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Digit Mag March 2007

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Digit Mag March 2007 Powered By Docstoc
					  Editorial

Bluff Your
Way Through



I
  INFLATING POPULARITY ONLINE is a new fad that
  seems to have caught the fancy of some social net-
  working regulars. With sites like MySpace, friendster,
  Orkut, and Facebook signing up new members by the
  minute—and hordes of socially active (socially starved
  in the real world?) people signing up—a strange new
  competition has been initiated within that commu-
  nity. It is the race to be famous and project an image
  of being a popular and affable person: one whose
  roster of personal-page friends is long (and contains
  good-looking ones!) and with the “friends” endorsing
  not just their friendship but even dropping in a few     Deepak Ajwani Executive Editor
  positive comments. This weird “popularity contest”
  has spawned one of the most bizarre sites I’ve come
  across: fakeyourspace.com.                                 “There is a race to be famous and
      With some help from the site, you can actually        project an image of being a popular
  fake your personal profile page at any of the above
  sites and hire good-looking (almost model-like)               and affable person online”
  friends for only a dollar a month. The service doesn’t
  end there: apart from serving up model-esque             at a social do or amongst people you want to impress
  friends, FakeYourSpace also enables you to create cus-   with your “social status.”
  tomised messages for the comments list on your pro-          To my simple understanding, the sole reason for
  file pages.                                              the existence of all the new social networking sites
      This essentially means that if you’ve dreamt of      was to help one acquire new and interesting friends,
  having “hot” friends whom you could not befriend,        find a few more like-minded ones, and facilitate net-
  here’s a chance to grab them for just 45 rupees. And     working in existing relationships. However these
  for us Indians, it gets even better. We can now rent     sites also gave a chance to real-world social “losers”
  phirang friends (mostly American) to pump up our         to build, forge, and seek new relationships if they
  reputations! Obviously, the site ensures that the        weren’t successful at it in their childhood, work-
  friends you rent are very normal in their actions        place, or even in their own family.
  and personalities, and their comments don’t sound            With the successful launch of sites like
  fake—ensuring you’re never caught.                       FakeYourSpace and popularitydialer.com, the con-
      According to Brent Walker, the founder of the site   cept has been taken too far.
  based in San Diego, the purpose behind the site was          Shortcomings of human nature that affected real-
  “to turn cyberlosers into social-networking magnets.”    world relationships had found an answer online.
      Walker’s inspiration is a consequence of an          Innocent enough. Not any more.
  emerging trend that Bruce Schneier, a security
  expert and well-known tech blogger describes as “the
  social network reputation hack.”
      Another site that feeds into this new develop-
  ment is popularitydialer.com. It arranges for fake
  phone calls that make you look popular while you’re                                       editor@thinkdigit.com
                                                                         Tell Us What You Feel About Digit                                             Advertisers’ Index
                                                                         Each month, Digit walks through the technology
                                                                         maze to bring you the most relevant, most                                   Client                                                                     Page
     YO U R T EC H N O LO GY N AV I G ATO R                                                                                                          APC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Back Cover
                                                                         researched stories. If you have an opinion about
    March 2007 • Volume 7 • Issue 3                                                                                                                  Asus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49
                                                                         anything published in Digit, or about technology                            BenQ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83
    Chairman                                                             in general, please write in to                                              Busy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .111
    Jasu Shah                                                            editor@thinkdigit.com                                                       Canon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
    Printer, Publisher, Editor & Managing Director                                                                                                   Cricket Today . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129
    Maulik Jasubhai                                                      Product Testing                                                             Dell . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12-13
    CEO and Editorial Director                                           Want your product reviewed by Digit?                                        Epson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
    L Subramanyan                                                                                                                                    Gigabyte . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71
                                                                         Contact our Test Centre at sanket_naik@jasub-
                                                                                                                                                     Google . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
    Editorial                                                            hai.com                                                                     Hitachi . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
    Executive Editor Deepak Ajwani                                                                                                                   KYE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
    Head of Writers Robert Sovereign-Smith                               Software On DVD/CD                                                          LG . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,3,4
    Writers Nimish Chandiramani, Samir Makwana                           To submit and suggest software for                                          LIC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
    Sr. Copy Editor Ram Mohan Rao                                        inclusion in the Digit DVD or CD, contact                                   Marbonite . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24-25
    Test Centre                                                          us at cdcontent@jasubhai.com                                                Maxell . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85
    Assistant Manager Sanket Naik                                                                                                                    Maxim . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113
    Reviewer Jayesh Limaye, Michael Browne                               Help!                                                                       Moser Baer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Inside Back Cover
    Trainee Mayur Bhatia                                                 For subscription or copy-related issues,                                    MSI . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59
    Co-ordinator Gautami V Chalke                                                                                                                    NEC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89
                                                                         send an e-mail to help@jasubhai.com                                         Net 4 India . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95
    Design
    Creative Head Kabir Malkani
                                                                         You may also contact the following                                          Nikon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
    Head - Editorial Design Solomon Lewis                                executives for local queries:                                               Toshiba . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
    Dy. Head - Editorial Design Rohit A Chandwaskar                      Bangalore: Devaraju N (09341809286)                                         Viewsonic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
    Chief Designer Shivasankaran C Pillai                                                                                                            Wiley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131
    Senior Designers Vijay Padaya, Sivalal S
                                                                         Chennai: L R Laxmanan (09380229283)                                         Wiley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131
    Designers Pradip Ingale, Chaitanya Surpur,                           Delhi: Puja Punj (09312019051)                                              Wiley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131
    Shrikrishna Patkar, Pravin Warhokar                                  Hyderabad: Norbert Joseph (09396229281)                                     Wiley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131
    Photographers Jiten Gandhi, Sandeep Patil                                                                                                        Wiley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131
    Co-ordinator Rohini Dalvi
                                                                         Kolkata: Jayanta Bhattacharyya (033-22317344)
                                                                                                                                                     Wiley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131
                                                                         Mumbai: Christopher Lobo (022-27629322)                                     Wiley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131
    Multimedia
    Content Head Robert Sovereign-Smith                                  Pune: Sachin Kamble (09372429280)                                           Wiley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131
    Content Co-ordinator B G Prakash                                                                                                                 Wiley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131
                                                                         Endorsements/Reprints                                                       Wiley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131
    Operations
    Executive Vice-President Vijay Adhikari                              Interested in ordering article reprints,                                    Wiley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131
    Sales                                                                or using our logos?                                                         Wiley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131
    Vice President Bibhor Srivastav                                      Contact jitendra_soni@jasubhai.com
    General Manager Sobers George
                                                                          Disclaimer: For every Digit contest, there will be only
    Marketing                                                             one winner, unless specified otherwise. In the event of a
    General Manager Arvind Thakore                                        dispute, the Editor’s decision shall be final                                     STATEMENT ABOUT OWNERSHIP AND OTHER
    Brand Manager Jitendra Soni                                                                                                                           PARTICULARS ABOUT NEWSPAPER DIGIT TO BE
                                                                                                                                                       PUBLISHED IN THE FIRST ISSUE EVERY YEAR AFTER THE
    Marketing Communication Thomas Varghese,
    Subodh Dalvi, Ashwini Baviskar
                                                            Products Reviewed This Month                                                                             LAST DAY OF FEBRUARY
                                                            HARDWARE                                                                                                        FORM IV
    Senior Executive-Sales Support Ramesh Kumar
    Ad-sales Co-ordination Yogendra Bagle                   PC Speaker Sets . . . 46    Creative Inspire M5300       Laser Printers . . . . .72
                                                            Altec Lansing 121i          Creative SBS 580             Brother HL-5240                 Place of Publication                 Mumbai
    Production and Logistics                                Altec Lansing ATP3          Intex IT-4800W               Brother HL-5250DN               Periodicity of its Publication       MONTHLY
    GM - Operations Shivshankar Hiremath                    Altec Lansing FX4021        Tech-Com SSD-2001            HP LaserJet 1022n               Printer's Name                       MAULIK JASUBHAI
    Manager (Production) Shiv Hiremath                      Artis S-100                 Tech-Com SSD-3001R           HP LaserJet P-2015D             Nationality                          INDIAN
    Deputy Manager Mangesh Salvi                            Artis S111/FM               Tech-Com SSD-4001R           Samsung ML-2571N                                                     YES
                                                                                                                                                     1[(a) Whether a citizen
    Logistics Anant Shirke, M P Singh, Vilas Mhatre,        Artis S111R                 Tech-Com SSD-5001R           Xerox Phaser 3120
    Mohd. Ansari, Shashi Shekhar Singh,                                                                                                                    of India?
                                                            Artis S444                  Tech-Com SSD-5101R                                           (b) If foreigner, the country        NOT APPLICABLE
    Ravindra Dighe                                          Artis S800                  Tech-Com SSD-6001R           Bazaar . . . . . . . . . . 66
                                                                                                                                                           of origin]
    Circulation & Subscription — Sales                      Creative Inspire M2600      Xfree XW555                  Software                                                             26, MAKER CHAMBERS VI,
                                                                                                                                                     Address
    National Sales Manager Sunder Thiyagarajan              Creative SBS-370            Zebronics ZEB-               APC Mobile Power Pack
                                                                                                                                                                                          NARIMAN POINT,
    Co-ordinator Rahul Mankar                               Intex IT-2000SB             SW13100R                     UPB-10
                                                                                                                                                                                          MUMBAI 400 021
    Subscriptions Christopher Lobo, Lijil Jayshankar,       Logitech X-230              Zebronics ZEB-SW6900R        ASUS Striker
                                                            Tech-Com SSD-803                                         ATEN CS-62B KVM                 Publisher's Name                     MAULIK JASUBHAI
    Mahesh M, Puja Punj,                                                                                                                             Nationality                          INDIAN
                                                            Xfree XE222                 Projectors . . . . . . 104   Creative Zen V Plus
    Head Office: Editorial, Marketing                       Xfree XE233                 Acer PD726W                  LG Super Multi GSA-E10L         1[(a) Whether a citizen              YES
    and Customer Service                                    Zebronics ZEB-SW8000        Benq MP611c                  Western Digital My Book               of India?
    Plot No D-222/2, TTC Industrial Area, MIDC              Altec Lansing . . .FX5051   Epson EMP-1715               Pro Edition II                  (b) If foreigner, the                NOT APPLICABLE
    Shirvane, Nerul, Navi Mumbai 400 706                    Altec Lansing . . .VS3251   NEC VT590                    XFX 7600GT FATAL1TY                   country of origin]
    Phone: +91 022-27629191/9200                            Artis S5200                 NEC VT695G                                                   Address                              26, MAKER CHAMBERS VI,
    Fax: +91 022-27629164                                   Artis S6600R/FM             NEC NP40                     Software . . . . . . . . . 58                                        NARIMAN POINT, MUMBAI 400 021
                                                            Artis S7500R                Panasonic PT-LB60EA          Adobe Acrobat 8                 Editor's Name                        MAULIK JASUBHAI
    Printed and published by Maulik Jasubhai on behalf of   Artis S8800                 Sharp XG-C330X               TuneUp Utilities 2007           Nationality                          INDIAN
    Jasubhai Digital Media Pvt Ltd,                         Artis X10 Mini              Zen PTV-01B                  WinOrganizer 4.0                1[(a) Whether a citizen              YES
    26 Maker Chambers VI, 2nd Floor, Nariman Point,
    Mumbai 400 021, India and Published from Mumbai
    Editor: Maulik Jasubhai, 26 Maker Chambers VI, 2nd
                                                            To Advertise                                                                             of India?
                                                                                                                                                     (b) If foreigner, the country NOT APPLICABLE
    Floor, Nariman Point, Mumbai 400 021                    Bangalore                   Kolkata                      Fax: 24482059/24481123          of origin]
    Printed at Magna Graphics (I) Ltd,                      Aamer Khan                  Jayanta Bhattacharyya        Secunderabad                    Address                        26, MAKER CHAMBERS VI,
    101 C & D Government Industrial Estate Kandivli,        E-mail: aamer_khan@         E-mail: jayanta_             Aamer Khan                                                     NARIMAN POINT, MUMBAI 400 021
    Mumbai 400 067                                          jasubhai.com                bhattacharyya@               E-mail: aamer_khan@             Names and Addresses of         JASUBHAI DIGITAL MEDIA PVT LTD.,
                                                            Phone: +91 9341118818,      jasubhai.com                 jasubhai.com                                                   26, MAKER CHAMBERS VI,
                                                            (080) 25546370-73           Phone: +91 9331829284        Phone: +91 9341118818           individuals who own the
    Cover Design Solomon & Rohit
                                                            Fax: 41518330               (033) 22317344/46            (040) 27894167/55221051         newspaper and partners or NARIMAN POINT, MUMBAI 400 021
    Photographer Jiten Gandhi                                                                                                                                                       Jasu Shah/Maulik Jasubhai/ Sujata
    Imaging Chaitanya Surpur                                Mumbai                      New Delhi                    Fax: 27720205                   shareholders holding more Shah/Maulik Business Ser P Ltd (1100,
    Model Sweta Ghosh                                       Manoj Sawalani              Arvind Prabhakar             International                   than one per cent of the       Shanudeep, 10, Altamount Road,
    Make-up Baban                                           E-mail: manoj_sawalani@     E-mail: vinit_pandhi@        Representative                  total capital                  Mumbai 400 026) Jasubhai Business
    costumes Maganlal Dresswala
                                                            jasubhai.com                jasubhai.com                 Taiwan                                                         Ser P Ltd (26, Maker Chamber VI,
                                                            Phone: +91 9820176965       Phone: +91 9313319279,       Mr.Marc Sonam, Image                                           Nariman Point, Mumbai 400021) &
                                                            (022) 40373636/40373626     (011) 41608655/56/57/58      Media 2F-2, No. 35, Sec. 2,                                    Jasubhai Media Pvt Ltd.,(Taj Bldg, 210,
                                                            Chennai                     Pune                         Fushing South Road, Taipei                                     D N Road, Fort, Mumbai 400001)
                                                            Aamer Khan                  Manoj Sawalani               106, Taiwan, R.O.C.                                            Akshar Enterprises (Fine Mansion,
                                                            E-mail: aamer_khan@         E-mail: manoj_sawalani@      Tel: (886) -2-8773 4199                                        D N Road, Fort, Mumbai 400 001)
                                                            jasubhai.com                jasubhai.com                 Fax: (886) -2-8773 4200          I Maulik Jasubhai, hereby declare that the particulars given above
                                                            Phone: +91 9341118818,      Phone: +91 9820176965        marc@imagemediatw.com            are true to the best of my knowledge and belief.
6   DIGIT MARCH 2007                                        (044) 28235186/88           (022)                                                                                                                Sd/-
                                                            Fax: 28230731               24494572/24467130/1                                           Dated: 15th February 2007                  Signature of the Publisher
    Enter               Digital Passion                                                Cover Story
                        Insight                                         27 Are We There Yet?
                        34 Enter The Matrix!                            Just why are our “fast” connections poor
                        You probably didn’t know there happen           excuses for broadband? Why is broadband
                         to be several types of LCD panels! And         always “next year”? Will it be this year? Or
                             no, they’re not just variants on a         when? We ask those in the know about all
                              theme                                     the roadblocks
    16
    Suman
    Ranganathan
    doesn’t get
    online too often

    16
    Should you,
    shouldn’t you,
    as a gamer,        Tomorrow
    switch to Vista?   40 Tube Tech                                     Speaker Test
    19
                       The latest buzzword in hardware research         46 Sonic Boom
    Steve Ballmer      circles is “the almighty carbon nanotube.”       A speaker set is a goodish investment—
    threatens open                            Here’s giving you an       both in terms of money and pleasure.
    source                                          indication of             We took as much of a good, hard
    vendors—again                                      the sheer                     look as we could at what’s
                                                        range of                       on offer
    24                                                   applicat-
    Learn about                                          ions of
    Wizpy, a Linux-                                      this little
    based portable                                      marvel
    media player



                                                                 Contents Magazine
    Digital Tools                                               66 Bazaar
                                                                The attention-grabbers this month are a terabyte
    Lead Feature                                                hard disk, a spanking new motherboard from
    72 Laser Printers                                           Asus, and a device that lets you leech power off
    We continue our laser printer test from last                your laptop to charge your mobile devices
    month’s issue. Presenting an assortment of
    mid-range mono printers for your office                     78 Know More About
                                                                A look at streaming technologies. What’s going
                                                                on behind the scenes when you’re streaming,
    Enhance
                                                                for example, a video on YouTube?
    63 Gather Your Thoughts
    Microsoft Office OneNote is an enhanced note-
    taking and organisation software. Did you even
    know it existed? Here’s about how to use it to
    organise yourself, whether you’re a scuba diver
    in the North Sea or a brain surgeon in Brazil               Agent001
                                                                92 The Core Of The Matter
                                                                Buying a new computer? You’re
                                                                deciding on the
                                                                motherboard-processor
                                                                combination, of course.
                                                                Instead of looking at the
                                                                components individually,
                                                                Agent 001 is being more
                                                                helpful by looking at
                                                                combos

8   DIGIT MARCH 2007
           Digital Business                                                                           Tech Careers
                                                 Test Centre                                          97 Driving The Numbers
                                                 104 Screening Success                                Data drives business, as they say. Careers in
                                                 This month: our annual                               databases are not for the faint of heart or
                                                 projector test. We                                   head. Here’s a little introduction to what you
                                                 looked at solutions both                             can expect
                                                 for the boardroom as
                                                 well as for the living
                                                 room. As you’ll see, one
                                                 size does not fit all—but
                                                 this comparison should
                                                 help clear matters

     Case Study                                                                                     Smart Business
     100 Ditch That Wallet!                                                                         114 Through The Ages
     Paying using your mobile sounds a good idea.                                                   Version control software has been used by
     Services are limited as of                                                                     software developers since 205 B.C., and it’s
     now, but they’re                                                                               time for you to consider whether it can help
     indicative of the                                                                              you in the office to track your documents
     coming of age of m-
     commerce in India




                                                                                                       March 2007
       Digital Leisure                                                                                                                                     Escape
       Touched By Tech
       117 Lern frm whr u r!
       People—especially illiterates
       and semi-literates—can
       now learn languages
       using their                                                                                                                                         133
       handsets. The                                                                                                                                       What would a
                                                                                                                                                           computer be
       applications are                                                                                                                                    without a hard
       innovative, and                                                                                                                                     disk? Thank Mr
       the potential, vast                                                                                                                                 Johnson for the
                                                                                        130 Game On                                                        invention, please
                                                                                        The last Star Trek movies weren’t the
   Gaming Special                                                                       only lemons in the franchise—the                                   136
   120 No Boundaries                                                                    latest game is terrible too! Also
                                                                                                                                                           Mobile users
   If you’re a gamer, chances are you know                                                                                                                 want more fea-
                                                                                        featuring RACE: The Official WTCC                                  tures on their
   your hardware pretty well. But chances also                                          Game—simulation geeks rejoice!                                     phones, and they
   are you need a refresher from time to time.                                                                                                             also want fewer
   Here’s one!                                                                                                                                             features!

            Stat Attack ......................................18   Take A Crack ....................................62      Digit Diary......................................136
REGULARS




            The Digital World ............................18       Tips & Tricks ....................................79     Blogwatch ......................................136
            Beat That ........................................19   Q&A ................................................88   Inbox..............................................146
            Gender Benders ..............................22        Old Way, Tech Way ..........................96           Tech Quiz ......................................148
            Buzzword Of The Month ..................22             Whatever Happened To ..................132               Tabloid Tech ..................................150


                                                                                                                                                              MARCH 2007 DIGIT       9
DVD

          DIGITAL PASSION                            DIGITAL TOOLS                               DIGITAL BUSINESS                            DIGITAL LEISURE

      XNA Game Studio Express 1.0                TrueCrypt 4.2a                              Virtual Iron 3.1                            Little Fighter 2 v1.9c



      This development package enables           Creates a virtual encrypted disk within a   Virtualization and Management for a
      hobbyists, academics, and small,           file and mounts it as a real disk.          Single Server. Get all the capabilities,
      independent game developers to easily      Encrypts an entire hard disk partition or   benefits and ROI of Virtual Iron
      create video games for Windows and         a storage device such as USB flash drive    Enterprise Edition available in a single
      the Xbox 360                                                                           Server environment.Consolidate up to 80
                                                 MULTIMEDIA                                  Linux and Windows virtual servers on a      Little Fighter 2 is a popular freeware
      Carbide.ui S60 Theme                       ■ Audacity 1.2.6                            single server                               fighting game for Windows. It's simple
      Edition 3.1 for Symbian OS                 ■ Audiograbber 1.83 build 1                                                             yet addictive gameplay, its great replay
                                                 ■ BearFlix 1.1.6.1                          BillQuick 2006 7.0.84                       ability. The game can have up to 4
                                                 ■ CDex 1.70 beta 2                          With this software you                      human players on one computer and 8
                                                 ■ DivX Player 6.4                           can generate                                characters in network play at one time
                                                 ■ FLV Player 1.3.3                          intermediate invoices,
                                                 ■ GSpot v2.60 RC01                          track money outflow,                        Neo Sonic Universe
                                                 ■ jetAudio 6.2.8 Basic                      and assess total
      This is a tool that enables the creation   ■ MediaMonkey 2.5.5                         payments with ease
      of packages to customize the               ■ QuickTime 7.1.3
      appearance of the user interface on        ■ Realtek high definition audio driver      PortableApps Suite
      S60 devices                                ■ TVUPlayer 2.2
                                                 ■ VCD Cutter 4.03
      Code::Blocks 1.0rc2                        ■ Windows Media Player 11
      Code::Blocks is a free C++
      IDE built to meet the most                 INTERNET
      demanding needs of its                     ■ Bandwidth Speed Test                                                                  It's Sonic all over again in this fan
      users. It is designed to be                ■ Comodo Firewall 2.4                                                                   remake of the classical Sega arcade.This
      very extensible and fully                  ■ EasyMTU 3                                                                             game doesn't disappoint, boasting
      configurable                               ■ ePrompter 2.0                                                                         graphics so true to the original you won't
      codeblocks.jpg                             ■ Firefly                                   This is a comprehensive application suite   know what's going on anymore!
                                                 ■ Foxmail 6.0 beta 4                        that fits onto and runs from almost any
      GAME                                       ■ Gigaget V1.0.0.23                         device with at least 512 MB of space        SMALL GAMES
      ■ Nexuiz 2.2.3                             ■ Instan-t                                                                              ■ Bikez II
      ■ Savage 2.00                                                                          PRODUCTIVITY TOOLS                          ■ Blast Doors 2.0 Beta
                                                                                             ■ bcTester 4.0                              ■ Counter Strike 2D Beta 0.1.0.3
                                                                                             ■ CheckbookEase                             ■ Dink Smallwood V1.08
                                                                                             ■ OpenOffice.org 2.1                        ■ Entrance Gate v1.3
                                                                                                                                         ■ G-Sector 1.0
      ■   WarRock 1                                                                                                                      ■ Icy Tower 1.3.1
                                                                                                                                         ■ Kingdoms of War 1.2
      LINUX                                      ■ Miranda IM v0.6.6                                                                     ■ LaserAge Gold
      ■ Avast Home Edition 4.7                   ■ NetMeter 0.9.9.9 Beta 2                                                               ■ Max Payne Kung Fu
      ■ dvdisaster                               ■ Pegasus Mail v4.41                        ■   PowerPoint Viewer 2007                  Edition v3.0 Mod
      ■ Flash for Linux 0.2.1                    ■ Proxomitron 4.5                           ■   PPPCD 1.51                              ■ Mini Golf Pro
      ■ GCC 3.4.6                                ■ Snort 2 7 0 Beta1                                                                     ■ Narbacular Drop v1.4
      ■ gPhoto2 2.3.1                            ■ SpamAware 4.4.1                           MOBILE APPS                                 ■ Nitto 1320 1.52S
                                                 ■ TCP Optimizer 2.0.3                       ■   BackUp Lite 1.7.0                       ■ OpenArena v0.6.0
                                                 ■ Trillian 3.1                              ■   floAt’s Mobile Agent                    ■ Worminator 3
                                                 ■ WebReaper 10
                                                 ■ Webripper 1.31                                                                        MOVIES
                                                 ■ WinHTTrack                                                                            ■ Star Wars Revelations
                                                 ■ Yahelite 306 Full 1.0                                                                 ■ The Second Renaissance - Part 1
                                                 ■ K-Meleon 1.02                                                                         ■ The 39 Steps (1935)


      ■ Linux Kernel 2.6.20 RC7                  SYSTEM                                      ■ Flurry
      ■ Mozilla Firefox                          ■ BySoft FreeRAM 4.0.4.759                  ■ Games For All Java Mobiles
      ■ Quicktime 4 Linux 2.0.0                  ■ CCleaner 1.36.430                         ■ Nokia PC Suite 6.82
      ■ Rawstudio 0.5                            ■ ClipMagic 3.2.3                           ■ Opera Mini 3.0
      ■ XnView 4.51                              ■ Copernic Desktop Search 2.0               ■ Plato Video to 3GP Converter
                                                 ■ ditto 3.9                                 ■ PSP Video Express 1.03
      DEV TOOLS                                  ■ EasyCleaner 2.0.6.369
      ■ Dev-C++  5.0 beta 9.2                    ■ E-Counter
      ■ PassportODBC   odbcv10                   ■ HD Tune 2.53
      ■ RadRails 0.7.2                           ■ HijackThis 1.99.1
      ■ Sony Ericsson Themes Creator 3.06        ■ Launchy 1.0
      ■ TOAD for Oracle Freeware 8.5             ■ Microsoft Windows XP
      ■ Visual C# Express Edition                PowerToys
                                                 ■ Ranish Partition Manager 2.44 Beta        ■ RAR 3.60 for Pocket PC
                                                 ■ RegSeeker 1.52                            ■ Reporo
                                                 ■ SpeedFan 4.31                             ■ Sony Ericsson Image
                                                 ■ TaskSwitchXP 2.0.11                       ■ Editor 2.11.6b
                                                 ■ AVG Anti-Virus 7.5.432                    ■ Sony Ericsson PC Suite 1.30.55
                                                 ■ TestDisk                                  ■ Sony Ericsson PC Suite 3.1.1
                                                 ■ TweakUiPowertoySetup.exe                  ■ Sony Ericsson Update Service 2.6.11.7
                                                 ■ Windows XP Service Pack 2                 ■ Torpark 1.5.0.7
                                                 ■ xplorer² 1.6.0.1



10    DIGIT MARCH 2007
                                                                                      Contents Interactive




                                                                                                                                                                               CD
    DIGITAL PASSION                             DIGITAL TOOLS                             DIGITAL BUSINESS                                DIGITAL LEISURE

CyberInstaller Suite 2006 1.01              Ant Movie Catalog 3.5.0.2                 AbiWord 2.4.6                                   Stan Skates




                                                                                                                                      A fun skateboarding arcade game.
                                                                                                                                      Guide Stan through the city by jumping
                                                                                      This is a free word processing program          obstacles using his trusty skateboard
CyberInstaller Suite is a suite of          This is a program made to manage your     similar to Microsoft Word. It is suitable for
programs for the creation of installation   collection of movies DVD, CD (VideoCD,    a wide variety of word processing tasks         Battleships
packages to distribute applications         DivX, ...)                                                                                Can you be the savior and destroy the
written using any development                                                         PDFCreator 0.9.3                                enemy fleet?
environment                                 IcoFX 1.5.01
                                                                                                                                      SMALL GAMES
Install Creator 2                                                                                                                     ■ Action Cube v0.92
                                                                                                                                      ■ Battle Pong
                                                                                                                                      ■ Battleships
                                                                                                                                      ■ Cube Buster
                                            This is an all-in-one solution for icon                                                   ■ Flashman
                                            creation, extraction and editing. It is                                                   ■ Frozen Bubble version 1.0.0
                                            designed to work with Windows XP and                                                      ■ Magic Balls
                                            Windows Vista icons supporting                                                            ■ Stan Skates
                                            transparency                              This is an application for converting           ■ Sudoku
                                                                                      documents into Portable Document
                                            PC INSPECTOR File Recovery 4              Format (PDF) format on Microsoft                VIDEOS
                                                                                      Windows operating system                        ■   The Last Mimzy

This software is very easy to use and                                                 Pocket DivX Player 0.8
professional tool to create software
installations

AVG anti-virus 7.1
This antivirus has                          This software recovers files, even when
improved virus                              a header entry is no longer available
detection based on
better heuristics and                       MULTIMEDIA                                                                                ■   The Lookout
NTFS data streams                           ■ BigFix 1.7.6.0
scanning, Smaller                           ■ Flash Movie Player 1.5
installation and                            ■ Free iPod Video Converter 1.32          Pocket DivX Player is a multifunction
update files,Improved                       ■ HoverMatch                              video and audio player for the PocketPC
user interface                              ■ HoverSnap v0.8                          platform. You can use it to play DivX,
                                            ■ KMPlayer 2.9.3.1214                     OpenDivX, MPEG-4, MPEG-1 videos and
JCreator LE                                 ■ MovieTrack 3.3                          MP3 audio files
JCreator is the development tool for        ■ Riva FLV Encoder 2
every programmer that likes to do what      ■ Streamripper for Winamp 2 and 5         MIDP for Palm OS 1.0
he does best: programming                   ■ Video DVD Maker Free 2.4.0.16           Install this software to run
                                            ■ Vista Transformation Pack 6 Final       WILDEC products and
                                                                                      other J2ME applications                         ■   The Number 23
                                            INTERNET
                                            ■ Cabos 0.7.1                             PRODUCTIVITY TOOLS
                                            ■ CyberDefenderFREE 2.0                   ■ ATnotes
                                            ■ FireFox Plug-in                         ■ Converber v1.5.0
                                            ■ Google Desktop Gadgets                  ■ Doc Convertor
DEVELOPER TOOLS                             ■ Google Earth 4                          ■ KeyNote 1.6.5
■ Ruby185                                   ■ HoverIP v1.0 beta                       ■ PhraseExpress 3.1.6                           ■   Zodiac
■ ASP.NET AJAX v1.0                         ■ HoverNews                               ■ PrimoPDF 3
■ NetBeans IDE 5.5                          ■ Internet Explorer Plug-in               ■ SpamBayes 1.0.4
■ NoteTab Light 4.95                        ■ iOpus iMacros V5.22
■ PHP Designer 2007                         ■ Maxthon 2.0.1.5462
■ SharpDevelop                              ■ Skype 3.0.0.209


LINUX
■ audiokonverter 5.5
■ DVDAuthor Wizard 1.4.3                    ■   Thunderbird 1.5.0.9
■ Distributed Checksum Clearinghouse
  1.3.37                                    SYSTEM
■ Firestarter 1.0.3                         ■ LocalCooling 1.0.4 LocalCooling.jpg     ■   tinySpell 1.5                               FUN AND POINTLESS SOFTWARE
■ Google Earth 4.0.2723.0                   ■ AcceleRun Free 1.7                      ■   WordWeb 4.5a                                ■ Exertrack - Exercise Performance
■ KWrite 4.5.5                              ■ Active Virus Shield                                                                     ■ Management 1.2
■ Linux Duracell CPU load                   ■ Arrange Startup ver. 2.3                MOBILE APPS                                     ■ Guitar Chords Crash Course 3.4
  monitor 0.0.2                             ■ Avira AntiVir                           ■ Contacts Transfer (S60 3rd Edition)           ■ Orbitron 3.60
■ phpBB 3.0 Beta 5                          PersonalEdition Classic 7                 3.01                                            ■ Recipe Manager 1.2.0
■ Siag Office 3.6.1                         ■ DeleteOnClick 1.0                       ■ MeetBuddies 1.0                               ■ StumbleUpon
                                            ■ dvdisaster 0.70                         ■ Mobile Office for Java 1.0.0                  ■ DrWindows 1.04.01


For any queries regarding the CD or DVD, e-mail help@jasubhai.com with “CD/DVD” as the subject.                                                             DIGIT MARCH 2007   11
If the subject is not mentioned, your mail might not reach the right person.
                       By Demand
                       You get to choose what goes on
                       Digit Interactive. This month,
                       you chose:

                       Vista Transformation
                       Pack 6 Final
                       Size: 30MB                                 Digit Reader Poll
                       Virtual Iron 3.1                           This Month’s Question
                       Size: 208MB                                How would you rate your computer knowledge?
                                                                    I use a branded computer and often call customer support
                                                                    I sometimes need help with software and/or hardware
                                                                    I repair friends' computers
                                                                    I know what the {23E6EC-3790-AEF} key is for
                                    Subscribe                                                                To vote Log on to www.thinkdigit.com
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                                    another issue of your
                                    favourite magazine!




                                                taste technology at
                                                                          www.thinkdigit.com
     FROM THE DIGIT FORUM (www.thinkdigit.com/forum)
     This month, we feature the seond-hand goodies being sold on our Forum by its members.


                                           Second-hand goodies being peddled in Bazaar
                                                                                                      What: XBOX 360 Core System
                                                                                                      Who: aamiracle
          What: Zalman ZM-RS6F Headphones                                                             How Much: Rs 17,000
          Who: vinyas                                                                                 Where: Mumbai
          How Much: 1800+ shipping                                                                    Link:
          Where: Bangalore                                                                            http://www.thinkdigit.com/forum/sho
          Link:                                                                                       wthread.php?t=50146
          http://www.thinkdigit.com/forum/s
          howthread.php?t=49295
                                                                                                      What: D link 56kpbs Modem
                                                                                                      Who: sunil.night
          What: Leadtek 7600GT PCIe 256MB                                                             How Much: Rs 800
          Who: jainshubhanyu                                                                          Link:
          How Much: Rs 7,500                                                                          http://www.thinkdigit.com/forum/s
          Link:                                                                                       howthread.php?t=38701
          http://www.thinkdigit.com/forum/show
          thread.php?t=48214


           What: Pentium 3 System                                                                     What: HP Proliant Server
           Who: Redshary                                                                              Who: nagarjun_424
           How Much: Rs 7,000                                                                         Where: Bangalore
           Where: Bangalore                                                                           How Much: Rs 45,000
           Link:                                                                                      Link:
           http://www.thinkdigit.com/forum/                                                           http://www.thinkdigit.com/forum/s
           showthread.php?t=50231                                                                     howthread.php?t=50007




14      Disclaimer: These are random picks from the forum. Digit and Jasubhai Digital Media do not endorse the products, nor do
        they vouch for the buyers. Please take proper precautions before any money changes hands and deal at your own risk.
     Gaga Over Broadband                                                         As One...
     It’s official! By the end of 2007, a little over one in two                 ...was the name of a meeting held at San Francisco for
     Americans will be surfing at breakneck speeds at                            popular YouTube stars. Publicity stunt? The Web-celebs
     home. With 55 per cent of US citizens and 49 per cent                       gathered and posed for camera flashes, handycams and cell
     of Brits using broadband, one is left wondering when we Indians will read   phones. Will YouTube be the next TV? Millions across the
     news reports like that. Read our cover story for more...                    globe watching millions of videos on the site might agree...




     Enter
       Suman Ranganathan                   BETTER XP-ERIENCES
       Actress
       Duskily-good-looking-               Vista Vs. XP For Gamers
       model-turned-actress
       Suman Ranganathan
       became a hot topic with

                                          E
                                                 ver since the launch            benchmarking the                       telling gamers not to
            the movie “Fareb”,                   of Microsoft’s latest           performance differences                upgrade to Windows Vista?
               following up with                 operating system,               between a clean Vista                  Keeping up the confusion
                 movies like              Windows Vista, confusion               install vs. an upgrade from            that reigns, we’ll say yes
                  “Ishq                   has reigned on the Web.                Windows XP. Incidentally,              and no! For some of you the
                  Qayamat,” “Aa           Since it’s mostly gamers               an upgrade from Windows                answer is Yes, don’t
                                          who are the early adopters             XP seems to be better for              upgrade; for a smaller
                  ab laut                 of the latest hardware                                                          number it’s No, upgrade
                 chalen,” and             and OS upgrades,                                                                   immediately, and for
               “Baghban.” She             it’s no surprise                                                                     the majority... well...
            has also starred in           that Windows                                                                          we just don’t know,
       several Tamil films.               Vista is on every                                                                     and you’ll have to
       Though she didn’t tell us          gamer’s mind.                                                                         make up your own
       this, we spotted                   “Should I switch,                                                                    minds.
       something on the                   or should I ditch                                                                       Here in India,
       Internet about her being           the idea?” seems to                                                                when it comes to
       a “deeply religious                be the question.                                                                   gaming, hardware
                                          And the answers are                                                               demographics are a
       soul.”                             not hard to come by.                                                              little more of a
       So what is technology to           Quite the reverse,                                                                complicated affair. The
       you?                               actually; there are                                                                majority of computer
       I think it is the future.          just too many                                                                      owners have aging
       I believe that technology has      answers at this point                                                               hardware that has no
       positives and negatives in         in time, and all of                                                                 right to be running
       life and one needs to take         them contradicting                                                                  even Windows XP,
       the positive aspects. From         each other in some                                                                  leave alone Vista. It’s
       the last 30 years, there have      way or the other.                                                                  very obvious that if
       been rapid technological                It’s obvious that no                                                       those users upgrade to
                                                                                  Illustration Harsho Mohan Chattoraj
       changes.                           previous operating                                                            Vista, they’ll have to deal
                                          system from the Microsoft              gaming than a clean install            with really slow PCs. Those
       What are the gadgets               stables has generated quite            of Vista, according to                 with better hardware are
       you use?                           so much buzz—whether it’s              benchmarks.                            seldom gamers.
       I am not a gadget freak at         Apple fans crying foul for                 Facts remain facts,                    Now we come to the PC
       all. However, since I enjoy        the alleged “copying” of               however, and currently,                gamers segment, which
       photography, I will soon be        Mac OS X’s prettiness, or              Windows XP is slightly                 again is broken into two
       buying a digital camera.           Windows fanatics raving                ahead in terms of                      segments: the first and
       What do you mostly do              about Aero, to confused PC             performance for most                   larger segment comprises
       when you go online?                gamers standing in the                 games. This may be because             of computers that have
       I just browse around. Play         corner shaking their heads             those games were built for             pretty decent
       games like Solitaire.              at all the commotion while             Windows XP, or just the                configurations—an
       Otherwise, nothing much.           console gamers happily                 fact that Windows XP has               equivalent of an Athlon64
       Any instance where
                                          ignore everyone and                    lower hardware                         or Pentium D, 1 GB of DDR
       technology has come to
                                          everything as they rejoice             requirements, but the                  RAM, and a good DirectX 9
       your rescue?
                                          with their Xbox 360s                   message is clear; if you               graphics card with 256 MB
       There have been many
                                          and PS3s!                              want the best performance              of RAM. The second and
       instances where technology
                                               Respected geek sites—             you can eke out of your                smallest section of the
       has come to my rescue and
                                          Extreme Tech, Tom’s                    hardware for current                   public is the hard core
       many a time it has been my
                                          Hardware and the likes—                generation games, stick to             gamers with top-of-the-line
       mobile phone.
                                          have done every Vista                  Windows XP!                            hardware—Core 2 Duo/AM2,
                                          review possible, including                 So that’s it? Are we               gigabytes of RAM, and the

16   DIGIT MARCH 2007
                    Security Watch
                                                  latest DirectX 10 capable
         High Alert!                              cards.                                  Vietnam            90%                       Vista
         “Extremely critical”                         For the first gamer                 Zimbabwe           90%                         It’s not selling as
         vulnerabilities, as rated by             segment, switching to Vista             Indonesia          87%                         much as Windows
                                                                                                                                         XP did when it
         security firm Secunia, have been         right now may be a                      China              86%                         launched, but it is
         reported in Microsoft Word and           problem, and kind of                    Pakistan           86%                         doing well. Of
         in Microsoft Office. The two             pointless. The reason is                Kazakhstan         85%            course, this could be because
         vulnerabilities work differently.        simple: what Vista brings to            Ukraine            85%            Windows XP had the advantage
         The vulnerability in Word is being       the table is DX10                       Cameroon           84%            of moving users away from
         actively exploited as of the time        compatibility, which the                Russia             83%            Windows 98 and Windows Me,
                                                                                                                            and even pirates paid to move
         of writing. A successful exploit         next generation of games                Bolivia            83%            from those two...
         means the hacker can execute             will run on. If you’re going
         arbitrary code on your system.           to be running DX9, it’s             to studies conducted by
              The Word vulnerability              perhaps best you do it on           Business Software Alliance
         affects Word 2000 and Word               the operating system it was         (www.bsa.org), 83 per cent            Vista Upgrades
                                                                                                                            More people are
         2002. It is caused due to an             designed for.                       of computers sold in Russia           buying Vista with
         unspecified error when parsing               For the top-of-the-line-        run on pirated software.              new computers
         Word documents.                          or-nothing-else gamer, Vista        Incidentally, the top ten             than upgrading
              There has been no patch             is probably what you                pirated-software countries            from XP. This is
         released thus far for the Word           should be looking at for            are as in the table above.            because of the all new heavy
         exploit, and until one comes             future-proofing. That said,             Russian IT Minister               hardware requirements—and
                                                                                                                            don’t tell us that Vista runs
         along, you just need to make             before thinking of                  Dmitry Milovantsev                    on lower requirements
         sure not to open untrusted Office        switching to Vista, make            recently said that the cause          without Aero... Vista without
         documents.                               sure your hardware                  of high piracy rates in               Aero is... err... Windows XP?
              As regards the other                manufacturer’s are making           Russia was more the fault
         vulnerabilities, in Office, one of       Vista drivers—this is for all       of software vendors than of
         them is being actively exploited         your hardware.                      the users! Now that may             Mr Milovantsev and point
         via Excel.                                   The majority of Indian          sound like a really tall            out that open source is
              In fact, there is a long list of    PC gamers will probably             claim, and a lot of you will        always a viable alternative
         software affected by these               play it smart with the wait         be going, “Oh no, not               might want to hold off
         vulnerabilities, and to find if your     and watch game, which               another person moaning              hitting “Send” on that
         product is affected, you should          isn’t such a bad idea—at            about how Microsoft                 pirated Outlook window
         visit http://tinyurl.com/398gkg.         least until some good DX10          should take into account            for a while... apparently, in
         Both vulnerabilities are exposed         games come out and all the          the earnings of the average         a bid to reduce piracy,
         when processing “malformed               initial teething problems           Russian!” Do Russians               Microsoft does not allow
         records.”                                for Vista are solved. For           really want a crippled              hardware partners to sell
              Patches have been released          now, just watch the Vista           version of XP, like the one         computers without
         by Microsoft, and you should             news flashes on various             India saw a few years ago?          Windows loaded. So
         apply the appropriate one.               sites, all the benchmarks,          Will the Russian public pay         Russians have no choice
                                                  and chuckle contentedly.            to have a Windows version           but to buy from smaller
         For Office 2000 SP3:                                                         that only allows three              assemblers or fork out the
         http://tinyurl.com/yugfes                THE RUSSIAN PERSPECTIVE             windows to open at a time,          cost of the Windows OS
                                                                                      especially when the “free”          that’s preloaded on their
         For Office XP SP3:                       MS To Blame                         version that’s available            machine.
         http://tinyurl.com/2fgw43                                                    from the local market costs             But the bit that really
                                                  For Piracy?                         almost nothing and gives            stinks is that if you buy
         Office 2003 SP2:                                                             you full functionality? It’s        from these PC
         http://tinyurl.com/2gd5x4                                                    an old debate, and we’re            manufacturers, still insist


                                                  R
                                                        ussia is amongst the          not going to get into that...       on using an Open Source
         Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac:                 top 10 nations                    Those of you who want           OS, and do not want
         www.microsoft.com/mac/                         responsible for using         to sit down and start               Windows loaded, you have
                                                  pirated software. According         shooting off an e-mail to           to shell out an extra $50 to

                    One Silly Question                  “How many GBs is your brain?”




“Unlimited”                                                                                                                                                        dle!”
                                                                                                                                                         M   to han
Sanket Shan
                                                                                      n on GB
                                                                                             s!”       “200 GB and upgrad                          my R A
              kar
                                                                              esn’t ru
                                                                                                                         able”             uch for
                                       “80 GB, enough for me!”
                                                                       y OS do                         Ravi Prabhakar                “Too m
                                                                     “M                                                                     odi
                                       Sameer Rahate                         amdar                                                    Ekta M
                                                                      Jinal K




                                                                                                                                           DIGIT MARCH 2007                17
     Enter
         The Digital World                                                                          A Round-up Of Technology News From Across The Globe
                                       UNITED KINGDOM
                                       Permission of the government has now
                                       to be sought by online gambling
                                       operators outside Europe, for
                                       advertising online gambling, The ban is
                                       for protecting UK gamblers against
                                       bogus or rogue site operators.




                                                             GERMANY
                                                            “Authorised hacking” to obtain                           ISRAEL
                                                            intelligence from suspects’ computers                    The country has officially joined the
                                                            by the police has been prohibited.                       online betting prohibitionist club. A
                                                            The Federal Court of Justice ruled                       foreign company may not now take
                                                            that the police cannot use hacking                       online bets from Israeli citizens,
          UNITED STATES                                     tactics since no legal framework for                     regardless of where the company is
         New York State will lay                            authorised hacking exists.                               headquartered or where its servers
         down a legislation to ban                                                                                   are located.
         iPods, MP3 players, and
         cell phones on the streets.
         This comes after three
         Brooklyn residents died
         while crossing the street.               MEXICO
                                                 Volaris Airlines hands customers
                                                 30 GB iPods for a fee of $5. The
                                                 iPods are loaded with Mexican TV                   AUSTRALIA
                                                 shows and popular music along                      A university survey found that
                                                 with US sitcoms and music.                         Aussies are such cell phone junkies
                                                                                                    that they’ve gone without food,
                                                                                                    clothing, and textbooks in order to
                                                                                                    pay their phone bills.




     have the company remove                   country with the most PCs
     Windows! Now that’s just                  running on pirated                                     Stat Attack
     the cost of formatting your               software. Take China for                               It’s all in the numbers
     PC—they won’t load Linux                  example: studies and
     for you!                                  estimates put the number                      Wikipedia broke into the        Percentage-wise usage of search engines in
          We’ve heard of extreme               of Internet accessing users                                                                 January 2007
                                                                                               top 10 visited sites,
     measures being adopted to                 in China (not PC owners),                     ranking th, with 42.9
     combat piracy, but this one               stand at around 120
                                                                                                      9
                                                                                             million unique visitors in
     takes the cake! Hopefully,                million.                                      January 2007. One year
     with Vista’s new phone-                       Let’s apply BSA’s stats                         ago, Wikipedia                         Google
     home type security, which                 to this figure: 86% x 120                                     rd
     almost forces you to                      million = 103.2 million
                                                                                                    was 33 !                               63%                Yahoo!
                                                                                                                                                              21.5%
     uninstall it if you haven’t               Chinese users run pirated                       About 85 million                                      MSN
     paid for it, will get rid of              software. Compare this                       digital cameras were                                    Search
                                                                                                                                             3.5%




     such ridiculous policies.                 figure to Vietnam’s entire                                                                            10%
                                                                                             sold in 2006—and 500
                                                                                                                                            2%




          For those of you who                 population of 84 million
     are interested in knowing                 humans, and you should                          million camera
     where India stands on the                 get what we’re saying...                              phones                  Others                          Ask.com
     piracy list, don’t worry, we
     aren’t in the top 20.                     VIRTUAL BUSINESSES                                     55% of online teens have a personal profile.
     However, with 72 per cent
     piracy, and an ever
     growing number of users
                                               Second Life                                              55% have used social networking sites.
                                                                                           48% of teens visit social networking sites daily or more often
     buying assembled PCs, we                  Madness                                                          26% visit once a day
     will have to spread                                                                                22% visit several times a day
     awareness if we want to


                                               I
     avoid being put on the list                   t’s Second Life time
     of shame!                                     again. There was a                       Software companies lost $34 billion in potential revenue from
          One thing you need to                    competition in Second                                           piracy in 2005.
     remember is that this 72                  Life; the objective was to
     per cent figure means that                come up with business                          InPhase Technologies' 300 GB holographic disk costs $18,000.
     for every 100 Indian users                plans and ideas that were                        Price per GB: Rs 2,700. Price per GB of a 250 GB
     who buy a computer, only                  implementable in Second                                      regular hard disk: Rs 13.
     28 buy genuine software.                  Life. The winners were                                   Capacity could increase to 1.6 TB in 2010
     So according to BSA, even                 announced late February,
     though Vietnam tops the                   and the top honours went                         Second Life's front page states 3.1 million residents
     list of shame in terms of                 to Market Truths, a US-                        15,000 people are logged in to Second Life at any time
     percentage, it is not the                 based market research and

18   DIGIT MARCH 2007
Enter




                                                                                                                                   Digit Caption
                                                                                                                                   “Tombs’ Hardware!”

                                                                                                                                   Last Month’s Winner!
                                                                                                                                   Vishal Gupta.
                                                                                                                                   “Playing It Safe!”




                                                                                                                                    E-mail your caption with the
                                                                                                                                    subject “Beat That”, and your
                                                                                                                                    postal address, to
                                                                                                                                    beatthat@thinkdigit.com
                                                                                                                                    and win
                                                                                                                                   SLQ Server 2005
                                                                                                                                   by Brian Knight,
                                                                                                                                   Ketan Pate
                                                                                                                                   Wayne Snyder,
                                                                                                                ething funnier,    Jean-Claude Armand
                                                                                          to. Come up with som th of this month.
                                                                    ry a caption for a pho      accepted by the 20                 Published by
                                           Each month Digit will car                 e! Entries
     Photograph Dr P T Jadhav, Karnataka                         m at their own gam
                                           and beat the Digit tea




                                                                                      Linden dollars, obviously.                   with investors, Ballmer
                                                                                          One really has to                        again took the opportunity
                                                                                      wonder when the madness                      to remind the world that
                                                                                      will end, if ever. It was                    open source “is not free,”
                                                                                      crazy enough with people                     and reminded the world
                                                                                      spending half their lives in                 that the Linux OS violates
                                                                                      Second Life; now we have                     some of the patents that
                                                                                      companies taking this                        Microsoft holds. Now we’ve
                                                                                      seriously and setting up                     been hearing these
                                                                                      virtual branches. We were                    incoherent and
                                                                                      kind of hoping that people                   disapproving noises
                                                                                      would focus on real                          emanating from Microsoft,
                                                                                      problems and pay a little                    with even rumours of MS
                                                                                      more attention to the                        suing companies that sell
                                                                                      world that doesn’t go away                   Open Source Software
                                                                                      with power cuts, or not                      (OSS), but no one seems to
                                                                                      paying your ISP bill. What’s                 know exactly what
                                                                                      next? Second Life failures                   Microsoft has up their
analysis company. So what                  dollars (worth about $1,300                turning to virtual drugs                     sleeve.
was the winning idea? They                 in the real world). Judges                 and begging on pixelated
made a market research                     felt that their real-world                 streets?
and analysis system that                   experience qualified them
real-world companies can                   better than the other                      A POX ON OPEN SOURCE
use to analyse how users in                competitors. With an
the virtual world react to                 increasing number of                       Ballmer On
virtual brands, services and               companies looking to set
products. In plain English,                up shop in the virtual                     Linux And
that’s a virtual business                  world, it’s only logical that
plan that will help                        they will need to have a                   Open Source
companies make virtual                     plan and virtual market
business plans for virtual                 research details. Market


                                                                                      O
products or services. OK,                  Truths is already                                nce again, Steve
maybe the first explanation                conducting research about                        Ballmer, Microsoft
was better...                              brands and products, for                         CEO, has threatened
    Market Truths won first                which users who take part                  open source sellers. In
prize of 350,000 Linden                    in the surveys are paid—in                 February, in a meeting

                                                                                                                                                   DIGIT MARCH 2007   19
     Enter
                                                                                              also think Microsoft is         when you load the game.
       GENDER                    Kanvika Vishnoi Vs. Rajendra Rao                             deliberately not proving        However, there’s always
                            Make your own online matrimonial advertisement                    the patent infringements        one thing that betrays the
                                                                                              simply because there are        virtual world; no, not the
                            Kanvika’s mouse got into motion                                   none, and are just tom-         AI, it’s the characters.
                            instantly when she was informed about                             tomming it as a scare tactic    Whether it’s your own
                            making her own online matrimonial
                            advertisement. She Googled up
                                                                                              to deter corporations from      character, or the others
      BENDERS               “matrimonial site” and got a long list of                         investing in Linux. It seems    that you have to interact
                            sites, and each result seemed to confuse                          Novell did the smart thing      with in games, they all
                                                    her. But soon she                         by paying Microsoft to          look and act so unreal.
                                                    narrowed down
                                                    her choice to
                                                                                              become the only Linux           Sure, we’re well past the
                                                    shaadi.com, and                           distribution that Ballmer       days of polygonal-shaped
                                                    hastily clicked “Join for free.” When     cannot tch-tch at, and thus     people, but we’re still
                                                    she hit the button to save her profile,   mop up all the revenues for     incapable of imagining
                                                    she got a message: “Would you
                                                    prefer a working wife?” The next
                                                                                              non-Windows enterprise          game characters to be real
                                                    moment she realised the goof-up,          sales. In terms of the OSS      humans. “Give us another
                                                    clicked back, and found that she’d        end-user though, both           year or two” seems to be
       chosen her sex as male! The Gender Bender was officially over, and we told             Microsoft and Novell have       the prediction of the
       Kanvika she’d officially flunked!
                                                                                              fallen to new levels in         gaming industry...
                                                                                              terms of respect, and the           David Kunkler, one of
                             When we told Rajendra what exactly he was supposed to do,        hate grows. Ballmer may         the people behind Never
                             he started off with pair of raised brows and a smirk on his
                             face. Quite confidently, he took his browser to                  have put a pox on non-          Winter Nights 2 said in an
                             jeevansathi.com. Enthusiasm lit up his face, but he mistakenly   Novell Linux distros, but       interview with BBC that
                             chose “Yes, Not                                                  you can bet there are a few     motion capture
                             living together”                                                 OSS fanatics practising         technologies and graphics
                             under Children.
                             And then he got                                                  voodoo on a little Ballmer      are improving rapidly. If all
                             stuck at the box                                                 doll somewhere... perhaps       goes as planned, in a
                             where had to write                                               in a Red Hat office             couple of years we will not
       about himself. It seemed he hardly knew                                                building!                       be able to tell the
       his own traits; he fumbled, but ended up
       writing too much about himself. Too                                                                                    difference between an
       long an ad for anyone to really read!                                                  GET IN THE GAME                 actor in a movie and a
                                                                                                                              game character. He also
                                                                                              Realism In A                    foresees this change as the
          In November last year,                   70,000 such coupons have                                                   advent of “emotional
     Microsoft signed an                           been promised per year,                    Couple Of                       content in games.”
     agreement with Novell                         and Microsoft claims to                                                        Ian Livingstone from
     (SuSE Linux) to provide a                     have already sold 35,000.                  Years                           Eidos, the makers of the
     mixed OS platform to those                    How many have been used                                                    Tomb Raider series agrees:
     customers who requested                       is another question                                                        “We will be able to play


                                                                                              H
     it. So if you want a few                      altogether.                                       ave you seen the         with people’s emotions—we
     servers or PCs running on                         Popular opinion online                        latest games? No,        can make them laugh, we
     an open source OS,                            seems to think that this                          we’re not talking        can make them cry, we can
     Microsoft will recommend                      little Linux-users-owe-us-                 about the weird ones with       make them sad.”
     SuSE. The agreement also                      money ploy has gone a                      funky looking aliens and            So will this become the
     incorporates a clause that                    little too far, and OSS                    unbelievable worlds. We’re      Third Life? We can
     prevents Novell or                            fanatics have gone as far as               talking about the games         certainly see some adult
     Microsoft from suing each                     labelling Novell as “sell-                 that try and immerse you        titles being released after
     other for patent                              outs.” Everyone seems to be                in realism; the Never Winter    they perfect the production
     infringements.                                asking, “Enough already,                   Nights 2 kind. Those of you     of humans in games...
          Microsoft has also                       will Microsoft ever shut up                who have seen videos and        whether game developers
     issued coupons that entitle                   and just tell the world                    screenshots of the              will ever get game
     their clients to support for                  what intellectual property                 upcoming DX10 game              characters to act naturally
     SuSE Linux Enterprise                         Linux stole from them?”,                   Crysis will agree to the        is another story altogether.
     Server, if they’ve chosen a                   but no answers are                         realism of the world that       We’re still no closer to AI,
     mixed OS solution. Around                     forthcoming. Linux fans                    you will be plunged into        and no matter how real



                                     I’m A Mac!
                                     Everyone seems to be talking about Apple’s new “I’m                   BIll Gates: “I don’t think the over 90 per cent of
                                     a Mac” advertisements. For those of you who don’t                 those who use Windows PCs think of themselves as
                                     know, Apple released advertisements that portray PC               dullards, or the kind of klutzes that somebody is
                                     users as uncool geeks and then compare them to Mac                trying to say they are.”
                                     users, who they then portray as the “cool dudes.” We,                 Steve Ballmer: “Remember, when you’re the little
                                     the media, are not letting an opportunity by to get               tiny niche guy who owns about 2 per cent of the
                                     the reactions of Microsoft higher-ups. Microsoft execs            worldwide market, you can be cute one time and it
                                     are a little more riled than they let on, which is clear          helps you grow.”
                                     from the comments they’re made.                                       February, the month of not-so-good rejoinders...


22   DIGIT MARCH 2007
     Enter

                                                                                                              The new TouchSmart
                                                                                                          PC is a one-of-its-kind.
                                                                                                          Encased in a shiny piano-
                                                                                                          black exterior, it exudes
                                                                                                          class. HP has integrated
                                                                                                          useful applications such as
                                                                                                          SmartCalendar, HP
      Wizpy                                                                                               PhotoSmart Touch, and
      What on earth is Wizpy?                                                                             other tools to it. The
      Wizpy is a Linux-based                                                                              integrated 19-inch
      portable media player that                                                                          touchscreen is bright and
      supports the OGG, WMA, MP3,                                                                         uses optical touch
      AAC, DivX, and JPEG formats.                                                                        recognition, as against the
      You can also view text files on                                                                     traditional capacitive
      its 1.71-inch display. What’s                                                                       technologies and HP
      more, you can connect it           that soldier looks, we’re        India will soon overtake        claims better touchscreen
      to your USB port and boot          still going to be bursting       Russia to become the            performance.
      into Linux.                        into peals of laughter           third-biggest mobile                The new TX-1000
      Who developed it?                  when you shoot him in the        subscriber base, and will       Entertainment Notebook,
      It is the brainchild of            foot and he goes down            reach a whopping 500            too, features a
      Turbolinux, a Japanese Linux       holding his face! If it’s not    million by 2010. Even           touchscreen, and HP
      developer.                         that, then it’s your own         though financial experts        claims it is the first
                                         squad stupidly standing          say that Vodaphone may          notebook optimised to
      What apps come bundled?
                                         around getting shot at, or       have paid a little too much     take advantage of Vista's
      Wizpy comes loaded with
      Turbolinux’ Linux OS “Fuji”
                                         an enemy using a                 for their acquisition, it’s     entertainment features. A
      with the Linux Kernel 2.6.19,      predefined route to get to       nothing compared to the         key feature is its ability to
      which is updatable. Also           your position.                   potential they’ve bought.       transform into a Tablet PC.
      bundled is Firefox,                    Well, one step at a time         With global players         It also has HP's
      Thunderbird, Skype, Turbo          we guess, real faces in two      coming into India, the          entertainment features
      Media Player, Adobe Reader,        years, and real behaviour        mobile industry is set for a    such as the QuickPlay
      CD and DVD ripping software,       in 200?                          new boom. Pricing will be       buttons, a remote control,
      OpenOffice 2.1, RealPlayer 10,                                      competitive, services will      and a webcam with a
      and Justsystem’s ATOK              INDIA MORE MOBILE                be ramped up, and the           microphone.
      Japanese Input System.                                              general competitiveness             Then, packed with
      How does it work?
                                         Mobile                           will give us end-users more     features is the iPAQ
                                                                          choices and better service      rw6828, the new, chic PDA-
      Simply hook it up to the
      computer and boot into your        Market                           coverage. Since Vodaphone       phone from the HP stables.
                                                                          plans to start penetrating      Based on a 416 MHz Intel
      own version of OS. Wizpy has
      Flash memory with a bootable       Growing                          rural areas immediately,        processor, and with 128
                                                                          expect a much better            MB ROM, a QVA screen,
      Linux OS that uses at the most
      1 GB of memory from the            Rapidly                          connected nation in a           and running Windows
      player. The host computer will                                      couple of years.                Mobile 5.0, this PDA-phone
      detect Wizpy as a USB                                                   Whatever the case,          will set a new benchmark


                                         N
      bootable device and boots                  ormally a common         we’re going to enjoy            for PDA-phones. It comes
      into Fuji. Wizpy uses its own              meeting ground to        ourselves, and hope that 3G     equipped with Bluetooth,
      output system so users can                 discuss possible         finally makes it here to take   infrared, Wi-Fi (802.11b),
      plug in their own output           strategies for China, the        over from the 2.5G services     tri-band GSM, and
      peripherals for sound. Files       3GSM World Congress              we have to make do with         GPRS/EDGE. A 2-megapixel
      and documents are stored           (http://3gsmworldcongress.c      currently.                      camera, inbuilt FM tuner,
      either in the media folder or      om/) was all abuzz about                                         and a 1 GB mini-SD card
      on the documents folder of         India. Vodaphone’s 11            EXUDING COOL                    enable entertainment.
      the host PC. The media folder      billion dollar acquisition of                                        With IDC forecasting
      on the host PC will be
      accessible only when Wizpy is
                                         Hutchison Essar was also         Brand New                       healthy growth for PCs in
                                         part of a lot of                                                 countries such as India
      connected, and the documents
      folder is accessible only by
                                         conversations.                   Products                        and China, it was but
                                             The reason global                                            natural for HP to come up
      using Wizpy’s OS.
      Where can be Wizpy used?
                                         mobile service companies         From HP                         with a new range of PCs.
                                         have lost a little interest in                                   The general theme is
      Wizpy is compatible with both      China and are focussing on                                       centred on Black and Slim.
      PCs and Intel-based

                                                                          H
                                         India is that China has run             P recently announced     HP has banked to a large
      Macintoshs.                        its shift to 3G into murky              a new range of digital   extent on their industrial
      When will be Wizpy be              waters. At the same time,               lifestyle consumer       design team to come up
      available?                         India is the fastest-growing     products, featuring an          with new, good-looking,
      It debuted in February 2007 in     mobile segment, and with         industry-first touchscreen      functional designs.
      Japan, and the rest of the         150 million subscribers,         PC, a touchscreen notebook,         HP India assures that
      world will get it after April of   that’s a mere 13 to 15 per       a Desktop PC with a new         these products will make it
      this year.                         cent penetration.                design, and an iPAQ             to the Indian market by the
                                         Estimates proclaim that          handheld.                       April / May 2007.

