PC WORLD - May 2008 Issue

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					LAB REPORT: Latest Laptops from LENOVO, DELL & ACER Reviewed p. 33



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                                                    Techlog              V I J AY R A M A C H A N D R A N

What the Future Holds
ASK ANYONE WHO’S worked off an                   Making predictions about how technology will evolve is always
8088-based PC (or earlier computing              fraught with the danger that they might either prove incorrect or
devices) and they’ll swear an oath about         terribly accurate.
how far technology products have come
since then. But, and blame human               from wireless power sources to gesture          and the need for real-time processing.
nature here, ‘state-of-the-art’ is nothing     detection to automatic speech transla-          Imagine the impact in India specially
more than a passing fantasy. There’s           tion to reliable long-term storage.             with our vast semi-literate population.
always something out there that’s big-           I was really intrigued by four of the         Automated Speech Translation: The
ger, better, faster, sleeker, superior and     predictions that had both the touch of          experts at Gartner believe that once the
more powerful than before.                     the possible and the trappings of a bit         challenges of speech recognition and
   Given the rate of obsolescence in the       of science fiction:                             machine translation are licked, natural
technology space, making specific pre-         Never having to manually recharge               language processing will be a cinch.
dictions is venturing into tricky territo-     devices: Gartner feels that the future          Analysts accept that “rudimentary”
ry. After all, didn’t Bill Gates once say      will see portable computing and com-            automated speech translation systems
that Microsoft would “never make a             munications devices that can either be          exist, but “the complexity extends fur-
32-bit OS”?                                    charged remotely without wires or bet-          ther when translation and output is
   To be fair to the man, try this for size:   ter still be powered by a remote source,        required to a target language that is
“You’ll watch a program when it’s con-         bypassing the use of batteries altogeth-        understandable to a human”. Oh joy!
venient for you instead of when a              er. A July 2007 experiment at MIT was           Oh rapture! To be able to dictate my
broadcaster chooses to air it. You’ll          indeed able to transfer power wirelessly        columns rather than type them out.
shop, order food, contact friends, or          but commercial application is still a           Persistent and reliable long-term storage:
publish information for others to use          “long way off.” Still the thought of not        This is one I’m really interested in.
when and as you want to.” That was             hunting for a compatible mobile char-           After all what’s the point of the HD
back in his book The Road Ahead pub-           ger when one’s left it at home is               DVD versus Blu-Ray battle if no one
lished in 1995. Quite prophetic, huh?          enough to get me to root for this one.          can read the media some years down
   Prediction is still iffy at best. And, as   Natural computing interfaces: Cut out           the line. Reminds me of the bunch of
Nobel laureate Niels Bohr said very dif-       the standard way we interact with               video tapes moldering at my folks place
ficult, especially if it’s about the future.   computers using input devices and we            for the want of a player. Current tech-
   But the folks at analyst firm Gartner       suddenly open up computing to a                 nologies are hardly equipped to store
are clearly made of sterner stuff.             much wider audience – plus it’s the             the world’s digital information on digi-
They’ve identified seven technologies          way humans communicate naturally.               tal media for more than 20 years. The
that they feel will “completely trans-         Challenges however remain in this area          barriers that need to be overcome to
form” business over the next 25 years          including the ability to detect gestures        archive data of more than 100 years
                                                                                               include data format, hardware, soft-
PICK OF THE MONTH                                                                              ware and retrieval.In an interesting
                                                                                               comment, Gartner states that many of
I MUST ADMIT up front that I’m not a big fan of camera                                         the emerging technologies that will be
phones. Sometimes, though, even my jaded eyes see something         g                          entering the market in 2033 are already
exciting, and the Nokia N82 we’ve reviewed this month made                                     known to us in some form now.
me stop and stare.                                                                               Do let me know what’s your forecast
  Besides being a pretty good looker, it’s got some extremely nifty y                          for IT in 2033. The best and / or the
features, like an auto-tilt sensor, and a brilliant camera. You can                            wackiest one gets featured in PC
snap away quite happily, safe in the knowledge that your pictures   s                          World. Now that’s a prediction.
won’t look like a cat walked over them. The Sat-Nav guide is not
yet de-rigueur, but Nokia has tossed one into the N82, along with a                            Vijay Ramachandran is Editor-In-Chief of PC
                                                                    f w phone, so I’m
Xenon flash and a standard headphone jack. I just bought myself a new phone, so I’m             World. Send him comments & feedback at
staunchly resisting the temptation, but it’s tough.                                  

                                                                                                            M AY 2 0 0 8   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   3
                  MAY 2008
    Volume 13 • Issue 11 •

          28                                           46

        » REVIEWS  AND                                » FORWARD                              » FEATURES
            RANKINGS                                 12 Honey, We Shrunk the                46 Clicks Get Compact
    28 320 GB HDD Shootout                               Laptop                                  Nine ultra-compact cameras tested
            Desktop hard drives from WD,                 A look at what’s happening              to help you pick the best one for
            Seagate, and Hitachi face off in             in the compact inexpensive              your pocket. These petite models
            our storage comparison. Find out             segment                                 are big on style and utility.
            which one is the speediest.
                                                     16 Tech Tonic                          66 Does SP1 Fix Vista
    30 Nokia N82                                         The truth about laptops with            Microsoft says that Service Pack
                                                         5.1 Dolby surround sound                1 gives Vista the pep to put XP
    33 Lenovo IdeaPad Y-510
                                                                                                 to rest. We ran extensive tests
                                                     17 Web Watch
    34 Skeptical Shopper                                                                         of Vista SP1 versus plain Vista
                                                         Chat with your friends and
                                                                                                 versus XP, and we beg to differ.
    35 Sparkle 9800GTX Vs MSI                            loved ones more fun in your
                                                         local language                     72 Super Sized Shopping
            Radeon 3870X2
                                                                                                 Huge electronics stores promise
                                                     18 Gadget Freak
                                                                                                 to change the entire experi-
                                                         10 Things iHate About The
                                                                                                 ence of shopping for gadgets.
                                                                                                 Do these stores deliver on their
                                                     21 Blog Tracker                             exorbitant promises?
                                                         Serve hot off the Net


                                                      » SECURITY             ALERT
                                                     24 Personal Question Pose
                                                         Authentication may hurt security

                                                     25 Bugs and Fixes
    37 Intel Core 2 Duo E8500
    38 Ask Expert
                                                         »   COVER STORY
    39 Dell Inspiron 1525
                                                     54 India’s Best & Worst ISPs
    40 Asus M3A78-EAH                                    PC World asked 3,565
                                                         broadband users to rate their
    42 Beta Watch
                                                         ISPs on connection speed,
    44 Acer Aspire 6920G                                 reliability and support…

                                                     COVER GRAPHICS BY ANIL T.
4   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   M AY 2 0 0 8        COVER DESIGN BY JAYAN NARAYANAN
     ONLINE          |   PCWORLD.IN                       » BUSINESS           CENTER
    Up-to-the-minute tech news, lab-tested product       78 Social Networking Helps
    reviews, tips, files, and more are a click away at       You Find Solutions
                                                            Sites like Facebook and LinkedIn
    M AY 2 0 0 8                                            can help you develop business                                          contacts and build your brand

                                                         80 Expand Your Network
                                                            A wireless network can
                                                            increase employee productivity
                                                            and expand your existing
                                                            infrastructure. We test six          80
                                                            routers that can help.

                                                          » HERE’S        HOW                      » COVER DVD
                                                         84 Portable Software
                                                                                                 106 Ashampoo ClipFinder 1.37
                                                            Carry a portable computer in
                                                                                                       Find every video that you wanted
                                                            your pocket
                                                                                                       with the click of a button.
                                                         88 Audio                                107 Knoppix LiveDVD 5.31
    » HOT PRODUCTS                                          Sync iTunes with your non-iPod
                                                            media player
                                                                                                 108 Must Try
       Intel DX38BT                                                                                    Teach an old dog new tricks
       The new flagship board from Intel,                89 Video                                109 Editor’s Pick
       but its reign is likely to be short lived            Make your own video mashups
                                                                                                 110 NFS: ProStreet Porsche             for YouTube
       Notebooks/Intel_DX38BT/4260697/289                                                        112 Best Internet Tools
                                                         90 Photo
       Samsung ML-1630                                      Fix your photos with two free
       Printers are boxy, bulky, utilitarian                tools
                                                                                                   » DEPARTMENTS
       looking devices, right? Not if you                                                             3 Techlog
                                                         91 Hassle-Free PC
       take one look at the Samsung ML-
                                                            Fix hard-drive and folder annoy-      10 PCW Inbox
       1630 monochrome laser printer.
                                                            ances with these simple tips                                                    114 Full Disclosure

       ATI Radeon HD 3850                                 » PROJECTS
       A good option for midrange video
                                                         94 Painless Installation
       card that comes with all the latest
                                                            Installing Windows and its updates    » CONTEST ZONE
                                                            on an endless succession of                                                              Share your wisdom and
                                                            computers is tiresome. We tell
       artId=4128785/secId=303                                                                         creativity with our readers and
                                                            you a less painful method called
                                                                                                       we’ll make you famous and
                                                                                                       give you great prizes to boot.
                                                         98 Action Station
    » AROUND THE SITE                                       Adopt a relaxed approach to your
                                                                                                  10 Super Cool Desktop
       Best Free Stuff                                      shot videos with the help of Movie    84 PCW Handyman
       Functional, Fun and best of all                      Maker’s upgraded toolsets.           105 PCW Wizard
       ‘Free’, these nifty add-ons truly
                                                        102 Listen Live Online                   106 PCW Critic
       enhance your use of the computer
                                                            We tell you in this project how
       and the Internet                                                                          111 Best Screen Shot
                                                            to record radio content and set
                                                            presets for station you enjoy.

6   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   M AY 2 0 0 8
                                                                        PUBLISHER AND EDITOR         N. Bringi Dev
                                                                          PRESIDENT AND CEO        Louis D’Mello                                        ADVERTISER’S INDEX

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8   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N      M AY 2 0 0 8
PCW Inbox
                                                                                                 and I am writing this letter on our
It is encouraging and                                                                            behalf (they asked me to do so). We

overwhelming to                                                                                  assembled a computer ourselves and
                                                                                                 they all asked me to type the configu-
receive such great                                                                               ration to you (I guess they want to

responses. We look for-                                                                          impress you guys). Here it is – an
                                                                                                 Intel Pentium D 820, 2 GB RAM,
ward to more feedback                                                                            nVidia 7300 GT 512 MB, 250GB

from you. Check out our                                                                          HDD, ViewSonic 19” LCD and Win-
                                                                                                 dows Vista Ultimate. It would be
latest reviews, columns and features and                                                         great if you commented on the work

write to us at                                                                 we have done. We also love the new
                                                                                                 design of your magazine but we miss
                                                                                                 the few pages of Macworld and
                                                                                                 GamePro. The DVD is the best part
 Just too cool!                                adding one more magazine on mobile                of the magazine. Do keep up the
  Awesome. Amazing. Brilliant. Excel-          phones, we do cover mobility every                good work.
 lent. Great. Mind boggling. Superb.           month with our reviews of the latest                          Shawn K Fernandes, By E-mail
 Superlative… I am running out of              phones and laptops. This month, we                Editor’s Reply: A big hello to the
 adjectives. PC World is just so cool.         reviewed the Nokia N82 and the latest             “TEKNOS”, you guys have built a
 The magazine content never seems to           laptops from Dell, Lenovo and Acer.               pretty decent machine. We do recom-
 end. The DVD itself is a complete pack-       Do check out the reviews in the                   mend few changes to the configura-
 age, with so many utilities, videos and       Reviews & Rankings section.                       tion for a better gaming experience.
 of course the 2 magazines. Carry on the                                                         You can change the video card to the
 good work.                                    Club GenNext                                      nVidia GeForce 8600GT and if possi-
   I think if you add another magazine         I am a seventh grade student. I first             ble go for a newer dual core proces-
 about mobile phone reviews and simi-          picked up PC World in January 2007                sor for better performance. It’s great
 lar content, PC World will turn into a        and have never missed a single issue              that you assembled it yourself; did
 one-stop magazine for technology.             ever since. A few of us boys in the               you have any interesting moments

                                                                                                                                            ILLUSTRATION: PC ANOOP
 Hats off to PC World.                         locality have been inspired about                 while doing so? While you may miss
                              Ishan Rohatgi    technology by your magazine and                   the Macworld and GamePro in print,
 Editor’s Reply: Thanks for the gener-         have started a new team called the                you find the latest issues in their
 ous use of adjectives, Ishan. We value        “TEKNOS”. Since I introduced PC                   entirety in PDF format on the DVD,
 your feedback. While we aren’t exactly        World to them, I became their leader              so do check it out.

 Contest # 21

                                SUPER COOL                                                         MEGA
                                DESKTOP                                                           1 YEAR
                                Is your desktop the coolest one?
                                                                                                                                                                     * Terms & Conditions Apply

                                Send us a screenshot of your desktop theme and
                                if it makes us sit up and take notice, you get 1 year
                                subscription of PC World Magazine certifying
                                your feat. The coolest designed desktop theme
                                will be featured on this page.                          10 CAPS
                                                                                        TO BE WON!
                                 Email your entries along with your latest photograph
                                 (high resolution) to
                                 DEADLINE: 12th MAY, 2008
                                              our best to roll out a balanced product       ing last month’s cover story. We do
   When I subscribed to the                   that has something for everyone.              advice you to tread carefully and go one
 magazine I felt it was expen-                                                              step at a time, as your processor is not
 sive. But now I wait for a copy              PC World is by far the best tech maga-        the only component under stress. The
 every month. I have also                     zine I have ever read. It was amazing to      motherboard chipset and the RAM also
 subscribed to many other PC                  see that the cheapest Sony K810i was          work overtime to provide you with that
 magazines but your magazine                  the winner of the comparison in last          extra performance!
 is the best. It always contains              month’s issue. Also, until now, I could         We will consider your advice for a three-
 something useful for me and                  only think of Alienware when it came to       year subscription but you don’t really have
 keeps me busy at my com-                     overclocking the CPU. But after reading       to wait for the issue every month. You can
 puter (which my wife does not                your article, I realized how easy it is and   also log on to WWW.PCWORLD.IN to
 like). I feel that you have the              I even tried it on my home PC. I would        access the content online and subscribe to
 best team that always re-                    request you to continue providing the         our newsletter to get tech news and analy-
 sponds very fast whether it is a             DVD and introduce a three-year sub-           ses delivered to your inbox daily.
 subscription related problem                 scription plan. I also wish you make this
 or a technical query.                        magazine a fortnightly because, for me,          The PC World team has really done a
                  Rohit, By E-mail            it is very painful to wait for a long         great job by providing this cool magazine
                                              month to get the next exciting issue.         with its super charged DVD. I have been
Editor’s Reply: Hi Rohit, thanks for                                     Prashant Kaushik   reading PC World for a year now. I really
your appreciation of our efforts. As far      Editor’s Reply: Hey Prashant, it’s true       appreciate your team’s performance. In
as responding to queries is concerned,        that the most expensive or extravagant        the March issue, the DVD had Vista
we take every reader’s needs seriously        products aren’t necessarily the best. In      Transformation Pack for XP. But unfor-
and try to help with their buying deci-       case of camera cell phones, it’s even         tunately, it did not work. But this month
sions, tech queries or specific requests      more common to see phones boasting            I was really grateful that you guys added
to review/cover products and provide          higher sensor resolutions and elaborat-       the Vistamizer. It really made my XP look
specific software on the DVD. While we        ed feature sets not actually living up to     like Vista with its super cool theme! By
know it is not possible to please each        the hype. Good to know that you did           the way, could you please add Microsoft
and every reader requirement, we try          try your hand at overclocking after read-     Office Professional 2007 full version.
                                                                                                                              - Shankar
 P C W S U P E R C O O L D ES K TO P C O N T EST # 1 6 : W I N N E R KARTHIKEYAN R          Editor’s Reply: Vista transformation
                                                                                            packs are cool tools to get the Windows
Cool Desktop of the Month                                                                   Vista feel on the Windows XP platform
 Last Month’s Winner
                                                                                            but these tools don’t always play nice
                                                                      Best Screen Winner
                                                                                            with other software on the PC. We
                                                                      Karthikeyan R
                                                                                            guess there were some compatibility
                                                                      This entry
                                                                                            issues with your PC. Nevertheless, we
                                                                      demonstrated a
                                                                      host of docked        are glad to know that the Vistamizer
                                                                      widgets, skinned      worked well and gave you the same cool
                                                                      applications, an      look that you want.
                                                                      uncluttered              Microsoft Office Professional 2007 is a
                                                                      desktop, and a
                                                                                            high value commercial product that can-
                                                                      wallpaper that
                                                                      catches the eye.      not be distributed free with any publica-
                                                                                            tion across the globe. We do work close-
                                                                                            ly with Microsoft to provide all the
                                                   Runner Up                                possible software that can be redistrib-
                                                                                            uted on the DVD.


                                                                                              The review of the Nokia Music Xpress
                                                                                              phones in our February 08 issue refers to
Best Screen Runner-up: Abhimanyu Bhosale
                                                                                              the Nokia Series 40 as the Symbian Series
A self-designed wallpaper and positioned
                                                                                              40. The error is regretted.
icons, place this entry in the top two.

                                                                                                          M AY 2 0 0 8   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   11
              Honey, We Shrunk the Laptop
              BY KAILAS SHASTRY                                                                                           and was powered by a mod-
                                                            There is much happening in the compact inex-
                                                                                                                          est Celeron M clocked at
                                                            pensive laptops segment with the big guns in
              THE IDEA OF low-cost lap-                                                                                   630 MHz and a 512MB
                                                            the industry entering the game.
              tops took off with the One                                                                                  RAM (the top version has
              Laptop Per Child (OLPC)                                                                                     1GB memory).
              association that started in                                                                                   While this configuration
              January 2005. While Intel’s                                                                                 makes daily tasks such as
              Classmate PC was the initial                                                                                browsing and office suites
              player, today companies like                                                                                possible, storage was a seri-
              Acer, Asus, ACI, HCL, MSI                                                                                   ous limitation. The top spec
              and HP have joined the fray,                                                                                model is equipped with just
              to manufacture commercially                                                                                 8GB of SSD (Solid State
              viable laptops that weigh                                                                                   Drive). However, this made
              under a kilo and cost less                                                                                  the Eee PC more rugged (like
              than Rs 20,000. The best                                                                                    other UMPCs based on SSD
              part: In situations where even                                                                              rather than hard drives), and
              a relatively compact 13-inch                                                                                reduced power consumption
              laptop would be a hassle to                                                                                 and boot up time. Today, the
              lug around, (like when travel-                                                                              4GB SSD version retails for
              ing on a two wheeler or a                                                                                   about Rs.17,500 giving it
              local train), a seven inch ultra-                                                                           excellent value for money.
              portable weighing just about                                                                                The top spec 8GB model has
              a kilo and no larger than a                                                                                 unfortunately not been avail-
              magazine would fit the bill.                                                                                able in India.
              And, it would not be heavy                                                                                    Where there is a smart
              on your pocket either.                                                                                      idea, there are companies
                A distinguishing factor                                                                                   ready to cash in, and cheap
              between regular laptops                                                                                     UMPCs are no exception.
              and the smaller ultra mobile                USB ports, and stereo audio       After the launch of Intel’s   MSI, Asus’s traditional rival
              models is the screen size.                  with mic-in. Some even          Classmate PC that the com-      in the motherboards and
              Screen sizes are between                    come with a webcam and a        pany said was for school        graphics card market has
              seven and ten inches on the                 modem! But some compro-         students, Asus was the first    announced its Wind PC, to
              diagonal. Performance is                    mises have had to be made.      company to make a com-          rival the Eee PC. The Wind
              not high on the priority list               Some of them have either        mercial low cost UMPC, the      PC has a display slightly
              as these little PCs are meant               done away with DVD drive        Eee PC. Ever since its          bigger (eight or ten inch)
              to ‘get the job done’ and not               or externalised it. In short,   launch, it has been hugely      than that of the current Eee
              scale any performance                       these are fully functional      popular in many markets         PC and is speculated to
              charts. As far as PC features               laptops that are just really    worldwide. It featured a        have higher computing
              go, they have most of the                   small. And, more important-     seven inch screen and           power as well, using Intel’s
              basics – Wi-Fi, wired-LAN,                  ly inexpensive.                 weighed just 920 grams;         new Atom processor. Asus
                                                                                                                                                          ILLUSTRATION : P.C ANOOP

                  To know more about ulta portable laptops, read our in-depth review of
                  one of them, the Asus Eee PC at

12            W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   M AY 2 0 0 8
has not being a mute                                                    costlier’ rule. Available for      size, make it painful to type
spectator to MSI’s                                                      Rs.15,000 to Rs.25,000,            out long documents or work
moves. The company has                                                  these are cheaper than             on spreadsheets. And the
already announced an                                                    mainstream laptops (today,         problem compounds for
upgrade to the Eee PC,                                                  a decent 13 or 14 inch             people with larger fingers.
featuring an 8.9 inch                                                   screen laptop will set you         The small seven inch screens
screen and 1GB RAM as                                                      back by about                   take the fun away from mov-
standard. Storage also                                                         Rs.30,000). Value for       ies if you ever choose to
has seen a boost                                                                 money, anybody?           view them on these devices,
with 12GB and                                                                     However, the very        that is. There is a lot of
20GB SSD options.                                                           same compact size that         scrolling involved when
                                   THE HP COMPAQ 2133 looks good
The CPU and chipset                                                    makes these devices special         looking up long web pages
                                   enough to be used by business
remain the same, however.                                              also becomes a handicap if          or even spreadsheets. Use of
                                   users, though the company says it
   HP announced the launch of                                          you intend to do anything           power efficient components
                                   is meant for students.
the Compaq 2133 Mini-Note                                              more than basic tasks or use        is balanced out by the con-
that also has a display size of                                        it for long hours. These            straint to employ lighter and
8.9 inches and uses a Via CPU,     What’s Good and                     UMPCs cannot replace a full         lower capacity batteries,
called C7-M. With a two toned      What’s Not                          fledged laptop. The tiny            thus keeping the backup
grey – black color treatment, it   Size Does Matter. So does           keys, which are a direct            duration for many of these
looks serious enough for even      price. By now you know              result of the overall small         devices in the same
office environment, though         that’s what this is about.
HP says this model is meant        But, where do bonsai lap-
for students. Acer is also work-   tops like the ones we have              PLUGGED IN                           EDWARD N. ALBRO
ing on an 8.9 inch UMPC to         discussed above score over
compete with the Eee PC.           regular ones? And where                       “VISTA CAPABLE” LAWSUIT: Court
   Another low cost UMPC           exactly does it fall short?                   papers show that even Microsoft execs
announced last year and avail-       Laptops came into being                     couldn’t get the new OS to work. Nope,
able now in India is the Ethos     with the sole purpose of            that’s not the sound of us laughing.
from ACI. It is priced at          being portable computing
Rs.15,000 and is powered by        machines, and the slew of                    IPHONE GOES CORPORATE: Please tell
a 1GHz CPU from VIA and a          seven to ten inch models                     me that Apple isn’t planning to put the
512MB RAM. On the upside           take portability to a whole                  silhouettes of wildly gyrating senior
it has much larger storage         new level. An average 14.2          vice presidents on billboards everywhere.
with a 40GB hard disk.             inch laptop weighs about
   It is not just the big wigs     two kilograms and measures,                  SERIOUS SMS OVERLOAD: Filipinos
of PC manufacturing that           of course, at least 14.2 inch-               alone send a billion text messages
are riding this bandwagon          es diagonally. Contrast this                 a day. How do you text “OMG my
– take for example HCL,            with just one kilogram              thumbs are killing me!” in Tagalog?
who have released their            weight and a diagonal mea-
MiLeap X series laptop             surement of seven inches,                    UNLIMITED CELL PHONE PLANS:
that has a starting price of       and you can sense how small                  Great! Now Mr. Loudmouth on the
Rs.13,990 plus taxes.              these laptops really are. Pret-              bus has no motivation to hang up.
Based on the Intel Class-          ty much any bag will hold           Time for noise-canceling headphones.
mate PC, it features a             them – even a somewhat
seven inch screen, weighs          large ladies’ handbag. Users               LOGITECH SPURNS MICROSOFT: First
1.44 kg and is powered by          commuting on two wheelers                  Yahoo, and now the mice guys reject
a Celeron 900 MHz pro-             or city trains will appreciate             Redmond’s advances. Perhaps only
cessor. China is also ready-       the portability. College stu-       eHarmony can find the giant a suitable mate.
ing a low cost laptop              dents can fit these into their
based on a locally                 bags, rather than carry a sep-               COMCAST HIRES SEAT-WARMERS:
designed CPU, and targets          arate case.                                  The plot was exposed when some of
the education and local              These UMPCs are an                         them dozed off during the hearing. I
government sector.                 exception to the ‘Smaller is        thought only Comcast techs fell asleep on the job.

                                                                                                            M AY 2 0 0 8   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   13
       league as regular laptops.s.                                                                                                           ing sites or sending emails!
       The 4G version of the Asussus                                                                                                          The ‘world’s getting small-
       Eee PC has a rated 2 hoursurs                                                                                                          er’ statement acquires a
       45 minutes backup, equal tol                                                                                                           whole new meaning.
       what a regular laptop pro- -
       vides. UMPCs can thus serve
                                 erve                                                                                                         Wh
                                                                                                                                              What makes them tick
       as an excellent second laptop
                                 ptop                                                                                                         Sub 12 inch laptops have
       for frequent travellers and
                                 d                                                                                                            been around for a while, but
       executives on the move.                                                                                                                were priced so high that
                                                                                                                                              they were in reach for a very
       The Next Big Thing?                                                                                                                    niche segment. Thanks to
       Like desktops and laptopsops                                                                                                           economies of scale and
       are ubiquitous in homes,  s,                                                                                                           dropping prices of semicon-
       workplaces, coffee shops ps                                                                                                            ductors, manufacturers are
       and airports, inexpensive ve                                                                                                           now able to price UMPCs far
       UMPCs will see many more                                                                                                               lesser than what we earlier
       people taking to them,                                                                                                                 thought was possible.
       thanks to affordability. For                                                                                                              Playing a major role in the
       example, a ‘computer to   o                                                                                                            UMPCs of tomorrow (much
       carry’ need not be restricted
                                ricted                                                                                                        like what the Centrino did for
                                                       THE SIZE DIFFERENCE between a regular laptop and an UMPC (like
       to privileged upper manage-
                                nage-                                                                                                         laptops) will be Intel’s Atom
                                                       the Asus Eee PC 701 shown above) is apparent even at first glace.
       ment. Sales personnel on                                                                                                               processor, which is the small-
       the move will also be able to
                                ble                    ous hardware configurations                     WiMax take off. High on                est that the company has ever
       benefit from a laptop.                          will give that much more                        the list is the ability to             made. This is an extremely
       Access to a computer in                         flexibility to the manufactur-                  browse the Net (the small              power efficient CPU with idle
       education need not be                           ers. Asus ships the Eee PC                      screens notwithstanding),              power consumption as low as
       restricted to business                          with a Linux-based custom-                      from pretty much any-                  30mW (as low as the power
       schools alone and many                          ized OS that comes with a                       where that has connectivi-             consumed by an LED) and
       more students will be able                      full fledged office suite,                      ty. In fact, Intel calls these         under normal operation,
       to benefit from being able to                   media players, image edi-                       devices MIDs (Mobile                   from less than a Watt to
       carry a computer around.                        tors, Firefox, and Skype,                       Internet Devices). When                2.5W. The Atom processor is
         As this category of laptops                   amongst others. HP has also                     wireless Internet connec-              specifically devloped for small
       takes off, Linux is set to get                  choosen to go with Suse                         tivity becomes common-                 devices such as UMPCs (Intel
       a much deserved boost. Put-                     Linux for the base version of                   place (like it already is in           calls them MIDs or Mobile
       ting in a Linux distribution                    the Compaq 2133 to help                         parts of US and Europe),               Internet Devices).
       instead of Windows will be                      keep costs low.                                 we will see people in cof-                Such a small form factor
       another cost cutting move,                         The true capability of                       fee shops pulling out a                necessitates the use of lower
       while the ability to custom-                    these machines will be                          neat little laptop and log-            power consumption devices.
       ize the Linux kernel for vari-                  realized once Wi-Fi and                         ging on to social network-             CPUs and semiconductors
                                                                                                                                              have advanced fairly well –
                                                                                                                                              enabling good performance
      Low Cost UMPCs currently available                                                                                                      at lower power dissipations.
                                                                                                                                              Nearly all chip and semicon-
                               CPU, RAM, Storage               Features                                      Price
                                                                                                                                              ductor companies like Intel
                               •Celeron M 900 MHz             •7 inch display                                                                 and AMD have offerings that
  Asus Eee PC 4G
                               •512MB DDR2                    •SD card slot, 2 USB ports, Wi-Fi,             •US $499 (Rs.20,000) for basic   are specially tailored to
  0.92 kg                                                                                                    version
                               •4GB Flash                     •100Mbps NIC, VGA camera                                                        UMPCs, producing less
                               • VIA 1 GHz                    •7 inchdisplay                                                                  heat, thereby requiring less-
  ACI Ethos
  0.95 kg                      •512MB DDR2                    • 3 USBports, Wi-Fi, VGAcamera                 •Rs 15,000                       er cooling and delivering
                               •40GB Hard Disk Drive          • 100Mbps NIC, Bluetooth                                                        higher battery life as well.
  HCL MiLeap                   •Celeron M 900MHz                                                                                                 The next big wave in per-
  1.4 kg                       •512MB DDR2                    •7 inch display, 2 USB ports, Wi-Fi, 100Mbps   Rs. 13,999 + tax
                                                                                                                                              sonal computing may not be
                               •2GB Flash”                    •NIC, SD card slot
                                                                                                                                              that far away, after all.

