamp). In free public beta at the time of this writing, and slated for inclusion in Mac OS X 10.5, Boot Camp is unlike the other three programs: it doesn’t let you run Windows apps alongside your OS X apps. Instead, it converts your Mac into a full-blown Windows computer.

pick your new Windows partition and then use the Mac drivers CD you burned earlier to install the Windows drivers for all your Mac-specific hardware. Once you’ve done that, you’ve got a real, honest-to goodness Windows XP computer.

Hardware Support Thanks to the Windows driver CD, all your Mac-specific hardware—Bluetooth, AirPort, and even the built-in iSight camera—will work perfectly in Windows. Boot Camp is especially great for gamers, because it fully supports accelerated 3-D graphics. So stop hoping that all those Windows- only games will get ported to the Mac and start playing; they’ll work well on any Mac that supports advanced 3-D acceleration (which means pretty much any Mac except for the Mac mini and the MacBook).

Installation When installing Boot Camp, the first thing you do is let the Boot Camp Assistant partition your hard drive into two pieces—one for OS X and another for Windows (see “Partitioning for Windows”). The partition size you specify will depend largely on what you plan to do with Windows; if you’re installing big apps or you’ll be using big data files, you size the partition accordingly. None of your existing data is lost in this process and, if you change your mind later, the Boot Camp Assistant will also merge your split disk back into one, deleting the Windows data while keeping your OS X files intact. The next step is to burn a CD with Mac drivers. This CD is the key to Boot Camp’s great Windows support: it adds specific drivers for your Mac’s hardware to Windows. Boot Camp Assistant then asks you to insert your Windows CD (XP Service Pack 2, Home or Pro only), and the installer starts. I expect that Boot Camp will also support Vista by the time Apple releases OS X 10.5. Once Windows is installed and you reboot, you choose which OS you want to use by holding down the option key. You
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Software Support Pretty much anything that runs on WinWho It’s Good For dows will now run on your Mac. NothIf you want to play 3-D games on your ing is being emulated, nothing is being Mac, or if you use hardware that’s not simulated. yet supported in Parallels or Fusion, The main downside is that you have to then Boot Camp is for you. It’s also your reboot your machine to run your Windows best bet if you need full access to all your software. So if you’re involved in a project in Mac’s hardware. OS X and want to quickly run a Windows application that Parallels or Fusion can’t Senior Editor Rob Griffiths runs the MacOSX- COMhandle, you’ll have to save your work, shut PANY: Hints.com Web site (www.macosxhints.com). down your Mac, reboot, do whatever it is you wanted to do in Windows, and then repeat the whole process to get back to OS X. Unfortunately, until Fusion, Parallels, or CrossOver supports your program, Boot Camp is your only option. The other bummer is that it’s trickier to share files between Windows and OS X in Partitioning for Windows When you run the Boot Camp Assistant, Boot Camp than in the the first thing you have to do is split your hard drive into two virtualization apps. pieces—one for OS X and one for Windows. You’ll need a FAT32formatted drive, or access to a file server that both Windows BOOT CAMP 1.1.2 BETA and OS X can connect to. The other PROS: Runs Windows natively with full hardware support; 3-D graphics acceleration. alternative is to purchase MacDrive for CONS: Requires rebooting; hard to share Windows (macworld.com/2620), which files between OS X and Windows; supports will let Windows read from and write to only two versions of Windows. PRICE: free your Mac partition. MacDrive works COMPANY: Apple, www.apple.com quite well but will set you back $50.
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STEPHEN MANES

Software That Just Won’t Shut Up
the mental state that the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls “flow” can be genuinely magical. There is nothing quite like the “deep enjoyment” of losing yourself in an experience, of becoming one with your work or hobby or sport or…excuse me, here’s a message from my
antispyware program, proud to grant my machine yet another clean bill of health. What was I was saying? Oh, yeah, the state of flow is…wait a minute, some email here. Only spam. And…hang on, the antivirus program is announcing that it has just updated itself. Glad to hear it. Flow? All of a sudden every programmer alive seems to think it’s fine and dandy to interrupt you with news of some trivial incident or meaningless nonevent. Pop-up ads are bad enough; now their equivalents have found their way into stuff that you’ve paid for to work behind the scenes, not dance on the table and proclaim its glory. In the old days your antivirus program might have been stupid enough to ask you whether you wanted to eliminate a virus or merely quarantine it—as though you wanted to maintain your own personal collection. Now it brags that it has successfully maintained itself, repelled an attack, inspected and approved an email attachment, or discovered that your antivirus subscription will expire in six months—or maybe that it’s standing at the ready in the background. Excuse me, but all of that is business as usual. How about interrupting me only when there’s a real problem? Maybe it’s just the influence of the most flow-busting software ever made— instant messaging, which I have banished from my PC—but feckless interruption is now a way of life. Windows Vista’s User Account Control safeguard nags you every time you do anything that might conceivably in some alternative universe harm your machine but in the real world is almost always benign. Memo cisely that without bothering me after the first time I click OK. Instead of waiting for my permission to perform some grand act that might slow my computer to a crawl, figure out a way to do it when the machine is idle, and don’t force me to reboot—unless doing otherwise would be the first step toward nuclear winter. Simple rule: Don’t pipe up unless it’s really, really important. If you’re a firewall developer, use a silently updated internal database to figure out which programs should be permitted to phone home from my machines and which should not. And at this point, I’d rather not even hear that telltale ping that lets me know a new e-mail message has arrived. I’ll check the inbox on my own schedule, thanks. The marketing idea behind many such interruptions is no doubt the notion that reminding you of the importance of these ought-to-be-mostly-unseen helpers will keep you shelling out for new versions or subscriptions. But after the tenth or hundredth annoyance, what it really does is make you wonder whether there’s a more low-key alternative that can do the same thing. Alas, now that programmers and marketers have become as bent on undeserved attention as ill-bred five-year-olds, the very concept of software quietude seems to be growing antiquated. Flow? No mo’....
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

Trying to focus? With today’s interrupting apps, good luck!

to Windows and every other program on the planet: Shut up! If a spyware scan reveals no problems, don’t bother informing me, please. If something like Adobe Acrobat Reader can get updates on its own, have it do pre-

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