24   DIGIT MARCH 2007
                                                                                            Digital Tools l Jumpstart

                                                                          Digital


32    Enter The
      Matrix!       40 Tube Tech            46       Sonic Boom
                                                                          Passion
                                                                          Fuelling The Pursuit Of Technology Knowledge




Cover Story




Are We There Yet?
Even with prices falling, you still pay more for your bandwidth than you should. What’s going on,
and will 2007 really be the “year of broadband”?
                                                                          The Bandwidth Food Chain
                    Nimish Chandiramani                                   This whole explanation becomes simpler if you
                                                                          consider bandwidth to be a commodity—like


                    “H
                                 ey, watch this hilarious video”, says    apples, for example. It all starts with the Network
                                 the friend from the US, and you click    Service Providers (NSPs), who own the backbone to
                                 on the YouTube link with all imagi-      the Internet. They’re the ones bringing band-
                    nable anticipation. “It’s still loading,” you say,    width to India, and selling it to both ISPs and you.
                    when said friend asks you whether you watched         Bharti (Airtel), Reliance, VSNL, MTNL, and BSNL,
                    it. Now, if your US-based friends are anything like   for example, are all NSPs—they’re the people
                    ours, they’ll instantly give in to the temptation     importing the apples.
                    to send you a screenshot of their 500 KBps (yes,           Next are the ISPs, who buy bandwidth by the
                    that’s kilo bytes ) download and call it Awww.jpg.    GB from the NSPs—usually more than one—and
                         The urban Indian’s quest for high-speed          sell it to you. Just like the supermarkets that stock
                    Internet access is something that should be           the imported apples. And just like you’re charged
                    turned into a daily soap—lots of tears, and with      for apples by quality and quantity, ISPs are charged
                    nothing of note happening over long periods of        for speed and data transfer—which is why they
                    time. There isn’t a rant about broadband con-         need to cap your connections as well. There are
                    nections we haven’t heard; what ulterior motive       two types of ISPs—those who have established their
                    could ISPs have for not giving us our daily GB?       own infrastructure and provide access over that,
                    After all, depriving customers isn’t exactly smart    and those who use infrastructure that already
                    business, is it? But before we get on, time for a     exists—Sify, for example, provides its broadband
                    little lesson...                                      services over the cable that has already been laid
                                                                          out by your local cable operator. Both deal with
                                                                          their own advantages and disadvantages—




                                                                                                                          Imaging Pradip Ingale
         Digital Passion l Cover Story
         upgrading your own infrastructure is easier than                               need to make enough money from subscriptions
         getting your franchisees to upgrade theirs, for                                to offset their investments. Bandwidth is an
         instance. ISPs that have their own infrastructure                              expensive commodity—You Telecom CEO E. V. S
         are also able to guarantee better services, since                              Chakravarthy calls it perishable: “We pay for
         they are in full control of quality. However, taking                           bandwidth by the day, so if any of it goes unused,
         the plunge to network an area is an expensive                                  we make a loss.” If you’re on a limited data
         proposition, and they need to think more than                                  transfer plan, you should be able to relate to this
         twice before laying out more cabling.                                          instantly—this is why you can’t carry your
             We aren’t going to get more penetration this                               remaining megabytes forward to the next month.
         way, indicates Naresh Ajwani, VP Projects at Sify                                  Penetration is crucial, then—when more
         Broadband: “There are 120 million cable TV con-                                people start adopting broadband, the economies
         nections in India just waiting to be exploited.”                               of scale will come into play, and the cost per
         We’ll get deeper to the penetration dilemma later,                             connection will fall. It isn’t the only thing, how-
         but there’s some food for thought in that...
                                                                It’s not that           ever—while we fight the monster of penetration,
             Finally, the people giving you your connection     bandwidth is            there’s something else that will drive prices
         may be franchisees of the ISPs, though many ISPs       much cheaper            down further...
         prefer to establish their own branch offices and       abroad—but the
         give you service themselves.                           demand is such          The Local Bandwidth Funda
                                                                                        Consider your home or office LAN—the costs
         The Purse-strings                                      that it’s easier for    involved in maintaining it aren’t particularly
         So why is bandwidth so expensive? There are a          ISPs to make their      high. There’s the one-time cost of cabling, servers,
         number of factors to consider here, and many of        money back.”            and routers, and the recurring costs of repairing
         them depend on each other to a point where it’s        A. S. Oberai            the odd broken cable, the power to keep the
         like listening to the chicken-and-egg argument.        Director, IOL           servers running, and so on. While these aren’t
             The first, and most obvious, is the cost of the    Broadband               costs to be scoffed at, they aren’t daunting in the
         infrastructure itself. Connecting a country like                               big picture—to you, the bandwidth you use when
         India is no small matter—says A S Oberai, Director,                            accessing another computer on the network is
         IOL Broadband, “India is actually quite excep-                                 free. Costs only come into play when you’re
         tional in its degree of connectivity. VSNL has                                 accessing the Internet, and companies pay a lot of
         around 12,000 km of optical fibre running across                               money for high-speed (usually those measured in
         India—and that’s just VSNL. A lot of countries                                 Mbps) unlimited connections.
         aren’t that well off. I’m told that 18 lakh villages                               Take it a step higher, and the story is similar.
         are connected by fibre-optic cable—that’s one of                               Try to picture India as one massive LAN. Accessing
         the greatest things achieved in India.”                                        sites (servers) that are on this network is cheap—
             All commendable and everything, but we still                               you’re using local bandwidth. But then, how
         didn’t have a clear answer—but everyone we spoke                               many of the sites you visit are hosted in India?
         to was quick to point out that prices are falling.                             “Our dependence on international bandwidth is
         Today, you get a 256 Kbps unlimited connection                                 too much,” Ajwani points out, “and prices will
         for the same price that you got a 64 Kbps connec-                              drop only when more datacentres are established
         tion a few years ago; if you’re on an MTNL or BSNL                             in India.”
         connection, you’re paying the same price for your                                  All the data that comes to you has travelled
         2 Mbps connection that you did for your 256 Kbps                               from the US or Europe through an NSP’s broad-
         pre-January! And yet...                                                        band pipe—a pipe that costs them a lot of money
             They key is the return on investment (ROI)—                                to own, thus costing ISPs a lot of money to buy
         with penetration the way it is in the country, ISPs                            bandwidth off; so you pay more for accessing, say,
                                                                                        Yahoo! than someone in the US does.
         Broadband Technology                                                               And that’s saying a lot—Yahoo!, Orkut and
                                                                                        Google India are the top three sites vis-

     W      ireless broadband connections are still to make their presence felt;
            today, you get to choose between Internet over cable or ADSL
     (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line). You’ll find the latter, most notably, with
                                                                                        ited by Indians—and none of them are
                                                                                        hosted in India. Every time you access
                                                                                        these sites (and how can you not?),
     MTNL, BSNL and Airtel.                                                             it costs money. Compare this to
          Theoretically, cable wins the speed war—it’s capable of up to 30 Mbps,        the ideal situation where your
     though this depends on how well-maintained your connection is. In contrast,        most frequently-used sites
     ADSL connections can reach a theoretical maximum of 10 Mbps. Then again,           have their own mirrors
     the speed you get over your cable connection depends on shared bandwidth—          within the country.
     if there are too many users in your area, and your cable provider hasn’t           You’ll be using the inter-
     allocated enough bandwidth, you’ll get a poor connection. The DSL                  national pipes less often, which
     connection, however, is all yours—your bandwidth depends only on the               means that your ISP can actually get
     quality of the line.                                                               away with buying less bandwidth
          If you’ve got a telephone line coming to your house, you’re already ADSL-     form the NSP than it does now—con-
     ready—you’ll get your connection over that telephone line. With cable, you         necting to a server in India costs con-
     have the inconvenience of having your house wired.                                 siderably less—which in turn means
          Finally, with cable connections, upload and download speeds are the           that you can actually get much higher
     same, so you’ll see caps on total data transfer. ADSL, being asymmetric, can       speeds for what you’re paying now,
     give you different speeds for both. For example, you can download at up to         perhaps even cheaper!
     2 Mbps on an MTNL or BSNL connection, but your upload speed is capped at               Now you know why those blasted
     256 Kbps—reflecting your normal use. Moreover, there’s only a download cap!        friends in the US are getting so much
                                                                                        for so little!

28       DIGIT MARCH 2007
     Digital Passion l Cover Story
         Still, we’ve only figured out the problem. Is                         price?” He continues, “Right now, all that’s being
     there a solution on the way? Datacentres in India                         talked about is the fact that ISPs haven’t paid the
     are coming up, but progress has been slow—set-                            big license fees the telecom companies have, so
     ting up a datacentre that meets international                             they shouldn’t get to provide telephony. Once all
     standards is a rather large investment.                                   this resistance is broken, just watch...”
         The National Internet Exchange of India, or                               Sify plans to promote broadband as an edu-
     NIXI, (www.nixi.org) is a group of ISPs dedicated                         cational medium with their upcoming educa-
     to the cause of establishing more datacentres in                          tional       portal—students        will     receive
     India, and their outlook for the future is quite                          classroom-like education, enabled with facilities
     optimistic. Ajwani agrees, “It will take a couple                         like VoIP. “If parents see broadband in this posi-
     of years, but the domestic bandwidth situation                            tive light, they will be less reluctant to adopt it,”
     in India will get better.”                                                says Ajwani. Airtel’s got educational plans of
         Sify, incidentally, has datacentres in Navi                           their own—something that will be “more than
     Mumbai and Bangalore. VSNL has been at it for        There are 120        just school”, Endlaw tells us.
     a while now, and the number is growing. News         million cable TV         And once the homework is done...
     surfaced late last year that Google was plan-        connections in
     ning to invest $1 billion in a datacentre in         India just waiting   Fun And Games
     Andhra Pradesh.                                      to be exploited.”    In September 2006, both Airtel and You Telecom
         A couple of years it is, then. Meanwhile...                           tied up with Indiagames to offer games on
                                                       Naresh Ajwani           demand—play all the multiplayer games you want
     The Penetration Demon                             V. P. Projects,         for a flat monthly subscription fee. You Telecom
     The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), Sify Broadband          also plans a service where the base game is free,
     in their Broadband Policy (www.trai.gov.in/                               but you pay a little for additional features—some-
     broadbandpolicy.asp), estimated three million                             thing like Need for Speed: Carbon, only you pay real
     broadband subscribers by the end of 2005. The                             money for upgrades to your car. This was due in
     actual number was a depressing 835,000 (source:                           January, but has been delayed by a few months.
     Tonse Telecom, Analysts). At the end of 2006, the                             “You’ll notice that a lot of the games we offer
     number was up to 2 million—still short of the pre-                        are games that families can play,” Endlaw points
     vious year’s target. What’s wrong?                                        out. “This makes the service more attractive—just
         Ajwani blames, in part, the pricing model.                            good, clean fun.” They will be adding more genres
     “Mobile phones saw phenomenal growth only                                 soon, though.
     after prepaid connections came into the market.                               Neither has any complaints about the
     Indians don’t like seeing hidden costs, and they                          response, but Chakravarthy admits they’re still
     don’t want to get a shock at the end of every                             trying to figure out the mind of the gamer, and
     month—they’ll just respond by not adopting.                               how to make the service more attractive to this
     Prepaid broadband connections will give users                             mysterious creature.
     transparency, and that’s the direction ISPs                                   Finally, there’s good old TV.
     should be thinking in.”
         And then there’s the vicious circle—for pene-                         Bigger Idiot Box
     tration to rise, people need compelling reasons                           A lot of talk has surrounded MTNL’s announce-
     that make broadband attractive. One of those                              ment of its IPTV services in collaboration with
     compelling reasons will be lower prices, which                            IOL broadband, but will it change the way you
     will come when penetration rises. Now what?                               watch TV? We watched a demo of the service at
                                                                               IOL’s offices, and we must admit that it looks
     Broadband... And More                                                     promising on the face of it. Video quality is
     While we wait for bandwidth prices to drop,                               quite agreeable, and the video on demand
     ISPs are keen on showering Value-added Services                           service works better than what you get with
     on us—for a flat subscription fee, you can now                            Direct To Home (DTH) TV today. “And if it’s
     get yourself VoIP services, play multiplayer                              financially feasible, we’ll be giving you the
     games on-demand and watch TV, with a lot                                  latest movies as early as the Sunday after the
     more on the way.                                                          release,” says Oberai.
          “What broadband will do for people matters                               Others aren’t as optimistic about IPTV—“It’s
     as much as broadband itself”, says Pancham                                just something to showcase,” Ajwani scoffs. He
     Endlaw, Senior Manager at Airtel Broadband.                               also notes that IPTV hasn’t had much success in
     “Value-added services will play an important role                         Europe, and that it won’t fit in in India, either.
     in increasing broadband penetration.”                                     Chakravarthy points out that IPTV assumes that
          Today, you can buy VoIP services from as many                        you’re not used to watching TV on your PC—five
     as 30 ISPs—both local and national. For a sub-                            years ago, for example, you couldn’t imagine
     scription fee of around Rs 100, you can make calls                        watching a movie on your PC. Today, it’s practi-
     to any international land line or mobile for as                           cally second nature. And yet, you are made to
     little as Rs 1.25 a minute! Chakravarthy believes                         invest money in a “PC-like” set-top box, bringing
     VoIP is the future: “There is a huge desire on the                        the functionality you already have on your PC, to
     part of the Government to make VoIP a reality in                          your TV. “But the younger generation will have
     a big way, and in a way that will trigger a melt-                         one window open for TV, one for browsing, one
     down in telecom tariffs—which is fantastic. The                           for chat, and so on.” With sites like YouTube and
     guys stalling this are the telecom companies—if I                         services like Joost, why would you need IPTV?
     can offer you international calls at one rupee a                              Overall, IPTV is a better alternative to the local
     minute and you’re willingly paying me five a                              cablewallah in terms of the services it offers.
     minute, where is the incentive for me to cut the                          There’s still a chance you won’t find some of your

30   DIGIT MARCH 2007
     Digital Passion l Cover Story
     favourite channels in the bouquet, but this will                                 even need 2 Mbps?”
     change. Meanwhile, Oberai proclaims, “IPTV is                                        You’re probably appalled at this statement,
     changing the Internet!”                                                          but this is the truth in the Indian “hybrid
         Be it IPTV or the alternatives, we will need                                 market,” as Ajwani puts it. The disparity
     fatter pipes.                                                                    between the geek’s demands and the average
                                                                                      user’s is tremendous, and for now, the
     The 2 Mbps Revolution (?)                                                        majority—meaning the average user—is going
     When Dayanidhi Maran, Union Minister of                                          to drive the plans available in India. Did you
     Telecommunications and IT, announced that                                        know that a lot of people don’t even hit their
     we’ll see speeds of up to 2 Mbps on our existing                                 download limits?
     MTNL and BSNL connections, we took it with a                                         So while urban users scream themselves
     pinch of salt. We Indians aren’t used to prompt                                  hoarse for faster, unlimited connections,
     action, are we? And yet, amidst much fanfare,                                    others scream themselves hoarse just for con-
     we entered the New Year with, sure enough, 2
                                                             Just as it’s our         nections, period.
     Mbps connections.                                       responsibility to            But we digress. It’s early days yet for the 2
         Barely a few days after that, You Telecom           provide our              Mbps brigade—both MTNL and BSNL warn that
     announced their 2 Mbps plans; as of this                customers with           it depends on the line condition. If you’re closer
     writing, Airtel and You Telecom are the only            the best speeds          to the telephone exchange and the lines in your
     ones who offer such speeds to the home user.                                     area are being maintained properly, you’ll see
     “In his announcement, Mr Maran encouraged
                                                             and service, it’s        the speeds. If not, you’ll find yourself at the
     private providers to match MTNL’s upcoming              their                    receiving end of a broken promise. Feedback is
     offers, so we did,” says Chakravarthy simply.           responsibility to        online for all to view—you’ll find it on any
         Airtel announced its 2 Mbps plans nearly a          keep us alive by         Indian technology forum, including our own;
     month later—why the delay? “We were                     paying a fair            the disparity is mind-boggling. As is the dis-
     preparing to provide higher speeds—I believe                                     parity in the quality of service...
     everyone was. You Telecom did trump us, but
                                                             price”
     we’ll see 2 Mbps plans from everyone soon               E. V. S. Chakravarthy    Meat, And Poison
     enough,” says Endlaw.                                   CEO, You Telecom         You’re quite happy with your ISP—good prices,
         But is the 2 Mbps picture all peachy? The                                    speeds as advertised, and decent customer sup-
     first thing that hits you when you visit the                                     port. You recommend it to your friend in another
     providers’ sites is that there still isn’t an afford-                            area of the city. Ten days later, you get showered
     able 2 Mbps plan with unlimited data transfer.                                   with abuses for your recommendation. What
     The second thing is that transfer limits haven’t                                 happened?
     been changed; considering that you’ll hit that                                       There are two facets to service—firstly, who’s
     limit much faster with the 2 Mbps connection,                                    providing it, and secondly, how much bandwidth
     you’ll need to watch your usage very carefully,                                  has been allocated to the area in question. When
     or face the bill shocks that hit people when                                     an ISP provides its service through a franchisee—
     they got too carried away with their first month                                 usually a local cable operator—you’re bound to
     of a 2 Mbps connection. “2 Mbps could lose                                       see differences in the quality of service across
     credibility this way,” says Chakravarthy,                                        areas. Sify has been dealing with this for a long
     “Tomorrow, if you’ve been burned by the bills,                                   time. On the other hand, Endlaw assures, “We
     you’ll tell your friends not to fall for it, they’ll                             manage our own customer service, so barring
     tell their friends, and so on.”                                                  minor differences, you’ll see consistent quality
         Sify, on the other hand, won’t be going the 2                                across the country.”
     Mbps way soon. “It’s all hype,” says Ajwani.                                         The second aspect is bandwidth manage-
     “There will be a lot of complaints with the down-                                ment—if there are 200 subscribers for
     load limits. 85 per cent of Internet users go                                    256 Kbps connections in an area that has only 30
     online for e-mail and Instant Messaging—do they                                  Mbps allocated to it, there are naturally going to
                                                                                      be problems.
           Choosing A Broadband Connection                                                Then there’s the matter of the customer him-
                                                                                      self being wrong. Even something as silly as

      U   se the Web sites as only an indication—do your groundwork before you
          settle on an ISP.
                                                                                      someone tripping over and dislodging the net-
                                                                                      work cable becomes an irate “My Internet isn’t
                                                                                      working!” call to the service centre.
          Check with people in your area. Despite the official word, the quality of       On paper, You Telecom’s plan is the best we’ve
          service does vary from region to region, and to different degrees. Make     heard so far. Unless the problem with your con-
          sure you speak to your neighbours about the ISP they’re using and the       nection is physical—a broken wire, a faulty net-
          quality of service.                                                         work switch, and so on—you’ll still be able to
          Be very careful when signing up with an operator who’s just started         connect to their service site, where you will be
          offering services. All will be peachy in the beginning, but there’s a       asked for a 10-digit code. Once you do so, your
          good chance that the service may degrade as more subscribers come           system is analysed (with your permission, of
          on board. Where possible, opt for someone established—you’ll get            course) to ensure that everything is all right at
          consistent service, as any kinks in the infrastructure will have been       your end—no viruses, proper settings, etc. If all is
          ironed out.                                                                 well, someone will come over to service the con-
          If you’re opting for an MTNL or BSNL connection, find out when the          nection, and soon after the technician leaves,
          neighbourhood infrastructure was last upgraded, especially if you’re far    you’ll receive a text message asking you for feed-
          from the telephone exchange—the quality of the wiring and the distance      back on the quality of service you received. Your
          from the exchange will determine your speeds.                               reply to that message will enable them to give
                                                                                      you better service in the future...on paper.

32   DIGIT MARCH 2007
                                                                   Digital Passion l Cover Story
The Year Of Broadband?                                ister: “He’s a performing minister, and he’s
We’ll see cheaper, faster connections this year.      serious when he says these things. He’s almost
We’ll also see new technologies like WiMAX            running the Indian IT sector like a CEO.” As for
coming to the fore—Bharti TeleVentures,               the “Year of Broadband” and all that it promises,
Reliance, Sify, BSNL, and VSNL have all acquired      “He’ll get it done.”
licenses to provide it, and Sify showed off their
first live demonstration on February 19.              Disconnect
    At least, this is what we’ve been promised.       You probably expected us to crucify your provider
    There will also be innovation in the way broad-   for daring to interrupt your download. Or tell you
band is provided—for example, in keeping with his     that you’ll see a 2 Mbps unlimited connection for
idea of the “Indian pricing model,” Ajwani envi-      Rs 250 a month, two weeks from now. Perhaps you
sions the advent of “Broadband On Demand”—the         even expected this writer to rail about the fact
ability to ask only for the bandwidth you need,       that while he writes this, a 200 KB file is down-
when you need it. But that’s only half of it.         loading at 2 KBps in the background. Or that the
    The way we use broadband is changing—             “Hah!” in broad(hah!)band will never go. Pity.
even ISPs in the US weren’t prepared for the              We just need to give it time. The datacentres
volume of content that’s now available online.        will come, and prices will fall. PC prices will fall,
Horror stories of Comcast cutting off users’          penetration will increase, and then broadband
connections for exceeding their bandwidth             prices will fall. In the mean time, you can do
limits (on supposedly “unlimited” connections,        your bit to help broadband and PC penetration
mind you) have already begun to surface.              by making them more desirable—if you know
    At the India Digital Summit 2007, Maran           someone who’s worried about what their kids
pointed out, “Connectivity, of course, is not         will get exposed to online, tell them about the
enough to ensure adoption of Internet. Con-           whole world of knowledge waiting out there.
tent is another significant contributor to it—I       The television faced the same kind of resistance,
have to say we do not have much content today         but with acceptance came adoption.
for consumers!”                                           We know you’ve got a broadband anecdote to
    Consider this: YouTube—an English-lan-            share—how could you not? Will you content
guage site—is now number 7 on the list of sites       yourself with value-added services while you
most frequented by Indians. “Now imagine a            wait for prices to fall? Will you opt for IPTV? Is
Hindi YouTube in India,” says Chakravarthy.           the country doomed to sub-standard speeds?
    Though Maran has made lofty promises, but         Write in—our inboxes are quite large!
Chakravarthy has complete faith in the min-                          nimish_chandiramani@thinkdigit.com




                                                                                         MARCH 2007 DIGIT     33
Digital Passion l Insight




Enter The Matrix!
Everyone and their uncles have hopped on to the LCD bandwagon, but how many of us know
about the different kinds of LCDs out there?
                                                       actually refers to the way the liquid crystals are
Michael Browne                                         organised.
No two LCDs are created alike                          How A TN Panel Works

T
       hat may sound dubious at first, but as          When voltage is applied (see Figure 1) you’ll
       you’ll see, it’s very true. The differences     notice the outer set of crystals hardly change
       between LCD technologies are fundamen-          position (mostly parallel to the panels surface).
tal, based on the actual panel matrix that the         All the while, the inner crystals orient them-
LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) uses.                     selves in such a way that their axis is perpendi-
    Each type of panel is designed to suit a partic-   cular to the panel’s surface—they twist. The
ular usage pattern—gaming, movies, image edit-         problem in reality is the outer crystals aren’t
ing, etc. This is actually intentional. As far as      really parallel to the surface but nearly parallel.
history is concerned, compared to CRTs, which          If viewed as a whole (the entire matrix), there are
have been around since 1897, LCDs are rather           noticeable irregularities. These irregularities
new products, and constant innovations are             cause TN panels to have a characteristically poor
being made.                                            Contrast Ratio, which is immediately noticeable
    If you’re going out to buy an LCD, just read-      while viewing multimedia content. Also, the
ing manufacturer specifications isn’t going to         viewing angles are adversely affected because of
clear the fog. If you want to know whether a           such irregularities.
particular LCD is suited for your needs, you’re             Another disadvantage that TN panel-based
going to have to understand more about the             LCDs face is the fact that they’re natively capable
manufacturing technologies. Almost all LCDs            of displaying only 262,144 colours—18-bit colour
made today are the jack-of-all-trades kind, and        as opposed to 24-bit colour. TNs are basically 6-bit
the only way to discern a panel’s suitability to a     panels—the 18 bits comprise of 6 bits per colour
task is to check the type of matrix used.              component, red, green, and blue. However,
    There are broadly four types of LCD matrices       manufacturers get to the magical figure of 16.7
being manufactured today:                              million colours (24-bit) by a technique called
    1. TN (Twisted Nematic) also called TN+Film        dithering. Dithering is simply a technique for
    2. IPS (In Plane Switching)                        altering the values of adjacent dots (or pixels for
    3. MVA (Multi-domain Vertical Alignment)           that matter) on a matrix so as to create the illu-
    4. PVA (Patterned Vertical Alignment)              sion of a larger gamut of colours than what
                                                       actually exists.
TN / TN+Film                                                The advantages that TN panels have is that
TN panels are the adults of the LCD world.             they’re by far the fastest of all the technologies
They’ve been on the scene since the time of            in terms of response times. This, coupled with
Passive Matrices. The term “Twisted Nematic”           the fact that TN panel LCDs are the cheapest to
                                                              manufacture, is the reason that when you
                                                              go out to buy an LCD, the majority of
                                                              manufacturers will supply you with a
                                                                                                              Photograph Amrut Patky
                                                                                                              Imaging Shrikrishna Patkar
                                                                    model containing a panel based on
                                                                           this technology.
                                                                                                                                              Digital Passion l Insight
                                                OFF                        ON                  Due to the                          OFF                        ON
                                                                                               significantly
 Infographics Shrikrishna Patkar




                                                        Substrate                              higher costs
                                   Electrodes               Electrodes              Liquid
                                                                                    Crystals   involved, S-IPS                              Liquid
                                                                                                                                            Crystals
                                                                                               technology is                                Electrodes
                                                                                               seen in larger
                                                                                               LCD panels,
                                   Figure 1: Orientation of liquid crystals in a TN panel.     20-inch and              Figure 2: A view of the liquid crystals between the glass
                                   Note the unorthodox alignment in the On position            above                    substrates in an IPS panel. Note the way the crystals
                                                                                                                        stretch when electric current is applied—in-plane

                                   IPS                                                                                  brightness levels. The benefits of IPS technology
                                   The second-type of LCDs we’re looking at are                                         are the generously wide viewing angles and the
                                   the much costlier IPS (In-Plane Switching)                                           brilliant colour reproduction.
                                   panels. Developed by Hitachi in 1996, IPS panels                                         Due to their original design, IPS panels
                                   were intended to remedy all the problems asso-                                       suffered from very slow pixel response times,
                                   ciated with TN panels mentioned above. Inci-                                         which made them unsuitable for gaming
                                   dentally, IPS panels are natively 8-bit, which                                       and multimedia applications because of all
                                   means that they can display the entire range of                                      the ghosting.
                                   16.7 million colours without the need for any                                            A shot in the arm for IPS came in 1998 when
                                   dithering whatsoever. This makes them a good                                         Hitachi Corporation developed S-IPS or Super IPS.
                                   choice for professionals working with image                                          S-IPS significantly lowered pixel response times
                                   and graphics applications. A newer version of                                        from 50 ms (for IPS) to about 25 ms. Later, in a
                                   IPS is S-IPS (Super IPS), which addresses the                                        joint venture, LG and Philips worked out several
                                   inherently poor response times that plagued                                          chinks in the S-IPS armour, further reducing
                                   first-generation IPS panels.                                                         response times to about 16 ms. None of this
                                                                                                                        affected the brilliant image quality, wide view-
                                   How IPS Works                                                                        ing angle and colour reproduction, thus making
                                   As the name suggests, the crystals in the panel                                      S-IPS panels the only choice for the discerning.
                                   do not change orientation during off and on                                              Due to the significantly higher costs involved
                                   operations, remaining parallel to the panel’s                                        in their manufacture, S-IPS technology is
                                   plane. Notice the elongation of the liquid crys-                                     reserved for larger panels, above 20-inches.
                                   tals as they switch to their active state. Also
                                   notice the position of the electrodes—they’re on                                     MVA
                                   the same wafer. This design is more space-                                           MVA (Multi-Domain Vertical Alignment) panels
                                   consuming as well, which leads to one of the                                         came into existence sometime in 1998, thanks
                                   major shortcomings of IPS panels—a poor                                              to Fujitsu, as a compromise between TN and IPS
                                   contrast ratio which causes relatively lower                                         technologies. TN panels offered superb response

                                    How An LCD Works

L  iquid crystal display panels are named after the semi-fluid
   crystals present in them. Liquid crystals have a couple of
peculiar properties that made flat panels possible.
                                                                                                                 Colour Filter
                                                                                                                  R
                                                                                                                                                     Transparent
                                                                                                                                                     Electrode

    Firstly, they change shape when electric current is applied                                                   G
to them. Different types of panels (as mentioned above) will                                                      B
have crystals taking on differing shapes when an electrical
current is applied, but one thing stays common—                                                                                                                        Back
a change occurs. Let’s not get into the types of liquid                                                                                                                light
crystals around.                                                                                                  R
    Secondly, liquid crystals can transmit polarised light. An
LCD basically works on the principle of alternatively blocking                                                    G
and allowing light to pass through. This blocking and allowing is                                                 B
done by the liquid crystals themselves as they change structure
when an electric current is passed through them.                                                                                  Glass Substrate     Liquid Crystal
    As you can see, the liquid crystals are sandwiched between
two layers of polarised glass. The inner sides of the glass                                            current is supplied to a particular row or column to activate a
panels, the sides that aren’t polarised, have microscopic                                              particular pixel.
grooves hewn into them. These grooves are made by a special                                                 Now, suppose a current is passed through this assembly to a
sort of polymer which is conductive, and each groove corre-                                            particular pixel; the voltage is received by the liquid crystals causing
sponds to where a pixel’s alignment would be, and the grooves                                          them to change shape. Now this change of shape differs according
are perpendicular to each other. Liquid crystal material is                                            to the type of panel being used, but basically, it alters the intensity
placed between these two layers of glass substrate, and a                                              of light passing through the liquid crystals onto the pixel.
polarising film is put on the outer side of each glass panel. The                                           Note that the liquid crystals merely allow or disallow light
individual rows and columns inside the substrate created by the                                        being created by the polarised panels to pass through them.
polymer are hooked up to integrated circuits. This is how                                              They do not create any light of their own.


                                                                                                                                                               DIGIT MARCH 2007     35
       Digital Passion l Insight

         Pixel Response Times: The Long And Short Of It

     R   esponse Time can be defined as the amount of time it takes a
         pixel to go from its active state to its passive state and again
     back to its active state. Unlike a CRT, where the pixel response
                                                                            crystal would take the longest possible time for this operation,
                                                                            and therefore the response time would be the slowest, right?
                                                                                 Wrong! You have to consider that the angle or degree of turning
     time is virtually negligible, LCDs have been plagued with high         is proportionate to the intensity of the electrical field applied. There-
     response times—you end up getting ghosting on your screen              fore to orient the crystal just a little bit, a very weak electrical field is
     because the transition time (switching from on to off) is so high.     needed, and the slower the crystal moves. The larger the degree of
         The liquid crystals in an LCD display actually move, or re-        orientation required, the greater the electricity applied, and the
     orient themselves accordingly, when electricity is passed              faster the crystal will turn, and vice-versa—a rather paradoxical situ-
     through them. The time taken by these viscous crystals to re-          ation. In many multimedia applications, games for example, the
     orient is a few milliseconds, and the movement could be minute         response time for a pixel transition from, say, black to dark grey may
     or large depending on the colour the pixel is supposed to              be more significant than the transition from black to white.
     display. The Off position for a pixel is white, while the On posi-          Transitions from grey to grey are the fastest, and so most
     tion is black. One complete pixel operation would therefore be a       manufacturers quote this figure. For a monitor having a
     shift from white to black to white. In such a case, remember that      “marketed” response time of 4 ms gtg (grey to grey), the actual
     the distance the crystal has to move is maximum, since black           response time may be closer to 8 ms or even 12 ms. The ISO
     represents the maximum amount of orientation away from                 standard for pixel latency is defined as the time taken for a full
     white (other colours will fall in between). So technically, the        black to white transition.


        times, but suffered from poor colour reproduc-          do not offer the same brilliant colour repro-
        tion. S-IPS panels had amazing colour reproduc-         duction that S-IPS panels do, although to be
        tion and acceptable response times, but suffered        pretty honest, MVA panels leave TN based ones
        from poor contrast ratios. MVA panels walked            chewing the dust on this parameter.
        the middle path to try and address all flaws in             MVA panels are usually natively 8-bit.
        previous technologies, and offer actual contrast        However, the drive for economy has seen cheaper
        ratios of 600:1, which translates to blacks actu-       6-bit MVA panels that use dithering, similar to
        ally looking black, and a full spectrum of grey. So     TN panels.
        do we finally have visual perfection?                       Once again, MVA panels are expensive, much
            Unfortunately, no! MVA panels have been             more so than TNs, but cheaper than IPS panels,
        proven to have the worst pixel response times.          so they’re mostly restricted to around the 19-
        Also, if a close comparison is done, MVA panels         inch-and-above category.




36      DIGIT MARCH 2007
     Digital Passion l Insight

           Plasma Displays—More CRT than LCD

       T   he working of an LCD system should be clear now. But what
           about plasma TVs? Plasma is another flat screen display
       type that most people confuse with LCDs. However, the
                                                                                      Front Glass                  Auxilary
                                                                                                                   Electrode
                                                                                      Substrate
       extremely flat (read compact) dimensions is all that these two
       technologies have in common.
            A plasma TV is comprised of two sheets of glass with a                                                                   Dielectric
       series of corrugations that have coloured phosphors in                                                                        Layer
       between. All this is on the bottom glass layer. The top glass         Black Strip                                       Address
                                                                                                                               Protective Layer
       layer is embedded with the electrodes, and both these layers
       meet to form hundreds of thousands of tiny pixels, each of
                                                                                Rib
       which is sealed with a gas inside it. Gases that have been used
       in plasmas are typically neon and argon, and more recently,
       xenon has also been used. All these pixels are naturally in the                                                            Address
                                                                                                                                  Electrode
       same plane, that is, parallel to each other. A single pixel is
       made up of three sub-pixels, one each of red, green, and blue.
       Note that these are the colours of the phosphor sandwiched                                                         Rear Glass
                                                                             Red, Green, and Blue                         Substrate
       between the two glass sheets.                                         Phosphors
            Now each of the phosphors can be individually controlled
       as they have their own electrodes. When active, the electrodes
       bring the rare gases to a plasma state, where they can conduct          One of the biggest acclaimed disadvantages of plasma is
       electricity. The gases react with the phosphor to emit a burst of   supposed to be the display’s abysmal life. However this is not
       ultraviolet (UV) light that is invisible to the human eye. The      true. A typical plasma display lasts for around 25,000 hours,
       energy from this UV light stimulates the colour phosphors,          which incidentally is also the life of a regular CRT monitor.
       making them glow. A high voltage is supplied to activate the        Think of it this way: even if you use your plasma display for 12
       gases, and after that a much lower voltage supplies them with       hours a day, every day, it will last you for 25,000 / 12 = 2,083
       the necessary stimulation to keep the pixels in the On position.    days, or roughly 5 years and 8 months!


                 OFF                         ON              MVA panels                    also used. This allows PVA panels to enjoy amaz-
                                                             attempt to                    ing viewing angles similar to MVA panels. The
                                                                                           disadvantage of a slow pixel response times is
                                                             address the                   also present in PVA matrices. A significant advan-
                           Liquid                            shortcomings                  tage is the improved contrast ratios. PVA panels
                           Crystals
                                                             inherent in TN                can actually achieve a contrast ratio of up to
                          Electrodes                         and IPS panels                1000:1 in real figures, not what manufacturers
                                                                                           claim. This is why PVA panels are finding their
     Figure 3: Liquid crystals in an MVA panel                                             way into almost all LCD TVs available in the
                                                                                           international market today. The fact that
                                                                                           Samsung is the only player manufacturing PVA
     How MVA Works                                                                         matrices also means that quality of such panels
     As the name implies, MVA (Multi-Domain Vertical                                       will be more or less identical.
     Alignment) panels see each pixel assigned a                                               PVA matrices can be found in the 19-inch-and-
     domain, or an area all to itself. Now these domains                                   above categories. A lot of the massive LCD TVs in
     work in synchrony with each other. As you can see                                     the range of 65+ inches (and even the smaller 26+
     in Figure 3, the crystals form a sort of a shutter                                    inches and above) are based on PVA matrices.
     system whereby if one domain allows light to pass
     through (in the On position), the neighbouring                                        The Future
     domain will have its crystals aligned at a certain                                    LCDs aren’t the future. They are very much the
     angle to shut out the light, or deflect it. If the                                    present. As of today, CRT is a dead technology, and
     monitor is to display white, you see all the crystals                                 manufacturers and consumers alike are focusing
     aligned somewhat parallel to the plane surface.                                       on the flat panel market. The binaries of break-
                                                                                           through technological advances and sharply
     PVA                                                                                   declining costs is the culprit for the ever increas-
     PVA (Patterned Vertical Alignment) was devel-                                         ing popularity of LCD monitors across the globe.
     oped by Samsung as an offshoot of the technol-                                            The best news for you, our readers, is the
     ogy used in MVA panels. Some people even                                              conscious move towards larger LCD panels by the
     criticise the technology stating there’s enough                                       bigger manufacturers. Two of the leading flat
     in common to conclude that Samsung developed                                          panel manufacturers, LG-Philips and Samsung,
     PVA to avoid paying licensing fees to Fujitsu for                                     each with an OEM market share of 22 per cent,
     bulk-producing these panels.                                                          are pushing out larger panels to fuel the sudden
         However, a closer look at PVA as a panel tech-                                    demand for more desktop space and larger
     nology will suggest differences that lead us to                                       screens for home entertainment. This drives the
     accept PVA as an independent (if not innovative)                                      cost of mainstream panels down, and the trend
     product that owes its origins to MVA.                                                 of falling prices should continue in this product
         In PVA panels, the alignment of crystals is                                       segment through this year and beyond.
     identical to MVA panels. The domain principle is                                                             michael_browne@thinkdigit.com

38   DIGIT MARCH 2007
                                       Digital Passion l Tomorrow




                                       Tube Tech
                                       Nanotechnology     Ram Mohan Rao
                                                                                                                ones conduct very well indeed, well surpassing
                                                                                                                copper and aluminium in that area. You’ll find
                                       is the future!                                                           out more of their properties as you read ahead.


                                                          T
                                                                 ech buzzwords come and go, some more              As our regular disclaimer goes, we can’t cover
                                       We’ve heard this          long-lasting than others. Like “conver-        everything that nanotubes are good at in this
                                       a million times           gence”. But it isn’t often that so many        space, but we look at their applications in things
                                                          researchers in so many areas get hooked on a          ranging from displays to batteries to chip inter-
                                       before, but now    thing. That thing today is nanotubes. These mirac-    connects. And more.
                                       it finally seems   ulous structures are promising to deliver in so
                                       that nanotubes     many areas that big companies—IBM, Intel, and         And Nanotubes Come In…
                                                          the likes included—and small companies alike are      …to save the battery. They’re running out so often
                                       have a foot        rushing in to invest in nanotechnology in general,    these days, people are getting tempted to give up
                                       grounded in        and nanotubes in particular.                          on battery-powered devices altogether and take
                                                              If you missed out on what carbon nanotubes        up farming. But would you believe that someone
                                       reality            are, check out Move Over Silicon, Digit, May 2006.    is planning on making batteries last longer by
                                                          But here’s a one-line recap: they are elegant-look-   using nanotube-turbo-charged capacitors?
                                                          ing structures made of carbon (duh): hollow               In case you never attended engineering
                                                          columns of carbon atoms. One of their most            college (whether you were enrolled or not), a
                                                          important properties is that they can be both         capacitor is a crucial component of almost
                                                          semi-conducting and conducting; the conducting        anything electronic, and it holds charge, which it
                                                                                                                 can release very quickly. (That’s why you’re not
                                                                                                                         supposed to open up a TV set: it has a lot
     Illustration Shrikrishna Patkar




                                                                                                                               of capacitors that hold high volt-
                                                                                                                                    ages.) How it works, briefly, is
                                                                                                                                        that two conductive
                                                                                                                                            surfaces are separated
                                                                                                                                                by an insulator. If
                                                                                                                                                   the electrodes




40
                                                                                                     Digital Passion l Tomorrow
have a voltage difference, and are then connected                                   kinds of memory altogether, including the hard
by a wire, current flows so as to equalise that volt-   There’s always a            disk, once and for all. They say we’ll have a
age difference.                                         catch to any                universal memory of sorts in the form of NRAM.
    Sounds like a recipe for a battery. Why not just    nanotube                    It’s again about nanotech coming to the rescue
use capacitors? The problem is they can’t hold          application, and            and making possible the dream of Universal
much charge. They’d have to be huge to hold as          it always goes              Memory.
much charge as a standard battery. Why? Because                                          There happen to be several contenders for
the surface area of the conductive surfaces (the        like this: “how to          Universal Memory—notably MRAM (“M” for
electrodes) would have to be very large.                get the                     “magnetic”), FRAM (“F” for “Ferroelectric Materi-
    Enter the nanotube, to the sound of a bois-         nanotubes to                als”), and more. We’re hoping to see something
terous orchestra. Joel Schindall, an engineer at        work in <some>              concrete soon—these terms have been bandied
MIT, thought up this one: cover the electrodes          way”                        about for too long now! In any case, to understand
with millions of nanotubes. And how would this                                      how NRAM works doesn’t require a PhD.
work, please?                                                                            Refer the figure below, and look at each
    We said the surface area of the electrodes                                      component, specially the interconnects, the
would have to be much larger. Now, why does a                                       ribbon-like things, and the grey electrodes. The
Turkish towel—with its coating of water-absorb-                                     nanotube ribbons, anchored to the intercon-
ing threads—work better than a plain cloth                                          nects, stay suspended over the electrodes. Now
towel? Because it has more surface area. Just so,                                   when a voltage is applied between the ribbon
the nanotubes increase the surface area of the                                      and the electrode, the ribbon bends and touches
electrodes to a very high degree, without taking                                    the electrode.
up too much space themselves. The result is a                                            That’s one key to the working. The other
capacitor that can rival a traditional battery in                                   key is that the ribbon stays stuck to the elec-
terms of charge.                                                                    trode even when the voltage is turned off, due
    Timeline: five years. (Schindall’s estimate,                                    to certain molecular surface attraction forces.
not ours.)                                                                          This makes for non-volatility, meaning that
                                                                                    power need not be continuously supplied
Motorola And Their “Hybrid” Display                                                 to the device.
We begin with a disclaimer here: the use of                                              And thus are obtained the ones and zeroes:
nanotubes in displays does not promise world                                        when the ribbon is far from the electrode, it’s a
peace. It doesn’t even promise to revolutionise                                     zero. When the ribbon is touching the electrode,
displays—not too many companies have yet                                            the resistance between them is much lower, and
bought into the idea. But we must mention this                                      it’s a one.
one so you get an idea of the sheer range of appli-                                      How does this compare with SRAM and
cations nanotubes have!                                                             DRAM? It turns out that the switching can be as
     There are too many new display technologies,                                   fast as that of SRAM, making NRAM have the
and nanotubes have jumped in to add to the                                          “fast” characteristic of SRAM; at the same time,
confusion. Will they, won’t they deliver?                                           the density of the assembly approaches that of
Motorola’s nano-emissive display design has been                                    DRAM. And the whole thing is non-volatile, like
touted (by Motorola—who else?) to be superior to                                    we mentioned, so it’s got the goodness of Flash.
all flat-panel technologies. In what way? Well, all                                      NRAM, in sum, trounces all three—DRAM,
the usual suspects: very good brightness, very                                      SRAM, and Flash—except for one little thing: it
quick response times, colours almost as good as                                     isn’t as fast as SRAM. So we have the best of all
those on a CRT, longer life, and—the best part—                                     three worlds, give and take a little. Visit
they’re cheaper to manufacture.                                                     nantero.com for more on NRAM. There’s a movie
     How does it work? If you remember engineer-                                    illustrating the principles of operation of NRAM.
ing college lessons—or even if you don’t—it’s


                                                                                                                                             Infographics Shrikrishna Patkar
simple. CRTs sweep an electron beam across the               How NRAM Works
screen, which is coated with phosphors that glow
when excited by electrons. The nano-emissive                                                                            Interconnect
                                                         Straight
display uses an array of nanotubes to fire the elec-     nanotube ribbon
trons, instead of whatever fires them in regular
CRTs, and there are clusters of nanotubes behind
each pixel. Think of an NED as a cross between
CRT and flat-panel technologies.
     Motorola’s prototype is 4.7 inches diagonally,
with a resolution of 128 x 96 pixels. It was
designed to be one piece of a 42-inch HDTV screen
with a resolution of 1280 x 720. Well, they’re
getting there.
     There’s always a catch to any nanotube appli-
cation, and it always goes like this: “how to get the
nanotubes to work in <some> way.” Here, the prob-
lem is attaching the nanotubes to a glass substrate.                                                                           Oxide layer
                                                            Silicon wafer    Bent nanotube     Electrode
Motorola says they’re managing pretty well.
                                                                             ribbon
Nantero…                                                 It’s simple. When a voltage is applied between the electrode and the nanotube
…is a small company that has big plans for               ribbon, the ribbon bends. A bent ribbon is a 1, and a straight one is a 0
NRAM (nano RAM), saying it will replace all

                                                                                                                          DIGIT MARCH 2007                                     41
     Digital Passion l Tomorrow

                                                         Electrons
                                                                                Nano-clouds and       Nano-breeze
                                                                                nano-lightning!
                                                                                                           Micro-channels




                                   Nanotubes                                                              Anode

                                   Cooling chips: the nanotubes release electrons that ionise the air and cause nano-lightning.
                                   As a result, nano-winds begin to flow in between the micro-channels, and cool the chip

                                  Seagate Innovates… Again
                                  Seagate is obsessed with hard disks. Which is quite in order, considering
                                  that’s their business, but they have this habit of coming up with innova-
                                  tions ever so often. They’re now dabbling in nanotubes, and are researching
                                  a rather complex process that can make hard disks denser.
                                      We’re saying “complex,” but we can break it down into steps to see where
                                  the nanotubes come in.
                                      First, we need denser hard disks. Because. Now, techniques such as
                                  perpendicular recording do make disks denser, but we need more density.
                                  Just because.
                                      Now, if one just packs the bits on a hard disk platter too close together,
                                  there’s a chance that a bit can flip its adjacent bit. In other words, it’s demag-
                                  netisation at work, because of too high a density.
                                      Now how does one remedy this? By using a recording material of high
                                  “anisotropy,” meaning that it’s harder to demagnetise, and so will reduce
                                  the chances of bits flipping each other. Problem: such material is also harder
                                  to magnetise as well.
                                      This has an answer, too. Use a laser beam to heat the spot being recorded
                                  on, because when a spot is hot, it’s easier to record on. This happens to be a
                                  better solution than using a stronger recording head.
                                      Still with us? OK. When the heating is taking place, the lubricant film
                                  on top of the recording surface (yes, there is one) could evaporate or decom-
                                  pose. That, in turn, considerably reduces the life of the disk.
                                      And here’s where our hero—the nanotube—comes in. Spread nanotubes
                                  all over the surface of the platter—nanotubes filled with lubricant. The
                                  nanotubes slowly release the lubricant over the life of the disk, keeping the
                                  head spinning happily.
                                      So that’s how it is—they can hold lubricant as well, we’ve now learnt!

                                  Aiding In Cooling…
                                  …are the nanotubes of tomorrow. Cooling of chips, that is. Fujitsu and Intel
                                  are into this one, and it was reported more than a year ago.
                                      What Intel is doing is simple. It just involves putting nanotubes into the
                                  thermal grease that makes up the layer between a microprocessor and its
                                  heatsink. A nanotube layer works orders of magnitude better than regular
                                  thermal paste, it’s been claimed.
                                      Why nanotubes? Because they conduct heat extremely well, and because
                                  they lend themselves to suspension in polymers and coatings. This second
                                  point is important: Intel will either design a polymer film containing billions
                                  of nanotubes, or try and find a way to deposit the nanotubes onto the (sili-
                                  con) substrate.
                                      Fujitsu’s system is a heatsink made up of millions of nanotubes “grown”
                                  on a wafer substrate. The structure of the heatsink is such that it matches
                                  the pattern of the electrode bumps on the base of the chip to be cooled.
                                  Fujitsu is now working to improve the nanotube density around the bumps
                                  which, of course, will lead to even higher heat dissipation.
                                      In independent research at Purdue University, “lightning” (!) produced
                                  by nanotubes could generate tiny air currents that can cool chips. This is air

42   DIGIT MARCH 2007
                                                                                         Digital Passion l Tomorrow
cooling that the researchers say works as nicely       At one million          Of particular interest is the fact that the
as water cooling. The technique hinges around                             researchers’ approach allows “the precise attach-
the fact, as usual, that nanotubes are small. Ions     amperes per        ment of nanotubes to individual metal pins, offer-
(electrically-charged atoms) are generated using       square centime-    ing a practical solution to the problem of using
electrodes separated by as little as 10 microns. The   tre, copper just   carbon nanotubes as interconnects.”
cathode is made of nanotubes with tips just as         burns out. Enter        As a final word, Intel, too, is looking at
wide as 5 nm.                                          the nanotube:      nanotubes as a replacement for copper intercon-
    The ionisation of the air leads to an imbalance                       nects. The company has managed to create proto-
in the charges on the electrodes, which results in     they can carry a   type interconnects out of nanotubes, and
“lightning bolts.” This nano-lightning is respon-      thousand times     measure how well the interconnects perform.
sible for the tiny breezes that do the cooling.        that much               The whole nanotube interconnect thing
    Normally, lightning requires thousands of                             points, essentially, to what you’d expect: shrink-
volts, but here it’s been done with a hundred volts                       age. And we are, naturally, going to see a lot of
and less—because the nanotube tips are so                                 that—just like we’ve been seeing the past couple
narrow, and because the electrodes are so close                           of decades—so expect the nanotube to begin
together.                                                                 taking over a few years from now.
    These three examples aside, there are many                                 The Rise Of The Nanotube comes down to
people doing different kinds of work on cooling                           three things: innovate and think up new uses for
using nanotubes, and nanotube cooling could be                            carbon nanotubes, given all their wonderful prop-
one of the first major “solutions to a real-world                         erties; find more of those wonderful properties;
problem” that nanotech rolls out.                                         and most important as of now, find how best to
                                                                          manufacture and interface them.
Also Good As Interconnects                                                     Manufacture is notoriously difficult; for exam-
Now we get into our “As chips get smaller and                             ple, in one process, they come out as a mixed
faster” mode of speaking. And so, as chips get                            bundle of conducting and semi-conducting, and
smaller and faster, copper interconnects get more                         it’s hard to separate them. Another problem, for
difficult and expensive to fabricate; their electri-                      example, is how to un-bundle them.
cal properties degrade at the scales we’re                                     Some of what we’ve talked about above could
approaching.                                                              just turn out to be that much more thin air; some
    Electromigration is the name for the phenom-                          of it could turn out to be groundbreaking. In any
enon whereby the reliability of integrated circuits                       case, look forward to the “nanotube computer,”
degrades—because it makes nanometre-sized                                 which, by the way, is also being talked about.
copper interconnects unreliable, and can even                                                        ram_mohan@thinkdigit.com
lead to wire failure. Visit http://en.wikipedia.org/
wiki/Electromigration for an explanation of
the phenomenon.
    Finally, at one million amperes per square
centimetre, copper just burns out. Enter the
nanotube, as usual: they can carry a thousand
times that much. In addition, bundles of densely
packed nanotubes can have significantly lower
resistance than copper—and as you’re aware,
lower resistance is a much sought-after attribute.
    In addition, with nanotubes, there is no need
to create deep, narrow trenches on silicon wafers
in which copper conductors are traditionally
buried—further increasing the potential for
miniaturisation.
    With all these advantages to be had, and with
all the difficulties that come in the way of
nanotubes being used as interconnects, it’s only
natural that almost every nanotech organisation—
and some non-nanotech companies as well—are
in a race to bring out nanotube-interconnect-
enabled chips.
    Scientists at the NASA Ames Research Center
(ARC) are amongst those working on the problem.
One of the problems is that of the nanotubes
being entangled; when they are, they don’t
display their fantastic current-carrying prowess.
The idea at the ARC is to develop a process to
untangle them.
    In January of this year, it was reported that
researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
had created hybrid structures that “combine the
best properties of carbon nanotubes and metal
nanowires.” These structures could help over-
come some of the main hurdles to using
nanotubes in chips, displays, sensors, and such.

                                                                                                             DIGIT MARCH 2007    43
Digital Passion l 30 days with...