 14    W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   M AY 2 0 0 8

      XP’s Service                                TECHTONIC                           SOHAM RANINGA

      Pack 3 Adds                                 5.1 Dolby surround from a laptop? Yeah right!
      Very Little                                 LAPTOP VENDORS ARE pulling out all the stops  hence they are supposed to replace your desk-
                                                                                                top. Home users are better advised buying a 5.1
                                                  in an attempt to rope in customers by offering a
      THREE-AND-A-HALF years                      plethora of “never before features.” And whilespeaker system for as low as Rs 5,000 and
      after Service Pack 2 for Win-                                                             attaching it to their laptop to truly enjoy sur-
                                                  they ask us to experience the magic, all I see is
      dows XP delivered a slew of                 smoke and mirrors and I am keeping my money   round sound in the real sense. If you were trav-
      fixes for the OS, Microsoft                 off the table. And I suggest you do the same. elling you would hardly be able to make out the
      is about to release its final                                                             ‘surround sound’ and if you crank up the volume
      XP service pack. I installed                Better sound is                                                         to high, you’d only be
      the latest release candidate                not good                    Expecting home theatre like                 adding to the noise pol-
      of SP3. My reaction: Yawn.                  enough                      sound from a laptop is out of               lution. Headphones are
        Typical users are unlikely                This month we               question. Buy a 5.1 speaker                 what 90 percent of
      to notice the few new fea-                  reviewed two multi-         system instead                              users prefer while trav-
      tures delivered in SP3 (it’s                media laptops. Both                                                     elling. I personally don’t
      available for download at                   boasted “superior                                                       see any user buying a                sound and entertain-                                                    laptop just because it
      details.aspx?FamilyID=114f3599-             ment features”. The                                                     has good sound and
      12af-42b2-aab1-                             Lenovo Y510 (read                                                       promised Dolby 5.1 sur-
      b969a62c68a7&DisplayLang=en).               review on page 33)                                                      round sound.
         If you aren’t an IT manager              boasts of an unprece-
      and you have been installing                dented “Dolby Home                                                          Fancy touch-
      Windows XP updates each                     Theatre Certified                                                            based consoles
      week, XP SP3 offers only                    Speakers”. Unprece-                                                           Sure touch panel tech-
      two noteworthy features—                    dented is right as no                                                         nology has become
      one good, the other dubious.                Dolby certification we                                                         cheaper and easier to
         On the good side, SP3                    have till date sounds                                                         integrate but I personal-
      updates the menu text in the                like this. Five tinny                                                         ly am not a fan. They
      security options control                    speakers and a slightly larger driver for han-      haven’t still matured enough to react and feel
      panel to describe the                       dling low frequency does not make for a home        like traditional buttons. And 50 percent of them
      options more extensively.                   theatre experience. After going through rounds      have either failed or not responded consistently.
         Iffier is the Windows Prod-              of music, movies and some games, it was
      uct Activation update, which                apparent that the laptop was barely 30 per-         Give us real features that count
      makes XP installation more                  cent better than any regular laptop and paying      When I came across the “Wi-Fi catcher” in the
      Vista-like. With this, you                  even Rs 2,000 extra was money ill-spent.            Dell XPS M1330 notebook, I was thoroughly
      won’t have to input your Win-                  Then, Acer launched their entertainment          impressed. It is basically a small switch on
      dows product activation key                 laptop that belongs to the new Gemstone             the side of the notebook which when flicked
      if you’re installing XP (you                Series (read review on page 44). Sure this          on detects Wi-Fi networks in the area and
      must do so within 30 days,                  one has a larger screen that provides a             goes green if there is a signal. You don’t even
      however, or your OS will stop               higher resolution but the key differentiator        have to start the notebook. Simply slide the
      working). But afterward, XP                 is the six speaker surround sound! Our              switch and you’re already there! The battery
      will track your hardware con-               review results revealed that while the sound        meter tells you the battery life remaining at
      figuration much as Vista does,              quality is superior to other laptops (which,        the press of a button, withour poweringup the
      and it may disable your PC if               by no means is a benchmark!) it does not            notebook. Vendors should concentrate on
                                                                                                                                                            ILLUSTRATION : BINESH SREEDHARAN

      you replace a component.                    enhance your experience like a dedicated            reducing weight, improving battery life, and
         All in all, Windows XP                   5.1 speaker system.                                 working on the build quality of laptops. Such a
      SPack 3 is fairly anticlimac-                                                                   laptop will sell better than one with 5.1 Dolby
      tic: It won’t blow up your                  Do you really need surround on a                    surround. Any bets?
      computer, but it won’t make                 laptop?                                               What’s your opinion on low-cost laptops? Do
      it much better, either.                     Large screen (15.4” and above) entertainment        you want to buy one? Share your views and opin-
                    —Robert Strohmeyer            laptops are clearly aimed at home users and         ions by writing to me at

 16   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   M AY 2 0 0 8
First Centrino Atom Computer Coming in June
THE FIRST PORTABLE com-               Atom was developed for
puter based on Intel’s Centri-        small, pocketable devices
no Atom chip package is com-          based on Linux that Intel
ing in June, although it will be      calls mobile Internet devices.
bigger and more expensive             Measuring 84 mm by 192
than such devices were                mm by 26 mm and weighing
expected to be. Sharp will            470 grams, the D4 is easily
manufacture the D4 ultramo-           portable but not pocketable.
bile PC for Japanese mobile             To make calling and receiv-
operator Willcom. The plan            ing calls easy, it will offer a
includes unlimited data.              smaller phone handset as an
  Intel launched Centrino             option. The handset will con-
Atom at the Intel Developer           nect to the D4 via Bluetooth,        disk, 2-megapixel camera,
                                                                           disk 2-megapixel camera,
                                                                           disk, 2-megapixel camera,           typing on a flat surface. It
                                                                                                               typing on        surf e
Forum in Shanghai, but only           will have a regular phone key-       and includes support for            runs Vista Home Premium,
showed prototypes of porta-           pad and small display. It can        Willcom’s PHS data network,         instead of a mobile version of
ble computers based on the            also work as a voice handset         as well as Wi-Fi and Blue-          Linux. It also comes with
new chips. However, Intel             The computer has a 1.33GHz           tooth. It has a slide-out           Microsoft Office Personal
executives promised 20 such           Atom processor, a 5-inch             64-key keyboard and a moni-         2007 with PowerPoint 2007.
devices are in the works and          widescreen display, 1G byte          tor that tilts up slightly, mak-           — Martyn Williams and
will ship soon. Centrino              of RAM, a 40G-byte hard              ing it easier to read when
                                                                             g                                                  Sumner Lemon

WEB WATCH                              TA PA SYA K U M A R

Chat in Your Own Language
In a time when personalization is the order of the day, why not sur-
prise your family and friends with an e-mail in your own language?
While a lot of e-mail clients do offer this option how about a site that
lets you create blogs, websites or chat in your native language? I
have a couple of options for you —, and quill- — that let you write text in English and will give the output
in ‘your’ language. Design-wise Quillpad is the slickest, but Paahijen
and Lipikaar offer superior functionality. For sending mails, Paahi-
jen’s ‘Scratchpad’ will come in handy, as it supports 10 languages
and has a quick preview pane to correct your mistakes. If still hav-
ing trouble forming words, then the extensive help section will come       THE SITE OFFERS not only photo editing tools but also lets you add
to your aid. And when you are done, simply press the ‘Refresh’ but-        effects, frames, text and styles.
ton which will display the text in your language and then you can
copy it anywhere. To send an SMS in your language, you have to reg-        help you do the job rather effortlessly. The site offers not only
ister for the free service. Paahijen also has a small classified section    photo-editing tools but also lets you add effects, frames, text and
called TagWise but there isn’t much activity happening there.              styles. You can create personalized mobile wallpapers and
   Lipikaar also has a free add-on tool for Firefox and can be down-       e-cards and get them printed and delivered to your doorstep.
loaded on to your desktop for easy access. But I found it a bit            FlauntR integrates with other websites like Picasa, Flickr and
tedious to incorporate the fonts on my system.                             Facebook so you can pull photos from there directly. And that’s, and                                not all; you can also flaunt your artistic side by sharing the pho-
                                                                           tos on social networking sites.
Picture Perfect                                                  
Tweaking photographs is no longer the exclusive domain of the              Write to me about any site that you found interesting at
pros, is an impressive photo editing website that will

                                                                                                                M AY 2 0 0 8   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   17

      The Rise of                                 GADGET FREAK                                 LALDINFELA PACHUAU

      Big, Free                                   10 Things iHate About The iPhone
      Games                                         Let’s be honest. It’s the one gad-
                                                    get that peaked all our interests.
                                                                                                      restricted to calls and has no A2DP sup-
                                                                                                      port. To make things worse, synching data
      THE NET has had free casual                   But is there a worm in this golden                and transferring files via Bluetooth is out of
      games for years. But to play                  Apple?                                            the question and you are bound by your
      sophisticated games that                                                                        data cable.
      deliver great effects and                   FOR MANY IT’S the Holy Grail of cell phones.        6. Non-removable battery: The not so
      complicated action—titles                   And while those who walk the straight and nar-      powerful battery is sealed and not accessi-
      such as World of Warcraft or                row wait for its legit arrival to our shores, the   ble to users. If one has to replace it, users
      Quake—you’ve had to pay.                    gray market has ensured that the less scrupu-       would need to send it to the Apple center.
        That’s changing rapidly.                  lous among us get early dibs on it. But the most    And considering that even the most basic
      These days you can get retail-              golden Apple product to date is not tarnish         Chinese knock-offs offer this it’s really not
      quality games for free from                 free. Here are my top 10 gripes with the iPhone.    a tall order.
      influential game-makers. The                1. Locked to One Carrier: We know that              7. No MMS: The absence of this feature is a
      plan: make money by show-                   Apple sold unlocked iPhones in UK and               let down. You have to go through the tedious
      ing advertisements within                   some European countries, but they also              process of sending it as an attachment via
      the game or by convincing                   jacked up prices over there. The phone sold         e-mail.
      players to pay for upgrades.                in the US exclusively with an AT&T contract         8. Buggy Multi-tasking: Switching from one
        MapleStory (maplestory.                   is considerably cheaper. What remains to be         application to another requires you hit the, a free game devel-              seen is how they chose to
      oped by Nexon, has more                     approach the Indian mar-
      U.S. players than World of                  ket.
      Warcraft. You pay only for                  2. A 2MP camera is dis-
      extras, like fancy clothes.                 appointing: No one is
                                                  expecting their camera
                                                  phone to ape a DSLR but
                                                  think in a scenario where
                                                  3.2MP cameras are the
                                                  norm, this is a tad disap-
                                                  pointing. The worst is you
                                                  can’t shoot video and there
                                                  is no flash — not even an
                                                  LED flash. And the image
      MAPLESTORY is free, but plastic             quality won’t stop press any time soon.             home button once and touch the program
      surgery for your avatar isn’t.              3. No standard 3.5mm headphones port:               you want to launch. This is troublesome as
                                                  While Apple may have intended the iPhone            there is no shortcut to take you to the pro-
        Id Software will bring an                 to be a fancy music player with phone func-         gram you want to launch in one go.
      ad-supported online version                 tionality; it’s disappointing to see that our       9. Browser requires full attention: No
      of its Quake III to a comput-               standard headphones do not work with its            Browsing in the background is supported.
      er near you, gratis. The only               recessed jack port. Even an adapter like the        While on the Edge network and after waiting
      cost of entry: putting up                   one that manufacturers like Nokia and Sony          for the full pages to load, if you want to
      with in-game ad billboards.                 Ericsson include is missing.                        switch to another application, the browser
        Gaming giant Electronic                   4. On-screen keyboard: The keyboard                 will not run in the background.
      Arts recently announced                     looks nice but you can wave one-handed              10. No FM: Come on Apple, learn it from the
      Battlefield Heroes, a game                  operation goodbye. Unlike other phones with         Chinese, they pack everything into a Rs. 5000
      financed by ads shown before                physical keypads single hand typing is a pain.      phone, performance notwithstanding. Would it
      matches and by players’ pay-                Things might have been better if landscape          hurt to add an FM radio?
      ing to accumulate experi-                   mode was supported while typing messages.           Hopefully, when it hits the market, in a month or
      ence points more quickly.                   5. Restricted Bluetooth: While the Blue-            two, this list will be down to zero.
                  —Darren Gladstone               tooth 2.0 connectivity is appreciated, it is          Do write to me at

 18   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   M AY 2 0 0 8

     AIR Apps Bring the Web to Your Desktop
     AS IF THE line between desktop applications and Web services   enables Web site owners to build services—anything from a
     weren’t fuzzy enough already, Adobe has introduced a tech-     media player to a backup service to an auction watchdog—
     nology called Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR) that promises     that Web surfers can access easily and quickly, whether
     to blur the difference further—for the good. The technology    online, offline, or via a cellphone or other mobile device.

                                                                                    Video Viewer
                                                                                    AOL hopes to make browsing and viewing
                                                                                    videos easier with a free AIR application
                                                                                    called AOL Top 100 Music Videos. This con-
                                                                                    venient add-on lets you browse and play pop-
                                                                                    ular music videos. And taking advantage of
                                                                                    local system resources, the software can
                                                                                    integrate features such as bookmarking
                                                                                    favorite videos, personalizing content with
                                                                                    feedback, and sharing videos with other AOL
                                                                                    Top 100 Music Videos users.

     Auction Watch
     EBay Desktop is a free Adobe AIR app
     that allows you to keep tabs on your eBay
     auctions or to browse new gear without
     having to launch a Web browser. EBay
     Desktop can send you product availability
     notifications and auction updates in real
     time, too, according to eBay.

                                                                                        Backup Buddy
                                                                                        Xdrive, a long-standing online storage
                                                                                        service, has undergone a major Adobe
                                                                                        AIR face-lift. The results of the make-
                                                                                        over are visible in the free Xdrive Desk-
                                                                                        top Lite beta. Once you’ve set up the
                                                                                        program and got it running, AOL says,
                                                                                        you’ll find that grabbing data from your
                                                                                        Xdrive account on the Web is as easy as
                                                                                        grabbing it from your computer’s local
                                                                                        C: drive.
                                                                                                                   —Tom Spring

20   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   M AY 2 0 0 8
Internet Explorer 8
Beta: Underwhelming
MICROSOFT HAS released                tion. Another new feature,
a public beta version of the          called Web Slices, lets you
next Internet Explorer—but            track changes to a portion of
don’t download it expecting           a Web site—for instance, a
either a stable browser or            specific eBay auction.
stunning innovation.                    The beta is clearly buggy:
  Its developers say Internet         when we tried installing
Explorer 8 better supports            Internet Explorer 8, it
Web standards, can automat-           crashed often and seemed to           WITH INTERNET EXPLORER 8’s Activities, you can run a Web search or
ically recover from a crash,          conflict with multiple apps           get a definition or a map based on terms you highlight on a Web page.
and includes new features.            on the system. The Web Slic-
One of these is Activities,           es feature seems already to           desktop. Internet Explorer            your browser in order to see
plug-ins that eliminate some          trail Safari’s Web Clips tech-        8’s version works only if the         new activity.
tedious cutting and pasting.          nology, which lets you trans-         site’s developer enables it.            Microsoft hasn’t specified
Highlight a street address,           form a piece of any Web               And because the slices live           when Internet Explorer 8
and you can automatically             page into an automatically            in an Internet Explorer tool-         will be final.
bring up a map of that loca-          updating widget on an OS X            bar, you still have to open                          —PC World staff

BLOG TRACKER                                 D I YA K O S H Y

Served Hot off the Net                                                                                         tures a complete index of recipes.
One of my earliest memories of the                                                                             The blog also features a link to dai-
kitchen was an old hand-written                                                                       , a food blog
recipe book that contained culinary                                                                            on which she is a co-administrator.
secrets of generations. It seemed                                                                                 Another super blog is Jai and
infused with the smell of the spice                                                                            Bee’s The
cupboard and the golden, red and                                                                               blog is a touching tribute to the
brown finger prints bore a masala-                                                                              authors’ friend whom they lost to
streaked testimony to those who                                                                                leukemia. On the website, the
had flipped through its pages. Cut to                                                                           authors say, “This blog is our
the present, when life in the big city                                                                         means of reasserting our commit-
means terrible take-away and manic                                                                             ment to a natural, healthier life-
phone calls home to find out how                                                                                style, and to a less toxic world.”
much cumin to put in the curry.                                                                                Neatly classified according to
Luckily, Mom can now take a breath- MEETA KHURANA’S FOOD blog meal types and ingredients, the
er thanks to a series of food blogs on has much to offer the serious foodie                                    blog is a breeze to navigate.
the Internet. While internationally,                                                                           The last blog that got my attention
they have really taken off (my favorite is )           was courtesy its tagline. ‘Anthony’s Kitchen: The Bachelor Cooking
Indian bloggers too have come into their own.                              Blog’ at A no-fuss blog, Anthony lists
   Case in point is Mumbai-born Meeta K’s         recipes and posts pictures to show that the proof is indeed in the pud- . A software program developer now based in Germany,              ding, or, in this case, the Paneer Mutter Masala. Ideal if you want basic
she takes you on a cross-cultural culinary adventure. On her blog,         home food. The best part: they will always be just a mouse-click away.
Meeta muses about life in general and food in particular. Visually         And while fragrance may be missing, flavor certainly isn’t.
stunning with photographs taken by the author herself, the site has          If you like a particular blog, do write and let me know at: blog_
been very comprehensively categorized for easy browsing and fea- 

                                                                                                                   M AY 2 0 0 8   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   21

      New ThinkPad: Lenovo’s Latest Ultrathin Laptop
      IN THE WAKE of Macbook Air’s ultralight glitz,
      Lenovo’s ThinkPad X300 has delivered a worthy
      competitor to challenge the Air’s claim to fame. The
      latest in Lenovo’s Ultralight series of laptops, the
      X300 has a 13.3-inch widescreen display at
      1440x900 resolution, and provides very fast boot
      ups thanks to its 64GB SSD (solid state drive). With
      a 12.4” x 9.1” slim form factor, it doesn’t cease to
      impress either. Lenovo also emphasized the X300 to
      be an environmentally friendly laptop with mini-
      mized levels of cadmium, lead and mercury in use. It
      also implements a bundle of other impressive fea-
      tures that assures it to be the ultimate choice for a
      business laptop. But with its astronomical price
      (Rs. 1,44,900) it’s out of range of most enthusiasts.
                                               —Jayesh Shinde

                           weigh hs
      The ThinkPad X300 weighs just a touch over 1.5
      kg on a standard 6-cell battery. This is very             The 300
                                                                Th X3            the bar
                                                                The X300 raises the bar even hi higher by implementing Wi-Max and
      close to the weight of the MacBook A which is             Wirele
                                                                Wireless USB or Ultra Wide Band (UWB) compatibility. You can
      just a shade under the 1.5 kg mark. Considering                 phone SIM card; plug it into the slot residing underneath
                                                                use a p
      it packs a lot more punch through its configura-               bat
                                                                the battery cap, and use it for browsing the Net on the go.
      tion and specs, it makes much more sense to
      buy a ThinkPad over the MacBook Air. The Air
      does look a lot prettier, but the lack of expan-
      sion hurts it. The X300 manages to squeeze in a
      DVD-burner into the slim chassis.

                                                                The ThinkPad X300 keyboard lives up to the high standards set
                                                                by the rest of the ThinkPad family. The familiar Trackpoint is pres-
                                                                                                                                       PHOTOGRAPHS: SRIVATSA SHANDILYA

                                                                ent, along with a trackpad for those not used to it. The TrackPoint
                                                                simplifies navigation like never before; once you get the hang of
                                                                moving around on the screen with the TrackPoint buttons and
                                                                pointer, the rudimentary touchpad will be pretty much defunct.
                                                                Another feature to watch out for is the fingerprint scanner for
                                                                added security.

 22   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   M AY 2 0 0 8
Security Alert
               Sites’ Personal Questions May Pose Security Risk
               PAUL F. ROBERTS                                                 company Secure Science. Bank phishing sites may include
                                                                               their own fraudulent drop-down lists that capture people’s
               WHAT DOES YOUR father do for a living? What was your            answers, which bad guys can then use to hack real accounts.
               high school’s name? Your first pet’s name? What is your            Even when hackers don’t resort to subterfuge, these nuggets
               favorite color? If you have an online account, you’ve probably  of information can be easier targets than passwords. Mark Bur-
               run into such questions when                                                                      nett, author of Hacking the Code,
               opening an account or when                                                                        has observed that seemingly
                                                      Asking about your mother’s home town is
               trying to recover one of the                                                                      random questions such as
                                                      supposed to help legitimate sites protect your
               dozens of passwords you jug-                                                                      “What was the make of your
                                                      online accounts—but experts say hackers
               gle in your head. Online busi-                                                                    first car?” have a narrow list of
                                                      know more about you than you might think.
               nesses everywhere have                                                                            answers—in the case of autos,
               embraced the technique,                                                                           38 major makers—that hackers
               which is called knowledge-                                                                        can use to try to break into an
               based authentication.                                                                             account, versus a vast multitude
                 Theoretically, the answers to                                                                   of password combinations.
               these questions are so person-
               al and obscure that knowing                                                                       Stump the Hacker
               them proves you are you. Ex-                                                                      Companies have realized the
               perts say, however, that the                                                                      approach’s weakness, and
               technology could end up help-                                                                     most have broadened their
               ing hackers compromise your                                                                       lists of questions. But devising
               online accounts more easily.                                                                      questions that are general
                 Knowledge-based authenti-                                                                       enough for everyone to answer
               cation doesn’t replace user                                                                       yet specific enough to be easy
               names and passwords; it’s an                                                                      to recall is a formidable task.
               extra layer of security on top                                                                    Most people can name a favor-
               of such schemes, since hackers                                                                    ite movie, but their answer to
               who stumble across your log-                                                                      that question might change
               in credentials won’t easily figure out the name of your high-   over time. So getting the answer right requires recalling such
               school sweetheart. Collecting log-in information and answers    details as when you answered the question—which increases
               to secret questions from your computer requires keylogging      your chance of making an error. On the other hand, factoids
               software, making it harder for malicious hackers to triumph.    such as the city of your birth, your mother’s maiden name, or
                                                                               even your telephone number may be public information.
               Phishers Get Close to Home                                         “You need a question [that is] discernible if a million peo-
                                                                                                                                                     ILLUSTRATION: TAVIS COBURN

               Jon Fisher, whose firm, Bharosa (acquired by Oracle last year), ple see it for the first time,” says Fisher. But some questions
               develops questions for companies to use, says knowledge-        have become esoteric, he believes. “I see it as a situation in
               based authentication adds a step for account access. “Phishing  which banks have sacrificed some usability for better
               both those pieces of information is fairly sophisticated.”      security.”“[Questions are] definitely getting weird,” says
                 But scammers have adapted, adding secret questions to         James. “I just had one that was ‘What was the name of your
               their decoy pages, says Lance James, CTO of fraud research      first pet?’ but I had two dogs growing up, so I don’t know.”

                   SANS Institute has uncovered a “rare gem” as far as computer secu-
                   rity investigations go.

24             W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   M AY 2 0 0 8
                         Meanwhile, online social networks pro-         BUGS & FIXES                               STUART J. JOHNSTON
                         vide a wealth of information about
                         individuals—including dates of birth,
                         addresses, education histories, and per-
                                                                        Vista Service Pack 1: 573 Fixes in Limbo
                         sonal tastes in books, movies, and the         SERVICE PACK 1 for Vista is          Plus: Patch IE, update Reader and
                         like—that crooks could tap.                    (almost) ready for prime             Skype, and crush Yahoo Jukebox bugs.
                            Amir Orad of antifraud company              time. SP1 contains a whop-
                         Actimize doesn’t expect that people            ping 573 bug fixes and patches that have       directly or through holes in IE (see www.
                         will cease sharing personal                    accumulated since Vista first shipped in
                         information any time soon. “I think            early 2007. I advise you to get it—but        ms08-feb.mspx).
                         this trend is unstoppable. You’re not          only after the wrinkles are ironed out.
                         going to change the behavior of 200               However, an update you have to install     Avert Adobe Acrobat Attacks
                                                                        before installing SP1 has a glitch in it that If you have Adobe Acrobat or Reader on
                                                                        causes some PCs to restart endlessly.         your PC, you need to patch a half-dozen
                                                                        Microsoft says the problem affects only       “critical” holes recently discovered in
                                                                        “a small number” of the more than 100         both products. Opening a rigged PDF file
                                                                        million Vista users. At press time, the       is the only prerequisite for being attacked.
                                                                        update had been suspended (windows-           Adobe warns that versions 8.1.1 and ear-
                                                                                        lier of both Acrobat and Reader
                                                                        ta/archive/2008/02/19/                                        are at risk for the problem.
                                                                        update-on-windows-vista-                                         Security firm Secunia
                         WHEN YOU SET up questions to safeguard         sp1-prerequisite-                                                 rates the flaws as “high-
                         access to your account, choose them wisely.    kb937287.aspx).                                                    ly critical,” which is its
                                                                           The faulty update,                                              second highest severity
                         million Facebook and MySpace                   numbered 937287,                                                   ranking. No attacks
                         users.” Orad thinks that banks and             was part of Microsoft’s                                            have occurred yet, but
                         merchants must instead develop                 mid-February Patch                                               gremlins have already
                         systems to detect fraudulent                   Tuesday downloads. If                                          posted proof-of-concept
                         practices behind the scenes, much as           you have automatic updating                             exploits on the Web. Get the
                         credit companies today have devised            turned on and your Vista PC is behaving       8.1.2 updates at
                         ways to spot suspect purchases and             normally, the update likely installed just    security/advisories/apsa08-01.html.
                         notify customers.                              fine on your machine.
                                                                           If it didn’t, you’d know by now. Micro-    Skype Video Bug
                         Keep It Simple, Not Stupid                     soft offers help at 866/727-2338 to users     Skype has patched a hole in its Windows
                         Simple steps can go a long way                 whose PCs react badly; a fix at Windows        client software. The exploit uses an IE
                         toward thwarting authentication                Update (         feature to display HTML pages, but sets
                         fraud. Orad recommends that people             dowsupdate/v6/thanks.                         the browser’s security at the lowest lev-
                         not resort to using any information            aspx?ln=en&&thankspage=5) should be           el, leaving you vulnerable. Click a video
                         about their personal life that might be        available by the time you read this.          file and the evildoers could hijack your
                         available online. “Anything you say                                                          PC. A working exploit exists; the fix is at
                         can and will be used against you,” he          Office, IE in the Fix Mix            
                         warns. Also, you should steer online           As part of its February patch extravagan-     001-update2.html.
                         transactions toward businesses that            za, Microsoft also released six security-
                         offer more than just passwords and             related patches to fix critical bugs in Win-   Yahoo Jukebox Jiggers
                         secret questions as protection. For            dows, IE, and Office. Three of the             Yahoo has updated its jukebox software to
                         example, PayPal offers a device that           problems affect Windows Vista, either         patch multiple security holes in the free
                         generates one-time passwords that                                                            player. Yahoo Music Jukebox versions prior
                         you can use for secure log-ins.                    BUGGED?                                   to need the fix. A successful

                                                                                                                      attack could let bad guys take over your
                           Paul F. Roberts is a freelance writer and        FOUND A HARDWARE or soft-                 PC, Yahoo says. Proof-of-concept exploit
                         senior security analyst at The 451 Group, an       ware bug? Send us an e-mail on it         code has appeared online. Head to help.
                         independent technology industry analysis           to             
                         company.                                                                                     shoot/securityupdate.html for more info.

                                                                                                                                    M AY 2 0 0 8   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   25
Security Alert

      Malicious Microprocessor Opens New Doors for Attack
      FOR YEARS, HACKERS have                                                                                    the packet gets dropped… and yet
      focused on finding bugs in comput-                                                                         I have full and complete access to
      er software that give them unauthor-                                                                       this underlying system that I just
      ized access to computer systems,                                                                           compromised,” King said.
      but now there’s another way to                                                                               The researchers are now working
      break in: Hack the microprocessor.                                                                         on tools that could help detect
         Researchers at the University of                                                                        such a malicious processor, but
      Illinois at Urbana-Champaign                                                                               there’s a big problem facing crimi-
      have demonstrated how they                                                                                 nals who would try to reproduce
      altered a computer chip to grant                                                                           this type of attack in the real
      attackers back-door access to a                                                                            world. How do you get a malicious
      computer. It would take a lot of                                                                           CPU onto someone’s machine?
      work to make this attack succeed                                                                             This would not be easy, King
      in the real world, but it would be                                                                         said, but there are a few possible
      virtually undetectable.                                                                                    scenarios. For example, a “mole”
         To launch its attack, the team of                Exploits and Emergent Threats (www.              developer could add the code while
      researchers used a special programma-                   working on the chip’s design, or some-
      ble processor running the Linux oper-               html), a conference for security                 one at a computer assembly plant could
      ating system. The chip was pro-                     researchers held in San Francisco.               be paid off to install malicious chips
      grammed to inject malicious firmware                   His team was able to add the back             instead of legitimate processors. Final-
      into the chip’s memory, which then                  door by reprogramming a small number             ly, an attacker could create a counter-
      allows an attacker to log into the                  of the circuits on a LEON processor              feit version of a PC or a router that
      machine as if he were a legitimate user.            running the Linux operating system.              contained the malicious chip.
      To reprogram the chip, researchers                  These programmable chips are based on              “This is not a script kiddie attack,” he
      needed to alter only a tiny fraction of             the same Sparc design that is used in            said. “It’s going to require an entity
      the processor circuits. They changed                Sun Microsystems’ midrange and high-             with resources.”
      1,341 logic gates on a chip that has                end servers. They are not widely used,             Though such a scenario may seem far-
      more than 1 million of these gates in               but have been deployed in systems used           fetched, the U.S. Department of
      total, said Samuel King, an assistant               by the International Space Station.              Defense (DoD) is taking the issue seri-
      professor in the university’s computer                 In order to hack into the system, King        ously. In a February 2005 report (www.
      science department.                                 first sent it a specially crafted network
         “This is like the ultimate back door,”           packet that instructed the processor to          HPMS_Report_Final.pdf) , the DoD’s
      said King. “There were no software                  launch the malicious firmware. Then,             Defense Science Board warned of the
      bugs exploited.”                                    using a special login password, King             very attack that the University of Illi-
         King demonstrated the attack at the              was able to gain access to the Linux sys-        nois researchers have developed, saying
      Usenix Workshop on Large-Scale                      tem. “From the software’s perspective,           that a shift toward offshore integrated
                                                                                                           circuit manufacturing could present a
      NEWS                                                                                                 security problem.
                                                                                                             There are already several examples of
      Symantec Warning to Windows Users                                                                    products that have shipped with mali-
      ACCORDING TO ALFRED Huger, vice president of development for Symantec Security                       cious software installed. In late 2006,
      Response, Symantec has discovered attempts to exploit a GDI (graphics device interface)              for example, Apple shipped Video
                                       vulnerability in Windows that Microsoft has patched recent-         iPods (
                                       ly. “It’s our belief that the vulnerability is being successfully   dowsvirus/ )that contained the Rav-
                                       targeted. We’re seeing continued exploitation of it”, he said.      MonE.exe virus.
                                          In the attempted exploits, a malicious image hosted by             “We’re seeing examples of the overall
                                       at least three different Web sites targets the GDI stack            supply chain being compromised,”
      overflow vulnerability. To avoid losing control of their computers, Symantec is warning               King said. “Whether or not people will
      Windows users to install a critical patch which will help the users to avoid exploitations           modify the overall processor designs
      of their PCs. As a result of the activity, Symantec raised the threat level for the vulnera-         remains to be seen.”
      bility from level 1, the lowest, to level 2, a medium-level threat. The highest is level 4.                                  —Robert McMillan

 26   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   M AY 2 0 0 8
     Ample, Fast, and Affordable Storage
        With storage require-
        ments increasing and
        prices dropping, we
        put three 320 GB
        SATA II hard drives
        through their paces
        to help you decide
        which one to buy.