             ViewSonic VX2245W
           Michael Browne
           I’ve been saving up
                              M
                                to buy a large (20.1
           around. That’s why                        inch or above) wide
                               I just had to review                     screen LCD, and ha
                                                    the VX2245WM                          ve been hunting
             Day 1
             The VX2245WM spor                                                    another reason to bu
                                     ts a lovely piano blac                                              y this
             glossy enough to re                               k finish. It’s mon
                                   mind me of Samsung                                  itor—you can tune in
            LCD TVs! The bezel                                s Bordeaux                                      to
                                   is a little too wide fo                        your Pod, and charge
            and makes the mon                                r my taste,                                 it, too!
                                   itor look larger than
            spoils aesthetic appe                             it is which        Day 11
                                    al. I got a call, had to
           setting it up today.                                run, so no        It was Saturday, an
                                                                                                      d I planned
                                                                                 a serious round of
           Day 2                                                                                      gaming on
                                                                                the new monitor. A
           Setting up the mon                                                                          couple of
                                  itor was a breeze. It’                        hours of F.E.A.R conf
           D-Sub and DVI conn                                s got both                                irmed the
                                   ectivity. On a nega                          speedy response tim
           monitor cannot sw                               tive note, the som                          e. I noticed
                                ivel sideways—gene                                   e gray where there
          monitors have this                              rally, larger                                    should
                                 capability.                                    have been pure blac
                                                                                                      k, and
                                                                               firef ights in darken
          Day 3                                                                                       ed corridors
                                                                               became a game of
          The VX2245WM ex                                                                           guess-position-
                               cels at office applica                          and-shoot. The sam
         Excel, etc. Of course                             tions—Word, happ                          e thing
                                , these applications                                 ened with Far Cry—
         overkill for this mon                              are an                                         I had to
                                  itor and aren’t reall                       turn off the lights
         intended genre of                                  y its                                   to be able to see
                              use. The joy of work                            anything!
        large excel sheets on                            ing with
                                  this monitor has to
        experienced to be be                                 be               Day 12
                                 lieved. Hardly any
        scrolling required.                               horizontal         I fired up a movie—
                              Web browsing is a                                                    Torque. One of my
        absolutely no compl                            delight—              colleagues said, “W
                               aints with a screen                                                ow! Look at that—
       Who says a 17-inch                                 this large.        it’s huge… I want!”
                              monitor is enough                                                   Colour reproductio
                                                        for surfing?        is impressive on this                      n
       Day 6                                                                                        one!
       The VX2245WM co                                                      Day 24
                             mes with four USB
       upstream port (USB                               ports, one          Time to say goodby
                               B type), and three                                                 e…
      downstream ports                                                     I enjoyed having a lar
                             (USB A type). Conv                                                     ge screen (don’t we
      I don’t have to bend                            enient! Now          all?). Offering decent
                                my back to insert                                                   performance on all
      into my cabinet’s                                 a pendrive         fronts the VX2245W
                            USB ports. There                                                      M is a good buy at th
     inbuilt speakers, wi                           are also               price of Rs 24,000. Ag                        e
                              th a little subwoofe                                                 reed, most users
     monitor has anot he                                 r too. This      don’t have such budg
                              r trick up its sleev                                                 ets for just a monito
     features an iPod do                               e—it also          (when entire system                            r
                             ck!                                                                 s have been purcha
                                                                          for less). Discerning                       sed
                                                                                                 gamers and
                           Day 9                                          professionals workin
                                                                                                 g with images will
                                                                         it a wide berth, but                         give
                                   I got an iPod 30 GB                                          for the home user wh
                                                            from a       wants to turn his PC                           o
                                       friend to try with th                                     into an entertainm
                                                                 e       station and television                       ent
                                          dock—it works                                           substitute will have
                                                                        less component to de                            one
                                           perfectly. So iPod                                    cide on.
                                            owners behold—
                                                                                                michael_browne@thinkd
                                                                                                                     igit.com
Digital Passion l Speaker Test




                   Sonic Boom                           Jayesh Limaye
                    Multimedia speakers for PCs are
                    more than just boxes that emit


                                                        W
                                                                           hen it comes to buying a PC,
                    sound; they’re trendy-looking,                         speakers were traditionally
                                                                           bundled with mice and key-
                    and are available from the basic                       boards as the components we
                    two-speaker sets to hi-fi quality                      paid the least attention to.
                                                        But that’s change a little, and is changing even
                    5.1 and even 7.1 sets.              more. People seem to be getting more interest-
                       This time, we roped in an        ed in quality audio. And if you think about it,
                    expert to review our results to     that brilliant-looking game is kind of pointless
                                                        with just stereo speakers, and what’s the use of
                    make sure you spend your money      buying movie DVDs if all you have is a 2.1 set?
                    on the right set                        For this, our annual speaker test, we received
                                                        35 sets from eight brands in the 2.1 and 5.1 cate-
                                                        gories. Though Logitech sent us the entire range
                                                        of their products—X-230, Z-2300, Z-5300, Z-5450
                                                        and Z-5500—only the X-230 worked, and the rest
                                                        were damaged in transit. Last year’s 2.1 Gold
                                                        Winner, the Altec Lansing MX-5021, shared the
                                                        same fate. Creative’s audiophile sets (the
                                                        GigaWorks), unfortunately, didn't make it to the
                                                        test on time.
                                                            We brought in an expert from the audio
                                                        industry for this test, and he took a listen at the
                                                        best speakers from each category, conducted a
                                                        few tests, and gave us his verdict. Look for Sunil
                                                        Karanjikar’s comments and results throughout
                                                            this article for a better understanding of
                                                             what to expect from your speakers.
                                                                                        Digital Passion l Speaker Test
ONLY MUSIC PLEASE: 2.1 SPEAKERS                     Driver Size
The most basic speaker sets are the 2.1 category.   The size of the driver (speaker diaphragm) is
However, it’s a mistake to think of them as         one of the determining factors in the ability of
speakers that have less to offer. It’s more about   the speaker to produce sound (see box Size Does
usage patterns, and if you’re more into listen-     Matter). Because most of the 2.1 speaker systems
ing to MP3s and rarely play any games or watch      were targeted at the budget segment, we did
DVD movies on your PC, it’s kind of pointless to    not expect to find anything spectacular in this
look for anything more than a good 2.1 set. This    regard. However, the Altec Lansing ATP3 boast-
is because most of the sound sources you will be    ed of a 6.5-inch woofer, while the FX4021 had
listening to have just two channels—left and        two 5.25-inch drivers in isobaric configuration
right. Only DVD movies and newer games have         (facing each other) to provide double the
more channels (5.1 or 7.1), whereas all your        amount of bass. It was natural for us to expect
music collection and any VCDs you might have        some rocking bass from these speaker sets. The
on your PC are just stereo.                         rest of the speaker sets had woofer sizes ranging
    If you decide that you don’t need anything      from 4 to 5.25 inches.
more than a 2.1 speaker system, the next thing          As far as the satellites were concerned, the
is to decide on a budget. 2.1 speaker sets range    Altec Lansing ATP3 had an unusual design,
from the lowest-priced sets to some of the most     with two 28 mm drivers and a 3-inch down-fir-
expensive audiophile-grade systems. Most PC         ing mid-bass. The FX4021 from the same brand
users buy the inexpensive, entry-level 2.1 sets,    had satellites with 40 mm and 18 mm drivers to
which consist of two satellites and a subwoofer.    deal with a higher range of frequencies. The
The subwoofer plays back the lower frequency        Logitech X-230 also sported dual 2-inch drivers
sounds extracted from the stereo input.             to produce a uniform sound field and to elimi-
    Making it to this category were 16 sets—        nate uneven response.
from Altec Lansing, Artis, Creative, Intex,
Logitech, Tech-Com, XFree, and Zebronics.           Other Features
                                                    Clamp-type connectors are usually found only
Features                                            in higher-end speaker systems because of the
                                                                                                                Illustration Chaitanya Surpur
Power                                               better conductivity and contact, and we were        Photograph Jiten Gandhi, Amrut Patki
We attempted to take a look at many aspects of      surprised to find them in the Altec Lansing 121i                            Model Shivam

the speakers, and power rating is one of the        and the Artis S444 and S800. The rest of the
most important. A speaker set with a higher         speaker sets had the more common RCA con-
power rating will produce sound of higher           tacts, while the Creative SBS-370 was the only
amplitude, since they amplify the sound to a        one with mono contacts, which are prone to
larger degree. All the power ratings we’ll men-     problems.
tion in this review are in RMS, unless men-             Bass as well as treble controls along with
tioned otherwise. In the case of the 2.1 speaker    volume controls were there on most of the
sets, the Altec Lansing FX4021 boasted of an        sets except for the Artis, Creative, Logitech
individual satellite power rating of 11 W, while    and Xfree.
the subwoofer pumped out 46 W. The Zebronics
ZEB-SW8000 was next with satellites rated at 10     Accessories
W each and the subwoofer rated at 30 W. Xfree’s     As accessories go, Creative bundled large, heavy
XE222 were the lowest-powered of them all,          power adapters. While Creative had some nice-
with a 2.5 W satellite and a 4 W subwoofer.         looking detachable stands, the Altec Lansing
                                                    FX4021 came with good-looking metal stands,
                                                    which added to their aesthetic appeal. Speaking
                                                    of aesthetics, the Logitech X-230 was the most
                                                    dashing-looking 2.1 set, with a jet-black sub-
        Digital Passion l Speaker Test


                                                                                                                                  MARCH 2007




                                                                                                                              Altec Lansing ATP3
                                                                                                                              Crystal-clear!
        The analysis of the Altec Lansing ATP3 shows that they are pretty bass heavy, and lose out
        a little in terms of highs. This can be seen in the graph between the 4 to 16 KHz mark
                                                                                                     Performance
        woofer and slim satellites with stands that can                                              Music
        also be used as brackets for wall-mounting.                                                  The Logitech speaker sets were found to be the
            A remote control lets you control the speak-                                             best performers with music of every genre. Not
        er volume and other parameters without the                                                   only were the highs crisp and clear, the lows were
        necessity of leaving your seat. The Artis S111R,                                             rich, and the mid-range pleasant. The Altec
        the Creative duo, as well as the Xfree duo came                                              Lansing ATP3 and FX4021 fiercely contested for
        with wired remotes. The Altec Lansing FX4021                                                 second place. While the ATP3 faltered a bit with
        provided both a wired and a wireless remote.                                                 rock, with flawed bass reproduction, it did pro-
        Only the Artis S111/FM sported FM radio.                                                     duce better Bhangra beats and Ektara sounds than
                                                                                                     the FX4021. The performance of the Artis S444
        Build Quality                                                                                and the S800 was excellent, yet they come at low
        The Altec Lansing FX4021 had a better build                                                  prices. Lesser-known brands such as Xfree, Tech-
        than the rest, but was very closely followed by its                                          Com, and Zebronics exhibited below-average per-
        sibling, the ATP3, and the Logitech X-230. The                                               formance, as did the Creatives. The Artis S-100
        Zebronics ZEB-SW8000 was decently put togeth-                                                was the lowest-performing speaker set with low
        er and was the heaviest of the sets, but its knobs                                           scores in almost every category.
        weren’t the sturdiest. Most of the subwoofers
        were ported to allow for maximum displace-                                                   DVD Movies
        ment of air while producing bass. How much of                                                While none of the speaker sets could flawlessly
        this design translated into actual performance                                               render the concussion gun boom in Minority
        was verified when we tested the performance.                                                 Report, the Logitech X-230 and the Altec Lansing

         How We Tested

     O   ur test PC comprised an AMD Athlon64 3800+ processor
         running at a stock speed of 2.0 GHz, a WinFast 6150K8MA
     motherboard, 1 GB of 400 MHz Corsair XMS DDR RAM, a Seagate
                                                                                    twang sound of the soldier stepping on the trip wire, and explosion
                                                                                    bass in Behind Enemy Lines. In The Fast and The Furious, we noted
                                                                                    how well they reproduced the sound of breaking glass as well as the
     Barracuda 120 GB SATA150 hard drive, and the Creative Sound                    humming and roaring of the engines. Finally, we played Minority
     Blaster X-Fi Elite Pro sound card, running Windows XP Professional             Report and listened to the blast of extremely low bass produced by
     with SP 2. The latest drivers and DirectX version were installed.              the Concussion rifle.
         We put the speakers through an exhaustive set of tests,                        We listened to Eric Clapton’s Broken to test DVD Audio. In this
     including three DVD movie tests, multiple music and sound tests, as            song, there are certain details such as a “blow” on the microphone
     well as a game test.                                                           at the start, which only a few speaker sets managed to reproduce
         The game test was the Half-Life 2 Demo “d3_c17_12”. We ran this            correctly. There is the guitar twang as well as the squeaky sound of
     demo with sound settings at “high,” while the visual quality was set           fingers moving along the strings, which we noted. The soundtrack
     to “low” to reduce CPU overhead. The sound was configured                      was rated for bass, treble and vocals.
     according to the number of channels available on the speaker sets.                 For music playback, we divided the tests into Western and
     This demo blends voice commands with firing and explosions, and is             Indian. This was further sub-divided into different genres. In all the
     good for testing the capabilities of speakers when reproducing                 cases, we looked for clarity and for distortion.
     varying sounds. A speaker set that reproduces the faintest of
     directional sounds with clarity, such as footsteps, is good for gaming         The Western music playlist included the following.
     and can save you from getting fragged.                                         Rock With Or Without You by U2. This song has some deep bass as
         A DTS sampler disc with a couple of DVD movie clips and a 5.1              well as clear vocals; we noted these.
     soundtrack were used as the DVD test material. This sampler disc               Jazz We chose a couple of Dave Brubeck numbers. Faithful
     contains high-quality content and is bundled with high-end Creative            reproduction of the sax and piano were noted in this case. Drums
     sound cards—perfect for stressing out speakers. We noted how                   should sound as they would in the background, as they were
     clearly the speaker sets managed to produce faint footsteps, the               positioned that way during the recording.


48      DIGIT MARCH 2007
                                                                                                    Digital Passion l Speaker Test
  ATP3 and FX4021 came closer to doing it than              best, and was beaten because of the former’s
  the rest did. The results were very similar in            superior ability to better reproduce the differ-        Almost all DVD
  Behind Enemy Lines, but this time, the explosions         ent sounds and voices—even amidst the loud              movies and
  were better reproduced by the Logitech X-230,             explosions. The FX4021 had overpowering bass,           games today
  while the Altec Lansing duo did not do badly at           and as a result, lost quite a bit of the detail.        boast of
  all. The engine roar and the insane treble in The                                                                 surround sound
  Fast and the Furious clip was reproduced better by        Frequency tests                                         and 5.1-channel
  the aforementioned trio. Again, as in the case of         The 50 Hz hum is a very difficult sound to pro-
  music tests, the Artis S444 and S800 did a great          duce for most speaker sets, and only the Altec          audio
  job, but were marginally behind the Logitech X-           Lansing ATP3 and Logitech X-230 produced
  230 and the Altec Lansing ATP3 and FX4021.                respectable results. Overall, the Logitech was
                                                            better in this test than the other sets, but some
  DVD Audio                                                 others—such as the Altec Lansing FX4021 as
  The Altec Lansing ATP3 was stronger in case of            well as the Zebronics ZEB-SW8000—also per-
  DVD Audio, producing all the fine details in the          formed well. The ATP3, FX4021, and the Z-230
  treble, along with strong vocals as well as bass.         passed the ultimate bass and ultimate treble tests
  The Altec Lansing FX4021, Logitech X-230, and             very well indeed, though none could clear the
  Artis S444 and S800 were just a few steps behind.         ultimate bass test at a volume above 75 per cent.

  Game Performance                                          MY HOME, MY THEATRE:
  The Altec Lansing ATP3 kept us engrossed in the           5.1 SPEAKERS
  gaming test, and by far proved to be the best             For those of us who don’t like to be confined by
  gaming 2.1 set. The Logitech X-230 was the next-          the shackles of stereo sound, 5.1-channel speak-
                                                            er sets are the answer. Almost all DVD movies
                                                            and games today boast of surround sound and
                                                            5.1-channel audio. To meet these aural require-
                                                            ments, all modern motherboards come with a
                                                            minimum of six-channel audio. Even HD audio
                                                            is becoming the norm. 5.1-channel systems
                                                            enrich the listening experience and create a
                                                            more immersive audio environment.
MARCH 2007
                                                                Unlike their 2.1 counterparts, 5.1 channel
                                                            speaker sets derive sound from six discrete sound
                                                            channels. One channel goes to the centre speaker,
                                                            which is responsible for the main functions such
                                                            as dialogue delivery. Two go to the rear left and
                                                            right, and two to the front left and right. These
                                                            are responsible for creating a 3D map of the
                                                            audio environment around the listener. The last
                                                            channel goes to the subwoofer, which is responsi-
                    Altec Lansing FX4021                    ble for delivering low frequency sounds such as
                    I am a bass freak!                      explosions and deep drum beats.



  New Age A couple of Enigma tracks were chosen in this genre.            song, the voice of the singer traverses from low to high in a very
  Songs of this genre have some very good and reverberating beats         little space of time, and we looked for distortions when the
  with tight bass.                                                        speaker sets attempted to handle his powerful voice.
  Acid Trance We looked for clear and faithful reproduction of the        Indian Classical Instrumental This track sample had the Santoor
  tight beats and special effects, and also noted the audibility of the   and Tabla. We carefully evaluated whether the speaker sets could
  various instruments in a couple of tracks from The Vicious Spiral.      reproduce individual beats on the Santoor strings and the sound of
  Treble was also noted here.                                             fingers striking the surface of the Tabla. We also listened to the
  Western Classical In this genre, we had compositions with a             quality of the Tabla beats. We also used special test files of a
  myriad of instruments and covering the widest audio spectrum—a          constant frequency to test low-, mid- and high-frequency across
  string quintet by Mozart and a symphony by Dvorak. We noted the         the audio spectrum. These ranged from a humming 50 Hz to a
  audibility at high and low volumes, the treble, especially the piano    shrill, ear-piercing 15 kHz. The treble and bass of all the speaker
  and the violin and the quality of bass.                                 sets was tested by playing special THX-certified “Air Raid” and
                                                                          “Ultimate Bass Test” sound samples from Creative.
  Our Indian playlist consisted of:                                            WinAMP 5.3 was used to play all the sound files, and no
  Bollywood Tu Hi Meri Shabh from the movie Gangster. The clarity,        extras such as DSP or visualisation plug-ins were installed. The
  distortion of vocals during heavy drumming, and distortion in the       equalisers were set to Off. For the DVD, we used CyberLink
  chorus were noted.                                                      PowerDVD 7.2 Ultra BD Edition. The tests were carried out at
  Bhangra Tunak Tunak Tun by Daler Mehndi. In this song, we paid          varying volume levels, and in the case of separate bass and
  attention to the drum beats and the Ektara.                             treble controls, these were kept at 50 per cent through the first
  Ghazal Hoshwalon Ko Khabar Kya by Jagjit Singh. This song has           run and 100 per cent through the second run.
  reverberating vocals and instrumental sounds, and we paid                    We also noted the different features (or lack of them) for the
  attention to these aspects.                                             different speaker sets such as the various inputs, connectivity,
  Indian Classical Vocal Mundana by Pt. Bhimsen Joshi. In this            controls, accessories, cables, and build quality.


                                                                                                                            DIGIT MARCH 2007    49
                                                                         MARCH 2007               MARCH 2007
    Scoreboard                                                                                                       2.1 Speaker Sets
BRAND                                             Altec Lansing      Altec Lansing            Altec Lansing      Artis              Artis               Artis
Model                                             121i               ATP3                     FX4021             S-100              S111/FM             S111R
Features (Out of 20)                              11.38              11.56                    16.10              9.78               10.58               10.48
Power (RMS Watts): Subwoofer/Satellite            9/5.5              18/12                    46/11              NA/NA              12/8.5              12/8.5
Frequency Response                                20 Hz—20 KHz       45 Hz—18 KHz             32 Hz—20 KHz       40 Hz—20 KHz       35 Hz—20 KHz        35 Hz—20 KHz
Subwoofer Driver Diameter (Inches)                4                  6.5                      2 x 5.25           4                  5                   5
Satellites Driver Diameter (Inches)               2.5                2x1.1 + 3                1.5 + 0.7          3                  2.5                 2.5
Connectors on Subwoofer                           Clamp              Proprietary              RCA                RCA                RCA                 RCA
Controls Provided on Speaker Set/Remote Control
Bass / Treble/Volume (Y/N)                        ✔/✔/✔              ✔/✔/✔                    ✔/✔/✔              ✔/✖/✔              ✔/✖/✔               ✔/✖/✔
Others (List)                                     ✖                  ✖                        Loudness           ✖                  ✖                   ✖
Bundled Accessories
Power Adapter (Y/N)                               ✖                  ✖                        ✖                  ✖                  ✖                   ✖
Speaker Stands (Y/N)                              ✖                  ✖                        ✔                  ✖                  ✖                   ✖
Remote Control (Wired / Wireless)                 ✖                  ✖                        Both               ✖                  ✖                   Wired
Batteries (Y/N/NA)                                NA                 NA                       ✔                  NA                 NA                  NA
Built-in Radio Tuner (AM/FM/N)                    ✖                  ✖                        ✖                  ✖                  FM                  ✖
Cables (List)                                     Stereo to Stereo   Stereo to Stereo         Stereo to Stereo   Stereo to Stereo   Stereo to Stereo    Stereo to Stereo
                                                                                                                                                        Cable with Remote
Manual & Documentation (Y/N)
Quick Setup Guide                                 ✔                  ✔                        ✔                  ✔                  ✔                   ✔
Troubleshooting                                   ✔                  ✔                        ✔                  ✔                  ✔                   ✔
Build Quality (So10)
Knobs                                             6                  6.5                      7                  7                  7                   7
Speaker Veils                                     6                  7.5                      7                  6                  6                   6
Speaker Stands                                    0                  0                        7                  0                  0                   0
Overall Build Quality                             6.5                8                        8                  7                  7                   7
Performance (Out of 65)                           31.95              44.14                    41.83              26.65              30.65               30.65
Music Quality (So10)
Western
Rock                                              6                  6.5                      7.5                4.5                6                   6
Jazz                                              6                  8                        8                  5                  6                   6
New Age                                           5                  8                        8                  4                  5                   5
Acid Trance                                       5.5                8                        8                  4                  5                   5
Classical                                         5.5                7.5                      7                  5                  5                   5
Indian
Bollywood                                         5.5                6.5                      6                  4.5                5.5                 5.5
Bhangra                                           6                  7.5                      6.5                5                  6                   6
Ghazal                                            5.5                6.5                      6.5                5                  5                   5
Classical Vocal                                   6                  7.5                      7                  4.5                5.5                 5.5
Classical Instrumental                            5.5                7.5                      8                  5                  5                   5
DVD-Audio (Eric Clapton—Broken) (So10)
Treble / Vocals / Bass                            5/5/5              8/7/7.5                  7/7/7.5            5/4.5/4.5          5/5/5               5/5/5
DVD Movie Test (So10)
Minority Report                                   5                  7                        7                  4                  5                   5
Behind Enemy Lines                                5                  7                        7                  4.5                5                   5
The Fast And The Furious                          5                  6.5                      7                  3.5                4.5                 4.5
Game Sound: Half-Life 2 (So10)                    4.5                7                        5                  3.5                4                   4
Special Frequency Test Files (So10)
50 Hz / 100 Hz                                    4/3                6/4                      3/4                2/3                3/3                 3/3
250 Hz / 500 Hz                                   4/4                5/5                      4/5                3/4                4/4                 4/4
1000 Hz / 15 KHz                                  4/3                5/5                      5/6                4/3                4/3                 4/3
Power Handling: Bass / Treble (So10)              3/5                7/7.5                    7/6                2/4.5              3/4.5               3/4.5
Price Index (Out of 15)                           12.36              4.36                     1.98               12.36              8.24                9.27
Price (Rs)                                        1,200              3,400                    7,500              1,200              1,800               1,600
Final Score (Out of 100)                          55.69              60.06                    59.91              48.79              50.50               49.37




                                                   Inexpensive           Clear sound          Good overall        Inexpensive       FM Radio                Decent performance
                                                   Not good for          reproduction         performance         Lacklustre        Not good for gam-       Not good for gaming
                                                   gaming                None in particular   A bit expensive     performance       ing
Artis                Artis                    Creative             Creative                 Intex                   Logitech               Tech-Com               Xfree
S444                 S800                     Inspire M2600        SBS-370                  IT-2000SB               X-230                  SSD-803                XE222
9.32                 10.68                    11.92                11.46                    11.06                   10.16                  10.10                  7.60
NA/NA                NA/NA                    17/6                 11/5                     20/6                    20/6                   18/5                   4/2.5
35 Hz—20 KHz         35 Hz—20 KHz             40 Hz—20 KHz         40 Hz—20 KHz             40 Hz—20 KHz            40 Hz—20 KHz           20 Hz—20 KHz           50 Hz—20 KHz
5                    5.25                     5.25                 5                        4                       5.25                   4                      5
2.5                  2.5                      2.5                  2.5                      3                       2x2                    3                      2.5
Clamp type           Clamp type               RCA                  Mono                     RCA                     Proprietary            RCA                    RCA

✔/✖/✔                ✔/✖/✔                    ✔/✖/✔                ✔/✖/✔                    ✔/✔/✔                   ✔/✖/✔                  ✔/✔/✔                  ✖/✖/✔
✖                    ✖                        ✖                    ✖                        ✖                       ✖                      ✖                      ✖


✖                    ✖                        ✔                    ✔                        ✖                       ✖                      ✖                      ✖
✖                    ✖                        ✔                    ✔                        ✖                       ✖                      ✖                      ✖
✖                    ✖                        Wired                Wired                    ✖                       ✖                      ✖                      Wired
NA                   NA                       NA                   NA                       NA                      NA                     NA                     NA
✖                    ✖                        ✖                    ✖                        ✖                       ✖                      ✖                      ✖
Stereo to RCA        Stereo to RCA            Stereo to Stereo     Stereo to Stereo         Stereo to RCA           None                   Stereo to RCA          Stereo to Stereo
                                              Cable with Remote    Cable with Remote                                                                              Cable with Remote

✔                    ✔                        ✔                    ✔                        ✔                       ✔                      ✔                      ✔
✔                    ✔                        ✔                    ✔                        N                       ✔                      N                      N

7.5                  6.5                      7                    7                        7                       6.5                    6                      6
0                    6                        7                    6.5                      7                       6.5                    6                      6
0                    7                        7                    6                        6                       7.5                    0                      0
7                    6.5                      7.5                  7                        6                       7.5                    6                      6
38.32                39.72                    33.05                30.19                    31.53                   45.37                  29.77                  24.54


7                    7                        4.5                  5                        6                       8                      5.5                    5
7                    7.5                      7                    6                        5.5                     8                      6                      5.5
6.5                  6.5                      7                    5.5                      5                       8.5                    5                      4.5
6.5                  6.5                      4.5                  5                        5                       8                      5                      4
6.5                  6.5                      6                    5                        5.5                     8                      6                      4.5

6                    6.5                      6                    5.5                      6                       7.5                    5                      4.5
6.5                  7                        7                    6                        6                       7.5                    5                      5
6.5                  7                        5.5                  5                        5.5                     7.5                    6                      5.5
7                    7                        7                    5                        6                       7.5                    5                      4.5
7                    7                        6.5                  6                        5.5                     7.5                    6.5                    5.5

6.5/6.5/6.5          7/7/7                    6.5/6/5              6/5/5                    5/5/5                   7/7/7                  5/4/5                  5/4.5/4

5.5                  6                        4                    4                        5                       7                      5                      3
6                    6                        6                    4                        5                       7.5                    4                      3.5
6                    6                        5                    4                        5                       7                      3                      3
5.5                  5.5                      3                    4                        4.5                     6                      4                      4

4/3                  5/3                      2/3                  3/3                      3/3                     6/6                    4/3                    2/2
4/4                  4/5                      4/4                  4/5                      3/4                     6/6                    3/3                    2/2
5/4                  5/4                      5/3                  5/4                      4/3                     6/3                    4/5                    2/1
6/7                  5.5/7                    5.5/5                1.5/5                    3/5                     7/7                    4/4                    1/5
7.42                 5.21                     5.50                 8.02                     12.06                   3.71                   13.50                  10.23
2,000                2,850                    2,699                1,849                    1,230                   3,995                  1,099                  1,450
55.06                55.60                    50.47                49.68                    54.65                   59.24                  53.37                  42.37




Good performance         Good performance         Decent overall       None in particular       Decent for Indian    Best performance          Very inexpensive       None in particular
None in particular       None in particular       performance          Powerless bass           music                in the 2.1 category       Poor performance       Poor performance
                                                  Weak in bass                                  Not for gaming       Slightly expensive
      Digital Passion l Speaker Test
                                                                                                       We received a 19 speaker sets in this catego-
     Scoreboard                        2.1 Speaker Sets (contd.)                                    ry—from Altec Lansing, Artis, Creative, Intex,
 BRAND                                             Xfree                    Zebronics               Logitech, Tech-Com, XFree, and Zebronics.
 Model                                             XE233                    ZEB-SW8000
 Features (Out of 20)                              9.20                     11.04                   Features
 Power (RMS Watts): Subwoofer/Satellite            10/5                     30/15                   Power
 Frequency Response                                45 Hz—20 KHz             18 Hz—35 KHz            Power rating is the most-vaunted parameter of
 Subwoofer Driver Diameter (Inches)                5                        5.25                    a speaker set. For the layman, the power rating
 Satellites Driver Diameter (Inches)               2.5                      4                       of a speaker set determines the loudness with
 Connectors on Subwoofer                           RCA                      RCA                     which you can play sound. The power rating of
 Controls Provided on Speaker Set/Remote Control                                                    PC speakers is generally specified in RMS
 Bass / Treble/Volume (Y/N)                        ✔/✖/✔                    ✔/✔/✔
                                                                                                    wattage, but there were three Tech-Com speak-
 Others (List)                                     ✖                        ✖
                                                                                                    ers whose power was specified in PMPO. In case
 Bundled Accessories                                                                                of 5.1 speaker sets, the power is the sum of the
 Power Adapter (Y/N)                               ✖                        ✖
                                                                                                    individual power ratings of the subwoofer, cen-
 Speaker Stands (Y/N)                              ✖                        ✖
                                                                                                    tre speaker, and the four satellites.
 Remote Control (Wired / Wireless)                 Wired                    ✖
                                                                                                        The Artis X10 Mini has the highest-powered
 Batteries (Y/N/NA)                                NA                       NA                      subwoofer at 100 W and satellites at 28 W each.
 Built-in Radio Tuner (AM/FM/N)                    ✖                        ✖
                                                                                                    The next-highest powered speaker set was the
 Cables (List)                                     Stereo to Stereo Cable   Stereo to RCA, RCA to   Artis S8800, with an 80 W subwoofer and 20 W
                                                   with Remote              RCA                     per satellite. The speakers from Creative and
 Manual & Documentation (Y/N)                                                                       XFree were the lowest-powered, and therefore
 Quick Setup Guide                                 ✔                        ✔
                                                                                                    had problems handling sounds at a volume
 Troubleshooting                                   ✖                        ✖
                                                                                                    higher than 40 per cent.
 Build Quality (So10)
 Knobs                                             6                        6                       Driver Size
 Speaker Veils                                     6                        7                       A speaker with higher power usually has larger
 Speaker Stands                                    0                        0                       drivers. This is especially true in the case of
 Overall Build Quality                             6                        8                       subwoofers. An exception was the Altec Lansing
 Performance (Out of 65)                           24.54                    30.26                   FX5051, which was not high powered, but
 Music Quality (So10)                                                                               which had subwoofers with dual 6.5-inch driv-
 Western                                                                                            ers in isobaric configuration, thus effectively
 Rock                                              5                        5                       delivering double the bass levels without taking
 Jazz                                              5.5                      6.5                     up additional floor space. High-powered speak-
 New Age                                           4.5                      6                       er sets such as the Artis S8800, X10 Mini, and
 Acid Trance                                       4                        5.5                     the Zebronics ZEB-SW13100R have huge 8-inch
 Classical                                         4.5                      5.5                     drivers, and this raised our expectations of get-
 Indian                                                                                             ting some deeply immersive bass from them.
 Bollywood                                         4.5                      4.5                         The satellites of most speaker sets consist of
 Bhangra                                           5                        6                       a single mid-range driver. But as you may be
 Ghazal                                            5.5                      5                       aware, a single driver can produce a limited
 Classical Vocal                                   4.5                      4.5                     range of frequencies. Therefore, speakers with
 Classical Instrumental                            5.5                      5                       more than one driver of different sizes are bet-
 DVD-Audio (Eric Clapton—Broken) (So10)                                                             ter, because they can deliver a larger range of
 Treble / Vocals / Bass                            5/4.5/4                  5/5/5                   frequencies. Such speakers included the Altec
 DVD Movie Test (So10)                                                                              Lansing FX5051, Artis 6600R/FM, S8800 and X10
 Minority Report                                   3                        5                       Mini, Intex IT-4800W, Tech-Com SSD-2001, SSD-
 Behind Enemy Lines                                3.5                      4                       5001, SSD-5101R and SSD-6001R, as well as the
 The Fast And The Furious                          3                        4                       Zebronics ZEB-SW13100R.
 Game Sound: Half-Life 2 (So10)                    4                        4
 Special Frequency Test Files (So10)                                                                Other Features
 50 Hz / 100 Hz                                    2/2                      3/4                     RCA was the most common connector type.
 250 Hz / 500 Hz                                   2/2                      5/5                     RCA has the advantage of being less prone to
 1000 Hz / 15 KHz                                  2/1                      5/1                     noise, and it is resistant to damage. Stereo con-
 Power Handling: Bass / Treble (So10)              1/5                      3/5                     nectors, on the other hand, are prone to noise
 Price Index (Out of 15)                           8.48                     7.61                    and damage. The Altec Lansing speakers were
 Price (Rs)                                        1,750                    1,950                   the only ones that accepted audio input via
 Final Score (Out of 100)                          42.22                    48.91                   triple stereo pins. Clamp-type connectors,
                                                                                                    which connect directly to bare wires, are pre-
                                                                                                    ferred by those who are not tolerant to audio
                                                                                                    noise. These connectors were found on a few
                                                                                                    models such as the Artis S5200, S8800 and X10
                                                                                                    Mini, Tech-Com SSD-5101R and SSD-6001R, and
                                                                                                    the Zebronics ZEB-SW13100R.
                                                                                                        The Altec Lansing FX5051 had a connector
                                                                                                    we didn’t see on any other—a USB. Using this
                                                       None in particular       Decent for          connector, you can listen to 5.1-channel audio
                                                       Poor performance         Western music       from any computer with Windows 98 SE or
                                                                                Large and heavy     higher. In this case, the audio signal is decoded

52     DIGIT MARCH 2007
                                                                                                        Digital Passion l Speaker Test
    within the speaker unit using the inbuilt sound                                        Unfortunately, none of these speakers came
    chip, and thus is not worth it if you’re using an                                      with an external decoder.
    expensive sound card. But we have to admit                                                 With the exception of the Creative SBS 580,
    that it sounds a lot better than most onboard                                          all the speakers came with either a wired or a
    sound solutions we’ve heard. Apple Macs are                                            wireless remote control. One of the most stylish
    not officially supported.                                                              remotes came with the Altec Lansing FX5051.
        Digital connectors of any kind were non-exis-                                      The wired remote has a smooth control knob
    tent in the speakers we tested. A digital connec-                                      and blue LEDs, and the slick, angled wireless
    tor ensures a pure audio signal, devoid of noise                                       remote was the icing on the cake.
    of any kind, to deliver the highest-quality input                                          Radio functionality is usually not seen on
    to the speakers. Auxillary inputs were there on                                        expensive speaker sets, and is very rare in the
    all the speakers except the Altec Lansings,                                            case of 5.1 sets. Only the Artis S6600R/FM came
    Creatives, XFrees, Intexes, all the Tech-Coms                                          with this functionality. We were very pleased to
    (except the SSD-5101R and SSD-6001R), and the                                          see that not only did it have FM radio, but also
    Zebronics ZEB-SW6900R. An auxillary input lets                                         AM radio so you can play your favourite medi-
    you connect a stereo sound source such as a CD                                         um-wave regional channels.
    player or hi-fi music system to the speakers with-                                         5.1 speaker sets are always accompanied with
    out having to remove an already-connected 5.1                                          a huge bundle of cables. We would like to note
    source. The Tech-Com SSD-5101R and Artis                                               here that most of the Artis speakers came with
    S8800 even had dual auxillary inputs, allowing                                         colour-coded cables, which eases the effort
    you to connect a second stereo source.                                                 required to connect different sound channel
                                                                                           pairs from the sound card to the correct inputs
    Accessories                                                                            on the speaker sets / amps. Bare-ended wires were
    An external decoder decodes audio signals from                                         also bundled with quite a few of the speaker sets
    the sound source if the source contains infor-                                         that featured clamp type connectors. While some
    mation complying with audio digital standards                                          of these cables were of inferior quality, such as
    such as Dolby Digital or DTS. This is pure digi-                                       those which came with the Tech-Com SSD-5101R,
    tal audio and is preferred by audiophiles.                                             the ones that accompanied the Artis sets, espe-

   Expert Tests
     this speaker test, we          call a professional
For multimedia speakers decided tothe perspectiveusofanwith aof how
  trained ear and some testing equipment to give
good                       are from
                                                        idea
                                                      an audiophile.
                                                                           Mackie VLZ Pro 1402: A professional 14-channel mixer that was used
                                                                           to route the sound from the Minirator to the speakers and the
                                                                           Firebox. (Details: http://www.mackie.com/products/1402vlzpro/)
This was done to gauge whether professional testing equipment              HP Pavilion dv2119TX Notebook: This laptop has Intel’s Core 2 Duo
corroborated what our ears heard.                                          CPU and 1 GB of DDR 2 RAM.
    We asked Sunil Karanjikar from SOUND.COM (www.online-sound.
com), a professional live sound provider, to come in and take a look       Test Procedure
at some of the top-performing sets in the 2.1 and 5.1 categories.           The testing was done by generating “pink noise” and sending it to
    Sunil is a professional live sound engineer, with over six years of     the speakers via the mixer. Pink noise is acoustical energy
experience. Although he specialises in live sound and concerts, he is       distributed uniformly by octave throughout the audio spectrum (the
an audiophile and designs his own speakers in his spare time.               range of human hearing, approximately 20 Hz to 20 kHz). Most
                                                                            people perceive pink noise as having uniform spectral power
Test Equipment                                                              density—the same apparent loudness at all frequencies. In pink noise,
SIA SmaartLive 5 FFT based RTA spectrum analyser: SIA’s dual-               the total sound power in each octave is the same as the total sound
channel FFT-based audio measurement software is the professional            power in the octave immediately above or below it. In all the graphs
audio industry standard for real-time sound system measurement,             displayed, pink noise is shown in light blue.
optimisation, and control. It combines powerful audio frequency                 All the speakers were set to 75 per cent of their maximum
measurement, analysis and data logging capability with a highly             volume, so as to get their ideal output without distortion.
intuitive, user-friendly interface and the ability to remotely control          The output of the speaker sets were recorded by the Audix TR40
an extensive list of top name equalizers and DSP processors. This           Measurement Microphone and then fed back to the laptop and
was used to compare the measured response with a reference signal.          analysed with the SmaartLive software.
(Details: http://www.siasoft.com/products/smaart_live.html)                     There are two waveforms displayed in the software—one of the
Presonus Firebox Audio Interface: The Firebox is a professional             reference signal (light blue wave) that was sent to the speakers, and
grade sound card that connects via Firewire to bypass a system’s            the other is the measured signal that the speakers sent out. By
soundcard. It offers much better frequency                                                             comparing the two waveforms, it was
response compared to consumer level audio                                                              possible to gauge how well or poorly the
solutions. (Details: http://www.presonus.                                                              speaker set was able to reproduce the
com/firebox.html)                                                                                      sound it was supposed to.
Audix TR40 Measurement Microphone: This                                                                     It must be noted that the acoustic
is a flat frequency response microphone that                                                           signal takes time to reach the microphone
is specially used for testing and measurement                                                          and the software has to compensate for this
purposes. (Details: www.audixusa.com, found                                                            delay. It automatically measures the time
under Contractor Microphones)                                                                          difference between the reference and
Neutrik Minirator Test Tone Generator: This                                                            measured signals and corrects it by adding
handy portable gadget generates all kinds of                                                           the delay to the reference signal. This is
test tones—pink noise, white noise, sine /                                                             displayed in both feet and milliseconds,
square waves, sweep signals (20Hz to 20 kHz). Sunil Karanjikar at a live event                         such as 7.80 feet/6.92 ms.


                                                                                                                                 DIGIT MARCH 2007    53
     Scoreboard                                                               5.1 Speaker Sets                        MARCH 2007
BRAND                                           Altec Lansing           Altec Lansing          Artis                 Artis                    Artis                  Artis
Model                                           FX5051                  VS3251                 S5200                 S6600R/FM                S7500R                 S8800
Features (Out of 25)                            15.56                   10.70                  11.34                 15.34                    10.28                  11.41
Power Rating (RMS Watts)
Subwoofer / Centre / Satellites                 28/13/12                25/9/9                 900*/300*/300*        1500*/700*/700*          1500*/500*/500* 80/20/20
Frequency Response                              40 Hz—20 KHz            40 Hz—17 KHz           45 Hz—20 KHz          30 Hz—20 KHz             30 Hz—20 KHz    35 Hz—20 KHz
Decoder / Amplifier                             ✖                       ✖                      ✖                     Amplifier                ✖                      ✖
Speaker Diameter (Inches)
Subwoofer                                       2x6.5                   5                      6.5                   5.25                     5.25                   8
Satellites                                      1.5 + 0.7               2.5                    1.5                   2.5                      2                      2.5+1.5
Centre                                          1.5 + 0.7               2.5                    1.5                   2x2.5                    2                      2x2.5+1.5
Connectors on Subwoofer                         RCA, Stereo,            RCA, Stereo            RCA, Clamps           RCA                      RCA                    RCA, Clamps
                                                Proprietory to
                                                Remote, USB
Auxilliary                                      ✖                       ✖                      ✔                     ✔                        ✔                      ✔
Controls Provided on Speaker Set/Remote Control
Bass / Treble / Volume (Y/N)                    ✔/✔/✖                   ✔/✔/✖                  ✔/✔/✖                ✔/✔/✖                     ✔/✔/✖                  ✔/✔/✖
Others (List)                                   Centre, Rear            Individual channels,   Individual channels, Individual channels,      Individual chan- Individual channels,
                                                                                                                    Input Select, Radio
                                                                        Input Select           Input Select, Reset Controls                   nels, Input Select Input Select
Bundled Accessories
Power Adapter / Stands (Y/N)                    ✖/✔                     ✖/✔                    ✖/✖                   ✖/✔                      ✖/✖                    ✖/✖
Remote Control (Wired / Wireless)               Both                    Wireless               Wireless              Wireless                 Wireless               Wireless
Inbuilt Radio Tuner (AM/FM/N)                   ✖                       ✖                      ✖                     AM/FM                    ✖                      ✖
Cables (List)                                   Triple Stereo to        Triple Stereo to       Stereo to RCA, 3x     3xStereo to RCA, 3x      3xStereo to RCA,       Stereo to RCA, 3x
                                                Stereo, 3xRCA to        Stereo, 3xRCA to       RCA to RCA, Audio     RCA to RCA, Aerial       3x RCA to RCA          RCA to RCA, Audio
                                                Stereo, USB             Stereo,IR Pod          Cables                                                                Cables
Manual and Documentation (Y/N)
Quick Setup Guide                               ✔                       ✔                      ✔                     ✔                        ✔                      ✔
Specification Listing                           ✔                       ✔                      ✔                     ✔                        ✔                      ✔
Build Quality (So10)
Knobs                                           7.5                     7.5                    7                     7.5                      5                      8
Speaker Veils                                   7                       7                      6.5                   7                        5                      7
Speaker Stands                                  8                       6.5                    0                     7.5                      0                      0
Overall Build Quality                           8                       7                      7                     8                        6                      7.5
Performance (Out of 65)                         41.34                   33.44                  39.49                 46.67                    36.92                  42.32
Music Quality (So10)
Western
Rock / Jazz                                     7/6.5                   7/6.5                  4/6                   7.5/7.5                  5/6                    6.5/7
New Age / Acid Trance                           7/7                     6.5/6                  5.5/5                 7.5/7.5                  5.5/5.5                7.5/7.5
Classical                                       7                       7                      6.5                   7.5                      5.5                    6.5
Indian
Bollywood / Bhangra                             6/6.5                   6/6                    6/6                   7.5/7.5                  6.5/6.5                7/7.5
Ghazal                                          6.5                     5.5                    7                     7.5                      6.5                    7
Classical Vocal / Instrumental                  6.5/7                   5.5/6                  6/6.5                 6/7.5                    6.5/6                  6.5/7
DVD-Audio (Eric Clapton—Broken) (So10)
Treble / Vocals / Bass                          6.5/7/6.5               6/6.5/4                5.5/6/6.5             8/7.5/7.5                6.5/6.5/5.5            7/7/6.5
DVD Movie Test (So10)
Minority Report                                 7                       5                      7                     7.5                      4.5                    7
Behind Enemy Lines                              7                       4.5                    7                     8                        6.5                    7
The Fast And The Furious                        6.5                     5                      8                     8                        6                      7.5
Game Sound: Half-Life 2 (So10)                  6.5                     4.5                    6.5                   7.5                      6                      7
Special Frequency Test Files (So10)
50 Hz / 100 Hz                                  5/4                     6/4                    5/4                   6/4                      5/3                    6/4
250 Hz / 500 Hz                                 6/6                     0/6                    6/6                   6/6                      5/6                    3/4
1000 Hz / 15 KHz                                6/5                     2/5                    6/3                   6/5                      6/3                    5/5
Power Handling: Bass / Treble (So10)            4/6                     4/6                    6.5/5                 7/7                      6/6.5                  6/6
Price Index (Out of 10)                         1.19                    3.26                   4.65                  2.11                     3.85                   1.79
Price (Rs)                                      15,000                  5,500                  3,850                 8,500                    4,650                  10,000
Final Score (Out of 100)                        58.10                   47.40                  55.48                 64.11                    51.05                  55.52




                                                                            Good for western
                                                    Good performance,       music               Inexpensive              Good performance,        Decent in Indian         Good in music and
                                                    USB sound               Failed to play      None in particular       Radio                    music                    movies
                                                    Very expensive          piano in stereo                              None in particular       Weak in bass             A bit expensive
MARCH 2007

Artis                Creative               Creative                 Intex               Tech-Com               Tech-Com               Tech-Com                 Tech-Com
X10 Mini             Inspire M5300          SBS 580                  IT-4800W            SSD-2001               SSD-3001R              SSD-4001R                SSD-5001
13.41                9.00                   6.58                     7.96                9.50                   6.38                   6.38                     7.96

100/28/28            17/6/6                 16/6/6                   45/15/15            NA/NA/NA               20/5/5                 20/5/5                   45/15/15
25 Hz—20 KHz         40 Hz—20 KHz           40 Hz—20 KHz             20 Hz—20 KHz        40 Hz—20 KHz           40 Hz—18 KHz           40 Hz—18 KHz             20 Hz—20 KHz
✖                    ✖                      ✖                        N                   Amplifier              ✖                      N                        N

8                    5.25                   5.25                     5.25                5.25                   5.25                   5.25                     5.25
2.5+2.5              2.5                    2.5                      3+1.5               2.5                    3                      3                        3+1.5
2.5+2.5              2.5                    2.5                      2x3+1.5             2.5+2.5                3                      3                        2x3+1.5
RCA, Clamp           RCA, Proprietary for   RCA, Proprietary         RCA                 RCA                    RCA                    RCA                      RCA
                     Remote

Y                    ✖                      ✖                        ✖                   ✖                      ✖                      ✖                        ✖


✔/✔/✖                ✔/✔/✖                  ✔/✔/✖               ✔/✔/✖                    ✔/✔/✖                  ✔/✔/✖                  ✔/✔/✖                ✔/✔/✖
Individual chan-     None                   Volume and Power on Individual channels,     Individual channels,   Individual channels,   Individual channels, Individual channels,
nels, Input switch                          Right Front         Input switch             Input switch           Input switch           Input switch         Input switch

✖/✔                  ✔/✔                    ✔/✖                      ✖/✖                 ✖/✔                    ✖/✖                    ✖/✖                      ✖/✖
Wireless             Wired                  ✖                        Wireless            ✖                      Wireless               Wireless                 Wireless
✖                    ✖                      ✖                        ✖                   ✖                      ✖                      ✖                        ✖
3xStereo to RCA,     None                   None                     Stereo to RCA, 3x   3xRCA to RCA,          3xRCA to RCA,          3xRCA to RCA,            Stereo to RCA, 3x
3x RCA to RCA,                                                       RCA to bare wire    3xShort Stereo to      3xShort Stereo to      3xShort Stereo to        RCA to RCA
Audio Cables                                                                             RCA                    RCA                    RCA

✔                    ✔                      ✔                        ✖                   ✔                      ✔                      ✔                        ✔
✔                    ✔                      ✔                        ✔                   ✔                      ✔                      ✔                        ✔


7.5                  6                      6                        6                   6                      6                      6                        6
7                    6.5                    5.5                      0                   6                      6                      6                        0
8                    6.5                    0                        0                   5                      0                      0                        0
8                    7                      4.5                      5.5                 6                      6                      6                        5.5
48.88                29.93                  27.85                    26.98               32.05                  37.41                  38.35                    26.65



7.5/8                4.5/5.5                4.5/5.5                  3/5.5               5/5.5                  5.5/6                  6/6                      3/5.5
8/8                  4.5/5.5                4.5/5                    4.5/5.5             5/5                    5.5/6                  6/6.5                    4.5/5.5
8                    5.5                    5.5                      5.5                 6                      6.5                    6.5                      5.5

8/8                  5/4.5                  5.5/5                    5/4.5               5.5/5.5                6/6                    6/5.5                    5/4.5
8                    5.5                    5.5                      5.5                 6                      5.5                    5.5                      5.5
8/8                  5/6.5                  5.5/6.5                  5/6.5               6/6.5                  6.5/6                  6.5/7                    5/6.5

7.5/6.5/8.5          5/4.5/4.5              5/4.5/4.5                5/4.5/4.5           5.5/5.5/4.5            6.5/6.5/6.5            6.5/6.5/6.5              5/4.5/4.5

7.5                  5                      4                        3                   4                      6                      6.5                      3
8                    5                      4                        4                   5                      6                      6                        4
8                    5                      4                        4.5                 5                      6.5                    6.5                      4.5
7                    5                      4                        4                   5.5                    5.5                    6                        3.5

8/6                  4/2                    4/3                      4/2                 5/2                    4/4                    4/4                      4/2
7.5/7.5              3/3                    3/3                      3/3                 4/4                    5/5                    5/5                      3/3
7.5/6                3/3                    3/2                      3/3                 4/3                    6/4                    6/4                      3/3
6/7                  4/5.5                  4/5                      4/5.5               5/6                    5/6                    5/6                      4/5.5
1.49                 3.14                   3.58                     4.29                9.00                   7.82                   7.49                     6.89
12,000               5,699                  4,999                    4,170               1,990                  2,290                  2,390                    2,599
63.79                42.08                  38.01                    39.23               50.55                  51.60                  52.22                    41.50




Great music              Stylish looks          None in particular    Rosewood finish        Very inexpensive    Decent overall            Decent overall           Inexpensive
reproduction             Below-average          Poor for DVD          Poor for DVD           Not good for        performance               performance              Poor overall
Quite expensive          performance            movies, gaming        movies, gaming         gaming              None in particular        None in particular       performance
           Scoreboard                                                       5.1 Speaker Sets (contd.)
      BRAND                                           Tech-Com               Tech-Com               Xfree                Zebronics              Zebronics
      Model                                           SSD-5101R              SSD-6001R              XW555                ZEB-SW13100R           ZEB-SW6900R
      Features (Out of 25)                            11.10                  8.60                   8.54                 12.96                  6.08
      Power Rating (RMS Watts)
      Subwoofer / Center / Satellites                 NA/NA/NA               30/10/10               12/8/8               80/15/15               20/5/5
      Frequency Response                              40 Hz—20 KHz           10 Hz—45 KHz           40 Hz—20 KHz         20 Hz—18 KHz           40 Hz—18 KHz
      Decoder / Amplifier                             ✖                      ✖                      ✖                    ✖                      ✖
      Speaker Diameter (Inches)
      Subwoofer                                       5.25                   5.25                   5.25                 8                      5.25
      Satellites                                      3+1.5                  3                      2.5                  2+4                    3
      Center                                          3+1.5                  3+1.5                  2.5                  2+4                    3
      Connectors on Subwoofer                         RCA, Clamp             RCA, Clamps on         RCA-Out, Stereo-in   RCA, Clamps            RCA
                                                                             Satellites

      Auxilliary                                      ✔                      ✔                      ✖                    ✔                      ✖
      Controls Provided on Speaker Set/Remote Control
      Bass / Treble / Volume (Y/N)                    ✔/✔/✖                  ✔/✔/✖                  ✔/✔/✖                ✔/✔/✖                  ✔/✔/✖
      Others (List)                                   Individual chan-       Individual channels,   Balance              Individual channels,   Individual channels,
                                                      nels, Input switch     Input switch                                Input switch           Input switch
      Bundled Accessories
      Power Adapter / Stands (Y/N)                    ✖/✖                    ✖/✖                    ✖/✖                  ✖/✖                    ✖/✖
      Remote Control (Wired / Wireless)               Wireless               Wireless               ✖                    Wireless               Wireless
      Built-in Radio Tuner (AM/FM/N)                  ✖                      ✖                      ✖                    ✖                      ✖
      Cables (List)                                   3xStereo to RCA,       Stereo to RCA, 3xRCA Triple Stereo to       3xStereo to RCA        3xShort Stereo to
                                                      3x Stereo-In to        to RCA, 5xRCA to     Stereo, 3xRCA to                              RCA
                                                      RCA, Audio Cables      bare wires           RCA
      Manual & Documentation (Y/N)
      Quick Setup Guide                               ✔                      ✔                      ✖                    ✖                      ✖
      Specification Listing                           ✔                      ✔                      ✔                    ✔                      ✔
      Build Quality (So10)
      Knobs                                           6.5                    6                      5                    6                      6
      Speaker Veils                                   6                      6.5                    6                    0                      6
      Speaker Stands                                  0                      0                      0                    0                      0
      Overall Build Quality                           7                      6                      5.5                  8                      5.5
      Performance (Out of 65)                         37.44                  32.50                  34.39                46.90                  27.17
      Music Quality (So10)
      Western
      Rock / Jazz                                     6.5/6.5                5/5.5                  5.5/6                7.5/7                  4/4.5
      New Age / Acid Trance                           6/5.5                  5/5                    6/6                  7.5/7.5                4/4.5
      Classical                                       6                      5.5                    6                    8                      5
      Indian
      Bollywood / Bhangra                             6.5/6                  4.5/4.5                5.5/6                7.5/7.5                4/3.5
      Ghazal                                          6.5                    5                      5.5                  7                      4
      Classical Vocal / Instrumental                  5/6                    4.5/5.5                4.5/5.5              7/7.5                  5/4.5
      DVD-Audio (Eric Clapton—Broken) (So10)
      Treble / Vocals / Bass                          6.5/5/6.5              5.5/5/4                4.5/5.5/5            7/7.5/8                4/5/5.5
      DVD Movie Test (So10)
      Minority Report                                 6                      6                      5.5                  8                      4.5
      Behind Enemy Lines                              6                      6                      6.5                  8.5                    4
      The Fast And The Furious                        6                      6.5                    6                    8                      5
      Game Sound: Half-Life 2 (So10)                  6                      6                      6                    8                      4
      Special Frequency Test Files (So10)
      50 Hz / 100 Hz                                  5/5                    4/2                    4/4                  6/3                    2/3
      250 Hz / 500 Hz                                 0/6                    3/3                    4/4                  4/4                    4/4
      1000 Hz / 15 KHz                                6/5                    3/3                    4/3                  6/6                    6/2
      Power Handling: Bass / Treble (So10)            6/6                    5/5.5                  4/4.5                7.5/7.5                3/4.5
      Price Index (Out of 10)                         6.18                   4.98                   3.98                 1.81                   7.31
      Price (Rs)                                      2,899                  3,599                  4,500                9,900                  2,450
      Final Score (Out of 100)                        54.72                  46.08                  46.90                61.67                  40.56




                                                          Decent overall       Good movie
                                                          performance          performance           Decent movie         Thundering                None in particular
                                                          Failed to play       Not good for          performance          cinema experience         Wrong colour
                                                          piano in stereo    Indian    music         Weak in bass         Bulky                     coding


56   DIGIT MARCH 2007
         Digital Passion l Speaker Test
         cially the X10 Mini, were of superior quality. An          Subwoofers are              speakers. Subwoofers are seldom constructed
         advantage of bare-ended wire audio cables is                                           using any material other than wood, because
         that in case the contact wire at the end gets dam-         seldom con-                 of the high quality of resonance wood exhibits.
         aged, you can always remove the insulation fur-            structed using              Of the speakers we tested, the Artis X10 Mini,
         ther to replace the damaged contact.                       any material                Intex IT-4800W, and the Zebronics ZEB-
                                                                    other than wood,            SW13100R have subwoofers that do not
         Build Quality                                              because of the              attempt to hide the wood. The wood grains are
         The knobs of a speaker are generally the most-                                         clearly visible on the exterior surface and give
         handled mechanical moving parts, and these                 high quality of             them a classy look. The ZEB-SW13100R, in par-
         need to be durable. We didn’t have too many                resonance wood              ticular, has one of the most ruggedly-built
         complaints with any speaker set for badly-put-             exhibits                    speakers, but these are also the biggest, and it
         together knobs. The Altec Lansings and the                                             would be difficult to place them near a PC.
         Artis sets (except the S7500R) have knobs that
         will last long after the speaker sets are dead                                         Performance
         and buried. Notably, the Artis’ had servo knobs,                                       Music
         which do not produce static when rotated.                                              Our test music was stereo (two sound channels),
             The veils of a speaker protect the driver                                          and we had a few problems playing bass in cer-
         from damage, but they have to be such that                                             tain speaker sets, when the source was connect-
         they do not obstruct the sound path. Most of                                           ed to the 5.1 input. We therefore had to connect
         the speakers had veils, barring the Intex IT-                                          to the 2.1 input and switch to 2.1 mode.
         4800W, Tech-Com SSD-5001, and the Zebronics                                                The Artis X10 Mini was remarkable in audio
         ZEB-SW13100R, all of which did away with the                                           fidelity. It reproduced bass and treble very well.
         veils. Some speakers such as the Artis X10 Mini                                        The good thing about this was that its strong
         had veils with grilles behind them for extra                                           bass never drowned the treble, and we could
         protection. Others, such as the Tech-Com SSD-                                          hear every detail, even with the bass playing at
         6001R, did not have grilles.                                                           full throttle. Cranking up the volume and bass
             Stands help elevate the speaker to the level of                                    levels did not seem to do any damage: the tre-
         the listener, and also provide stability. The Artis                                    ble was still clearly audible.
         X10 Mini came with sturdy steel stands for the                                             The Artis S6600R/FM was next-best. The only
         rear speakers. Most of the speakers came without                                       problem we had was that in the Indian classical
         any stands at all, while a few, such as the Altec                                      vocals, the speaker sets could not reproduce the
         Lansing FX5051, came with aesthetically                                                vocals as well at the highest pitch as the X10 Mini
         designed stands—diamond shaped in this case.                                           could. The Zebronics ZEB-SW13100R, Artis S8800,
             Wood and plastic were the two most com-                                            and the Altec Lansing FX5051 were the other
         mon materials used in the building of the                                              speaker sets that played some good music.

         All About Amps

     A    n amplifier elevates the level of the audio signal from the source
          to a level high enough to be able to drive speakers without
     changing the sonic characteristics of the audio signal. Earlier, sound
                                                                               motion of the speaker, is the ratio of the internal impedance of an
                                                                               amplifier compared to the impedance of an amplifier with a speaker
                                                                               connected. These are usually referenced at a particular frequency of
     cards used to have onboard amplifiers, but today it’s the speakers        200 Hz.
     that come with their own amplifiers. We will try and explain what you          Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR) is a measure of the quietness of the
     need to look for in a good amplifier.                                     amplifier. A higher SNR means a lower level of noise in the sound
          So your speaker sets boast of 4000 W? Amazing! Right? Not            even at higher volume levels. The unit is dBA.
     always the case. Power is the most important feature of an amplifier.          Finally, there is Channel Separation. This is the amount of
     You should look for the number of channels that an amplifier’s rating     isolation between different sound channels in a multi-channel speaker
     is true for. So 4000 W could be for 6 channels, and so the power          system. If Channel Separation is not good, there is a phenomenon
     output per channel is in fact much lower.                                 known as Crosstalk, in which sound from one channel is audible to a
          Secondly, look out for misleading specifications. Quite often,       certain extent in other channel. This, too, is expressed in dBA.
     speaker manufacturers state the Max, Dynamic, PMPO, or Peak                    We almost forgot to mention that amplifiers are classified as
     output power ratings. The point to ponder here is at what distortion      Class A, AB, B, D and H. Class A amplifiers are the most inefficient (25
     and frequency they achieved these ratings, and whether it is peak or      per cent) but have the best audio quality. They are therefore costlier
     RMS power.                                                                to operate and consume a higher amount of power. Class B amplifiers
          Now let’s say you come across an amplifier rating of “500 W RMS      are much more efficient, but have the problem of notch distortion.
     per channel from 20 Hz to 20 KHz = 1% THD + Noise at 14.4 Vdc.”           Class AB is the combination of good things from both the above
     What this means is that at 50 Hz and 14.4 Vdc, the amplifier              classes to yield better efficiency (60 per cent) and decent audio
     produced 500 Watts RMS. This is the proper way of specifying power        quality. This is the most common type of amplifier. Class D amplifiers
     ratings. But what we see usually is that manufacturers simply state       have an even higher efficiency (80 per cent). The problem with these
     such speaker sets as 600 W = 1% THD + Noise, and forget to mention        is that they are not good at powering mid-range drivers and
     that it was tested at 10 kHz and 16 Vdc. Thus they derive the value of    tweeters, and are therefore bandwidth-limited to the frequencies of
     600 W instead of the actual 500 W.                                        the subwoofer. Class H is a newer version of digital amplifier with the
          There are things other than power that you need to note before       efficiency of Class D, but they are good for powering even mid-range
     buying an amplifier or speakers. Frequency response, or the span of       drivers and tweeters.
     frequencies an amplifier can produce, should be reported with a                The above-mentioned things will rarely be encountered by you
     range followed by a tolerance (such as 22 Hz to 19 KHz +-2.5db). It       when you purchase a regular 2.1 or 5.1 speaker set. However, when
     goes without saying that a higher frequency response is preferable.       buying a discrete amplifier unit, or when you want hi-fi-grade PC
          The damping factor, or the ability of the amplifier to control the   audio, you will need to keep these things in mind.


58       DIGIT MARCH 2007
                                                                                                               Digital Passion l Speaker Test
                                                                                                  and we had to raise the bar we had set for the
                                                                                                  benchmarks. The explosions seemed earth-shat-
                                                                                                  teringly real—we could feel the shrapnel flying
                                                                                                  around us! The engine roar was surreal, and the
                                                                                                  concussion gun almost gave us a concussion!
                                                                                                      Other brands such as Altec Lansing and
                                                                                                  Tech-Com were decent, but the Altec Lansing
                                                                                                  FX5051 produced overwhelmingly overpower-
                                                                                                  ing bass, which eclipsed some sound detail.

                                                                                                  DVD Audio
                                                                                                  The Eric Clapton song was rendered beautifully
                                                                                                  on the Zebronics ZEB-SW13100R and the Artis
                                                                                                  S6600R/FM and X10 Mini. The ZEB-SW13100R and
                                                                                                  X10 Mini produced richer bass, while the
                                                                                                  S6600R/FM produced crisper highs. The sets from
                                                                                                  Altec Lansing and Tech-Com also gave decent per-
                                                                                                  formance and are worthy mentions.
    The Artis S6600R/FM fails a little at reproduction of
    higher pitched sounds—between the 4 and 16 KHz mark                                           Game Performance
                                                                                                  The Artis S6600R/FM, X10 Mini, and the S8800
        A peculiar thing we noticed was that the                                                  were very good in the game test and could cre-
    Tech-Com SSD-5101R and the Altec Lansing                                                      ate an almost-real virtual environment around
    VS3251 could not reproduce piano sounds in                                                    us. But the Zebronics ZEB-SW13100R was in a
    2.1 mode. When we switched to 5.1 mode, only                         MARCH 2007
    the centre speaker reproduced the piano, but
    the bass was lost.
                                                                                                                                         Artis S6600R/FM
    DVD Movies                                                                                                                           Everything you ever
    The Artis X10 Mini and the S6600R/FM and                                                                                             needed—it’s all here
    S8800 were very good in the DVD movie test. The
    bass, treble, and mid-range were all just about
    perfect. But once we plugged in the Zebronics
    ZEB-SW13100R, we found that the set possessed
    the power to edge past the former speaker sets,

     Size Does Matter
                                                                                20 Hz to 100 Hz: This is the lowest audible frequency range covered by
T   he normal human ear can perceive sound from 20 Hz to 20 KHz.
    Ideally, a single speaker should be able to reproduce this entire range
of the aural spectrum. But as is evident, in real-life scenarios, this is not
                                                                                speakers. Known as bass, the speakers designed to cover this range are
                                                                                known as woofers. Sharing the same features and construction as mid-
possible. To maintain the output level, for every halving of a given            range and mid-bass class of speakers, woofers have the lowest of the
frequency, the speaker must double its excursion. For the layman, this          resonant frequencies and the highest of the excursion capacities of the
means that if a speaker diaphragm moves 1 mm at 20 KHz (20,000 Hz), it          three. The typical size of woofers ranges from 6 inches to as large as
would have to move a distance of 1 km to be able to produce the same            36 inches. The average size of woofers is 10 to 12 inches. Kick drums,
level of sound at 20 Hz. Unrealistic, isn’t it?                                 organs, contrabassoon and string bass are some of the sources of
     To overcome this problem, we have speakers built to operate in             sounds in this range.
different frequency ranges. Depending on need, this is divided into three            A typical speaker system consists of at least two of the above types
or four frequency ranges. The commonly-used frequency ranges and                of speakers, tweeters and woofers being those types. The woofer usually
their significance are as below.                                                operates in the 20 Hz to 150 Hz range, while tweeters operate in the
2,500 Hz to 20,000 Hz: This range is covered by a class of drivers called       range of 150 Hz to 20 KHz. The sound signals from the sound card are
tweeters. These are typically dome-shaped and are generally 1 inch in           received by a special crossover circuit containing electronic filters that
diameter. The wavelength of a tweeter is also very small, typically 0.7         separate the different frequency ranges and feeds the adequate
inch for 20,000 Hz. Harsh, high-pitched and ear-piercing sounds, such as        frequency range according to speaker type.
a cricket chirping, electric guitars, etc., constitute this frequency range.         We would like to add that speaker systems that use a single
400 Hz to 2,500 Hz: This range is covered by mid-range speakers. Such           subwoofer and a set of satellites can never provide you pure audiophile-
speakers are cone-type, having a separate cone body and surrounding             quality sound. To cite one example, we would like to bring to your notice
material. They are sized from 3 to 8 inches in diameter. The most               that in such a speaker system, only the subwoofer produces bass. So
common diameter is around 5.25 inches. This is a frequency range to             what about multi-channel, low-frequency sounds? That is entirely
which the human ear is better tuned and thus, more receptive. Therefore,        neglected. So in the case of a bass drum beating on one side of the
most musical instruments create sounds that fall in this range.                 listener or moving around, the bass portion of the sound will only be
100 Hz to 400 Hz: Mid-bass drivers cover this range. These are very             produced by the subwoofer (from one direction i.e. from the centre of
much similar to mid-range speakers in features and construction, but the        course), while the satellites will produce the higher frequency sounds of
difference lies in the size, these being larger and designed for higher         the sticks striking the drum’s surface from the correct direction. This will
excursion. The typical size of these speakers ranges from 6.5 to 10 inches      no doubt produce a pseudo-multichannel impression of the drum beats,
in diameter, while the most common size is 6.5 inches. Some systems             but it definitely will not be anything near the real thing. A solution to this
incorporate speakers with diameters ranging from 5.25 to 6.5 inches and         problem is to have the different types of speakers mentioned above, in
in such cases, a single driver can cover a frequency range of 100 Hz to         each of the satellites, and to disband the subwoofer as a whole. This is
2,500 Hz. Male voices, and instruments such as the cello, bassoon, and          the principle deployed by manufacturers of audiophile quality speaker
French horn are some examples for this frequency range.                         sets, and is one of the reasons why such speakers are so expensive.


                                                                                                                                           DIGIT MARCH 2007      59
     Digital Passion l Speaker Test
                                                                                                      USB port of a PC to listen to crystal-clear 5.1-
                                                                                                      channel audio. The Altec Lansing FX4021 is
                                                                                                      therefore the winner of the Digit Best Buy Silver
                                                                                                      in the 2.1 category.
                                                                                                          For the 5.1 speaker sets, the performance
                                                                                                      king was the Artis X10 Mini, closely followed by
                                                                                                      the Zebronics ZEB-SW13100R. While the ZEB-
                                                                                                      SW13100R was better at recreating a movie envi-
                                                                                                      ronment, the X10 Mini was better when audio
                                                                                                      fidelity was compared. In the end, the Artis X10
                                                                                                      Mini, with its good looks and great music per-
                                                                                                      formance was adjudged the winner of the Digit
                                                                                                      Best Buy Gold in the 5.1-channel category,
                                                                                                      despite being the most expensive at Rs 12,000.
                                                                                                          The Artis S6600R/FM has almost everything
                                                                                                      that you need in a speaker set, and more. It is the
                                                                                                      only one amongst the 5.1 sets to have not only
                                                                                                      FM but also AM radio. In terms of performance,
     The Artis X10 Mini was by far the best sounding set, and analysis using SmaartLive shows         it came in third—not bad. The affordable price—
     that it has only minor variations from the test signal—excellent for a multimedia set            Rs 8,500—leaves us with no option but to award
                                                                                                      the Artis S6600R/FM the Digit Best Buy Silver in
     class of its own. It could brilliantly create bullet                                             the 5.1-channel category.
     sounds and explosion ricochets. We could go so
     far as to say that this set provides a better sur-
     round experience in gaming than any other.

     Frequency tests
     The Artis S6600R/FM ruled when it came to fre-
     quency tests. It performed exceedingly well in
     all the frequencies. The Zebronics ZEB-
     SW13100R produced harmonics in a few of the
     frequencies, and had to remain content with
     second place. While most of the brands were
     average performers in this test, the Creative
     exhibited dismal performance. The Altec
     Lansing VS3251 and the Tech-Com SSD-5101R                                                        The Logitech Z5450 (green) and the Artis X10 Mini
     missed the 250 Hz altogether. This was evident                                                   (orange) are quite similar in terms of reproducing bass,
     in the music test, where we found that these sets                                                but the Artis have a slight edge when it comes to the
     could not produce piano sounds in 2.1 mode.                           MARCH 2007                 highs. The Z5450 wasn’t part of our test, but since only a
         The ultimate bass and treble tests were won                                                  single speaker and woofer is needed for the SmaartLive
     by the ZEB-SW13100R by a narrow margin over                                                      test, we pitted it against the Winner
     the Artis S6600/FM.
                                                                                                      Summing It Up
     And The Grammy Goes To…                                                                           You might have noticed that the test process
     The Logitech X-230 was the best performer                                                         we deployed was carefully devised to present
     amongst the 2.1 speaker sets. The Altec Lansing                                                   an idea from the layman’s point of view.
     ATP3 was only a whisker behind it as far as                                                       Indeed, an audiophile would have tested
     sheer performance goes, but with its compara-                                                     speaker sets in a markedly different way. Such
     tively lower price of Rs 3,400, it managed to                                                     testing involves a studio and various electron-
     edge past the Logitech and secure the Digit Best                                                    ic gadgets that can bring out the minutest of
     Buy Gold in the 2.1 category.                                                                                    details in a speaker set, and over
          The Altec Lansing FX4021 was also not                                                                       the entire audio frequency
     far behind in the performance, in                                                                                range. However, this is not the
     third place. But it is rich in features                                                                          kind of environment where PC
     compared to the other sets. Not only                                                                             speakers are generally deployed,
     does it sport stylish looks, it comes                                                                            and therefore we chose a differ-
     with wired as well as wireless remotes.                                                                          ent path that helps us better
                                                                               Artis X10 Mini
     It is also the only speaker set with dual                                 Music with style
                                                                                                             identify with you, our readers.
     woofers, and can be connected to the                                                                        That said, we decided to bring in an
                                                                                                           audiophile and have him take a look at
           Contact Sheet                                  Speaker Sets                                some of the speakers that stood out in the
     Brand            Company                              Phone         E-mail                       tests. This review is peppered with his com-
      Altec Lansing   Rashi Peripherals Pvt Ltd           022-67090909   navinderc@rptechindia.com    ments; this we did for those of you who want
      Artis           Kunhar Peripherals Pvt Ltd          022-66345758   mail@kunhar.com              hard evidence and want to see frequency
      Creative        Creative Technology Ltd             9821455590     irfan@ctl.creative.com       response graphs of some real audiophile tests.
      Intex           Intex Technologies (India) Ltd      011-41610224   info@intextechnologies.com       Send feedback at readersletters@jasubhai.
      Logitech        Logitech Electronic India Pvt Ltd   022-26571160   response@logitech.com
                                                                                                      com if you want to see a more extensive audio-
      Tech-Com        Shree Sagarmatha Dist Pvt Ltd       022-26428541   techcom@airtelbroadband.in
      Xfree           Transtek Infoways Pvt Ltd           0250-3250072   amit@ttek.in
                                                                                                      phile test the next time we look at speakers!
      Zebronics       Topnotch Infotronix (I) Pvt Ltd     044-26616202   enquiry@zebronics.net                                    jayesh_limaye@thinkdigit.com

60   DIGIT MARCH 2007
                                           THIS MONTH’S CHALLENGE


       How would you create a
       Windows XP CD that can
       pre-install your favourite
       programs along with XP?
                                           Create A Bootable XP
       Send in your solution with
       the subject “Take a Crack”,
                                           CD That Pre-installs
       and your postal address, to
       takeacrack@thinkdigit.com           Additional Programs

     LAST MONTH’S CHALLENGE
                                           Change The Default Drive Tools In XP


     Win!
                                           Last month’s solution                                   Navigate to the Key
                                           Windows XP bundles some utilities to take               HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\M
                                           care of common problems. The defragmenter           icrosoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explor
                                           brings scattered data together to boost file        er\MyComputer
                                           access speed. Scandisk checks for and fixes              This has four keys named Backuppath,
                                           disk errors. Disk Cleanup sweeps unwanted           Cleanuppath, Defragpath, and Namespace.
                                           files off your hard drive, and Backup backs         First click on the Backuppath key. You’ll be
                                           up your files.                                      able to see its “Default” Value on the right
                                                While these utilities do what they claim       side: “%SystemRoot%\system32
       Take a Crack                        to do, there are many other utilities that can      \ntbackup.exe”
                                           do the same and more. Let’s see how the                 Change this to new value—give the path
       and win
                                           default tools in XP can be replaced by such         of the backup utility executable. Now it
       DCOM Application                    third-party utilities.                              becomes something like “C:/Program
       Development                              You first need to download those               Files/paragon/diskbackup.exe”.
                                           software, of course. We suggest the                      Do a similar operation for the other
       by Jonathan Pinnock
                                           following three tools.                              two. For example, for Defragpath, click the
       Published by                            Diskeeper from www.diskeeper.com. This          key and change its Default Value to
                                               is a defragmenting tool which is an             “C:/Program Files/diskeeper/Diskeeper.exe”.
                                               excellent replacement for the standard          And similarly for Cleanuppath.
                                               defragmenter in Windows.                            If you want
       LAST MONTH’S WINNER                     Disk Cleaner, a freeware from                   to replace
                                               www.diskcleaner.nl. A drive cleaning tool       Scandisk with a
             Pradeep                           that can clean your system better than can      third-party
          Bishnoiwinner!                       the Windows utility.                            utility, modify
         Jodhpur, Rajasthan                    Paragon Drive Backup Personal 8.0 from          or create a key
                                               www.drive-backup.com—a versatile                called
                                               backup utility.                                 “ChkDskPath”
                                                Note again that the tools specified here       at the same
                                           are only our suggestions. Any other similar         level as the
       Rules and Regulations
           Readers are requested to
                                           software can be used.                               aforementioned
       send in their answers by the 15th         Install all these software to any location.   keys. Click
       of the month of publication.        You must remember the path to where the             the key then
                                           software is installed so that you can later         change its
           Employees of Jasubhai
       Digital Media and their relatives
                                           retrieve the path to the .exe. Then open the        Default Value
       are not permitted to participate    Registry Editor.                                    to “C:/Program Launch the new drive tools
       in this contest.                                                                        Files/             from the same old dialog
                                                                                               DiskScanner/
          Readers are encouraged to
       send their replies by e-mail.
                                                                                               Diskscan.exe” Note that the path and
       Jasubhai Digital Media will not                                                         the program file name in this case are
       entertain any unsolicited                                                               dummy values—replace them with the
       communication.                                                                          proper values for the program you want
           Jasubhai Digital Media is
                                                                                               to install.
       not responsible for any damage                                                               Close the Registry Editor. Refresh the
       to your system that may be                                                              Desktop or log off and log back on. You’re
       caused while you are trying to                                                          ready to use your own tools as the defaults
       solve the problem.
                                           Change the default backup tool using Regedit        in Windows XP.

62     DIGIT MARCH 2007
                                                                                                          Digital Tools l Jumpstart

                                                                                      Digital


 72     Laser Printer
        Test                  79 Tips &7Tricks- 92 The Matter
                                 Nero Premium      The
                                                       Core Of
                                                                                      Tools
                                                                                       Technology For Personal And SoHo Productivity


Enhance


Gather Your Thoughts
Microsoft Office OneNote can help you organise yourself, in your own unique way
                                                            Word, Excel, PowerPoint or Outlook—providing
Robert Sovereign-Smith                                      you’ve bought the Microsoft Office Enterprise or
                                                            Ultimate edition. If not, you can get OneNote for


N
       ow where did I save that stupid Excel file? Oh no!   about $100 (Rs 4,500).
       Here comes the boss, itching to lecture me about
       the importance of organisation... If you’re          OneNote
smiling, thinking “been there, done that,” you              Sadly, this brilliant note-taking and collaboration
should continue reading.                                    tool hasn’t had the same publicity as its Office
    Thoughts are random, hurried, and seldom                counterparts. In fact, it seems Microsoft considers
recurring—that’s the beauty of the creative                 it more of a tool for TabletPC users, because of the
human mind—which is fine if you’re an artist or             ability to use Ink to jot down notes in OneNote.
an eccentric billionaire. Chances are, you’re not!          However, we decided to leave tablet PC function-
So you need all the help you can get to organise            ality out, and focus on what the software has to
your thoughts and remember those ideas—who                  offer to regular desktop and laptop users.
knows, maybe your next promotion or your first                  Fire up OneNote 2007, and the first thing you’ll
million await you... Now if only you could                  notice is the lack of the new Ribbon that seems
remember what it is you thought about, and                  omnipresent in Office 2007. Quite frankly, it’s not
where that damn Excel file is?                              needed, because OneNote needs all the desktop
    A lot of people, including most of us at                area you can get, and the software is not compli-
Digit, still carry a pen and paper to every                 cated enough to warrant the Ribbon.
meeting and brainstorming session. Some even
have pen and paper on their night stands, just              So What Is It?
in case. A few of us use our mobiles or PDAs to             OneNote is an enhanced note-taking and organ-
jot down ideas, set reminders, take notes, etc.             isation software. Since it’s made by Microsoft,
Then we learnt about OneNote!                               it has the added advantage of being seamlessly
    For the casual user, MS OneNote is just another         integrated with Windows, Microsoft Office, and
MS Access—something the majority of Microsoft               Internet Explorer. You can use it to jot down                                na   Patk
                                                                                                                                                  ar
                                                                                                                                     rish
Office users don’t have a clue about, and frankly,          your thoughts, ideas, save URLs, insert files,                 ging
                                                                                                                                Shrik
                                                                                                                        Ima
couldn’t care to learn. It’s just                           images, take screenshots of selected areas of a
another program in the                                      Web page, or your Desktop, and basically do
Start Menu that we                                          anything you could using paper, pen,
notice on our way to                                        printers, and browsers to
clicking on                                                 organise yourself.




                                                                                                                      MARCH 2007 DIGIT                 63
         Digital Tools l Enhance
                                                                        The     beauty     of   you can give your pages descriptive names and
                                                                    OneNote lies in the fact    put different types of content together—like all
                                                                    that there’s no right or    Web links in a page called “Links” and images in
                                                                    wrong way to use it.        a page called “Pictures”... or not!
                                                                    Whether you’re a                 As we said earlier, the beauty of this software
                                                                    teacher organising your     lies in the fact that there are no rules to follow; as
                                                                    yearly syllabus, a doctor   long as it makes sense to you and serves its pur-
                                                                    keeping      notes    on    pose, there’s nothing to stop you from putting
                                                                    patients, a manager         images in a page called “1” and links in a page
                                                                    monitoring his team’s       called “Hakunamatata”!
                                                                    performance, or a                At the top, below the standard buttons and
                                                                    group who want to col-      menus, you will see what is called the Section
                                                                    laborate and share ideas    bar. Here, you can further organise your pages
         Make sure to read the Getting Started guide the first time and research, there’s no    into sections. This is much like the drawers and
         you use OneNote                                            real template or proce-     compartments in a cupboard—like separating
                                                                    dure to follow.             the whites from the colours before again segre-
                                            Apart from professional use, OneNote can also       gating shirts and trousers!
         The beauty of                  help you organise yourself—manage your shop-                 Again, using this is completely your choice.
         OneNote lies in                ping lists, help you keep track of your many
         the fact that                  boyfriends/girlfriends… anything! Essentially, if       Get Those Notebooks Out
         there’s no right               there’s something you want to do, and it involves       One you have created the notebook of your
                                        remembering something or refers to something            choice, you can start jotting your thoughts and
         or wrong way to                else, you can use OneNote to do it easily and better!   research down. In order to add text, just type any-
         use it                                                                                 where, then drag it to the spot you want to place
                                     Getting Started...                                         it in. The same applies for images, audio/video
                                     By default, when you start OneNote 2007, it opens          clips, links, Web pages, anything.
                                     with the “Getting Started with OneNote” tab. This              You can change the way the Notebooks panel
                                     handy guide is something you just have to read             on the left is displayed by clicking the “>>”
                                     through at least once, because it will answer a lot        button at the top to give you a more detailed
                                     of questions you will ask later on.                        view of the Notebooks and their contents.
                                          That done, you should get a basic idea of how             If you use Internet Explorer (6 or later),
                                     and when to use OneNote. From now on, we’ll                adding what you find online to OneNote is as
                                     assume you’ve read that guide, and have no doubts          simple as clicking a button. After you’ve used
                                     about when to use this software. We’ll now go on           OneNote for the first time, you will find a taskbar
                                     to telling you how to put it to use.                       icon appear, which will let you add elements to
                                          The first thing you should do, provided you           your notes. In Internet Explorer 7, under the Tools
                                     have the time and inclination, is to go to File >          menu you will find “Send to OneNote”, so you
                                     New > Notebook and take a look at the templates            can easily add Web pages to your Notebook.
                                     of notebooks that OneNote has ready for you. You               While you have the OneNote icon in the
                                     don’t have to follow these templates, of course,           taskbar, you can use [Windows] + [S] to take a
                                     but it will give you a fair idea of what this soft-        screen clipping. This is similar to a screenshot, but
                                     ware is capable of.                                        you drag the mouse and make a selection box so
                                          After you open a notebook of your choice, it’s        that you only get the required area in the image.
                                     time to understand the layout of the pages you             This is then automatically added to your open
                                     will come across.                                          Notebook, and then you can set comments for it.
                                          Apart from the Standard menu and Format-
                                     ting buttons at the top, there are three areas to the      Search And More Cool Things
                                     interface. On the left you will see a thin vertical        If you’re putting your thoughts down in
                                     bar that displays all your Notebooks. Exactly as the       OneNote, it’s obvious that you should be able to
                                     name suggests, each Notebook is like a physical            find them when you need them. This is where
                                     file folder—it can be filled with notes, scraps, cut-      the search function comes in handy: not only
                                     outs, pictures, and more. In this case, of course,         can you search through text, you can also do so
                                     these “scraps” of information are all digital. You         in images (or rather the text that may be in
                                     can quickly skip from one Notebook to another by           images) as well. This works in the same way OCR
                                     clicking on the tabs at the left of the interface.         does, and tries to recognise characters in
                                          On the right you will find a list of “Pages”,         images. So if you have scanned business cards,
                                     which, again, exactly as the name suggests, are            just pop them into your Notebook called Con-
                                                                 digital versions of            tacts (for the current project) and then just
          OneNote On The Move                                    pages in a notebook.           search for names when you need them.
                                                                 One you’ve filled up a             When you add documents into your Notebook,
                                                                 page, you can just add         you’re asked whether you want to include a link,
     I f you own a PocketPC or Windows Mobile device, you
       can jot down and save notes into them and
     synchronise them later with your desktop/laptop.
                                                                 another one and con-
                                                                 tinue with your notes.
                                                                                                a copy or a “printout,” which is nothing but an
                                                                                                image of the print preview of the document.
     There’s no additional software to buy or download           Of course, you don’t               Because OneNote integrates seamlessly with
     either—all you have to do is go to Tools > Options >        have to wait for a page        Outlook as well, if there’s a mail that relates to the
     OneNote Mobile > Install OneNote Mobile after you’ve        to be filled before you        project that your Notebook is organising, just drag
     connected your device to your PC. This will install         move on to another,            it into OneNote. You can also set Outlook tasks
     OneNote mobile to your phone, and now you can take          because if you really          from within OneNote, all you have to do is click
     notes wherever you go.                                      want to be organised,          on the Tasks button or go to Insert > Outlook Task.

64       DIGIT MARCH 2007
                                                                                                              Digital Tools l Enhance
    Apart from all these basics, which you should
have no problem figuring out yourself, you should         Because OneNote
know that OneNote will also let you record audio          integrates
and video notes with the help of a microphone             seamlessly with
and webcam. Just start recording by right-clicking        Outlook as well,
on the OneNote icon in the task bar and choosing          if there’s a mail
Start Recording Audio (or Video).
    You can find such audio/video clips easily by         that relates to
searching for “video recording started” or “audio         the project that
recording started”, which is the text that’s added        your Notebook is
by default when you record an audio/video note.           organising, just
    If you’re not really sure of where to put a           drag it into
thought, or if you haven’t yet made a Notebook for                                    Take screen clippings from any application, or even of your
a project, but there’s something you need to              OneNote                     desktop by pressing [Windows] + [S]
record right away... all you need to do is press [Win-
dows] + [N], and a Side Note popup called “Unti-                                      on one of them and then create it. When you
tled Page...” is seen. Add your note here and then                                    want to synchronise, just go to File > Sync and all
close it. It is automatically saved in the Unfiled                                    computers are updated.
Notes section of OneNote, which is just below your                                        You can build you own little Web site inside
other Notebooks. You can always categorise it later.                                  OneNote by using hyperlinks to point to other
                                                                                      Notebooks, pages within a Notebook, Web URLs…
The Coolest Ones                                                                      anything! One interesting feature is that you can
OneNote 2007 adds a lot of functionality for col-                                     make text on one page into a hyperlink which
laboration and teamwork, because no project is a                                      points to another page, just select the text, right-
one-man-show. When creating your Notebook,                                            click and choose the “Create Linked Page” option.
just select one of the Shared Notebook templates,                                         When it comes to making tables or creating
or just choose Blank Notebook. When you click                                         shapes, easy-to-use toolbars will make your life
Next, you will see the options “I will use it on this                                 easier. One notable upgrade to the 2003 version
computer”, “I will use it on multiple computers”,                                     is the fact that the Lasso tool has been included.
and “Multiple people will share this notebook”.                                       Though this is another feature meant for Tablet
Select the last option, and if you have a central                                     PC users, the Lasso tool is quite handy for those
file server that everyone in your team can access,                                    of us who use mice instead. Very often you will
choose the “On a server (SharePoint document                                          find your pages in your notebook quite cluttered
library, network share, or other shared location)”,                                   with different notes (images, URLs, text, etc.).
and specify the path to the folder on the server                                      Instead of trying to select shapes or notes by
you wish to store this document on. If there’s no                                     clicking away to glory, you can use the Lasso tool
file server facility, just select “In a shared folder on                              to draw a selection around them, and then move
this computer”. OneNote will automatically share                                      them around as you please.
the folder that the document resides in.
     However, it is wise to make the share a dollar                                   Privacy
share if you’re going to be giving both read and                                      Very often you might find yourself using
write permissions, to protect your computer                                           OneNote alone—no team, no projects, no bosses—
against viruses and the like. In both these steps,                                    just you trying to get your life in order. You may
you get an option to create an e-mail to inform the                                   want to store that joke you liked, or that ridicu-
rest of the team about the location of these files.                                   lous, raunchy forwarded picture that’s doing the
     Instead of everyone working on one file,                                         rounds, and you can’t have your boss see these
OneNote creates a local copy for all the people                                       things of course, not even by mistake. All you
sharing the file and then keeps updating the                                          have to do to prevent this is to password-protect
changes people have made. What this means is                                          your Notebook, or just a section of it. All you have
that when out of office, team members will still                                      to do is select the section, then go to File > Pass-
have access to the Notebook, and changes will                                         word Protect this Section.
be updated when they’re back at work. VPNs                                                If you were worried about storing sensitive
and accessibility to mobile Internet means that                                       data or valuable data such as credit card num-
you can hook up a laptop from virtually any-                                          bers, banking pins, etc., you don’t need to any
where you are, and your Notebook can be set                                           more. OneNote features 3DES encryption, which
up to be updated online as well.                                                      is pretty much uncrackable. Just make sure your
     If you have multiple                                                             password is strong, because 3DES or not, setting
computers (most com-                                                                  your date of birth or your significant other’s pet
monly a desktop and a                OneNote And Math                                 name as the password is just plain silly!
laptop), you can get
OneNote to synchronise
your Notebooks to make        W        hat’s 8752347 divided by 876235? This
                                       article is being typed in Microsoft Word, so
                                 to find the answer we have to go to Start > Run,
                                                                                      Summing It Up
                                                                                      We’ve given you a very small overview of OneNote
sure all your computers                                                               and its capabilities, and there’s tons more to learn.
that you work on are type “calc”, enter the numbers again, and then                   When it comes to organising you life, nothing
always up-to-date. When find the answer. In OneNote, all you need to do is            we’ve seen before beats OneNote. It’s functional,
creating a Notebook, put an “equals” sign at the end of the phrase and                simple and powerful, which is the perfect combi-
select “I will use it on press [Spacebar]. You can even do some                       nation for success. Why keep a million sticky notes
multiple computers”, geometry—just type tan(15)= or sin(60), find                     when you can store it all in OneNote!
set a shared directory square roots, and much more.                                                            robert_smith@thinkdigit.com

                                                                                                                              MARCH 2007 DIGIT      65
                        Bazaar                                                                      We test the latest hardware
                                                                                                    and software products available
                                                                                                    in the market

     ASUS Striker
     Strike one for the boys in green

     B   ased on NVIDIA’s latest
         680i chipset, the Striker is
     ASUS’ premium offering. It is
                                        the ports. ASUS has gone the
                                        all-solid-capacitors way on
                                        this board, and the
     targeted at enthusiasts and        substantial-looking heatpipe
     hardcore gamers. The Striker       solution (which does a good                  Below                                            quality, at a
     impresses, with neat frills—       job) adds to the appeal the             is a look at                                  price of Rs 28,700,
     like the embedded blue             Striker exudes.                         the Striker’s                         the Striker is an expensive
     LEDs, and the illuminated               You could have a                   performance                          proposition. Although the
     On/Off, restart and CMOS           problem trying to install               compared to                          venerable nForce 680i
     reset buttons. The board is        large CPU heatsinks on this             Intel’s high-end 975X                chipset is a proven performer
     most at home inside a see-         board because the heatpipe              platform.                            now, there are much cheaper
     thru cabinet to be shown off       actually covers the CPU                 Despite the heavy feature set        options available for the
     at LAN parties and such.           region completely. All the              and the supreme build                platform.
         With all its six SATA          other
     ports facing outwards (as          connectors are                                                               Specifications
                                                                         The Striker and the Competition
     opposed to upwards), even a        very well laid                                                               nForce 680i chipset; LGA 775
     large graphics card won’t          out. A 7.1                                                           10649   Socket; supports Core 2 Duo
                                                           3D Mark 2005 (CPU
     hamper the functionality of        soundcard               Score)
                                                                                                            10562    and quad-core processors; six
                                        (PCIe x1                                                                     SATA 2.0 ports; rear-panel LCD
      RATINGS                                                                                5922
                                        interface) is        3D Mark 2005                   5883
                                                                                                                     POST readout
                                        provided,              Memory
      Performance
      Features                          which is                                                  7530               Contact: ASUSTeK Computer
                                                             3D Mark 2005
      Build Quality                     necessary                CPU
                                                                                                  7506               Phone: 022-40058923
      Value for Money                   considering                                                                  E-mail: media_india@asus.com
      Overall
                                        the packed-to-                       0    2000 4000 6000 8000 10000 12000    Web site: www.asus.com
                                                                                ASUS Striker        Intel D975XBX
                                        the-gills PCB.                                                               Price: Rs. 28,700


     Western Digital My Book Pro Edition II
     The terabyte era has begun!

     W     estern Digital sent us
           something we’ve never
     seen, a humongous external
                                        configured so that you can
                                        either choose RAID
                                        mirroring for extra data
                                                                                   The bundled Retrospect
                                                                               Express 6.1 backup software
                                                                               can handle all common
     drive with—hold your               protection or RAID striping            data backup tasks such as
     breaths—1 TB (1,000 GB)            for speed and performance.             synchronising, incremental,
     capacity. That much space is       RAID configuration is                  etc. You can schedule these
     enough to store 75 hours of        easy with WD’s intuitive               tasks, and it can even do a
     DV video, 120 hours of HD          RAID Wizard.                           complete restore of your
     content, 400 hours of DVD or           The My Book sports a               system if things go terribly
     2,00,000 MP3 songs.                triple interface: USB 2.0,             wrong. A convection-cooling
         This sturdily constructed      FireWire 400, and also the             system driven by a
     drive has the looks of an          ultra-fast FireWire 800,               thermostatically-controlled           Specifications
     extra-large reference book.        which has a throughput of              fan keeps the setup cool.             1 TB; 2xWD5000KS 7,200 rpm
     The drive has a push-button        800 MBps. The design of the            The My Book happens to be             HDD; latency: 4.2 ms; read seek
     on one side, which lets you        drive is such that you can             quite bulky, weighing in at           time: 8.9 ms; interfaces: USB
     take a one-touch backup of         stack more such drives in a            1.93 kg.                              2.0, FireWire 400, and FireWire
     your data in conjunction           daisy-chain.                               Even though it’s 1 TB, the        800; cables: USB 2.0, IEEE
     with the provided                      Drive performance,                 Rs 27,450 price tag will take         1394a/b; Dantz Retrospect
     Retrospect backup software.        though not the best, was               a toll on your bank balance.          Express 6.1 backup software;
     The button also serves as a        very good—as we had                                                          HxDxW: 174.6 mm x 159.3 mm x
     capacity gauge.                    expected. It took just about            RATINGS                              104 mm; weight: 1.93 kg
         The My Book Pro appears        45 seconds to transfer a 1 GB           Performance
     larger than an average             sequential file to the drive            Features                             Contact: Mediaman Infotech
     external drive because             and 34 to copy it back.                 Build Quality                        Phone: 022-23823100
     inside are two WD 5000KS           Copying a GB to and fro                 Value for Money
                                                                                                                     E-mail: santosh@mediamangroup.com
     7200 rpm hard drives, 500          simultaneously took just                                                     Web site: www.wdc.com
                                                                                Overall
     GB each. These drives are          over a minute and a half.                                                    Price: Rs. 27,450

66   DIGIT FEBRUARY 2007
XFX 7600GT Fatal1ty Edition                                        same core. F.E.A.R. brings up    line; nor was it intended to
A non-fatal force!                                                 85 fps at maximum settings       be even in its heyday.
                                                                   with a resolution of 1024 x          At Rs 11,500, XFX’s

S   o Jonathan “Fatal1ty”
    Wendell gets his
nickname endorsed by yet
                                  to the reverse of the card;
                                  ditto the heatpipes. What’s
                                  good is the heatpipes are not
                                                                   768. This makes the 7600GT
                                                                   a very decent solution for
                                                                   current-generation games at
                                                                                                    Fatal1ty Edition will provide
                                                                                                    any PC with some perky
                                                                                                    multimedia performance
another gaming brand. XFX         glued to the heatsink.           toned-down settings.             while not adding to system
joins Creative, Abit, and         Rather, they’re soldered,            Once the resolution and      noise. Gamers will look
Zalman in this respect.           which aids                       settings were cranked up, we     elsewhere, as the G73 is an
     The XFX 7600GT Fatal1ty                                         found the 7600GT Fatal1ty      outdated core. For all other
Edition is seriously more                                                wanting; but then          NVIDIA, fans the DirectX 10
than just another G73                                                        again, the G73         replacements to the 7600GT
wannabe. It sports a                                                             isn’t exactly      (GeForce 8600 and 8300) are
completely fanless design,                                                            top-of-the-   already close to seeing
opting instead for a silent                                                                         Indian shores. Irrespective of
albeit bulkier heatpipe-                                                                            your needs, we suggest
heatsink design. The                                                                                holding your horses, umm,
memory is cooled by discrete                                                                        wallets a bit longer and look
metal strips that have                                                                              at the way things play out.
nothing to do with the
heatpipe solution which           thermal                                                           Specifications
evidently only cools the GPU.     dissipation.                                                      core: G73 core @ 560 MHz;
     As expected, the solution        We tested the                                                 memory: 256 MB GDDR3 @
is decidedly bulky, cooling a     7600GT with a more than          RATINGS                          1400 MHz; dual DVI outs
core like the G73 (basically a    modest Core 2 Duo X6800          Performance
stripped down version of          with 2 GB of DDR2 800 MHz        Features                         Contact: : Rashi Peripherals Pvt Ltd
NVIDIA’s formidable               memory. The XFX 7600GT           Build Quality                    Phone: 022-67090909
7900GTX a.k.a. the G70            brings up 7041 3D2005                                             E-mail: divya@rptechindia.com
                                                                   Value for Money
chipset). Part of the radiator-   Marks, about on par with                                          Web site: www.xfxforce.com
                                                                   Overall
looking cooling fins extend       other cards based on the                                          Price: Rs. 11,500


Creative Zen V Plus                                                         are transcoded to       friendliness on offer, the
                                                                             the Zen’s              Zen V Plus is one attractive
Audio: hot; Video: not                                                       proprietary format;    package. We don’t think the
                                                                   however, the resolution at       lack of good video playback

F   lash-based, small and
    feature-rich—that’s the
Zen V Plus. The trendy
                                  syncs with WMP
                                  10 and above to
                                  transfer
                                                                   128 x 96 @ 12 fps doesn’t
                                                                   really cut it. Audio quality
                                                                     is the Zen V Plus’ forte. It
                                                                                                    should matter; think of it as
                                                                                                    an added feature. Creative
                                                                                                    has other products in their
colour combination adds to        music                                delivers rich highs and      portfolio that handle video
its appeal. The 1 GB Zen V        and                                  decent vocals. Bass is       very well indeed. If you
Plus is available in black or     videos.                             good, but not deep            want a great-sounding,
white with orange                                                     enough to be classified as    feature-rich MP3 player
highlights; the 2 GB model                                            excellent. On the default     that’s on par with the iPod
has green highlights, and                                             headphones, the Zen V         nano but much smaller, the
the 4 GB version comes                                                Plus sounds similar to the    Creative Zen V Plus is the
with blue accents—ditto the                                           iPod nano. Actually, the      way to go.
8 GB version.                                                         right set of phones will
     The device is well-built                                         allow you to experience       Specifications
and feels very sturdy. The                                             the full output range the    Dimensions (WxLxD): 43.5 x 67.5
controls are easily                                                        device is capable of—    x 15.9 mm; 43.5 g; screen: 1.5
accessible and the buttons                                                  we attest to this!      inches (128x128 pixels); 1/2/4/8
well-placed; opinions                                                           With the feature    GB; MP3/WMA/WAV; Line-in MP3
differed about the joystick.                                              set and user-             recording; JPEG support;
FM radio and video                    It supports MP3, WAV,                                         transcodes video; embedded
playback round off the            and WMA audio formats.           RATINGS                          Li-Ion battery
features list. The Zen V Plus     Then there’s the excellent       Performance
interfaces with you via a         line-in recording feature that   Features                         Contact: Creative Technology Ltd
bright, 1.5-inch, 128 x 128       allows you to record to MP3      Build Quality
                                                                                                    Phone: 9821455590
OLED screen.                      at 128 or 160 kbps.                                               E-mail: irfan@ctl.creative.com
                                                                   Value for Money
     A good software bundle           Videos such as those in                                       Web site: www.creative.com
comes along, and the device       the DivX and AVI formats         Overall                          Price: Rs. 7,499 (1 GB)



                                                                                                                    MARCH 2007 DIGIT       67
     Digital Tools l Bazaar

     LG Super Multi GSA-E10L                                                                           that there’s no one-touch
                                                                                                       backup functionality. The
     Speedy backups!                                                                                    price is a bit high, but then,
                                                                                                            external drives have

     L  G’s latest external DVD-
        Writer, the Super Multi
     GSA-E10L, has all the
                                     professionals and
                                     enthusiasts will
                                     love this drive
                                                                                                                 always been more
                                                                                                                      expensive than
                                                                                                                         internal ones.
     features you’d expect in its    because of its ability                                                             If you’re in
     internal counterparts. The      to write to DVD-RAM at                                                             the market
     drive is housed in a            a very speedy 12X. You can                                                         for an
     ruggedly-constructed silver     even drag and drop data to                                                        external DVD-
     and black polymer casing,       a DVD-RAM as conveniently                                                     Writer, this is the
     and seems strong enough to      as to a hard drive without                                              drive for you!
     withstand rough usage. It       the need for special               DVD
     looks decent, weighs just       software. The drive is             authoring                      Specifications
     1.26 kg, and can be carried     LightScribe-enabled.               software)                      Writing: DVD±R: 16x, DVD+RW:
     around easily.                      The interface is USB 2.0.      and PowerDVD for DVD           8x, DVD-RW: 6x, DVD+R DL:
         If you’ve got a lot of      The drive performed on par         playback.                      10x, DVD-R DL: 6x, DVD-RAM:
     Hollywood DVDs and are          with its internal                      You can adapt the drive    12x, CD-R: 48x, CD-RW: 32x;
     worrying about how to back      counterparts. It could write       to newer media by updating     Reading: DVD-ROM: 16x, CD-
     them up, forget lossy           4.5 GB on both the                 its write strategy via         ROM: 48x; buffer: 2 MB;
     compression techniques!         sequential as well as the          firmware upgrades from the     LightScribe; USB 2.0;
     The Super Multi lets you        assorted DVDs in less than         Internet. One negative is      dimensions: 163.2 mm (W) x 54
     back up uncompressed 8.5        6 minutes, while a 700 MB                                         mm (H) x 230 mm (D); weight:
     GB dual-layer DVDs to dual-     assorted CD-R took around           RATINGS                       1.26 kg
     layer media at speeds as        3 minutes.                          Performance
     high as 10x!                        The drive comes with an         Features                      Contact: LG Electronics India Pvt Ltd
         With 16x speeds for         impressive software                 Build Quality                 Phone: 0120-2560900
     DVD±R, it is one of the         bundle—Nero Burning ROM                                           E-mail: arastogi@lgindia.com
                                                                         Value for Money
     fastest external DVD-Writers    in addition to CyberLink’s                                        Website: www.lgezbuy.com
                                                                         Overall
     available. Video editing        PowerProducer (a premium                                          Price: Rs. 6,320


     APC Mobile Power Pack UPB-10                                       ATEN CS-62B KVM
     Intelligent design                                                 Switching made easy

     T   he APC Mobile Power Pack
         (MPP) acts as a battery
     pack for charging mobile
                                                                        I f you’re an adminis-
                                                                          trator with more than
                                                                        one PC—say one running
     devices that have a USB con-                                       Linux and the other,
     nector. When your battery’s                                        Windows—or if you’re an                                   con-
     low, simply connect it to the                                      enthusiast with multiple                              nect to
     MPP to charge it!                                                  PCs, a device called the KVM                      the respec-
          The only button on the                                        switch (Keyboard, Video and                   tive PCs. The
     pocket-sized thing is used to                                      Mouse) helps avoid the         audio jack connects to the
     show the remaining charge,                                         duplication of keyboard,       audio line-out and mic-in
     represented by four white                                          monitor and mouse. That’s      ports on each PC.
     LEDs that light up according        Coming with a price tag        what the ATEN CS-62B                We tried this with a
     to the charge left on the       of Rs 3,898, we can say it’s       brings you. The idea is to     Windows and a Linux
     unit. The UPB took about        well worth it if you travel a      plug the existing devices      machine, and we liked the
     three hours to charge fully—    lot and power outlets are          into the respective ports on   instant switching between
     which is decent.                hard to come by.                   the CS-62B and attach the      machines. The ATEN CS-62B
          The UPB has two USB                                           two PCs to the box via the     is a cool addition to your
     connectors, so you can con-     Specifications                     ten 6-foot-long tentacles.     arsenal of tools—if you need
     nect one to either the AC-to-   Dimensions: 100 x 65 x 13.7            The CS-62B has two         it, that is.
     USB adapter or to a laptop to   mm; weight: 105 gm; 10 Whr         pairs of connectors, con-
     leech power from. You con-      capacity; 8 W maximum contin-      sisting of one D-sub con-      Specifications
     nect the other to a mobile      uous power; 10 W peak power        nector, two PS/2 connectors,   Two-PC connectivity; two PS/2
     device to charge it.            (short duration); four white       and two audio jacks. These     connectors; two D-SUB connec-
                                     LEDs for capacity indication;                                     tors; four mini stereo audio
      RATINGS                        factory-specified charge time:      RATINGS                       jacks; two LED indicators;
      Features                       3.5 hours                           Performance                   hotkey switching
      Ease of Use                                                        Features
                                     Contact: APC                                                      Contact: : Cubix Micro Systems
      Build Quality                                                      Ease of use
                                     Phone: 1800 4254 272                                              Phone: 020-24251594
      Value for Money                                                    Value for Money
                                     E-mail: shreya.choudhary@apc.com                                  E-mail: sales@cubixindia.com
      Overall                        Price: Rs. 3,898                    Overall                       Price: Rs. 2,750 + Taxes

68   DIGIT FEBRUARY 2007
     Digital Tools l Bazaar
                                                                                                          convert flat lines into
     Adobe Acrobat 8 Professional                                                                         live form fields ready to
                                                                                                         accept data. This brings
     One step closer to the paperless office                                                             you one step closer to
                                                                                                         the paperless office.

     A   crobat 8 Professional
         was recently released,
     and we received a copy for
                                     Office 2007—but not to
                                     worry; things have
                                     only gotten easier.
                                                                                                             Acrobat 8 integrates
                                                                                                        well with MS Office 2000
                                                                                                        to 2003, though it did not
     review. The platform-               Acrobat 8 lets you                                            integrate with Office 2007
     independent PDF needs no        combine different                                                 on our test PC. At $499, it’s
     introduction: it is the most    document formats                                                  the price that’s the pain. If
     popular and versatile           such as PDFs,                                                     creating PDFs is what you
     document format for             spreadsheets, Word                                               need, there are free
     registration forms,             documents, images,                                               programs for the purpose;
     manuals, e-books, reports,      reports, etc. into a                                             it’s the security and data-
     brochures… but what do          single PDF, something                                           sharing facilities in Acrobat
     you get for the $499            the older versions                                              8 that can prove to be of
     (Rs 22,500) price?              couldn’t do. There is                                           immense value for some.
         For starters (literally),   tighter control over
     the Getting Started screen      redactions, giving                                               RATINGS
     makes things easy. The          top-secret                                                      Performance
     Start Meeting and Review &      documents                                                       Features
     Comment button opens            enhanced security:                                              Ease of Use
     Adobe Connect, a                sensitive text is                 Finally, one can              Value for Money
     replacement for                 permanently blacked out.       download and fill in PDF         Overall
     Macromedia Breeze for           This is an improvement;        forms electronically and
     hosting virtual meetings        with previous versions, text   fax them. If someone mails
     and collaborations. What        blacked out in Microsoft       you a PDF invitation or          Contact: Adobe Systems Ind P Ltd
     strikes the eye is the          Word was revealed when         questionnaire and it             Phone: 0120-2444711
     revamped interface,             converted to PDF. What’s       doesn’t contain standard         E-mail: prsingh@adobe.com
     something as revolutionary      more, you can even erase       form fields, Acrobat 8           Website: www.adobe.com
     as what Microsoft did with      search keywords.               Professional can detect and      Price: Rs. 25,000


     WinOrganizer 4.0                                               TuneUp Utilities 2007
     All neat and tidy                                              Towards a slick ‘n’ fast XP

     H    ere’s a personal
          information
     manager that not
                                                                    A    fter a few months of use,
                                                                         XP has this habit of
                                                                    slowing down and cluttering
                                                                                                     The crash-preventing
                                                                                                     MemOptimizer, a deleted file
                                                                                                     recovery tool, a file shredder,
     only manages con-                                              up your hard drive with use-     and an uninstall utility com-
     tacts, appointments,                                           less files. TuneUp Utilities     plete the toolset. The “Styler”
     tasks, and notes, but                                          2007 steps in and makes life     tool tweaks Windows’
     can also store your                                            easier for you by get-
     passwords.                                                     ting XP back on track.
         The two-pane                                                   The program has
     interface is easy to                                           several powerful and
     grasp, and the tree-                                           well-designed utilities
     like folder structure                                          that can access the
     makes accessing the main        and there is also the provi-   Windows maintenance
     modules (Contacts, Events,      sion to assign user-level      toolset in a fast, organ-
     Notes, Passwords, and           security.                      ised, easy-to-use, mod-
     Tasks) very easy. You can           Weaknesses: to import      ular interface.
     achieve most tasks via a        Outlook contacts, you first        One-click optimisa-
     right-click. You can also       need to export them to         tion makes managing tempo-       appearance, the Scheduler
     add and rearrange folders       CSV format. To sync with a     rary files and cleaning the      automates maintenance
     and organize them as you        Pocket PC, you need to         Registry and unwanted            tasks. In case of an errant
     deem fit. Documents and         shell out an extra $20         startup programs easy. There     program installer, use the
     folders can be secured by       (Rs 900) for the plugin, and   is a variety of Internet and     RescueCenter to restore all
     password-protecting them,       there is no provision to       Windows acceleration tools.      changes at once or one-by-
                                     sync with a Palm PDA—a                                          one. The system-analyzing
      RATINGS                        big letdown! WinOrganizer       RATINGS                         Wizard generates thorough
      Performance                    4.0 costs $55 (Rs 2,500), a     Performance                     reports and upgrade sugges-
      Features                       bit expensive for a PIM.        Features                        tions. Highly recommended!
      Ease of use                                                    Ease of use
                                     Contact: : TGS Labs                                             Contact: : TuneUp Software
      Value for Money                                                Value for Money
                                     Web site: www.tgslabs.com                                       Web site: www.tune-up.com
      Overall                                                        Overall
                                     Price: Rs. $55 (Rs 2,500)                                       Price: Rs. $39.99 (Rs 1,800)

70   DIGIT MARCH 2007
Digital Tools l Laser Printers

                                       Laser Printers
 Continuing from last month’s mono laser test, here are the ones that lie in the mid-range

                                                                                              density of toner being deposited on the
Xerox Phaser 3120                                  Installation was a breeze; the toner       paper. Thus, some banding occured in
Vanilla anyone?                                cartridge slides down in position with-        the greyscale test.
                                               out any problems. Driver installation              The toner cartridge is rated to deliver

T   he Xerox Phaser 3120 is a typical,
    vanilla design laser printer box that
better suits the back office.
                                               took five minutes; the driver interface is
                                               nothing fancy—simple to understand
                                               and functional. Auto duplexing doesn’t
                                                                                              3500 pages and costs Rs 6,400, giving us
                                                                                              an indicative cost per page of Rs 1.83—
                                                                                              expensive. Xerox does provide an option
    Touted as a personal or small work-              make it to this printer, but a man-      to upgrade to a higher yield cartridge
group laser, this machine                                 ual option exists.                  rated to deliver 5000 pages.
doesn’t boast of cutting                                          Xerox claims a 22 PPM           The Xerox Phaser 3120 has an MRP of
edge features. There is only                                      speed; we got around        Rs 17,000—expensive; we suggest you
one button on the printer                                          18 PPM, which isn’t        skip this printer.
and two indicators for indi-                                       that bad. The first
cating paper jam and                                               page takes around 11       Specifications
online/offline. The Phaser                                         seconds to print and       22 PPM, 166 MHz processor, buffer memory
3120 connects to a PC via                                           that’s what most          32 MB upgradeable to 144 MB, 600 dpi
either USB or parallel inter-                                        laser printers in this   resolution, USB & parallel interface and
face; you have to opt (pay extra)                                  class deliver. Our         250 sheets output tray.
for the network interface.                                     combi-document took 22
    The printer comes with a standard                     seconds to print, which isn’t       Price: Rs 17,000
250-sheet input paper tray and a 150-          quite up to the mark. In contrast, the
sheet output tray. An optional paper tray      photo-target image took 23 seconds to           RATINGS
is available to augment the paper capac-       complete despite its complexity. Of             Features
ity by another 250 sheets—good enough          course, the combi-document is 35 MB in          Print Speed
for a small work group. The manual feed-       size and any heavy file will take longer to     Print Quality
er has a capacity of 50 sheets, and that’s     print on this printer.                          Value for money
much better than the sheet feeders most            Prints lack vibrancy and look dull,         Overall
lasers have today.                             and the problem seems to be a low


HP LaserJet 1022n                              rich. Installing the printer over the net-
                                               work didn’t take much effort—the driv-
                                                                                                 At 2000 pages per cartridge, at Rs
                                                                                               2950, the cost per page is Rs 1.48.
Good for small loads                           er detected the network                                The LaserJet 1022n is priced at

T    he LaserJet 1022n is a networked ver-
     sion of the base model LJ-1022 and is
aimed at those looking for a network
                                               printer immediate-
                                               ly.    The
                                               administration
                                                              Web
                                                                                                      Rs 15,999—good value for money
                                                                                                        considering its performance,
                                                                                                         above average quality and the
printer for a small workgroups. The            panel is very con-                                         network option. Overall, a
design is refreshing, and should fit the       figurable       and                                        good laser printer for small
décor of any modern office.                    gives greater con-                                         workgroups with light print-
    The LJ-1022n sports a vertical profile     trol over the print-                                       ing loads.
design that uses less desk space. This         er. Anyone with
design looks great, but the paper tray         moderate technical                                              Specifications
juts out of the body. Also, the translu-       skills can setup this                                        18 PPM, 266 MHz processor, 8
cent flap sits over the input paper tray       printer on a network.                                 MB memory, 250 Sheet input tray,
and a mere push unsettles it.                      The LJ-1022n fell short of the              150 sheet output tray, USB 2.0 and HP
    The front panel on the LJ-1022n has        claimed 18 PPM by just a page. The first       JetDirect Printer server.
two buttons and three LEDs to indicate         page takes 8 seconds to print. The combi-
various errors. This printer comes with a      document took 8 and 9 seconds respec-          Price: Rs 15,999
250-sheet input tray with no option to         tively for normal and best settings. The
increase the paper capacity via addition-      photo file was printed in 9 seconds.            RATINGS
al trays. The 150-sheet output tray is             Quality was crisp and dark. Finer           Features
quite flimsy. The LJ-1022n has both a USB      details were reproduced exactly and             Print Speed
as well as a network interface.                reversed text was completely legible.
                                                                                               Print Quality
    Installing the printer was as simple       Some banding was seen in the grey scale
as it gets. The driver interface is neat and   gradation test, but text was reproduced         Value for money
clean, simple to understand and feature        without any spread or jaggedness.               Overall
                                                                                             Digital Tools l Laser Printers

HP LaserJet P2015D                                HP claims a speed of 26 PPM, but
Great quality, low memory                     we got 23 PPM—not bad at all. HP
                                              claimed a first print in 8 seconds,

T   he LaserJet P2015D is HP’s solution
    for high speed printing in medium-
sized workgroups. We received the non-
                                              and they were right. The 35 MB
                                              combi-document took 14 seconds to
                                              print; because the printer has only 32
networked version of the 2015D.               MB of memory. The photo-target disc
     The printer is designed beautifully      took 17 seconds to print—slow. This
and exudes style. It uses less desk space     printer only delivers speed when the
than older models with similar specs.         prints are pure text or documents with
     The front panel has two buttons          low quality graphics.
and a line of six LED indicators—pretty           The print quality is exceptionally
useful for quick error diagnosis. The         good. Toner density was perfect,
printer comes with a deep 250-sheet           spread was minimal and text
paper cassette and the capacity can be        appeared sharp. Fine details were
augmented to 500 sheets via an option-        well reproduced and graininess was          Specifications
al paper cassette. The output tray can        absent even at the base resolution of       26 PPM, 400 MHz processor, 32 MB mem-
hold 150 sheets, and the manual feed          600 dpi. Graphics are not a laser’s         ory (max), 600 dpi, 250 sheet input tray,
another 50 sheets. If you opt for the ver-    forte and like all other laser printers,    150 sheet output bin, duplexer unit and
sion with a duplexer unit, you can save       the P2015D gives acceptable image           USB interface.
a lot of paper by printing on both sides.     printouts.
     If you want networking, you have to          The cartridge is rated to deliver       Price: Rs 17,499
get the P2015n version, as the one we         2000 pages and it retails for Rs 3,265—
got only featured USB. Installation was       approximate cost per page of Rs 1.63,        RATINGS
simple and the driver CD had a Flash-         which is expensive. At a price of Rs         Features
based tutorial which will help anyone         17,499; we felt it should have had an        Print Speed
set it up. HP also provides a suite called    Ethernet connection and a duplexing          Print Quality
as the FX tool box—an application to          unit. Still, it’s a good buy for its good    Value for money
diagnose, maintain and administer any         quality and just about acceptable cost
                                                                                           Overall
HP printer.                                   per page.


                                              Web server provides                                 The cartridge is rated to deliver
Samsung ML-2571N                              extensive     and                                 3000 pages at Rs 3,800, thus the
Affordable with good quality                  easy      control                                  cost per page works out to Rs 1.27—
                                              over the device.                                   superb. The printer is attractively

S  amsung’s ML-2571N is an entry level
   network laser printer. Though the
design is simple and dated, this milky
                                                  The Samsung
                                              ML-2571N deliv-
                                              ered 19 PPM—
                                                                                                 priced at Rs.13,000—quite afford-
                                                                                                 able and definitely a good buy.
                                                                                                       Overall, great value for
white printer is compact. The vertical        claimed 22 PPM—                                        money considering its reason-
profile design requires less desk space       which is quite fast.                                   able price, solid feature bundle
and the paper trays fold back to save         The heavy and complex                               and equally good performance.
more space when the printer is not in         combi-document page took                       The running cost is also low, so any-
use. The tray design is very similar to       14 seconds to print—not the fastest.        one interested in a network laser for
that seen on the HP LJ-1022n.                 The complicated photo-target image file     light loads should consider this one.
    Being an entry-level printer, the         also took 14 seconds indicating that
Samsung ML-2571N is devoid of any             there is no lag in the print engine—it’s    Specifications
front control panel; it has one button for    the underlying electronics that are slow.   600 dpi print engine, 400 MHz processor,
cancel and two LED’s for indicating           Overall, the Samsung ML-2571N delivers      32 MB memory (max), 250 sheets paper
errors. The input paper tray can hold 250     prints at reasonably good speeds.           input tray, 150 sheets output, USB and
sheets; the output tray 150 sheets. A sin-        Print quality was as good as the HP     Ethernet interface.
gle-sheet manual feed is also present for     Laserjet 1022n, with occasional differ-
on-the-fly printing needs. The ML-2571N       ences cropping up. Toner density was        Price: Rs 13,999
isn’t equipped with a duplexer unit, but      perfect and text showed very little
manual duplexing is possible.                 spread. There was some banding in            RATINGS
    A high speed USB port and Ethernet        the grey scale gradation test, but it        Features
connection are available on the printer.      was within acceptable limits. The            Print Speed
Installation via USB was quick and sim-       Samsung ML-2571N deviates when it            Print Quality
ple, and when installing as a network         comes to images—contrast is a prob-          Value for money
printer, it was easily detected and a prop-   lem and in darker areas too much
                                                                                           Overall
er IP was automatically assigned. The         toner ruins the details.
Digital Tools l Laser Printers

Brother HL-5240                               interface is plain but it has all the           The toner cartridge is priced at Rs
Great print speeds, low memory                required features. If you want advanced      4,590 and is rated to deliver 7000
                                              settings, you will need to look                      pages, thus the approximate

T    he HL-5240 from Brother is a mid-
     range laser printer oriented towards
a medium sized work group. This 28
                                              around, though.
                                                   Brother
                                              claims a 28
                                                                                                        cost per page works out
                                                                                                             to just Rs 0.6—excel-
                                                                                                               lent. If you have a
PPM laser printer looks mean thanks           PPM speed and                                                    team of around
largely to its robust looking design.         it delivered 25                                                  eight, and don’t
     The front panel controls consist of      PPM—excellent.                                                   mind the absence
two buttons and many LED’s for indicat-       The combi-docu-                                                  of the network
ing common laser printer errors—out of        ment took 16 sec-                                                option, the HL-
paper, paper jam, toner empty, etc. The       onds to print,                                                  5240 is a good buy,
250-sheet paper cassette is huge and fits     since the printer                                               thanks to its very
flush with the body; paper capacity can       has only 16 MB mem-                                             low cost per page.
be augmented to a massive 800 sheets.         ory by default. When we
The output paper bin holds up to 150          tried printing the photo-tar-                 Specifications
sheets. The manual feeder has a capacity      get disc image file at full resolu-          600 dpi print engine, 266 MHz processor, 16
to hold 50 sheets at a time—quite good.       tion (1200 dpi) it automatically reduced     MB memory upgradeable to 528 MB, 250
     The printer also supports the legacy     the resolution after claiming “memory        sheet paper cassette, 9.5 Kg weight, high
parallel port, apart from the now de-         not enough for full res printing.”           speed USB and Parallel interface.
facto USB; Ethernet is not available as an         Quality was as good as any other
option, which is strange considering its      printer; the toner density was perfect,      Price: 15,500
target audience.                              as was text sharpness and legibility.
     Installing the printer took no time at   Reversed text was printed well and            RATINGS
all; a Flash animation on the CD gives all    even two-point text was legible. In the       Features
the details on how to go about installing     grey scale gradation test, banding did        Print Speed
the printer. It even shows you how to         occur, but was within acceptable lim-         Print Quality
unpack the toner and prep it for usage.       its. Photographs were not striking, but       Value for money
For Linux drivers, the CD has a link to       then that’s not what this printer will
                                                                                            Overall
Brother’s driver repository. The driver       be used for.