     “I NEED MORE space on my
 PCW Test       hard-disk.” How
  Center        many times have
     you said this to yourself ? It’s
     true no amount of storage is
     “enough” and if you bought
     yourself a 160GB hard drive
                                                              STORAGE IS NOT only getting cheaper, it’s getting faster and more
     six months ago, chances are
                                                              efficient. The new single platter drive from WD stormed to the top.
     you are eyeing a 320GB drive
     now (especially with the fall
     in costs). We compare three
                           re                    speeds
                                                 spee seen throughout a
                                                  peeds                                  test,
                                                                                   this test, we created batch
                                                                                       s tes                                ormance-oriented hard
                                                                                                                       performance-oriented hard
                                                                                                                       perfor      ce-oriented ard
     320GB SATA II desktop top                   drive’s surface, including the
                                                   rive’ surface, including
                                                 drive s surface, including the              automate
                                                                                       s automate         transfer
                                                                                   files to automate file transfer            Being single-platter
                                                                                                                       disks. Being a single-platter
                                                                                                                       disks. Being single-p ter
     drives to help you decide on                time taken to access given        from one partition of the           drive with one of the highest
     your next upgrade. The drives               data. We also ran Everest         test drive to another, along        data densities on the mar-
     come with the latest features               Ultimate’s linear read, linear    with two other similar oper-        ket, shows in the numbers it
     like PMR (Perpendicular                     write and read test suite         ations running alongside.           puts up. The 16 MB cache
     Magnetic Recording), NCQ                    modules. These are low-level      The ambient thermal behav-          helps too. In Everest Ulti-
     support and 3Gbps support.                  tests and indicate the drive’s    ior was measured with a             mate’s disk benchmarking
                                                 performance while carrying        Fluke multi-meter and noise         tool, the WD hit an average
     Bringing Them to                            out a single read or write        levels were also considered.        of 86.3 MBps in the random
     Their Knees                                 operation. Managing multi-        None of the drives were audi-       write test, which was the
     We ran these drives through                 ple read-write tasks simulta-     ble once inside the case and        fastest in this comparison.
                                                                                                                                                       PHOTOGRAPHS: SRIVATSA SHANDILYA

     a combination of synthetic                  neously gets much harder          hence we didn’t use this as a       Random read averaged at
     and real-world tests to get a               for the drives. This is an        factor in the comparison test.      86.6 MBps, which is again
     complete picture of perfor-                 indicator of real-world per-                                          very fast for this class of
     mance as seen in a desktop                  formance where a drive            WD Caviar SE16                      hard drives. Just about every
     environment. We used HD                     might read OS files, write to     3200AAKS-00B3A0 :                   test showed up this drive in
     Tune’s random read and                      its pagefile, and load appli-     Speed is impressive on this         favorable light, including PC
     write tests. These gauge                    cations, simultaneously. For      particular variant of WD’s          Mark, WinRAR, and linear

28   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   M AY 2 0 0 8

      30 NOKIA N82                                           10
                                        33 LENOVO IDEAPAD Y-510                      36 D-LINK DIR-635                                                 43 WEP TOP.UPS

read and write operations.           3 2 0 G B D E S K T O P H A R D D R I V E C O M PA R I S O N

In our real world simultane-        HARD DRIVES                        PCW Rating                    Performance                            Features and specifications
ous multiple file read-write                    Western Digital

test, the WD took 988 sec-                BUY   Caviar                                 •Everest Random Write (Avg) : 86.3 MBps         •Buffer: 16 MB
                                    1    SE163200AAKS-00B3A0                           •Everest Random Read (Avg) : 86.6 MBps          •Power at Idle: 7.2 Watts
onds for the task. After two                                                           •Everest Linear Read (middle) : 91.7 MBps       •No. of Platters: 1
                                         Price: Rs.3,450               VERY GOOD
hours of stress testing, the                                                           •Real World Multiple Read - Write : 988 secs    •Warranty: 3 years
WD was still not too hot to         BOTTOM LINE: As the newer cousin in a line-up built for performance, this WD does not miss a beat anywhere.
the touch, and actually pro-
duced the least tempera-
tures measured in this com-         2
                                         Seagate Barracuda
                                                                       VERY GOOD
                                                                                       •Everest Random Write (Avg) : 63.6 MBps
                                                                                       •Everest Random Read (Avg) : 63.6 MBps
                                                                                       •Everest Linear Read (middle) : 68.5 MBps
                                                                                                                                       •Buffer: 16 MB
                                                                                                                                       •Power at Idle: 9.3 Watts
                                                                                                                                       •No. of Platters: 2
parison – helped along by                Price: Rs. 3,300                              •Real World Multiple Read - Write : 815 secs    •Warranty: 5 years
the single-platter design, no       BOTTOM LINE: Benchmarks don’t tell the whole story, and this fast performer proves it by excelling in real world tests.
doubt. A hard drive that
runs cooler, usually allows
you to maintain lower over-
all temperatures inside your
                                         Hitachi DeskStar
                                         Price: Rs. 2,850
                                                                        79 GOOD
                                                                                       •Everest Random Write (Avg) : 59.8 MBps
                                                                                       •Everest Random Read (Avg) : 60.7 MBps
                                                                                       •Everest Linear Read (middle) : 63.5 MBps
                                                                                                                                       •Buffer: 8 MB
                                                                                                                                       •Power at Idle: 6 Watts
                                                                                                                                       •No. of Platters: 2
                                                                                       •Real World Multiple Read - Write : 1317 secs   •Warranty: 5 years
computer cabinet. The one           BOTTOM LINE: Disappointing speeds in the real world tests but the warranty redeems it.
and only place where this
                                    CHART NOTE: Prices are indicative as on 18-04-2008. Benchmarks were conducted using Everest Ultimate Edition v4.50.
drive falls behind, is the aver-
age read access times, where
its 16.39 ms score is slightly     write file copy test taking just             was not very large, so you                             tively lower power con-
less than that of the Seagate      815 seconds, which gave an                   don’t need to worry about an                           sumption and pricing. How-
entry. If you go out to buy        idea of performance during                   energy guzzler sitting in your                         ever, the drive is let down by
this drive, do make sure to        multi-tasking. The averaged                  cabinet. The drive is backed                           high average read access
look for the specific model        read access time of 13.35 ms,                by the solid Seagate warranty                          times. It also turned out to
variant on the label (00B3A0).     was very good as well. This                  of five years.                                         be the warmest drive in the
                                   drive was no push over in                                                                           lineup, after 2 hours of
Seagate Barracuda                  synthetic tests either. The                  Hitachi DeskStar                                       being run at high stress lev-
ST3320620AS :                      averaged random write speed                  HDT725032VLA380                                        els. Real world tests did
The Seagate relishes real          of 63.6 MBps, and random                     If you need a 320 GB hard-                             receive a big jolt though –
world usage. It was the fast-      read speed of 63.6 MBps                      disk soon, at the least possi-                         this drive took 1,317 sec-
est on our simultaneous read-      obtained through Everest,                    ble price, the Hitachi drive                           onds to complete the simul-
                                   fared well in comparison to                  isn’t a bad choice at all. At                          taneous read-write test. The
MORE ONLINE                        the Hitachi. At 9.3W when                    an average of 59.8 MBps in                             reason could well be that
If you want a Terabyte             idle, and 13W used at full                   Everest’s random write test,                           this was the only drive
hard drive, go to www.             load, power consumption by                   and 60.7 MBps in the ran-                              among the three to have to read our latest      the Seagate turned out to be                 dom read test, this DeskStar                           only 8 MB of cache (the
1 TB hard drive                    higher than the other drives                 might have been good for                               other two have 16 MB).
comparison test.                   in the test. But the margin                  even an HTPC, given its rela-                                       —Madana Prathap

                                                                                                                                        M AY 2 0 0 8   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   29

      Nokia Hits a Home Run                                                                                         was not too loud but was
                                                                                                                    far from dismal. The usabili-
      THE NOKIA N82 is the latest                 employed. If you send a lot
                                                                           d                                        ty of the A-GPS feature with
      from the Finnish phone man-                 of text messages, you may
                                                                          u                                         bundled Nokia Maps
      ufacturer’s ever-improving                  find this inconvenient. Also
                                                                         nt.                                        depends on the network
      N-Series stable. The candy                  the white key labels are not                                      from y  your cellular provider.
      bar design phone packs a                    the easiest to read either
                                                                          ther                                      While it may not be fully
      punch with goodies that                     against the shiny metallic
                                                                          tallic                                    featured as the Nokia Navi-
      range from a 5 MP sensor                    finish, especially under
                                                                        der                                         gator, it let us view our cur-
      camera with Xenon flash to a                bright sunlight. The place-                                       rent location and search
      GPS function. It has almost                 ment of the buttons did not                                       point of interest and voice
      everything the N95 8GB has                  pose much of a problem but
                                                                        blem                                        guided navigation is avail-
      except for the smaller 2.4                  the shortcut button right                                         able at extra cost.
      inch screen and it only comes               next to the flat navigational
                                                                        gational                                      Its rich connectivity fea-
      with a 2GB microSD card.                    pad that launches media edia                                      tures that include 3G with
      We like its standard 3.5 mm                 interface tends to get in the
                                                                        et                                          HSDPA, EDGE and WiFi
      jack port, vibrant display                  way. The TV-out function is
                                                                       nction                                       support mean you get more
      that supports up to 16 mil-                 a bonus and can be connect-                                       than one way to check your
      lion colors, screen orienta-                ed to your TV at home, and
                                                                        me,                                         mail or browse the versatile
      tion that changes from por-                 the connection port that
                                                                        t          NOKIA N82 IS for those who       built-in browser. Its Symbi-
      trait to landscape depending                doubles up as a headset port
                                                                        dset       crave for a good 5MP camera      an S60 v3 with Feature
      on how you hold the phone                   is conveniently located on
                                                                       ated        without sacrificing on other      Pack 1 ensures you are not
      (iPhone-anyone?), sliding cam-              the top of the phone. It uses
                                                                      ne.          features and good performance    running out of applications
      era cover that switches the                 micro-USB and a Bluetooth
                                                                       luetooth                                     even if you are not satisfied
      camera on and off and a host                2.0 for data transfer. Since
                                                                       r           5MP camera outperformed          with its pre-bundled appli-
      of rich connectivity features.              the former is not yet used in    many of the 5MP camera           cations like Quick Office,
         The body has a chrome fin-               many devices, make sure you      phones. The auto-focus out-      PDF reader, Zip utilities,
      ish that is mostly made up of               keep the cable safe.             classed the N95 8GB cam-         Barcode scanner etc.
      the plastic the phone owes                    When it comes to phone         era, it produced warmer          N-games preview is avail-
      its light weight to. The build              functions, the N82 per-          pictures than the Sony Eric-     able but it may not be the
      quality is decent and its size              formed basic phone func-         sson K850i, and sharper and      best control tool consider-
      is a few millimeters longer                 tions effortlessly. That said,   richer colors than the Sam-      ing the not so friendly key-
      and wider than the older                    the messaging features may       sung G800. When it came to       pad design. Its battery last-
      N73 but it is a lot slimmer.                not please everybody. Its        low light shooting, the          ed for 2 days under normal
      If one has to complain about                128MB RAM let us carry out       Xenon flash was one of the       usage which is average.
      the design, it would be the                 multitasking without any         best. Its macro mode shoot-      Overall, the performance of
      thin and unconventional                     delay and delivered what it      ing is above par. But while it   the N82 is impressive and
      keypad that Nokia has                       promised. Its much touted        maintained rich color repro-     for the price and features,
                                                                                   duction, pictures lacked         we highly recommend it if
      PRODUCT L AUNCH                                                              details but that is only when    you are still in doubt over
                                                                                   it was compared to the           which camera phone to buy
                                                                                   stand-alone mid range digi-      without compromising on
      Motorola MOTOROKR U9                                                         tal camera. Its video captur-    other functions.
      IT COMES WITH an elegant form factor, Stereo Bluetooth 4, Crys-              ing capability at VGA resolu-               —Laldinfela Pachuau
      talTalk Technology, external touch sensitive music controls and a            tion is also praiseworthy
                          unique external display that reveals floating,            and the audio recording also
                          animated screensavers that appear on the
                          external display. The phone also features a 2.0
                          megapixel camera with 8x zoom, multi-shot
                                                                                   had a lot of clarity.
                                                                                      Apart from its imaging
                                                                                   capability, its music player
                                                                                                                     VERY GOOD

                          feature, video capture and playback. It sup-             pumped out decent sound.         N82 | Nokia
                          ports Motorola Setup1, Backup1 and Text1 for             FM radio worked fine and         One of the best 5MP camera phones
      Internet browsing, phonebook and text message backup on to                   reception was exceptional.       in the market, period.
      secure servers as a free service.                                            Its onboard speaker volume       Price: Rs. 19,615

 30   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   M AY 2 0 0 8
Bare Bones Photoshop Goes Online                                                                                photo printing service
                                                                                                                does not go too much
ADOBE HAS FINALLY made                                                                                          beyond adding bor-
available Photoshop                                                                                             ders, tints cropping
Express, the online version                                                                                     and rotating. While
of its popular image editing                                                                                    Photoshop Express is
tool. This is a great start to                                                                                  nowhere near the
online image editing, but                                                                                       desktop version of the
don’t expect it to be a                                                                                         near omnipresent Pho-
replacement for the full                                                                                        toshop (or even the
desktop version.                                                                                                stripped down Photo-
                                                                                                                shop Elements), when
Web 2.0 Welcomes                                                                                                compared to other
Image Editing                                                                                                   online services, it is a
Photoshop Express is a                                                                                  significant step forward.
classic example of a Web            QUICK PHOTO TOUCHUP is easy with Adobe’s web application –             When seen as a photo
2.0 application (that is            Photoshop Express (                      sharing service, we found it
hosted on a server which                                                                                a bit irritating that you can
you can use from any PC             Features                          ting, you get the option to       only view images one after
connected to the Internet).         Once you create your user         choose from different expo-       the other and there is no
Adobe also offers storage           ID and upload your photos,        sure levels, identified by        thumbnail view. Also, a sim-
space with a 2GB limit per          merely hovering your              numerical values. Or, when        ple resizing option is miss-
account and gives you a             mouse over your image             you click on the Hue set-         ing from the editing /
customized link for your            thumbnail gives you an            ting, you get the option to       manipulation functions.
photo albums, thus making           ‘Edit Photo’ option. Fol-         choose colors to apply.
Photoshop Express double            lowing this, in what appears        Under the Basics options,       Design and Navigation
up as a photo sharing site.         to be Picasa inspired; you        a very useful (and not com-       Users who have seen Ado-
  There is no dearth of             will see the various editing      monly found on other web-         be’s Lightroom will not find
photo sharing and photo             features under three head-        sites) is the equivalent of       Photoshop Express to be
printing websites that offer        ings - Basics, Tuning and         the Healing Tool found in         very different in appear-
basic editing features as           Effects. Clicking on any of       the desktop version of Pho-       ance– the black theme is
well, but Photoshop                 these options will bring up       toshop. On Photoshop              very telling and makes for a
Express takes editing many          the submenu for you to            Express it is called ‘Touch-      good background for most
steps forward. Let’s put it         choose how exactly the            up’, which copy-pastes from       images in a slideshow. We
like this: It can replace the       change should be applied.         one area of the image onto        found performing operation
desktop version of Picasa             For example, when you           another, enabling you to          online is fairly fast – about
for most people.                    click on the Exposure set-        remove blemishes or dirt.         30 seconds to apply a
                                                                        There is also the Autocor-      sketch filter and display the
                                                                      rect feature that does not just   result for a 1MB image. The
                                                                      apply changes depending on        navigation is very intuitive
                                                                      how the software ‘sees’ the       even for a new user. The var-
Improve Skype Audio Quality                                           image, but gives your five        ious tools listed one below
NOT SATISFIED WITH the quality of sound you get from using            options as well. These are        the other on the left side is
Skype? Configuring the audio settings in Windows, like selecting       examples of areas where           a well thought out layout.
the proper device, deselecting the Mute option if it is, and making   Adobe has gone one up on                         —Kailas Shastry
sure that the volume settings aren’t too high or low will make your   other websites. Take for
Skype call quality much more crisper and clearer. In Skype, Click
Tools > Options > Sound Devices and select the proper audio devic-
es you are using in the Audio In and Audio Out options. Only chang-
                                                                      instance, Flickr, which is pri-
                                                                      marily a photo sharing site.
                                                                      While it is no doubt good as
                                                                                                         VERY GOOD

ing the System and Skype settings might not solve the problem if      a photo sharing service, it       Photoshop Express | Adobe
you don’t have the proper headset - Using a Web telephony headset     stops at cropping and resiz-      Despite being in Beta, this is a nifty
or a USB headset can enhance the call quality considerably.           ing, setting color levels and     way of fixing photos quickly.
                                                —John Maringmei       adding tints. Snapfish, a         Price: Free

                                                                                                         M AY 2 0 0 8   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   31

      Xdrive Lite Lacks Heft
      AOL’S NEW XDRIVE Desk-                      500GB account costs $10
      top Lite application makes                  -(approx Rs. 400 a month).
      accessing your Xdrive online                Previously, you could access
      data-storage account even                   your storage space via a
      easier. The app, still in beta,             browser or through the
      has some useful features—                   Xdrive Desktop utility,
      such as the ability to pre-                 which assigns a drive letter
      view media files—but it can                 to your virtual Xdrive in Win-
      be confusing to use.                        dows Explorer. Lite uses the
        An Xdrive account with                    Adobe AIR platform, which
      5GB of storage is free (a                   allows Web-based apps to
                                                  run outside a browser.           XDRIVE DESKTOP LITE will locate files on any of your PC’s drives.
                                                    The Lite interface looks

       VERY GOOD
                                                  similar to that of Windows
                                                  Explorer. To move files to
                                                                                   in Lite to the Xdrive section.
                                                                                      The app lets you preview
                                                                                                                      lack any explanation and can
                                                                                                                      be baffling to figure out.
                                                  your Xdrive, you can drag        music and videos in a built-         Right now, the easier-to-
      Xdrive Desktop Lite | AOL                   and drop from Windows            in player, and you can also        use Desktop utility is more
      Desktop Lite has some useful fea-           Explorer or your desktop         use the program to share           appealing. But upcoming
      tures, but it can be confusing.             into the Xdrive folder in the    files. However, the sharing        features, such as automatic
      Free (5GB)                                  Lite program window, or          tabs—E-mail Share, Embed           syncing, will improve Lite.                              from the hard-drive section      Code, and Share Status—                              —Erik Larkin

                wer n
      Reserve Power in a Neat Box                                                                                     in one hour flat, with some
                                                                                                                      charge still left in the power
      YOU FEEL LIKE listening to                                                                                      pack. The power pack has a
      some energizing music on a                                                                                      series of four LED indicators
      trek and your iPod just runs                                                                                    that show you the amount
      out of power. You pick up                                                                                       of charge left.
      your phone to call a loved                                                                                        The Mobile Power Pack
      one to describe a breathtak-                                                                                    uses a Lithium Polymer bat-
      ing vista, and much to your                                                                                     tery that is more rugged and
      dismay and anxiety, you find                                                                                    immune from memory
      that your phone too is low                                                                                      effects than the Nickel-Cad-
      on battery.                                                                                                     mium or Nickel Metal-Hy-
        The Mobile Power Pack from                                                                                    dride types. At just a little
      APC is just the Plan B you need                                              THIS SLEEK AND light weight        over 100 grams, it’s not
      for powering your gadgets.                                                   Power Pack from APC can be         heavy either.
      This power pack can power up                You need to charge the           carried with ease to power up                      —Kailas Shastry
      devices that can charge via                 power pack itself before you     USB-chargeable devices in
      USB. This includes nearly all               can charge devices from it.      an emergency.
      Motorola phones, and many
      models from Sony Ericsson
      (including the K and W series)
                                                  Akin to a reserve can of fuel
                                                  which you can use when
                                                  your tank gets empty. Of
                                                                                   pack takes about three-and a
                                                                                   half hours to charge. Once

      and LG (Nokia phones don’t                  course, you need to first fill   charged, it is rated for a         Mobile Power Pack (UPB10)
      recharge over USB however).                 up the can. This can be done     capacity of 10 Watt/hour.          APC
      Most music players including                in two ways, via regular USB       In real world terms, we          Useful for frequent travelers if their
      Creatives and iPods are also                cable from a PC or through       were able to fully charge a        device supports charging via USB.
      USB chargeable.                             an AC charger. The power         drained LG Viewty (KU 990)         Price: Rs. 4,500 (approx)

 32   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   M AY 2 0 0 8
Lenovo’s new IdeaPad                                                                                         3D Marks, 10 frames per
                                                                                                             second in F.E.A.R, and 11
THE IDEAPAD Y510 is part       t                                                                             in Doom3, and that at
of Lenovo’s new line of lap-   -                                                                             800x600 clearly shows that
tops designed to impress                                                                                     Spider Solitaire is pretty
consumers who don’t like                                                                                     much all you are going to
the ThinkPad design phi-                                                                                     run on this machine.
losophy. This laptop can-                                                                                       The speakers are much
not be mistaken for a                                                                                                than
                                                                                                             better tha standard laptop
ThinkPad. Lenovo engi-                                                                                       speakers. The four speakers
neers chose a matte black                                                                                    and the susubwoofer don’t
chassis design with a tex-                                                                                            shake the house
                                                                                                             exactly sh
tured weave pattern in the  he                                                                                        but
                                                                                                             down, bu they are quite
lid plastics. It almost gives
                            es                                                                               clear. The TV tuner card
the impression of rough                                                                                           works well, but the soft-
fabric rather than plastic,c,                                                                                         ware is hampered by
and it certainly feels classy.
                            sy.                                                                                         the lack of RAM.
Opening up the lid reveals als                                                                                         Lenovo also throws
a muted black interior,                                                                                              in face recognition
with a glossy strip runninging       HE GLOSSY
                                    THE GLOSSY SCREEN, text red cover and cle er use of orange LEDs helps
                                                              d         d clever use f
                                                                          clever s           e                   softw to log you in,
across the top of the key- y-       the IdeaPad loo different. Dolby certified speakers let you turn it up.
                                        IdeaPad look different. Dolby certified speakers let
                                            Pa        ifferent.       certifi speakers                        but this is more of a gim-
board. The touch-sensitive
                         tive                                                                                mick. It has trouble in low
buttons that control the            keyboard is a let down
                                    k b d             down,                 Features and Perfor-                    and
                                                                                                             light, an it’s just faster to
sound settings are                  though. It’s nowhere near               mance                                    with
                                                                                                             log in w a password.
hidden here.                        as good as the ThinkPad                 This particular laptop was
  The orange buttons look           keyboards; there’s a slight             configured with an Intel         Conclusion
quite different, and the bat-       amount of keyboard flex,                Core 2 Duo T5450 proces-         The problem with this lap-
tery gauge below the hinge          and the keys just don’t feel            sor running at 1.66 Ghz, 1       top is a simple one: it’s
is a nice touch. As far as          as nice as the ThinkPad’s, or           GB of RAM, a 160 GB HDD,         too expensive. For Rs.
design goes, the IdeaPad            for that matter, the Dell               and a slot loading DVD-RW.       48,000 plus taxes, you can
Y510 is well executed.              XPS M1530 that we                       Graphics duties are handled      get a much better configu-
Build quality is solid, with        reviewed last month. The                by the onboard Intel 965. A      ration from Dell or HP,
the case showing no signs           layout is sensible however,             unique feature is the built-     with a lot more RAM, a
of flexing or creaking, and         with a nice big space bar,              in TV tuner card. You can        bigger HDD, and a faster
the hinge feels taut. The           and proper arrow keys.                  actually plug a cable directly   processor. Admittedly, the
                                                                            into the laptop and start        TV tuner card and Dolby
                                                                            watching TV. The Dolby           speakers are pretty unique,
                                                                            certified speakers are also a    and the build quality is
                                                                            cut above the usual laptop       good, but the price premi-
Quickly Reset Your iPod                                                     fare. You get four speakers      um is still a bit too much.
THERE IS NO need to panic when your iPod has become unre-                   and a sub-woofer.                2 GB of RAM and Vista
sponsive. You can easily reset it to make it run again normally in            The performance tests          Home Premium instead of
                     no time without taking out the battery to              were the Achilles’ heel of       Basic should be the mini-
                     unfreeze it. To reset the iPod Touch, just             this laptop. Burdened with       mum configuration.
                     hold the Sleep/Wake and Home button                    only 1 GB of RAM, it                               —Aditya Nag
                     simultaneously until the Apple logo shows              limped through most of our
                    up on the screen. To unfreeze the iPod Clas-            tests. It only managed to
                    sic and iPod Nano, turn on the Hold switch
                    and off again, and after that, hold the Menu
                                                                            get 55 in our WorldBench
                                                                            tests, which is quite poor.       66 FAIR
and select buttons together until the Apple logo appears. For               Multitasking is slow. A
the iPod Shuffle, you need to turn it off, wait for 5 seconds, and           RAM upgrade to 2 GB is           IdeaPad Y510 | Lenovo
turn it on again but make sure that it is not connected to the              essential. Gaming is a non-      Slow performance, overpriced.
USB dock while resetting.                    —John Maringmei                starter on this laptop. 297      Price: Rs. 49,000

                                                                                                              M AY 2 0 0 8   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   33

      System                                      SKEPTICAL SHOPPER                                              KAILAS SHASTRY

      Mechanic                                    The Best Time to Buy?
                                                  ALRIGHT, LET’S SAY it at the out-              The latest or best gadget out there may not
      IOLO’S SYSTEM Mechan-
                                                  set. There is no single ‘best’ time            be the wisest thing to buy. A bit of patience
      ic, offers Windows repair
                                                  to buy the gadget you have been                and research can save you a lot of money.
      and tune-up features that
                                                  lusting over for a while now. Prices
      work well.
                                                  are always dropping and manufacturers keep             160MHz. It does not take much effort to con-
        Version 7.5 is more intui-
                                                  launching new models so frequently that any-           clude that the cheaper E8400 makes for a far
      tive and easier to use than
                                                  one except journalists like us (who live and           more sensible buy.
      previous installments. In its
                                                  breathe technology products!) find it hard to              It’s not only because of the almost-sure-to-
      regular incarnation, the app
                                                  keep up. We receive several mails every month          drop prices that we recommend you to wait a
      will back up, repair, and com-
                                                  asking us if it is wise to make a particular pur-      while before heading for a purchase. Some times,
      pact the Windows Registry;
                                                  chase right then or if it would be prudent to          in the race to get a new model out to the market
      detect and remove many
                                                  wait a while. Here we clear the air about the          before the competition does something similar,
      types of spyware; optimize
                                                  right time to make a purchase and talk a bit           manufacturers release a product that is not fully
      your startup files and system
                                                  about the virtues of patience.                         stable yet. Quirks if any, get ironed out in succes-
      memory; and tweak your
                                                     The highest price for a gadget or                             sive iterations after feedback from users.
      Internet connection settings
                                                  IT peripheral is usually at the                                        If a product has been around for a
                                                  time of launch. Of course, this                                            couple of months, you also get a
                                                  is the time when the com-                                                    chance to read multiple
                                                  pany aggressively markets                                                     reviews, including user
                                                  the product and the aspira-                                                   reviews to know the good as
                                                  tion for it is very high. Peo-                                                well as the (hidden) bad sides
                                                  ple who wish to lay their                                                     of the device.
                                                  hands on the newest tech-                                                      If the allure of laying your
                                                  nology and device, called                                                  hands on the latest gadget and
                                                  ‘early adopters’, are the ones who                                     the satisfaction of ownership is
      clutter to speed up your PC.
                                                  buy them at launch, even at a high                                important, you will probably buy the
      for best performance. In my                 price. Naturally, the vendor makes hay while the       newest device out there anyway. We sincerely
      tests the Registry and startup              sun shines. A typical example is that of high end      wish you luck with your tryst with technology! On
      optimizations worked well,                  cell phones, where the manufacturer advertises         the other hand, if you are wondering if the time is
      but my Internet connection                  massively and while the market is buzzing with         right to buy, note that patience generally pays.
      seemed no faster.                           the sound of the model number, packs a neat               What we have said above is a thumb rule, but,
        The Pro edition adds                      profit. In time, as a rival launches a competing        like for any other rule, exceptions exist. Sometimes,
      secure data-wiping, data                    model and the buzz dulls down to a drone, the          a new product series has a major improvement or
      recovery, a firewall, and anti-             pricing starts on a downward spiral. With gadgets      supports a new and useful feature set that the ear-
      virus protection, though I                  like cell phones, this period could be as little as a  lier version would not. Take for example the launch
      didn’t test the latter two.                 couple of months. If you hold back for a while on      of the Nvidia 8600GT with DirectX 10 support last
        More advanced users should                that purchase, you could end up saving up to 20        year at the same price band as that of the older
      spring for the Pro version.                 percent or more, in some cases.                        7600GT (which supported only DirectX 9.1c).
                       —Jon L. Jacobi                If you are looking for the best value for your      Though the 7600GT took price cuts and perfor-
                                                  money while buying computer products, the rule of      mance in older games was not improved with the
                                                  thumb is to choose a model that is one or two steps    newer card, the latter would keep you future proof
                                                  below the best in that product series. Let’s take the  for a longer period and even enable a better gam-

        86                                        example of the new 8 series Intel Core 2 Duo pro-
                                                  cessors. The top spec 3.16 GHz E8500 (reviewed
                                                                                                         ing experience with DirectX 10. In this case, the
                                                                                                         newer model turns out to be the better buy. The
                                                                                                                                                                 ILLUSTRATION: PCANOOP

        VERY GOOD
                                                  this month) retails for about Rs 12,500, while the     only way to be informed of such advantages is to do
      System Mechanic Pro 7.5 | Iolo              E8400 that is slower by a only marginal 160MHz         some research before you shop.
      Easy-to-use app effectively tunes           costs just Rs 9,000. Thus, for 25 percent lesser          If you or your friends have an experience to
      up your PC.                                 cost you get a processor that is essentially the       share, do write in to us at skepticalshopper@
      Price: $70 (approx Rs. 2,800)               same, and you are unlikely to feel the loss of

 34   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   M AY 2 0 0 8
The Battle for Graphical Supremacy
GPUs is where the action is
these days. With the cards
costing Rs. 20,000 – Rs.
25,000, most of us can at
least dream of buying them.
ATI does not have any part
that can match the 9xxx
series cards on sheer brute                                 TWO GRAPHICS POWERHOUSES face off - the MSI R3870X2-OC and Sparkle
power, but they do have a                                   9800GTX. The Red team wins this round, helped by the power of dual GPUs.
very interesting card – the
3870X2. This consists of two                x 2) and 1 GB of GDDR3                 do need a powerful SMPS to          front of the 9800GTX. The
3870 GPUs on a single card                  memory shared equally                  run these cards; we used an         table below tells the tale.
along with 1 GB of RAM. It’s                between the two processors.            Antec 500 watt PSU.
an easy way to get a dual-card              The 9800GTX has a 256 bit                                                  Conclusion
setup, and is completely                    memory interface, while the            Performance                         The 3870X2 manages to
transparent to the end-user.                3870X2 has 512 bit.                    After a long time, we see an        trump the 9800GTX, and
  Nvidia’s card in this price                  Both cards are quite big,           ATI card outpacing the green        since the price differential is
bracket is the 9800GTX.                     and you’ll need to check               team in every benchmark. It’s       just Rs. 3,000, it’s the better
Priced just a couple of thou-               whether they’ll fit in your            been a couple of months             deal. As more games show
sand rupees less than the                   case. The 3870X2 is much               since the 3870X2 released,          up that take advantage of
3870X2, it’s the replacement                heavier than the 9800GTX,              and with mature drivers avail-      dual-GPUs, the 3870X2
for the 8800GTX. The Spar-                  since it has to cool two chips.        able, it’s simply too fast for      should scale even more.
kle 9800GTX features a GPU                  Pleasingly, both cards are very        the 9800GTX. In 3D Mark             There’s nothing wrong with
core clock speed of                         silent, even under full load.          2006, it set a new high of          the 9800GTX – it is a very
675MHz, 1100MHz on the                      The fan is just about audible          16058 3D Marks, while the           fast card, but ATI’s clever
512MB of high speed                         with the speakers muted, so            9800 GTX managed only               decision to give you Cross-
GDDR3 memory, and 128                       playing a game poses no                13958. Across our gaming            Fire on a single card tips the
Stream processors. The MSI                  problems. Temperatures                 tests, the 3870X2 stayed con-       scales in its favor. We’ll be
R3870X2-T2D1G-OC runs                       stayed within reasonable lim-          sistently ahead. The 9800GTX        looking at Nvidia’s own
the core at 850 MHz - an                    its, which for cards like these        is a very fast card, since the      multi-GPU solution, the
overclock of 25 MHz over                    means around 65 degrees Cel-           lone GPU manages to stay            9800GX2 soon, so keep an
the standard 825 MHz - has                  sius. Setup was easy, with no          within 20 percent of the dual       eye out for that.
640 Stream processors (320                  special tweaks needed. You             3870s, but the 3870X2 is just                         —Aditya Nag
                                                                                   offering more bang for your
                                                                                   buck. We tested with the Intel

 Mid-Range Cards Face Off
                                                                                   QX9650 processor, 2 GB of
                                                                                   Kingston Hyper-X RAM, and
                                                                                                                        VERY GOOD
                                                                                   a 150 GB WD Raptor, on a
 Tests Run                                     9800 GTX               3870X2                                           R3870X2 -T2D1G-OC | MSI
                                                                                   Intel P-35 based mother-
                                                                                                                       The Red Team pulls one out of the
 3D Mark 2006                                    13958                  16095      board. The games were
                                                                                                                       hat and tops Nvidia
 Supreme Commander                                 48                     51       patched to the latest versions
                                                                                                                       Price: Rs. 23,000
                                                                                   and run at 1680x1050 with all
 Company Of Heroes                                 109                   114
                                                                                   settings maxed out with 4X

 World in Conflict                                  22                     22
                                                                                   AA and AF enabled. Crysis
 Crysis                                            25                     32       was the only game we ran at
 F.E.A.R                                           118                   153       1280x1024 with High set-                GOOD

 Unreal Tournament 3                               102                   114       tings. In every test, the           9800GTX | Sparkle
                                                   25                     33
                                                                                   3870X2 was at least 5 percent       The fastest single GPU card, but
 Lost Planet Extreme Condition
                                                                                   ahead, and mostly stayed            loses out to the ATI twins.
 CHART NOTE: All games patched; Tests run under Windows Vista Home Premium.
                                                                                   between 10 – 20 percent in          Price: Rs. 20,000

                                                                                                                        M AY 2 0 0 8   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   35

      D-Link DIR 635 Flatters to Deceive                                                                                 ment was from the same fam-
                                                                                                                         ily. Even so, we saw speeds of
      THE D-LINK DIR-635 is a
                                                                                                                         30 – 40 Mbps, nowhere near
      draft-N router that promises
                                                                                                                         the typical real world speed
      faster speed and greater range.
                                                                                                                         of 50 -70 Mbps of other
        The DIR 635 is a good
                                                                                                                         draft-n models. Copying files
      looking little chap. It has
                                                                                                                         from the wired connection
      three antennae, and a quar-
                                                                                                                         was faster; we reached the
      tet of 10/100 Ethernet ports,
                                                                                                                         full speed of a 100 Mbps link,
      besides the obligatory WAN
                                                                                                                         and it appeared that it could
      port. 10/100 ports are of
                                                                                                                         have been faster with a Giga-
      questionable value here,
                                                                                                                         bit connection.
      since you won’t be able to
                                                                                                                            Great interface and good
      utilize the full capacity of
                                                  DRAFT-N DEVICES ARE arriving in droves, but the D-Link DIR-635         range notwithstanding, at
      draft-N without gigabit Eth-
                                                  is not the best of the lot. Slow performance lets it down.             this price point it’s hard to
      ernet ports.
                                                                                                                         justify the poor performance.
        The web interface though,                 and it shows. The feature list       points. Though the range was
                                                                                                                                            —Aditya Nag
      is a thing of beauty. D-Link                is nothing special, with the         pretty good, certainly much
      has changed the entire look                 usual filtering, port-forward-       better than our older 802.11g
      and feel from their older
      lineup, and it’s a pleasure to
      use. All the options are well
                                                  ing, and security options
                                                  that are found on all other
                                                  routers available here.
                                                                                       Wi-Fi router, the promised
                                                                                       speeds just weren’t there. We
                                                                                       tested with a D-Link DWA-

      laid out and lucidly                          The DIR 635 fared poorly in        547 PCI card in our desktop       DIR 635 | D-Link
      explained. A lot of thought                 our performance tests, and           and a DWA-140 USB adapter         Poor performance disappoints.
      has gone into the interface,                this is where it lost major          in a laptop, so all the equip-    Price: Rs.9,950

      A Case for HTPC                                                                  supply is rated at 270 watts.
                                                                                       This should be enough to run
                                                                                                                         They also throw in a Media
                                                                                                                         Center remote control, and
      THE GLACIALTECH ALTAIR                      there aren’t too many blink-         most motherboards, but            an IR blaster. The lack of
      A380 is a case aimed squarely               ing lights. The front panel          don’t expect to put in the lat-   documentation makes set-
      at Home Theater PC enthusi-                 contains a multi-format card         est fire breathing processors.    ting up the front USB ports
      asts and it makes this abun-                reader, audio input and out-         There are two fans on either      and IR receiver unnecessari-
      dantly clear right from the                 put, a couple of USB ports,          side to aid ventilation. Gla-     ly complex. The fans are very
      get go. It looks nothing like a             and the optical drive slot.          cialTech includes all the         quiet, but they glow a bright
      traditional cabinet; rather, it               Inside the case, you have a        screws you need to install the    blue. This might not be the
                   piece of AV
      looks like a p                              drive cage each for the hard         motherboard and drives. The       best idea for a HTPC, and
      equipment. The aluminum                     drive and optical drive, and a       power supply has a couple of      there should have been an
      cabinet is understated, and                 power supply. The power              small flaws: the 4-pin power      option to turn the lights off.
                                                                                       connector is too short to           This is a decent case, but it
                                                                                       reach the top edge of the         has a few small flaws. Hope-
                                                                                       board, and it lacks SATA          fully, the next version will fix
                                                                                       power connectors. We used         these and get a better rating.
                                                                                       an Asus M3A78, and that was                         —Aditya Nag
                                                                                       able to boot up without the
                                                                                       4-pin connector, but other
                                                                                       boards might not work.
                                                                                         GlacialTech supplies the          73GOOD
                                                                                       aluminum bezel and double
                                                                                       sided tape needed to make         Altair A380 | Glacialtech
       THIS IS WHAT completes your Home Theater PC experience. It even
       THI       AT completes
                     omple s
       THIS IS WHAT completes your Home Theater
                                          e        experience It even
                                                       r n
                                                   experience. ev n
                                                                                       the optical drive blend in        A decent case with a few flaws.
       includes a Media Center remote control and an IR blaster .
       includes Media Center
       includes Media Cente
                                                                                       with the front of the case.       Price: Rs.11,000