Brother HL-5250DN                             and took very few minutes. However,               Quality has no issues: toner density
                                              when installing the printer on a net-        was perfect and spread was minimal.
Low running costs; fast printing              work, some technical expertise of net-       Image printouts weren’t striking, and

T   he Brother HL-5250DN comes from
    the same 52XX series and fixes the
shortcomings of its younger sibling the
                                              works is needed. Furthermore, the Web
                                              server, while quite extensive and granu-
                                              lar, isn’t easy to understand for a layman
                                                                                           the toner tends to saturate at darker
                                                                                           regions in an image.
                                                                                                The cartridge is rated to give 7000
HL-5240. The HL-5250 is the same as the                and isn’t polished enough. Once     prints and costs Rs 4590, bringing the
HL-5240, except with duplexing                               we got with installing the    approximate cost per page to Rs 0.6. The
and a network interface.                                           printer on network,     printer is priced at Rs 24,900 and consid-
    The HL-5250DN is                                                  however, we were     ering its extensive features, manageabil-
designed on similar                                                   thrilled at the      ity, good performance and low running
lines as the HL-5240 and                                              options available    cost the Brother HL-5250 is a good buy.
borrows all traits, good                                              for managing the
and bad. The printer is                                                printer.            Specifications
equipped with the stan-                                                    When it comes   600 dpi, 266 MHz CPU, 32 MB (upgradeable
dard 250 sheet paper cas-                                             to performance,      to 544 MB) RAM, 250-sheet paper cassette,
sette and the capacity can                                          the HL-5250DN is up    duplexing unit and Ethernet interface.
be augmented to 800 sheets via                              to mark. The claimed speed
optional paper trays. The manual feed               is 28 PPM and the printer delivered    Price: 24,900
has a 500 sheet capacity but that will be     26 PPM—very fast. It can print first page
hardly used if an optional tray is fitted.    in less than 9 seconds—that’s really fast     RATINGS
The auto duplexing unit works as              and comparable to the best printers           Features
expected and allows printing on both          around. The combi-document took 17            Print Speed
sides of the paper.                           seconds; the same lower memory and            Print Quality
    The HL-5250DN comes with USB, par-        complexity of the document seem to be         Value for money
allel as well as Ethernet interface.          the reasons. The photo-target image took
                                                                                            Overall
Installing the printer via USB was simple     22 seconds—slow, but acceptable.
      Digital Tools l A-List
      External Portable Hard                Linux                              Digital Cameras                     Graphics Cards (High-End)
      Drives                                SuSE Linux Enterprise              (High- End)                         NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTX
      Lacie Design by F.A. Porsche          Desktop 10.1                       Sony Cybershot W50                    Blistering-fast
      40 GB                                   Good software bundle               Excellent image quality,           Runs slightly hot
        Inexpensive, good                     A little resource-heavy            vibrant colours                     Contact Rashi Peripherals Pvt Ltd
                                                                                                                     Phone 022-67090810
        performance                                                               Trouble focusing in low light
                                              Contact Novell India                                                   E-mail navinderc
        Looks bland                                                              Contact Macro Photo
                                              Phone 022-28342244                                                             @rptechindia.com
                                                                                 Phone 022-22618639                  Price Rs 41,000 + taxes
         Contact Neoteric Infomatique         E-mail apanjwani@novell.com        E-mail macro.photo@gmail.com
                 Pvt Ltd                      Price Rs 2,650                     Price Rs 15,000
         Phone 022-39828600
         E-mail sales@neoteric.co.in
         Price Rs 5,250                     Internal DVD-Writers
                                            Lite-On LH-20A1P
                                              Fast performance, 20X
                                              writing to DVD+R and DVD-R
                                              None in particular
                                              Contact Mediatech India
                                                      Distribution Pvt Ltd
                                              Phone 022-26361111
      Internal SATA Hard Drive                E-mail digit@
      Seagate ST3750840AS                             mediatechindia.com
                                              Price Rs 2,095                   Digital Cameras                     Graphics Cards (Mid-Range)
        Huge 750 GB storage capacity                                           (Mid-range )                        XFX PV-T73G-UDL7
        Expensive                                                              Sony Cybershot DSC L1               (NVIDIA 7600GT)
         Contact eSys Distribution Pvt                                           Great image quality                 Great bundle and performance
                 Ltd                                                             Only 4 MP CCD                       None in particular
         Phone 011-41811694                                                      Contact Macro Photo                 Contact Rashi Peripherals Pvt Ltd
         E-mail msinghal@                                                        Phone 022-22618639                  Phone 022-67090810
                 esysmail.com                                                    E-mail macro.photo@gmail.com        E-mail navinderc
         Price Rs 23,500                                                         Price Rs 9,000                              @rptechindia.com
                                                                                                                     Price Rs 10,500



                                                                              The best products tested so far in different
              The A-List                                                      hardware and software categories

     2.1 Speaker Set                        Hard drive-based MP3              Processors                           Wi-Fi Access Points
     Altec Lansing ATP3                     Players                           Intel QX6700 Core 2 Extreme          Linksys WAP54G
       Great overall performance            Apple iPod 80 GB                    Extreme performance                  Great performance
       None in particular                                                       Expensive                            None in particular
                                                                                Contact Intel Corporation            Contact Ingram Micro India Pvt Ltd
       Contact Rashi Peripherals Pvt Ltd
                                                                                Phone 080-25075000                   Phone 9323112279
       Phone 022-67090909
                                                                                E-mail saranya.rustagi@intel.com     E-mail sunil.z@ingrammicro.co.in
       E-mail navinderc@
                                                                                Price Rs 52,000                      Price Rs 3,816
               rptechindia.com
       Price Rs 3,400

                                              Large capacity; great           Projectors
     5.1 Speaker Set                          fidelity                        Acer PD726W
     Artis S6600R/FM                          Expensive                         Great overall performance
       Good performance, Radio                                                  No remote sensor at rear
                                              Contact Apple Computer
       None in particular                             International Pvt Ltd      Contact Acer India Pvt Ltd
       Contact Kunhar Peripherals Pvt Ltd     Phone 09886039424                  Phone 9880544226
       Phone 022-66345758                     E-mail avinash_ramchandra@         E-mail alankar_s@acer.co.in
       E-mail mail@kunhar.com                                                    Price Rs 1,50,000
                                                      asia.apple.com
       Price Rs 8,500                         Price Rs 23,900

                                            LCD Monitors (17-inch)
                                            Samsung SyncMaster 740N                                                Wi-Fi Routers
                                              Crisp images and vibrant                                             ASUS WL-530G
                                              colours                                                                Very fast; well-priced
                                              None in particular                                                     None
                                              Contact Samsung India                                                  Contact ASUSTeK Computer Inc
                                                      Electronics Ltd                                                Phone 022-40058923
                                              Phone 011-41511234                                                     E-mail mamta_bhatia@asus.com
                                              E-mail subrotah.b                                                      Price Rs 4,400
                                                      @samsung.com
                                              Price Rs 11,500

76    DIGIT MARCH 2007
                                                                                                            Digital Tools l A-List
Motherboards                      Intel High-end Motherboards       Home Inkjet MFDs                     Keyboard-Mouse Combos
AMD AM2 Motherboards              Foxconn 975X7AB-8EKRS2H           HP Officejet 4355 All-in-One         Logitech MX-3200 Laser
ASUS Crosshair AM2                                                   Fax with handset, compact             Extremely feature-rich
                                   Inexpensive, good performer       Only sheetfed scanner                 Slightly expensive
 Great bundle and performance,     None in particular
                                                                      Contact HP India Sales Pvt Ltd       Contact Logitech Electronics
 accessories for the enthusiast    Contact Mediatech India            Phone 0124-2566111                           India Pvt Ltd
 None                                       Distribution Pvt Ltd      E-mail ashwini-k.aggarwal@hp.com     Phone 022-26571160
                                   Phone 022-26361111                 Price Rs 6,499                       E-mail response@logitech.com
 Contact ASUSTeK Computer Inc
                                   E-mail info@mediatechindia.com                                          Price Rs 6,995
 Phone 022-40058888
 E-mail media_india@asus.com       Price Rs 10,750
 Price Rs 15,400                                                    Office Inkjet MFDs
                                                                    HP Officejet 5610 All-in-One
                                                                     Good performance
                                                                     Expensive, No memory card
                                                                     support
                                                                      Contact HP India Sales Pvt Ltd
                                                                      Phone 0124-2566111
                                                                      E-mail ashwini-k.aggarwal@hp.com
                                                                      Price Rs 9,999

AMD 939 Motherboards              Intel Mid-range Motherboards                                           Mono Laser Printers
ASUS A8R MVP                      Gigabyte GA-965P-DQ6                                                   HP LaserJet 1020
                                                                                                          Good combination of speed,
 Good performance                   Good build quality and                                                print quality and warranty
 Skimpy bundle                      performance                                                           A bit slow in comparison to
                                    Expensive                                                             others
 Contact ASUSTeK Computer Inc
 Phone 022-40058888                 Contact GIGABYTE Technology                                            Contact Hewlett-Packard India
 E-mail media_india@asus.com                India Ltd                                                              Sales Pvt Ltd
 Price Rs 8,700                     Phone 022-26526696                                                     Phone 0124-2566111
                                    E-mail sales@gigabyte.in                                               E-mail kakuni.mahto@hp.com
                                    Price Rs 16,000                                                        Price Rs 6,999




Feature-rich Cell Phones          Flash Drives                       Mono Laser MFDs                     Thin And Light Laptops
Nokia N80                         Transcend JetFlash 150 1 GB        Samsung SCX-4521F                   Dell Inspiron 6400
 Brilliant screen; extremely        Fast                               Good performance and                Amazing performance
 feature-rich                       Poor package bundle                quality                             Looks gaudy
  Slightly bulky                                                       Low input tray capacity
                                    Contact Mediaman Infotech Pvt                                          Contact Dell India Pvt. Ltd.
  Contact Nokia
                                            Ltd.                       Contact Samsung India               Phone 080-25068026
  Phone 0124-5199000
                                    Phone 022-23828100                         Electronics Pvt Ltd         E-mail belgundi_indrajit@dell.com
  Website www.nokia.com
                                    E-mail santosh@                    Phone 011-26431313                  Price Rs 64,000
  Price Rs 21,000
                                            mediamangroup.com          E-mail vikram.negi@
                                    Price Rs 1,500                             samsung.com
                                                                       Price Rs 21,990                   Performance Laptops
                                  Mice                                                                   Sony VAIO AR18GP
                                  Logitech MX Revolution                                                   Mind boggling performance
                                    Has a flywheel                                                         Very expensive
                                    Expensive
                                                                                                           Contact Sony India
                                    Contact Logitech Electronic                                            Phone 022-28231558
                                            India Pvt Ltd                                                  E-mail sonyindia.care
                                    Phone 022-26571160                                                             @ap.sony.com
                                    E-mail response@logitech.com                                           Price Rs 1,99,900
                                    Price Rs 8,000                   PC Webcams
                                                                     Tech-Com SSD-641-MP
Budget Cell Phones                                                     Good image quality,
Nokia 6070                                                             inexpensive
  Great value for money                                                No software bundle,
  Poor-quality camera                                                  bad build quality

  Contact Nokia                                                        Contact Shree Sagarmatha Dist
  Phone 0124-5199000                                                           India Pvt Ltd
  Website www.nokia.com                                                Phone 011-26428541
  Price Rs 5,500                                                       E-mail contact@
                                                                               techcomin-india.com
                                                                       Price Rs 549

                                                                                                                       MARCH 2007 DIGIT        77

                                                                                                                                               77
     Digital Tools l Know More About
                                                                                      as Transmission Control Protocol

     Streaming Media                                                                  (TCP), User Datagram Protocol
                                                                                      (UDP), RTSP, and Real-time
                                                                                      Transport Protocol (RTP) are used.
                                                                                          TCP is “reliable”: data trans-
     What exactly happens when you play multimedia in your browser?                   mission happening via TCP is
                                                                                      not blocked, and every bit is
                                             QuickTime is installed on all Macs.      guaranteed to be transmitted.
     Samir Makwana                           Also, installation of Macromedia         However, UDP is efficient since
                                             Flash is required in most cases.         priority is given to continuous


     T
           he streaming experience has                                                streaming of data rather than re-
           improved over the years as        Types of Streaming                       transmission of lost packets. The
           our Internet connections          Streaming technology thus encom-         user can suffer streaming
     have gotten faster. Not everyone        passes media content, the stream-        glitches, but by error-correction
     understands that streaming actu-        ing server, plugins, and encoding        techniques, lost data can be
     ally depends on technologies and        software. Streaming is of two            recovered. UDP is widely used for
     protocols different from those used     types—progressive and real-time.         real-time streaming of audio,
     for viewing Web pages or for down-      During progressive streaming, the        video, and graphics files.
     loading files.                          media file can be viewed or                  RTSP and RTP are widely used
                                             listened to while the file is in being   for real-time media delivery over
     What Is Streaming?                      downloaded. In the case of data          the Internet. Through RSTP, the
     Streaming refers to the technique       loss, re-transmission of lost packets    user can communicate with the
     of continuous and steady digital        is possible. Media files streamed        streaming server; it is used for
     data (audio, video, or graphics)        using the progressive technique get      simple one-to-one streaming. The
     transfer as “packets” in real-time      saved on the viewer’s hard drive,        user also gets the preference of
     from a data server through the          which raises the problem of re-          device control—for viewing any
     Internet to a user’s computer.          distribution. HTTP streaming is a        part of the stream. This protocol
     Media files can played in a browser     type of progressive streaming            is a good performer for one-to-
     using an embedded plugin or in a        where the media file begins to play      one viewing and larger audi-
     media player. The smoothness of         before it is entirely downloaded. In     ences as well.
     the media stream depends upon           the case of HTTP streaming, a                This protocol is usually used for
     the speed of the connection. Multi-     request for data remains open even       streams via unicast (for transmis-
     ple versions in terms of quality        after the data is received by the        sion to a single client computer) or
     (high, medium, or low) can be           client, so that the server can           multicast (for transmission to
     made available for different            respond at any time.                     multiple client computers) servers.
     connection speeds. For slow                  In real-time streaming, media       Unicast is the term for when data is
     connections, glitches in frames and     content        gets     downloaded       transferred from one point to
     delayed or no audio will occur.         temporarily to the user’s computer.      another point, that is, one client
         A key factor is the compression     Almost-live broadcast of content is      and one server. Multicast is where
     method used for the media files so      possible. Content streamed real-         data is transferred from one or
     they can be streamed seamlessly.        time can adjust according to the         more points to multiple points.
     Due to compression, some data           user’s connection capacity; if the           RTP is used for transmitting
     quality is compromised through          connection is too slow, the trans-       live streams to multiple users, but
     perceptual encoding, that is, the       mission of data would break.             the users do not enjoy any sort of
     audio/video is stripped down in              Media streams can also be           control like selective play of the
     such a way that the changes cannot      distinguished as “on demand” or          media stream.
     be easily perceived. Usually, percep-   “live.” The former are stored on
     tual encoding refers to lossy audio     servers for long periods of time,        Legalities
     encoding in which psycho-               becoming available to be transmit-       Legal issues revolve around users
     acoustics is used to determine          ted to the user upon request. Live       being able to record the streaming
     what audio signals to encode and        streams are available only at a          of copyrighted content. It is diffi-
     what to snip out.                       particular time—like the streaming       cult to stop such recording. Broad-
         Large media files are encoded       of a live TV broadcast.                  casters sometimes use encryption
     using codecs to smaller sizes. Thus          A streaming server software         for media content to make it diffi-
     you have MOV, RM, etc.                  package, the Real Time Streaming         cult to record content.
         RealNetworks,        QuickTime,     Protocol (RTSP) to control the inter-
     Windows Media and Macromedia            action, and a matching client is         Parting Words
     Flash are the most common               needed for real-time streaming.          To try your hands at streaming
     streaming technologies. Windows                                                  your own media, thus getting a
     Media and RealNetworks are the          Transmission Protocols                   feel of what is involved, refer to
     most popular, and broadcasters          Internet Protocols play an impor-        the 30 Minutes Expert in our Janu-
     assume that the player plugin is        tant role in media file transmis-        ary 2007 issue. .
     installed on the viewer’s browser.      sion. Transmission protocols such                samir_makwana@thinkdigit.com




78   DIGIT MARCH 2007
                                                                                                             hand pane and double-click on it. In the
                                                                                                             start-up type dropdown box, select
                                                                                                             Disabled. Remember that you have to
                                                                                                             disable it—even the “Manual” option will
                                                                                                             not help. You should now notice the
                                                                                                             difference in the start-up speed of Nero.

                                                                                                                   Record With Multiple
                                                                                                                   Recorders
                                                                                                             Did you know that if you have two
                                                                                                             recorders, you can burn two discs at a
                                                                                                             time? Or create a CD image on your
                                                                                                             hard disk while your drive is busy
                                                                                                             writing CDs? Or better yet—keep both
                                                                                                             your drives busy writing while you
                                                                                                             create a CD image? Despite this
                                                                                                             sounding complicated, the trick is
                                                                                                             actually rather simple. Logic suggests
                                                                                                             that to burn one CD, you have to open
                           SECRETS THAT KEEP YOU AHEAD IN THE RACE                                           up Nero once; so to burn two CDs, you
                                                                                                             open up Nero twice. That’s the trick!
          TIPS                                              30 MINUTES EXPERT                                Open up Nero Burning ROM, leave the
          Nero 7 Premium                           79       Become one with WinSCP       82
                                                                                                             window open, than open Nero Burning
          Microsoft Outlook 2007                   84       and PuTTY
                                                                                                             ROM again. This will leave you with
                                                                                                             two open windows of Nero Burning
                                                                                                             ROM, and now you can burn two
                                                                                                             compilations at a time.
                                                             functionalities like copying CD/DVD
NERO 7 PREMIUM                                               images onto your hard drive to creating
                                                             bootable CDs/DVDs. Working your way
                                                             around this software should be simple
                                                             enough with few problems, if any.
                                                             Here, we provide you with tips towards
                                                             stuff you probably weren’t aware
                                                             existed.

                                                                   Faster Start-up
                                                                   If you’re using XP and have a slow
                                                             computer, you will find that Nero, like
                                                             other largish programs, takes a long
                                                             time to start up. However, you can
                                                             improve things by disabling the                 Quite a clutter of windows, but if used prop-
                                                             Windows inbuilt burner. You can do so           erly, you can keep all the writers on your
                                                             by following these steps: type in               system busy
                                                             “services.msc” at a command prompt
                                                             and press [Enter]. Next look for “IMAPI             A word of caution—make dead sure
                                                             CD-Burning COM Service” in the right-           that you choose the recorder
                                                                                                             accordingly for each window, otherwise
                                                                                                             you will end up with multiple
                     Illustrations Harsho Mohan Chattoraj
                                                                                                             compilations attempting to write to the


T
      he word “Nero” is familiar to                                                                          same disc. And of course, your
      literally anyone who has ever                                                                          computer should be powerful enough
      burnt a CD. As time passed,                                                                            to handle the multiple tasks.
alternatives to Nero were being
released, with more features. But Nero                                                                             Multiple Copies Of Your Disc
shot right back and expanded from just                                                                             If you have two writers and want
another burning software to an entire                                                                        to make multiple copies of the same
suite containing a horde of nifty                                                                            compilation, you can do so by going to
utilities ranging from audio/video                                                                           File > Compilation Properties, clicking
converters to a full-fledged desktop                                                                         the Burn tab, and checking “Use
search engine, which gives results                                                                           multiple recorders”. Now when you set
within two seconds.                                                                                          up your compilation and click Burn,
                                                                                                             you should see a list of recorders. Here
NERO BURNING ROM                                                                                             you can select all the recorders you
Everyone’s familiar with this one; it’s                                                                      want. Selecting “Virtual CD” along
become part of our lives, This program                                                                       with your recorder(s) in the list will
is what we associate Nero with. Nero                         The start-up type must be set to disabled for   make a copy of the CD image on
Burning ROM, once only a CD writing                          the changes to take effect, the manual option   your hard disk while your recorder
tool, has now expanded with more                             will not help                                   is burning.

                                                                                                                                          DIGIT MARCH 2007   79
     Digital Tools l Tips & Tricks
          Customise Your View                                                                     do you want a confirmation box for
           Nero Burning ROM offers a lot of                                                       rename too, so you don’t accidently
     flexibility when it comes to                                                                 rename files? You can set these options
     customising views. You can stick your                                                        by firing up regedit yet again, navigate
     toolbars/menus literally anywhere                                                            to
     within Nero. As a starter, you can drag                                                      HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Ahead\
     the toolbar or the menu at the top by                                                        Nero-Burning Rom\Browser. See those
     using the click and drag situated on                                                         values with the prefix “confirm”? They
     the far right side of the toolbars and                                                       are the ones you need to edit. For
     menus. To “nail” align them on a side,                                                       example, if you want to enable the
     say, the left side, simply drag the                                                          confirmation for renaming files, double
     toolbar or menu as far as you can on                                                         click on ConfirmRename and give it a
     the left side and it will get attached                                                       value of 1 (in decimal); 0 will disable it.
     there. What’s more, you can add
     additional toolbars with your own set                                                        NERO HOME
     of buttons. This feature is available in                                                     One welcome addition to Nero is Nero
     View > Customize; in the toolbars tab,                                                       Home, a full-fledged Media Centre with
     click on New to create a new toolbar,                                                        the ability to scan certain areas of your
     then click on the Commands tab and                                                           HDD for any new media files. This
     drag the command of your choice from                                                         search functionality depends on Nero
     the right side into the toolbar. Then                                                        Scout—another utility included with
     you can right-click on the command to         Overburning, if used properly, can add a few   Nero. The general look and feel of this
     rename it, give it an icon, remove the        minutes over the specified size on your disc   program is extremely user-friendly, and
     text and keep only the icon, etc.                                                            has Wizards to help you find your way
         To create a menu, click on New                                                           around in the interface. The ability to
     Menu at the top of the right-hand side,             Commonly-used Keyboard                   include your own skins spice up this
     then drag the new menu control on                   Shortcuts                                nifty media centre even further to a
     the left hand side onto your toolbar.         New compilation: [F1]                          point where you can customise it to
     Again, right-clicking on the newly-           Open compilation: [Ctrl] + [O]                 look any way you want. Enough of that,
     created control gives you options to          Compilation properties: [F7]                   on to the tips.
     change it. Remember that you can get          Print compilation: [Ctrl] + [P]
     use the right-click context menu for          Save As: [F12]                                      Spice Up Nero Home With
     “rename” etc. only if the Customize           Add files to compilation: [Ctrl] + [D]              Your Own Background
     dialog box is open.                           Cut: [Ctrl] + [X]                              Like how you change your wallpaper in
                                                   Copy: [Ctrl] + [C]                             Windows, you can change the
          Last-used Volume Labels                  Paste: [Ctrl] + [V]                            background in Nero Home. Now, as you
            You must have experienced those        Find: [Ctrl] + [F]                             are probably aware, Nero Home already
     trying times when you set up your             Undo: [Ctrl] + [Z]                             offers features such as themes and the
     compilation neatly and accurately, but at     Burn compilation: [Ctrl] + [B]                 ability to change your backgrounds;
     the end, you find that the volume label       Choose recorder: [Ctrl] + [R]                  however, if you find them too drab for
     is still the same from your last              Disc info: [Ctrl] + [I]                        your liking, you can set your own
     compilation. Actually, you can just turn      Eject Disc: [Ctrl] + [E]                       background. First get an image of your
     off the remembering of volumes of your        Encode Tracks: [F8]                            choice ready in .JPG format. You don’t
     last burn session by going to File >          “What’s this” cursor: [Shift] + [F1]           need to resize the picture in any way—
     Options, and unchecking the                                                                  Nero will resize your image by itself.
     “Remember last used volume label” box.        You can set your own keyboard                  However, for best viewing, make sure
                                                   shortcuts: click on View > Customize           that the image fits your desktop
          Overburning your discs                   and then click on the Keyboard tab.            resolution. Next copy this image and
           This feature, should be used with       Next click on the text box under “Press        paste it into C:\Program
     care, but when used the right way, can        the new shortcut key”, enter the               Files\Nero\Nero Home\Skins
     add several minutes over the specified        shortcut you want and click Assign.            \Spin\Graphics\Background. You can
     amount on the disk. You can find it by                                                       now select your chosen background in
     clicking on File > Options, click on the            Show Actual Write Speed                  the settings of Nero Home.
     expert features tab and you should see              This is something that required a
     the Overburn option. Overburning is           registry hack before Nero 7. “Show                  Run Nero Home In Windowed
     where it’ll force the burner to continue      actual write speed” will show you the               Mode
     to burn the disc even after reaching          precise write speed in real time while         Time for starting Nero Home in
     the end. Beware that your CD could            you are burning your disc. Nero 7 now          windowed mode, if that full screen
     contain errors, and if you try to stretch     implements it as an included option—           makes you feel trapped inside a box!
     it too much over the specified size, you      you can find it under File > Options.              To set Nero Home to start in
     may even end up damaging your                 Click on the misc tab and check “Show          windowed mode, open the Registry
     recorder. A tip is to also disable Finalise   real recorder write speed while                Editor, and navigate to
     Burning of the disc, as finalising on an      burning”. You can also turn off this           HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software
     already overburnt disc will cause             option to save memory.                         \Ahead\Nero Home\MediaBrowser.
     further problems. A safer method is to                                                           Here, in the right-hand pane, double-
     use the short-lead out feature found                No Nags                                  click on the entry called
     further down in the expert features.               When working in the file browser,         “windowfullscreen” and set its value as 1
     You may not always get the results you        do you just want to remove that                in any format, decimal or hexadecimal.
     want, so use overburn at your own risk!       annoying confirmation dialog box? Or           The next time you open up Nero Home,

80   DIGIT MARCH 2007
                                                                                                     Digital Tools l Tips & Tricks
it should open in windowed mode. Set        for the resultant file, unfortunately,             caution—do not keep Nero Showtime
the Registry value back to 1 to revert to   cannot be changed.                                 open in the background when editing
your original settings.                                                                        this entry, because after you close the
                                                  Customising Skins Manually                   Registry Editor, the entry will still
                                                  Again, you can customise specific            remain in the history of Nero Showtime,
                                            areas of your skins however you want               as the program saves its settings upon
                                            and whatever size you want. Go to                  being closed. Also do not forget
                                            C:\Program Files\Nero\Nero 7\Nero                  HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE—the same
                                            Showtime\Skins. Here pick a skin, for              change needs to be made there too!
                                            example, red plastic. Copy all three
                                            files containing the “red plastic” prefix               Profile Icons For Your
                                            in their filename and rename the                        Settings
                                            newly-created files to anything similar,               If you keep changing settings as you
                                            for example, Nero.skn, Nero.bmp, and               view different movies, and don’t want
                                            Nero_anime.bmp. Now double click on                to go through the settings every time,
                                            Nero.skn and you can change the                    you can have icons containing different
                                            buttons’ size and position. So if you              settings. Sounds neat? But it comes at a
                                            have a problem aiming for that tiny                price—heavy Registry tweaking. Go back
                                            control, or wish it could be replaced              to the key
                                            with something else, just change those                 HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\A
You can disable media scanning to improve   numbers. A tip for changing positions:             head\Nero Showtime\Settings
performance                                 it’s wise if you choose to replace a                   There’s a large number of settings
                                            button which is almost the same size               including brightness etc., functions
                                            as one of the others, after which you              like radio buttons will have a value of
     Improve Performance                    can switch their position numbers in               0, 1, 2, or 3 etc. For example, the
      If you notice your computer           the .skn file.                                     “capture to” setting has three radio
becoming sluggish when using Nero                                                              buttons; setting the value to 0 will set
Home, you can turn off media                      Clear Out History Of The Last                the first radio button, a value of 1 will
scanning. Media scanning scans                    Played File                                  choose the second option, and so on.
particular folders for any additional       In case you weren’t aware, Nero                        Once you’re done editing your
media files (audio/video/etc.) and          Showtime, when started, by default                 settings, right-click on the Settings key
indexes them for faster searching           loads the last-played media file. And if           in the left-hand pane and click Export.
within Nero Home. To turn off media                                                            Give it any filename you want; a tip is
scanning, open up Nero Home and                                                                to include the name of the video file
double-click on the spanner icon,                                                              which these settings are for—it’s
which takes you to the Settings. Next,                                                         similar to naming presets. Similarly,
click on General, and click on Media                                                           change the Registry values for your
Scanning Options. Here you can disable                                                         other settings and export them. Now,
scanning for certain file types, select                                                        by just double-clicking the files you
only specific folders you want Nero                                                            created, you can have different settings
Home to scan, or disable media                                                                 presets before opening movies.
scanning altogether.
                                                                                                    Balloon ToolTips
NERO SHOWTIME                                                                                        Sick of the drab windows tooltips
Nero includes Nero Showtime, a full-                                                           that come up in Nero Showtime? You
fledged video player. You can use this                                                         can change the look to much more
to play any audio or video files, and it                                                       appealing balloon tips. In Options, click
comes loaded with enough features to                                                           on the “tooltips” setting, and click on
rival most video players out there.                                                            the “balloon tips” radio button. Now
                                                                                               you can hover your cursor over buttons
     Capture Your Videos                                                                       just to see how cool the new balloon
      The capture feature within Nero                                                          tooltips can look compared to the ones
Showtime offers a lot of options to         You can direct defmediafile to point to any file   Windows has to offer!
capture frames for your video. You can      you want
find this option by right-clicking on                                                          COMMONLY USED KEYBOARD
Nero Showtime player and clicking on        you click on Play, the last media file             SHORTCUTS
Preferences. Here, click on Capture         will automatically play. Now if you have           Play: [Enter]
Frame, and you will be faced with a         a file which you, umm, don’t want                  Stop: [S]
multitude of options including              others to know exist on the system, you            Pause: [Spacebar]
capturing your images to clipboard          can clear out its trace from the history.          Previous: [P]
where you can paste your images in          This requires Registry tweaking. Enter             Next: [N]
your favourite image editing software,      the Registry Editor, and navigate your             Step forward: [T]
capturing the frame and setting the         way through to                                     Seek to time: [Ctrl] + [G]
image as a wallpaper upon the touch of          HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\A                   Options: [Ctrl] + [C]
a button, or printing the captured          head\Nero Showtime\Settings                        Full screen: [Z]
image to your default printer.                  Here look for the String value called          Change subtitles: [U]
    If you choose to capture the image      “defmediafile”. Double-click on it and             Menu: [L]
to a file, you can set the location where   delete its contents to clear out the               Capture frame: [C]
you want to save the image. The prefix      history of Nero Showtime. A word of                Eject disc: [J]

                                                                                                                            DIGIT MARCH 2007   81
     Digital Tools l Tips & Tricks



                         Become one with WinSCP and PuTTY
                         If you have your own Web site, WinSCP is an indispensable for secure FTP
                         access to your server
                                                      starting PuTTY, WinSCP will directly        besides, you shouldn’t store pass-
        Mayur Bhatia                                  open the server you are on, and enter       words—for security purposes.
                                                      the username and password for you.
                                                                                                  Sharing Between WinSCP And
        A    nyone hosting an FTP server
             without SSH and SCP protocols isn’t
        secure. Whether you have a complicated
                                                      Default Session Settings
                                                      When you start WinSCP, you find that
                                                                                                  PuTTY
                                                                                                   So your logon settings are saved in
        76-character password, or use spe-            you have to input a server, username         WinSCP, including usernames and
        cialised characters, numbers, capitalised     and password. If all you do is use           passwords, but what about PuTTY? You
        letters, etc., it can all be rendered com-    WinSCP to access a single server, you        can export your WinSCP setting to
        pletely useless by nothing more than a        can stop this time-wasting. You can          PuTTY by starting WinSCP and going
        script kiddie with a sniffer.                 use “Stored Sessions” to remember            to Preferences in the left hand pane.
             When not using any kind of secure        your username and password for a             Now you will see a button called
        protocol for transferring files, pass-        particular server, and this will save        Preferences, click on it and then click
        words are transmitted in plain text,          you a lot of time.
        which means anyone using a sniffer                If you want to save even
        on your network can see those pass-           more time, and have WinSCP
        words exactly as they are, and                open with the server address,
        accessing your server is simply a             username and port already
        matter of copy-pasting from the sniffer       entered, you can change it’s
        to the password box. That’s where pro-        default settings. Open the reg-
        tocols like SSH (Secure Shell) and SCP        istry editor (Start > Run >
        (Secure Copy) step in. Instead of             regedit) and navigate to
        sending out the passwords in plain            HKEY_CURRENT_USER\
        text, SSH encrypts any password you           Software\Martin Prikryl\
        send out, thus showing a jumble of            WinSCP 2\Sessions\
        gibberish to anyone sniffing the net-         Default%20Settings. In the
        work, while SCP encrypts the actual           right pane, right-click and
        file transfers that take place making         select New > String Value,
        them unrecoverable for any sniffers.          name it HostName and give it
             Now if you have SSH and SCP on           a value of the server’s IP.
        your server, you will need to have            Create another String value
        clients to connect to them. The two           called UserName and give it
        most popular are PuTTY and WinSCP.            the value of the username. If
        Anyone who knows what SSH is has              your connection port is not
        probably already used PuTTY to                22, you can set the default
        remote connect to servers. It is similar      port number here by creating       Don’t forget to enter the path to your putty.exe
        to a Telnet client, but obviously more        a DWORD value called
        secure. WinSCP is one of the best SCP         PortNumber and giving it a decimal           on Integration and tick the
        programs out there, and offers the            value of the port you want to connect        “Remember session password and pass
        ability to edit files in real-time            to. Be careful here because hexadec-         it to PuTTY” checkbox. This will let you
        directly on the server, thus saving you       imal and decimal values differ.              open PuTTY with the session name
        the time required to download, edit           Passwords cannot be stored, but it’s a       “WinSCP Temporary Session” when-
        and upload again. We’ll look at               lot easier than typing everything, and       ever you choose to do so.
        WinSCP version 3.8.2 and PuTTY ver-
        sion 0.59 for this article.                                                               Change The Default Name
                                                                                                  Taking the previous tip further, if you
        Integrate PuTTY With WinSCP                                                               don’t like the “WinSCP Temporary
        Getting straight down to business, the                                                    Session” title when you open PuTTY,
        first thing you should do is directly                                                     change it.
        integrate WinSCP with PuTTY. After                                                            Just open the registry editor, navi-
        you connect to a server, go to Options                                                    gate to the key
        > Preferences and click on                                                                HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Mar
        Integration. Here click on the text box                                                   tin Prinkryl\WinSCP
        entitled ‘PuTTY Path’ and enter the                                                       2\Configuration\Interface, find the
        path to the putty.exe file. You should                                                    String value called “PuttySession”,
        now be able to fire up PuTTY when-                                                        double-click on it and give it any name
        ever required by using the [Ctrl] + [P]      Make sure to enter the port number in the    you want. Just remember to put “%20”
        key combination. Instead of just             decimal format                               (without quotes) instead of spaces.


82   DIGIT MARCH 2007
                                                                                                   Digital Tools l Tips & Tricks

                                                        method of encryption (make           Use External Editors
                                                        sure that the server supports        Granted, if you don’t use WinSCP’s
                                                        whatever method you                  internal editors, you won’t be able to
                                                        choose) and then click on            save them in real time on the server,
                                                        generate. After you generate         which is one of WinSCP’s main fea-
                                                        the key, click on Save Private       tures. However it’s not like the client
                                                        Key and save the file to your        has its own plethora of editors either.
                                                        PC. Do the same for the              If you wish you can open specific
                                                        public key.                          extensions with certain applications
                                                            Now use WinSCP and               that you choose. To do this, go to
                                                        upload the public key to a           Options > Preferences and click on
                                                        location on the server where         Editors. Next click add, choose external
                                                        public keys are being kept.          editor, provide the path to the relevant
                                                        Whenever you login using             EXE file. For example, if you want a
                                                        WinSCP, enter your username,         document to open with Word, instead
                                                        select your key file in the box      of Notepad, browse to its location and
                                                        below and zoom away!                 choose winword.exe and further down
                                                                                             select the files you want to associate
                                                        Fast Recovery                        with this program.
                                                          In case you are stuck at a
                                                          point where WinSCP will
                                                          refuse to start, thanks to that
Use “%20” for spaces when entering WinSCPs session        last configuration change
name in PuTTY                                             you did, you can reset all of
                                                          its settings by deleting its
 No More Passwords                              whole configuration, or better yet, a
 If your server supports private keys,          single setting if you remember what
 you can do away with usernames and             you changed. You can do this by going
 passwords altogether! SSH and SCP              to the registry editor and navigating
 allow for a private key/public key             to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\
 authentication model, and if both              Software\Martin Prinkry\WinSCP
 keys match, you get access to your             2\Configuration. Delete the whole
 account automatically.                         configuration key if you are not sure
      To set this up, go to the folder          of what change caused the problem,
 where you installed WinSCP. Here               or you can delete specific values any-
 you will find a folder called PuTTY,           where within this key. The next time
 and a file called puttygen.exe. This           you start WinSCP, it’ll recreate the
 utility generates two files, a public          keys with the default values.
 key file and a private key file. The
 private key file is what you will be           Save Settings
 keeping in a safe place on your PC,            Tired of all those registry tweaks
 while the public key file will be kept already? Well, you have the choice of
 on the server. In here select your             saving your settings to the registry, or
                                                              to an INI file. To set this    Configure WinSCP to associate extensions
                                                              go to Options >                with an application of your choice when you
                                                              Preferences and click on       open them
                                                              Storage on the left hand
                                                              side. Here you will see 2
                                                              radio buttons that let you     WinSCP As A Plugin
                                                              choose between saving          WinSCP isn’t short on integration
                                                              your configuration set-        options. As if integrating with PuTTY
                                                              tings to the Windows           wasn’t enough, it’s also available in
                                                              Registry or to an INI file.    the form of a plugin for file managers
                                                              Once you select the INI        like FAR manager and Servant
                                                              option and close WinSCP,       Salamander. This functionality is
                                                              you will then be able to       extremely useful to those who are
                                                              make changes to this INI       used to working with these file man-
                                                              file by browsing to the        agers, as WinSCP’s plugin function-
                                                              directory where WinSCP is      ality will allow you to work with file
                                                              installed and double           managers in a single package. You can
                                                              clicking on the                download WinSCP as a plugin from
                                                              WinSCP3.INI file. Again,       WinSCP’s main site—
                                                              like the last trick, you can   http://www.WinSCP.net and click on
                                                              delete the configuration       the plugins to File Managers link, here
PuttyGen allows you to generate a pair consisting of a        file altogether if you         you can download the installers for
public and a private key, you can use load your private key encounter a crash because        your desired file manager.
to generate more public keys                                  of messed up settings.                    mayur_bhatia@thinkdigit.com


                                                                                                                        DIGIT MARCH 2007   83
     Digital Tools l Tips & Tricks

     NERO SCOUT                                 MICROSOFT OUTLOOK 2007
     Nero Scout provides a full-fledged
     search engine similar to Google
     Desktop, offering instant searches; it                                                   Note that as you do this, the To-Do Bar
     also sits in the background and indexes                                                  gets updated accordingly.
     your hard disk for new files. This is
     probably the most-used feature in Nero,                                                        Change The Look Of The To-Do
     along with Nero Burning ROM.                                                                   Bar
                                                                                              You can! Just click anywhere in the Bar’s
          Save Your Searches                                                                  title, and choose Customize. You can
          This feature can be handy when                                                      now control how many months and
     you searched for something long back                                                     appointments are displayed. You can also
     and now want to remember what you                                                        choose to hide them entirely.
     had searched for. The search history
     normally shows the last 10 results of                                                          Colourising Tasks
     your search, but what about the last                                                           In Outlook 2007, you can assign a
     100th result of your search? You can do                                                  colour category to any item you’ve
     exactly that: save your search string                                                    created—for example, an appointment in
     forever, you can do this by clicking on                                                  the Calendar. Use the Categorize control
     the arrow next to Nero Scout on the                                                      for this: with the Appointment window
     taskbar to bring up the advanced                                                         open, click Categorize, and from the list
     search, from here you can enter your                                                     that appears, choose the colour you


                                                T
     search criteria and string after which           he ribbon may not be as pervasive       want. The Categories column will appear
     you can click on the save button to save         here, but that doesn’t mean that        below the Appointment area.
     your searches. Now when you need to              Outlook 2007 hasn’t gone                    Now, say you categorise all business
     search for the same string again you       through the radical transformations           appointments Red. If this category is often
     can click on the saved searches tab in     we’ve seen in the rest of the suite...        used, you can set up the Quick Click
     the same place—no need to remember
     filenames like                                  Change The Window
     whatasuperduperbigfilename.dll.                  In Outlook 2007, if you need more
                                                on-screen room, you can “collapse” the
          Choose The Right Places To            Navigation Pane. To do this, click the left
          Index                                 arrows at the top of the Navigation Pane.
     This feature can be extremely useful       It will get minimised to a vertical bar
     when used the right way. If you know       along the left edge of the Outlook
     where you need to search, you can          window. Your favourite folders, as well as
     choose to index files only of that         the icons for the Views—Calendar,
     particular folder. You can do so by        Contacts, Mail, and Tasks—will still be
     clicking the arrow to the right of the     available in the collapsed bar.
     Nero Scout search text box, click on
     Options, and then tweak your way                                                         Colourising tasks
     through in the Indexing area. As you
     can see, you can set Nero Scout to                                                       feature. This feature enables you to make
     exclude searching in your e-mails,                                                       this category the default (to get activated
     other specific paths, or to index only                                                   whenever you click an item). To achieve
     certain files.                                                                           this, right-click the item and choose
                                                                                              Categorize, then select “Set Quick Click”.
          Disable The Scout!                                                                  Choose the colour you want to use as the
           Nero 7 Scout, while a very useful                                                  Quick Click category, then click OK.
     program for searching individual files,
     does tend to hog precious memory. So                                                           Comparing Calendars
     if you’re someone who’s very conscious                                                         It’s easy in Outlook 2007 to
     with keeping memory free, then you         Change the window                             compare two or more Calendars so you
     can disable it altogether. To do this,                                                   can choose, say, when the people
     double click on My Computer, right             To reset the navigation pane to what      involved can have a meeting. The
     click on the Nero Scout icon and click     it was, click the right arrows at the top     Calendars available for you to view—say
     Options. Here, uncheck both “Integrate     of the bar.                                   those that have been e-mailed to you—
     into Taskbar” and “Integrate into                                                        are displayed in the Calendars
     Explorer” and reboot your PC. If you            Adding Tasks To The Calendar             navigation pane. By default, these
     are still experiencing problems, open           In earlier versions of Outlook, tasks    appear side by side.
     the command prompt—go to Start >           and the Calendar were separate. To keep           You can layer Calendars on top of
     Run, type “cmd” and hit [Enter].           track of one event, you needed to create      each other using Overlay Mode, so as to
         In the command window, type            entries in both views. In this iteration of   be able to find free time slots easily.
     regsvr32 /u                                Outlook, you can schedule time for tasks      Select the Calendars, then click the green
     \”%COMMONPROGRAMFILES%\\Ahead              simply by dragging them to the                arrow on the Calendar at the right.
     \\Lib\\MediaLibraryNSE.dll\”. This         Calendar. And using the Daily Task List,          So which appointment is in which
     should eliminate any bugs and disable      you can modify tasks’ dates simply by         Calendar? You can tell by colouring
     Nero Scout for good.                       dragging them from one day to another.        them. The appointments from the

84   DIGIT MARCH 2007
                                                                                                     Digital Tools l Tips & Tricks
underlying Calendar will be, as you’ll          ❍ Bring up the Send/Receive Settings
find, in the same colour as that                dialog box by pressing [Ctrl] + [Alt] + [S].
Calendar’s title bar.                           ❍ Select “All Accounts” or, of course,
                                                the group that contains your IMAP
     Getting Some Action Into Your              account’s settings, and click Edit.
     Mails                                      ❍ Under Accounts, select the IMAP
Some mails in your Inbox are always             account in question.
more important than others, and they            ❍ Under “Receive mail
might need to be worked on immediately.         items”, select “Use the
In Outlook 2007, you can use the                custom behavior
enhanced flagging feature to distinguish        defined below”.
an important mail from the others. The          ❍ Under Folder Options,
idea is that when you add a flag, the item      select Inbox, then select
is automatically added to the To-Do bar!        “Download complete
                                                item including
                                                attachments”. Then
                                                click on OK and Close.
                                                                                               Place the Reading pane anywhere you want to,
                                                     A Helping Hand?                           or remove it completely
                                                      You might just face this situation
                                                where, when you try to select some text
                                                in mail, rather than the “select” cursor,            Reposition Or Remove The
                                                              you have the “hand” cursor             Reading Pane
                                                              that lets you “grab” the         You can position the Reading pane to the
                                                              message and move it about.       right or the bottom of the Outlook
                                                              The toolbar does offer           window, and you can also turn it off. You
                                                              “Select Text” as a command,      can do this individually for each folder—
Use Enhanced Flagging                                         but it Selects All.              so you can have the Reading Pane at the
to separate the wheat                                             If this is happening, you    right in Mail, at the bottom for Contacts,
from the chaff, so to                                         just need to know that the       and Off for the other views. It’s simple.
speak                                                         Reading Pane has the             Open the Outlook folder in question. In
                                                “hand” cursor that lets you pan around         the main menu, select View > Reading
     Enhanced Flagging #2                       the message. So just click on the hand         Pane. A Reading Pane menu appears.
      The enhanced flagging we                  icon above the scrollbar—along the right       Select Right, Bottom, or Off. The Reading
mentioned in the previous tip extends to        edge—to turn it off. You can click on it       pane changes to match your selection. If
messages that are sent and received. For        again to bring the “hand” cursor back.         the Reading pane is visible, resize it to
example, a draft (say, of a company-wide                                                       suit your preference by dragging its edge.
proposal) can be sent as an e-mail to                Searching The Trash
everyone working on the same draft, and               Outlook 2007 doesn’t search in the             Transform Types
say you need a response from everyone by        Deleted Items, which you certainly                    You’ll sometimes feel the need to
a particular date. What you need to do is       might want to change.                          create a task based on a message you
just flag the mail for follow-up. When              Go to Tools > Instant Search >             receive, or turn a task into an
this mail arrives at the others’ mailboxes,     Search Options. This will bring up the         appointment, and so on. Usually, you’d
the message is added to their To-Do Bars—       Search Options dialog box. In the Deleted      do this by manually creating a new
as a task with a response date.                 Items section of the dialog box, tick the      item, copying stuff from the old into the
                                                “Include messages...” checkbox. Click OK.      new, then deleting the old item. A
     Fix the Quick Access Toolbar!                                                             simpler way is to use Outlook’s drag-
      When you need to insert something              Multiple Outlook Windows!                 and-drop capabilities.
into your mail—say a picture—you need                 Many people do a lot of switching             Right-click and drag the item you
to go to the Insert tab. And then you find      between Outlook folders, in particular         want to transform. If the correct
you can’t send the item right away—you          between Mail and Calendar and Tasks—           window is visible, drop the item on it.
need to click on the Message tab to see         by clicking the appropriate one in the         If it isn’t, drop the item on the correct
the Send button again. The Send button          Navigation Pane. There is, however, an         button in the Navigation pane. A menu
should have been made available on the          easier and faster way: open multiple           will appear. In this menu, select the
Quick Access Toolbar!                           Outlook windows!                               option you want. You can copy the item
    It’s easy to fix this. Right-click on the        With a Mail window, a Calendar            to the new location, or you can move it
Quick Access Toolbar, and choose                window, and a Task window all open,            there. Once you select an option, a
“Customize…” From the list of                   you can jump back and forth using [Alt]        dialog box appears containing the
commands, choose Send and then Add.             + [Tab]. Plus, you can set each window up      information from the original item.
Click OK. You’ll now have the Send              the way you want it.                           Just fill in any additional information
button where you want it.                            To open multiple Outlook windows at       and save the item!
                                                the same time: in the Navigation Pane,
     Change your IMAP mail                      right-click the folder you want to open in           Mail Keyboard Shortcuts
     settings                                   its own window. A shortcut menu will                 Keyboard shortcuts from Outlook
For an IMAP account in Outlook 2007,            appear. Click “Open in New Window”.            2003 and earlier work in the 2007
the default is to download only the             The new window will appear. Adjust the         version, but there are new ones you can
headers. You can change this behaviour          new window to suit your preferences.           use when working with the Ribbon.
and make Outlook download complete              Then repeat for any other windows you          Ribbon shortcuts differ from the old
items. Here’s how:                              want to open.                                  ones—they all start off when you press

                                                                                                                         DIGIT MARCH 2007     85
     Digital Tools l Tips & Tricks
     and release the [Alt] key. Each shortcut         Items containing “digit”, or                  messagesize:medium
     here means that you press and release            “magazine”, or both                           Items whose size is between 25 and 100 KB
     [Alt], then enter the following keys, in
     the order specified.                             “digit magazine”                              messagesize:large
                                                      Items containing the exact phrase             Items whose size is between 100 and
     [H] > [A] > [C]    Centre the selected           “digit magazine”                              500 KB
                        paragraph
     [H] > [A] > [L]    Align the selected            from:”john smith”                             messagesize:verylarge
                        paragraph with the left       Items sent from “john smith”, whatever        Items whose size is between 500 KB and
                        margin                        case Mr Smith uses for his name               1 MB
     [H] > [A] > [U]    Turn the paragraph
                        into a bulleted list          from:”john smith” about:”digit                messagesize:enormous
     [H] > [A] > [N]    Turn the paragraph            meeting”                                      Items whose size is larger than 5 MB
                        into a numbered list          Items sent from “john smith” where
     [H] > [F] > [F]    Select the Font list. Use     “digit meeting” appears in the subject        followupflag:follow up OR hasflag:true
                        [Down Arrow] to open the      line, body, or attachment contents            Items that have been flagged for follow-up
                        list, and [Enter] to switch
                        to the selected font          hasattachment:yes OR                          from:digit (received:1/3/07 OR
     [H] > [A] > [I]    Increase the                  hasattachment:true                            received:2/3/07)
                        indentation of the            Items that have attachments                   Items from “digit” that arrived on
                        selected paragraph                                                          either 1/3/07 or 2/3/07
     [H] > [A] > [U]    Decrease the                  attachments:presentation.ppt
                        indentation of the            Items that have attachments named             received:>=1/3/07 AND
                        selected paragraph            presentation.ppt, or if the attachment        received:<=5/3/07
     [H] > [Y] > [S]    Start the spell-checker       contains “presentation.ppt” in its contents   Items that arrived between and
     [O] > [Q]          Open the Zoom dialog                                                        inclusive of 1/3/07 and 5/3/07
                        box                           subject:”digit magazine”
     [N] > [P]          Open the Insert Picture       Items whose subject contains the exact        sent:yesterday
                        dialog box                    phrase “digit magazine”, case                 Items that were sent the previous day
                                                      insensitive
           Set A Reminder For A Message                                                             read:no OR read:false
           When you need to do this for a             subject:digit magazine                        Items that have not been read
     closed message, in the Unread Mail pane          Items with “digit” in the subject line
     or the Inbox, right-click the message. A         and with “magazine” anywhere else in          subject:digit received:May
     shortcut menu will appear. Click “Follow         the document                                  Items received from anyone during the
     Up”. In the “Follow Up” menu that                                                              month of May of any year, where the
     appears, click “Add Reminder”. The               messagesize:<25 KB                            subject contains “digit”
     Custom dialog box will appear. Set the           Items whose size is less than 25 KB
     Reminder checkbox. This activates the                                                          startdate:next week subject:digit
     Reminder date and time boxes beneath             messagesize:>25 MB                            Calendar items the following week
     the checkbox. Next, select a date and time       Items whose size is larger than 25 MB         where the subject contains “digit”.
     for the reminder to appear. Choose what
     the reminder will sound like by clicking         received:=1/3/2007                            category:digit
     the sound button to the right of the date        Items that arrived on 1/3/2007                Items categorised as “digit”
     and time boxes. Click OK. You’re done.
                                                      received:yesterday                            firstname:john
           Search Smarter                             Items that arrived the previous day. As       Contacts that contain “john” (in any
          Use these prefixes to use Outlook           a note here, the search feature               case) in the First Name field
     2007’s Instant Search more effectively:          recognises the following date values:         Note: Use “lastname” and “nickname”
                                                      Relative dates: For example, “today”,         similarly
     digit                                            “tomorrow”, “yesterday”
     Items containing “digit”, “DIGIT”,               Multi-word relative dates: For example,       jobtitle:doctor
     “DIgiT”, or any other combination of             “this week”, “next month”, etc.               Contacts that contain “doctor” in the
     uppercase and lowercase                          Days: Sunday, Monday, etc.                    Job Title field
                                                      Months: January, February, etc.
     digit magazine                                                                                 homephone:2762-9191
     Items containing both “digit” and                received:last week                            Contacts that contain “2762-9191” in
     “magazine”, not necessarily in that order        Items that arrived the previous week          the Home Phone field
                                                                                                    Similarly, use “businessphone” and
     digit AND magazine                               due:last week                                 “mobilephone”, as well as “homefax”
     Same as the above. Logical operators             Items that were flagged for follow up         and “businessfax”
     such as AND and NOT must be typed in             in the previous week                          Also, for searching by contact, you can
     uppercase                                                                                      use “businessaddress” and
                                                      messagesize:tiny                              “homeaddress”, with the address
     digit NOT magazine                               Items whose size is less than 10 KB           enclosed in brackets
     Items containing “digit” and not
     “magazine”                                       messagesize:small                             birthday:1/1/1975
                                                      Items whose size is between 10 and 25 KB      Contacts that contain “1/1/1975” in the
     digit OR magazine                                                                              Birthday field

86   DIGIT MARCH 2007
                                                               time to check your computer’s insides. Go
                                                               through the following checklist to narrow down
                                                               your problem.
                                                                  If your video card is not onboard, then remove
                                                               the card and re-insert it in the slot.
                                                                  It’s also possible that the power supplied to
                                                               your card might be fluctuating, especially if it
                                                               uses a connector from your PSU to provide
                                                               power. If it does, remove it and plug it in again—
                                                               or use another connector if your PSU has simi-
                                                               lar connectors. You can also try your display
                                                               card on another PC to see if the PSU is the cause
                           Your Questions, Our Answers         of the problem.
                                                                  To eliminate any overheating issues, place a
     Away, Prying Eyes!                                        portable fan right next to your open cabinet,
          How can I encrypt a folder or file in                directly facing the video card. If the problem
          Windows XP SP2? Can you suggest a free-              disappears, then you know your PC needs more
     ware for this purpose? WinZip takes a lot of time         efficient cooling. For tips, take a look at Going
     to encrypt folders.                                       With The Flow, Digit, January 2007.
                                                      Aakash      Try another video card altogether, even if you
                                                               have an onboard card. If everything seems fine,
          You can use Windows’ inbuilt encryption              then the problem lies with the onboard video.
          for encrypting / decrypting your files. The          You can then either look to using another video
     “cipher” command is used for this purpose. The            card or changing your motherboard.
     syntax for encrypting files is as follows, with X as
     the drive letter (use this command at a                   We Don’t Like No Pirates!
     command prompt):                                               I downloaded the setup of Windows Media
         cipher “X:\Path /E /A”                                     Player 11, but upon running it, I encounter an
                                                               error message saying setup was unable to validate
                                                               that my copy of Windows is genuine. Is there a way
                                                               to solve this problem?
                                                                                                         Atin Bansal

                                                                    While there are ways to get WMP11 to work
                                                                    in your situation, we can’t assist you in this
                                                               case—it would be aiding piracy. The only sugges-
                                                               tion we can provide is for you to get a legal copy
                                                               of Windows XP.

     Encrypting your drive’s contents will safeguard your      When Memory Doesn’t Serve
     data from the prying eyes                                      I have an Intel 915GAV motherboard with an
                                                                    Intel Pentium 4 2.8 GHz processor, 256 MB of
          This will prevent all users—other than the           DDR RAM, and an 80 GB SATA HDD running
     one who encrypted the file or folder—from                 Windows XP Media Center Edition. My computer is
     accessing it. The command for decrypting files            on 24/7. My problem is that after a couple of
     encrypted this way is:                                    hours, it becomes very sluggish, taking more than
          cipher “X:\Path /D /A”                               a minute to start Firefox! I’ve tried using some
          If you need more flexibility in methods and          memory clearing programs to free up memory,
     speeds of encryption, we suggest FineCrypt                but nothing seems to work.
     from www.finecrypt.net. It will allow you to                  It was the same when I had XP with SP2
     choose from up to 10 different algorithms, and            installed, so I tried changing the OS to Win XP Media
     is freeware.                                              Center. I’ve downloaded and installed all the new
                                                               drivers for this OS. I also have ZoneAlarm, Avast!,
     Seeing Red                                                and Microsoft AntiSpyware running in the back-
          I have a Pentium 4 3.0 GHz HP 7540 branded           ground all the time. Will increasing the RAM work? If
          system, 82915C/GV/910GL Express chipset              so, what amount would be sufficient? I’m not an avid
     family, 80 GB HDD, 256 MB DDR RAM. My display             gamer, but the system seems too slow to work with.
     shows red vertical lines all over. This happens even                                      Arun Shanker Prasad
     when I change the monitor.
                                    Muzafar Ahmad Ahanger           Firefox taking a long time to start could be
                                                                    due to a large amount of cache stored; clear
          Do the red lines appear even during POST             the cache. Keep it at 50 MB or so.
          (Power On Self Test) before Windows starts?              Your system turning sluggish after a couple
     If not, then you need to update your video card           of hours could be due to a program malfunc-
     drivers to the latest available in order to elimi-        tioning over a period of time and using up too
     nate any driver issues. Refer to your video card          much memory and/or CPU time. Look for this in
     manufacturer’s Web site for information on                the Task Manager. Memory usage should be in
     downloading the latest drivers.                           the range of 50 to 100 MB, and CPU usage should
         If the red lines appear even during POST, it’s        be above 50 per cent for the errant program.

88   DIGIT MARCH 2007
    More memory always helps in speeding up a           Op-Errant!
computer. 256 MB is too little to work with nowa-            I run Windows 98 on a 2.4 GHz Athlon XP
days, even if you are not an avid gamer. 512 MB              processor, 128 MB of RAM, and a 40 GB hard
will be decent, and 1 GB will help you forget your      drive. I use Opera, and it often hangs; the following
memory problems for good.                               message comes up.
                                                            Opera executed an invalid instruction in module
At Sixes And Sevens                                     OPERA.DLL at 016f:67e2eae8.
      The configuration of my system is AMD                 Registers:       EAX=0065f094            CS=016f
      Athlon XP 2200+ with 256 MB RAM. I was            EIP=67e2eae8 EFLGS=00010246
running XP SP1, which I upgraded to SP2, and I              What could be the problem?
installed IE Beta version 7.0 from your CD. It did                                                    Manu Nair
not function properly, so I tried to uninstall it,
but I couldn’t do so. I then used System Restore             First, make sure you have the latest
and rolled back to IE6. After this I’ve been facing          version of Opera installed; you can find it
a new problem—every time I boot my system, I            on the Digit CDs. If that’s already the case,
get a warning:                                          then make sure that the drive where Opera
ieplore.exe—Entry Point Not Found                       stores its cache has enough free space (at least
The procedure entry point InternetGetSecurity           200 MB). Next, clear your cache and set it to a
InfoByURLS could not be located in the dynamic          small amount (like 50 MB). You can set this by
link library WININET.dll
    Once I press OK, the system reboots. I’m not
able to install IE Beta Version 7.0 again because I
get a message stating that it is already installed.
More importantly, I’m not able to open any .html
or .htm files. Whenever I try to open these I get
the above message. In addition to this, even
Windows Explorer is sometimes unable to open
some files. What do I do?
                                         Saravanan K

      The problem stems from the fact that IE7
      Beta is known to have these problems; the
full release of IE7 should fix them all. We suggest
you use an alternative browser, going to the
Microsoft Web site, searching for “Internet
Explorer 7” (without the quotes), and download-
ing the full released version of IE7. Installing this
should get rid of the problems you’ve                   Set Opera’s cache size to something smaller to speed it
mentioned, and if you uninstall it at a later           up and prevent crashes
stage, your system will roll back to IE6
                                                        going to Tools > Preferences, clicking on the
                                                        Advanced tab, and then clicking on History in
When Monitors Go Bad                                    the left pane. If none of the above work, you’ll
     I have a Pentium 4 1.5 GHz, 256 MB RAM with        have to reinstall Opera.
     Windows 98 SE, and a Samsung SyncMaster
17-inch monitor with Intel (R) 82845 G/GL
Graphics Controller running at 1024 x 768. One          Resident Evil
day, my screen suddenly blacked out and my PC                The      path      “C:\Documents       and
stopped responding. On restarting, my screen                 Settings\Owner” shows a folder called
showed two thick black strips on either side, and       “Recent” , inside which resides a file called
the actual picture shrank to the middle of the          GIF89a with a size of 3.39 GB, modified on
screen. I tried to get the monitor to work properly     10/31/2077! I am sure this is a malicious entry,
by changing resolutions and by using the OSD for        and I cannot remove it. Help!
functions like horizontal and vertical resize, but                                                  Subrata Ray
without success.
                                               Nilesh         Excellent detective work soldier, this is a
                                                              malicious entry. You haven’t mentioned
     It pretty much appears that your monitor           which OS you use, but if you are using Win2K /
     has given up on you. We suggest you try            XP, then restart your PC, press [F8] before
running your PC using a different monitor to            Windows starts, and choose “Safe mode with
confirm if it’s the monitor that’s the cause of         networking”; stay in normal mode if you’re
the problem.                                            using Win 9x.
   If the problem continues even after replac-               Update your anti-virus and run a full scan on
ing the monitor, try running on another video           all drives. Also install Spybot Search & Destroy
card. If it’s the monitor, you’re left with no          (it’s on the Digit CD), update its libraries, run a
choice but to look for a replacement. If it             full spyware scan, and fix any malicious entries.
turns out to be the video card—of which the                  If the scans are unable to detect or remove
probability is very low—then your PC can still          the file, use software such as Unlocker (on the
function with an external video card.                   Digit CD) to remove the file.