 36   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   M AY 2 0 0 8
New Dual Core Duels Hard and Fast                                                                         card plugged in. We ran
                                                                                                          tests with the ATI Radeon
THE COMING OF quad                                                            WITH A HIGH clock speed     3870 X2 and across games
core CPUs does not nec-                                                       of 3.16GHz, generous 6MB    and different settings, we
essarily mean dual cores                                                      L2 cache and efficiency      saw better performance
are left behind. Intel                                                        with 65W TDP, the E8500     with the E8500 than with
recently launched dual                                                        is impressive on the spec   the Q6600. For example,
core CPUs based on the                                                        sheets and performs just    DOOM 3 at maximum qual-
power efficient 45nm                                                          as well.                    ity settings and 1280 x 1024
manufacturing process.                                                                                    resolution ran at 193 fps
The second fastest dual                                                         WorldBench. This          with the E8500 and 161 fps
core CPU from Intel, the                                                        clearly indicates that    with the Q6600.
Core 2 Duo E8500 made                                                           everyday tasks do bet-
it to our labs. It is clocked                                                   ter with two cores with   Verdict – Great Buy for
at a high 3.16GHz and                                                           higher clock speed        Enthusiasts
has 6MB shared L2 cache.                                                        rather than four cores    At Rs.12,500, the Core 2
The only faster CPUs from             As usual, we ran our real
                                              l               real
                                                     ran our real       with lower clock.
                                                                        with                              Duo E8500 really has no
Intel are from the Extreme            world be
                                      world benchmarking suite,
                                      world                 g             When it comes to hard
                                                                          W                               competition. The quad
series, and this particular           WorldBench 6.0 to first test      computing tasks however,          core AMD CPU, the Phe-
model strikes a price-perfor-         for performance in real           the dual core E8500 looses        nom 9500 is priced about
mance-power ratio that is             world applications like           out to the cheaper quad           the same, but falls woeful-
hard to beat, even for Intel’s        Microsoft Office, Adobe           (four) core Q6600. A 3D           ly short of punch. The
own CPUs that are just about          Photoshop, etc. It scored         rendering test with the lat-      only other CPU that looks
a year old.                           124 points, the second high-      est CiniBench yielded a           like a competition to the
                                      est on our performance            score of 6635 for the E8500       E8500 is Intel’s own older
Performance – Best                    charts. It is bettered only by    and 8619 for the Q6600,           quad core, the Q6600. But
in Class                              the dual socket SkullTrail        nearly 30 percent higher.         as our tests show, for
For a CPU that retails at             platform (reviewed in April         This is now turning out         everyday applications and
about Rs. 12,500, perfor-             2008). As far as usual single     to be a case of cores versus      gaming, even this CPU is
mance is as good as it gets –         socket systems go, this is as     clocks and the winner             outclassed by the E8500.
thanks to a high clock speed,         high as it gets.                  depends on the kind of            It’s only with CPU inten-
higher L2 cache and of                  In comparison, the Core 2       contest. Or, in this case,        sive tasks like 3D render-
course, the very efficient            Quad Q6600, priced at about       the kind of applications          ing or media encoding
Core 2 architecture that              Rs.11,000, clocked at             you are running. A slightly       that the Q6600 makes for
helped Intel snatch the per-          2.4GHz, but with four cores,      older benchmark, PCMark           a better buy. So, unless
formance crown from AMD.              managed only 105 points in        2005 seems to favor out-          your needs are such, you
                                                                        right clock speed – the           will do well to go with
PRODUCT L AUNCH                                                         E8500 scores 7715 while           this fast and power effi-
                                                                        the quad core Q6600               cient (65W maximum dis-
                                                                        scores 6390.                      sipation versus 105W for
Memorex Ultra TravelDrive                                                 Rendering 3D animation          the Q6600) CPU if you are
MEMOREX ANNOUNCED THE availability of its ruggedly designed             or encoding media is not an       looking to build a perfor-
Ultra TravelDrive line of USB hard drives in India. The compact,        everyday task for most peo-       mance rig.
high-capacity Ultra TravelDrive, based on 2.5-inch hard drive tech-     ple. Gaming however is. Our                     —Kailas Shastry
nology features a rubberized grip area which can be personalized        tests clearly indicate that
with interchangeable, nature-inspired color faceplates. It is avail-    games benefit much more
able in 120GB and 160GB capacities. Its USB interface ensures
that it is compatible with virtually any desktop or laptop, whether
                                                                        from a faster dual core CPU
                                                                        than more number of cores          86
                                                                                                           VERY GOOD
Mac or PC. A USB connection also is the only power source               clocked lower. Games are
required with no additional power supply needed. Although the           still not multithreaded           Core 2 Duo E8500 | Intel
drive is offered in a sleek charcoal metallic finish, each drive ships   enough to fully utilize more      Enthusiasts, especially gamers can-
with two interchangeable face plates that let you customize your        than two cores, even with         not go wrong with this one.
drive for style, or color-code multiple back-up devices.                the top of the line video         Price: Rs 12,500 (approx).

                                                                                                           M AY 2 0 0 8   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   37

      PC Tools Spyware Doctor 5.5
      THE LATEST VERSION of                       shrunk, its alerts have been
      Spyware Doctor offers three-                moderated to truly reflect the
      pronged protection for your                 risk detected, there’s better
      PC against spyware, combin-                 rootkit removal, faster real-
      ing real-time threat blocking,              time reaction times and stan-
      system scanning and browser                 dardized threat descriptions.
      infection protection.                         New is the Kernel compat-
        Bearing in mind that ver-                 ibility mode, which allows
      sion 5.0 was a ground-up                    Spyware Doctor to avoid
      rewrite, all the changes in                 conflicts with other security
      version 5.5 are found under                 products. During setup, this
      the hood. Spyware Doctor’s                  feature is switched on auto-
      memory footprint has                        matically if Spyware Doctor      SPYWARE DOCTOR: ARGUABLY the best antispyware product on
                                                  detects a potential conflict.    the market
                                                    Scanning speed was never a

                                                  strong point for Spyware
                                                  Doctor, accurate though it
                                                  was. This has been improved
                                                                                   a full scan of 130,000 items on
                                                                                   the same machine took rather
                                                                                   longer at 41 minutes.
                                                                                                                       ty much 100 percent of
                                                                                                                       malware. Any residual
                                                                                                                       debris will be of no conse-
      Spyware Doctor 5.5 | PC Tools.              and, on an elderly laptop,          When it detects a prob-          quence. Although it can
      Arguably the best antispyware utility       Spyware Doctor took a com-       lem, it doesn’t over-react          take a while to clean a
      around. It does a great job of clean-       mendable nine minutes to         to inactive threats, accu-          badly infected PC, your
      ing a PC and keeping it that way            scan 108,000 items in its new    rately reporting the actual         patience is well rewarded.
      Price: Rs. 2,400                            Intelli-scan mode. Admittedly,   risk posed. It removes pret-                        — Roger Gann

      ASK OUR EXPERT                                           ADIT YA NAG

      Missing RAM and Sound Upgrades
            I have just installed 2GB of DDR800 RAM in addition to the                   I recently purchased Logitech X-540 speakers. I have an
            existing 2 GB for a total of 4 GB of RAM. I do know that Win-                onboard sound card, the Realtek ALC885/889a. I wish to
      dows 32bit systems can only read and/or use up to 3.24 GB, but               know whether upgrading to a discrete sound card will have a huge
      what I don’t understand is why Photoshop CS3 only registers 2                difference on the sound. I am not exactly an audiophile, but will
      GB, the same as when I was only running 2 GB on my system. Only              definitely appreciate better sound. Would the Creative Audigy or
      1712 MB of available memory is shown, but shouldn’t it be a lot              X-Fi be better? Please suggest an appropriate sound card for
      more? Windows XP shows the total RAM to be 3.4 GB, so it is                  around Rs. 5,000
      installed correctly.                                                                                                             Yusuf, via email
                                                                  Rob, via email   The simple answer to your question is no. Upgrading to a discrete
      Photoshop CS2 is a 32-bit application. When it runs on a 32-bit              sound card will not make a huge difference to your sound. It may
      operating system it can access only 2 GB of RAM on the computer.             not even make a slight difference. If you look at the specs for your
      Under Windows XP Professional with SP 2, you can set the 3 GB                on-board audio you’ll see that it has pretty much all you need. On
      switch in the boot.ini file, which allows Photoshop to use up to 3            board audio these days is not like it was a few years ago. There’s
      GB of RAM.                                                                   enough quality to handle almost all audio. Besides that, Audigys
        To add the /3GB switch, you need to edit Boot.ini. Right Click on          don’t work well under Vista, in case you are running that on plan-
      My Computer, choose Properties. Then click on Advanced -> Start-             ning to upgrade anytime soon. The X-Fi does work, but it’s very
      up and Recovery -> Settings -> Edit. The file will load up in Note-           unlikely that you’ll notice much difference. Personally, I’d stick
      pad. Add /3GB to the following line:                                         with the onboard audio, and buy more RAM, a good set of head-
        multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINNT=” Microsoft Win-                 phones, or just go out for dinner a bunch of times with the money.
      dows XP Professional” /3GB                                                                     Email your tech queries at

 38   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   M AY 2 0 0 8
Inspiring Price, Good Performance                                                                           below highest and battery
                                                                                                            plan set at ‘High Perfor-
IT’S BEEN NEARLY a year                                                                                     mance’ as we watched a
since we reviewed Dell’s
                       ell’s                                                                                            full
                                                                                                            movie in f screen mode.
entry-level Inspiron series of                                                                                        life
                                                                                                            Battery lif should improve
laptops. Although our hopes
                       ur                                                                                            power-save mode.
                                                                                                            on the pow
weren’t high, this new model
                        w                                                                                          other
                                                                                                              The othe essentials
pleasantly surprised us with                                                                                include a 2 MP integrated
its all-round qualities and
                       s                                                                                    webcam, 4 USB ports,
workability. The build quality
                        d                                                                                   HDMI and ethernet, an
looks impressive and dura-                                                                                  8-in-1 multi card reader,
ble, and is fitted with a
                       h                                                                                              Card
                                                                                                            Express Ca slot, Blue-
robust chassis. The keypad,                                                                                 tooth, WiFi, and a Firewire
touchpad and screen outline                                                                                       S-Video
                                                                                                            port. S-Vid and VGA are
have a gleaming metallic sil-
                       allic                                                                                situated on either side of
ver tinge, while the top has a
                        op                                                                                  the chassis, while audio
microsatin finish.                                                                                          ports are tutucked below the
  An 8X dual-layered DVD                                                                                    touchpad in front. The lap-
writer sits neatly in the slot-
                        he                                                                                  top weighed in at 2.75 kgs
loading bay. There’s also a
                         lso                                           pt p         d p rform
                                    DELL’S ENTRY-LEVEL INSPIRON 1525 laptop is good performance
                                    DELL’S ENTRY-LEVEL INSPIRON 1525 laptop is a good performance
                                      LL S ENTRY LEVEL INSPI
                                                         SPIRON                          f m                with a stand
                                                                                                                    standard 6-cell prima-
                         e multi-
row of touch sensitive multi        machine with striking build quality.
                                      c          st iki b ild      li                                       ry battery and charger. The
media buttons spanning                                                                                      absence of gigabit LAN is
between the on-board speak-         driven by Intel’s Integrated           Mark 06 showed an average        also disappointing.
ers and keypad. The keypad is       Graphics Media Accelerator             score of 587 which is              From the specs sheet it is
tactile, and every keystroke        X3100 and a 15.4-inch Wide-            below par. For gaming            clear that this laptop isn’t
feels to register itself dis-       screen 1280 x 800 display              tests, we ran Doom 3 and         made for hardcore gaming
tinctly, and it doesn’t take        resolution. We really liked            F.E.A.R at medium settings       by any stretch of the imagi-
too long to get used to. The        the non-glossy screen for a            with anti-aliasing checked       nation. It is aimed at a
two-button touchpad is fairly       change, it reproduced colors           off, and at a screen resolu-     much more conservative,
responsive as well.                 well, and fonts in Clear Type          tion of 800 x 600 and            budget-conscious audience
  The Inspiron 1525 is pow-         were distinctly readable.              quickly realized it was all      trying to strike a balance
ered by the Intel 965 chipset         We installed Windows                 too much; the onboard            between price and perfor-
with an Intel Core 2 Duo            Vista Home Premium with                graphics fell flat on its face   mance. But it’ll hold you in
T5550 1.83 GHz processor            Service Pack 1, and Aero               and the overall gaming           good stead for most regular
with a dedicated 2 MB               interface turned on, and               experience was poor with a       multimedia applications
Cache, 667 MHz FSB, 2 GB            ran it through some perfor-            lot of choppy frames flying      and productivity usage. The
of RAM, and a 160 GB hard           mance tests. It grossed an             around. Both Doom 3 and          Inspiron series comes in
drive spinning steadily at          acceptable 3,552 points in             F.E.A.R raked up 13 and 10       twelve colors and the sys-
5,400 RPM. Video is ably            PC Mark 05, while 3D                   fps, respectively. While         tem configuration is cus-
                                                                           gaming is not this laptop’s      tomizable at point of sale.
                                                                           forte, WorldBench, our in-       A very good buy for the
                                                                           house benchmarking tool          current price point.
                                                                           to simulate real-world                            —Jayesh Shinde
Good News for Dell Fans                                                    operating environment,
“We have to create the products and services that will appeal              logged an overall score of
                    to first-time users in India, the Middle                70 out of 100 which is
                    East and China,” said Michael Dell,
                    founder and CEO of Dell. With this change
                                                                           good and shows that this
                                                                           laptop is equipped to han-         77GOOD
                   of focus and impetus on the emerging                    dle the rigors of daily com-
                   markets, it can only mean good news                     puting pretty well. The bat-     Inspiron 1525 | Dell
closer to home. Let’s expect prices to fall even more in the               tery lasted a commendable        A decent laptop at an
near future.                                                               150 minutes, with screen         affordable price.
                                                 —Jayesh Shinde            brightness turned a notch        Price: Rs 37,000

                                                                                                             M AY 2 0 0 8   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   39

     AMD 780G - The Best Integrated Graph
     THE BOARD WE’RE testing      g                                                                                    sis never runs too well. The
     today, the Asus M3A78-                                                                                            Hybrid Crossfire feature
     EMH HDMI, promises to                                                                                             works as advertised. Toss in
     buck the trend of terrible                                                                                        a cheap (Rs. 2,500) Radeon
     integrated graphics. Based                                                                                        3450, and you get a perfor-
     on the new 780G chipset                                                                                           mance increase of anywhere
     from AMD, this is the first                                                                                       between 40-80 percent,
     integrated graphics chipset                                                                                       depending on the game.
     that is based on a current                                                                                          To test the HD video fea-
     generation GPU architecture. re.                                                                                  tures, we used a 1080p clip
     The 780G chipset is AMD’s                                                                                         from the movie Serenity.
     new offering for low-cost,                                                                                        Using an Athlon XP 3000
     mainstream PCs using inte-  -                                                                                     single core processor, the
     grated graphics. The Radeon  n              GREAT INTEGRATED GRAPHICS and a chipset that does not need a
                                                                D GRAPHICS                                             board was able to play the
     HD 3200 graphics include                    fan to cool it. This board is perfect for a quiet, low power PC.      entire clip averaging only 15
     full DX10 support and UVD                                                                                         percent CPU usage. This is
     video processing, with DVI,                 panel, and Gigabit Ethernet.          generation of Phenom pro-       very impressive, especially
     VGA, and HDMI interfaces                    It lacks FireWire and eSATA           cessors. With an older Ath-     since the same file is com-
     available onboard. The UVD                  support, which is a pity.             lon 5600 X2, the board          pletely unplayable if hard-
     video engine decodes H.264                                                        scored 88. The gaming tests     ware acceleration is turned
     and VC-1. This means that                   Performance                           were more important, since      off. You do need software
     you can watch Blu-ray mov-                  We tested the M3A78 with a            we wanted to see if newer       that supports the card to get
     ies at full 1080P resolution                Phenom 9500 processor, 2              games ran properly. The         these numbers. The popular
     without needing a separate                  GB of Kingston HyperX                 780G did not disappoint. At     VLC player does not work,
     graphics card. The other                    DDR-2 memory, and our                 1024x768 and medium             but Power DVD does.
     interesting feature on this                 WD Raptor 150 GB hard                 detail levels, Unreal Tourna-
     chipset is Hybrid Crossfire.                drive. The integrated graph-          ment 3 and Company of           Conclusion
     This combines the on-board                  ics was used instead of a dis-        Heroes returned scores of 28    This board takes every other
     graphics with a cheap dis-                  crete graphics chip. The              frames per second and 41        integrated graphics chipset
     crete graphics card like the                board did quite well in the           frames respectively. The        to the street and pounds
     Radeon 3450 to give much                    PC World WorldBench test,             games were actually quite       them into the dust. It’ll
     better performance.                         scoring 73. This score was            playable, and older games       work very well as a home
       The board has six SATA                    slightly lower than it should         ran much more smoothly.         theatre PC. The chipset does
     ports with support for RAID,                be, but that was due to a             Pro Evolution Soccer 2008       not support 7.1 audio over
     4 USB ports on the back                     bug present in the current            was completely smooth at        HDMI, so that’s a small
                                                                                       60 frames at medium detail      caveat, but for everything
                                                                                       levels. Doom 3 and F.E.A.R      else it is a very good mother-
                                                                                       scored 52 and 24 fps respec-    board. Pop in a cheap 3450,
                                                                                       tively, again under medium      and you can actually play
     Avoid Computer Eye Strain                                                         detail levels.                  games without feeling miser-
     AVOID EYE STRAIN resulting from continuous use of your com-                          For an integrated graph-     able. We liked this board.
     puter by taking regular breaks from your computer. A dimly lit                    ics solution, these scores                         —Aditya Nag
     room is bad for the eyes and you should try to avoid overhead light-              are very good. It even man-
     ing and bright light emanating from behind your monitor. Use high-                aged to score 1367 3D
     quality task lights that not only throw a measured degree and
     quality of light, but also reduce glare. Choosing an environment
     surrounded with plants might also help you avoid dry eyes which is
                                                                                       Marks. All these numbers
                                                                                       essentially mean that you
                                                                                       can get a recent game, play
                                                                                                                        VERY GOOD

     another factor for eyes strain. CRT monitors are notorious for its                it with some settings           M3A78-EMH HDMI | Asus
     flicker effect; adjust the CRT refresh rate to reduce flickering. Use               turned down, and still          Integrated Graphics that
     anti-glare shields for avoiding glare from your monitor.                          enjoy it. Sure, Crysis didn’t   actually works!
                                                           — John Maringmei            run too well, but then, Cry-    Price: Rs. 5,500

40   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   M AY 2 0 0 8
Clicking Gets Classy and Costly                                                                     mouse feature; a ‘center
                                                                                                    click’ on the mouse wheel
A KEYBOARD HAS always              BACKLIT KEYS, BRUSH alu-                                         brings up a screen with
had one true purpose –             minum finish, two-tone color,                                     large thumbnails of open
being a means of inputting         and a host of keys combines                                      windows (similar to Mac
text and commands. Like            fashion with function.                                           OS Expose). This alleviates
many peripherals in com-                                                                            the need for Alt+Tab to
puting, even the humble                                                                             switch between windows.
keyboard has evolved to do                                                                             Other keys include mag-
more than just its original                                                                         nifier, gadgets (for Win-
duties. Take one look at the                                                                        dows Vista) and a Call but-
Microsoft Wireless Enter-                                                                           ton (works with MSN
tainment Desktop 8000                                                                               Messenger). Shortcuts for
and you’ll know what we                                                                             My Pictures, My Music,
are talking about. With a          E
                                   Except for the spacebar,
                                           tf   h         b         tion with the alphabet keys.    MSN Messenger and Inter-
host of add-ons including a        the operation of the keys is     This makes working with         net Home Page are avail-
chic looking backlight and         almost silent.                   spread sheets or any other      able through function key.
a slew of extra buttons,             This wireless keyboard -       application that involves       You can also assign up to
this is tailor made for a          mouse combination has a          numbers, a difficult task.      five ‘favorites’ – you can
media center PC or Home            range of 24 feet – good            Dedicated media control       configure these favorite
Theater PC.                        enough to operate the PC         keys exist for forward, back,   buttons to open a program
                                   from a distance in a mid         play and pause, volume con-     or even a file.
Like Name, Like Func-              sized hall while viewing         trol and mute. With Win-           The keyboard is pow-
tion – Made for HTPC               video on the PC. The key-        dows Media Center, the          ered by four AA sized cells
The keyboard layout is             board backlight helps usage      channel up / down keys also     while the mouse uses one.
slightly curved, with asym-        in darkness – something typ-     come in handy.                  If you put in rechargeable
metric key sizes. For peo-         ical of media center usage.                                      cells, which we recom-
ple used to the normal flat          One of the drawbacks of        Extra Keys and Other            mend you do, you can
layout, this does take a bit       this keyboard is the fact that   Goodies                         charge them using the
of getting used to. The feel       there is no dedicated num-       The keyboard includes a         charging dock that is sup-
of the keys is soft (mean-         ber keypad. Just like in lap-    navigation pad to the right     plied. The keyboard can
ing, it does not take too          tops, you have to use the        side and two buttons on the     be charged as you work –
much effort to press the           top row of numbers or use        left that mimic the mouse       the dock just sits on the
keys), yet responsive.             the function key in combina-     click buttons, which allows     keyboard. As for the
                                                                    you to control the cursor       mouse, you just need to
                                                                    and do mouse operations         place it over the dock to
PRODUCT L AUNCH                                                     from the keyboard itself.       recharge its battery. A well
                                                                    While the functioning of the    thought of inclusion by
                                                                    navigation pad is good          Microsoft is the USB hub
HTC P3470 PDA                                                       enough to control your          that is integrated into the
HTC LAUNCHES THE P3470, which is a GPS-enabled (sat-nav)            media player software when      dock, which can connect
                   PDA phone and is built around the latest Win-    you need to control the PC      up to four devices.
                   dows Mobile 6 operating system. It has 128       from a distance, it cannot                    —Kailas Shastry
                   MB RAM with 256 MB ROM and runs on a TI          replace a mouse for regular
                   OMAP 850, 200 Mhz processor. Weighing            tasks such as text editing or
                   122g, the Smartphone has a 2.8-inch TFT
                   touch screen display that sports a 240 x 320
pixel resolution with 65k colors and has a scroll wheel for navi-
                                                                    browsing. The mouse on its
                                                                    part neatly fills your palm
                                                                    and you can hold it with
                                                                                                     76 GOOD

gation. The HTC P3470 also includes a 1GB Micro SD card for         ease. The scroll wheel also     Wireless Entertainment Desktop
mapping and other data storage. It’s also equipped with a           moves sideways to enable        8000 | Microsoft
2-megapixel camera. It features up to 420 minutes of talk time      horizontal scrolling. The       Ideal for media center / HTPC
and 240 hours of standby time. The HTC P3470 is available in        software supplied with this     usage, but expensive
India at Rs 19,900.                                                 combo includes a nifty          Price: Rs. 12,000

                                                                                                     M AY 2 0 0 8   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   41

      Not tangled up… with Bluetooth
      LOGITECH’S FREEPULSE                        headband to make it light-
      WIRELESS headphones                         weight and flexible. The Blu-
      promise wireless music.They                 etooth receiver plugs into
      use Bluetooth 2.0 to transmit               any audio source with a stan-
      sound wirelessly. The head-                 dard 3.5mm jack port. Both
      phones have a neckband with                 the headphones and Blue-         QUITE COMFORTABLE TO wear, the Freepulse works with any stan-
      thin flexible rings that encir-             tooth receiver can be charged    dard 3.5 mm headphone socket. Prolonged use can be tiring, though.
      cle your ears to make them fit              using the AC adapter. It takes
      securely. Logitech uses a                   around 2 hours to charge         overall sound quality was          The hitch we saw was that
      high-carbon spring-steel                    fully. The right earpiece has    average, the Bass Boost            the Bluetooth receiver was
                                                  the connect button and vol-      added some warmth to the           quite bulky. The battery life
                                                  ume controls. Bass boost fea-    sound and the higher fre-          is not bad, and we were able

        72 GOOD
                                                  ture can also be activated by
                                                  holding the connect and vol-
                                                                                   quencies weren’t the best,
                                                                                   but the vocals sounded
                                                                                                                      to achieve 6 hours of non-
                                                                                                                      stop audio playback at maxi-
                                                  ume up buttons together.         clear. Don’t expect to get         mum volume. But the price
      Freepulse | Logitech                          We were able use the head-     audiophile grade sound here        is a bit high for normal wire-
      Delivers on its wireless promise,           phones without losing con-       because the Freepulse is           less headphones especially
      but it’s not the cleanest sound. It’s       nectivity for up to 30 feet      more about convenience.            considering the average
      also priced steeply.                        although we did experience       The package includes iPod          sound it offers.
      Price: Rs. 5,320                            hiccups beyond 20 feet. The      adapters for all generations.                 —Laldinfela Pachuau

      BETA WATCH                                  M A D A N A P R AT H A P

      Ubuntu 8.04 RC                                                                                              most of us are plagued by flashy
      The Ubuntu desktop Linux distribu-                                                                          skyscrapers, jumping monkeys,
      tion has made fast strides and                                                                              and faces that pop out of nowhere.
      emerged on top. Codenamed Hardy                                                                             Ad Muncher has a default set of
      Heron, the 8.04 version has desig-                                                                          rules and filters to define what
      nated LTS (Long Term Support) –                                                                             counts as an unwanted ad. You
      meaning you can receive security                                                                            can add your own filters as well,
      updates for 3 years on the desktop,                                                                         and the best part is this app works
      even if you don’t upgrade to the next                                                                       across all browsers, without hav-
      version. Support for online reposito-                                                                       ing to install any plugins. The
      ries allows you to choose additional                                                                        30-day trial of this beta version
      software. The writable NTFS, option-                                                                        supports Windows Vista.
      al KDE4, 3D desktop effects, filesys-                                                              
      tem encryption, and updated core
      applications aim to provide an                                                                              Offline Explorer 5.0
      enhanced photo experience, music          EASILY EDIT, VIEW, or browse your downloaded Web pages.           Beta 2
      sharing and download, better video,                                                                         If you wished you could download
      and productivity enhancements. Ubuntu 8.04 would have been final-          a part of, or an entire website to your hard drive, Offline Explorer
      ized and released, by the time you read this, so if you want to see       (OE) is all you will need! Specify the website address, and link
      what it is all about before you take the plunge, use the new Wubi         depth (number of levels of links to be visited and captured). This
      installer to install Ubuntu within Windows.                version of Offline Explorer can also give you an interface similar to
                                                                                the Ribbon interface of MS Office 2007, in addition to the Menu-
      Ad Muncher v4.72 Beta                                                     Toolbar user interface.
      Getting rid of advertisements online just got easier with Ad                 Have you peered beyond the bleeding edge and seen something
      Muncher. While web-pages that show text ads discreetly do exist,          exciting on its way? Do let me know at

 42   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   M AY 2 0 0 8
BluBox                               you really can’t expect the
                                     recipient to wait while their
YOU MAY NEVER buy anoth-             web connection wrestles with
er roll of film ever again, but      several hundred megabytes.
going digital won’t eliminate          There’s a simple solution
your photographic storage            to all this kerfuffle: com-
woes. Even mobile phones             press the files and you’ll not
can pack a 5MP camera, and           only save disk space – a
all those high-resolution snaps      more diminutive file is far
need megabyte after megabyte         more suitable for easy shar-     BLUBOX: Minimize your digital image collection for easy storage
of hard-disk space.                  ing. BluBox offers such a        and sharing
   And when you come to              solution for digital photos,
exchange an entire digital           using its own compression        files. You can simply drag-      on the maximum setting was
photo album across the net,          format to render the most        and-drop individual images       reduced to just 12MB.
                                     gargantuan of image folders      into a new folder within the       You wouldn’t compress a
                                     comparatively minuscule.         program, or access one that      set of highly detailed images

                                       Testing BluBox’s claims to
                                     offer swift and easy com-
                                     pression of up to 95 percent
                                                                      you’ve already made.
                                                                         Our original set of Jpegs
                                                                      took up 211MB of space
                                                                                                       quite so viciously, but the
                                                                                                       test surely proves the pro-
                                                                                                       gram’s mettle. It’s fast and
blubox | Blubox                      couldn’t have been easier.       and, with the program com-       effective, enables users to
Offers solution for image storage    The program’s interface is       pressing to a medium set-        easily add password protec-
and gives more than impressive       straightforward and comes        ting, we were provided with      tion and can be used to view
results with minimum quality loss.   stocked with detailed yet        an impressive 76MB .blu file.    images after compression.
Price: Rs. 1,600                     largely unnecessary help         The same folder compressed                      — Will Johnston

Pretty Power                                                            22” LCD was also plugged       shutdown. This will detect a
                                                                         in. The CPU was stressed      loss of mains power, save
THE TOP.UPS IS a strange   nge
                                                                          to 100%, and we mea-
                                                                             1                         your work, and hibernate
looking UPS. The bright yel-
                                                                          sured the time it took to
                                                                          sur                          the machine.
low and red color scheme and
                                                                          shut down. The load
                                                                          shu                             The build quality is nothing
the unusual shape make it
                                                                          being drawn was 135
                                                                          bein                         to write home about. The plas-
unlike any UPS we’ve ever   er
                                                                         watts, according to our
                                                                         watt                          tics feel flimsy, and we wish
seen. In fact, it looks like a
                                                                        power meter. It lasted
                                                                        powe                           WeP had secured it with a few
small helmet, right down ton
                                                                       exactl fifteen minutes
                                                                       exactly                         screws. The UPS only has two
the fins on top. This is actual-
                                                                      before it shut down. Our         power points, and one of them
ly a CD Rack. Besides this fea-
                                                                      second test system was a         is an IEC plug (like the one on
ture, it also has a small light
                                                                      commo office configura-
                                                                      common                           an SMPS). This restricts you
that you can turn on and use
                                                                      tion – a Pentium 4 with 1        from plugging in more devic-
as an impromptu flashlight, aht,     Yes that is UPS. The TOP.
                                     Yes, that is a UPS. The TOP
                                                                      GB of R RAM, an 80 GB HDD,       es. There’s one extra IEC plug,
digital clock, and a mobile  e              meant        placed
                                     UPS is meant to be placed
                                                                      on-boa video, and a 15”
                                                                      on-board                         but this one offers only surge
phone charging point. WeP    eP      on your desk, not below it.
                                                                      CRT. To power draw was
                                                                             Total                     protection, not battery back-
                                     provides adapters for Nokia,
                                                           Nokia      100 watts – 60 for the com-
                                                                               t                       up. It also has telephone line

                                     Samsung and Sony phones.
                                       The UPS is rated at 600VA.
                                     To test it, we charged it
                                                                      puter, and 40 for the CRT.
                                                                      This time around, the UPS
                                                                      lasted 22 minutes before it
                                                                                                       surge protection.
                                                                                                          All in all, this is a decent
                                                                                                       UPS, but it’s a bit too
TOP.UPS | WeP                        overnight and then plugged       died. The mobile phone           expensive. At Rs. 3,000, it
Does a decent job, slightly          in a system with a Core 2        charger worked as it should,     would be a great deal, but at
expensive.                           Duo E6700, a 150GB HDD           as did the light. WeP pro-       Rs.5,000, not so much.
Price: Rs. 5,000                     and an ATI Radeon 3450. A        vides software for a graceful                         — Aditya Nag

                                                                                                        M AY 2 0 0 8   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   43

     Expensive Multimedia Laptop
     ONE OF THE very first                       spins at 5400 RPM. 2 GB of
     things that you notice of the               DDR2 RAM, and an 8X dual-
     Acer Aspire 6920G laptop is                 layer DVD-burner completes
     its smooth-finished body                    the configuration.
     with curved, glossy finish.
     It’s a very good looking lap-               Performance
     top that instantly grabs your                                      s
                                                 Performance isn’t this note-
     attention at a glance. When                 book’s strongest point. t.
     you lift it, though, it’s on                After installing Windowsws
     the heavier side at 3 kg with               Vista Home Premium, we
     a 6-cell standard battery.                  took it through our gamut
     With its unusual 16-inch                    of benchmarking tools. In
     screen size, meant to                       WorldBench it scored an
     improve your video experi-                  acceptable 74, while PC
     ence, the chassis is rather                 Mark 05 and 3D Mark 06                  R AS RE 6920G notebook offers
                                                                                  THE ACER ASPIRE 6920G notebook offers a lot for the multimedia
                                                                                                           ebook    e                      media
     broad as well. But this lap-                both raked up scores of                   price should have been little less, though.
                                                                                            rice                  little less,
                                                                                  fan. The pri should have been a little less, though.
     top oozes the aura of a                     4039 and 598, respectively.
     machine specifically built for              The low 3D Mark score   e        a lot more if kept at a con-        The Acer 6920G has 4 USB
     catering to your multimedia                 speaks very poorly of its        servative power-save mode.          ports, a modem, gigabit eth-
     needs, and it does a pretty                                        hi is
                                                 gaming engine, and this i          W liked the
                                                                                    We lik d th screen and   d        ernet, a 6-in-1 multi card
                                                                                                                           t 6i 1        lti d
     good job of doing just that.                reflected in our gaming          sound quality; with a               reader, an Express Card sup-
       Acer dubs this series of                  tests as well. F.E.A.R and       16-inch screen at an aspect         port slot, VGA, and audio-in
     multimedia notebooks as                     Doom 3 at medium settings        ratio of 16:9, and a maxi-          and headphone jacks. All
     Gemstone Blue. It’s                         and anti-aliasing turned off     mum screen resolution of            these ports are properly dis-
     powered by an Intel Core 2                  managed to get choppy            1366 x 768 pixels, watch-           tributed across the chassis’
     Duo T5550 processor                         frame rates of 8 and 14 fps,     ing HD movies is very               base. HDMI and FireWire
     ticking at 1.83 GHz, 667                    respectively. The battery        exhilirating. The onboard           aren’t included. The most
     MHz FSB with 2 MB L2                        lasted for a respectable 126     speakers are carefully              surprising omission was the
     cache. The motherboard is                   minutes in High Perfor-          placed at the hinge and             lack of an S-Video port.
     based on an Intel 965                       mance mode, while watch-         above the keyboard, and               It gets a lower score in
     chipset, and graphics and                   ing a movie at full screen       the 5.1 channel surround            our rating, but it’s a great
     video acceleration is                       with maximum screen              sound audio pumps out               laptop for multimedia fans
     handled by Intel’s GMA                      brightness and 50%               music without any blem-             because of its outstanding
     X3100. The hard disk has                    onboard speaker volume;          ishes. Among its notewor-           sound quality and fantastic
     ample space at 250 GB and                   battery life should increase     thy features is an innova-          screen. It does nothing
                                                                                  tive implementation of a            great to distinguish itself in
                                                                                  touch-sensitive navigation          our performance tests. Rs.
                                                                                  interface called “Cine-             70,000 is a lot of money for
                                                                                  Dash”. This is a media              the configuration, but the
     Sahara S- NB522434- EB00                                                     console that can be used            screen and speakers some-
     WITH THE SUCCESS of the Asus Eee Pc, Sahara Computers                        to adjust volume, quickly           what make up for it.
                          has come up with their own sub-15000                    launch menus, etc., and it                          —Jayesh Shinde
                          Ultra portable laptop - the S- NB522434-                sits unobtrusively on the
                          EB00. An entry level, 8 inch laptop powered             left of the keyboard. The
                          by AMD’s Geode LX 800 CPU, it is one of the
                          smallest notebooks with a 60 GB hard drive
                          and weighs just 1.1 kg. It is Linux based and
                                                                                  keys could have been bet-
                                                                                  ter spaced. The touchpad
                                                                                  is fairly responsive and it

     focused for entry level users, students and frequent travelers.              is outlined with LED sta-           Aspire 6920G | Acer
     It is Wi-Fi enabled, has a PCMCIA slot and claims a battery life             tus indicators. It also has a       A complete multimedia machine
     of about 4.5 hours. It even comes with a card reader and a                   fingerprint reader for              that could be a little cheaper.
     leather carry pouch.                                                         added security.                     Price: Rs. 70,000

44   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   M AY 2 0 0 8

               Like pretty much every other gadget, digital cameras have
               also jumped on the downsizing wagon. But this resizing
               has not translated to a stripped down feature set. Optical
               Image stabilization, higher pixel count, optical zoom,
               large viewfinders are now more the norm than the excep-
               tion. We test nine compact cameras above 7MP and tell
               you which one fits your requirements best.