                                                                                              DIGIT MARCH 2007    89
       Unwanted Guest Alert!
       Turn your PC into an Intrusion Detection System
                                                    dynamic loaded libraries”. Change the             network, the subnet being in CIDR
      Mayur Bhatia                                  following lines:                                  format and monitors any attacks in the
                                                    Dynamicpreprocessor directory                     specified range, for example for IP

      Y   ou probably have an antivirus, and
          maybe a firewall to stop attacks to
      your box. However, have you ever
                                                    /usr/local/lib/snort_dynamicpreproces-
                                                    sor/
                                                    Dynamicengine
                                                                                                      address 192.168.1.1 with a subnet of
                                                                                                      255.255.255.0 you would put in -
                                                                                                          Var HOME_NET 192.168.1.1/24
      considered using an Intrusion                 /usr/local/lib/snort_dynamicengine/libs               Use a CIDR calculator on the
      Detection System (IDS), especially if         f_engine.so                                       Internet to find out the CIDR for your
      your box is part of a network? An IDS,        to                                                subnet mask.
      unlike a firewall, works passively—           Dynamicpreprocessor directory
      instead of blocking traffic, they simply      C:\snort\lib\snort_dynamicpreproces-
      log attacks to a file and alert users.        sor
      The advantage an IDS gives you over a         Dynamicengine
      firewall is that it can even detect           C:\snort\lib\snort_dynamicengine\sf
      attack signatures from within the             _engine.dll
      network. You can create your own                   Now that the basic setup is done to
      custom alerts or download them over           get snort compatible with Windows XP,
      the Internet. Systems like Snort are          we need to confirm if it indeed detects           Remember to remove # from the beginning
      widely used in company networks               attacks. Snort is a command line based            of the file
      because of their effectiveness in detect-     program—go to Start > Run, type “cmd”                 Other things you can configure are
      ing a huge range of attacks. Snort was        and hit [Enter]. CD your way through to           to monitor specific services like DNS or
      originally built for Linux. A Windows         c:\snort\bin and enter:                           SMTP; you can find these further down
      version is available, but it requires              Snort -l c:\snort\log -c                     the file, delete the # at the end of the
      quite a bit of tinkering—which is what        C:\snort\etc\snort.conf -A console                line if you want the line to be executed
      this article is for.                               We’ll spend a few lines explaining           by snort.
          This assumes you have knowledge           the command. The -l switch points to
      of the following:                             the directory where the log files are to          Finishing Up
          1. Basic DOS commands, and                be stored, remember that the directory            The only thing left is to configure
          2. General knowledge of IP                has to already exist—Snort won’t create           Snort so it can be run as a service
      addresses and subnets                         it for you. The next switch, -c, points to        without you having to go through the
                                                    the snort.conf file. The -A switch (case          command line headache every time.
      The Basics                                    sensitive) tells Snort that we want it to         We will need to start snort as a serv-
      To get started, download both the EXE         run in a specific mode—in this case,              ice every time windows boots so that
      installer and the rules file (make sure       console mode. Leave this window open              we can see the alerts directly in the
      to get the rules file corresponding to        since you will be seeing your alerts over         event viewer. Use the following
      your Snort version) from                      here for now.                                     command to do so:
      http://www.snort.org. The rules file
      contains the signatures for various
      attacks, similar to virus definition files.
      Install Snort and be sure to select the ‘I
      do not plan to log to a database’ option      Test snort after changing the conf file, the switches are case sensetive
      unless you want you want to use an MS
      SQL server or Oracle database for Snort.
      Extract the rules file its contents to             Now to test if it’s working prop-
      your Snort install directory. After the       erly—for this, we’ll need to run a
      install, Snort informs you that it            simple DOS (Denial of service) attack
      requires the Windows Packet Capture           and confirm whether snort alerts us on
      library available at http://www.              it. Go to Start > Run, type cmd and
      winpcap.org/install/default.htm, so           enter “ping -l 65500 -t” without the
      download and install it.                      quotes and hit [Enter]. Switch back to            Starting snort as a service
                                                    the Snort window. If all’s working well
      The Real Thing                                you should see a bunch of alerts in the                Snort /service /install -l c:\snort\log
      The first thing you will need to get          window. This should ensure that snort             -c c:\snort\etc\snort.conf -E
      your hands on is the snort.conf file.         is now up and running on your box.                     That’s it, you should now see snort
      Assuming you installed Snort in its                                                             in your list of services. And all alerts
      default location, this file can be found      Configure It More                                 should be visible in event viewer along
      in c:\snort\etc. This is where the            Next, we’ll look into some lines in the           with the log files in c:\snort\log.
      tweaking starts. The config file, by          snort.conf file.                                  Remember, you can download more
      itself, is made for Linux, which we’ll           Look for the following—                        rules from http://www.snort.org for
      have to edit for Windows. Open the file          var HOME_NET any                               new vulnerabilities.
      and scroll down to “Step 2: Configure            This pertains to your home                                  mayur_bhatia@thinkdigit.com


90   DIGIT MARCH 2007
                                                                                                                                        tion
                                                                                                                                    Questhe
                                                                         still work properly. What could be the problem?             of nth
  Lame Frames                                                                                                                        Mo
                                                                         My friend tells me it’s because of low RAM.
       I have an LG MyPC with a 2.4 GHz Intel 845 Processor,                                             Anshul “A. J.” Joshi
       256 MB RAM, and a 40 GB Disk running Windows XP
  SP2. I also have a Sony Hi 8 handycam. The software on the                  The amount of RAM is not the cause of this problem—
  application CD captures my videos in AVI format, thus eating                what you have is sufficient for converting WMV files
  up loads of space, so I use Windows Movie Maker to capture,            to DAT. We suggest that you save your movies from WMM
  edit, and finalise movies from the cam.                                with a different FPS setting before sending it to Nero to
      When I save them they get saved in WMV format, requir-             convert to DAT. You can set this when saving the file in
  ing me to convert them to DAT to view the videos on a CD               WMM; when you come to the page with the radio button
  player. For this I use the videodisc option in Nero and add            “Best quality for playback on my computer”, click on
  the WMV files to it.                                                   “Show more choices”, and choose a format with a differ-
      Nero converts the files to DAT and writes them to CD,              ent FPS from the one you are currently using. You can see
  which I can view, but these DAT files come with a lower                the FPS in the lower left corner of the dialog box. Be sure
  frame rate, and it seems like the movie is running in slow             to stay away from the DVI format; this will save the movie
  motion even when viewed on a computer. The WMV files                   in AVI format, but will end up as a very large file.


                                                                                       with Windows XP Professional, to which I
Second Things First                                                                    upgraded recently. I noticed that there is no COM
     I recently downloaded Prince of Persia 3D                                         port in the Device Manager. Checking in
     patch v1.1. But ever since I installed it, Prince of                              Add/Remove Hardware also did not show up
Persia 3D gives an error message saying “Insert the                                    anything, and there is no Communication Wizard.
2nd CD-ROM into the drive” even when the second                                        Because of this, I can’t use my dial-up modem. I
CD is sitting in the drive. What’s up?                                                 want to know why the COM port vanished after I
                                          Nikhil Vemula                                installed XP. All other drivers—for display, sound,
                                                                                       etc.—work fine.
      If you have taken a backup of your origi-                                                                                 Rajesh Sharma
      nal discs and are running the game using
the backup discs, we suggest you use the origi-                                             First update your motherboard and
nal discs to start the game. If you still                                                   modem drivers to the latest versions avail-
encounter the problem, go through this diag-                                           able. Also, install Windows XP Service Pack 2.
nostic checklist:                                                                      If this doesn’t fix the problem, then in the
   If you have two or more CD drives, insert the                                       BIOS, disable all your COM ports, boot into XP,
Prince of Persia disc in the drive that has an                                         restart, re-enable the ports, and again boot
earlier drive letter than the others.                                                  into XP. This should take care of the problem.
   Again, if you are using two or more CD
drives, disconnect all but one drive, insert the                                       Out Of Control
CD, and play.                                                                                After installing Windows Vista customizing
   Uninstall any third-party CD-ROM emulation                                                pack v3 from the Digit CD, my system lost the
software like Daemon tools or Alcohol; they can                                        Volume icon in the notification area. When I try to
sometimes cause problems with certain CD                                               fix this problem using the Sounds and Audio Devices
protection systems (SecuROM in this case).                                             Properties and try to check “Place volume icon in
    If this doesn’t help, you are left with no                                         the taskbar”, I get the following error:
choice but to perform a reinstall of the game.                                              “Windows cannot display the volume control on
And this time, don’t apply the patch!                                                  the taskbar because the volume control program
                                                                                       has not been installed. To install it use Add/Remove
Welcome Woes                                                                           programs in the Control Panel”.
    I use Windows XP Professional. The Welcome                                              Under the Audio tab, when I press the Volume
    Screen has changed to that in older versions of                                    button, I get this error:
Windows. How do I get rid of this and get the stan-                                         “Windows cannot execute SndVol32.exe. Use
dard Windows XP Welcome Screen back?                                                   Add/Remove programs in the Control Panel to
                                             N K R Vivek                               install it”.
                                                                Get Help Now!                                               Vismay Badiani
     The Windows XP Welcome Screen is only
     available on computers that aren’t                     E-mail us your computing        You just need to extract the sndvol32.exe
                                                            problems along with your
members of a domain. If your computer is a                  contact details and
                                                                                            file from the Windows XP CD. At a
standalone, then, under User Accounts in the                complete system            command prompt, enter these commands with-
Control Panel, click on “Change the way users               configuration to           out the quotes, where X is your CD drive letter:
log on or off”. Select “Use the Welcome Screen”.            sos@jasubhai.com ,             “X:”
You should now see the Windows XP Welcome                   and we might answer            “CD i386”
Screen at startup.                                          them here! Since we get        “expand -r sndvol32.ex_
                                                            many more mails per day    C:\windows\system32”
                                                            than we can handle, it         (The path “C:\windows” means the path to
No COMfort                                                  may take some time for     where you installed XP; change this if you
                                                            your query to be
    I have an HP Pavilion 6506 with an AMD K6               answered. Rest assured,
                                                                                       installed Windows elsewhere)
    processor running 450 MHz, a 20 GB HDD,                 we are listening!              You should now be able to enable the
256 MB of SDRAM, and Win98 SE multi-booting                                            volume control.

                                                                                                                          DIGIT MARCH 2007      91
     Digital Tools l Agent 001
                                                             Agent 001


     The Core Of The Matter
     Your trusty Agent looks at motherboard-processor combo deals this time—and while Core 2 Duo is
     it as performance goes, he’s not dogmatic about it


     I
        ’ve been busy at home, tinkering with my rigs,                                      as opposed to 1066 MHz. The price is hardly lower
        trying my hand at overclocking and bench-                                           than that of an E6300 (just 150 bucks less), so the
        marking. The performance from my current                                            latter makes for a better deal.
     setup is abysmal enough to require loads of the                                            I was also offered an E6400 for Rs 11,200; this
     former, without much luck with the latter.                                             processor clocks at 2.13 GHz. What about Intel
          I decided that I finally needed to upgrade                                        boards, I wondered? The D965RY is available for
     my motherboard and CPU, since I already have                                           Rs 7,500. It’s based on their G965 chipset.
     two DDR2 memory sticks. DDR2 is the memory                                                 Vendor #3 showed me a board based on
     of choice for all current motherboards, and                                            NVIDIA’s latest 680i chipset. Supporting x16 SLI,
     DDR-based systems should be steered away                                               the ASUS P5N32-E SLI costs around 14,800. This
     from. Incidentally, 1 GB of DDR2 533 MHz                                               motherboard was way beyond my budget, but it
     memory costs Rs 3,500.                                                                 makes a good deal for someone looking for a high-
          A little research revealed that the performance                                   end, feature-rich and future-proof board. I was
     of Intel’s Core 2 Duo series has sent AMD on a                                         shown an E6600 to go with the board. Now this
     price-slashing spree. AM2-based systems offer                                          processor is really something. Priced at Rs 15,500,
     excellent value for money these days, and you can                                      the E6600 runs at 2.4 GHz and offers, at 4 MB,
     often get a board and the processor for the price                                      double the L2 cache of the E6300 and E6400. It’s
     of a Core 2 Duo. However, boys will be boys, and all                                   also fantastically overclockable. A very suitable
     things said, the C2Ds (as Core 2 Duos are called)                                      combination for the enthusiast, however, the
     are the best-performing options out there.                                             ASUS P5B Deluxe would suit this processor as well.
          I had a budget of Rs 15,000 for both the                                              I also enquired about AM2 options. I was shown
     processor and motherboard—something fast, but                                          an ASUS M2N-MX @ Rs 4,500. Based around a
     at a frugal budget.                                                                    GeForce 6100 Northbridge and an nForce 430
          With my maths done, it was time to visit Lam-                                     Southbridge, this board supports all the latest AM2
     ington Road. I popped into a shop I had visited ear-                                   940 pin processors. I was recommended a 3600+
     lier. I got the mandatory “Aaiye bhaiya.” He                                           processor costing Rs 6,200. Next up was a 3800+
     showed me an ASUS P5B Deluxe for 13,000. This                                          priced at Rs 7,400. Both these are capable dual-
     board is based around Intel’s P965 chipset, and                                        cores, and offer adequate performance for all appli-
     really is high-end. It features integrated Wi-Fi, six                                  cations including gaming. The 3800+ is a Windsor
     SATA ports, dual LANs, and two PCIe slots that sup-                                    core based on the 90nm process. The 3600+ dual
     port CrossFire. It has also been touted as an over-                                    core is available in two flavours—an older 90nm
     clocker’s delight. Too expensive for me, though.                                       Windsor core with an L2 cache of 256 KB per core,
          I asked for something entry level, and he                                         while the newer 3600+ Brisbane is a 65nm part,
     showed me an MSI P965 Neo V, which at Rs 6,300                                         sporting a total of 1 MB of L2 cache (512 KB per
     offers Core 2 Duo support. This board, while a far                                     core). There were no combo deals available.
     cry from the P5B Deluxe, has all the features you’d                                                           Decision time: sure the X2s
     need, and at less than half the price. It seems the                                                         are cheaper, and so are the plat-
     Pentium D series have been phased out and this                                                              forms supporting them. But I
     guy didn’t have stock, nor could he arrange for                                                             wanted something that would
     any. The cheapest processor I could get was the                                                      last me a while. I finally decided on
     E6300 clocked at 1.86 GHz—Rs 8,900. I saun-                                                 the MSI P965 Neo V and the E6300. I paid Rs
     tered out and walked into another shop.                                                14,500 for both, getting a small discount.
          Now this guy showed me two Giga-                                                      To all of you on a similar hunt, I’d suggest a
     byte motherboards—a G965-DS3 and                                                       short wait if your need isn’t as great as mine was.
     a P965-DS3. The “G” version has inte-                                                  Intel has planned for a large price drop in late
     grated graphics (true for all Intel board                                              April, and prices here should reflect within a
     nomenclatures) while the “P” version doesn’t. The                                         month of that. There is also a Q6600 processor—
     DS series from Gigabyte have an all-solid-state                                            basically a Core 2 Quad clocked at 2.4 GHz,
     capacitor design, meaning longer mother-                                                    which promises to be priced at around the 25K
     board life; most motherboards use a mix of                                                   mark soon. While it may seem unaffordable
     solid-state and electrolytic capacitors. The                                                 now, the higher processors in the Core 2 Duo
     boards were priced similarly—the 965G                                                        line-up (like the E6600 and E6700) will surely
     costing Rs 9,500 and the 965P costing                                                      fall to really affordable levels. Hold your horses
     9,800. The store guy also showed me a                                                   just a bit longer.
     new Core 2 Duo—the E4300. This is a
     full-fledged Core 2 Duo (1.8 GHz)
                                                                                             Want more of Agent 001? Turn over to read his
     minus Virtualization Technology,
                                                             Illustration Pravin Warhokar    answers to your buying questions
     and a lower-speed FSB (800 MHz)

92   DIGIT MARCH 2007
     Digital Tools l Agent 001                                Ask Agent 001
     Swearing By Nikon                                                                    A Question Of Essentials
          I want to buy a Nikon camera for professional                                        I’m interested in the following components.
          use in the range of Rs 13,000. What will be the                                      Please suggest the best buy for the price.
     best configuration with a good lens and flash? Can I                                   A perfect 17-inch LCD monitor with good viewing
     also opt for the COSINO camera for professional use?                                   angles and good for graphics on a budget of
                                            Animesh Dutta                                   Rs 10,000 to 11,000
                                                                                            A processor and motherboard with onboard graph-
             Your best bet is the Nikon P3, costing around                                  ics, which can help a great deal in gaming and mul-
             Rs 12,500. I’m talking grey-market rates. It                                   timedia; budget Rs 12,000 ~ 13,000 for both
     features an 8.1 MP lens with 3.5x optical zoom and                                                                        Rishabh Sharma
     all the other features expected from a compact
     camera. Besides having great build quality, the P3                                           For a very good 17-inch monitor, you can
     also features Optical Image Stabilization, which will                                        look at the Samsung 770P. It’s a PVA (Pat-
     allow you to take blur-free shots.                                                   terned Vertical Alignment) panel and therefore
                                                                                          costly—Rs 18,500. A regular 17-inch LCD within
                                                                                          your budget would be the Samsung 740N, a TN
     Graphics Cards Revisited                                                             (Twisted Nematic) costing 10K. The former will
          I have an MSI RS 480-IL motherboard, an AMD                                     give you much better colour and contrast,
          Athlon 64 2800+, a 250 W SMPS, an 80 GB SATA                                    whereas the latter is nearly half its price for the
     HDD, and Windows XP Professional. Now I would like                                   same screen size.
     to buy a suitable graphics card at around Rs 8,000 to                                    I suggest you extend that budget slightly to
     10,000. Please suggest a suitable one. If I upgrade to                               go Core 2 Duo. Get an Intel E6300 processor. You
     a high-end motherboard, can I use the same card?                                     can expect to pay up to Rs 9,500. For the moth-
     Will my current SMPS work fine?                                                      erboard, go with an ASUS P5LD2-VM SE. This will
                                          K Ashok Vardhan                                 be priced in the region of 5,000.

             Your motherboard has certain issues with
             all NVIDIA-based graphics cards. This nar-                                   Modest Needs
     rows down your options to ATI-based ones. For                                             I want to buy an MP3 player. 512 MB would suf-
     the budget mentioned, I suggest you pick up a                                             fice. My budget is Rs 2,700. If the player has an
     Sapphire X1600XT with 256 MB of memory. This                                         SD slot, so much the better.
     card, while falling within your budget, will pro-                                                                              Kunal Tyagi
     vide sufficient graphics horsepower. And yes, you
     can use this card with any high-end mother-                                                 I’d recommend the Transcend T.sonic
     board that has a PCI-Express slot.                                                          610. It offers decent music playback, a
         I recommend upgrading your SMPS to at                                            good feature set, and you can get it in 512 MB, 1
     least 450 watts to ensure stable performance.                                        GB and 2 GB capacities. The price should be
     Brands to choose from are VIP and Zebronics.                                         around Rs 1,850 for the 512 MB version, and the
                                                                                          1 GB version is just Rs 2,300—well within your
                                                                                          budget.
     Cores Again!
           I want to buy a dual-core-processor-based
           system. Besides programming, I will use the PC
                                                                                          C2D Mania!
     for DTP work, watching and burning movies, and also                                       I want to buy a laptop with at least the fol-
     a lot of gaming. Please suggest a good configuration.                                     lowing specifications: Intel Core 2 Duo, 512 MB
     Could you also give me approximate prices?                                           RAM, weight within 3 kg, 15.4-inch widescreen, 60
                                            Aabid Hussain                                 GB HDD, and it must have a DVD-Writer. My budget
                                                                                          is rupees 40,000.
              Your best bet is an Intel Core 2 Duo based                                                                   Prosenjit Mukherjee
              system. How apt that I’ve bought one
     myself and even written—on the previous page—                                                Your budget is too low to get a Core 2 Duo
     about the components I considered before                                                     processor based laptop. However you could
     making my decision. For your needs I recom-                                          just manage a Core Duo. I seriously suggest you
     mend the following:                                                                  consider AMD Turion options, as these my priced
     Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E6300 (1.86 GHz),                                        well within your budget. Celeron and Pentium 4
     Rs 9,200                                                                             based laptops do not make sense. This is because
     Motherboard: MSI P965 Neo V, Rs 5,700                         Ask Away!              of both performance and power issues.
     Memory: 1 GB DDR2 533 MHz, Rs 3,250                       Want a tech product, but
                                                                                              Take a look at the Compaq Presario V3000
     Hard disk: Samsung SP2504C 250 GB SATA,                   don’t know how to go       series. Costing Rs 45,000 and above, they are Core
     Rs 3,800                                                  about buying it? E-mail    Duo based. Core Solo processors are available on
     Graphics card: Geforce 7600GT (brands—Forsa or            agent001@thinkdigit.com    the Compaq C300 notebook series. These will cost
     Palit), Rs 8,000                                          with your complete         much less. HP laptops are all in the range of 50K
         I’d recommend a 19-inch widescreen LCD to             contact details, and he    and above. However, in the 15.4-inch category, you
     go with this configuration. This will cost you            might answer them here!    could look at a Dell Inspiron 6400 too. It costs just
     around Rs 13,500.                                         Please note that           upwards of 45,000 (base model), and offers a Core
         The minimum you should consider if price              Agent001 only answers      Duo. Lenovo’s N Series also has a Core Solo model
                                                               purchase-related
     is a constraint is a 17-inch LCD. You’ll save             questions in this space.
                                                                                          priced at around Rs 45,000. I’d suggest a bit of
     around 3.5K.                                                                         market research before taking the plunge.

94   DIGIT MARCH 2007
      OLD
      WAY
      TECH
       WAY                  TV vs. YouTube
     I hardly get time to
     watch TV anymore.      Robert Sovereign-Smith (robert_smith@thinkdigit.com)
     Yes, I will fall
     mysteriously ill
     when the Cricket
     World Cup begins,
     and have to miss
     work; otherwise,
     the Idiot Box is
     somewhat of a faint
     memory... Most of
     my entertainment
     is portable,
     watched on the
     move, or at work,
     on a computer.
     YouTube is the new
     idiot box for most
     of us with decently
     wide Net pipes, so I
     decided to find out
     whether I was really
     missing anything.        Addicted to TV...                                            ...and getting addicted to YouTube as well

                            I’ve just got Tata Sky installed at home. Clarity is         I love YouTube. I like spending my free time looking at


           1                good, it’s stereo, and I like the experience of “Active,”
                            which is Tata’s version of interactive TV—DTH and
                            CAS seems to actually be better, and worth the extra
                            money. Unfortunately, most of the new TV series
                            seem alien, except for classics like Friends and Seinfeld.
                                                                                         other people making fools of themselves on camera,
                                                                                         and what better place to do this than YouTube?
                                                                                         There’s also intriguing content, like sightings of UFOs
                                                                                         or the Abominable Snowman, or music videos by
                                                                                         budding artists from around the globe...



           2
                            I’m officially hooked! Lost and Heroes are two of my         The best thing about sites like YouTube is that I’m
                            favourite shows! Sadly, my job demands that I miss at        really king of my PC and Net connection. I watch
                            least two episodes a month. I also found we have too         what I want to, when I want to. It’s not going
                            many channels! I have five favourites, but I can’t           anywhere. There’s no schedule. No repeat telecasts to
                            watch them all at once... I’m considering buying a           worry about. No TV-Tuners. All that’s required is a
                            TV-Tuner so I never miss another episode.                    desire to be entertained, and a few mouse clicks.



           3
                            I’ve re-discovered Discovery and The History Channel! I      I like the lack of censorship on the Net. I don’t like
                            wish I had these channels to watch when I was                being told that although I’m an adult, I’m not
                            growing up. I now need my daily dose of                      qualified to decide what I can or cannot watch!
                            edutainment. To be honest, this TV experience is             YouTube can be clean family fun, or wacky adult
                            becoming addictive, but I wonder if that’s more to do        humour; I like being able to make that choice!
                            with the fact that I wasn’t a regular couch potato—I         There’s a lack of educational information (the
                            am fast becoming one though!                                 Discovery or History Channel kind), but I did learn a
                                                                                         really cool and simple way of folding shirts neatly!

                            I now know why they call this the “idiot box.” I spent       Resolutions and clarity aren’t what we expect—not

           4                the whole weekend glued to the TV, did absolutely
                            nothing else, slept only a few hours, and am now
                            suffering a sore thumb from channel surfing, and I
                            feel hung over. That’s it. No more TV for me! I’ll just
                                                                                         at our speeds at least. But the quality is bearable, it’s
                                                                                         completely on-demand, and for this very reason, is
                                                                                         not addictive at all. But it’s on my computer, and so
                                                                                         its more of an individual’s entertainment solution. I
                            wait for the World Cup to begin and then promptly            can’t get my family to gather round and make some
                            lose control again...                                        popcorn for a session of YouTube-ing, now, can I?



                             Entertainment: 3.5/5                                         Entertainment: 3.5/5




        And
        The
                                     say, for    there’s no contest: YouTube wins
                            Ihave todown.Digitmeand my family and friends, feel TV is
                             hands
                            colleagues at
                                           Interestingly, the majority of my
                                               ,
                                                                                          As far as a conclusion goes, popular opinion forces
                                                                                      me to admit that for families, nothing beats the boob-
                                                                                      tube. For individuals, YouTube is a very real alternative to
       Winner               the better entertainer. They like being able to sit down  the TV when it comes to entertainment. Educational
        Is...               with the family and watch an old Bollywood flick! Each to programmes? Stick to Discovery! Sorry, but this is
                            their own, I say.                                         another Old Way, Tech Way that ends in a boring draw!


96      DIGIT MARCH 2007
                                                                                              Digital Business l Tech Careers

                                                                                  Digital
                                                                              Business
                                                                                  How Technology Can Help Your Organisation
100             Ditch That
                Wallet!      104      Screening
                                      Success       114      Through
                                                             The Ages

Tech Careers


Driving The Numbers
A career in the              Samir Makwana                                          Opportunities
                                                                                    Under databases, which is a very broad area,
broad area of

                             A
                                    ny business is dependant on data to a           opportunities lie in areas such as software devel-
databases can be                    large extent, and data is one of the most       opment, administration, management, and the
technically                         valuable assets of any organisation. IT and     designing of databases. One can jumpstart a
                             ITES are used extensively across various industry      career by working in any of these and more to
challenging,                 verticals, and in this info-centric age, data very     explore broader horizons. The major sectors are
intellectually               obviously drives business.                             banking and financial, manufacturing, telecom-
                                 Although databases are managed and main-           munication, education, and retail.
taxing, and                  tained in most industry verticals, this is mostly          “Database professionals are hot commodities
financially                  so is in Banking, Financial Services and               in the IT industry. The service sector needs skills.
rewarding                    Insurance (BFSI), Telecom, Manufacturing, and          Many MNCs are outsourcing their IT infrastruc-
                             E-governance. The first three sectors are grow-        ture to India. Also, back-end database profession-
                             ing very fast. Databases in these sectors have         als are an integral and critical part of the IT infra-
                             become complex, and serve small, medium, and           structure,” says Vadiraja Bhatt, Senior Software
                             large businesses.                                      Architect, ASE-SPEED group, Sybase India.
                                 Businesses going online, and real-time trans-
                             actions, have now increased the requirements for       Scope Of Options
                             a robust and reliable database infrastructure. A       The major areas within databases and allied
                             number of different applications and packages          areas are explained below.
                             such as ERP (Enterprise Resources Planning) and            Database Software Development: The pro-
                             CRM (Customer Resources Management) result in          file of the individual here remains the same as
                             complex databases.                                     in other areas of software development. Good
                                 Data has to be managed and maintained well         programming, debugging, problem-solving and
                             since it plays a crucial role in decision-making.      analytical skills are expected.
                             There is a need for a skilled workforce                    Database Administration: The activities
                             that can manage, maintain, process,                    here include planning, testing, installing, diag-
                             and secure databases for the smooth                    nosing, and maintaining of information in the
Illustration Pradip Ingale   flow of business activities.                           form of databases in an organisation or any
                                                                                      other institutional body. Primary tasks here
                                                                                        involve managing databases, developing
                                                                                                reports, optimising the computer sys-
     Digital Business l Tech Careers
                                tems used for storing databases, diagnosing, per-            “Certifications are positively recommended.
                                formance optimisation, regular backups, data-           Today, business clients appreciate people with cer-
                                base optimisation over mainframes, and ensur-           tifications. Be it on the technical side or the busi-
                                ing database efficiency.                                ness side, they get recognised for their abilities
                                    The people one works with are the manage-           and stand out from the crowd. For those into busi-
                                ment, IT professionals, end-users, system ana-          ness intelligence, business/commercial knowl-
                                lysts, and technical support.                           edge is necessary at any level of the hierarchy,”
                                    In any strategic decision relating to purchase      says Sanjay Deshmukh, Business Development
                                of systems or equipment, or applying solutions,         Director—India/SAARC, Business Objects, who spe-
                                advice from these professionals is needed.              cialise in business intelligence services.
                                    Data Security: Preparing data security plans,            India has a number of global DBMS software
     Certifications are         selection of appropriate tools, deployment of           vendors who offer education and training for
                                security tools, regular data backups, and selec-        their software packages. The major ones are
     important tools to         tion of appropriate media for data is the respon-       Oracle, IBM, Sybase, and Microsoft. The courses
     show the prowess           sibility of those in this segment.                      offered are from the entrant level to the special-
     in the field by any            Database Designers: Data helps in decision-         ist level, with specially-designed modules for
     person who holds           making for business activities; for that, the sys-      each level. These professional certifications add
     them and gives             tem needs to be efficiently designed. A lot of data     value to your résumé.
                                is accessed online in real-time, for, say, retailing.        For non-IT people, options are available in
     recognition to             Data structures are to be designed such that            the allied fields of databases such as data mining
     stand out in the           there is no flaw at any end, and the structure has      and business intelligence. A post-graduate
     crowd”                     to be flexible enough to incorporate expansion.         degree equivalent to Master of Business, or a
                                    Solution Architects: Those employed in this         commercial background with specialisation in a
     Davey Brooks
                                area interact with clients and derive solutions         domain such as finance, or a Chartered
     Managing Partner -
                                for their businesses. For example, in the case of       Accountant degree, are required for analytical
     Professional Services,
                                the banking industry, solutions for real-time           functions for positions such as Financial analyst
     for South-East
                                banking issues, data mobilisation and safety            and budgeting.
     Asia/India
                                would be provided by the solution architects.                “There are exceptions in every field. Students
     Teradata - A division of
                                They gather the client’s requirements, derive           from non-IT backgrounds can indeed enter this
     NCR Corp.
                                appropriate solutions, document the solutions           arena. For such profiles, good commercial or
                                employed, and ensure solution integrity.                business knowledge is necessary for dealing with
                                    Data Warehousing, Business Intelligence,            clients and organisations from different verti-
                                and Data Mining: See box Specialisations.               cals,” says Davey Brooks, managing partner—pro-
                                                                                        fessional services, South-East Asia/India,
                                Entry Into The Field                                    Teradata (a division of NCR Corporation), which
                                The industry seeks candidates with a fairly good        offers enterprise data warehousing and analyti-
                                academic record. Candidates should be from the          cal solutions.
                                IT or engineering backgrounds. According to
                                industry guidelines, graduates (BCA/B.E./B.Tech.)       Skills
                                and post graduates (MCA/M.E./M.Tech.) in the            The basic skills required of a data professional
                                field of computer science or computer engineer-         would be expertise over any one area of database
                                ing remain the most sought-after. In certain            technology. The usual soft skills such as the abil-
                                cases, students of mathematics are preferred.           ity to work in a team are also required. For the
                                    During the academic tenure of pursuing an           consultancy and business solutions functions,
                                IT or engineering degree, subjects relating to          skills such as inter-personal and intra-personal
                                database management systems, data structures,           skills are essential.
                                and database design need to be studied. A selec-
                                tion of subjects that covers DBMS packages and          Testing Times
                                programming languages has to be made by both            While hiring candidates, organisations look for
                                IT and engineering students.                            three criteria—education, experience, and pro-
                                    “Formal education is fairly important and           fessional credentials. For those just starting off,
                                essential; also, cases of non-IT people who enter       fundamentals relating to database management
                                and become successful are very rare. Technical          systems and general aptitude are tested. At the
                                education strengthens the basic fundamentals            time of hiring, aptitude tests that check the aspi-
                                about the job,” says Seema Ambastha, Director—          rant’s fundamentals and basics relating to DBMS
                                Sales Consulting (Database Technologies), Oracle        are conducted. Organisations consider the proj-
                                India Ltd, who offer solutions for businesses—          ect(s) opted for during the academic tenure.
                                databases, middleware, business intelligence,           Across industry verticals, organisations into
                                business applications, and collaboration.               development of DBMS software necessarily scru-
                                    One’s institution must be recognised by the         tinise academic records, projects undertaken,
                                All India Council for Technical Education               and DBMS fundamentals.
                                (AICTE). The AICTE is a statutory body that co-
                                ordinates development of the technical educa-           Training
                                tion system across the country. It becomes an           Training sessions assume that freshers have
                                individual’s responsibility to check for the            hands-on experience with DBMS applications
                                recognition of the educational institutes with          and platforms. However, software vendors and
                                the AICTE before applying for admission. Also,          software development organisations have train-
                                the electives being offered should be con-              ing modules designed according to the experi-
                                firmed beforehand.                                      ence and interest of the employees.

98   DIGIT FEBRUARY 2007
                                                                                            Digital Business l Tech Careers
    “Training at our organisation is carried out
for fresh folks for their optimum performance              Specialisations
and upgradation of skills. We have different
training modules such as class-based, Web-based,       Data Warehousing is the collection of     strategic planning and analysis of the
and on-the-job kind of training,” informs Brooks.      non-volatile information of business      available data at various levels to aid
The duration of the training period is usually         processes such as the cost per unit,      decision-making. Solution support
between two and ten weeks, depending upon the          expenses incurred per employee in a       activities such as online analytical
nature of the training module.                         particular year/month/quarter, etc., so   processing (OLAP), statistical analysis,
    “We at Oracle have special training modules        that they can be extracted, analysed,     forecasting, query reports, error
designed for three levels—Fundamental,                 processed, and used for further           reporting, and decision support can
Advanced, and Specialist. All are short-term,          understanding of the data. It can also    be performed using BI applications.
intensively-designed modules for those who             be seen as the technique of gathering     Data Mining refers to the process of
want to have in-depth knowledge and hands-on           data and maintaining it for business      drawing useful data patterns and
skills with DBMS products,” says Ambastha.             purposes such as purchase, payment,       information from large databases
                                                       and other strategic decisions.            using mathematical techniques. From
Designation And Remuneration                           Business Intelligence (BI) is a           large databases, the known
The designations awarded depend on the per-            process where programs and systems        relationship patterns such as
formance and capabilities of the employee. They        are used for gathering, storing,          consumers’ common interests, their
differ across organisations and industries. The        analysing, providing access to, and       buying behaviour, etc. are extracted
fields branch out into technical and business-ori-     retrieving large data within an           and then analysed for better decision-
ented profiles at the middle level, where one can      enterprise. The databases are used for    making and other strategic activities.
decide upon an area of expertise.
    Entry Level: In programming, be it a small                                   such. For consultants in data warehousing, busi-
application or utility or a big ERP or database                                  ness intelligence, and data mining, the designa-
package, the majority of the designations                                        tions would be senior consultant, consulting
remain the same throughout the industry.                                         head, head architect (solutions), and so on.
    For database management, software pro-                                           The time taken to advance to the next level is
gramming and development, administration,                                        three to five years, and pay scales are Rs 45,000 to
designing and solutions, consulting and busi-                                    Rs 80,000 per month.
ness solutions of DBMS software, the growth                                          Senior Level: Here, the individual would be
path is similar to that of in other professions.                                 responsible for and lead all the teams below him.
    At this level, most tasks require core-to-field                              He/she would lead a product group—or group of
kind of activities like programming, coding,                                     solutions—to deliver cutting-edge solutions in
deployment of and working with database appli-        The appraisal and          accordance with the demands of clients from dif-
cations, end-user support, data backup, and                                      ferent industry verticals. These professionals take
more. Posts awarded in programming would be
                                                      promotions are             all strategic decisions relating to projects to be
associate software engineer, software engineer,       procured by                undertaken or those already running.
etc. These people will be part of a project team,     individuals as per         Designations awarded in development, database
but handle specific modules independently.            their ability based        designing, solution architecting, and administra-
    For database administration, the designa-         on their                   tion of databases would be director of engineer-
tions awarded would be technical support, tech-                                  ing, vice president (database technologies), or
nical expert/specialist, solution architect,
                                                      assessment of              country head/manager (database package).
designer, and so on. Similarly, for a consulting      work performance               Consultants are designated the domain con-
domain like data warehousing, business intelli-       and contribution           sultant, principal consultant, president/vice
gence and data mining, one can be a consultant        to a project”              president (consulting), and so forth. The average
(technical or business), research assistant, assis-                              time take to get here is more than six or eight
tant analyst, and such.                               Seema Ambastha             years in a particular domain. Remuneration
    At this level, the average time taken to reach    Director - Sales           starts from Rs 85,000 per month, with the upper
one position up would be a minimum of one to          Consulting (Database       limit decided by the organisation.
two years. The average monthly salary a fresher       Technologies)
can expect is between Rs 20,000 to Rs 40,000.         Oracle India Pvt. Ltd.     Summing It Up
    Middle Level: As one moves higher, the area                                  According to Gartner, the global DBMS market
of expertise branches out into technical or busi-                                will generate $13.2 billion (Rs 61,400 crore) by
ness-related; one has to choose. Database profes-                                2009, and the DBMS software market has a com-
sionals at these levels would be in charge of the                                pound annual growth rate of 10.3 per cent,
testing and validation of functions such as                                      bringing the market to $1.3 billion (Rs 6,000
design, solutions, data backup, security, etc.                                   crore) in new license revenue by 2009. One can
They lead a team of juniors.                                                     sum up from the figures that there is immense
    The majority of individuals at the middle                                    scope in databases as a career option.
level lead single or multiple projects, resolve                                      In India, many multinationals are bringing
technical issues, scope out the functionality of                                 in their operational centres such as country
databases, estimate resources, derive solutions                                  offices, research labs, and such. And there will
to technical and business issues relating to data-                               always be a dearth of qualified and skilled data-
bases, and so forth.                                                             base professionals.
    Designations awarded to those in software                                        We’ve said the scope is immense, that the
development, database administration, solu-                                      remuneration is attractive, and we’ve indicated
tions, design, and architecture would be senior                                  the field is challenging. So what does a career in
software engineer/developer, project lead, senior                                databases sound like?
data architect, senior solution architect, and                                                       samir_makwana@thinkdigit.com

                                                                                                                    DIGIT FEBRUARY 2007     99
      Digital Business l Case Study
              o one likes bills. Especially when there’s        The Evolution Of PayMate
       N      a lot to be shelled out, and when you
              have to stand in a queue to pay them.
                                                                Every month, over four million users are added
                                                                to the number of mobile phone subscribers in
      To our relief, a number of bill payment options           India. According to the Telecom Regulatory
      have sprung up in recent years: one can now               Authority of India (TRAI), more than 65 million
      pay by cheque, Internet banking, telebanking,             mobile phone subscribers were added in the
      bill collection, cash cards, or even using a              year 2006, and there is a total of nearly 190 mil-
      mobile phone.                                             lion mobile users in the country. A mobile is
          Exploring this untapped potential are a               part of almost every second home, and is now
      number of companies coming up with innova-                being looked at for purposes beyond commu-
      tive payment solutions. Payments by mobile is             nication and entertainment.
      one of these, part of the evolution from e-com-               Ajay Adiseshann and Probir Roy, founders of
      merce to m-commerce—mobile commerce.                      Coruscant Tec, a mobile content developer and
          The use of credit cards in India is nowhere
      as much as it is in Western countries. But even
      though the Internet penetration is high in
      urban India, people don’t seem to be willing to
      make purchases online. This is fuelled in part
      by credit card fraud and the press coverage it
      gets; many people would never reveal
      their card number online. Some are even
      wary of handing over a card to a restaurant
      waiter, for example!




      Illustration Chaitanya Surpur
      Photograph Sandeep Patil




      Ditch That Wallet!
      You can now pay bills using a mobile phone in India—the wave of m-commerce is upon us!
      Samir Makwana

          No comprehensive statistics are available             services provider, founded PayMate India Ltd in
      for individual credit card fraud cases, but it is         July 2006. PayMate is a mobile commerce solu-
      more than clear that consumers want a more                tion provider. PayMate’s payment solution works
      secure payment option.                                    on the “single SMS” model, wherein a registered
          With the boom in the telecom industry and             user can make payments to a PayMate accredited
      with big players in the market, mobile com-               merchant via a single SMS.
      merce has passed the nascent stage. Payment                    “Today, the mobile phone is part of everybody’s
      via mobile phone, which has existed for a while           life as a device for communication and entertain-
      in developed countries, is now possible here as           ment. People use VAS (Value Added Services) from
      well. Not too many merchants might be                     the content providers and mobile operators.
      accepting mobile payments as of now, but the                   “We foresaw the potential of mobile phones
      idea is catching on.                                      as a commercial tool for transactions and

100   DIGIT MARCH 2007
                  Digital Business l Case Study
founded PayMate. Our mobile payment solu-
tion is simple to use, secured, and it’s an
absolutely hack-free model,” says Adiseshann.
    As of now, this payment solution is avail-
able for Citibank bank account holders, and
can be used by credit card as well as debit card
holders. In the near future, PayMate services
will be available to customers of other major
Indian banks.
    “Mobile payment is a new payment option
we have adopted along with credit cards, Net
banking, cash on delivery, and cheque collec-
tion. We’re using mobile payment for our e-com-
merce platform as it is simple to use, and more
important, it offers security against disclosure
of credit card details. We feel that this mode of
payment would be adopted everywhere for shop-
ping and other commercial transactions as well
in the near future,” says Manish Agarwal, Vice
President, Marketing, Rediff.com.
    Initially, PayMate tied up with leading
online portals—Rediff.com, Naukri.com, Jee-
vansaathi.com, Travelmartindia.com, India-
times.com, Makemytrip.com, Cleartrip.com,
and Fabmall.com. Gradually, their merchant
base has expanded to over 2,500 merchants
accredited with PayMate’s mobile payment
solution. PayMate’s merchant base can be
accessed at www.paymate.co.in.

The Working Model
PayMate’s mobile payment solution requires
just a basic mobile phone with SMS service.
One can enter a transaction from anywhere. As
of now, Airtel, BPL Mobile, Hutch, and Reliance
customers can register with PayMate.
    There’s no SIM upgrade, GPRS connectivity, or
installation of an application required for mobile
payment using PayMate. Except for the registra-
tion process, all transactions happen via SMS. Pay-
Mate services are only available in English.
    Citibank customers need to send an SMS
“PAYMATE” to CITI (2484). The customer will
receive a call back, and registration details
would be sought.
    Upon completion of registration, the cus-
tomer will receive a four-digit PIN number as
an SMS, which can be changed later, also via
SMS. This PIN number is required for all future
transactions. Merchants are registered with
PayMate and the bank. For pursuing transac-
tions, the merchants would need a mobile
phone or a PC with Internet connectivity.
    The merchant logs in to his account at the
PayMate Web site, and feed in the phone
number of the customer and the amount to be
debited. Only the mobile number is required
to be given to a merchant by the customer.
    Within a minute or two, the person paying
receives an SMS message seeking approval for
the transaction with the amount to be paid to
the merchant. “The initial waiting time has
been set as three minutes, in order to compen-
sate for possible delays in receipt of messages
due to network congestion or any other
errors,” says Adiseshann. The SMS has to be
replied with the command words “PAY [Alpha
Code] PIN” within three minutes. The Alpha
Code is a unique code that is auto-generated

                                                      DIGIT MARCH 2007   101
Digital Business l Case Study
                                                                        number. The solution is safe, since no credit
                                                                        card details are disclosed between either of
                                                                        the parties throughout the transaction. Even
                                                                        for a PIN number change, the details go to the
                                                                        bank’s and PayMate’s servers.

                                                                        The Future Of Mobile Commerce
                                                                        As per the Mobile Value Added Services report
                                                                        prepared by IAMAI (Internet and Mobile Asso-
                                                                        ciation of India) and IMRB International, the
                                                                        Mobile Value Added Services Industry will
                                                                        worth about $1 bn (Rs 4,560 crore) in 2007.
                                                                             “At present, our services are at very nas-
                                                                        cent stage, and we look forward to develop this
                                                                        mobile commerce ecosystem. Shortly, we’ll
                                                                        roll out more services and solutions based on
                                                                        our experiences and learning over time. Our
                                                                        next target is the retail industry, which is the
                                                                        next big thing. From our end, an EDC Machine
                                                                        will be given to the accredited merchants,
                                                                        where they can key in the mobile number and
                                                                        the amount, which prevents any disclosure of
                                                                        the credit card details of the customer. The
                                                                        device is almost ready and will be rolled out
                                                                        within a few weeks,” informs Adiseshann.
                                                                            Collaboration with merchants from dif-
A dumbed-down look at all that goes on in and around PayMate—from the   ferent industry verticals and services from
collaboration with the banks to interacting with your cell phone        other banks to roll out PayMate’s services will
                                                                        be possible in near future. At present PayMate
                                                                        wants to develop the ecosystem—expand to
for each transaction. It is sent you with the        The solution is    various sectors where a number of merchants
payment request message. If the message is                              can provide consumers with the PayMate pay-
not replied to within three minutes, the trans-      safe, since no     ment model.
action process has to be restarted.                  credit card            Other mobile payment solutions are avail-
    The SMS of the payment to the PayMate-           details are        able, too, like Itz cash card and JiGrahak.
accredited merchant is received by the bank,         disclosed          Intrex India offers the Itz cash card, by which
which debits the account after the phone             throughout the     anyone can make payments for online retail
number is verified. For completion of the                               and offline merchants and even telecom
transaction, a confirmation SMS is sent to           transaction        service providers. The card is pre-loaded with
both customer and merchant.                                             a certain cash amount, with an account
    The PayMate service is free, and no                                 number and a PIN. JiGrahak is a service for
monthly or yearly charges are levied. Cus-                              which software has to be downloaded to the
tomers are charged only by the mobile service                           phone; one can then feed bank account or
provider for the SMS. Currently, the ceiling for                        card (debit/credit) details and then select a
transactions has been set to Rs 5,000 per trans-                        payment option for transactions with Pay-
action and Rs 10,000 per day. A certain per-                            Mate-accredited merchants.
centage of the transaction is paid to PayMate
by the accredited merchant as a fee.                                    In Conclusion
                                                                        “Mobile payment solutions are in their infancy
Safety And Security                                                     and a lot of companies are looking at different
The payment model of PayMate has been pre-                              solutions to deliver safe and secure payment
pared in accordance with the security recom-                            solutions on the mobile. As more and more
mendations by Ernst & Young, a firm involved                            players invest in technology and innovative solu-
in accounting and professional advisory serv-                           tions, this could be a good payment option for
ices. An individual has to reveal his or her                            consumers in the near future,” says Agarwal.
credit card details only once—while registering                             Some wonder about the point of using a
with PayMate. (For all payment transactions                             mobile as a wallet: why not just use credit
with merchants, only the mobile number is                               cards—the security standpoint apart? Well,
required—no confidential information needs                              what about when you’ve just got pizza deliv-
to be disclosed.)                                                       ered and you don’t have cash… the delivery boy
    If the individual’s phone is lost, the bank                         isn’t carrying around a card-swiping machine
as well as PayMate are to be informed so as to                          with him, is he?
disable any transactions through that mobile                                To buy movie tickets, shop at malls, pick
                                                                        up CDs, book air tickets, donate to a temple, or
                                                                        enter into any transaction at all for that
                                                                        matter, mobile payment is gradually being
                                                                        made available—a tangible sign of the state of
                                                                        m-commerce in the country.
                                                                                          samir_makwana@thinkdigit.com
Digital Business l Projectors




          Screening Success                  Great Ideas are nothing but decent ideas that have been
                                                   presented really well. Dim the lights ladies and
                                                          gentlemen…nine projectors in test!
                        Michael Browne




                        B
                                e it a PowerPoint slide of
                                the next big idea or a         emphatic statements, strong
                                sales report, it’s the pres-   convictions, and, of course, one
                                entation that matters.         of these test subjects!
                        Because the devil really is in the         Projectors these days aren’t
                        details! How many times have           exclusive to the corporate realm,
                        you come across a really great         and their use in building a home
                        idea falling short of appeal           entertainment system is a trend
                        because of inefficient communi-        that is sharply on the rise, espe-
                        cation? And what else is a pres-       cially over the last year or so.
                        entation if not an effort to psyche        LCD TVs have made a splash,
                        (for lack of a better word) others     and so have the newer and
                        into your way of thinking?             bigger plasma screens.
                            And that’s what a projector
                        is—a communication tool for
                        the discerning professional,
                        which gets across the message
                        like no words or laptops ever
                        can. Gone are the days when
                        boardrooms were impressed
                        by presentations on a puny
                        15.4-inch screen. If you
                        want to get your
                        point across,
                        you need

                                                                                                    These are typically viewed as
                                                                                                    entertainment           projectors
                                                                                                    because of the superior resolu-
                                                                                                    tion they provide; however, they
                                                                                                    don’t cost as much as you’d
                                                                    While a 103-inch screen may     think. With businesses using
                                                               mean visual utopia, the prices of    Flash animations and even 3D
                                                               such screens are astronomical.       rendering software for presenta-
                                                               Enter the projector… As you will     tions, a multimedia projector is
                                                               see all throughout these tests,      well worth the little extra.
                                                               some of the projectors we                There will also be those
                                                               received make for very suitable      users (albeit one in a thousand
                                                               components for a full-fledged        of our readers) who will want to,
                                                               home entertainment system.           or be able to, afford to use a pro-
                                                                   Most corporate users will        jector to play games. Yes,
                                                               feel that a costlier home-enter-     hooked up to a capable PC, most
                                                               tainment projector isn’t neces-      XGA projectors today are capa-
                                                               sary for presenting reports.         ble of very acceptable results.
                                                               With escalating costs, it isn’t      We tried playing a number of
                                                               necessary to add one more, is        games on all the projectors, and
                                                               it? Wrong—as with all technol-       a couple of our gaming freaks
                                                               ogy, the binary of advance-          actually started creeping into
                                                               ments and falling costs is           the Digit Test Centre for some
                                                               strongly in place.                   late-night action!
                                                                   Most projectors available             Gone are the days when a
                                                                              today are XGA         business-grade projector was
                                                                                (capable of a       just that, and totally unsuitable
                                                                                  resolution of     for    multimedia       purposes.
                                                                                   1024x768).       Today’s projectors are more
Imaging Pradip Ingale
                                                                                                    suitable to a variety of tasks.
                                                                              Digital Business l Projectors

                                                                             the finer details. Our business
Acer PD-726W                                                                 readers will be happy to note that
The Black Knight                                         MARCH 2007
                                                                             text reproduction is sharp.
                                                                                 Halos that appeared around

P   erhaps the best looking of the
    test candidates, Acer’s large
PD-726W comes in an attractive
                                           The menu
                                       interface is
                                       good, and the
                                                                             extremely light colours would dis-
                                                                              appear by tuning brightness and
                                                                               contrast settings, but we do not
yet sober black-silver colour tone.    PD-726W has a                           adjust anything once we finish
The build quality is laudable.         lot of extra net-                             calibrating, so the PD-
      One sore point—the remote        working options.                                726W lost out here.
will not interface with the projec-    It allows specifying                                The PD726W makes
tor if you are seated directly         an IP address to                               for a great movie projec-
behind the unit. To use the            which a message can                   tor with sharp image rendition
remote from behind the projector       be automatically sent if anything     and great contrast. Throw a
you’ll need to elevate the remote      goes wrong.                           couple of games at it and it’ll
or come to either side (left or            The PD726W was the bright-        shine even more. F.E.A.R. looked
right) or in front of the projector.   est amongst all our tests subjects,   virtually as crisp as it looks on a
The second gripe is with the           while not suffering contrast defi-    desktop monitor!
remote buttons—they are too            ciencies (2500:1).                        With some sterling scores
hard; a complete lack of tactility.          During calibration the 256-     across the board, our Best Buy
     The minimum throw distance        shade intensity screen gave excel-    Gold Award is Acer’s, as their PD-
of 2.85 metres is on the high side,    lent results—there were no transi-    726W smokes out the other con-
not suitable for confined spaces.      tions visible from changes of         tenders, though there were some
     The PD-726W offers connec-        intensity of a particular colour.     close scores. It’s suitable for most
tivity galore with Component, S-       The PD-726W renders reds the          users, and will handle business
Video, RCA, D-Sub, DVI, and even       best from the lot that came for       and multimedia applications
HDMI. Network connectivity is          testing. It performed well in the     equally well. Although its heavy
via RJ45 and Wi-Fi. Interfacing        presentation tests and should         with corporate features, the
with the device is possible            make a very capable boardroom         inclusion of hardcore multimedia
through RS-232 and USB (both           partner. However, we didn’t like      features such as HDMI makes
USB A and B type connects are          the rendition in photographs: our     Acer’s PD-726W top dog in the
provided in the package).              test photos were missing some of      entertainment sphere as well.



                                                                             around the edges. Although the
Epson EMP-1715                                                               text and graphs were indeed clear-
Feature-rich, fancy-free!                                                    ly legible, we expected much
                                       very       good;                      more. Photograph quality was all

E   pson’s EMP-1715 was the
    definitive plain-jane in our
test labs. Grey and beige don’t do
                                       once      again,
                                       diagnostics and
                                       IP messaging (in
                                                                             right, though detail in darker
                                                                              colours was lost, which smacks of
                                                                                 an inadequate contrast ratio.
much for style, while the boxy         case of problems) is                             Movie-watching was fun
contours stick to the stereotype.      possible. RJ45 connectiv-                   on the EMP-1715—good colour
That’s not to say the EMP-1715 is      ity is absent, though.                  rendition, and none of the blur-
any less a projector.                      The EMP-1715 has a reason-        riness or tearing (a display anom-
    It’s built well; the only prob-    ably long throw. Epson claims a       aly) that usually happens in fast
lem with the structural design as      maximum throw distance of 12.1        action movies. However, it wasn’t
far as we could tell was the air       metres. This makes it more suit-      near the NEC NP40 and the Acer
inlet, which is placed at the bot-     able for larger conference rooms.     PD-726W as sheer picture quality
tom. This would surely restrict or     It can also be used in tighter        and clarity go.
inhibit air flow, especially when      spaces, with a minimum throw               Gaming isn’t much fun on
the projector isn’t elevated. We’d     distance of 1.2 meters.               this projector. The lack of con-
have preferred the air intake on           The DisplayMate Suite per-        trast and detail is immediately
one of the sides to remedy this.       formed reasonably well on the         noticeable, and this is a problem
The EMP1715 did get rather hot         EMP-1715, except for the colour       for the latest crop of games.
during our tests. All projectors       tests. We had problems with                Epson’s EMP-1715 is a business
heat up; this one seemed a few         streaky blacks in the black-level     oriented projector. It’s not much
degrees higher than the others.        shift test. The EMP-1715 also has     in the way of a home entertain-
    Epson focuses on the business      problems with rendering colour        ment device. Unfortunately, it has
segment with the EMP-1715, and         transitions. For example, when        a few quirks with performance in
this is apparent with the limited      moving from lighter to darker         its own area—the business tests.
video connectivity—D-Sub, S-           shades of red, the gradations were         At Rs 1,54,000, the EMP-1715
Video, and RCA. The common RS-         clearly noticeable instead of the     commands too hefty a price tag
232 interface is also absent;          smooth transition one expects.        for the performance it places at
thankfully, USB connects (A and B          When it came to our               your disposal. It’s a feature-rich
types) are provided.                   PowerPoint slide tests, text wasn’t   projector that fails to project
    Wi-Fi makes an appearance          as clear as we’d have wanted it—      itself past that significant
on the EMP-1715. The options are       there was noticeable blurring         “must-buy” line.

                                                                                                DIGIT MARCH 2007    105
         Digital Business l Projectors

          How We Tested
      Test Bed                                                              5. Weight of the projector (portability is an issue, especially with
      Processor           Core 2 Duo X6800                                     business-class projectors, while home audiences will look at
      Motherboard         Intel D975XBX2                                       visual quality rather than size)
      Memory              1 GB DDR2 533 MHz                                 6. Control options (inbuilt mouse, remote control with laser
      Graphics Card       GeForce 8800GTX                                      pointers, etc.)
      Hard Disk           Seagate SATA 2 400 GB
                                                                            The Gamut Of Tests
      Test Conditions                                                       1. DisplayMate Video Edition: A well-known video evaluation tool.
      1. Zero per cent ambient lighting (completely dark room)                 DisplayMate is also used to test monitors of all sorts. We used
      2. No zoom used during testing (except when testing for zoom             this software to evaluate visual quality and also to check for
         quality)                                                              any display anomalies. We tested various parameters like
      3. Projected image size was kept constant throughout the tests           contrast, colour accuracy, brightness, moiré, resolution,
      4. Keystone correction was avoided unless absolutely necessary           focusing, streaking, and ghosting.
         (because it results in loss of quality)                            2. Picture Quality Tests: We used a set of high-resolution bitmap
      5. DVI connectivity was used. In case of lack of digital                 and Photoshop image files. We checked for colour rendition
         connectivity, D-Sub was used                                          and also gradations in colour. The subject remained constant,
      6. Each projector was kept on for 15 minutes more than their             but we used varying levels of colour and even greyscale.
         rated warm-up time before the pre-test calibration began. This     3 Presentation Tests: We used a PowerPoint presentation that
         was done to ensure the best possible colour rendition                 consisted of text and graphs. We checked primarily for the
      7. Default settings were not used. We chose to calibrate each            readability of text, and after that, the reproduction of colours
         projector to get the best visual quality possible                     and detail in the graphs.
                                                                            4. Animation Tests: We used a high-quality DVD copy of Shrek 2.
      Features We Looked At                                                    This enabled us to verify accurate colour rendition, and the
      1. Common paper specifications like Brightness and Contrast              ability to display intricate details. Our non-animated movie was
         Ratio. While disbelieving paper specs, we went on to check            Alexander, which contains sufficient matter to accurately judge
         practically in our tests whether each of the test subjects lived      the projector’s ability to provide a satisfying theatre
         up to the claims made                                                 experience.
      2. Number of preset modes, and keystone correction (and its           5. Game Tests: We used F.E.A.R. as a benchmark. The game
         effectiveness)                                                        was run at with 4x AF and 4x AA enabled and all visuals
      3. Connectivity options (such as DVI, D-Sub, S-Video)                    set to their maximum values. We used the projectors’
      4. Quality of optical zoom                                               native resolutions.



         NEC VT590                                                                                               Corporate users will be inter-
                                                                                                             ested to note the lack of detail in
         Jack and master…                                                                                    text during our presentation
                                                                                                             tests. This projector is not for

         T    he VT590 from NEC is part of
              their entertainment range.
         It’s an XGA-supporting LCD pro-
                                                                                                             you if you plan on using a lot of
                                                                                                             text applications. These prob-
                                                                                                             lems persisted in MS Word and
         jector decked in attractive                                                                         even while viewing PDFs. Its not
         piano white. Build quality is                                                                       that image quality was bad over-
         very good, and the body feels                                                                       all; icons were very decently
         sturdy. As opposed to some of                                                                        viewable—it’s just the text that
         the boxy models we received,                                                                                 appeared       somewhat
         the VT590 is also curvier, and                                                                                   blurry        despite
         will suit business and home                                                                                       repeated attempts
         environments looks-wise.                 in setting up the projector in                                        at calibration.
              A fully-functional remote           less-than-ambient lighting.                                            The NEC VT590 resur-
         interfaces with the device, and              The VT590 adds a thoughtful                            rected itself somewhat in the
         one thing immediately notice-            on/off switch, something we                                multimedia tests with good per-
         able was the clear demarcations          missed on earlier models. It                               formance throughout our test
         near the connectors at the               loses out on Digital Video (DVI)                           movie as well as in F.E.A.R. where
         rear—clearly visible in dim              and PC stereo connectivity. Also                           the visuals were definitely
         lighting, which is helpful.              absent are the USB interface                               acceptable.
         We’ve come across a couple of            and wireless connectivity.                                     Priced at Rs 84,000, the NEC
         projectors (the BenQ MP611c                  After calibrating this beauty,                         VT590 doesn’t showcase itself as
         comes immediately to mind)               we fired up the DisplayMate                                a strong performer in any one
         where we could make out noth-            suite first. We immediately hit                            domain. It follows the jack-of-
         ing of the legends of each con-          resolution problems with the                               all-trades stereotype and ends
         nector unless we turned on our           horizontal bar tests. There was a                          up being mediocre at a few
         overhead lights. Such minor              noticeable lack of resolution,                             tasks and decent at a couple.
         points add up; manufacturers             and even the solid bar lacked                              Not enough for us to recom-
         should think from a consumer’s           uniformity. The remainder of the                           mend it to the serious-minded
         perspective—like the difficulties        test suite passed uneventfully.                            business or home user.

106      DIGIT MARCH 2007
                                                                                             Digital Business l Projectors
                                                                                              tests; the text remained clear and
NEC VT695G                                                                                    bar-graph colours appeared as
The better twin                                                                               vivid as they should be on-screen.
                                                                                                  On to the multimedia tests:

T   he bigger brother of the
    VT590, the VT695G ups the
lumen count by 500 (to 2500
                                                                                              movie-watching is a real treat
                                                                                              on this projector, with all the
                                                                                              sharpness you’d expect from a
lumens), and adds DVI and PC                                                                  large-screen TV. There was a
stereo connectivity. The models                                                               problem with the reds, which
look identical, though, and                                                                   were oversaturated after cali-
stickers aside, you wouldn’t be                                                               bration. Toning this down
able to tell them apart.                                                                      resolved the problem and we
    The VT695G sports a much                                                                          verified this, but we do
more forgiving lens that has a                                                                               not fine tune the
wider throw range than its sib-                                                                                  projector set-
ling (0.7 to 10.7 meters).                                                                                        tings     once
    It seems NEC addressed, in                      that seemed somehow better                                    we’ve calibrat-
this model, all the problems the                    than the VT590 (despite the fact                              ed them, so
VT590 has, at least as far as                       that the specifications are iden-         this was noted as a problem,
DisplayMate goes. The VT695G                        tical on paper).                          albeit a small one. The VT695G
breezed through all the tests                           The VT695G is an ideal corpo-         will suit gamers too: there’s
with no real complaints. Good                       rate projector with great image           adequate contrast and sharp-
resolution and a contrast ratio                     rendition during the PowerPoint           ness around to ensure all the
                                                                                              latest games like F.E.A.R. and
      Contact Sheet—Projectors                                                                Oblivion look their best—great
                                                                                              level of detail.
Brand        Company                            Phone         E-mail
 Acer        Acer India Pvt Ltd                080-5219520    NA
                                                                                                  Priced at Rs 22,400 more
 Benq        Benq India Pvt Ltd                011-43531718   venkat.adiraju@ benq.com        than its twin, the NEC VT695G
 Epson       Epson India Pvt Ltd               80-3051 5032   premjith@eid.epson.co.in        offers a good mix of perform-
 NEC         Solutions India Systems Pvt Ltd   022-66924499   sandhya.m@sispl.co.in           ance and features for all user
 Panasonic   Panasonic Asia Pacific Pvt Ltd    022-40032300   S.YEDERI@npi.panasonic.co.in    groups. It also adds a couple of
 Sharp       Sharp Business Systems (I) Ltd    011-24631313   kray@sharp-oa.com
                                                                                              features over the VT590 which
 Zen         H T Impex                         022-66587586   zenthemaster@rediffmail.com
                                                                                              further sweetens things.




                                                                                                                DIGIT MARCH 2007    107
      Digital Business l Projectors

      NEC NP40                                                                                    Moving on to our text and
                                                                                              presentation tests: the NEC NP40
                                                                                 MARCH 2007
      A diminutive powerhouse                                                                 dominates big time here. It aced
                                                                                              even the Acer PD726W (pun

      T  he smallest of the NEC trio,
         the NP40 is a DLP projector,
      sporting an excellent on-paper
                                                                                              intended) and text quality was
                                                                                              excellent, absolutely no anom-
                                                                                              alies noticeable. Our slideshow
      contrast ration of 1500:1. What                                                         looked excellent, and any board-
      we immediately liked was the                                                                 room presentation will
      tiny footprint—the NP40 was by                                                                        spring to life with
      far the smallest projector we                                                                            the rich colours
      received this year. Build quality-                                                                       on display.
      wise, there are no complaints,           Our initial colour calibra-                                         Movie watch-
      and the NP40 feels sturdy. The       tions showcased the NP40’s bril-                                  ers can shut their
      dull grey finish won’t win many      liant black level. The Pluge pat-                  eyes and opt for the NEC NP40. It
      hearts, yet the overall tones        terns in DisplayMate were clear-                   makes for an excellent home
      aren’t displeasing.                  ly visible. Many projectors have a                 entertainment companion.
          NEC has positioned the           problem displaying very dark                           Our gaming tests did well on
      NP40 as a multimedia projector.      shades of grey, and black on a                     the NP40 too, especially the visu-
      We were therefore expecting          black background—not so with                       al effects in F.E.A.R., which were
      DVI connectivity, but there was      this projector!                                    clear, sharp and precise—
      none. PC interfacing is via RS-          Our sharpness and resolution                   absolutely no loss of detail or
      232. The lack of USB or wireless     tests gave the NP40 no problems                    pixelation even through fast
      connectivity won’t impress the       whatsoever, and it exceeded the                    action scenes.
      business audience. Audio inputs      Acer PD726W here. The colour                           With       sterling      scores
      are absent too.                      and greyscale tests were a breeze                  throughout our tests, the NP40
          Setting up the NP40 is a snap    for the NP40, except for the                       slides into second position, just
      mainly because there’s hardly        colour purity of red: the NP40                     losing out to the feature-rich
      anything you can do wrong with       seemed to display a shade of red                   Acer PD726W and bagging the
      the limited connectivity. The        that wasn’t too far off from                       Digit Best Buy Silver Award. At
      lens auto-focuses via an ultra-      orange! Once we fiddled with the                   Rs 1,00,800, we recommend this
      sharp and ultra-convenient opti-     red balance a bit, the rendition                   projector for anyone, business
      cal zoom—nifty! Adjust the           of red seemed better, but it was-                  or home user alike, who wants
      image size, and the lens will        n’t nearly as good as the per-                     uncompromised visual quality;
      auto-focus; in fact, there is no     formance of the Acer PD726W                        its small footprint also makes it
      manual focus control.                and the Sharp XG-C330X.                            sufficiently portable.




      Panasonic PT-LB60EA
      For the presenter in you!


      P  anasonic’s PT-LB60 is a big
         unit sporting a low profile
      and a classy looking silver-grey
                                           PT-LB60’s connectivity
                                           should satisfy most
                                           corporate users.
      finish that’ll assure second             DisplayMate’s first
      glances. Everything from the         set of tests favoured the
      lens cover to the buttons on its     PT-LB60, and this projec-
      surface breathe supreme build        tor didn’t have any issues
      quality. We liked the rear-mount-    with resolution or sharpness.
      ed buttons, namely the menu          It performed well in the colour                        The      Panasonic     PT-LB60
      button and the five-way joy-         tests as well, with great rendition                makes for a decent gaming com-
      stick—reminiscent of a cell          of all primary and secondary                       panion. Although the lack of
      phone. Menu navigation is very       colours. However, in the greyscale                 contrast is noticeable especially
      comfortable even without the         portion of the tests, the PT-LB60                  in dark atmospheric games like
      remote unit. The menu structure      has issues in the black shift test,                F.E.A.R., performance was accept-
      is good, though NEC does their       and the shades of the black bars                   able overall.
      menu layout just a touch better.     weren’t uniform as they should                         At Rs 1,64,990, the PT-LB60 is
          The PT-LB60 offers a multi-      ideally be. There were also slight                 feature-rich, albeit pricey and
      tude of connectivity options—        issues with flickering, which was                  makes a good business projector.
      there are two D-Sub ins, the sec-    more noticeable on this projector                  It performed commendably in all
      ond of which functions as an         than on the other XGA projectors.                  the business tests, with no serious
      out too. PC and RCA audio out-           Business users will enjoy                      complaints. Multimedia users
      puts are are also present.           vibrant presentations and clear,                   will also be happy with the per-
      Wireless connectivity is possi-      crisp text. Both the photograph                    formance on offer, but there are
      ble, though the USB interface        and movie quality tests were                       better options available in the
      has been left out. Overall, the      also passed very well indeed.                      home entertainment segment.

108   DIGIT MARCH 2007
                                                                            Digital Business l Laser Printers

Sharp XG-C330X                                                                              be toned down slight-
                                                                                            ly lower than blue
A sharp-performing short thrower!                                                           and green levels. This
                                                                                            isn’t a shortcoming:

A   sturdy unit, the Sharp XG-
    C330X is large. The silver-
beige colouring isn’t much to
                                      In fact, this projec-
                                      tor has the shortest
                                      throw lens of the lot.
                                                                                              slight adjustments


talk about—but it’s suitable for      The maximum throw
the typically sober corporate         distance of 8.44 meters
environment. Resolution is XGA,       provided by the default lamp                make the problem disappear,
although         a     maximum        should suffice for all but the              as we discovered.
widescreen resolution of 1400 x       largest of boardrooms.                          Our     presentation      tests
1050 pixels is supported. Build           Setting up this projector was           breezed by the XG-C330X. Text
quality is very good; a handle is     a snap. Keystone was absent—a               quality is very good and sharp
also provided. Digital connectivi-    good sign. After calibrating the            with no visible distortion: the
ty (DVI) is a definite plus, and      projector, we threw the Display             projector is therefore suitable for
will offer better image quality. D-   Mate suite at it. The XG-C330X              text and graphics-heavy presenta-
Sub, RCA, and S-Video connects        performed very well in the sharp-           tions—typical corporate usage.
are also present. There’s also a      ness and resolution tests. It espe-             The Sharp XG-C330X is
VGA-out (D-Sub) so you can hook       cially handled the focus matrix             equally suitable for video view-
up another projector in parallel,     set of tests well. Although the XG-         ing. Our animated movie looked
or a display. Sharp’s menu layout     C330X is a good performer, it               very good overall, though we
is good—and there are a large         loses out on clarity.                       saw an insufficient contrast
number of predefined picture              The colour tests were gener-            ratio. This was confirmed with
modes—six, to be exact.               ous to the XG-C330X—no ghost-               the movie test; blacks aren’t as
    The XG-C330X comes with a         ing, and great performance in               black as you’d expect them to
very capable short-throw lens.        the shade tests. In fact, our 256-          be, and the variations in grey
Capable of throwing a sharp           colour transition looked very               seem somehow limited. Image
image onto a screen just over         natural with no gradations visi-            quality in both tests was right
half a metre away means the XG-       ble. It does have a slight prob-            up there, and no ghosting or
C330X is very much at home in         lem with oversaturated reds,                pixelation is noticeable.
space-restricted environments.        and the intensity of red has to                 The lack of a high enough




                                                                                                    DIGIT MARCH 2007    109
                                                  MARCH 2007                                                                                 MARCH 2007
     Scoreboard                                                                       XGA Projectors
BRAND                                         Acer                    Epson               NEC                      NEC                      NEC
MODEL                                         PD726W                  EMP-1715            VT590                    VT695G                   NP40
Features (Out of 32)                          18.21                   18.77               15.62                    16.42                    15.06
Projection System (DLP/LCD/LCOS/CRT)          DLP                     LCD                 LCD                      LCD                      DLP
Native Resolution (Pixels)                    1024x768                1024x768            1024x768                 1024x768                 1024x768
Brightness (ANSI Lumens)/Contrast Ratio       3700/2500:1             2700/400:1          2000/600:1               2500/600:1               2200/1500:1
Aspect Ratio (Native/selectable)              4:3/16:9                4:3/16:9            4:3/16:9                 4:3/16:9                 4:3/16:9
Optical Zoom/Zoom Ratio                       ✖/1.2:1                 ✖/1.2:1             ✖/1.2:1                  ✖/1.2:1                  ✔/1.2:1
Image Size (Max-Min) (Inches)                 60-200                  30-300              101.6-762                21-300                   60-300
Throw Distance (Min-Max Meters)               2.85-7.89               1.2-12.1            1.5-9.3                  0.7-10.7                 2.6-11.16
Lamp (Hours) (Normal/Eco Mode)                2000/3000               2000/3000           2000/3000                2000/3000                2000/3000
HDTV Compatibility (Y/N)                      ✔                       ✖                   ✔                        ✔                        ✔
Horizontal Frequency (KHz)                    31.5-100                15-92               15-100                   15-100                   15-100
Vertical Scan Rate (Hz)                       56-85                   50-85               50-120                   50-120                   50-85
Video Input (S-Video/RCA/D-Sub/DVI)           ✔/✔/✔/✔                 ✔/✔/✔/✖             ✔/✔/✔/✖                  ✔/✔/✔/✔                  ✔/✔/✔/✖
Audio Inputs (PC Stereo/RCA)                  ✔/✖                     ✔/✖                 ✖/✔                      ✔/✔                      ✖/✖
Control Terminal (USB)                        ✖                       ✔                   ✖                        ✖                        ✖
Wireless Connectivity                         ✔                       ✔                   ✖                        ✖                        ✖
Weight (Kgs)                                  3.1                     1.7                 2.9                      3                        1.6
Lamp/Maximum Power Consumption (W)            300/380                 170 / 244           190/255                  200/285                  200/265
Rated Noise (dB) (Max)                        30                      40                  34                       35                       40
OSD Usability (Scale of 10)                   8                       8                   8.5                      8.5                      8.5
Digital Keystone/Remote Control               ✔/✔                     ✔/✔                 ✔/✔                      ✔/✔                      ✔/✔
Performance (Out of 58)                       52.54                   47.34               46.50                    51.44                    52.94
DisplayMate Video Edition (Out Of 37)
Sharpness And Resolution (out of 14)
Horizontal/Vertical Bar Resolution            8.25/8.25               7.75/7.5            5.5/7                    7.5/8                    8.25/8.5
Corner Resolution                             8.00                    8.25                7.25                     7.75                     8.25
Focus/Fine Focus Matrix                       8.25/6.75               7.75/8              7/7                      8/7.75                   8.25/8.25
Diagonal Resolution matrix                    7.75                    7.75                7.00                     8.00                     8.50
Moire Pattern                                 8.50                    8.50                7.25                     8.25                     8.50
Screen Pixel Resolution                       8.25                    8.00                5.75                     8.50                     8.75
Color and Gray Scale (Out of 16)
Streaking and Ghosting                        8.50                    7.75                7.50                     8.00                     8.50
Color Streaking                               8.50                    8.00                7.75                     8.25                     8.75
16-Intensity Levels                           8.50                    6.50                8.25                     8.50                     8.50
White/Black Level Shift                       8.5/8.5                 7/5.75              7.75/8                   8/8.25                   8.5/8.25
Red/Green/Blue Colour Purity                  8.75/8.25/8.5           7.25/8.5/8.75       8/8/8.5                  7.75/8.5/8.5             6.5/8/8.5
Miscellaneous Effects (out of 4)
Screen Uniformity/Flicker                     8/8                     7.75/7.75           7.5/7                    8/8                      8.25/8
Flicker                                       8.00                    7.75                7.00                     8.00                     8.00
ANSI Brightness And Contrast                  8.25                    8.00                7.50                     8.00                     8.00
Defocusing, Blooming And Halos                7.00                    7.50                8.00                     8.00                     8.00
Presentation And Movie Tests (Out Of 12)
Text Quality/Reverse Text (P Mode)            8.75/8.5                7.5/6.75            6.75/6                   8/7.75                   9/8.25
Quality of Photographs/Animation (P Mode) *   8/8.75                  7.25/7.25           8.25/7.8                 8.75/8.5                 8.5/8.75
Movie Quality (Movie/Pres Mode) #             8.50                    7.33                8.00                     8.50                     8.75
Game Quality Tests (F.E.A.R) (Out Of 9)
Effects Quality                               9.00                    6.00                8.00                     8.00                     8.75
Contrast/Sharpness & Detail                   8.75/8.75               7/6.75              7/7.75                   8/8                      8.5/8.5
Screen Ghosting                               9.00                    7.50                8.75                     8.50                     8.50
Price (All Inclusive) (In Rupees)             150,000                 154,000             84,000                   106,400                  100,800
Price Of Lamp (In Rupees)                     20,000                  25,000              30,000                   30,000                   30,000
Price Index (Out Of 10)                       5.00                    4.87                8.93                     7.05                     7.44
Overall Score (Out Of 100)                    75.74                   70.98               71.04                    74.90                    75.44
Warranty (No Of Years)                        2                       2                   2                        2                        2


    *Animated clip Elephants Dream (1080i)
    # Movie Too Fast too Furious, Wake of
    Death, Torque Original DVD’s




                                               Superb all round        Small footprint,       Aggressive pricing       Good performer           Ultra sharp, great
                                               performance             acceptable             Average                  None in particular       performance, compact
                                                                       performance
                                               Quirky remote, bulky                           performance                                       None in particular
                                                                       Unsuitable for
                                                                       multimedia
                                                                                                        Digital Business l Projectors

                                                                                            Jargon Buster
                                                      SVGA Projectors
                                                                                       Resolution Unlike CRT monitors and most TFT displays
Panasonic        Sharp                     Benq                   Zen
PT-LB60EA        XG-C330X                  MP611c                 PTV-01B
                                                                                       today, projectors are finicky about native resolutions
17.26            17.12                     10.11                  10.85                and will not perform well at anything less (or more)
LCD              LCD                       DLP                    LCD                  than their native values. Quite simply, the higher the
1024x768         1024x768                  800x600                800x600              resolution the better the performance—smaller and
3200/400:1       3300/600:1                2100/2000:1            1200/500:1           more precise pixels lead to greater image quality with
4:3/16:9         4:3/16:9                  4:3/16:9               4:3/16:9             less aliasing. An XGA projector will, 9.9 times out of 10,
✖/1.2:1          ✖/1.2:1                   ✖/1.15:1               ✖/NA                 outperform an SVGA projector. However, value also
33-300           40-500                    31-300                 38-150               makes an important point here, and the price
1.1-10.8         0.56-8.44                 NA                     1.2-3.8              difference between the projectors sporting these
2000/3000        2000/3000                 3000/4000              4500/6000            resolutions is very large.
✔                ✔                         ✖                      ✖
15-91            15-70                     31-82                  NA                   Contrast Ratio Quite simply, the higher the contrast
50-85            43-85                     48-85                  NA                   ratio the better. Contrast ratio is defined as the ratio
✔/✔/✔/✖          ✔/✔/✔/✔                   ✔/✔/✔/✖                ✔/✖/✔/✖              between the brightest and darkest areas of a screen. It
✔/✔              ✔/✔                       ✔/✖                    ✖/✖                  represents the maximum variations in the intensity of
✖                ✔                         ✔                      ✖
                                                                                       light that a projector can render. A contrast ratio of
✔                ✖                         ✖                      ✖
                                                                                       400:1 is sufficient for most applications. Movie buffs and
2.6              4.25                      2.67                   5.80
                                                                                       gamers should look at something in the range of 600:1.
220/300          275 / 375                 200/285                150/225
35               36                        28                     40.00
7.5              8                         6.5                    6.50
                                                                                       Keystone Correction Keystone occurs when the
✔/✔              ✔/✔                       ✔/✔                    ✖/✔
                                                                                       distance between the projector and the top of the
50.35            50.24                     42.23                  26.81                image on-screen is much greater than the distance
                                                                                       between the projector and the bottom of the screen.
                                                                                       Keystone is also called Trapezoidal Distortion. Keystone
8/8              7.5/7.75                  6.75/7                 4.75/4.5             correction, as the name suggests, consists of correcting
8.25             8.25                      7.25                   4.00                 the distortion by altering the shape of the projected
8/8.5            8/8.25                    8/7.75                 5.25                 image. The Keystone correction value is measured in
8.50             8.25                      8.00                   5.50                 degrees positive or negative.
8.50             8.25                      7.75                   5.50
8.00             7.50                      6.50                   5.50                 Moiré Moiré is a phenomenon noticed when two
                                                                                       screened images are superimposed on each other at
8.50             8.00                      7.50                   5.00                 certain angles. In terms of projectors and displays in
8.50             8.75                      8.00                   4.50                 general, moiré will cause one pattern to be
8.25             8.00                      4.50                   4.25                 superimposed on another, making for somewhat of a
7.5/5            8.25/8                    5.75/6                 4.00                 blurred effect. It is an undesirable effect and is present
7.5/8/8.25       8/7.75/8.25               6.75/6.5/7.25          5/4.5/4.5
                                                                                       in most projectors. Only the degree of severity differs,
                                                                                       based on how visible (or not) it is.
7.75/6           7.75/8                    7/7.5                  4.75/6
6.00             8.00                      7.50                   4.50
8.00             8.00                      5.25                   4.75
                                                                                       Video Interconnects This is significant especially for
7.75             8.00                      7.50                   6.00                 home entertainment users. D-Sub and DVI (Digital
                                                                                       Visual Connectivity) are mainly useful for PC interfaces.
8.5/8            7.5/7.75                  5.33/5                 5/4.75               The difference is that DVI provides a digital signal,
8.5/8.25         8/8.25                    6/6.5                  4.75/3.75            hence offers higher quality viewing especially for
8.25             8.25                      7.00                   5.50                 multimedia content. As far as connectivity to other
                                                                                       devices like DVD players go S-Video and Composite
8.00             8.00                      6.25                   3.25                 connects are something to look for. They offer much
7.25/8           6.75/7.75                 6.5/6                  3.5/3                better colour separation than RCA. HDMI (High
9.00             8.75                      8.75                   5.25                 Definition Media Interface) is an emerging standard
164,990          137,000                   52,000                 42,000               that carries uncompressed digital video and audio
25,000           19,500                    18,000                 3,000                signals on a single connector.
4.55             5.47                      6.73                   8.33
72.17            72.83                     59.08                  45.99                Focus Matrix DisplayMate has a whole series of focus
2                2                         2                      2                    tests under its Sharpness and Resolution test suite to
                                                                                       test the ability of a projector or screen to display sharp,
                                                                                       finely-focused images. These test screens consist of fine
                                                                                       patterns of dots in differing dot densities, and also
                                                                                       minute, identical patterns. (There are different screens,
                                                                                       some with finer patterns, some with coarser patterns.)
                                                                                       An ideal projector will render these minute details with
                                                                                       as little variation as possible on a single screen. We
                                                                                       check for variance in patterns on a single screen.

                                                                                       Aliasing Definitions abound, but simply put, aliasing in
Strong overall                                                        Very low price
                                                                                       terms of digital imaging refers to the occurrence of
performance          Good text rendition       Low price              Extremely poor
                                                                                       jagged edges that occur when a signal is sampled and
Slightly bulky       Poor contrast ratio       Poor performance       performance
                                                                                       reconstructed as an alias of another signal (the
                                                                                       original). Its also referred to as artefacting.

                                                                                                                                DIGIT MARCH 2007     111
        Digital Business l Projectors

         contrast ratio is lamented partic-        were also dark. Visuals are                                  ing for an extremely short-
         ularly in the home entertain-             good, and the slow motion                                    throw projector. However, it is
         ment sphere—movies and gam-               effects in the game look amaz-                               clearly geared towards the cor-
         ing. Corporate users should not           ing. Were it not for the slight                              porate segment, which is proba-
         be affected by this at all.               contrast ratio problem, the XG-                              bly why performance falls short
             Our game tests proved the             C330X makes a great gaming                                   of expectations in the multime-
         lower contrast ratio (the specifi-        projector as well.                                           dia environment—albeit only
         cation quoting 600:1 notwith-                 Priced at Rs 1,37,000, the XG-                           because of a deficient contrast
         standing). In F.E.A.R., we missed         C330X makes for a very capable                               ratio. Overall, though, there are
         enemies in dark areas due to              all-round projector. It warrants                             better options available for both
         the fact that their uniforms              special attention for those look-                            business and home audiences.



        BenQ MP611c                                                                                             blue fared better. There were
                                                                                                                problems with shades even in
        Playing with big boys is no fun…                                                                        the black and white shift tests—
                                                                                                                too many disparities noticeable.

        T   he BenQ MP611c was the
            only sub XGA projector
        (SVGA) resolution projector we
                                                                                                                    We suggest that corporate
                                                                                                                users steer clear of the BenQ
                                                                                                                   MP611c, at least in their
        received. It’s the successor to                                                                              offices. Text quality is poor
        the MP610 we received last year.                                                                             with noticeable blurriness
        This is aimed by BenQ as an                                                                                 and pixilation. The same was
        entry-level projector for both                                                                            noticeable in our photograph
        the business and home enter-                   The DisplayMate suite was                                quality tests. The MP611c
        tainment segments. It’s surpris-           fired up first. We noticed some                              redeemed itself by a small degree
        ing to see multiple D-Sub con-             problems with bar resolution                                 in our movie tests, but the differ-
        nects on the MP611c, as well as a          right away, owing to the drop in                             ence in quality between an SVGA
        USB port. Some of the costlier             resolution. Our eyes had become                              projector and an XGA projector is
        models missing out on this                 accustomed to 1024 x 768!                                    very noticeable.
        seems to be unforgivable, espe-            Despite this, it performed well                                  F.E.A.R. looked a little more
        cially considering the price of            in the moiré tests, but sadly,                               scary than normal on this pro-
        this unit—a mere Rs 52,000.                screen pixel resolution just                                 jector—due to the lack of visuals
            Build quality is good—very             doesn’t match up.                                            and visibility than anything
        good, in fact, for the price—and               The problem with resolution                              else. Gaming on this projector is
        the body is piano-finished in dark         made its presence even in the                                not a happy experience: despite
        blue. The body is a scratch mag-           colour and greyscale tests. We                               the fact that there was no ghost-
        net, as we discovered; of course,          found serious problems with                                  ing on-screen, deficient contrast
        the dark colour accentuates any            intensity transitions in each of                             and sharpness besmirch the
        minor scratches picked up.                 the shades; darker colours like                              gaming experience.

         Choosing A Projector Screen

      B   uying the best projector for a given price doesn’t guarantee
          great image quality. A little-known fact is that the quality of the
      projected image depends greatly on the screen used. In fact, a
                                                                                The only disadvantage of a high gain screen is the poor viewing
                                                                                angles, that is, not more than 60 degrees.

      general thumb rule to be followed is that at least a fourth of the        Low Gain
      cost of the projector should be kept aside for the screen.                These screens have matte finishes and are therefore less reflective.
          Besides the fact that screens are available in different sizes        Due to this they also enjoy the advantage of wider viewing angles—
      and qualities, there are also different types of screens available        up to 100 degrees. Perceived brightness is only adequate in dim
      based on their gain values. Don’t be confused by the term “gain.”         lighting, so low gain screens don’t perform well in anything more
      No screen can compensate for a low-lumen-rating projector and             than dim lighting.
      boost light. Gain therefore measures the brightness of the screen
      and its directional characteristics. However, screens today have          Silver Lenticular
      specific characteristics themselves and are designed to perform           These screens were in use early in the motion picture era, but are
      optimally under certain specific conditions. Their characteristics        still around. They are basically vertically ridged. They are rarely
      are matched to factors like the size of the room, ambient light,          used these days for regular office or home projection purposes.
      audience viewing position, and the type of media displayed.               Their only use remains in the projection of 3D films, because the
          There are four types of screens available. Note that the first        silver dust embedded in these screens is highly reflective. Hence
      two are by far the most commonly-used screens.                            they are suitable for keeping two light signals segregated.

      High Gain                                                                 Rear Projection
      Such screens are characterised by highly reflective surfaces, and         As the name suggests, the projector is placed on the opposite side
      they’re designed to produce bright images. Very suitable for              of the screen to the audience, that is, behind the screen. They are
      multimedia content, or if the projector has lower brightness levels.      much more delicate and costlier than regular screens, and are
      A high gain screen is also suitable for relatively brightly-lit rooms.    therefore used in places where a fixed setup is desirous.


112     DIGIT MARCH 2007
                                                                                                           Digital Business l Projectors

    The Lens Of The Matter: Long And Short Throw

T   here are mainly two types of lenses for projectors, based on the
    relationship between the size of the image projected and the
distance between the projector and screen. A general rule of thumb
for a standard projector lens is a foot of screen for every two feet
of distance between the projector and the screen. Long-throw
lenses will be able to maintain a larger distance between the
screen and the projector while providing a clear image of the same
size. Similarly, a short-throw lens will be able to provide the same
image size while maintaining minimal distances between the                A long throw lens at work on the left, short throw on the right. Notice
projector and screen.                                                     the distance between the lens and the screen in each case.
     Most projectors ship with a default lens that is neither truly
long throw nor short throw, but something in between—so that
they’re suitable for a larger range of situations. If you wish, you can   A short-throw lens would project an image that would overflow the
always change the lens—for example, if you’re only going to use the       screen; moreover, the image would be unfocused.
projector in a large hall, get yourself a long throw lens.                    A short-throw lens is suitable for small conference rooms or
     Comparing the two types of lens is impossible—their suitability      classrooms—basically any place where the distance between
depends on the conditions—namely the distance between the                 projector and screen is insubstantial. A long-throw lens would
projector and screen. For large halls where the projector may be          project too small an image if used in such a situation.
set up very far from the screen, obviously a long-throw lens would            Nearly all projectors (standard, long-throw, and short throw)
be preferred. Not only will the image size be controllable, such lens     sport zoom lenses. This allows them to compensate somewhat for
can also project a clear image even over relatively large distances.      the inherent shortcomings in the lens type used.


    ZEN PTV-01B                                                                                               at the same price point if movie-
                                                                                                              watching is your thing.
    A bonsai, this…                                                                                               Do to its poor contrast ratio
                                                                                                              and low sharpness, the Zen PTV-

    T   he PTV-01B was the dark horse
        in our tests, a new brand in
    the Indian projector market. At a
                                                                                                              01B isn’t a gamer’s dream—
                                                                                                              ”nightmare” is more like it, as we
                                                                                                              found when playing F.E.A.R.! At Rs
    glance, it looks like a huge toy,                                                                         42,000, the only thing it has going
    with body plastic reminiscent of                                                                          for it is its price. Not a big deal,
    Leo-Mattel’s toys. That’s not a bad                                                                       since the BenQ MP611c swings
    thing, and it feels sturdy to hold.                                                                       into the same budget range.
    If you can hold it, that is—at a          Sharpness and
    shade less than 6 kg, it’s heavy!         Resolution tests saw severe prob-                               What we think
    It’s by far the bulkiest projector        lems with the horizontal and ver-                               The first difference noticeable
    we received.                              tical bar resolutions. The PTV-01B                              from last year’s comparison is the
         This is a strictly a home-enter-     just could not render this test sat-                            ratio of XGA to SVGA projectors
    tainment-only projector, and the          isfactorily. This was also the only                             we received. This year we received
    PTV-01B makes no bones about              projector where there were                                      seven XGA projectors and just two
    this, losing out on USB and wire-         noticeable problems with the cor-                               SVGA projectors. This shows a
    less connectivity. It also does           ner resolution test.                                            trend that manufacturers are tar-
    without any DVI inputs. Zen                   Moving on to the colour tests,                              geting the Indian market for
    assumes you have a discrete               we saw problems with nearly all                                 higher-end products. This is par-
    sound setup as well, so the PTV-          the tests, with clear anomalies vis-                            tially due to the increase in the
    01B does without any audio                ible on-screen.                                                 demand for projectors, and the
    inputs. There’s a cable TV input              The Zen PTV-01B isn’t suit-                                 penetration of these devices into
    though, something we didn’t see           able for presentation work; text                                the domestic arena.
    on any of the other contenders. It        was unreadable, and we devel-                                       Surprisingly, the increase in
    gives a whole new meaning to the          oped headaches just straining                                   demand has nothing to do with
    term “large-screen TV”!                   our eyes to make out what was                                   falling prices, and price reduc-
         We quickly ran into problems         written        on-screen.      Our                              tions, if any, will arise from fur-
    setting this one up. The PTV-01B          PowerPoint designs and photo-                                   ther increase in demand—a most
    doesn’t have any zoom capabili-           graph tests fared no better. To                                 uncommon phenomenon in
    ties—this is absolutely shocking!         Zen’s defence, the PTV-01B isn’t                                India, which is primarily a value-
    The focus is adjustable (though it        aimed at such applications. Let’s                               oriented market.
    isn’t very effective). The only way       go on to see how it performed in                                    A growing number of corpo-
    to zoom in or out is to actually          its area of competence.                                         rate customers have adopted pro-
    move the projector closer or fur-             Although colours were ren-                                  jectors for all their boardroom
    ther from the screen.                     dered as crisply as we’d like, the                              and sales pitch needs. A much
         The DisplayMate tests weren’t        PTV-01B tried its best to perform                               smaller fraction of home users
    completed to our satisfaction. In         at least decently here. It man-                                 have also populated the projector
    fact, calibrating the PTV-01B with        aged to do so, but with some very                               bandwagon. We’re hoping to see
    a setup menu devoid of too many           mediocre scores. The BenQ                                       price reductions next year!
    options was difficult. The                MP611c makes a much better buy                                               michael_browne@thinkdigit.com


                                                                                                                                    DIGIT MARCH 2007       113
      Digital Business l Smart Business




      Through The Ages
      If you have documents to worry about, you should also worry about tracking changes
      made to them
                                                                       itory. Library members (your employees) hunt
      Nimish Chandiramani                                              down the book they want and go to the librarian
                                                                       (the version control software). The librarian then
               ver opened an old, oft-edited Word doc-                 checks their library card, and makes sure that
       E       ument and wondered what it looked
               like last week? What about the time you
                                                                       the book in question is indeed available to the
                                                                       member, before letting them check it out. The
      made your own changes, only to find that                         similarity takes a slight deviation here—when
      someone else had overwritten the file with                       someone returns a file, it will contain changes,
      their own version? In the digital chaos we all                   and the person checking it in will have to leave
      live in, keeping track of your files—the changes                 a little note indicating the changes made. The
      made to them and the person making those                         version control software then records what
      changes—is something we all desire, but few                      changes were made to the file (it’s all binary data
      actually achieve.                                                ultimately, so this isn’t much of a problem) and
                                                                       stores the new version.
      It’s All About Control                                               But what if more than one person wants the
      To address all these needs and more, we turn to                  file? There are three ways that this software can
      a system that software developers have been                      handle the situation: the first is the exclusive
      using for ages—version control. When you’re                      check-out, where it denies access to anyone who
      working in teams where more than one person                      tries to edit the file once it’s been checked out.
      needs to edit the same code at a time, you really                This is by far the easiest way to avoid any
      can’t afford your work to be wiped out by a way-                 trouble, and is recommended for most sce-
      ward team member, can you? Version control                       narios. However, you might encounter situa-
      systems also track every single change made to                   tions where two people need to work on
      a file, so if you want to see how the file started               different parts of the file at the same time, and
      out and evolved, you can. The system also gives                  waiting for the file to be available just isn’t an
      you a new layer of security—the ability to control               option. If there’s a possibility of this happening
      access to your documents.                                        often, then you’ll need to opt for a setup where
          If you’re worried about radical changes to the               a file can be checked out by multiple users, and
      way you work, fret not. A version control system                 all changes made by them will then be merged
      will fit in quite nicely with the way your com-                  into the document. If the same parts of the file
      pany’s files are already organised. Presumably,                  have been edited by more than one person, the
      you have a central file server where all your offi-              software asks for your intervention to determine
      cial documents are stored—this is all the infra-                 whose change to accept or reject.
      structure you need.                                                  All this happens in a centralised system; for
                                                                       teams spread out over many cities or countries,
      How It Works                                                     a concept called Distributed Version Control comes
      The best analogy for a version control system is                 into play. In such a case, everyone has the full
      a public library—the term we’ll be using is repos-               repository, and changes to any document are
                                                                       propagated to everyone. This way, everyone




                                       Illustration Chaitanya Surpur
114
                                                                                       Digital Business l Smart Business
always has the latest copy of the repository,                                                               Subversion is now
without having to demand it from the server,
as in the former two cases. That last bit is
                                                                                                            the version
purely academic, unless your needs have some-                                                               control software
thing in common with those of the Linux kernel,                                                             of choice for
whose developers use a distributed version con-                                                             nearly all open
trol software called GIT.                                                                                   source software
Getting Down To It                                                                                          developers today
There is an embarrassment of choices when it           TortoiseSVN
comes to version control software, most of them        integrates all
open source. You can Google for the lot, but           your repository
when it comes to it, the best option is Subver-        functions with
sion, which is now the version control software        Windows
of choice for nearly all open source software          Explorer
developers today—the older CVS (Concurrent Ver-
sioning System) has started to show its age, and
Subversion goes well beyond it in terms of the         that you’ve
features and flexibility it offers.                    changed the file but
    Subversion is most comfortable running as          haven’t sent it to the repos-
an Apache module on a Linux server. It can also        itory, and so on.
run as a separate Linux daemon, and if you have            It takes a while to get
a Windows server, you can set it to run as a           used to TortoiseSVN, so
service. Once you’ve set up a repository, there are    you’ll need to invest some
a lot of ways to access it. When it’s running as an    time in training your employees. Once that’s out
Apache module, you can access your Subversion          of the way, though, the convenience of working
repository using the WebDAV (Web Distributed           in good old Windows Explorer is unparalleled.
Authoring and Versioning) protocol—you can set
it up in just a few clicks in Windows in My Net-       Reality Check
work Places. Just add a new Network Place, put         Like everything else we recommend, do take
in the HTTP address of the Subversion repository,      some time out to analyse your situation before
and it behaves like a regular folder!                  you take the plunge. The most important matter
    If you choose not to use the Apache module,        you need to address is whether there are enough
or if your server is running Windows, you can run      “incidences” in your office to warrant the time
“svnserve”—the Subversion server—which uses its        and effort you need to invest in setting up Sub-
own protocol for access to the repository. Natu-       version—it isn’t as easy a process as one would
rally, you’ll need software that uses this protocol    hope. Add to that the effort of training everyone
on every machine that will access the repository.      to use the system.
                                                           You’ll also have to take a good long look at
Enter The Tortoise                                     the way your data is organised. The idea is the
TortoiseSVN is another open source project by          same that we used for the user groups in
the same organisation that develops Subversion,        Mayhem Management last month—make a top
and is the recommended Subversion client for           level folder structure that represents each of
Windows PCs. Don’t expect to see a program             your departments. Once that’s done, try to
window or the like: it’s just a shell extension that   divide everything into little “projects”—April
brings all your repository functions—check out,        2006 Sales can be a project for your sales depart-
check in, and so forth—right to your Windows           ment, and this will contain all the files relevant
Explorer. Files under version control have their       to said month’s figures.
own icon overlays—a green check-mark to indi-              After all this, if you decide to go ahead and
cate that it’s the latest version from the             incorporate Subversion at your office, do write in
repository, a red exclamation to indicate              and tell us about your experiences!
                                                                     nimish_chandiramani@thinkdigit.com




                                                                                                                 DIGIT MARCH 2007   115
                                                                                         Digital

120 Gaming
    Special               130 Game On 148 Everything
                                          Paris!
                                                                                         Leisure
                                                                                          Technology Beyond Work



Touched By Tech



Lern frm whr u r!
Efforts are underway to enable you to learn Indian languages on your cell phone

                                                                the user read and write letters in Hindi and
Samir Makwana                                                   Malayalam. The letters of the language come up
                                                                on the screen, and one can know about how the


T
      he mobile phone, a tool originally intended               alphabet is pronounced and written.
      for just communication, has gone beyond                        “TeachMe Akshara was developed to teach
      the basics—it is now used for entertainment               illiterates or semi-literates about the vernacular
and commerce as well. It’s the case of a single                 languages of India. Though TeachMe Akshara
device enabling a lot of things. Mobile content                 was meant to teach only basic letters, we
such as screensavers, mobile games, and other                   consulted language teachers for formulating and
applications are being offered for entertainment                verifying the content,” says Gopalakrishnan.
as well as edutainment.                                         TeachMe Akshara happens to be the first vernac-
    Even newspapers can be read on a mobile                     ular language teaching application for mobile
phone: recently, Pressmart and IMI Mobile                       phones. An animation of the letter, along with a
announced the availability of mPaper (mobile                    picture, appears on the phone’s screen when a
newspaper) for nine Indian dailies on the                       particular letter is selected.
mobile phone. Pressmart, a subsidiary of                             The majority of the Indian population lives
Bodhitree Consulting Ltd, is a digital media                    in rural areas, and the penetration of the
delivery partner of leading newspapers and                      mobile phone have been good. The application
magazines. IMI Mobile is an end-to-end Value                    is appropriately targeted towards the rural and
Added Services enabler.                                         semi-urban population.
    Besides this, Kalnirnay—a calendar, almanac,                     In January 2007, Enable M
recipe-book, and a source of other useful infor-                Mobile Technologies Pvt Ltd, a
mation in seven languages, is now being made                    mobile content and services
available on the mobile phones by Enable M, a                   provider and mobile value
mobile content and services provider company.
And now, mobile content aggregators are devel-
oping educational content as well.

Where It Began
At the Reliance Mobile Application Contest in
February 2005-06, an application called TeachMe
Hindi bagged the second prize in the corporate
category. TeachMe Hindi was developed by
Jayadev Gopalakrishnan, CEO, and Anupam
Varghese, CTO, of Tinfo Mobile Pvt Ltd. This
award came on the heels of their earlier award
for developing an application called “All-
Minder”, an application for the visually
impaired to hear SMSes and missed calls, at the
Reliance Mobile Application Contest 2004-05.
    The TeachMe Akshara series consists of a
number of applications under the “TeachMe”
head for different vernacular languages
(presently, Hindi and Malayalam). TeachMe
Hindi is the Hindi language module from the
TeachMe Akshara series. The application helps
                                     Imaging Chaitanya Surpur
      Digital Leisure l Touched By TEch
                                   added services aggregator, formally released         watching the animation, and finally the pronun-
                                   LILA Hindi Prabodh for mobile phones, in collab-     ciation of the letter.
                                   oration with C-DAC (Centre for Development of            LILA Hindi Prabodh uses artificial intelli-
                                   Advanced Computing), Pune. LILA stands for           gence to educate users about the Hindi
                                   “Learning of Indian Languages through Artifi-        language. Unfortunately, the MMC can, of
                                   cial Intelligence,” being developed by C-DAC for     course, only be used with mobile phones
                                                               computers, and is        supporting the card format.
                                                               now available for            “About 30 odd lessons with ten exercises for
                                                               mobile phones. LILA      self-assessment are included in the courseware.
                                                               Hindi Prabodh for        Animation of letters and words being written
                                                               mobile phones is         in Hindi are played on the screen along with
                                                               from the LILA series     their pronunciation. Audio elements are added
                                                               being developed by       to learn the pronunciation and videos of the
                                                               the Applied Artifi-      narrative aspects of lessons are added to give
                                                               cial      Intelligence   the course an enjoyable learning experience,”
                                                               Group at C-DAC.          says Jhaveri.
       TeachMe Akshara relates letters to sounds using image     It uses MMC multi-
       associations                                          media         cards—the
                                                             latest Hindi Prabodh
      Within a few                 courseware is embedded in the card, and a
      years, we can                multimedia interface has been incorporated.
                                        “The courseware is an adaptation of the
      expect the                   LILA series applications available on CD and
      mobile content               the Web. The object was to address the target
      market to boom, group which consisted of government employ-
      and we will see              ees, language enthusiasts, tourists from
      more applica-                outside India, and the common masses inter-
                                   ested in learning Hindi,” says Amit Jhaveri,         ...and also shows you how to write the letter in question
      tions that can               COO, Enable M.
      exploit the use of                Multimedia output for learning has been             The translation of a Hindi sentence can be
      mobile phones as used in LILA Hindi Prabodh for Mobile, where                     seen in English: the sentence is written with
      educational tools the user can read and listen to Devanagri letters               English letters, and the sounds are spoken in
                                   as used in Hindi. The translation of a Hindi         Hindi. The user can also view video clips of
                                   sentence into English and sentence structure         lessons in the narrative sections.
                                   patterns can be learnt. The courseware also
                                   carries exercises and practice sets. In addition,    The Formal Launch
                                   video clips of narrative sections of lessons in      TeachMe Akshara wasn’t launched formally, so
                                   Hindi and a Hindi-English Dictionary are embed-      not many know about it.
                                   ded in the MMC.                                          “Since our product was made public and
                                                                                        was not formally launched, we have received
                                 How It Works                                           very few commendations. The feedback from
                                 Most of the rural population can afford a basic        the people cannot be assessed since the prod-
                                 mobile phone. “TeachMe Akshara is developed            uct has not been able to fully reach the general
                                 on the innovative VectorDraw engine that               public. Talks are on with a couple of big corpo-
                                 works even with basic level monotonic hand-            rations to look to it as a potential Corporate
                                 sets with Java support. It was important for us        Social Responsibility (CSR) tool, and we believe
                                 to take this design consideration because our          it will soon be available to the general public.
                                 aim was to make this application usable by any         Very soon, it would be available for Reliance
                                 mobile phone owner,” says Varghese. The appli-         customers through the R-World menu,”
                                 cation is 16 KB for colour phones and 32 KB for        informs Varghese.
                                 black and white phones.
                                      The easy-to-use program focuses on enabling       Concluding Notes
                                 learning of the Hindi and Malayalam alphabets.         According to the Telecom Regulatory Authority
                                 It teaches the user to read and write the letters,     of India, more than 149.5 million people in
                                 and how they are pronounced.                           India owned a mobile phone, and 6.4 million
                                      If one wants to learn how a letter is written     subscribers were added in December 2006. With
                                 in Hindi, by selecting the Write option, one can       such mobile penetration, the choice of a proper
                                 view an animation of a pencil drawing the letter       path for implementation of this technology has
                                 on a notepad playing on the screen.                    to be made. The flexibility of personal learning
                                      Pronunciation is learnt when the user             via mobile phones breaks the barriers of loca-
                                 selects a letter: on clicking it, a graphic to         tion and time.
                                 depict an object (such as a pomegranate) whose             Within a few years, we can expect the
                                 name begins with that letter comes up. Thus            mobile content market to boom, and we will
                                 the user can relate the graphic with the letter.       see more applications that can exploit the use
                                 As the animation of the letter is played on the        of mobile phones as educational tools. The
                                 screen, the pronunciation of that letter is            mobile content and services market in India is
                                 played over the phone’s speakers.                      in a nascent stage. For now, kudos to the efforts
                                      Thus, one learns a language by first learning     of Gopalakrishnan and Varghese.
                                 to read the letters, then how they are written by                               samir_makwana@thinkdigit.com

118   DIGIT MARCH 2007
      Gaming Special


                                  NO BOUNDARIES
       Next-gen consoles, multi-core processing, and all that jazz...The world of gaming is changing,
       and hardware vendors are going over the top trying to keep up




                                                                 Mobile Gaming
                                                                                                    Omnipresent
                                                                 the concept of a handheld PC       be to create tools for creating
                                                                 or as Microsoft calls it, ultra-   and maintaining a gaming
                                                                 mobile PC (UMPC). It is simply     platform on Nokia devices,
                                                                 taking the Windows OS and          instead of a dedicated device
                                                                 running it in a handheld form      such as the N-Gage. In early
                                                                 factor. Hardware willing, any      2006, it took the first step to
                                                                 game capable of running on         such a platform by releasing
                                                                 the PC should also be able to      an SDK (software develop-
                                                                 run on a UMPC, which should        ment kit) containing tools
                                                                 open up the possibility of         and a consumer interface to
                                                                 playing old DOS and Windows        access and purchase games
                                                                 games on the move. An inter-       using a cell phone.


                               P
       It has been                   laying games on the         esting hardware development            Let’s not forget Apple. One
                                     move was limited to         here would be the scaling          can already pick up casual
       conjectured both by           Snake on the cell phone     down of the current genera-        games from the likes of
       outsiders and by        or to Nintendo games on a         tion of gaming GPUs—ATI, for       PopCap at the iTunes store,
       Microsoft itself that   GameBoy platform. Until           example, has recently talked       plus rumours point to at least
       the Zune can do more    recently. On the console          about stripping down its R500      two new products that will
       than just play music    front, both the Nintendo DS       GPU to make it suitable to a       have gaming capabilities—one
                               and the Sony PlayStation          handheld form-factor. There        being the Apple TV set-top box
                               Portable have opened up new       are also rumours that NVIDIA       which will sit in the living
                               markets and new avenues to        has a chip in the works for the    room, and the other, the
                               gameplay—while the DS             next version of the PSP.           current talk-of-the-town—the
                               offers a completely new inter-        Microsoft has another          iPhone. The iPhone is a closed
                               face (driven by both touch        hardware device up its sleeve      platform—much like a gaming
                               and sound), the PSP brings        in the form of the Zune. It has    console—and you won’t find
                               console-level graphics and        always been conjectured both       games and software being
                               gameplay to a handheld            by outsiders and by Microsoft      developed for the device by
                               device, not to mention its        itself that the Zune can do        just any software house. This
                               multimedia capabilities.          more than just play music. It      does not exclude big names
                                   Beyond these two recent       already syncs with an Xbox         though: recent rumours point
                               additions, players haven’t        Live profile; could it not also    to both PopCap and EA devel-
                               had much success establish-       run Xbox Live Arcade games         oping games for the device.
                               ing new platforms in the          in the future? If not in its       While the iPhone’s specs
                               mobile space. Gizmondo            current avatar, certainly in a     haven’t been made public, it’s
                               came and went with barely a       newer version.                     not too much of a stretch to
                               whimper, N-Gage was met               Nokia is perhaps the           imagine the hardware capa-
                               with a lukewarm reception,        biggest      competitor       to   ble of running some decent
                               and niche players such as         Microsoft in this space. It        games: it can play videos, it
                               GP2X are, well, niche.            already tried to establish         runs a stripped-down version
                                   The market might see          itself as a phone-plus-gaming      of OS X, and has multiple ARM
                               some new platforms in the         console with the N-Gage—           processors.
                               future. Microsoft may or may      while that initiative might            Gaming on the move is
                               not release a handheld version    have failed, Nokia probably        an exciting prospect; imag-
                               of its Xbox console, but it has   won’t stop trying, especially      ine playing a game of Halo
                 Logo          certainly take a step into the    when there’s a large,              while paying superficial
                               mobile gaming space through       untapped market to be,             attention to a boring meet-
                               its cell phone, PDA, and now      umm, tapped. One of the            ing—which you must never
                               Origami software. Origami is      ways ahead for Nokia would         do. No sir.

120   DIGIT MARCH 2007
      Gaming Special


                                                                                  Processors
                                                                                                          Hard Core!
                                                                      As of now, though, AMD             Meanwhile, the K10 core
                                                                 has a dual-core, dual-socket       from AMD should burrow out
                                                                 option for the enthusiast          of its secret underground
                                                                 market with a tweakable BIOS       bunker—competition is good,
                                                                 and SLI support, called the        and we can’t imagine AMD
                                                                 Quad FX platform (a.k.a. 4x4).     letting Intel get away with the
                                                                 AMD should also drop its           performance crown. Intel,
                                                                 processor prices across the        though, is already drumming
                                                                 board by the time you read         up plans for 80-core proces-
                                                                 this. Mostly, the drop will be     sors against the silence of its
                                                                 to make way for the Athlon 64      arch-rival: these multi-core
                                                                 X2 6000+ processor, which is       units are not expected for
                                                                 expected any time soon as of       another five years, but it is
                                                                 this writing. Price drops are      heartening to see their game
                                                                 rumoured to be significant         plan so early in the cycle.
                                                                 across the board: the Athlon            One of the biggest prob-
                                                                 64 X2 3800+ is said to drop        lems for multi-core in the
                                                                 from $138 to $113, the Athlon      future would be that of


                                I
                                    n only a matter of months,   64 X2 4600+ from $215 to           memory bandwidth. Interest-
       We would generally           the processor industry       $195, and the Athlon 64 X2         ingly, graphics cards faced
       recommend that you           changed its tune from        5200+ to just $222 from its        much the same problem and
       go in for a slightly     clock speed to multi-cores—so    current price of $295. Note        solved them by throwing
       slower quad-core         quickly did this happen that     that these are suggested           extremely fast and expensive
       solution than a faster   it left tech-heads swooning.     distributor prices. With these     memory chips at the GPU,
                                Intel was quick to drop speed    cuts, AMD will still remain        along with a wide and speedy
       dual-core one            from its DNA, since it was       the best processor you can         bus—scaling such a solution to
                                virtually humiliated over the    buy, offering the best value in    say 16, 32 or more cores for a
                                humbling performance of its      terms of both price and            CPU becomes prohibitively
                                Netburst architecture against    performance. Factor in pure        expensive and impractical.
                                the mighty AMD K8.               speed, though, and Intel is             AMD will likely base a
                                     The order of the day is     still champion.                    solution to this problem
                                dual-core processors—AMD’s            Quad-core       processors    around its HyperTransport
                                Athlon 64 X2 series with its     from Intel already offer a         bus, while Intel has revealed
                                integrated Southbridge and       significant advantage over         its future direction through
                                HyperTransport vs. Intel’s       their dual-core siblings, and      its “Terascale” project: instead
                                Core Duo, and more impor-        we would generally recom-          of transistors arranged flat on
                                tantly, its Core 2 Duo line.     mend that you go in for a          a die, this chip’s design
                                Intel is winning this particu-   slightly slower quad-core          consists of 80 tiles laid out in
                                lar performance battle with      solution than a faster dual-       an 8 x 10-block array. Each tile
                                the Core 2 Duos. AMD has yet     core one, especially if you are    carries a small core that can
                                to refresh its aging K8 archi-   a gamer or a graphics/3D           run a simple instruction set
                                tecture, but is instead offer-   designer. Intel is also looking    for processing floating-point
                                ing a redesign of its Opteron    to introduce faster FSB to its     data. The tile also includes a
                                line in a quad-core configura-   processor range, this will tie     router connecting the core to
                                tion code-named “Barcelona,”     in closely with the introduc-      an on-chip network that links
                                a few months from now. AMD       tion of new chipsets, of           all the cores to each other and
                                has made it clear that we        course: Intel will introduce       gives them access to memory.
                                should expect the Barcelona      Core 2 models ending in “50”            What is tremendously
                                processors to be 40 per cent     (Core 2 Duo E6850 and E6650)       exciting is to imagine a
                                faster than Intel’s quad-core    which will take advantage of       multi-core processor inte-
                                Xeons across “a wide variety     the 1333 MHz FSB. The newer        grate itself with a graphics
                                of workloads.” With Dell         cores will only officially be      processor. Both AMD with
                                currently offering quad-core     supported on Intel’s upcom-        its Fusion project and Intel
                                Opterons, AMD’s offerings        ing x35 series of chipsets.        with Larrabee are headed in
                                could become popular with        Meanwhile, the low-end 6000        that direction—a massively
                                the       introduction      of   series will also receive a cache   multi-core           processor
                                Barcelona. Indeed, AMD           boost—a 4 MB L2 cache will         connected to a large
                                expects Barcelona to capture     give a nice performance boost      amount of on-die memory
                 Logo           30 per cent of the quad-core     like it does their more expen-     and surrounded by special-
                                market, up from its current      sive brethren. Prices will         ist vector units—probably
                                zero per cent share.             remain the same.                   the ultimate CGPU!


122   DIGIT MARCH 2007
      Gaming Special



                                                                Graphics cards
                                                                                     Big, hot, and crazy
                                                                being that of the flexibility     are shared over a network by
                                                                possible: tasks pertaining to     several computers.
                                                                shaders, vector math, CPU-            As for what’s currently on
                                                                intensive physics, sound, and     tap for future buyers—
                                                                procedural art and anima-         NVIDIA mostly, with ATI to
                                                                tion could all be balanced on     release its line of DX10 cards
                                                                the same chip, making for an      between March and May ‘07.
                                                                extremely efficient piece of      NVIDIA’s GeForce 8 series
                                                                silicon. Moreover, a GPU          looks like this: the 8800 GTX
                                                                based on the x86 instruction      and GTS variants, which vary
                                                                set can leverage years of         slightly in clock speeds, and
       There are plans to
                               I
                                  f you’ve been reading         programming experience,           the GTS coming in a leaner
       take the GPU outside       Digit religiously (is there   tools and techniques allow-       320 MB version, which is also
       the cabinet, tethered      any other way to read it?),   ing for lowered software          much more affordable than
       to the PC via a PCIe    you would be well aware of       development costs.                its 640 MB sibling. Also
                               the changes that graphics            As things stand, graphics     planned is an 8900 GTX core
       x16 connector           cards are going through (for     cards are expensive. DirectX      with 25 per cent more shader
                               some background on where         10 cards are currently only       power (clocked at 700 MHz
                               GPUs are headed, read A New      available from NVIDIA, and        GPU and 2200 MHz memory).
                               DirectXion, Digit, October       as of this writing, only in two   An SLI-on-a-card variant of
                               2006). In a nutshell, GPUs       variants—“will financially        this is also planned: the
                               are becoming CPU-like; so        ruin you” and “will finan-        GeForce 8950 GX2 will be a
                               much so that a day when          cially ruin your entire           dual-chip card based on a
                               you see a GPU performing         family.” With competition,        new 80-nm G80 chip, clocked
                               CPU tasks and vice-versa is      prices will fall, and ATI’s       at 550 MHz with 2x512MB of
                               not very far away. What’s        DX10 monster has just been        256-bit GDDR4 (memory at
                               more, you might very well        spotted in the wild.              2000 MHz).
                               see the two integrate—imag-          Prices aren’t the only            ATI’s DX10 cards are
                               ine a central processor with     means of putting the hurt on      rumoured to be 65-nm parts,
                               bits of GPU connected to it,     you, though: that ATI card,       meaning they’ll run cooler.
                               much like the design of the      for example is a nine-inch        The DX10 R600 and RV600
                               PlayStation 3 console.           behemoth with its memory          series from ATI will come in
                                   Graphic      cards     are   running at slightly more          various      guises—high-end,
                               perhaps the most exciting        than 1 GHz and a core speed       low-end, dual-cores on a card,
                               frontier in the coming years:    of about 800 MHz. These           and even the external cards
                               even as NVIDIA and ATI           DirectX 10 cards pull in more     mentioned above (code-
                               release DirectX 10 products      than 200 watts, and it would-     named Lasso). The R600XTX
                               with as much as 1 GB             n’t be a stretch to see vapour-   is the top-of-the-line card,
                               onboard memory (yikes!),         or     water-cooling      units   recently spotted with a
                               Intel is rumoured to be work-    becoming the norm rather          massive         four-heatpipe-
                               ing secretly on its own GPU      than the exception when the       powered cooler. It comes
                               design, taking a more tradi-     ATI parts appear. And this is     with 1024 MB of GDDR4
                               tional x86 route—rumours         just when the cards are           memory running at over
                               talk about a CPU-GPU hybrid      running in single mode—           2000 MHz; 12 inches long,
                               (a    CGPU?)     code-named      throw in SLI and step back,       the card is said to consume
                               Larrabee, consisting of          way back: the power require-      more than 240 W.
                               sixteen cores. The cores are     ments would be astronomi-             Apart from pushing
                               small, in-order x86 mini-        cal (just today we spotted a      pixels, these new cards are
                               processors with a short          Chinese PSU on the Net rated      also HD-ready: ready to
                               pipeline and lots of vector      at 1000 W!).                      decode the highly CPU-
                               hardware to implement                There are also plans to       taxing codecs of generation
                               some GPU-oriented exten-         take the GPU outside the          next—MPEG-2, H.264, and
                               sion of the x86 instruction      cabinet, tethered to the PC       Microsoft’s VC1 format. They
                               set. AMD, too, has talked of     via a PCIe x16 connector.         also    offer     full  HDCP
                               its x86-GPU plans, aka           This will not only prevent        support—over either DVI-D or
                               Fusion, which plans to marry     total meltdown of your            HDMI. To be future-proof in
                               AMD processors with tech         system but would also offer       the coming months, ensure
                 Logo          acquired from ATI GPUs. Inte-    fast graphics to, say, a          that any monitors you
                               grating a processor and a        laptop, or allow for a            purchase offer either HDCP
                               graphics unit like this has      scenario in which banks of        over DVI-D, or come with an
                               many advantages, the biggest     external graphic processors       HDMI port.