 46   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   M AY 2 0 0 8

BE IT A party or a vacation, you would           carry. The answer? Ultracompact pocketable
always want to carry a camera to preserve        cameras. We tested nine such models from
those memories for ever. Cell phone cameras      top manufactuers and compared features
still have a way to go, while a regular camera   and usability to help you pick the one that
has the hassle of being another device to        suits you best. Read on for the reviews.

                                                                             M AY 2 0 0 8   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   47
Digital Cameras

        Sony DSC W120                                                                                         extent a camera can distin-
                                                                                                              guish between the lines.
  THE W SERIES of digital cameras from          ther objects. The cam-                                        Low light shooting without
 BEST   Sony has proved its mettle consis-      era is quick to focus,                                        flash is a weak area for the
 BUY    tently and their newest addition,       both on near as well as                                       W120, but with auto mode
  the W120, also lived up to our expecta-       far objects. In non-                                          (with the flash fires auto-
  tions. The 7.2MP sensor might make it         macro (Auto mode),                                            matically) the results in low
                                                                            SONY SMILE SHUTTER feature
  look weak when you consider that there        we could focus on an                                          light are perfectly accept-
                                                                            is supposed to automatically
  are 12MP compact models out there, but        object closer than four                                       able. Though the camera
                                                                            shoot the image when a smile is
  as we have said on numerous occasions,        inches from the lens.                                         boasts of a ISO 3200 for
                                                                            detected on the subject
  megapixel count is not everything.            The camera becomes                                            low light shooting, at this
    A 4x optical zoom ensures that the          ready for shooting in about two sec-            setting the images are extremely noisy
  wider 32mm lens does not become a             onds after pressing the power button.           and border on unusable (as to be
  handicap when trying to shoot far-              The controls are intuitive – for some-        expected from a camera in this catego-
                                                         one who has used digital cam-          ry). Anything above ISO 400 is a no-no
                                                         eras earlier, getting accustomed       for most practical applications. When
                                                         to the W120 won’t be a prob-           shooting pictures containing very
                                                         lem. The mode dial gives quick         bright as well as dark areas, there is only
                                                         access to shooting modes and a         a slight hint of over exposure, and the
                                                         five way D pad lets you set            images turn out pretty well balanced.
                                                         flash, macro mode, self timer            The camera shoots video at 640 x 480
                                                         and LCD display options.               resolution at 30fps which is a standard
                                                            The W120 produced the sec-          these days. Thanks to compression, a
                                                         ond best results in our resolu-        minute’s video at this setting takes
                                                         tion chart test. This is a chart       75MB, but then the quality is not as
                                                         containing lines with very fine        good as that of the Canons that use the
                                                         spacing and we check to what           uncompressed MJPEG AVI format.

        Canon IXUS 80
  WHILE THE ‘POWERSHOT A’ series has earned praise       e
  almost universally, the IXUS (also called SD in some mar-
                                                         ugh is
  kets) series has generated mixed feelings. This one though is
  a nice performer and has worked itself up to the second spot
                                                          d spot
  in this comparison. The camera produces 8MP images, and  and
  the optics include an image-stabilized 3x optical zoom lens
  in a compact body.
    There is no mode dial as such on the IXUS 80, but a switch
  lets you select between still image capture, video and play-
  back modes. There is the usual Canon D-pad to select ISO,
                                                            O          comparison that
  Macro, Flash and Self Timer. This is the only camera in the          has a custom timer and the user gets greater
                                                                       flexibility while taking self-portraits. The navigation and
                                                                       menu layout is a Canon standard and it is hard to find fault
                                                                       with it. Full points to Canon here.
                           LIKE MOST CANONS, video shooting               Detailing is excellent in the images that the IXUS 80 produces.
                           is a strong point with the IXUS 80.         In our indoor tests, we could very easily make out details on the
                           The inclusion of a lower bit rate ‘LP       motherboard which were relatively hard to find in the images the
                           mode’ gives users greater flexibility in     other cameras produced. In our outdoor test of a scene contain-
                           shooting videos. While the normal           ing both bright and dark areas, taken in bright sunlight, we
                           mode produces excellent quality this        noticed that the IXUS 80 takes a safe route to set exposure and
                           LP mode helps keep file size in check.       there was no overexposure when the image histogram was exam-
ined. This comes at the cost of the images                       Like most compact cameras, low light                         exception. Like many newer models,
looking a tad less bright, but that is some-                   performance is disappointing at high ISOs.                     this one also features video compres-
thing you can correct with software. We                        Even at ISO 400, noise is very evident.                        sion in what the company calls LP
found a small issue while shooting green                       Noisy sensor or less aggressive noise reduc-                   mode. This reduces file sizes, but at
foliage in bright light – when using auto                      tion; either way the results are not pleasing.                 the cost of quality. If you don’t mind
white balance, there is a yellowish tinge                        Video shooting has always been                               large files, you can get excellent quali-
that a trained eye can identify.                               Canon’s forte and this camera is no                            ty video with the default mode.

     Ultra Compact Digital Cameras
     PCW Test           As the scores below indicate, this was a very closely contested shootout. Of the nine camers we tested, the Sony
      Center            DSC W210 achieves the ideal balance of features, image quality, ease of use and price.

 COMPACT CAMERAS                              PCW Rating                    Performance                                   Features                           Bottom line

                                                81           • Low Light Performance : Average          • No. of Pixels : 7.2MP                             Overall good image quality, a 4x

 1    BEST Sony DSC W120                                     •Ability to Capture Details : Good         •Optical Zoom / IS : 4x / Yes                       zoom and an affordable price tag
      BUY Rs.12,800
                                              VERY GOOD
                                                             •Outdoor Scene Mode : Very Good            • LCD size / No. of Pixels : 2.5 inch / 115k        all make it one of the best ultra

                                                             • Video Quality: Good                      • Weight: 156 grams                                 compact cameras currently.

                                               80            • Low Light Performance : Medium           • No. of Pixels : 8MP                               This newer IXUS produces

      Canon Digital IXUS 80 IS                               •Ability to Capture Details : Very Good    •Optical Zoom / IS :3x / Yes                        good results, has Canon’s
      Rs 14,995
                                              VERY GOOD
                                                             •Outdoor Scene Mode : Very Good            • LCD size / No. of Pixels : 2.5 inch / 230k        hallmark easy to use interface

                                                             • Video Quality: Very Good                 • Weight: 125 grams                                 and is compact.

                                               79            • Low Light Performance : Very Good        • No. of Pixels : 8.2MP                             The least expensive camera of

      Samsung L100                                           •Ability to Capture Details : Very Good    •Optical Zoom / IS : 3x / No                        the lot, high ISO performance is
      Rs 8,990
                                                             •Outdoor Scene Mode : Good                 • LCD size / No. of Pixels : 2.5 inch / 230k        commendable. Build quality is a

                                                             • Video Quality: Good                      • Weight: 130 grams                                 let down though.

                                               78            • Low Light Performanace : Below Average   • No. of Pixels : 10.1MP                            Currently the world’s slimmest

      Casio Exilim EX-S10                                    •Ability to Capture Details : Good         •Optical Zoom / IS : 3x / No                        10MP camera, it produces good
      Rs 18,995
                                                             •Outdoor Scene Mode : Good                 • LCD size / No. of Pixels : 2.7 inch / 230k        results overall. It’s light in

                                                             • Video Quality: Very Good                 • Weight: 113 grams                                 weight but heavy on the wallet.

                                               78            • Low Light Performance : Below Average    • No. of Pixels : 8MP                               Image quality is impressive in

      Nikon Coolpix S51                                      •Ability to Capture Details : Very Good    •Optical Zoom / IS : 3x / Yes                       well lit scenes, but not so in low
      Rs 14,500
                                                             •Outdoor Scene Mode : Very Good            • LCD size / No. of Pixels : 3 inch / 230k          light. It is edged out by the four

                                                             • Video Quality: Good                      • Weight: 175 grams                                 models above.

                                               77            • Low Light Performance : Average          • No. of Pixels : 8.1MP                             It’s one of those IXUS models

      Canon Digital IXUS 950 IS                              •Ability to Capture Details : Average      •Optical Zoom / IS : 4x / Yes                       that doesn’t gel together. Good
      Rs 15,995
                                                             •Outdoor Scene Mode : Good                 • LCD size / No. of Pixels : 2.5 inch / 230k        video recording stands as a sole

                                                             • Video Quality: Very Good                 • Weight: 165 grams                                 strong point.

                                               76            • Low Light Performanace : Very Good       • No. of Pixels : 8.2MP                             This camera plays MP3s, MPEG4

      Samsung i8                                             •Ability to Capture Details : Very Good    •Optical Zoom / IS : 3x / No                        Xvid video files and doubles up
      Rs 13,990
                                                             •Outdoor Scene Mode : Average              • LCD size / No. of Pixels : 2.7 inch / 230k        as a media player. As a camera,

                                                             • Video Quality: Good                      • Weight: 116 grams                                 performance is good too.

                                               76            • Low Light Performanace : Average         • No. of Pixels : 8MP                               The touchscreen operation does

      Sony DSC T70                                           •Ability to Capture Details : Good         •Optical Zoom / IS : 3x / No                        not make usability any easier
      Rs 14,800
                                                             •Outdoor Scene Mode : Very Good            • LCD size / No. of Pixels : 3 inch / 230k          and can be cumbersome for

                                                             • Video Quality: Good                      • Weight: 172 grams                                 some. Image quality is average.

                                               74            • Low Light Performanace : Poor            • No. of Pixels : 8.1MP                             The competition has gotten a

      Kodak EasyShare M893 IS                                •Ability to Capture Details : Average      •Optical Zoom / IS : 3x / Yes                       little too far ahead of Kodak
      Rs 9,999
                                                             •Outdoor Scene Mode : Average              • LCD size / No. of Pixels : 2.7 inch / 230k        in image quality, especially in

                                                             • Video Quality: Average                   • Weight: 157 grams                                 low light.

 CHART NOTES: Prices are indicative as on 17th April 2008.

                                                                                                                                                     M AY 2 0 0 8   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   49
Digital Cameras

          Samsung L100
      FOR ITS PRICE of less than Rs.9,000,           Noise reduction does not
      the Samsung L100 has a lot to offer. It        appear to be heavily deployed
      is one of the least expensive compact          as we were not able to make
      cameras in the market today and has            out blurring and details were
      excellent value for money. The exterior        still intact. Colors were a bit
      has a metallic finish that fails to give       over saturated, but this was
      the device a classy appeal, but look           visible only under close scrutiny and
      beyond it, and you will see its other          in fact might be a deliberate attempt
      abilities and the attractive price point.      by Samsung to make images look rich-            A mode dial, function
        When it comes to                                          er. However, when shooting       button and a 5-way D-pad help in
      image quality, the two                                      bright colors (like a metallic   navigation. A dedicated button is
      Samsung cameras were                                        red car parked under bright      used to activate face detection. As
      a pleasant surprise,                                        sunlight, in our test shot),     with other cameras that flaunt face
      especially in low light –                                   this behavior may not be         detection, the feature works, but not
      high ISO shooting. At                                       desirable as the particular      always. So don’t be surprised if your
      ISO 800 and even ISO                                        color gets saturated and you     camera with face detection cannot see
      1600, the images were        The Samsung Cameras have a cannot make out details.             your subjects’ faces or wrongly
      far better than those        rather unusual way of          The image histogram shows        detects a part of the scene as ‘face’.
      shot from other cameras controlling zoom, which can that the exposure is nicely              The lens is an image stabilized 3x
      at the same settings.        be cumbersome.                 balanced however.                optical zoom.

          Casio EX-S10                                                      saturation issues. The only disappointment was with high
                                                                            ISO performances. Even at ISO 400, the noise levels were a
                                                                            tad higher – even for this segment of cameras. ISO 1600 was
                                                                            nearly unusable.
                                                                              The company boasts of a YouTube video mode and an auto
                                                                            shutter. The former shoots videos that can be easily uploaded
                                                                            to the YouTube (read: lower resolution and bitrate) and the
                                                                            latter releases the shutter automatically once the camera
                                                                            detects that the subject is still to avoid blurs caused due to
                                                                            movements by the subject. A downside to video shooting is
                                                                            that it uses the .mov format which is not as flexible for edit-
                                                                            ing as the .avi format is.
                                                                              If you can live with noisy images in low light (especially
                                                                            when taken without flash) and can afford its price tag, this
      COMING FOURTH IN our rankings, right after the least                  will make for a very good pocketable camera. The only miss-
      expensive camera in the comparison is the Casio ESX10, the            ing feature is that of image stabilization in the 3x optical
      most expensive camera in this round up. The reason behind             zoom lens. The navigation feature could have been improved
      the inflated price tag of Rs.18,995 is that this is the world’s       though as finding scene modes can take a bit of looking
      slimmest 10MP camera. The ESX10 is the only 10MP camera               around if you have not used this camera earlier.
      in the shoot-out and packs a nice little surprise. It offers you
      manual focus, something that is not seen in other cameras in
      this category. This is especially useful when photographing
                                                                                                             EXILIM EX-S10 is hailed as the
                                                                                                        The EXIL
      subjects that are close – say, about a meter or less.
                                                                                                        world’s slimmest 10MP camera.
        Our test shots results were well above par and the overall
                                                                                                        When powered off, the lens retracts
      image quality was amongst the best here, except in low light
                                                                                                              leaving no protrusion. It is also
                                                                                                        fully leav
      shooting. In our indoor test shots, the ESX10 produced     d
                                                                                                        the lighte camera in this comari-
      excellent details (like pins on a motherboard, text on labels,
                                                                                                        sion, weighing just 113 grams.
      etc), and color reproduction was good as well with no visible

 50   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   M AY 2 0 0 8
  Digital Camera Jargon Explained
   WHEN YOU LOOK up camera                                                                               generally, anything above ISO 400
   specifications, you are sure to                                                                        gives rise to excessive noise.
   come across terms that sound                                                                          Face Detection: This is a relatively
   complicated. In reality, it’s not that                                                                new feature that manufacturers are
   difficult to understand what or                                                                        flaunting with point and shoot models.
   how they matter.                                                                                      Face detection technology is meant to
   Focal Length: In simple terms,                                                                        detect a human face in the scene and
   this number tells you how far or                                                                      then set focus, exposure and white bal-
                                             FULL SIZE CROP from our test shot - ISO400 (left) and
   close the subjects appear to the                                                                      ance for that area of the frame so that
                                             ISO1600 (right), shot with the Canon IXUS 950 IS.
   camera. The higher the number,                                                                        the persons appear clear and bright in
   the closer and hence more magni-                                                                      the photograph. While the idea does
   fied the subject becomes. The lesser the number, the farther the          sound useful, it is not always reliable. When it works correctly, it
   subject appears, but you get more coverage area. This number is          produces good results. But it also has a high rate of wrong detec-
   almost always mentioned in ‘35mm equivalent’ terms. A zoom               tion and even failure to detect a face. You can alternatively use
   lens has a range of focal lengths, for example, the Sony T70 has         spot metering on your subject’s face to ensure proper exposure.
   a range of 38mm – 114mm. When you zoom in, you are effectively           Image Stabilization (IS): Though the technology is not new in
   using 114mm focal length and when zoomed out, 38mm. Note                 itself, this is another feature that is rapidly becoming a standard
   that 38 x 3 = 114, so the camera is said to have a 3x optical zoom.      on point and shoot cameras. The technology reduces the blur-
   ISO: This setting determines how sensitive the sensor is to light.       ring effect caused by unsteady hands. Of course, IS cannot do
   A higher value implies higher sensitivity but also increases noise.      anything about an unsteady subject, but it does reduce chances
   While using a higher ISO produces brighter images in low light           of blur caused by the photographer. As hand shake is most
   (provided other settings are the same), it also increases noise by       apparent with longer focal lengths, IS is seen on cameras that
   a considerable amount. In small sensor cameras such as these,            have a zoom lens.

   Nikon CoolPix S51
NIKON, KNOWN BETTER for their                  apart, there are dedi-
excellent lineup of DSLRs also make            cated buttons for
some very good compact cameras. The            playback, mode,
company’s Coolpix S51 is an 8MP cam-           menu and deletion.
era with 3x optical stabilized zoom lens          In our outdoor tests,
that does not protrude far from the            we noticed that, like
camera body when powered on or even            the Canons, the Nikon
when zoomed in. It also sports a fairly        does not overexpose
large three inch LCD screen for preview.       images when the scene
   Navigation is by way of                                    contains
a rotary dial type key                                        both bright and dark                 eras failed. Both
which can also be clicked                                     areas, with the result that          with and without flash, the camera
along the 4-axis to access                                    the image can look a bit             performs well in low light, second only
self timer, flash, macro                                      dark. Color levels are set           to the Samsungs, so long as you use
and exposure compensa-                                        fine and the images look             lower ISO numbers (or flash). But try
tion. The rotary switch is                                    rich but not oversaturat-            anything above ISO 400 and your image
used to scroll through                                        ed. At ISO 400 or less,              is riddled with noise. In video shooting,
various options in each THE ROTARY DIAL which can             indoor shooting was very             colors seemed a bit washed out but
menu item while a center also be pressed along four           impressive. Texture                  compression artifacts (like blocks) were
button is used to con-       directions makes it easy to      details were brought out             not visible. A minute’s video at VGA
firm the selection. This     handle the camera                in areas where other cam-            resolution at 30 fps takes about 75MB.

                                                                                                                M AY 2 0 0 8   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   51
Digital Cameras
                                                                                                                 THE IXUS 950 IS sports an
                                                                                                                 impressive macro mode. The

          Canon IXUS 950 IS                                                                                      camera can easily focus on
                                                                                                                 subjects less than two inch-
      THE SECOND CANON in our comparison, the IXUS 950 IS                                                        es from the lens.
      was not as impressive as the second-placed Canon IXUS 80
      IS, despite of its 8MP sensor, and a 4x optical zoom with
      image stabilization. This camera uses the new Digic III image
      processing engine that includes face detection. Speaking of
      which, like with other cameras with face detection, the per-
      formance of this features is not consistent. Often, the camera     bined with the easy to use navigation, using this camera is a
      detects a random object as a face.                                 breeze. The 2.5 inch LCD is bright (but still poses a problem
        The build quality of the IXUS 950 IS is solid and confidence     in sunlight, but that’s common to many LCDs) and there is
      inspiring. The directional D-pad and the mode dial controls        an optical viewfinder as well. This should help in composing
      are well placed for easy access. Com-                              images in bright sunlight when the LCD is not visible or even
                                                                         in saving batteries by turning the display off while shooting.
                                                                            In our image quality tests, this Canon scored below the
                                                                         Nikon S51, Sony W210 and the Canon IXUS 80 in the resolu-
                                                                         tion chart test. In low light shooting, so long as you use the
                                                                         flash for nearby objects, the results are fine. But for farther
                                                                         objects and / or shooting without flash, the IXUS 950 IS pro-
                                                                         duced sub par results. In outdoor shooting the results were
                                                                         acceptable and the histogram revealed that the image tends
                                                                         to be on the darker side.
                                                                            The camera can shoot videos at VGA resolution at 30fps.
                                                                         There is no LP mode however, (which the IXUS 80 sports) so,
                                                                         keep a extra memory cards handy if you plan to shoot videos.

          Samsung i8
      THE ULTRA STYLISH glossy i8 is                the control buttons were a bit
      part of the popular i-Series from             cramped we quickly got the
      Samsung that does more that                   knack of them. The buttons
      shooting photos. The Portable Media           provided enough tactile feed-
      Player (PMP) feature is the main USP          back, but we found the menu
      of this ultra compact digital camera -        interface a bit non-intuitive and
      it can play MP3s and video (after             there was no physical button to
      conversion). It has a 8.2 MP sensor           switch the camera from one
      and also packs in a 3x optical zoom           mode to another directly. But
      and a 2.7 inch LCD screen. This is            that too did not prove to be too much
      one of the only two cameras in this           of a dampener.                             Its face detection feature per-
      test that has a non-protruding lens             Outdoor shots and our resolution         formed relatively well and the night
      which accentuated its slim design.            chart showed that images were at par       scene mode produced some of the
      The other unique feature we liked             with the cheaper, dedicated camera,        best shots we achieved. Other fea-
      was the photo                                                    the Samsung L100.       tures like slideshow, media playback
      guide which gives                                                In our low light        are nice additions, but these are not
      the user pointers                                                indoor shooting test    top notch and are ultimately just bells
      on how to take                                                   with flash on, images   and whistles.
      better pictures.                                                 came out well but         Video capture with optical zoom
        We had no com-                                                 lacked sharpness.       functionality is another feature that
      plaints with the                                                 There was not much      sets the i8 apart as these were found in
      compact body         THE SAMSUNG I8 can play videos and MP3s, noise but images           only two other models, the Samsung
      design, and though doubling up as a portable media player        also lacked detail.     L100 and Sony T70.

 52   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   M AY 2 0 0 8
  Sony DSC T70                               camera functions. The
                                             top part has buttons
                                                                                                             light turned out well
                                                                                                             balanced and detailing
THE T70 IS is another addition to the        for power, playback                                             in our indoor tests was
sleek and feature-filled Sony T-series.      and shutter release, and                                        above average. Howev-
This little camera comes loaded with an      there is a tiny sliding                                         er, the T70 fell short of
8MP sensor and a 3x optical zoom lens        zoom button.                                                    the mark when it came
                                                                        THE TOUCHSCREEN ON the
with image stabilization (that Sony calls      The slim black body is                                        to shooting in low light
                                                                        Sony T70 is not as easy to use
Super Steady). A sliding lens cover pro-     compact and light-                                              conditions. Though
                                                                        as conventional buttons
tects the non-protruding lens and also       weight. Operating the                                           images were low on
turns the camera on when it is slid          touch- based menu took                                          noise, they were heavi-
open. The back has nothing but a large       some getting used to, and the lack of          ly blurred, indicating aggressive noise
3-inch touchscreen to control all the        physical controls slowed down the oper-        reduction.
                                                 ation at times. We would have pre-           Quality of video clips were second
                                                 ferred an option of using physical         only to the Canons. A good feature
                                                 buttons. The T70 comes with face           here is the ability to use the optical
                                                 detection and a ‘smile shutter’ fea-       zoom while recording video (the only
                                                 ture that is supposed to detect the        other cameras to offer this feature
                                                 instant a person in the frame smiles,      were the two Samsung models). For
                                                 and then release the shutter auto-         its price and average performance, this
                                                 matically. The performance of this         is a good buy but don’t expect its
                                                 feature is not consistent.                 touchscreen-based interface to per-
                                                   Overall, the camera produced             form miracles. There are better camer-
                                                 decent results in different shooting       as that capture superior images for the
                                                 conditions. Outdoor shots in sun-          same or lower price.

      k EasyShare M893 IS
  Kodak EasyShare M
           MINIMALIST design, the Kodak M893 IS was
                   ALIST design,     Kodak
WITH ITS MINIMALIST design the Kodak M
the Plain Jane of the test when it came to looks. After
checking out the spec sheet that listed an 8.1MP sensor,
3X optical zoom and image stabilization and face detec-
tion we were surprised to see that all these have beenn
packed in for less than Rs.10,000. The only cheaper camera
in our test was the Samsung L100. But after our tests were
done, our smiles quickly faded.
  The button controls and placement were standard bu td but
the D-pad navigation control lacked tactile feedback a n
                                                     ck and
the interface was quite sluggish. The M893 IS has a co m com-
pact metallic body and has 32MB internal memory an d    and
                                                                    mance. In almost all tests, it was the least impressive
                                                      e bot-
accepts SD card memory. The M893 IS being at the b ot -   ot-
                                                                    camera. In low light conditions without flash, image
tom of the chart has got a lot to do with its perfor- -
                                                                    details were barely noticeable. Though pictures tended
                                                                    to be noisy, images retained both details and their natu-
                                                                    ral colors.
                            THE NUMEROUS SCENE modes                  Images taken with ISO 400 and above were unusable as
                            available in today’s cameras            they produced more noise than any other camera in our
                            cover almost all shooting sce-          test. On the video front, colors seemed washed out and
                            narios, and can even get confus-        the video was saved in a .mov format which makes editing
                            ing! The Kodak EasyShare                a bit difficult. At this price point, we recommend the the
                            893IS has 18 scene modes.               Samsung L100 which produces far better images and costs
                                                                    Rs 1,000 less as well.

                                                                                                        M AY 2 0 0 8   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   53


       You want a fast and reliable Internet
       connection, and so does the rest of
       India. “They promise you the moon but
       you’d be lucky to reach the tree top”,
       says Shahnaz Burman, a PR consultant.
       PC World asks 3,565 broadband users
       to rate their ISPs on connection speed,
       reliability and customer support…
                                                                           BY SOHAM RANINGA
                                                                       ILLUSTRATION BY ANIL T

           NCE AN IMPRESSIVE label, broadband          formance drastically, “There is nothing worse than
           is now fairly commonplace with more         losing a closely fought game against global compet-
           and more users subscribing to the pur-      itors just because your Internet connection is pull-
ported “lightning speeds and 24-hour connectivi-       ing you down”.
ty.” But not everyone is happy with the service lev-     We put 13 Indian ISP players through the test with
els. DSL users are comparatively happy with the        users rating them over speed, reliability, support and
speeds and reliability, but have a lot to say on the   pricing. While national players like BSNL and Airtel
Internet plans provided to them. “A fat pipe with      fare well, cable internet providers like Hathway and
measly download limit is nothing short of a joke”      SIFY have a long way to go and it’s high time they
says Amit Tiwari, a software professional working      pull up their socks and deliver the goods. As our sur-
from home. Gamers are probably the most dissatis-      vey found, wireless broadband in India has taken
fied lot with latency issues and slow upload speeds.   off on a rough note, users are not happy and they
Rahul Purohit games online with a clear handicap       were pretty vocal in expressing their concerns.
of high latency and upload limits affecting his per-   Here are some of the key findings of the survey.

                                                                                          M AY 2 0 0 8   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   55
      DSL has the Advantage                                             Tube videos while he is chatting with his
      Airtel received the most favorable response in                    friends on a webcam.
      terms of speed, reliability and tech support.                       BSNL also offers DSL connections and has
      Almost 20 percent of the respondents were                         the maximum user base in India. Almost 45
      Airtel subscribers. The quality of installation                   percent of the home users in India are on a
      might not be the most important factor but it                     BSNL connection. They have the maximum
      certainly is the most ignored one with almost                     reach with an impressive presence in rural

      none of the ISPs putting efforts to improve                       India. Where other ISPs have struggled to pro-
      the quality of installation. Airtel dominated                     vide access in rural areas, BSNL has stood up
      the charts with 90 percent users rating it                        to the task of bringing affordable broadband
      excellent when it came to wiring, installation                    to the C and D class cities. BSNL users are
      and activation procedure. Shikha Shah is a sat-                   happy with speeds but the satisfaction levels
      isfied Airtel subscriber from Mumbai. A mod-                      in terms of reliability and quality of installa-
      erate Internet user, her expectations from an                     tion are just about alright. Almost 35 percent
      ISP aren’t too high. “I need a 256Kbps con-        My bill shot   of BSNL subscribers rated the quality of instal-
      nection that lets me chat, mail and surf. My                      lation between Average and Poor.
      postpaid Airtel connection fulfills all my
                                                           up to Rs       Mr. Balasubramaniyam Palani was quite
      needs. I just wish Airtel could eliminate down    15,000 when i   emphatic with his feedback- “Please respond to
      times completely” says Shikha. Airtel also                        phone complaints. Please ensure quick installa-
      emerged the most reliable service provider,       Exceeded        tion and make sure you provide a modem as
      with high satisfaction among users on their                       soon as possible. Please improve your customer
      512Kbps connection. Thomas from Chennai
                                                         my band-       support. Please make sure you have good tech-
      doesn’t mind paying a premium for a 512Kbps       width limit.    nical people in your BSNL Call center”.
      unlimited account, as long as the speeds are                        Tata Indicom users from metros had a mixed
      consistent enough to watch streaming You-                         response with a majority of them not happy

                                                                        with the customer service and inconsistent
                                                                        speeds. About 10 percent of the total respon-
                                                                        dents were Tata users, clearly ranking 3rd in
          VINU THOMAS,
                                                                        terms of market share as per the survey
          a software professional
                                                                        results. “I have had experience with Airtel and
          who runs a dedicated
                                                                        Tata Indicom Broadband. Generally there is no
          forum on broadband
                                                                        problem; but if there is one, the responsive-
          in India.
                                                                        ness and courtesy of both service providers
                                                                        leaves a LOT to be desired” says B Jaishankar
                                                                        from Chennai.

                                                                        Thumbs Down for Cable Internet
                                                                        Before the advent of DSL connectivity, cable
                                                                        Internet was the only option for broadband
                                                                        connections and while cable Internet providers
                                                                        served for almost four years, they seem to have
                                                                        learnt very little from their past experience.
                                                                        The service levels as well as connectivity is
                                                                        plagued with the same old issues of frequent
                                                                        down time, erratic speeds and high latency
                                                                        connections. Hathway and Sify are the domi-
                                                                        nant cable Internet providers today and both
                                                                        have a lot of explaining to do. Mr. Divyesh Pal-
                                                                        recha from Mumbai has a very specific issue
                                                                        with Hathway. He says, “I have opted for a 7GB
                                                                        monthly plan and paid but my account shows a
                                                                        limit of 6 GB! I have sent 10 reminders and
                                                                        made several phone calls but it is still in pro-

 56   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   M AY 2 0 0 8
 cess, God knows when it will be rectified. Even                                          like free installation and zero modem charges —
 the usage calculations are tricky, even when I                                           something that the bigger players cannot offer.
 am out of town and not using the connection,
 the logs show usage!” The fact that 67 percent                                           Lack of Choice in Terms of Plans
 of the users on cable Internet said that they
 were planning to change their ISP is probably a
                                                           3 out of 10                    and Providers
                                                                                          The majority of users demand more plans
 sign of things to come with more and more                 respondents                    from the service providers. While Airtel,
 users opting for DSL connections over cable.                                             BSNL and TATA Indicom offer a decent range
   Dr. Jagdish Kumar from Patna is a SIFY user
                                                             say they                     of prepaid and postpaid plans, the demand
 and has a 64Kbps unlimited connection. He
 needs connectivity for about 3 days a week and
                                                               Don’t                      for a combination of high speed with unlim-
                                                                                          ited access at night is high. 45.6 percent of
 hence is not bothered about speeds or down-
 load limits. The only gripe he has with SIFY is
                                                               have a                     the respondents were on unlimited plans,
                                                                                          and 21.7 percent opted for the unlimited at
 that on one of those three days; the link is
 invariably down, forcing him to visit an Internet
                                                              Choice of                   night plan that removes the download cap
                                                                                          during the night hours. Users aren’t happy
 café. “What’s the point of paying for a connec-              ISP in their                with the inconsistent definition of the surf
 tion that is not there when you need it the                                              free by night plans. While some service pro-
 most?” he complains. Both Hathway and SIFY
                                                                Area .                    viders like Hathway are very generous with
 concentrate on certain areas of a city and oper-          Source: PC World Survey        an 11 pm to 9 am time frame for unlimited
 ate on a limited scale. They enjoy a distinct                                            surfing. BSNL on the other hand has a strict-
 advantage of being able to deliver connections                                           er limit window of 2 am to 8 am, four hours
 in less time and often run promotion schemes                                             less than Hathway per day.

  While DSL users are the most satisfied lot. Airtel and BSNL top the Charts
   Almost 70 out of every 100 Airtel users are happy with the service. For every 100 users 45 of them are BSNL subscribers.
   Services are ranked by total number of positive and negative ratings across all parameters. All ratings reflect survey respondents
   satisfaction with the given aspect of service. Pacenet, Ortel and Spectranet had insufficient number of responses to get a ranking.

    PCW                            Connection                  % of Satisfied   Overall     Quality of    Connection      Connection         Technical
                        ISP                      % of Users
                                      Type                        Users       Satisfaction Installation   Reliability       Speed             Support
                                                                               Above                                       Mostly as
    1          Airtel                 DSL          19.5%         68.2%                      Excellent     Excellent                             Good
                                                                              Average                                      promised
                                                                               Above                                       Mostly as
    2          BSNL                   DSL         44.90%         62.3%                      Average         Good                              Average
                                                                              Average                                      promised
                                                                               Above                                       Mostly as
    3          Tata                   DSL         9.40%          52.6%                      Average         Good                                Good
                                                                              Average                                      promised
                                    DSL and
    4          MTNL                               8.90%          51.80%       Average       Average         Good             Varies           Average
    5          Reliance              Fibre         3.10%         47.40%                     Excellent        Good        As promised            Good

    6          SIFY                  Cable        2.20%          43.00%       Average       Average        Average           Varies             Good

                                                                                                                           Mostly as
    7          Exatt Net             Cable         1.40%         44.70%       Average       Average        Average                            Average
                                                                               Below                                        Below
    8          Hathway               Cable        3.50%           16.3%                     Average        Average                            Average
                                                                              Average                                      promised

    9          Iqara/You Tele        Cable         1.80%         40.00%       Average       Average        Average           Varies           Average

                                                                                                                           Mostly as
    10         Zee Next              Cable         1.20%         37.00%       Average       Average        Average                            Average

CHART NOTES: Source: 3565 PC World readers and PC visitors from April 1st to April 20th.

                                                                                                                    M AY 2 0 0 8   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   57
      Airtel has launched 8Mbps plans for home                                                     promises a minimum of 256Kbps
      users but this is currently limited to a few cit-   DSL                                      connection which can go as high
      ies. Users are thrilled with the option of an                                    67.8%       as 2Mbps. With a marginal
      8Mbps pipe but the dearth of affordable             Cable                                    increase in the monthly fees,
      unlimited plans and very low download limits                                                 most users don’t mind the extra
      has led to a not so great reception amongst                                                  bandwidth. Even Airtel and Tata
      the heavy home users. Almost 35 percent of          Dialup                                   Indicom have rolled out similar
      the users complained against the capped con-                        5.8%                     plans where they either offer an
      nections with very low data download limits.        Fibre                                    upgrade from 256K to 512K or
      Dhananjay from Bangalore was very keen on                                                    allow you to top-up your connec-
      the 8Mbps upgrade but decided against it                                                     tion with a 2Mbps unlimited surf
      because of the 4GB per month download                                                        at night option for an additional
      limit which he thinks will barely last him a                                                 charge of Rs. 250 per month.
      week. The most common suggestion amongst                    Almost              Such value-added offers have gained populari-
      users was to make all 256K and 512K connec-                                     ty amongst customers who are constantly
      tions unlimited. “With the advent of 2Mbps            7 out of                  looking to add more bandwidth without pay-
      and above connections for home users, the                                       ing too much of a premium.
      ISPs should release data limits on the slower         every 10
      256K and 512K connections to ensure a true                                     What do they do with all that
      broadband experience for the masses”, says
                                                          users are on a             bandwidth?
      Vineet from Allahabad.
        Almost 25 percent of the respondents were
                                                            DSL line                 We do want speed and unlimited downloads
                                                                                     but why do we want them and what do we do
      stuck with few or almost no choice to switch         Source: PC World Survey   with all that bandwidth? Apart from e-mail,
      ISPs. Mahesh from Jalandhar has no choice                                      chat and surfing, downloading and streaming
      but to stick with Airtel since there aren’t any                                media are the next biggest applications. 84.1
      other service providers who can offer him a                                    percent said they would download media and
      1Mbps connection. “Because of lack of com-                                     48.3 % percent of the respondents enjoy
      petition in many cities, especially the B and C                                streaming videos. Another interesting trend
      class, the ISPs seem to have slackened on the                                  is the rise in number of users working from
      service levels” he says.                             256Kbps                   home, thanks to a fast broadband connec-
                                                                                     tion, the option of working from home is
      256Kb Connections are Popular                         is the most              always open. A substantial 49.6% of the
      but 2Mbps is Catching Up                                popular                respondents say they utilize their home con-
      Our survey showed that 40 percent of the                                       nectivity for work and this segment demands
      users are on 256Kbps connection and almost
                                                            Broadband                a more reliable and consistent connection.
      83 percent are in the unlimited plan. These              option                They don’t want unlimited connections, nor
      connections are popular because they are                                       do they expect high speeds, its reliability and
      affordable and sufficiently fast for basic needs.
                                                            followed by              consistency that matters. Darshil, a free-lance
      The unlimited component makes them attrac-
      tive for users who download lot of media and
                                                                2Mbps                artist from Mumbai has a home-office setup
                                                                                                                 and has switched
      keep their PCs switched on 24/7. Users also
                                                s                                                                his ISP thrice,
      have a lot of choice in the 256Kbps brack-
                                               ack-                                                              only in the quest
      et; and have an option to spend as littlele                                                                of an ISP that has
      as Rs. 250 per month up to a maximum    m                        2 Mbps                                    minimum down
      of about Rs. 1,000 for an unlimited                                                                        times and a con-
      256Kbps connection. Surprisingly, the   e         256 Kbps                                                 sistent connec-
                                                         42.9%                            1Mbps 2%
      next biggest chunk belongs to 2Mbps                                                                        tion. “A slight
      connections (29 percent). We were equal- ual-                                       More than 2 Mbps 3.2% delay in replying
      ly puzzled by the stats till we realized there                                                             to mail or inability
                                                                                          512 Kbps 9.3 %
      was a connect between BSNL and the 2Mbps                                                                   to get online for a
      users. A majority of the 2Mbps users are  re                                                               chat with an over-
                                                                                          128 Kbps 13.6 %
      BSNL subscribers as BSNL provides a                                                                        seas client can
      256Kbps-upto 2Mbps connection which      ch          Source: PC World Survey                               cost thousands of

 58   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   M AY 2 0 0 8
rupees and hence I need a connection that                                               latencies for a smooth gaming experience.
stays always on” he says.                                                               Akash from Delhi is a hardcore online gamer,
  30.2 percent of the respondents are into                                              “I have to restrict myself to servers that are
online gaming and all of them have the same                                             close by and hence cannot play with popular
requirements. They want connection with low                                             servers from USA and Europe cause the ping
latency and few hops that can improve their
ping times on international servers. The slight-
                                                                 60%                    time to those servers is too high. My choices
                                                                                        are currently limited to Korean and Australian
est of variation in ping times results in a con-            of the ISP                  servers” he says.
siderable disadvantage for online gaming.                                                  “I have a 2Mbps connection but instead of
Another factor that seems to be a growing
                                                           customers                    the ideal 250KBps download speed, I get at
concern especially amongst gamers is the                   expect 24/7                  best 220-225KBps, and sometimes it drops to
upload speed. While the download speeds for                                             as little as 129KBps” says Shirish from Pune.
broadband connections are as high as 2Mbps,              Customer                       90 percent of the respondents ranked speed
the upload speeds are generally 50 percent or                                           and reliability as the top two priorities when
even 25 percent of the download speed. Most               Support                       choosing a Broadband connection.
broadband applications are dependent on                                                   Airtel ranks the best of the lot in terms of
download speeds but online gaming is heavily
                                                            from them.                  customer support, followed by Tata Indiacom
dependent on upload speed. A continuous                   Source: PC World Survey       and Reliance. But the overall customer support
stream of data is being sent to the server that                                         and tech support satisfaction levels were far
hosts the game and hence a slight delay effects                                         from ideal. BSNL, SIFY and Hathway in partic-
the reaction of the server back to your com-                                            ular faired average at best in this department.
puter, resulting in a lag and loss of time. Gam-                                        The most common complaint was the lack of
ers are certainly the most demanding of the                                             technically trained staff that can handle que-
lot, as they need connections with the lowest                                           ries. Somesh is a network engineer from

  YOUR INTERNET CONNECTION is slow, or perhaps it’s down                   download and install the latest firmware from the vendor’s site.
  completely. What should you do to get it back to top speed?

  1     Before doing anything else, contact your ISP to see if there
        is a service problem. Then power-cycle your DSL or cable
                                                                         5      If everything appears to be working normally with your
                                                                                connection but you’re still dissatisfied with the perfor-
                                                                           mance, upgrade to a faster connection or find another ISP that
  modem: Turn it off, wait about 15 seconds, and turn it back on.          offers the level of bandwidth you crave.

  2      For troubleshooting tips, check your ISP’s support site. Airtel
         DSL users, for instance, can check for
  thier connection speeds a free Bandidth
                                                                                                                              —Jeff Bertolucci

  meter. If you feel that your connection
                                                   BEWARE OF SPEED OPTIMIZERS
  speed is dropping, you can check the speed        WHAT ABOUT WEB sites and software that promise to turbo-charge your broad-
  live and report the drop in speed to the Air-     band? Justin Beech, owner of the popular site, is skeptical.
  tel customer support representative.              “Sites claiming to improve connection speeds are largely snake oil, or at least they

  3      Multiple firewalls can affect con-
         nection speed too. If your router
  has a firewall, don't run the one that
                                                    overstate the marginal benefit. Your maximum speed is determined by your ISP.
                                                    Without illegally hacking your cable modem, that is the end of the story.”
                                                      As an informal reality check, we ran the optimization tool in Unisoft’s $30 (Rs 1200)
  comes with Windows XP or Vista, Nor-              SpeedUpMyPC 3 program, which promises to “boost your bandwidth,” and performed
  ton Internet Security, or the like.               a Web-based bandwidth speed test. The verdict: no connection speed increase. We

  4      Line filters, which prevent noise from
         disrupting a DSL signal, can be trou-
  blesome. Make sure not to plug a phone or
                                                    saw the same results from Dr. TCP, a free utility that makes tweaks to Windows’
                                                    RWIN (TCP Receive Window) setting and in some cases boosts download speeds.
                                                      Finally, we tried Google's free Web Accelerator, which claims to improve perfor-
  fax machine into the DSL modem port on            mance by Web surfing through Google’s servers. Again we noticed no boost, though
  the filter; doing this can slow your connec-       the app's toolbar said we saved 0.8 second connecting to
  tion. If you’re using a wireless router,

                                                                                                                M AY 2 0 0 8   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   59
      Bangalore and hence can detect faults with ith                                                                      three days to fix
      the connections at one glance, “Whenever   er                                                                       the same issue”
                                                        500-700                                  1000-1200 11%
      I call the Hathway technical support com- m-       24.4%                                                            says Neha. Raunak
      plaining about the link been down from                                                                              from Kolhapur is
      the server side, they make me go through   h                                               1200-2000 8.8%           very optimistic
      the usual procedure of checking my IP set-et-        300-500                                                        about his sugges-
      tings and restarting the modem, even after                                                                          tion on penalties
                                                                                                 200-300 15%
      repeated confirmations on the same, the sup-                                                                        being levied on
      port staff insists on sending a tech support guy
                                                ort                                                                       ISPs for downtimes
      home to check on the connection, it frustrates
                                                strates                                                                   and loss of band-
      me to no limit to realize that I depend on such
                                                 n             Almost 50%                                                 width. “If they
      people for my Internet connectivity” he says.                                         charge us more for every kilobyte of extra data
       Another big issue with even the DSL service
                                                                of the Broad-               that we download, they should also be made
      providers is the time taken to address con-              band subscrib-               to pay for the slightest of fall in bandwidth
      cerns. Neha from Pune has had a mixed experi-                                         from their side?” he writes.
      ence with some of her issues cleared within
                                                                ers shell out
      three hours while some taking as much as                  Rs 500-1000                 Decline of the smaller players
      three days to get fixed. “I had the same issue                                        The number of small ISPs operating in particu-
      thrice and while Airtel fixed it in three hours
                                                                 per month.                 lar areas of a city or region is diminishing rap-
      the first time, the second time I had to wait for    Source: PC World Survey          idly. About 5 percent of the respondents

                                             HOW MUCH BANDWIDTH DO YOU NEED?

         ANYONE LOOKING FOR a broadband connection has a range of             challenge is to keep the cost low and that’s where the unlimited
            ti     ith      d
         options with speeds ranging f
                                    i from 256Kb t 8Mb Whil it i
                                             256Kbps to 8Mbps. While is       by i ht l        help lot. 2Mbps                 ti
                                                                              b night plans h l a l t A 2Mb connection th t allows  that ll
         always better to have more bandwidth at your disposal, fat           uncapped usage at night can help you dump 2GB of data on your
         pipes come at a cost and hence it is important to choose the         hard drive in one night. Typically you would spend about Rs
         right connection that strikes a perfect balance. Depending on        1200-1500 per month.
         your application and budgets we have chalked a guideline that        Gaming: If you are into online gaming, your options are limited
         should help you decide on your broadband plan.                       to ISPs that have best reliability standards and provide low
         Browsing, Chatting and E-mail : A basic user should have a           latency connections to ensure low pings for a fruitful gaming
         budget of about Rs 500 per month and can opt for either a 256K       experience. Make sure you opt for a DSL connection; DSL connec-
         connection with higher data limit per month or a 512K connection     tions are comparatively more reliable and have low latencies.
         with free surfing by night offer.                                     Another important factor for gamers is the upload speed; gaming
         Streaming Media and Video Conferencing: If you are a You-            requires a continuous upward data stream and hence it’s just not
         tube junkie and can’t live with a video chat with your friends and   the download speed but also the upload speed that matters.
         family on a webcam, your bandwidth                                                    Home Office Users: Apart from sufficient
         requirements range between 256Kbps and                                                speed, reliability is paramount. If you work (and
         512Kbps. It is advisable to go for an unlim-                                          hence, your bread and butter) depends on your
         ited plan so that you don’t end up exhaust-                                           being connected to the Internet, we suggest you
         ing your data limit in 10 days and then pay                                           have a second ISP connection to act as a back-
         a heavy bill for every extra byte you con-                                            up. As regarding speed, if you need to video con-
         sume. Typically you would end up spend-                                               ference with clients or with co-workers, as well
         ing between Rs 700-1000 per month.                                                    as access a remote PC, you should look at a
         Downloading media: No amount of                                                       1Mbps or higher unlimited connection. If you
         bandwidth is enough for a media down-                                                 only need to tele-conference then a 512kbps
         loader who believes in adding GBs of                                                  connection should suffice, provided you don’t
         media to his collection every day. The                                                have other bandwidth heavy tasks.

 60   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   M AY 2 0 0 8
belonged to this segment. With national play-
ers like BSNL and Airtel making inroads rapid-
ly, local cable Internet providers are clearly       SHAHNAZ BURMAN,
going through a tough time. Snehal from              a PR Consultant from Mum-
Mumbai was at the mercy of the local cable           bai often works from home
Internet providers for 3 years up until Airtel       to save on commuting time.
was available as an option in his locality. “I am
paying a slight premium for Airtel but the ser-
vice levels are a lot better, I don’t have to go
hunting for the “cablewalah” when the con-
nection is down” he says.
  Some areas in big cities like Mumbai and
Bangalore still don’t have a choice and users
feel shortchanged when it comes to speed and
performance. However, there are rare cases
when users don’t want to shift to anything
better. “I have a package deal with my cable
operator who provides Cable TV and Internet
as a package for Rs 800 a month. I don’t have
the time to go around settling bills and apply-
ing for upgradation of plans and so enjoy the
convenience a one-time payment at my door-
step” says Kunal from Mumbai. Similarly a
bunch of teenagers from Mumbai who choose
to stay anonymous, swear by Pacenet, a local
ISP in Mumbai. ‘Being on the same network, I

can game with friends from my colony and
share content with them. We schedule down-                                  customer support representatives and the time
loads as per what the group requires so each                                taken to resolve issues should be logged” says
of us won’t have to download everything”.                                   Hemanshu, a law student from Mumbai.
                                                                              After going though thousands of responses
Business users not happy                             Connection             and reading through their suggestions, some
with the rates                                                              concerns and areas of improvement clearly
We also had a small population of SMB users         Reliability             stand out. QoS (quality of service) was the
in the respondent pool who were on Reliance                                 biggest concern for most of the respondents.
and Airtel connections. Reliance users were         is the key              “I don’t mind paying a premium only for reli-
satisfied with the speeds they were getting,                                ability. A connection that assures zero down
the reliability and were particularly apprecia-
                                                    when you are            time or a drop in speed does not exist and
tive of the quality of installation. But the big-   working from            without the intervention from telecom
gest complaint was the pricing for business                                 authorities QoS is not likely to improve any
users. “While giving a sizeable business, SMB
                                                       home.                time soon” says Abhishek George from Kera-
market pays the highest cost per GB of data                                 la. Many respondents had a particular query

downloaded, it’s high time ISPs restructure                                 (read complaint) with regards to the “Upto
their pricing strategies” says Muneer, a gar-                               256Kbps” definition of broadband. “Upto
ments exporter from Haryana.                                                256Kbps can actually drop as low as 6Kbps
                                                                            and a subscriber cannot dispute it because
Message to TRAI                                                             the provider is promising a maximum of
Apart from feedback on ISPs, a sizeable number                              256Kbps without guaranteeing any minimum
of respondents also had suggestions and feed-                               sustained speed. I would be hesitant on pay-
back on the Telecom Regulatory Authority of                                 ing a premium for an “upto 2Mbps connec-
India (TRAI). “Set up a system where each ISP                               tion because it can drop to 256Kbps and still
is accountable for maintenance of service levels.                           not break any promise” says Nishant who
Standards should be set in terms of training the                            lives is north India.

                                                                                               M AY 2 0 0 8   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   61
      We also had a set of happy respondents,                                                                scription’ or ‘free Inter-
      showering their praise for the progress made                                                           net hours with every
      by TRAI in getting broadband to India in                                                               subscription’ have
      such a short period of time. “The telecom                            Speed         55.20%              resulted a steep rise in
      authorities have achieved a lot in a short time                                                        adaptation of wireless
      frame; we can only expect them to get better                                          33.70%           Internet.
      with time. In a democratic country like ours,                                                            Unless high speed
      reforms and regulations do take their own                                                              wireless technologies
                                                                           Price                 31.20%      like 3G and HSDPA are
      sweet time to finalize. 3G is a classic example
      where the battle and confusion over release                                                            released, wireless Inter-
                                                                                                     26.50% net is bound to stay
      of the spectrum to GSM or CDMA players                          Customer support
      seems to never end!” says Mr Banergi a pro-                                                            more like a backup or
      fessor with a commerce college in Maharashtra.                                 emergency tool rather than being the way of
                                                              Users rank             life. Telecom regulatory authorities of India
      Wireless Internet is a Joke, 3G                                                have been sitting on the 3G issue for some
      eagerly awaited                                       speed as the             time now and users as well as service provid-
      We have reviewed data cards twice in the last two                              ers are eagerly awaiting the release of the spec-
      years and each time we were severely disappoint-      most impor-              trum to launch high-speed connectivity.
      ed with bad service levels by all the players. We
      asked respondents about their experience with          tant factor                          Looking forward: IPTV and
      mobile/wireless Internet and the results were sur-                                          WiMax, still coming soon…
      prising, though it told us a lot about what cus-
                                                             for choosing                         It’s been more than two years and we are still
      tomers expect from service providers. 22.1 per-           an ISP.                           hearing only bits and pieces about IPTV and
      cent of respondents had used wireless Internet                                              WiMax launches (pilots) in pockets of our coun-
                                                            Source: PC World Survey
      and while most of them found the service afford-                                            try. National players like Airtel, BSNL and Reli-
      able, speeds and reliability were serious concerns.                                         ance are getting into the game but the implemen-
      The average real-world speeds provided by wire-                                             tation seems painfully slow. On the other hand,
      less players in India range between 2-7KBps. Just                                           high-speed wireless technologies like 3G —
      enough to check mail, chat and surf moderately,                                             where implementation isn’t such a big issue —
      thus not suitable for any application that truly                                            had been lagging due to the slow response from
      requires broadband. “If I want to check mail or                                             the telecom regulatory authorities who are stuck
      remain connected so that my colleagues can reach                                            in a licensing row with all the major mobile ser-
      me, my Tata Indicom connection works alright in                                             vice providers. While we can only hope to see
      metros. Outside of metros it shows connectivity                                             these services launched soon in India, here is a
      but the connection either gets stalled or crawls at                                         rundown for those who aren’t updated with what
      less than 1KBps” says Dipen from Gujarat.                                                   these services will bring to the table and who are
        Ganesh from Satara district feels that wireless                                           the most likely carriers of the services in India.
      Internet will take a long time to convert to wire-
      less broadband Internet. He says, “TRAI has
      been very lenient with the ISP players with very        Wireless Broadband is Slow and Expensive
      low emphasis on QOS and the fact that they              WHILE AIRTEL SEEMS to do alright, none of them come close to meeting
      have set 256Kbps as the standard for broadband          the expectations. Hathway has the least percentage of satisfied users.
      itself proves the point that the definition of
      broadband in India and its perception is totally       SERVICE PROVIDER             Speed        Reliability      Pricing         Most common complaints

      different compared to the rest of the world”
                                                             Airtel                     Average          Good        Affordable Slow, performance is area dependent.
        The reason users still don’t mind getting a
      wireless Internet connection is quite clear.                                                                                   Slow connectivity, and reliability is
                                                             Tata Indicom               Average        Average       Expensive       a serious issue
      They don’t have to wait for connection and
      down times are comparatively rare (though                                                                                      Good coverage but performance
                                                             Reliance                   Average        Average       Expensive       drop is frequent
      many times connection speeds are as good as
      down time!) The cost of wireless modems has            Vodafone                   Average          Good        Expensive
                                                                                                                                     Few plans, comes nowhere near to
                                                                                                                                     the cliamed speeds
      also come down drastically and offers like ‘a
                                                             SOURCE: PC World Broadband Survey. Results based on 2337 responses from all over India.
      free modem with three months prepaid sub-

 62   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   M AY 2 0 0 8
IPTV                                                                                   We suspect that by the end of 2008, IPTV will
IPTV (IP Television) is a system where a digital                                       make more appearances and this time we hope
television service is delivered using Internet Pro-                                    that the service levels meet the mark and not like
tocol over a network infrastructure, which may                                         the early days of broadband in India.
include delivery by a broadband connection. A
general definition of IPTV is television content
                                                          With the                     WiMax
that, instead of being delivered through tradi-        current status                  WiMax is essentially a standards-based wire-
tional broadcast and cable formats, is received                                        less technology that provides last mile connec-
by the viewer through the technologies used for
                                                       of broadband                    tivity wirelessly, replacing wire-based connec-
computer networks. For residential users, IPTV            in India,                    tivity provided by the current DSL and
is often provided in conjunction with Video on                                         cable-based models. Bangalore and Pune were
Demand and may be bundled with Internet ser-            expecting                      the first to jump on the WiMax bandwagon
vices such as Web access and VoIP. The commer-                                         with pilot projects being run for almost a year.
cial bundling of IPTV, VoIP and Internet access is
                                                        too much from                  However, the commercial roll out of WiMax
referred to as “Triple Play” service.
   BSNL/MTNL, Reliance and Airtel are preparing
                                                         IPTV is not                   has been limited not just in India but across
                                                                                       the globe. But, the need for WiMax globally is
for the IPTV launch with pilots rolled out in             practical.                   not as intense as in our country, simply
many cities. But large scale implementation is                                         because they do have other high-bandwidth
sometime away, the prime reason being the need                                         wireless technologies like 3G and HSDPA,
for high bandwidth links and a strong infrastruc-                                      enabling high-speed mobile connectivity for
ture to support smooth streaming of content.                                           cell phones and laptops.

                                      BROADBAND HELP ON THE WEB

  Broadband Also known as, this             Yahoo Small Business: Like Microsoft’s small-biz site, Yahoo’s
  site is a good source of end-user reviews of ISPs. Wondering if       mixes the hard-sell with the how-to. The ‘News and Resources’ sec-
  the cable broadband service in your area is reliable or suffers       tion on the home page is a terrific source of business tips and tricks,
  from too many outages? You can find out here. The site also           including the ten-step StartupNation tutorial with audio instructions,
  includes news stories and links to all things pertaining to Inter-    articles, and tools for entrepreneurs.
  net access.                                  Dan Elwell’s Broadband Speed Test: The Net is littered with This site focuses on ways to improve your             meters to assess high-speed connections, but this is one of our
  broadband performance. You’ll discover Windows Registry               favorites. The Broadband Speed Test rates your download speed,
  tweaks, reviews of routers and other broadband-related hard-          ping times, and other essentials. It presents its findings in color-
  ware and software, general how-to advice, and industry news.          ful, easy-to-read bar graphs, too. The tool is free to download, but                                                    you’ll have to pay $18 to check your upload speed, run scheduled
  Microsoft Office Live, Articles & Tips: Scroll past the marketing      tests, and use other advanced features. www.broadbandspeed-
  drivel to find useful information for small-business owners, such as
  tips for selecting a domain name, ways to use e-mail to market your India’s most active forum dedicated to
  business, and advice on how to glean valuable information from        Broadband, is an ideal platform for users to
  Web site traffic reports. Worth a visit.         discuss their ISP issues, get help on networking hardware
                                                                                      and be updated with all the happenings in the
                                                                                      telecom world. Topics of discussion are conve-
                                                                                      niently labeled as per the service providers, mak-
                                                                                      ing it very easy for readers to post their queries on
                                                                                      particular ISP. We tried to locate specific infor-
                                                                                      mation on BSNL DataOne hardware issues and
                                                                                      were able to find a thread linked exactly to that!.
                                                                                                                           —PC World Team

                                                                                                               M AY 2 0 0 8   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   63

  Does SP1
  Fix Vista?
      Not really, according to our Test
      Center results. Though Service
      Pack 1 makes Windows Vista
      faster on some tasks, you’re
      better off sticking with XP. If
      you’re already running Vista, we
      have some tips that will truly
      improve its performance.

      WHEN IT COMES to Vista, the fix is in. It’s just not
      the fix many mainstream users are looking for.
        Last fall, Microsoft announced that Vista Service
                                                             ILLUSTRATION: GORDON STUDER

      Pack 1 would improve the operating system’s per-
      formance. The company claimed that SP1 would rev
      up Vista in the areas of file copying, waking from
      sleep or hibernation, and adding or extracting files

 66   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   M AY 2 0 0 8
from compressed folders (www.                                    tion on our test desktop much faster                          performs Vista—with SP1 or without—                             than pre-SP1 Vista did, either—and on                         by a wide margin. SP1 finished second
er_Look_Beta_Windows_Vista_Ser-                                  our laptop, it was slower to wake. SP1                        in many cases and third in others.
vice_Pack_1/4260614/9).                                          did beat Vista at compressing files, but                        Given those results—and in view of
  Microsoft also anticipated that SP1                            by a tiny margin. Its only clear win over                     the bug fixes SP1 delivers—current
would strengthen system reliability,                             old Vista was in decompressing files—                         Vista users should take the free service-
broaden support for new hardware and                             and even there, it was slower than XP.                        pack upgrade. But if you still use XP,
emerging standards, and introduce im-                              Many PC World readers have taken                            you may want to stick with it for now.
provements for IT administrators. We                             Vista to task for using too many system
didn’t attempt to gauge the validity of                                                                                        How We Put
those claims following Microsoft’s mid-                                                                                        Windows to the Test
                                                                     Windows XP clearly out-
March release of Vista SP1 (                                                                                        We conducted three types of perfor-
india/news/Software/Windows_Vista_SP1_                               performed Vista and                                       mance evaluations: automated World-
Available_NowDo_You_Need_It/4260612/9).                                                                                        Bench 6 tests, hand-timed tests for file
                                                                     Vista SP1, with SP1 fin-
Instead we tested systems configured                                                                                           management and waking from hiberna-
with and without Vista SP1 to see                                    ishing second in many                                     tion, and video frame-rate tests using
whether the promised performance                                                                                               popular games. We ran WorldBench 6
                                                                     cases and third in others.
gains would materialize.                                                                                                       with Windows XP Professional SP2,
                                                                                                                               Windows Vista Business, and Vista
What We Tested and Why                                                                                                         Business SP1 on a higher-end desktop
We measured SP1’s speed using our 32-                            resources on its Aero environment, for                        and a low-end but Vista-ready laptop.
bit WorldBench 6 test suite. We com-                             trying to appeal to both business users                       (See “WorldBench 6 Results: XP vs.
pared the overall performance of Vista                           and consumers without fully serving                           Vista vs. Vista SP1,” below, for each
Business with SP1 to that of Vista Busi-                         either group, for problems with                               system’s specs.) We ran each test three
ness without SP1 and to that of Win-                             unavailable or limited drivers, and for                       times, and then averaged the scores. .
dows XP Professional with SP2.                                   general bugginess.                                              To test video, we measured the frame
  Our test results indicate that where                             Unfortunately, we couldn’t evaluate                         rate (in frames per second) that each
SP1 outperformed Vista, the margin of                            SP1’s impact on each of those short-                          system could handle from two games,
improvement was slim. What’s more,                               comings individually, so we used our                          Doom 3 and Far Cry. We ran tests with
we found little evidence that SP1 han-                           WorldBench 6 benchmark tests to                               antialiasing on and off, and at the 1024
dled file copying better; amazingly, in                          gauge how well XP, Vista, and Vista                           by 768 and 1280 by 1024 resolutions.
many cases, pre-SP1 Vista was speedier.                          SP1 performed a standard set of tasks.                          Finally, we ran hand-timed tests to
  Vista SP1 didn’t wake from hiberna-                            We found that Windows XP still out-                           measure file copying, file compress-

  PCW Test
   Center            WorldBench 6 Results: XP vs. Vista vs. Vista SP1
 VISTA SP1 OUTPERFORMED plain Vista in some tests, but not in all and not by much. What’s more, XP outscored both Vistas overall.
                                                                                                                               WorldBench 6 application tests (in seconds)
                                                                                                    WorldBench 6
 TESTED SYSTEM                                                       Windows version
                                                                                                    overall score   Photoshop CS2      Firefox 2       Multitasking          Nero


 Polywell P3500B                                             XP Professional SP2                         131            340              146               188               483
 3-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 CPU, 2GB RAM,
                                                             Vista Business                               118           330               190              236               427
 nVidia GeForce 8800 GT graphics card,
 Seagate ST3500630AS (500GB) hard drive                      Vista Business SP1                           120           327               190              234               445


 Acer TravelMate 5520                                        XP Professional SP2                          64            905              362               434               934
 1.9-GHz Turion 64 X2 TL-58 CPU, 1GB RAM,
                                                             Vista Business                               55            1814              453              577               1588
 ATI Radeon Xpress 1250 graphics card, Hitachi
 HTS541612J9SA00 (120GB) hard drive                          Vista Business SP1                           55            1645              453              570               1718

 NOTE: Tests conducted by the PC World Test Center. Results in bold red are the best for that test and system.