124   DIGIT MARCH 2007
      Gaming Special


                                                                     Motherboards
                                                                              Need more sex appeal!
                                                                   the kilo in some backstreets        instances, the 975X still
                                                                   in China. You should soon see       performs better), and some
                                                                   motherboards with embed-            bad decisions (such as no
                                                                   ded Flash storage to leverage       native support for IDE drives),
                                                                   this Vista feature.                 the P965 would make a great
                                                                        What the Flash would           platform for any future Intel
                                                                   help with would be caching          purchase. As for choice, the
                                                                   of frequently-used programs.        NVIDIA 600i family is perhaps
                                                                   Vista has a nifty feature           the best route for Intel gamers
                                                                   called SuperFetch, through          to take. While the top-end
                                                                   which it monitors stuff you         680i range came with its
                                                                   run often and caches them to        baggage of problems—from
                                                                   memory, so that future              audio issues to data corrup-


                                S
                                     top us if you’ve heard        instances of your favourite         tion—the problems are largely
       Two of Vista’s key            this one—“talking about       programs start quicker.             fixed now, and it is the best
       features will make for        my computer makes my          Another neat trick that a           non-Intel solution for the
       a “sexy time for         mother bored” (snigger).           motherboard with embedded           high-end. More interesting in
       motherboards”:           Ahem—no, not funny. Moth-          Flash memory might pull off         the 600 family is the lower-
       ReadyBoost and           erboards are getting a bit dull,   would be to act as an over-         priced 650i chipset, which is
                                though. We remember the            grown floppy drive: imagine         meant as a direct competitor
       SideShow                 good old days when we would        booting into your favourite         to Intel’s P965.
                                break out into fist-fights in      Linux distribution, or even a           The last few months have
                                our Digit cantina over the rela-   DOS variant upon startup.           seen muted support in terms
                                tive merits of an Intel chipset         SideShow is another neat       of chipsets for AMD proces-
                                versus an NVIDIA, ATI, or VIA      feature that Vista supports—a       sors. The reason for this could
                                offering; on certain moonless      SideShow device is like a           be two-fold: one, AMD bought
                                nights, even SiS products          mini-monitor that displays          ATI, so other chipset makers
                                were whispered into the dark-      key information from your           are unsure of how to react;
                                ness. Ah yes, those were the       Vista system. It could either       and two, Intel is once again
                                days—today, though, market         be a small LCD window on the        the performance leader with
                                consolidations and standardi-      lid of a laptop which shows         its Core 2 Duo range of
                                sations have taken their toll      you unread mails, battery life      processors. There is less noise
                                on our most beloved of simple      and so on when the unit is          in the marketing circles for
                                pleasures. Almost anyone           off, or it might be a clock that    AMD chipsets.
                                would agree that a good            shows you your IM buddies,              While on AMD, it would
                                chipset must either be an          your currently-playing track        be remiss not to mention the
                                Intel or an NVIDIA—where’s         list or the weather even when       new DTX standard the
                                the fun? All you have left to      your monitor is switched off.       company has proposed for
                                differentiate one mother-          For a PC, SideShow would            motherboards. DTX will
                                board from another is the          make a great addition if it is      essentially be an extension of
                                colour of its PCB (“Look, a RED    wireless—imagine IM and             the ATX standard for small-
                                one!”). Very boring!               mail notifications while            form-factor systems. The
                                    Respite might come from        lounging in your living room.       hardware spec defines two
                                an unlikely source, though:             So much for new                types of motherboards: a
                                Windows Vista! Vista might         features—what             about     standard DTX board, 9.6-inch
                                not be the consumer’s best         chipsets? NVIDIA chipsets are       x 8-inch, and also a smaller
                                friend, but it is certainly a      the way to go for AMD proces-       mini-DTX unit at 6.7-inch x 8-
                                great window of opportunity        sors (perhaps until the time        inch. DTX systems, though
                                for hardware vendors. As           AMD truly assimilates ATI           small, would be able to
                                Vista goes, two of its key         offerings into its product          accommodate a processor
                                features will make for a           lines). For Intel processors, the   with a thermal envelope of
                                much needed “sexy time for         roadmap calls for at least one      up to 65 W, as well as two
                                motherboards”: ReadyBoost          SiS-based motherboard; time         expansion cards which could
                                and SideShow.                      will be judge of that product’s     be either PCI or PCI-Express.
                                    ReadyBoost can use stor-       performance. Today, however,        The form factor also calls for
                                age space on some removable        Intel’s P965 chipset is the one     a notebook-style ExpressCard
                                media devices, such as USB         to watch—it offers product          PC card. AMD has already
                                Flash drives, to speed up your     support across the entire Intel     released a review copy of the
                 Logo           computer. Thanks to unprece-       line from Pentium D to dual-        new standard, and is encour-
                                dented demand and even             and even quad-core proces-          aging contribution from the
                                greater supply, Flash memory       sors. Barring some perform-         market to design and evolve
                                is cheap and probably sold by      ance hiccups (in some               the form factor.

126   DIGIT MARCH 2007
      Gaming Special


                                                                       Input Devices
                                                                             Where is the ANY key?
                                                                  and thin enough—in other        the PC. So much so that Vista
                                                                  words less like laptops and     comes with voice recogni-
                                                                  more notebooks—the inter-       tion built in—you can there-
                                                                  face may do better. “May,”      fore dictate to your word
                                                                  because there will always be    processor or talk dirty to
                                                                  people who hate writing on      your Web browser, right out
                                                                  screen as an input method.      of the Vista box. Vista also
                                                                  The other interface is that     extends the mouse functions
                                                                  of voice and being able to      to a digital tablet—if you are
                                                                  dictate and communicate         an artist and use the Wacom
                                                                  directly with a computer.       tablet or something similar,
                                                                  Here too, the problem is        chances are that Vista
                                                                  two-fold: the software is not   natively supports the pen as
                                                                  yet there, and not a lot of     an input device: the Ulti-
                                                                  people are too keen on          mate variant of Vista comes
                                                                  dictating to a PC.              with Tablet PC software,
                                                                      So what could be a          which allows handwriting
                                                                  universal solution to the       recognition and pen-based
                                                                  problem? A direct data dump     gesture navigation.
                                                                  from the brain to a                 The coolest aspect of the


                               Y
       You can bet your last          ou’ve seen the movie, or    computer? I hope not, unless    iPhone is its use of a multi-
                                      have picked up the          the output is supposed to be    touch interface. A multi-
       rupee that the multi-          scene via osmosis; it’s     an incoherent ramble. We        touchscreen allows multiple
       touchscreen will be     the geek interface zeitgeist—      can’t imagine a unique solu-    inputs. What this means is
       copied by just about    Tom Cruise flicking through        tion to our input problem of    that the screen can simulta-
       every hardware          files in Minority Report, his      today, but the question then    neously listen for, and under-
       vendor out there        fingers are glowing, as part of    becomes—is there anything       stand, more than one input
                               the interface he is wearing        wrong with the way we input     point, as opposed to a single
                               gloves, and he is directly         data today?                     point of interaction, as is
                               interacting with a hologram            While you can’t imagine     generally the norm with
                               image of computer data:            life without keyboard and       PDAs and their ilk. This
                               flick, flick, “these are not the   mouse, you also can’t imag-     opens up avenues for some
                               files I want!”, flick, flick…      ine any other input device      funky gesture-based user-
                               This nature of interactivity       taking their place—or even      device interaction. One
                               might not be for the weak of       complementing them. Well,       iPhone demo showcased the
                               arms, or the lazy, but as the      maybe a joypad if you are a     user being able to “pinch”
                               Wii gaming console has             gamer, or a steering wheel if   the screen in order to zoom
                               recently shown, any interface      you are really into racing      out of a photo. You can bet
                               that directly translates user      games. What else? Gesture-      your last rupee that this
                               input to screen activity is a      based computing? Multi-         interface will be copied by
                               good interface. So will we see     touch interfaces? Mouse and     just about every hardware
                               a Minority Report “monitor +       keyboard? Oh yes!               vendor on the face of Earth—
                               glove” combo anytime soon?             Gaming peripherals will     brace yourself as multi-touch
                               Surprise: interfaces such as       hugely benefit now that         hits everything from cell
                               these have already been made       Microsoft has decided that      phones to microwave ovens!
                               and tested in labs around the      Xbox 360 peripherals may            Finally, there is always
                               world. In fact, the interface      play nicely with the PC. You    the keyboard and the mouse.
                               showcased in the movie was         can thus buy a small adapter    We hope to see rechargeable
                               inspired by a project incu-        and a receiving station that    batteries marrying wireless
                               bated in Microsoft’s UI Labs!      will allow you to play games    keyboards, and please lose
                                   Microsoft in particular        on your PC using the Xbox       those ridiculous multimedia
                               has been trying unsuccess-         360 controller. Also possible   and system keys! We also
                               fully to push two types of         is the use of steering wheels   wouldn’t mind seeing some
                               interfaces at us. One of           on the PC which would have      software widgets on our
                               them is the Tablet PC way of       otherwise have been rele-       keyboards—so get SideShow
                               interaction—pen inputs and         gated to single duty on the     to the keyboard, please.
                               handwriting recognition.           Xbox 360. This blurring             We can’t imagine an
                               We think this one hasn’t           between the platforms will      evolution of the mouse,
                Logo           been widely accepted due to        certainly help reduce costs     though… perhaps it could sing
                               the clumsy nature of Tablet        for us consumers.               to us? Or glow hypnotically?
                               PC hardware. Once Tablet               Microsoft is also keen on   All devices could use some
                               PCs become small enough            voice communication with        glow—make it happen!

128   DIGIT MARCH 2007
      Digital Leisure l Game On




       a
      Str Trek: Legacy
      Only for Star Trek buffs...


      A
             fter we got a taste of Star Trek: Bridge Com-       quite disappointing. It starts right when you look at
             mander, Star Trek: Legacy comes in to take a        the Readme; you know they messed it up the
             place in the list of the few space combat           moment you look at the section titled “Control
      games. You play the role of a starship commander           Updates,” which corrects the controls printed in the
      controlling your ship in third person; however, you        manual. Just when you think the Readme fixed
      can give orders or switch to any ship in your fleet.       things, you are welcomed with no option to remap
      Star Trek freaks will ogle over the game’s main fea-       your keys. This is a pain in the behind, considering
      tures, one of them being the original voice cast for       the game has a huge number of controls. Add to that
      all the five captains of Star Trek. That’s nice and all,   the absolutely horrid controls for your ship, plus
      but the game itself turns out to be something else...      there’s no way to get the camera to lock behind your
           The story starts off with the search for a miss-      ship. Trying to get used to the controls itself will
      ing Vulcan scientist, which, of course leads to the        take off a decent chunk of your time. You’re forced
      usual bad guys you have to fight off. As the story         to control both the camera and the ship’s movement
      progresses, you will find yourself exchanging bul-         in addition to targeting and firing.
      lets with Klingons, Romulans, and Borg ships. Apart            The adrenaline level in dogfights is extremely
      from “annihilate all enemies,” there’s the occasion-       low, with most ships turning around at a snail’s pace.
      al mission to tow or baby-sit friendly ships/planets       You could place a weight on the [A] key and go take
      to keep things interesting.                                a shower while your ship makes a 180 turn. Grant-        Rating: 3/10
           The graphics are decent for a DX9 game; you           ed, these are battleships you are controlling and not    Developer: Bethesda Softworks
      won’t be complaining on this front at any point. The       fighters, but it’s a game—and we don’t really need to    Publisher: Ubisoft
      ships have a good amount of detail, too. However,          know that battleships take an eternity to turn           Distributor: E-Xpress Interactive
      the physics is where the game comes out wrong. The         around. This seriously affects the fights you            Contact: sales@e-
      collision detection is amateurish at best; you will        encounter, even the epic large battles.                  xpressindia.com
      often see pieces of debris pass right through each             Star Trek: Legacy has a lot of potential, but it     Price: Rs 1,299
      other or through ships—and that’s only the start of        looks like the devs hurried the game to make the
      the overall quirks of the game.                            release date.
           Moving from materialistic things to the core of
      any game—raw fun—Star Trek: Legacy turns out                                     mayur_bhatia@thinkdigit.com


130       DIGIT MARCH 2007
                                                                                                     Digital Leisure l Game On




True to the simulation mantra

R
       ace, a simulation game based on the       each tire and its height individually! Even
       FIA WTCC championships lets you           in-game, small factors matter—your wind-
       experience the WTCC 2006 champi-          shield could get smudged by the weather
onship seasons. Everything a simulation          or dirt, and stones could smash it.
fanatic could possibly ask for is crammed            The graphics aren’t overly detailed,
into this game—in addition to the rules,         but they feel smooth to look at and won’t
the tracks and the cars, the drivers will also   hamper your playing experience. As
appear familiar to anyone following the          already implied before, the physics are
WTCC craze. Yes, that also includes 2005         awesome; any realistic game should pay
WTCC championAndy Priaulx. Race goes to          attention to physics, and Race has pin-
great lengths to ensure that players expe-       pointed its every aspect.
rience as much realism as possible; this             The amount of difficulty options in
includes the penalty weight system in            Race brings even the toughest of the
championship mode and a realistic dam-           skilled players down to their knees, how-
age system where your cars crumble, break        ever novice gamers will have some diffi-
and bend. Even debris hitting your car can       culty getting used to the game. SimBin has
damage it, so don’t go full speed ahead in       taken this into account and even includ-
glee, and watch out when you see the cars        ed mouse steering for players finding con-
ahead of you encounter a nasty accident.         trolling with the keyboard too difficult.
    You can play Race mainly in the Quick            Race is a great game with few quirks,
Race, Championship and Race Weekend              one of them that you can’t see where your
modes. The two additional modes—Driver           steering wheel is pointed when control-
Duel and Time Attack—add a bit of spice          ling your car with a mouse in chase cam.
to the game, despite being a bit similar.        Also be warned that the game comes with
And of course, there’s multiplayer where         Steam, which means you will need an
up to 26 players can race with each other.       internet connection at least once to be
    Moving to the core of the game—simu-         able to play even in single player mode.
lation—Race does it extremely well; no two       Anyone who has ever used Steam can tes-
cars feel the same when driving, and the         tify to its ability to cause severe hair loss!
                                                                                                  Rating: 7/10
amount of flexibility to customise your          At the end though, it’s all worth it if you
                                                                                                  Developer: SimBin
cars is simply huge. Even expert tuners          are a simulation fanatic.
                                                                                                  Publisher: Eidos
will be impressed at the large amount of
                                                                                                  Distributor: E-Xpress Interactive
tuning in Race; you can even customise                     mayur_bhatia@thinkdigit.com
                                                                                                  Contact: sales@e-xpressindia.com
                                                                                                  Price: Rs 699




                                                                                                                      MARCH 2007 DIGIT   130
      Teching Their Breath Away                                                 Sony Pumps Up The Blu-ray Volume
      Japanese transport firms are using mobile technology                      Sony Computer Entertainment Europe will send out half
      to prevent drunk drivers from starting shifts. An                         a million copies of Casino Royale on Blu-ray Disc to the
      alcohol breath analyser sends data to a service                           first half-million registered PS3 users. Probably to
      centre, a video call is made and a software confirms                      promote the PlayStation Network, or to the format.
      the driver’s identity before the test                                     Strike twelve (or fourteen) for Blu-ray




                                                                                                                                                              First
      Escape
      NEWS YOU CAN USE
                                                                                     And if that weren’t                  Whatever
                                                                                 enough, Bavelier goes on:
      Game On!                                                                   “That learning carries over              Happened To…
                                                                                 into other activities and
                                                                                 possibly everyday life.”                QTVR

      A
               ssuming University of          University who hardly played       Meaning—and it doesn’t get
               Rochester researchers
               can’t be bribed by
                                              games. It was a tough job,
                                              but they found some. Then
                                                                                 any better—that gaming
                                                                                 actually makes you
                                                                                                                         Q     uickTime Virtual Reality
                                                                                                                               (QTVR) was an interesting
                                                                                                                         concept by Apple that allowed
      game publishers, it’s official.         those students were given          smarter, too!                           users to interact with images
      You can tell your parents               the clutter test. This consists        What next? Bavelier’s               instead of just sitting there
      about it. You can tell them to          of the following: one needs        team plans to use a 360-                looking at them. It aimed to do
      buy you an Alienware rig                to identify the orientation of     degree virtual reality lab              away with the two dimensional
      and lots of original copies of          a “T” thrown somewhere in a        being developed at the                  viewing of images and instead,
      games—for the sake of your              “clutter” of other symbols.        University. Now if they find            show everything in 3D. The
      vision, which, it’s been                Then, the students were            something useful from that,             technology is not dead, by any
      proved, gaming improves.                divided into two groups—one        we’re not sure you’ll be able           means, and you can still get
      And no, it doesn’t work with            group played Tetris for about      to convince your folks to buy           the necessary tools from
      Tetris-like games (hence the            an hour a day, and the other       you a head-mounted display,             Apple to make QTVR MOV files,
      Alienware rig): it only works           played Unreal Tournament. The      but for now, you can show               it’s just that it never took off
      with complex, action-packed             official difference? The latter    them this.                              and became popular.
      games like Unreal Tournament.           is more visually complex.                                                        How it works is pretty
          You can quote the good                  After a month, the Tetris-     ROMANIA’S IT INDUSTRY                   simple: You shoot panoramic
      researchers at the University           players hadn’t improved and
      of Rochester. They proved
      that students who played
                                              the UT players had improved
                                              at the clutter test.
                                                                                 Thanks, Bill!                           views of your surroundings—
                                                                                                                         left, right, behind, top and
                                                                                                                         bottom—then the software
      action video games a few                    So here’s the head                                                     puts them together and makes


                                                                                 T
      hours a day for a month                 researcher’s verdict: Daphne             his is the first                  a spherical 3D image that it
      improved their performance              Bavelier says, “When people              documented evidence               displays as a movie. Now
      by 20 per cent at a “clutter            play action games, they’re               of something like this            viewers (who have to have
      test”—something like a                  changing the brain’s               having happened. Basescu                Apple’s QuickTime Player) can
      standard eye-test. (It should           pathway responsible for            told Bill Gates, “Thanks for            just keep the left mouse button
      work for non-students too,              visual processing. These           all the Windows and Office              pressed and move the mouse
      we’re assuming.)                        games push the human               installations!”                         left to see what’s on the left, or
          Chosen for the research             visual system to the limits             No, sorry. That doesn’t            right to see what’s on the right,
      were students at the                    and the brain adapts to it.”       quite make sense. We’re                 as well as up or down.
                                                                                                                               When seen in a browser
      My Desktop                                                                                                         (streaming) the images are
                                                                                                                         loaded into the player one at a
       February’s Winner
                                                                                                                         time, and you can clearly see
       Tarun Brari from Mandi, Himachal Pradesh
                                                                                                                         the 3D grid that is being used.
       Is it Windows, Mac OS X or Linux? Turns out it’s
                                                                                                                         QTVR also offered companies
       Windows, and here’s how he did it:
       1. FinderBar 1.3 for the Mac-Style taskbar
                                                                                                                         the chance to show-off their
       2. Objectdock 1.3 for the Dock                                                                                    products in 3D, letting the
       3. A SuSE wallpaper                                                                                               users rotate the product and
       4. Hide the desktop icons—right click on the                                                                      view it from the desired angle.
       Desktop > Arrange Desktop Icons and Uncheck                                                                       However, we suspect the
       show desktop icons                                                                                                capabilities of Flash killed all
       Almost had us confused, this did.                                                                                 hope QTVR had on this front.
       Participate in this contest
       and win next month
       Wireless and Mobile
       All-IP Networks                                    Send in your Desktop with a description of how you
       by Yi-Bing Lin & Ai-Chun Pang                      made it to mydesktop@thinkdigit.com with the subject
       Published by                                       “My Desktop”, and tell us your postal address, too.


132   DIGIT MARCH 2007
                                                                                                             People Who
                                                                                                              Changed
                                                “Bare-bones Hardware”                                        Computing
                                                       Last month’s winner is
                                                                                                         50 Years On
                                                       Abhra Bagchi
                                                       (abhra_life@yahoo.co.uk)                          Certainly one
                                                                                                         of the
                                                       Participate and win                               biggest
                                                       next month                                        things ever
                                                       The Accredited Symbian                            to have
                                                       Developer Primer
                                                       by Jo Stichbury & Mark Jacobs
                                                                                                         happened to
                                                                                                         computing
                                                       Published by                                                      Reynold Johnson
                                                                                                         was the
                                                                                                         invention of the hard disk
                                                                                                         by Reynold Johnson, back
                                                        Corrigendum: January’s winner was                in 1956. Reynold’s interest
                                                        Nadeem Shaikh, Pune.
                                                                                                         in electromechanical
                                                                                                         devices started in 1933. His
                                                        WIN!                                             first invention was a device
                                                        Send in your entry and you could win an          for automatically grading
                                                        exciting gift just by sharing an amusing
                                                        picture with a tech angle to it. The picture
                                                                                                         multiple choice tests.
                                                        should have been shot by you, and should not         Johnson joined IBM in
                                                        have been published anywhere earlier. E-mail     the 1950s, specialising in
                                                        your picture with the subject “DigiPick” and     electromechanical devices.
                                                        your postal address on or before the 20th of     IBM, during the time,
                                                        this month to digipick@thinkdigit.com.           wanted to develop a
                                                        One prize-winning picture will be published      random access memory
                                                        each month.                                      that could store and
                                                                                                         retrieve data in seconds—
looking for words to describe      helped Romanians improve            prosecution. And Vladimir         and not in minutes like
the probable look on the face      their “creative capacity in         Putin advocated going after       with magnetic tapes and
of William Henry Gates—and         the IT industry,” which he          the distributors rather than      card files. Johnson and
the extent of his                  says is now world-renowned.         the users. (The teacher was       team devised the first
speechlessness—when he was         He said all this piracy “ten        acquitted.)                       working magnetic disk
told, at the opening of a          years ago” was an investment            So come on, Bill, lighten     storage in late 1955. The
global technical centre in         in Romania’s “friendship”           up! A country thanks you!         device, named RAMAC
Bucharest, by Romanian             with Microsoft and Gates.           The ultimate form of flattery     (Random Access Method of
president Traian Basescu,              The one inaccuracy there        is imitation—literally!           Accounting Control), was
that that country’s IT             is the “ten years ago.”                                               very large and weighted a
industry would have been           Basescu failed to mention           TOM AND HARRY AVAILABLE           ton, but it was capable of
nowhere if it weren’t for          that the pirates are still                                            accessing a file in less than
pirated Windows. (And
pirated Office, we’re
                                   doing their act—and very
                                   well indeed. It’s not like
                                                                       Dick Taken                        a second.
                                                                                                             The first commercial
presuming.)                        Romania is suddenly going                                             hard drive in 1956


                                                                       A
     Now what, really, do you      to go buy genuine Windows—                  s if having a name like   produced by IBM called
say in such a situation? “It’s     software pirates abound like                Pecker weren’t bad        the RAMAC 305 had fifty
my pleasure”? “Don’t               flies in the country, we’re                 enough, publishing        24-inch magnetic disks
mention it, it was nothing”?       told, and will call up offices      executive David Pecker lost       rotating at 1200 rpm. The
The comment by Basescu was         peddling their wares.               the right to own                  disk could store 5 MB,
almost certainly a                     So what did Gates say to        davidpecker.com. This is          which at the time was
compliment, we think. But          the genial Romanian head of         because according to the          high.
communicated as it was to          state? Nothing, as the reports      World Intellectual Property           Johnson is said to have
Bill Gates, we’re wondering if     go. “No comment.”                   Center (WIPO), only famous        been a gentle man who
Basescu was a tad sloshed              It seems a conspiracy (no       people who trade on their         never wanted to be in the
when he said it. People don’t      pun intended, we promise!)—         name have their right to that     limelight. He received
say such things!                   everyone seems to be telling        domain name.                      many awards for his
     To give you an idea of the    Gates to loosen up and just              The WIPO Arbitration         contribution to storage
gravity of the situation (the      take piracy in his stride.          and Mediation Center              devices, including the
situation in Gates’ head, that     There’s a Russian teacher           declared that Pecker failed       Medal of Science in 1986,
is), Basescu said during a joint   who was prosecuted by               to demonstrate that he had        and the IEEE Award for
news conference with Gates that    Microsoft for using pirated         rights to davidpecker.com         Advancement of
piracy had helped the              MS software, and he faced           other than “broad                 Information Storage
younger generation discover        imprisonment in Siberia if          assertions.”                      Technology in 1992. At the
computers, that it set off the     proved guilty. Guess who                 Now who else would           end of his life, Johnson was
development of the IT              intervened on the teacher’s         want davidpecker.com? Well,       working on codifying
industry in Romania. And           behalf? Mikhail Gorbachev.          it’s a parking service with       Chinese characters.
Basescu goes on. Piracy also       He made a plea to end the           ads on it, and it happens to

                                                                                                                      DIGIT MARCH 2007     133
      Escape


                                           Wild Wild Web
                                           The Love Bug                     ordinator about the missing

      Open Source
                                           F   ebruary is the month of
                                               love, and Google loves us,
                                           too, even if we don’t click on
                                                                            “L”. He also helpfully asked the
                                                                            C.C.C. whether the green stalk
                                                                            on the strawberry was for “L”.
      We’ve all heard about the Open       the ads. And as you know,             The Corp. Comm. Co-
      Source Software (OSS)                Google changes their             ordinator simply agreed with       officially-sanctioned embassy
      movement, but how much do we         homepage logo on various         the reader, and replied that it    in the virtual space of Second
      really know about it? In case        occasions, and on St.            was Googe’s new “edgy”             Life, known as the Swedish
      your friends know more than
                                           Valentine’s Day they tried       design. She ended her reply        Institute. We’re making much
      you, here are a few terms that
                                           something lovely: a cherry       with an “L”. Standing for          of this up, mind you, but not
      should see you through that
      uncomfortable conversation.          dipped in chocolate, making up   “Love,” of course—so we’re         the part about the Institute.
                                           a letter “g”. For whatever       happy again.                       The Institute will tell would-be
      GPL: The GNU General Public          reason, they forgot the “l”.                                        movers to Sweden how to get
      License is too complicated to        Which is sad because “L” could   Virtual Swedish Embassy            passports and visas in this, the
      explain in such a small space.
      However, to give you and idea,
      the GPL is the most popular
                                           stand for “Love,” and it might
                                           have indicated that they’ve
                                           stopped loving us.
                                                                            S  weden’s Pirate Heaven, so
                                                                               lots of people want to move
                                                                            there. Many people don’t know
                                                                                                               real world. It is now looking
                                                                                                               towards buying an island to
                                                                                                               create a home for Swedish
      license for free and OSS. It              Someone wrote to Googe’s    the processes involved. So, the    companies in Second Life.
      allows users to copy, modify and     Corporate Communication Co-      Government launched its            Reminiscent of Sealand, that…
      distribute software that is under
      GPL for free, or even for money.
      However, source code of such        display porn ads—because of            Although whang.com            from Michigan State
      modified software has to be         the “pecker” in the name, of      and dong.com and                   University research. (Yes, a
      included.                           course. Now wait;                 schlong.com are parked, the        lot of such time-pass
                                          johnpecker.com is a               usual suspects, which we           research is state-funded in
      Repository: OSS is developed        placeholder site, but there’s     won’t mention here, are all        America.)
      by hundreds and thousands of        no tompecker.com or               porn sites.                             There are very precise
      people from across the globe.
                                          harrypecker.com or even a              The possibilities are         figures: in the MSU research,
      In order for them to all be able
                                          dickpecker.com! So, funnily       many in this domain (pun           it turned out that men say
      to work together, all the source
      code needs to be stored in one      enough, there’s this bloke        not intended), but the point       they’re an inch taller than
      globally accessible server. This    called Ferris who registered      is, if you’ve got a porn-          they are, women in their
      server is called a repository,      davidpecker.com some time         related name like that of          twenties say they’re five
      and contains all the different      ago. Pecker and Ferris            John Gay the poet, your            pounds less weighty, and
      versions of the software being      attempted to negotiate; it        chances of getting “your”          women in their thirties say
      developed.                          climbed to $1,600, and            domain are slim!                   they’re 17 pounds less
                                          finally Ferris demanded                                              weighty.
      CVS: The Concurrent Versioning      $15,000 to stop registering       I’M BEAUTIFUL                           People even lie about
      System was until recently the       other domain names with                                              being married, though we
      most popular version control
      system in place. It’s now being
                                          “pecker” in them.
                                              We’re wondering why
                                                                            Profiles Lie                       think that isn’t too common
                                                                                                               in India.
      replaced by SVN.                    Ferris chose david as part of                                             Interestingly, there are


                                                                            Y
                                          the domain name to                      ou’ve probably heard a       “spikes” in ages on online
      SVN: Short for Subversion, this     register—and why he hasn’t              story that goes like         profiles—for example, the
      is the revision control (or         registered more common                  this—it might have           spike at “29”, which you
      version control) system that is     peckers like, as we said,         happened to a friend or            could figure for yourself.
      becoming popular. This version      dickpecker. And, in the first     colleague or even you: an          There also happens to be a
      control software offers more
                                          place, who would head to a        online friend of the opposite      spike at “36”—the figure for
      advanced features than CVS,
                                          site that simply had “pecker”     sex is tall and handsome (or       that age is much higher than
      which are needed when
      thousands of developers are         in the name somewhere,            beautiful), but he or she          that for “between 37 and 41.”
      working on the same source          assuming it would be a good       hasn’t posted a photo yet.         Hence, we figure, 37 is “old.”
      code.                               porn site? Ferris’ motives        (That digicam is always                 So why do people lie? The
                                          remain a mystery, but that’s      waiting to be bought, and he       researchers found pretty
      FSF: The Free Software              the way it works. He held         or she doesn’t have a              much what we knew: that
      Foundation is the group that is     control of his rights simply      scanner!) Then comes               the Internet disinhibits you,
      spearheading the OSS and            by linking “pecker” to porn—      personal meeting day. And          that you feel free to say what
      Freeware movement. They             which leads to interesting        one goes, “He (or she) was         you want; also, that you
      support the GNU and help with       observations:                     better online.” Research now       want to attract a more
      legal issues in the OSS domain.         willy.com is the “WILLY       points out that more than 90       appealing partner. For men,
                                          ITALIANA website.” They           per cent of online daters lie      lying about income is
      Usage: “I wish Microsoft would      manufacture garment labels.       about at least one thing in        practical: people listing
      release Windows 98 under GPL.       wiener.com is “Wiener             their profiles.                    higher incomes just get
      I’d like to see the CVS/SVN         Reviews,” and they go,                The biggest—and the            more responses! It’s quite
      repositories for the blue-screen,   “Wiener revies (sic) is           most frequent—lies are about       pardonable, really: get
      and watch as the FSF tries to       dedicated to the gay              height and weight, just what       hitched to someone online,
      convince them to take it back!”     community!”                       you’d expect. This comes           and confess on meeting day.

134   DIGIT MARCH 2007
      Escape                                                                                                                                   Escape
      Which is something like
      judgment day: don’t lie to
      the extent that “tall, fair and
      slim” becomes “short, dark
                                           Pinch Me, I Must Be....Whoops!
                                           If you’ve ever glanced at Brother Zivalal’s            location—files, mind you, crucial to this
      and fat.”                            midsection, you can see that life has                  magazine ever getting printed.
          With the privacy the             been good to him—well, except for all                       “I don’t know where it went! He did it!
      Internet gives you, it’s hard        the work we give him. Overall though,                  It’s not my fault! I’m mailing Deepak!
      to resist, though. We’d all          the sight conjures up the image of a ripe              [miscellaneous expletives]!” And as Pillaiji
      like to be beautiful people.         pumpkin. And then came the day that                    and FatBeing suffered the fallout of the
                                           The Browne (who has now insisted on                    explosion, Vandal struggled to see through
      “FUNCTION FATIGUE”                   the moniker Vandal) decided to see how                 his tears of laughter.
      Too Many                             ripe it really was...
                                               ‘Twas the night before closing, and the
                                                                                                       After some careful forensic analysis at
                                                                                                  the scene of the crime (viz. Asking Sivalal to
      Features                             Vandalising Forefinger was on the prowl. As
                                           Zivalal browsed the file server, said
                                                                                                  point out what exactly he was doing at the
                                                                                                  precise moment), the errant folder was
                                           forefinger sprung out of seemingly                     tracked down, peace was restored, and eyes
                                           nowhere and struck him right in the                    were rolled at Vandal’s indiscretions. “All I


      R
             emember those simple          pumpkin belly. Startled by the arrival of              did was this”, he defends himself to anyone
             mobile phones that            this unknown appendage, he mistakenly                  who’ll listen (and many who won’t)—
             just let you speak? Like      dragged the folder containing                                       unleashing the forefinger upon
      the Nokia 1100? That’s what          the magazine’s Quark                                                    them. So if you ever get
      people want, it seems,               files into an undisclosed                                               poked in the near future....
      according to a survey by
      FAME. Well, that’s human
      nature for you.                   don’t know how to use my                want more functionality. But              An interactive voice
           FAME is the Forum to         phone.” Dave Murray,                    they want to be able to               system would be welcome.
      Advance the Mobile                director of FAME, puts it a             actually use it.”                     “What do you want to do?”
      Experience, and the survey        little more eloquently and                  In other words, some              “Take a photo.” “Is it bright
      was sponsored in part by          correctly: “There are too               people want to use advanced           or dark in here?” “Dark.”
      Palm. Now, if FAME wants to       many product features that              features without knowing                  Seriously, we’ve seen
      Advance the Mobile                consumers don’t use, or                 how to use them. That’s               too many reports of
      Experience, it turns out they     don’t know how to use, and              human nature for you again.           people complaining their
      don’t have to do much—just        it frustrates them.”                    If you’re going to cram a             devices are too hard to use,
      tell people to revert to the           “There is a high                   digital SLR into a cell phone,        and we all know at the
      phones of a decade ago!           percentage of consumers                 there’s precious little you           same time that people
           They’re calling it           who are only looking for                can do to simplify things.            want to be able to do more.
      “Function Fatigue”: it was        limited functionality,”                 What are manufacturers to             Perhaps someday everyone
      the #1 complaint of those         Murray says. “At the same               make of these findings, and           will actually get down to
      surveyed, and it means, “I        time, there are many who                what are they to do?                  RTFM.


                                  Mark Cuban                                                   system; (2) license Apple’s DRM technology to other
                                  www.blogmaverick.com/2007/02/07/what-should-the-             companies to build compatible systems; and (3) sell DRM-
                                  music-biz-do-next                                            free music.
                                  What should the music biz do next?                                Apple’s preferred outcome, Jobs says, is outcome
                                  …Does anyone question the interdependency of value           (3). This is notable, and somewhat surprising, as the
                                  among all outlets of music? Does the popularity of           consensus has been that Apple strategy has been to
        Apple’s mess-up on        downloads of a song, its ring tone, its video, its CD        seek outcome (1). If Apple really prefers to eliminate
        DRM-free music was        sales, even ticket sales, licensing, sponsorships and        DRM, that is news…
        the hottest topic of      merch sales affect the other elements ? The total
        the month—did Steve       revenue available from the artist? Of course it does.        Jerem Zowdany
        Jobs make a dumb          Leverage Google, Yahoo, maybe even Microsoft or              http://jeremy.zawodny.com/blog/archives/008547.html
        move or will he           Amazon or others to create a system that takes input         JavaScript Badges and Widgets Considered
        become a worldwide        from all revenue sources and prices (with constraints as     Harmful
                                  defined by the owner of the content, ie min/max price        … the seemingly ubiquitous JavaScript
        hero? Also, it seems
                                  for a product, and/ or break even point in net margin        Badges/Widgets/Thingies that you see on blogs and
        that JavaScript
                                  dollars for an artist or the entire label) to optimize       web sites everywhere. Heck, I even have one on my
        “things” do more          whatever the goals of the company are, whether its           site right now (over there--on the right)…
        harm than good            overall sales/profitability, or possibly, maximizing the          …Why? They’re a hack. With all the talk of how
                                  number of downloads and visibility for an artist…            the web has “become writable” with advent of blogs
                                                                                               and self-publishing tools, you’d think that we’d have
                                  Ed Felton                                                    a better way of getting third party content on to our
                                  www.freedom-to-tinker.com/?p=1117                            sites. Given that an overwhelming number of sites
                                  Apple Offers to Sell DRM-Free Music                          that are likely running PHP or some other
                                  …Much as I would like to see Apple renounce DRM entirely,    “dynamic” hosting setup, these least common
                                  that’s not quite what Jobs is saying. The letter describes   denominator solutions just feel wrong. (This could
                                  three possible futures for Apple’s music technology: (1)     easily be followed by a rant on problems with the
                                  continue the current path with a closed Apple-only DRM       spread of web services and RSS.)…


136   DIGIT MARCH 2007
                                                     check mails. Please help, I’m not able to             products, ratings, and advertisements
                                                     do it! Now every time I log in to the PC a            for them. Almost 50 per cent of the
                                                     dialog box appears saying “localhost.                 content is loaded with all this, and
                                                     localdoamin not logged in to DNS host—                doesn’t give insights about their basics
                                                     please check /etc/hosts”.                             and technologies.
                                                         Please, please, please! I’ve had                      In terms of software, it’s just a stroll
                                                     enough. Please distribute tissues next                around Windows XP and Windows
                                                     month. And please, please include big                 environment-based software and Office.
                                                     and small games for Linux in your next                There is no updated article about
                                                     issue!                                                programming, new era of 2D and 3D
                                                                             Mohammed Isham                animations and special effects, graphics
                             February 2007
                                                                                                           and designing, Linux and networking,
                                                     Dear Mohammed,                                        which are essential in today’s scenario. I
      Digit Goes Clairvoyant                         Fedora Core 4 is certainly somewhat advanced in       think including Hollywood movies
      I am an avid reader of Digit, and it has       terms of required user knowledge. Install             trailers instead of Bollywood movies is
      helped me a lot. Especially the Fast Track     Ubuntu instead, and we’re sure you’ll have a          also a very bad idea indeed.
      series. For the past five years, I’ve wanted   pleasant experience—it’s more user-friendly.              But your Fast Track series is
      to build something for myself as a Web         You’ll be able to access the Internet, and once       marvellous and more readable, and more
      Presence but could not muster the              you do that, you’ll be able to download codecs        admirable than your magazine. This is
      courage to do so. But, thanks to your          for watching your movies.                             the only reason for buying your
      intuitiveness, at last I was able to publish        As for games, we do give out Linux games         magazine. The complaint is that you
      my first blog—because of your Fast Tracks      now and then—look forward to more!                    publish it in black and white. The paper
      on Google and blogging!                                                         — Executive Editor   quality is not also as good as your
                           Anindya Chatterjee                                                              magazine’s. And the pictures you publish
                                    New Delhi        Teen Sensation                                        are very small, and of no use as the fonts
                                                     I am a 13-year-boy in the sixth grade from            cannot be seen without a lens and are
      Linux Woes                                     Kashmir, and I love your monthly                      totally blurred. Please publish this in
      I’ve been a Digit reader for the past two      magazine. I don’t miss even one edition               colour, and you can increase the price to
      years. I’ve never seen any book with so        of Digit. The Fast Track is superb, especially        Rs 150. I also want to suggest to please
      information and content where you learn        the Web designing and Photoshop were                  publish a Fast Track on the best Web sites,
      from. It is a book which makes you             very helpful. Even the Digital Tools and              and list some of their features—like sites
      popular and stand out from the crowd.          Tips & Tricks are great. And I can never              on news, general knowledge, shopping,
      But all the advice from Digit is not           forget the free CDs and DVDs. “Agar                   music, Bollywood, Hollywood, nature,
      gainful; some can be a pain in the neck.       Firdoose Computer Magazine Ast, Hami                  free wallpapers, Web hosts, games, video,
           After all the two years of blah, blah,    Digit-w-Hami Digit-w-Hami Digit…”                     MP3, magazines, blogs, e-mail services,
      blah on using pirated XP, well, I finally                                          H M Abbas         and so on, as every time I surf the
      thought of reverting from XP to Linux.                                               Kashmir         Internet I get fed up with the same
           Day 1: After all the lectures in every                                                          Google every time.
      issue, I finally decided to go legal after     Clairvoyance, Part II                                     I think you will not publish this
      searching my pouch of OSes. I have a           I would like to congratulate your team for            letter, but I will not stop buying your
      collection of OSes from Sun Solaris to         the selection of beautiful backgrounds                mag. I love it whether it changes or not.
      FreeBSD. I thought of installing Fedora        for the opening of the Digit CDs and                                                   Ved Prakash
      Core 4. Two years of Digit always pays,        DVDs, especially from the December                                                          Shimla
      and installing Fedora Core was a piece         issue. Will it be possible for you to                 Dear Ved,
      of cake.                                       incorporate these in future issues so they            We’ll definitely think about your suggestion
           Day 2: I liked the graphic interface      can be set as Desktop backgrounds?                    regarding Bollywood trailers, though we don’t
      and everything was cool. I went                                             Jayant Dhamne            think we’ll drop the Hollywood ones. In addition,
      through all the options, and created                                                                 we must say that we’d lose a lot of our
      user accounts.                                 Dear Jayant,                                          readership if we increased the price to Rs 150, so
           Day 3: I am a gamer, so I checked for     Take a look at this month’s CD and DVD—you’ll         you’ll have to bear with us as regards the paper
      games. Well I played all the boring ones.      be pleasantly surprised!                              quality of the Fast Track series.
      Man, I’m staring to miss all my FIFA 07,                                      — Executive Editor          With respect to your other points, we have
      GTA San Andreas, Crime Time Gang Wars—                                                               only one thing to say—we publish, in our
      man, I feel like crying.                       Navigator No More?                                    magazine, what we perceive as most wanted by
           Day 4: Feel like playing some soft        I’ve been a regular reader for the last               our overall readership. You, apparently, are not a
      music to relieve the grief and the hell.       four years, and now I really got fed up               typical reader, so your needs are different.
      There’s no player that can play MP3 or         and bored. Digit, instead of its narration                                            — Executive Editor
      video files, there is some or the other file   “Your Technology Navigator,” is now
      missing. (Why did I listen to Digit?)          just becoming “Your Digital Product                   Befuddled
           Day 5: Thought of browsing the Net to     Guide.” Giving just a look from the                   Digit is just wonderful, and is like a way
      download Mplayer, Linux games, and             cover page till last page, it is full of new          and clear-cut path to computer heaven.


146   DIGIT MARCH 2007
Write to the Editor                                                                    Digit will publish the best letters on these pages. Letters may be edited for clarity.
                                                                                       Please include your complete address in all communication.
E-mail: editor@thinkdigit.com
                                                                                       For subscription queries, call the help desk at
Snail Mail: The Editor, Digit, D-222/2, Om Sagar Building,
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                                                                                       send an e-mail to help@jasubhai.com
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                                                                                                                                                    Inbox
But there are problems in understanding                      about, not the script, when we mentioned                 Must...Resist...
many of the details of your articles by                      “paid.” You can buy “upgrades” for your                  Recently, the topics in your
many of us young readers. If you could                       WordPress blog for credits—basically, dollars.           mag related to piracy have           Letter
work somehow to include a query section                           In your Blogger blog, go to Settings >              been really touchy. In               of the
in which readers post their questions on                     Publishing and you can choose the FTP option             short, they have motivated           Month
various topics or new tech terms, it                         to publish your blog to your own server. Hope            me to look for free
would be of great help.                                      this clarifies things.                                   software. I recently had a
                    Siddhant Kumar Yadav                          We must also add, however, that our in-             nice experience that I thought
                                                             house team doesn’t consist of experts on all             I might share with you all: I got a CD
                                                             tech fronts, so our readers will have to bear            teaching the basics of computers. It
Dear Siddhant—                                                                                                        was really a nice CD for first timers.
Excellent suggestion! We’ll certainly think about            with the occasional error. Thank you for your
                                                                                                                      So I thought to copy it (strictly not for
an “Ask Digit” section or something along those              letter: it has reassured our belief that Digit
                                                                                                                      any commercial use, just for fun, as I
lines. Keep the letters and suggestions coming!              readers are sensitive to everything we publish.          didn’t really need it). But soon I
                                — Executive Editor                                         — Executive Editor         realised that something has been
                                                                                                                      written on the CD: “Warning: copying
Blogging Boo Boo                                             Pilot’s Chair                                            this CD might corrupt your CD
I’ve been an avid reader of Digit ever since                 This is in reference to the fantastic                    writer.” It looked really awkward to
it was born after breaking up with Chip.                     article The More The Merrier, in the                     me that such a thing can happen! I
I’m very happy to see the way Digit has                      January 2007 issue. The doubt I have is:                 was confused and decided that this
become one of the leading                                    can a dual- or triple-monitor setup be                   would not be possible. But that too
Computer/Technical magazine in India,                        utilised for gaming, for example,                        didn’t make me try to copy the CD; I
but also am disappointed at the pace at                      Microsoft Flight Simulator? Being a pilot                left it alone! The moral is that little
which the Fast Track is progressing.                         myself, I feel the loss of visual cues                   things too can stop piracy (though not
     This month’s Fast Track was on                          from side windows is a major                             on large scale); it still can bring some
                                                             deterrent, and using the buttons to get                  doubts in the minds of novice users!
blogging, and many facts stated in it are
                                                             momentary glimpses simply does not                           I have a request: please include an
totally wrong. For example, Wordpress                                                                                 article related to installing/
has been stated as both free and paid                        suffice. If, instead, I had a three-
                                                             monitor setup, it would be a really                      uninstalling software on Linux! In the
versions; Wordpress is a script which has                                                                             past three years or so, you haven’t yet
been released under the GPL, which                           immersive environment coming much
                                                                                                                      included this in your magazine!
means it’s totally free, and further, you’ve                 closer to flight simulation than what
                                                                                                                           I would also like to add that
stated that there are only 53 templates                      is available so far. Taking the concept a                although your new interface for the
available for Wordpress. If you visit                        step further, it would be an                             CD/DVD are really rocking, I think
http://themes.wordpress.net, you’ll find                     inexpensive and effective solution to                    you may have forgotten to think
that count is way less than what’s really                    simulating many environments, for                        about some of your readers might
available. Apart from that, Blogger has                      example, a driving sim. But how does                     want the CD/DVD to run on Linux
been stated as a blog which can be hosted                    one go about doing that? Does MS                         too; even though it may be only 1% of
on an external server, which again is                        Flight Simulator, for example, provide                   readers who need it—they are your
wrong; you can’t host a Blogger blog                         the ability to use three monitors for                    readers too! Please do something!!
anywhere apart from the blogspot.com                         left, front, and right views?
server. And Wordpress being a blog which                                                     Atul Bhatia                                              Nitin Kumar
can be hosted on an external server has                                                        New Delhi                                            Danapur Cantt.
been mentioned otherwise.
                                                             Dear Atul,                                               Dear Nitin,
     You’ve missed important blog scripts
                                                             Multi-monitor support is very game-                      Thanks for your mail. And what a moral
like TypePad. The efforts of the Digit team                                                                           victory you have cited there!
are worth appreciating, but please don’t                     dependant. Thankfully, in your case,
                                                             Microsoft’s Flight Simulator 2004 does                   Congratulations for keeping true to your
dish out false information. Giving false                                                                              conscience and letting honesty play a
information is worse than giving no                          support up to four monitors. Not a lot of
                                                                                                                      role in your acts.
information at all. I’ve been a blogger for                  other games do this, unfortunately. For other
                                                                                                                          I know it is really tough to take the
about five years now, and also an active                     games, if you’re willing to use software                 correct decision in such cases, and the
member on popular sites like                                 rendering and run the game in windowed                   lure to copy illegal material is too high.
sitepoint.com. Also, I really appreciate the                 mode, you can either undock the additional               Your action is commendable.
efforts the team takes in bringing out the                   views and drag them to another monitor, or                   As for your complaint regarding Linux
latest info about the hardware hitting                       just choose a really wide-screen resolution              installation and our discs—we’ve received
Indian shores. But the Fast Track needs to                   that will stretch the display across more than           a lot of such complaints. As of now, we
be more up to date.                                          one monitor. Since most people do not like               cannot do anything about it that doesn’t
                              Anirban Mandal                 software rendering, it’s best to stick to games          involve us stretching ourselves thin, but
                                    New Delhi                like MS Flight Simulator, which will use                 your mail has certainly left us thinking.
                                                             normal hardware acceleration, and natively               Let me see what we can come up with—
Dear Anirban,                                                support multiple monitors.                               even if it is, as you rightly pointed out,
True: WordPress is released under the GPL, but it                                                                     preferred by 1 per cent of our readers.
                                                                                          — Executive Editor                                     —Executive Editor
was the blog hosting service we were talking


                                                                                                                                                       DIGIT MARCH 2007         147
                                 Apple SANS DRM?
                                                                                     5 IPv6 addresses are 128 bits                iPhone is likely to use one of this
                                     1   Apple has made                                  long. How long are current-              company’s processors:
                                        proposals to the world’s                   generation IPv4 addresses?                     a) IBM
                                  biggest music labels to sell                     a) 16 bits                                     b) Intel
                                  their music catalogues DRM-                      b) 32 bits                                     c) AMD
                                  free. Apple’s DRM technology                     c) 64 bits                                     d) ARM
                                  is called…                                       d) 256 bits
                                 a) PlugNPlay c) MediaMax                                                                          10 What is the name for the
                                 b) FairPlay d) VitalSource                          6 What does DIMM—as in “RAM                       physical address of a network
                                                                                         DIMMs”—stand for?                        device?
                                                                                   a) Duo In-Line Memory Manager                  a) TCP Address
                                  2 Yahoo recently launched a                      b) Dual In-Line Memory Module                  b) Ethernet Address
                                     feed aggregation and                          c) Differential Inlay Motion Monitor           c) MAC Address
                               manipulation service, whose name                    d) Double In-Line Monitoring                   d) Subnet Mask
                               resembles a plumbing utility….                      Memory
                               a) Pipes
                               b) Shower
                               c) Taps
                                                                                     7 How many bytes make one
                                                                                        Yottabyte?                                 F  requently-used
                                                                                                                                      information is
                                                                                                                                   stored in a computer as
                                                                                                                                                             Did You
                                                                                                                                                              Know?
                               d) WashBasin                                        a) 1024
                                                                                   b) 1048                                         “cache” for quick access.
                                                                                                                                   When IBM first developed a
                                  3 The percentage of Africans                     c) 1018
                                                                                                                                   cache in the 1960s, they
                                     with access to broadband is…                  d) 1056
                               a) 5 per cent                                                                                       thought up the term
                               b) 22 per cent                                                                                      “muffer”—for Memory
                                                                                     8 According to the SANS                       Buffer. Good thing they
                               c) Less than 1 per cent                                   (SysAdmin, Audit, Network,
                               d) 15 per cent                                      Security) Institute’s list of Top 20            didn’t stick with it!
                                                                                   Internet Security Attack Targets,
                                  4 According to a recent study,                   the top Internet (in)security tar-             Answers
      Got an                        the near-constant rate of                      get is…
                               hacker attacks on computers with
                                                                                                                                   10. c) Mac Address
      interesting                                                                  a) The root DNS servers                         9. d) ARM            5. b) 32 bits
      question?                non-secure usernames and                            b) Mac OS X                                     Explorer                   onds
      Send it in with          passwords is:                                       c) Microsoft Office
                                                                                                                                   8. d) Internet
                                                                                                                                   7. a) 10²4
                                                                                                                                                        4. c) Every 39 sec-
                                                                                                                                                              cent
      the answer to            a) Every second                                     d) Internet Explorer                                   Module
                                                                                                                                          Memory
                                                                                                                                                        3. c) Less than 1 per
                                                                                                                                                        2. a) Pipes
      TQ@thinkdigit.com        b) Every 2 minutes                                                                                  6. b) Dual In-Line   1. b) FairPlay
      Mark “TQ” in the         c) Every 39 seconds                                   9 There are a lot of rumours,
      subject area.            d) Every hour                                              but it seems the Apple

                                                                                                                                  February’s Winner:
       Crossword                                                                                                                  Chetan Ghauran
                                                                                                                                  Jaipur, Rajasthan
                                                                                                                                                                       Win!
       ACROSS
       7. Specification Of a Sequence Of Flow Objects(abbr) (6)
       8. OWD or ________Day—celebration of Internet holiday (3,3)                                                                Send in your entries to
       9. Asterisk symbol (4)                                                                                                     TQ@thinkdigit.com on
       10.________nail-used by graphic designers for a smaller                                                                    or by 20th of this month.
       image of a larger one(5)
       11. Open Source suite that provides seamless file and
                                                                                                                                  One lucky participant will
       print services to SMB/CIFS Clients (5)                                                                                     win OCA - Study Guide
       13. Multimedia encyclopedia from Microsoft on CD                                                                           By Bob Bryla & April Wells
       ROM (7)
       16.________per second—unit of angular(rotational) speed (6)
                                                                                                                                  Published by
       17. ________Cellular Limited—GSM operator of the Aditya
       Birla Group (4)
       20. Famous company known for its ‘Macintosh’ series
       of personal computers (5)                                                                                                  Last Month’s Solution
       21. Any computer that has two-way access to other
       computers on the net having it’s own IP address (4)
       22. ________ID-telephone service enabling the subscriber to
       identify the opposite party’s phone number (6)
       23. Zoom tool function to ________or enlarge sizes (6)

       DOWN
       1. Programs that make computer systems work(8)
                                                                     12. Unwanted programming such as adware or spyware (8)
       2. IPv________data-oriented protocol to be used on a packet
                                                                     14. ‘T’ in T-SQL (8)
       switched internet work (4)
                                                                     15. Pagers (7)
       3. Type and style of text letters and characters seen in
                                                                     18. ________Yang-Taiwanese American co-founder of
       documents (5)
                                                                     Yahoo! Inc (5)
       4. Rows and________in ‘Excel’ (7)
                                                                     19. Unwanted e-mail (4)
       5. Primary text input device (8)
                                                                     21. Menu selection in graphical user interface instructing
       6. PC manufacturer in Austin, Texas known for ‘PCs Limited’
                                                                     computer not to show certain things on screen (4)
       brand (4)

      Crossword by Nitta Jaggi

148   DIGIT MARCH 2007
                                                                                It’s Cool Vs. Nerdy
                                                                                T
                                                                                       here’s a
                                                                                       juicy
                                                                                       Jobs/Gates
                                                                                feud doing the
                                                                                rounds, and it’s
                                                                                based on a set of
                                                                                TV ads. You might
                                                                                have seen print
                                                                                ads of this sort—a
                                                                                geeky-looking
                                                                                man in a business
         People And Events That Grabbed The Headlines—For Better Or For Worse   suit, and beneath
                                                                                him, “I’m a PC”; and a “cool”-            And then—fireworks! For no
                                                                                looking teenager on the right        reason we can see... “I don’t


         Everything
                                                                                clad in jeans, and beneath him,      think the over 90 per cent of
                                                                                “I’m a Mac.” Similar to that are     those who use Windows PCs
                                                                                the new TV ads, but these            think of themselves as dullards,
                                                                                actually use characters that look    or the kind of klutzes that
                                                                                like Gates and Jobs. The nerdy       somebody is trying to say they


         Paris!                                                                 guy, of course, looks like Gates.
                                                                                     Tech news Web site
                                                                                theregister.co.uk has called the
                                                                                long-standing feud between the
                                                                                                                     are,” was the first thing Gates
                                                                                                                     had to say. Why the insecurity?
                                                                                                                     “And I don’t know why (Apple
                                                                                                                     is) acting like it’s superior.”
                                                                                two men a “tedious                   Actually, that one’s pretty
                                                                                psychodrama between two              obvious—because they have
                                                                                megalomaniacs,” and it all           “cooler” products, isn’t it?
                                                                                hinges around the idea that               “I don’t even get it. What
                                                                                Jobs takes Gates’ success            are they trying to say? Does
                                                                                personally.                          honesty matter in these things,
                                                                                     In fact, Jobs once said, “The   or if you’re really cool, that
                                                                                only problem with Microsoft is       means you get to be a lying
                                                                                they just have no taste, they        person whenever you feel like
                                                                                have absolutely no taste, and        it? There’s not even the slightest
                                                                                what that means is—I don’t           shred of truth to it.”
                                                                                mean that in a small way I                Not to worry, Bill. Even if we
                                                                                mean that in a big way.”             don’t love you personally, we
                                                                                     Asked about the ads, Gates      love our Windows. The
                                                                                said he hadn’t seen it. Then he      Romanian president loves you
                                                                                said he had.                         too, by the way.




                                                                                Ballmer Sinks MS Shares
         E
               arlier    in    February,    Paris.” We’re supposed to feel
               songstress     and    pop    sorry for her! And we bet you
               culture     phenomenon       aren’t!


                                                                                S
         Paris Hilton won a case to take         So,   well,    the   story           teve Ballmer recently said
         down a Web site—ParisExposed       continues:       Persa     duly           Wall    Street’s    current
         .com—which        was    selling   appeared in court February 16,            expectations for revenue
         videos, pictures and personal      and the spoilsport judge again      from Vista may be too
         data she’d left in some dark,      barred the site from peddling       “optimistic.” Everyone around
         dingy place! The site was shut     Hilton’s racy photos, videos,       got that sinking feeling:
         down by an injunction, but         diary entries, and other            Microsoft shares dropped more
         the owner of the site, Bardia      personal items.                     than 2 per cent shortly after.
         Persa, who had paid a pretty            There are lots more                 “I’m really excited about
         $10 million for the booty, said    legalities! Which we can’t          how enthusiastic people are
         he     would     contest     the   understand! Actually, we don’t      about Vista, but I think some of
         injunction!                        even know what “injunction”         the revenue forecasts for Vista
             Hilton said she was            means!                              in 2008 are overly aggressive,”
         “mortified” that someone                ParisExposed.com       had     Ballmer continued in the
         would try to “profit by            promised subscribers glimpses       meeting for financial analysts.
         exploiting personal details”       of Hilton’s personal records! It         We’re not sure of the
         about her, “especially when it     claimed to have footage of          financial aspects of all this, but
         comes to my sexuality.” (!) We     Hilton in a “sexy bubble bath,”     we get the general idea that
         don’t see what’s to be mortified   and shots of her in “racy           Ballmer shouldn’t (or needn’t)           “Remember, when you’re
         about! If someone bought           situations”!                        have said what he did.               the little tiny niche guy who
         something legally, we don’t see         We bet you didn’t figure            People also asked Ballmer       owns about 2 per cent of the
         why he wouldn’t peddle it on the   why we’re overdoing the             about the Jobs vs. Gates TV ads.     worldwide market, you can be
         Net for profit!                    exclamation marks! Well,            “I’ll give Apple credit for what     cute one time and it helps you
             Hilton’s spokesman Elliott     it’s just to get some oomph         it’s done,” Ballmer said. It’s not   grow.”
         Mintz told Associated Press, “I    into this pointless story! The      like they’ve really grown a lot          Now that sounds more like
         know what this has done            site’s been blocked anyway, so      of market share (through the         the Ballmer we know. “Little
         personally and emotionally to      who cares!                          commercials).                        tiny niche guy”?


150   DIGIT MARCH 2007

				
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