                                                                                                                                                M AY 2 0 0 8   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   67
                                                    PCW Test
                                                     Center            SP1 Copied Faster in Only One Case
      ing and decompressing, and recovery
                                                    SP1 SHOWED SOME speed at compressing and copying, but Vista outshone it elsewhere.
      time from hibernation on both systems.
                                                                                                                     Time to complete task (in seconds)
                                                   TEST                         Windows
                                                                                version                        Desktop                               Laptop
      XP Wins Convincingly
      As the composite scores indicate, XP
                                                                           XP                   75.4                                   153.4
      outperformed both Vista and Vista SP1         Extracting
                                                    files from a
      on our automated WorldBench 6 tests         ww
                                                                           Vista                256.1                                  345.9
      by a significant margin, on the desktop       folder
                                                                           Vista SP1            166.6                                  160.2
      and again on the notebook. Vista SP1
      finished slightly ahead of plain Vista on
                                                                           XP                   255.9                                  286.6
      the desktop test bed, but managed only       Copying
                                                   several files
      a tie with it on the laptop.                 over a
                                                                           Vista                271.3                                  291.8
        In the areas where Service Pack 1 im-      network
                                                                           Vista SP1            286.1                                  311.8
      proved on pre-SP1 Vista’s performance,
      the gains were far from dazzling.
                                                                           XP                   244.2                                  246.6
        In our desktop WorldBench 6 tests,         Copying a
                                                   large .zip
      XP, which dominated most of the re-          file over a
                                                                           Vista                214.9                                  214.1
      sults, finished last on a couple of mea-     network
                                                                           Vista SP1            239.7                                  245.4
      sures: the Nero CD-burning test and
      the Photoshop image-effects test. The
                                                                           XP                   140.9                                  294.5
      latter marked the only time Vista SP1        Copying
                                                   several files
      emerged as the clear winner.                 on a local
                                                                           Vista                129.7                                  261.7
        In the Nero test for desktops, Vista       drive
                                                                           Vista SP1            125.5                                  270.4
      ran 4 percent faster than Vista SP1 and
      12 percent faster than XP.
                                                                           XP                   105.2                                  229.9
        On the laptop, XP had the best score       Copying a
                                                   large .zip
      on every test. The laptop results indi-      file on a
                                                                           Vista                91.9                                   188
      cate that, as we expected, XP is the         local drive
                                                                           Vista SP1            109.7                                  232.4
      better choice for lower-power PCs.
        On both test beds we used, the SP1         NOTE: This is a sampling of all hand-timed test results. Lower times are better.

      results were frequently the same or
      extremely close to the results for Vista.   outperformed original Vista by a few                              desktop, and SP1 took twice as long.
      But the Photoshop and Firefox tests         seconds on the desktop. XP finished                                  SP1 also outran Vista when adding
      showed little consistency in scores be-     last, trailing the winner by 15 seconds.                          files to a compressed folder, but only
      tween the desktop and laptop PCs run-       On the laptop, however, pre-SP1 Vista                             by about 2 percent. XP narrowly won
      ning the two Vistas. Hardware differ-       came in first, by several seconds.                                the competition on both test systems.
      ences definitely influenced the outcome.      Access time played a lesser role when                              In our hibernation tests, SP1 woke up
                                                  we copied a 3.06GB .zip file on a local                           faster than Vista by less than a second
      Windows, Do You Copy?                       drive. On the desktop computer, Vista                             on the desktop and by 3 seconds on the
      The file-copying tests yielded a hodge-     was about 13 percent faster than XP                               laptop. As in the compression tests, XP
      podge of results that didn’t radically      and about 16 percent faster than SP1.                             took first place on both test systems,
      favor any particular OS. According to       On the laptop, Vista was 18 percent                               but its margin of victory over SP1 was
      Microsoft, Service Pack 1 improves the      faster than XP and 19 percent faster                              narrower on the desktop system (2 sec-
      operating system’s file-copying times;      than SP1. At copying .zip files, original                         onds) than on the laptop (9 seconds).
      but in several of our tests, plain old      Vista outshines both XP and SP1.
      Vista beat Vista with SP1. Vista without      SP1 took top honors in only one heat                            The Frame Game
      the update was about 10 percent faster      of our hand-timed evaluations: the multi-                         Gamers have complained that Vista
      than Vista with SP1 at copying a .zip       copy test on the desktop—and that by                              hampers game play, and our tests con-
      file over a network, for example.           a negligible margin over plain Vista.                             firm that XP is substantially faster than
         Results differed when the files being      In compression tests, SP1 did im-                               either Vista version on games. SP1 had
      copied were scattered across the hard       prove on Vista’s performance, but XP                              almost no gain over original Vista.
      drive; in those tests, which measure        stole the show. Vista took three times                               In frame-rate tests on the desktop PC,
      both throughput and access time, SP1        as long as XP to extract files on the                             XP bested both versions of Vista every

 68   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   M AY 2 0 0 8
                                                                                  PCW Test
                              time. On the Doom 3 tests, antialiasing              Center            Got Games? Stick With XP
                              usually had a slightly negative effect on          OUR CHART SHOWS what gamers already know: XP blows Vista away.
                              Vista’s performance, but antialiasing                                                         Gaming test frame rates (in frames per second)
                              scarcely made a difference to XP. In the           version                             Doom 3                                                 Far Cry
                              desktop Doom 3 tests without antialias-                              No antialiasing            With antialiasing           No antialiasing             With antialiasing
                              ing, XP’s frame rate was about 14 per-
                                                                                XP             195.7                       195.5                      253.7                      231.6
                              cent faster than that of second-place
                              SP1; with antialiasing turned on, XP’s            Vista          173.4                       168.4                      206.6                      213.7
                              frame rate was about 14 percent faster
                                                                                Vista SP1      176.4                       169.3                      207.7                      208.7
                              than that of second-place Vista. In the
                              Far Cry tests, Vista and Vista with SP1            NOTE: Desktop tests at 1280 by 1024 resolution. Higher numbers are better. For all results, see

                              improved a bit with antialiasing turned
                              on. Antialiasing degraded XP’s perfor-           mance depends greatly on hardware                               Vista’s Aero environment requires a lot
                              mance on the Far Cry test, though XP             and on the OS. So how do you know                               more graphics power than XP’s inter-
                              still won handily on every test.                 whether your current PC’s graphics                              face does. But our tests also indicate
                                Our test laptop wasn’t built for gam-          card is up to snuff?                                            that Vista SP1 doesn’t improve mark-
                              ing. XP, Vista, and SP1 fared about the                                                                          edly over the original Vista—even when
                              same; SP1 and Vista bested XP in Doom            The Rock-Bottom Line                                            both are installed on a high-powered
                              3 and matched XP in Far Cry. But the             It’s not unusual for an OS designed for                         PC with components built to run the
                              frame-rate counts were very low for all          older, slower PCs to test well; newer                           new OS efficiently. SP1 did outperform
                              three, ranging from 2 to 7 fps with anti-        operating systems tend to have more-                            plain Vista in a few areas, but not in any
                              aliasing and 10 to 25 fps without.               sophisticated features designed for                             jaw-dropping way. What’s more, the
                              As these tests show, graphics perfor-            more-powerful machines. For example,                            service pack’s poor performance in

                              What We Really Want From Our Relationship With Vista
                              FROM THE         Dearest Microsoft,                                           because he can’t tweak Vista’s Registry, even when he’s logged

                              PCW                 We need to talk. We, the people of the PC
                                               World forums and the Vista user base, waited
                               F O R U M S patiently for Vista to finally come out. We
                                                                                                            in as an administrator. In fact, Evildave got so frustrated by
                                                                                                            Vista that he dumped Windows—not for a Mac, but for Ubuntu
                              believed you when you said Service Pack 1 would fix most of                      Meanwhile, “Lilxkid24” is irked by the lack of drivers for his
                              Vista’s shortcomings. Then we waited patiently again for SP1 to               gear, by the drop in frame rates between XP and Vista, by the
                              arrive.                                                                                       constant RAM-hogging even when his PC is
                                 And now, well, we’re sick and tired of wait-                                               idle, and by the lack of compatibility with older
                              ing—not just for Vista to get better, but for our                                             software and games. He has a laundry list of
                              Vista PC to finish booting up. And after waiting                                               gripes on the PC World forums. You should take
                              that out, we’re fed up with having to “allow” var-                                            a look.
                              ious things to happen by clicking pop-up                                                         Don’t get us wrong. We want to love Vista. In
                              screens.                                                                                      fact, we do love parts of Vista. Senior Editor
                                 The thing about pop-ups is that we pay atten-                                              Yardena Arar, for example, loves the pop-up
                              tion to them only when they’re unexpected. In                                                 previews of pages in the taskbar and the seam-
                              Vista, they cry wolf so abundantly that we start clicking ‘Allow’             less way Vista syncs with her Windows Mobile devices. Senior
                              by default, which leaves us no more secure than we’d be with-                 Writer Darren Gladstone loves Vista’s integration with his
                              out pop-ups. That’s why many of us disable the pop-ups in our                 Xbox 360. Working as a Media Center Extender, it tracks
                              User Account Control settings.                                                sports stats while he watches a game—though he longs for
                                 But it’s not all about security. We especially don’t like pop-ups          better native video codec support over his Xbox 360 for view-
                              that obstruct us from rearranging our Start menu and ask us if                ing AVI files.

                              we’re sure we want to do anything. Trust us, we’re sure.                        Vista just isn’t what we want it to be after buying a system
                                 It’s almost like you don’t trust us. Now, we don’t blame you               with enough RAM, battery life, and processing power to run it.
                              for being a little paranoid because of past Windows attacks. But                Basically, we want XP back. We liked XP. Can you hook us up?
                              what about the good guys who just want to get stuff done?                       Love,
                                 Just ask “Evildave” of the PC World forums. He’s frustrated                  A large portion of the Windows user base

                                                                                                                                                                 M AY 2 0 0 8    W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   69
      many areas compared with XP shows               In addition, as computer makers direct       (see the screen shot below).
      that Vista is still playing catchup.          more resources toward Vista, customers           What would Windows do? If you have an
        Unfortunately, you may not be able          will be harder-pressed to find XP-com-         older or less capable video card, click
      to avoid Vista forever. Windows XP is         patible drivers for new hardware com-          Start, type systempropertiesperformance,
      slated to disappear from shelves in           ponents. So if you want an XP system,          and press <Enter>. Click Continue if
      June, along with the last new comput-         you need to start your shopping today          prompted by User Account Control.
      ers that have XP installed at the factory.    while such PCs are still available.            Select Adjust for best performance. Or
                                                                                                   cherry-pick the options you can’t live
                                                                                                   without. (Fewer check marks mean bet-
      Rev Up Vista on Your Own                                                                     ter performance.) Click OK.
                                                                                                     Dis-Service yourself: Don’t let unneed-
      SERVICE PACK 1 may not give your                                                             ed software components waste memory
      system much more oomph, but you                                                              or put a ball-and-chain on your Win-
      have other ways to speed Vista up.                                                           dows startup. Click Start, type msconfig,
      Spending a few minutes (or a few                                                             and press <Enter>. Confirm if prompted
      rupees) optimizing your Vista PC                                                             by User Account Control. But be care-
      can help it get its groove on.                                                               ful! Click the Services tab, and uncheck
         Get flashy: If you have an extra USB                                                      only the services you’re certain you
      flash drive that you don’t use for                                                           don’t need. To be safe, uncheck one,
      much else, Vista can cache disk                                                              reboot, and see if everything still works
      reads on it, thereby boosting perfor-                                                        fine before moving on to another. Do
      mance beyond what you’d get from                                                             your homework via online help or a
      your hard disk alone. Simply insert       GET YOUR CACHE value by plugging a seldom-         Web search before experimenting!
      the flash drive into an available USB     used USB flash drive in your system and letting       Here are some services that you
      2.0 slot. If the drive is fast enough, a Vista do the rest to improve performance.           might be able to do without: If you
      prompt will appear, asking whether                                                           don’t work interactively with a remote
      you want to open the folder for the           The process makes you safer, but your          computer, don’t run programs from a
      drive or use it to ‘Speed up my system        productivity may suffer if you must            server, and don’t need Remote Desk-
      using Windows ReadyBoost’ (see the            constantly respond to UAC’s demands.           top, uncheck Terminal Services. If you
      screen shot above right). Choose the          See if your hardware is slowing you down: In   can live without Windows diagnostic
      latter option, and follow the remaining      Explorer, right-click Computer and              and troubleshooting services, un-
      prompts. When you’re calculating how         choose Properties. Next to
      much space to set aside for ReadyBoost       ‘Rating’, click Windows Expe-
      to use, Microsoft recommends that you        rience Index. The item with
      let ReadyBoost use one to three times         the lowest score is the big-
      the amount of RAM on your system.             gest drain on your getting a
         Play your cards right: USB thumb           better Vista experience. For
      drives aren’t the only way to boost sys-      example, if the lowest score
      tem performance—fortunately, since            is attributed to Graphics, it
      USB memory sticks protruding from a           may be time to invest in a
      computer (particularly a laptop) are          new graphics card.
      easy to dislodge, and they can be a pain        Sideline Sidebar: If you don’t
      to remove and stow for traveling. If          need the little “gadget” doo-
      your PC has a reader for SD Card or           dads in Vista’s Sidebar, get rid
      CompactFlash media, you can use               of them. Right-click the Win-
      either of those cards in place of a USB       dows Sidebar icon in the task-
      stick to handle your ReadyBoost needs.        bar tray and choose Exit. Then
         Seize control: Speeding up Vista isn’t     open the Control Panel and
      enough; you need to prevent the OS            launch Windows Sidebar Prop-
      from slowing you down. The annoying           erties in the ‘Appearance and
      Vista pop-ups that ask you to ‘Allow’ or      Personalization’ category.           SAYONARA, SIDEBAR! Prevent gadgets from slowing
      ‘Deny’ many actions are examples of           Uncheck Start Sidebar when           down an already sluggish system by preventing Sidebar
      Vista’s User Account Control at work.         Windows starts and click OK          from starting with Windows.

 70   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   M AY 2 0 0 8
                              check Diagnostic Policy                                                                                         occur while you’re
                              Service, Diagnostic Ser-                                                                                        working.
                              vice Host, and Diagnostic                                                                                          Be a power pig: If you
                              System Host. If you                                                                                             don’t mind spending
                              don’t want Windows                                                                                              more, you can boost
                              to index your files for                                                                                         your system’s perfor-
                              searching, uncheck                                                                                              mance by adjusting its
                              Windows Search. Other                                                                                           power options. In the
                              Services options to                                                                                             Control Panel, launch
                              consider disabling                                                                                              Power Options in the
                              include ‘Fax’, ‘Offline                                                                                         ‘System and Mainte-
                              Files’, ‘Smart Card’,         MORE ENERGY MEANS faster computing. To kick things up a notch, use the ‘High
                                                                                               ti   T ki k thi          t h                   nance’ category. Select
                              ‘Smart Card Removal           performance’ choice in the Power Options control panel.                           High Performance, close
                              Policy’, ‘Themes’, and                                                                                          the dialog box (see the
                              ‘Windows Error Reporting Service’.             defrag your drives, click Start, type          screen shot above), and prepare your-
                                Keep your disk in shape: The same advice     Defragmenter, and press <Enter>. Use this      self for a higher electric bill.
                              you’ve heard for years is true for Vista,      dialog box to set up the utility to defrag       Keep on tweaking: For still more per-
                              too: Delete the useless clutter on your        your disk regularly at a time when you         formance tweaks, check out my article
                              hard disk and defragment it. To do the         are away from your system. Vista has an        “Shift Any Version of Windows Into
                              former, click Start, type Cleanup, and         automatic defragmenting feature that           High Gear” (
                              press <Enter>. Specify the drive and files     may kick in at inopportune moments;            features/Hardware/Shift_Any_Ver-
                              to clean and click OK. You may need to         scheduling your defrags will help              sion_of_Windows_Into_High_
                              repeat the steps for multiple drives. To       ensure that these operations don’t             Gear/4260616/12).

                              Will Windows 7 Be the Vista You’ve Always Wanted?
                              MICROSOFT IS KEEPING details of the next version of Windows             Recent court papers in a class action suit over Microsoft’s Vista
                              close to its vest. But recent company moves and revelations hint      Capable sticker program revealed that even Microsoft executives
                              at what we may see in the next operating system, code-named           were having driver- and application-compatibility problems with
                              Windows 7 and due for release in late 2009 or early 2010.             Vista after its release. In those papers, executives made state-
                                 At its recent MIX 08 conference in Las Vegas, Microsoft            ments to the effect that the delays and problems that accompa-
                              unveiled Internet Explorer 8, technology that                                          nied Vista’s rollout won’t happen again.
                              likely will be a part of Windows 7, though Micro-                                         Microsoft is still struggling to persuade busi-
                              soft hasn’t linked the two products yet.                                               nesses to move from XP to Vista, in light of its
                                 Microsoft demonstrated IE 8, showing mainly                                         compatibility problems and hardware require-
                              developer improvements, but also some new                                              ments. Some business users have suggested that
                              end-user features. One, “Activities,” lets users                                       companies may skip Vista altogether and hold on
                              highlight any word or phrase on a site and then                                        to Windows XP for a little longer before migrating
                              choose from a drop-down list of actions to take                                        directly to Windows 7.
                              using that term, such as doing a Live Search or                                           To remedy these problems, Cherry says, Micro-
                              searching MSNBC for information.                                      soft should focus on making Windows 7 a stable release for busi-
                                 Aside from IE 8, little about Windows 7 is on the record, and      ness customers, based on the same code used in the recently
                              the word from Microsoft is that the company will talk about the       released Windows Server 2008. He believes that Microsoft’s mis-
                              OS when it’s good and ready. But analysts warn against expecting      take with Vista was to try to serve both private consumers and
                              Windows 7 to be a blockbuster release, given the fallout Microsoft    business customers with a flashy release that added a host of
                              endured for its late and, to many, disappointing Windows Vista.       multimedia functionality at the expense of practical consider-

                                 Mike Cherry, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, says that    ations such as performance and compatibility. “What we really
                              for Windows 7, Microsoft’s developers will likely keep the fripper-   need [is] for a business edition to be built off of that server code,
                              ies to a minimum. Doing so will allow them to deliver “something      so it would look much less fancy than Vista—much more austere
                              reasonable they can complete by a reasonable date,” he says.          with not a lot of wasted functionality,” Cherry says.
                              “Their goal will be to try to put Vista behind them.”                                                            —Elizabeth Montalbano

                                                                                                                                            M AY 2 0 0 8   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   71

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                           PC Wor

 72   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   M AY 2 0 0 8
                                 BY ADITYA NAG,
                          ILLUSTRATIONS BY PC ANOOP

THE MANIA THAT mall culture spawned a                newbie or a relative neophyte might be a little
decade ago has barely had a chance to die down       out of his or her depth in such an environment
before retailers upped the ante with the specialty   and would be better served going to one of these
superstore. Imagine if you will, multiple floors     super stores. For one, the range is larger and you
of HDTVs, laptops, home theatre systems, por-        are not restricted for choice as in a single brand
table music players and other things that go         showroom where one might not be able to make
blink in the night. A far cry from the little shop   an informed choice for the sheer lack of options.
around the corner and a dream come true for          Secondly, for the layperson, it offers a far more
even the most particular tech aficionado. But is     exciting shopping experience with a chance to
there substance behind the sparkling facade? The     experience multiple brands. A lot of stores offer
PC World team spent a day covertly shopping at       exciting freebies with many products and cus-
Croma, E-Zone and Reliance Digital, and this is      tomers often feel they have got better value for
what we found.                                       their money. But the greatest advantage that
  Right off the bat, it has to be said that this     they offer is that they bring a range of products
shopping experience is not necessarily for the       that run the gamut from top of the line interna-
hardcore geek who has specific requirements          tional and domestic products to more modestly
when it comes to brand, specs, etc. They might       priced brands under one roof. Whether they are
be better served going to an outlet where they       laptops or iPods, cell phones, gaming devices or
can bargain and get the best price available. A      electronic keyboards, customers can avail a

                                                                                                   M AY 2 0 0 8   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   73
      hands-on feel of the product they are
      going to buy. For others, it offers sheer
      aspirational value and gives them a
      chance to try products that may not
      necessarily be able to afford.
        Ultimately, what they offer is a
      chance to see the latest products and
      competition between stores often
      ensures that prices remain reasonable.

      Croma                                                                                               CROMA OFFERS A good selection of
      A STONE’S THROW away from the                                                                       brands and reasonable prices.
      bustle of Brigade Road, this electron-
      ic superstore has found an unlikely
      home in Eva Mall, that was conceptu-         had some gaming mice, and the Log-          at the laptop counter – he knew a bit,
      alized as being a woman’s specialty          itech diNovo keyboards. These are not       but not too much. The prices were
      mall. The transparent store façade           commonly available, so it was nice to       lower, but you need to know what
      offers a tantalizing glimpse of what         see them here. The prices were good         you want if you come here.
      lies inside. The store offers products       as well, quite a bit better than Digital.     Similarly in the PMP and digicam
      across various categories including:         The TV selection was not the best of        section the range was impressive, but
      Home Entertainment products, Small           the three stores we visited, but had        the sales staff was again left wanting.
      Appliances, Computers and Peripher-          the usual suspects on the walls. The        When asked about product features,
      als, Communication and Music and             salesman here was similar to the chap       there were times when they had to
      Imaging. Prominent brands include                                                        look at the catalogue and answer our
      Creative, Duracell, Sansui, Yamaha,                                                      questions after a few minutes of try-
      Toshiba, Onida, Samsung, Panasonic,                                                      ing to figure out where the model
      Quark, Telemax, Philips, Haier, Tata                                                     number existed from the index. On
      Sky, HP, Tata Indicom, Lenovo,                                                           the flip side, it can also be annoying
      Apple, Logitech, Microsoft, Adobe,                                                         if you are one of those people who
      Nokia, Samsung, Citizen, Motorola,                                                          likes to browse quietly and don’t
      Samsung, Kodak, Olympus, Sony,                Last year Reliance Retail,                    want to be attended by two or
      Epson and Canon. Croma also offers                                                          three salesmen when you are just
      an extensive choice of gaming soft-
                                                     announced its plans to                       enquiring about one cell phone or
      ware for kids, and even for hard-             set up150outletsof                            a memory card.
      core gamers.                                                                                  The one thing that Croma did
        Now for the shopping experience.              Reliance Digital in the                     offer was competitive pricing and in
      The laptop section was fairly                      next three years.                        some cases costs were significantly
      impressive with a good selection on                                                            lower than other stores. Croma is
      display. The salesmen however fell                                                             also the only store that offers a
      slightly short of the mark. The guy          Croma has 18 stores across                        store warranty. If you pay them a
      who spoke to us was polite, but
      didn’t know the little details.
                                                   6 cities:Mumbai,Delhi,                            certain amount, they will take
                                                                                                     care of your product in case it
      The models on display were                   Pune, Surat, Ahmedabad &                          fails. This is over and above the
      from the same manufacturers as                                                                 manufacturer’s warranty. Pre-
      at Digital and e-Zone – Sony,                       Bangalore.                                 serve your bill if you take advan-
      Lenovo, HP-Compaq. Dell has                                                                    tage of this, since you’ll need it.

                                                   e -Zone has 16 stand-
      recently signed up with Croma                                                                  The overall experience was quite
      to sell laptops and desktops, but                                                              good, especially with the lower
      the salesman had no idea about
      when they would be available on
                                                  alone and11shop-in-shop                            prices. While they are still a bit
                                                                                                     higher than a specialized com-
      display. The computer accessory                  outlets across India.                         puter store, they aren’t exorbi-
      section was impressive. They                                                                   tantly higher.

 74   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   M AY 2 0 0 8
                                                                                                                   Things to or
 e-Zone                                      The layout was cluttered, and the aisles
                                             were narrow. We went in the afternoon
                                                                                                    5              look out f
 THE STORE LOOKED quite large and            when the shop was relatively empty, so
                                                                                                 1. Customer support, follow up
 had a bunch on products in the display      it’ll be worse when it’s full. This particular
                                                                                                 services, and warranty policy.
 window, but the service was quite poor.     e-Zone was not a pleasant shopping
                                                                                                 Some stores offer additional
 We hung around the laptop counter for       experience, due to the poor service. This
                                                                                                 warranty beyond what the man-
 ten minutes, poking and prodding the        might be confined to just this store, and
                                                                                                 ufacturer provides, or they
 machines, and trying to look very lost,     we certainly hope it is, but it was
                                                                                                 might be willing to liaison with
 but no one approached to help. We finally   disappointing none the less. The store
                                                                                                 the service center for you, in
 had to ask for help, and all the salesman   had a complete range of products, but
                                                                                                 case any repairs or replace-
 did was read out the spec-sheet pasted      was left wanting when it came to brands.
                                                                                                 ments need to be done.
 above each machine. He wasn’t able to       When it came to PC speakers, we only
 answer most questions about draft-N         spotted Logitech PC speakers. There was
                                                                                                 2.Knowledgeable salesmen. They
 wireless, discrete graphics cards or how    no sign of Creative or Altec Lansing. The
                                                                                                 don’t need to be experts, but see if
 much RAM was needed to properly run         cell phone range was limited to Nokia,
                                                                                                 the salesmen at the store under-
 Windows Vista. Moving                                                 Sony Ericsson
                                 All three stores offer a and HTC, but                           stand the basics of what they are
 on, we wandered to the
                                                                                                 selling. A good store will take the
 accessory section. The
 gaming mice immediately
                                 lot of exciting freebies there were noLG,
                                                                       phones from
                                                                                                 trouble to train their salesmen to
                                                                                                 guide customers.
 caught our eye, but there         with many products. Samsung and
 was no one there to tell us                                           they claimed to
 about them. The rest of the Always check to make have only one
                                                                                                 3.Range of products stocked. A
                                                                                                 variety of products, brands, and
 range was the usual bunch sure you’re getting the model of
                                                                                                 models, give you more options.
 of input devices, wi-fi                                               Motorola. On
 routers and the like. The            best deal for your               the home theater
                                                                                                 4.The latest products. If new
 prices were reasonable,                                               and mini music
                                     hard-earned cash.                                           launches can make it to the store
 albeit a little higher than                                           fronts, products
                                                                                                 quicker, that’s a definite advantage
 usual. The TV selection was quite large,    from brands like Onkyo, Denon, Jamo,
                                                                                                 when you go shopping.
 and Sony had a big section all to itself.   LG, Philips, Samsung and Sony were
 They had all the new HD TVs on display,     there along with some other unknown
                                                                                                 5.Price. The lower, the better!
 and it certainly looked good. Here too the  brands. The store housed all the popular
 salesman seemed to have vanished. The       brands of digicams but only JVC and
 entire store seemed to have been having a   Canon camcorders were available. MP3
 bit of an off day when we visited. They     players included the now omnipresent             iRiver here. When we enquired about
 had plenty of things, including their own   iPod alongside Sandisk, Cowon MP3,               after sales service, we were told that you
 in-house brands (Sensei and Koryo), but     Philps, Transcend, Mitashi and Sony.             needed to go to the manufacturer’s
 there was a severe dearth of salespeople.   However, we did not see anything from            service center directly, and not via
                                                                                              e-Zone. This could pose a problem for
                                                                                              those who have no idea about where the
                                                                                              product’s service center is or who do not
                                                                                              have access to those service centers in
                                                                                              their localities.

                                                                                              Reliance Digital
                                                                                              THE RELIANCE STORE impressed us
                                                                                              on many levels. This was easily one of
                                                                                              the largest electronics stores we have
                                                                                              been to. It was almost like a mall in
                                                                                              itself. We headed upstairs to the gad-
                                                                                              gets and home appliances section, and
                                                                                              the sheer size of the floor made even
E - ZONE’S SERVICE WAS not exactly
                                                                                              the biggest TV look small. The laptop
world-class. The range of products was
slightly disappointing`
                                                                                                          M AY 2 0 0 8   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   75
      section had the usual brands on dis-
      play, but the difference was in the sales
                                                     Croma                                                     OFFERS
      assistants. The person we spoke to was         VU LCD TV worth Rs.46,000 is available
      knowledgeable, and knew his laptops.           for Rs.28,499 under an exchange offer.
      While he wasn’t an out and out geek,           Haier refrigerator for Rs.7,390 is available at Croma for just
      he did know the differences between            Rs.5,299, under an exchange offer.
      the various flavors of Windows Vista,          Acer Notebook 4620NWXCi is available for Rs.27,999. An external
      and he was emphatic when he said that          DVD writer and MP3 player are bundled for free.
      it needs at least 2 GB of RAM to run.
      We asked him about draft-N wi-fi and
      discrete graphics cards vs. integrated         Reliance Digital
      graphics, and his answers were pretty
                                                     Buy an HCL P3005 Laptop for Rs 29,990 and get a Plantronix
      accurate. The chap standing by the TVs
                                                     Head Set, a 1 GB Pen Drive and a Digital Pen free
      was equally well versed. He explained
                                                     Buy Select AMD Powered HP Compaq Presario or Pavilion Laptops
      the difference between 1080p and
                                                     and get a 4GB Pendrive free
      1080i, and correctly pointed out that
                                                     Free : A DVD Player worth Rs. 2990 with all HTC Mobile Handsets
      for true HD you needed a panel with a
                                                     Buy an LG Dual Core Desktop with a 19-inch TFT monitor and get
      resolution of 1920x1080. The home
                                                     Logitech M30-2.1 Speakers free
      theater systems were scattered around
                                                     Buy Acer Aspire L3600 Desktop and get an all-in-one printer, as
      the floor, with a nice couch in front of
                                                     well as free game CDs worth Rs. 5000
      each where we could sit and experience
      what was on offer. The computer sec-
      tion was slightly disappointing. The
      accessories on display were the usual       before you buy. However, if budget is       cell phones and make a truly informed
      bunch of input devices, webcams, wire-      not a concern, then this is the best        purchase. None of the stores we visited
      less routers, external hard drives and so   place for you. Ambience often comes         offered as much freedom and experi-
      on, but the prices were on the higher       at a premium and Reliance is no excep-      ence to the customers. The store also
      side, sometimes by as much as a few         tion. If one had to pick out what made      impressed with the sheer range of
      thousand rupees.                            the store stand out it was the hands on     products on offer. From iRiver MP3
         Overall, the store impressed with its    experience it offered with nearly all the   player to the latest iPods, they even
      wide range, knowledgeable salesmen,         personal entertainment products that        had Samsung, YES, LG, Sony and
      and general feel, but the prices put the    the store displayed. For instance, you      Philips MP3 players. For cell phones,
      damper on it. We’d suggest you go           could just plug in your headphones (or      they had all the brands ranging from
      there to see what’s available, but do       the not so high-end headphones they         Fly, Spice, LG, Samsung, Nokia,
      find out prices from a few other places     provided) to any of the MP3 players or      Motorola, Sony Ericsson and HTC in
                                                                                              all price ranges. Phone accessories also
                                                                                              got their due, and the latest Jabra Blue-
                                                                                              tooth headsets and cell phone battery
                                                                                              chargers were available. Their portable
                                                                                              speakers for laptop or music players
                                                                                              included models from G-Hanz, Philips
                                                                                              Logitech and Altec Lansing and the PC
                                                                                              speakers included brands like Klipsch,
                                                                                              Philips, JBL and Harman Kardon.
                                                                                              When we asked about the warranty,
                                                                                              Reliance only offered the manufactur-
                                                                                              er’s warranty but said that products
                                                                                              could be brought back to the store and
                                                                                              they would interface. This also applied
                                                                                              to products like Apple’s iPod which
                                                                                              the sales rep claimed could even be
 OUR JAWS DROPPED when we beheld                                                              fixed the same day. Impressive indeed
 this sight. Reliance Digital had by far                                                      if this is true.
 the most products on display.

 76   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   M AY 2 0 0 8
Business Center
               Social Networking Helps You Find Solutions
               DAVID SPARK                                     Using sites like Facebook and               After you’ve begun to grow a network
                                                               LinkedIn, you can develop                   on Facebook, you should check the
               EVERY DAY IN business, you’re either            business contacts and build                 “People You May Know” option on the
               looking for a solution to a problem or          your brand.                                 front page to look for people with
               you want to be the solution to some-                                                        whom you may have friends in com-
               body else’s problem. In an effort to          forms. McClure recommends that you            mon. Lastly, if you think someone
               achieve those two goals, we network.          search your name on Google, Spock,            you’re inviting may not remember you,
               Online social networking has become           and Zoominfo to see what undesir-             send a personal invitation explaining
               the de rigueur method used today—             able items are readily available for          how you know each other.
               and sites such as Facebook (facebook.         you to remove, such as embarrassing             Most people don’t follow up when
               com)and LinkedIn (            photos. You should also find old,             they exchange business cards. You
               )offer the promise of extending your          inactive accounts and delete them.            should. Write a follow-up note via tra-
               reach and making useful busi-                                                                           ditional e-mail or through
               ness contacts.                                                                                          an invite on one of the
                                                                                                                       social networks.
               Build Your Presence
               It’s important to talk to con-                                                                          Manage Flow of
               nected people in your industry                                                                          Information
               and ask them what services                                                                              Your next step should be to
               they’re using. A complete pro-                                                                          sign up with RSS feeds, so
               file is welcoming, so be sure to                                                                        you can stay on top of hot
               take the time to fill out all the                                                                       industry issues and know
               public info that you want peo-                                                                          when someone is talking
               ple to know. Being easy to                                                                              about you. This is the key to
               reach means providing direct                                                                            discovering solutions for
               contact information, such as                                                                            your business needs.
               your IM addresses, Skype user                                                                              You also might want to
               name, e-mail address and           YOU CAN INCREASE your business contacts with the help of busi-       set up Google Alerts to
               phone number. You should           ness groups, having common interests, in sites like Facebook.        receive e-mails for mentions
               make yourself easy to find by                                                                           of hot industry terms and
               including appropriate keywords in all       Grow Your Network                               your company name in the mainstream
               your profiles.                              To help you quickly realize the benefits        news. Over time, you’ll discover which
               Clean Up What’s Already Online : You        of social networking, most services will        of these feeds you need to follow.
               probably already have online presence.      assist your network-building by scanning
               You should definitely clean up inactive     your contacts to see who’s already using        Who Should You Network With?
               profiles and compromising content,          the service. For those already on, you          Good networking isn’t about seeing how
               says David McClure, producer of the         can easily invite them into your network.       many friends you can boast on your Face-
               Graphing Social Patterns conference,        Repeat your address-book scan periodi-          book profile. It’s about connecting to the
               which focuses on the business and           cally. Also, you can rewrite the generic        right people and getting them to know
               technology of social networking plat-       greeting with something more personal.          about your products and services. Follow

                   Want to access your documents without an Internet connection?
                   Log at
                   Online_Office/4260756/9 to know how.

78             W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   M AY 2 0 0 8
                         the hot lists, such as those put out by         NET WORK                       RICHARD MOROCHOVE
                         Crain’s, Forbes, Fortune, and other busi-
                         ness publications. Scan the lists and see
                         who’s relevant in your industry, and then
                                                                         Cartfly Well Suited to Small Web Retailers
                         follow the content these executives cre-        MOST E-COMMERCE                    Cartfly is a Web service that lets you
                         ate through Technorati searches, blogs,         businesses begin by set-           create virtual doorways to your online
                         and Twitter. If you’re very interested in       ting up a storefront on a          store on a wide variety of Web sites.
                         having them recognize you, comment              Web site, and then
                         heavily on their posts and Tweets, and          develop a strategy for driving visitors to    cessfully tested the code on such social
                         provide valuable information. Over time         that site. But a new online service called    networking and blogging sites as Blogger,
                         they’ll recognize you as a contributor,         Cartfly encourages businesses to create        Friendster, Hi5, MySpace, PerfSpot, Piczo,
                         and you’ll be on their radar. When you’re       virtual store entrances in places where       Tagworld, TypePad, and Xanga.
                         ready to approach them for something            visitors already hang out, by adding code
                         you really want, they’ll be more receptive      to blogs and popular social networking        Cartfly Costs
                         to your plea.                                   destinations such as Blogger and MyS-         Cartfly provides a relatively easy-to-use
                           Sites such as Squidoo and About               pace. If you have collected a sig-                introduction to e-commerce. Rather
                         provide forums for people to showcase           nificant number of “friends”                               than imposing a large up-front
                         themselves as experts in almost any             at such sites, Cartfly                                        setup fee, the service charges
                         subject across all industries. You can          ( can                                            3 percent of every sale
                         create your own area of expertise on            help you tap into their                                          made at a store using
                         these sites, but it’s best to begin by fol-     buying power.                                                     Cartfly. The company
                         lowing the sites’ self-professed experts.          Additionally, Cartfly                                           also recommends that
                         Talk to them directly. Find out who             costs nothing to set                                              merchants accept pay-
                         they’re connected to and where they             up—your only in-                                                 ment via PayPal, which
                         get their information. People love to           vestment is some of your                                       charges its usual fees. The
                         share their daily media appetite.               time—and it should provide                                  combined Cartfly and PayPal
                           You should also reach out to people           an interesting alternative to                         fees probably won’t seem excessive
                         who comment on your blog and fol-               eBay for small online sellers.                to small stores with monthly sales of $1000
                         low you on Twitter. Those people are                                                          or so. If your sales increase to more than
                         hot leads. Respond directly to them             Simple Setup                                  $20,000 per month, you’re better off using a
                         and ask them to tell a little about             Setting up a Cartfly store is fairly straight- more traditional shopping-cart service and
                         themselves and how they ended up                forward, but it could be even easier. Mid-    a merchant credit-card account that to-
                         commenting on your blog. If you sign            way through registration, the service asks gether take a smaller slice of every sale.
                         up for a service like MyBlogLog, you            for a 400-pixel store logo, and it doesn’t       Cartfly’s reporting capabilities are lim-
                         can find other members who are read-            allow you to proceed without one. A bet-      ited: It won’t track inventory, nor will it
                         ing your blog, even if they don’t leave         ter process would let you complete regis-     integrate with a small-business account-
                         a comment. You can reach out to                 tration and add a logo later.                 ing app such as QuickBooks. And while
                         them as well.                                      Once you’ve set up your store, you add     security for a store’s administrative func-
                                                                         merchandise manually, which makes             tions is effective, Cartfly pops up a non-
                         Reach Out                                       Cartfly most suitable for stores selling no    secure Web browser window when you
                         The last rule of business social network-       more than a few dozen different items.        check for online orders, which means
                         ing: Don’t hesitate to introduce your-          You can, however, associate options with      someone using a Web sniffer may be able
                         self to someone. Use LinkedIn to search         the items you’re selling—for example, op-     to read the unprotected order information.
                         your network for contacts at specific           tions for T-shirts in different sizes.           Cartfly will most help businesses that
                         companies you’re trying to reach. If               You can also tinker with the look of your already have amassed a substantial num-
                         you don’t have an “in” but are dying to         template-based store to a limited extent,     ber of online connections—friends or fans
                         meet someone you’ve discovered, you             such as by changing colors.                   who are willing to add the store’s widget
                         should go ahead and reach out.                     What distinguishes Cartfly from most        code to their blogs, MySpace profiles, or

                           To realize online social networking’s         entry-level shopping-cart services is how     Web sites. And because the service’s
                         benefits, you’ll have to find your own bal-     easily you can use it to put a miniature      charges are a percentage of sales, you
                         ance of scanning and broadcasting infor-        version of your storefront at other popu-     don’t risk losing a large investment in
                         mation. It’s a comfort level that will likely   lar sites merely by copying and pasting a     shopping-cart software if your online
                         change as your needs change over time.          few lines of code. Cartfly says it has suc-    sales fail to meet your rosy projections.

                                                                                                                                    M AY 2 0 0 8   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   79
Business Center

                           ExpandYoWireless networks can change the way you work. Properly
                                   set up, a wireless network increases employee productivity,
                                   and allows for greater freedom in the workplace. We test
                                   six wireless routers that have business oriented features.
                                                                      BY ADITYA NAG,
                                                                      PHOTOGRAPHS BY SRIVATSA SHANDILYA
                                                                      IMAGING BY UNNIKRISHNAN A.V.

 80   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   M AY 2 0 0 8
ur Network
PCW Test    extremely useful for business-
                                              business specific features. Almost all of
                                              the six conform to the new draft-N
                                                                                          Our office environment is quite noisy,
                                                                                          in terms of radio frequency interfer-
 Center     es. It allows for the expansion   specification; the Zyxel was the only       ence. We took care to set the routers
  of a wired network at a relatively low      exception. However, since draft-N wire-     to use a channel that was uncluttered,
  cost, and makes it easier for staff to      less clients are still few and far          but some interference
  work in different areas of the building.    between, we tested the performance          is inevitable. Speed and range might
  We tested six wireless routers with         under the older 802.11g protocol.           be slightly higher in an area with
                                                                                          less interference.
                                              The PC World Test
                                              Wireless security was enabled on all        Wireless Performance
                                              the routers. We used the more secure        The new routers all promise to give you
                                              Wi-Fi Protected Access(WPA2). This          much faster speeds, but remember that
                                              protocol is much more secure than the       you need a compatible wireless adapter
                                              older WEP protocol, and should always       on your client as well. Most laptops
                                              be used. Encryption slows down the          sold in India today don’t have an
                                              wireless network slightly, but it’s         option for draft-N networking. Don’t
                                              worth the peace of mind. Remember           think that you will get faster speeds
                                              that a wireless network is not confined     just because the box says so.
                                              by office walls.                              In our real-world tests, the Netgear
                                                We tested response time, Signal-to-       RangeMax Router was the fastest
                                              Noise Ratio (SNR), throughput and           overall. At 10 feet, Zyxel’s NWA-
                                              real-world throughput. Tests were           3100 was the fastest by far, touching
                                              conducted in a typical office environ-      19 Mbps. Netgear and the SMC
                                              ment, at distances of 10, 20, 40 and 60     Wireless Barricade N followed with
                                              feet. To test response time and             16 Mbps. The Buffalo Nfiniti Giga
                                              throughput, we used Ixia Software’s         was in the middle of the pack with
                                              QCheck tool. This tests best case sce-      14.5 Mbps, while the D-Link DIR
                                              narios by running customized soft-          615 and Belkin N1 Vision brought up
                                              ware on two clients. Signal-to-Noise        the rear with 10.9 and 9.9 Mbps
                                              ratios were measured using Network          respectively. These extremely slow
                                              Stumbler. The real world tests were         speeds of the D-Link and Belkin were
                                              done the old fashioned way: walking         surprising. We investigated, and
                                              around the office with a laptop and a       found that with encryption off their
                                              stopwatch. We copied 400 MB of files        speeds increased substantially. They
                                              from a desktop connected directly to        don’t handle encryption very well.
                                              the router to minimize external             Response times were uniformly
                                              effects. We used the internal Intel         good, as might be expected at this
                                              Wi-Fi adapter on a Lenovo ThinkPad          close range. All the routers averaged
                                              T-43 laptop for all testing.                between 6-12 milliseconds.

                                                                                                     M AY 2 0 0 8   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   81
Business Center
      Moving to 20 feet started to thin the                               BEST                                                          sistent performance across the board,
      pack out. Zyxel went crashing down to                               BUY                                                           and that crowned it the winner in our
      8.5 Mbps. This put it firmly in last                                                                                              performance tests.
      place. SMC did well, managing to aver-
      age 16.5 Mbps while maintaining a                                                                                                 Features and Interface
      response time of only 6 milliseconds.                                                                                             The only router to have true business
      Buffalo was close behind, with 16.2                                                                                               specific features wasn’t even a router.
      Mbps, but the response time was twice                                                                                             The Zyxel NWA 3100 is an access
      that of SMC. Netgear did decently,                                                                                                point, not a router, but it had some
      coming in at 14.5 Mbps, but Belkin and                                                                                            very nice features. The most promi-
      D-Link were slow once again, with 11.5                                                                                            nent was the ability to have multiple
      and 10.1 Mbps. The synthetic tests                                                                                                service set identifiers (SSID’s), each
      with QCheck showed similar numbers.                                                                                               with its own setting for security and
      Belkin put up a better showing, but the                                                                                           Quality of Service. Using this, you can
      rest maintained their relative places.                          THE NETGEAR RANGEMAX Router was the                               create three distinct wireless net-
        A typical distance from a wireless                            most consistent across long distances.                            works, and apply various restrictions
      router is 40 – 60 feet. When we moved                                                                                             to each. You might want to have one
      our test laptop to this distance, we                            followed,
                                                                        llow                          millisec-
                                                                      followed, with 8.8 Mbps and 9 millisec
                                                                                                           sec-                         for guests, with restricted access to
      started to see wide variations in speed                         onds. Belkin managed to get 7.7 Mbps,                             the Internet and office network, while
      and response times. Netgear was the                             but the rest were very slow at 6.4, 5.3,                          another is meant for Voice over IP,
      fastest, averaging 10 Mbps and a                                and 4.4 for Buffalo, Zyxel and D-Link                             and a third for normal office work.
      response time of 16 milliseconds. SMC                           respectively. Netgear had the most con-                           From the users point of view, these

       Wireless Routers for Small Businesses
       WI-FI ROUTERS                               PCW Rating                      Performance                           Features and Specifications               Bottom line

                                                    75              • Real World Test (Mb/s): 14.38                •Gigabit Ethernet Support: Yes                 The fastest router with the best
            BEST Netgear RangeMax                                   • Response Time (ms): 16                       • Multiple SSID: No                            range. This one is reasonably priced
       1    BUY WNR834B                                             •QCheck Throughput (Mb/s): 16.5                • 802.11n Support: Yes                         and has great design. Not too many
                      Price : Rs. 6,800                GOOD                                                                                                       business specific features.

                                                    73              • Real World Test (Mb/s): 16.13                •Gigabit Ethernet Support: Yes                 Slightly slower than Netgear, and
             Buffalo Nfiniti Giga                                   • Response Time (ms): 13.8                     • Multiple SSID: No                            lacks some range, but quite good
       2     Price : Rs. 6,800                                      •QCheck Throughput (Mb/s): 17.05               • 802.11n Support: Yes                         otherwise. The web interface is
                                                       GOOD                                                                                                       cluttered and difficult to figure out.

                                                    66              • Real World Test (Mb/s): 16.52                •Gigabit Ethernet Support: No                  Good performance, comes with a
             SMC Wireless Barricade N                               • Response Time (ms): 6                        • Multiple SSID: No                            free USB draft-N adapter. Very
       3     Price : Rs. 7,990                                      •QCheck Throughput (Mb/s): 16.08               • 802.11n Support: Yes                         similar to the D-Link, but with
                                                       FAIR                                                                                                       better performance.

                                                    64              • Real World Test (Mb/s): 11.5                 •Gigabit Ethernet Support: Yes                 By far the best looking router,
             Belkin N1 Vision                                       • Response Time (ms): 17                       • Multiple SSID: Yes                           but the slow performance
       4     Price : Rs. 11,699                                     •QCheck Throughput (Mb/s): 15.2                • 802.11n Support: Yes                         disappointed. More a home
                                                       FAIR                                                                                                       router than a business one.

                                                    64              • Real World Test (Mb/s): 10.16                •Gigabit Ethernet Support: No                  Cheap and just about gets the job
             D-Link DIR 615                                         • Response Time (ms): 15                       • Multiple SSID: No                            done. The performance is slow, and
       5     Price : Rs. 6,000                                      •QCheck Throughput (Mb/s): 15.1                • 802.11n Support: Yes                         the lack of any notable features
                                                       FAIR                                                                                                       pushes this down the pack.

                                                    62              • Real World Test (Mb/s): 8.54                 •Gigabit Ethernet Support: No                  The only pure business access
             ZyXEL NWA 3100                                         • Response Time (ms): 26                       • Multiple SSID: Yes                           point in this roundup. Lots of good
       6     Price: Rs. 10,000                                      •QCheck Throughput (Mb/s): 10.5                • 802.11n Support: No                          features, but priced a little too
                                                       FAIR                                                                                                       high, and has slow performance.

       CHART NOTES: All numbers shown are from the real world tests. Tests were conducted with a ThinkPad T43 and an Intel 802.11 G Wireless Adapter, in a standard office environment.

 82   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   M AY 2 0 0 8
are three separate networks. The NWA
                                               Belkin N1 Vision gives you the real picture
3100 also has support for Virtual LAN.
                                               ALL THE ROUTERS tested have web-based interfaces that give a lot of information
   The Belkin N1 Vision was the only
                                               about the status of the router, but Belkin goes one better by puttin a little screen on the
other router with support for multiple
                                               router itself! This screen can show you many things, such as the current speed of your
SSIDs. It could only support two,
                                               broadband connection, the number of devices connected to the router, total uploads
though, and it wasn’t possible to have
                                               and downloads, and even the time. It also contains help tips that can be browsed by
fine-grained control over it. The Belkin
                                                                                             using the soft buttons. You can check up on
N1 also had the most unique fea-
                                                                                             the IP address of the router, and in case of a
ture of all the routers tested;
                                                                                             problem, it informs you about the likely solu-
indeed, of all the routers we’ve ever
                                                                                             tion. This can be a boon for inexperienced
seen – a little screen that gives you
                                                                                             users, since most routers are quite literally
graphical details of what’s happen-
                                                                                             black boxes that provide little to no trouble-
ing on the network. This can be
                                                                                             shooting information.
truly useful on a home network or in a
                                                 Usefully, there’s also an icon indicating that wireless security is active and another advis-
small business.
                                               ing if wireless clients are connected. Another button press takes you to a view of all con-
   The web based interface of the
                                               nected clients and their current Internet usage whilst the next shows their bandwidth con-
D-Link and SMC were a pleasure to
                                               sumption for the past 24 hours. The novelty might wear off after a while, though.
use. They looked very similar, and have
oodles of help available. In contrast,
Buffalo’s web based interface is, quite
frankly, a mess. They have all the usual
features available, but the interface is     need to have a power point nearby. The            The Verdict
so cluttered that even an experienced        router is supplied electricity through            Three routers were in the running
user will take some time to figure out       the network cable.                                for the top spot – Netgear, Buffalo,
where everything is. Netgear had a             Gigabit Ethernet is a necessity with            and SMC. Eventually though, Net-
clean setup, and a nice feature that         draft-N, since 100 Mbps Ethernet                  gear won, based on its low price,
detects a potential network conflict in      would become a limiting factor on a               easy to use interface, and perfor-
case you are using the same IP address       draft-N network. D-Link and SMC                   mance over the maximum distances.
space that it comes factory configured       chose not to include this, and it cost            Buffalo came in second, losing
to use. In such a case, it switches to a     them valuable points. Netgear, Buffa-             points for a confusing interface and
different IP space and informs you           lo and Belkin did include 4 gigabit               range. SMC lost out by not includ-
about it. This is a nice feature. Zyxel      ports. Zyxel, being a pure access                 ing a Gigabit Interface. It’s more
and Belkin have decent interfaces,           point, does not have any ports, but               expensive than the top two, but the
which are reasonably easy to use.            the WAN port is 100 mbps.                         bundled draft-N USB adapter helps
   Netgear was the only device to hide                                                              to bring the price down a bit.
the antennae inside the plastic shell.                                                                Zyxel deserves a special men-
This makes it easy to place the router,                                                            tion. It came in last due to the high
since it doesn’t have the antenna pok-                                                             price and slow performance, but its
ing out. Buffalo went a different route                                                            unique features made it stand out.
and put the antennae outside the case                                                             The multiple SSIDs and ability to
on a little stand. This gives you some                                                            set different security settings for
flexibility in placing the router: you can                                                       each can be extremely useful under
have the router on a shelf and the                                                               certain circumstances.
antennae mounted on the wall. The                                                                  Belkin’s N1 Vision is quite lovely to
connecting wire should have                                                                     look at, but the performance is not up
been a little bit longer,                                                                       to the mark. With encryption turned
though, to be really useful.                                                                    off, it does much better, but that’s no
   Zyxel was the only router                                                                    excuse for the slow performance with
that supported Power over                                                                       WPA2 turned on. D-Link is similarly
Ethernet (PoE). You need a                                                                      crippled by poor performance, and it
network switch that supports PoE, but                                                           can’t even hide its lack of substance
if you have this, then placing the router    SMC PUT UP a good showing, but lost out           behind a pretty exterior. It is the
becomes very easy, since you don’t           due to its lack of Gigabit Ethernet ports.        cheapest of the lot, though.

                                                                                                             M AY 2 0 0 8   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   83
Here’s How
     Carry a Portable Computer in Your Pocket
        With a USB keychain                    Fortunately, one solution              applications such as
        drive and a little                     fits right in your pocket: the         Google Docs or
        forethought, you can                   ubiquitous USB flash drive             Zoho Office, but a
        take a personalized                    (aka keychain/thumb drive).            flash drive allows you
        computer every-                           With the right device and           to carry a much wider
        where and leave your                   software, you can plug your            assortment of the
        laptop at home.                        flash drive into a computer            programs, utilities,
                                               at an Internet café, hotel             and other fun doo-
     BY SCOTT DUNN                             business center, or elsewhere,         dads you’ve come to
                                               and have all the tools and             depend on.
     A LAPTOP IS a handy thing                 files you need to do your                 Here’s everything
     to have, but lugging one                  work—complete with your                you need, from hard-
     around everywhere can be                  own personal launch menu.              ware to software and
     downright inconvenient.                   Sure, you can use online               beyond, to get
                                                                                      going in pocket

                                                                                      Harness the
                                                                                      Right Hard-
                                                                                      To begin with, you          INSTALL A VARIETY of programs all at
                                                                                      need a good flash           once with a suite like winPenPack (shown)
                                                                                      drive. Consider these       or PortableApps, made for USB drives.
                                                                                      tips before you buy.
                                                                                        Take a drive on the reading       with a read rate of 15 mbps
                                                                                      edge: The faster your flash         (megabits per second; in
                                                                                      drive, the more smoothly            megabytes, 1.9 MBps) or
                                                                                      programs will run. When             faster. If you already have a
     POKY FLASH DRIVES mean poky performance for portable apps.                       shopping for a drive, look at       flash drive, you can evaluate
     Benchmarking utility HD Tach gives you the bad (or good) news.                   the specs and try to find one       its speed by using a free util-

     Contest # 22
                                      PCW                                                                                 MEGA
                                      How can you take automated backups
                                                                                                                      LAPTOP BACKPACK
                                      without using third-party software?
                                                                                                                                                              * Terms & Conditions Apply

                                      Tell us your method of automating backups of valuable
                                      files on Windows 2000, XP, or Vista, without having to
                                      use any third party software. The entry should be in your
                                      own words. Send us your step-by-step solution along with 10 CAPS
                                      screenshots or pictures of how you did it.                TO BE WON!
                                       Email your entries along with your latest photograph
                                       (high resolution) to
84   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N
                                       DEADLINE: 12th MAY, 2008
                                  FEBRUARY 2008
dows (on the DVD).
  Look for high-speed USB: A
USB 2.0 flash drive performs
                                  Reduce your carbon footprint
much better than a USB 1.x        IN AN ENERGY-DEFICIENT world, every bit
                                                                                             Rising fuel and energy prices will
one. Make sure the drive          of saving counts. Reduce your PC’s power con-
                                                                                             make electricity more costly.
you select specifies USB 2.0      sumption and become a green-conscious citi-
                                                                                             Wasting it isn’t an option anymore.
or “high-speed USB.”              zen of Planet Earth!
  U3 or not U3? Some flash        1: Go to and download               hibernation in just a few seconds, and switching
drives (notably those from        the Local Cooling Application. It is free and            on the power strip puts all the devices right
SanDisk) are labeled “U3”         reduces both your energy consumption and                 back, and ready to go. This really is a good
and can accommodate appli-        power bill. Once you download the small 3.5 MB           method to save electricity. Instead of putting
cations that use a proprie-       file, go through a quick installation and select          your entire PC’s load on the power strip, con-
tary format for USB drives.       ‘Run’. It presents four tabs - General, My power,        nect only the small cables so you can shut
Such drives usually come          Advanced and My                                                                    them off at any time.
with a built-in pop-up pro-       Account. It lets you set                                                           4: You don’t need to
gram launcher called              times for screen turn-off,                                                         leave your PC on all night
LaunchPad and a few pro-          disc spin-down, and                                                                to finish a task, or per-
grams, or they at least link      offers many other useful                                                           form a scheduled back-
to a Web page for download-       options. It also lets you                                                          up. You can easily use the
ing and installing free and       see the hardware and                                                               ‘Schedule Tasks’ feature
for-pay U3 apps. SanDisk          corresponding watt con-                                                            in Windows Vista or XP to
claims that only U3-compati-      sumption of each com-                                                              wake your computer
ble programs will run on          ponent, to automatically                                                           from sleep mode if you
such a drive, but I had no        optimize consumption.                                                              want to perform a regular
problem running U3 and            2: Go to the BIOS setup                                                            task like a backup in the
non-U3 programs side by           program which is                                                                   middle of the night. If you
side on the same device.          launched by pressing a                                                             leave your PC on at night
(Don’t expect your non-U3         particular key when                                                                just because you need to
applications to show on the       your system first boots,                                                            finish downloading a file,
U3 launch menu, however.)         often [Del] or [F2]. A                                                             use the ‘Auto Shutdown’
                                                                SEE THE NUMBER of trees, and kilowatts you
  With so many portable           prompt should tell you                                                             add-on for Firefox.
                                                                have saved after reducing your carbon footprint.
applications available from       what to use. Go to the                                                            5: Decrease monitor
various free sources these        Power Management menu which has an option                brightness, remove CDs from the drive and
days, you don’t necessarily       called the ACPI Suspend Type or S3 Suspend               unplug USB pen drives from USB hubs when not
have to get a U3-equipped         Type. This setting governs how your PC handles           in use. That way, the computer uses less power.
drive. If you do own one,         being switched to Standby. Leave it in the default       Even screensavers use energy. Instead of seeing
you can either take advan-        S1 setting, and it still uses quite a lot of power       3D flowers revolving within your desktop, set
tage of the LaunchPad fea-        when in standby. Change your suspend type to             your system to sleep after 15 minutes. Less
ture and its various apps or      S3 and more devices will be switched off, while          energy is used. Going one step further, you don’t
find utilities for removing       their status will be saved internally. This reduces      need to leave your system on all the time, think-
U3 LaunchPad software             standby power requirements by 50% or more.               ing that repeated booting up and shutting down
from SanDisk drives and           3: Computer peripherals like printers, wireless          will use more energy. It doesn’t. Leaving your
from non-SanDisk drives. If       routers, speaker sets, etc. use a lot of power,          computer on for 5 minutes or shutting down and
you change your mind about        even when they are not being used. Put all PC-           restarting it will use the same amount of energy.
such removal, SanDisk has a       related devices on one of those small 4-slot             Try to place your computer system near win-
free tool for getting the soft-   power strips or on a multi-socket plug. These            dows or generally areas which are cooler. If the
ware back.                        things are always lying around the house some-           system is cooler it needs less internal cooling
                                  where. During the day have the computer set to           allowing it to run more efficiently and there is
Snag the Best Apps                hibernate if it has been inactive for 15 minutes         less power usage too. All these tricks will help
Once you have the flash           and also switch off the power strip (which has           keep your bill down.
drive of your choice, it’s        the peripherals). The computer uses zero
time to stock up on the           power when hibernated. It can come out of               Winner: Abhimanyu Sahay,

                                                                                                               M AY 2 0 0 8   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   85
Here’s How

          Install PortableApps on                                            1

          Your Thumb Drive
            A PACKAGE LIKE PortableApps may be all the software
            you need on your USB drive. Here’s how to install it.
              1. Insert a blank USB keychain drive into an open
            USB port on your computer.
              2. Download PortableApps Suite Standard from find.
   and double-click the executable file
            therein to begin the suite’s installation.                      2
              3. Click the ‘…’ button to the right of the ‘Install to’
            field to select your thumb drive; then click Install.
              4. After about 15 minutes or so, the installation
            should be complete, and the progress bar will close
            automatically. Double-click your drive from the My
            Computer window, and then double-click StartPort-
            ableApps to open the application launcher.
              5. You can now get started right away with Firefox,
            Thunderbird, the applications, and
            more. Or you can
            click Options to
            download and
            install additional
            applications for
            portable devices.
                                       3                                                   5


      tools you’ll need when you                  useful software that meets        the 105MB Lite. The Stan-         You can find another all-
      are away from your regular                  the portable requirement.         dard version has a portable     in-one free collection in
      system. The term “portable                    Your suite is waiting: If you   version of the OpenOffice       winPenPack (on the DVD). The
      software” usually refers to                 want an all-in-one package        suite, while the Lite version   winPenPack suites come in
      an application that can run                 of basics—spreadsheet,            contains the AbiWord word       more flavors than Portable
      from a single folder (usually               word processor, graphics—         processor instead. Both ver-    Apps does—Essential, 1Gb,
      on a removable device)                      you can have your pick of         sions include an antivirus      School, Game, Web—and
      without adding any files or                 portable suites, all com-         program, a Web browser          you even have an option to
      Registry entries to the host                pletely free (in some cases,      (Mozilla Firefox), an instant   make your own. You can
      system. Although this leaves                donations are accepted).          messenger (Gaim), a sudo-       also download individual
      out traditional behemoths                     An excellent collection is      ku game, a calendar and         applications. The offerings
      such as Microsoft Office or                 PortableApps, which comes         task manager (Mozilla Sun-      fall into a wide range of cat-
      Adobe’s Creative Suite, you                 in two sizes: the 260MB           bird), and an e-mail client     egories, from office, Inter-
      can still find a lot of handy,              Standard (on the DVD) and         (Mozilla Thunderbird).          net, graphics, multimedia,

 86   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   M AY 2 0 0 8
and development to securi-                                                     RIGHT-CLICK HERE,       machine. And it goes with-
ty, system, and utilities. The                                                 drag and drop there:    out saying that you should
choices include consider-                                                      The pop-up menu         avoid online banking in
able overlap with Portable-                                                    launcher PStart is      such situations.
Apps; both offer Mozilla                                                       easy to customize         Shred it; don’t sweat it: If
and OpenOffice products,                                                       for your flash-drive     you are working on sensi-
for example.                                                                   applications.           tive documents, you should
   What’s for launch? Running                                                                          keep them encrypted while
your portable applications                                                                             they reside on your flash
will be easier if you have a                                                                           drive. The open-source tool
pop-up menu launcher.                                                                                  TrueCrypt (on the DVD) and
You’ll find one on U3 flash                                                                            the freeware archiving pro-
drives, as well as in both                                                                             gram IZArc2Go (on the DVD),
PortableApps and winPen-                                                                               for example, both have
Pack. In each case, an icon                                                                            encryption features that run
appears in the taskbar tray                                                                            on a flash drive.
(the icon-studded area near                                                                              In most cases, you’ll have
the clock); click it to see a                                                                          to copy documents out of
Start-menu equivalent that                                                                             the encrypted folder or con-
lists the applications on                                                                              tainer before working on
your flash drive.                                                                                      them, and then copy them
   Personally, I find the win-    (       the following steps for           back when you’re done. For
PenPack launcher the most         ble.htm). Another site where       maintaining such security.        added security, use a shred-
flexible and the easiest to       you can find a portable sec-          Scan for safety: Since using   ding application to destroy
customize. You can down-          tion is              your USB drive on an un-          the work copies (after you
load winPenPack Launcher            Finally, try entering the        known computer exposes the        have put a copy back in the
separately. If those launch-      keyword “portable” in the          drive to additional risks, be     encrypted folder, of course).
ers don’t meet your needs,        search box of your favorite        sure to install both antispy-     CyberShredder and Ultra-
you can try still another         software download page—            ware and antivirus software       Shredder (find both on the
free portable-app launcher,       for example, at (where else?)      as part of your set of portable   DVD) are two free portable
Pegtop Software’s PStart          applications. As an extra pre-    utilities that do the job.
(on the DVD).                                                        caution, scan the flash drive       Back up your portable, too:
  Roam the lands of the free:     Do Right by Your Data              itself from your regular com-     Since these devices are
Big collections are not the       Whether you carry work             puter the next time you           small and easily misplaced,
only place to find portable       files with you on your             return home to make sure it       backing up your portable
apps. Sometimes you can           flash drive or store them          didn’t pick up any malware.       USB “computer” is arguably
discover a portable version       online, you still must take           Use common sense: Because      even more important than
of your favorite program          a number of precautions            a host computer, such as          creating backups for your
just by going to your             to protect those files—and         one in a hotel business cen-      main system. The applica-
usual search engine and           your privacy and your              ter or an Internet café, may      tions are much smaller, so
entering the application          computers—from harm,               have keyloggers that record       backing up is faster, and the
name and then “portable”          whether accidental or              your passwords, portable          resulting files take less room
as keywords.                      malicious. Keep in mind            computing can never be 100        on your backup drive. All of
  Other good                                                                          percent safe.    the suites mentioned above
places include                                                                        But you can      include backup utilities.
sites like Portable                                                                   limit the risk      Of course, you don’t real-
Freeware (www.                                                                        by avoiding      ly need such a utility; you
portablefreeware.                                                                     credit-card      can always just use Win-
com) and the por-                                                                     transactions     dows Explorer to drag and
table-freeware                                                                        when using       drop the contents of your
section of Ned                                                                        your portable    flash drive to a backup disk.
Wolf ’s Absolutely KEEP SENSITIVE FILES private—shred work copies with a              system on        The important thing is to do
Free Software site utility like CyberShredder after working on a public computer. another              it regularly.

                                                                                                        M AY 2 0 0 8   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   87
Here’s How

      Sync iTunes With Your Non-iPod Media Player
      SO YOUR IPOD went to                                                                                                 After selecting the desired
      that electronics graveyard in                                                                                        sync folder on your player,
      the sky, and you replaced it                                                                                         choose a folder structure
      with a non-Apple player. But                                                                                         (indicating how you want
      your music library still sits                                                                                        copied songs to be orga-
      inside iTunes, complete with                                                                                         nized) and the iTunes play-
      painstakingly crafted play-                                                                                          list you want to sync with. If
      lists that you’d rather not                                                                                          you want more than one
      lose. Do you have to switch                                                                                          playlist, you can use iTunes’
      to another music manager                                                                                             smart-playlist feature to cre-
      and re-create your playlists?                                                                                        ate a new playlist that in-
         Not if you download                                                                                               cludes the ones you want;
      iTunes Sync (on the DVD). This                                                                                       you then choose that playlist
      free Windows utility syncs                                                                                           to sync with your player.
      any iTunes playlist to non-                                                                                             After making those selec-
      Apple players. Install iTunes               WITH ITUNES SYNC, sending songs to your non-iPod player is as            tions, close the config win-
      Sync, fire up iTunes, and                   easy as selecting the device and clicking Sync MP3 Player.               dow, right-click the iTunes
      plug in your player. Right-                                                                                          Sync icon again, and choose
      click the iTunes Sync icon in               next to MP3 Player SubFolder        letter assignment when you           Synchronize MP3 Player. Click
      the system tray, and choose                 to Sync to.                         plug them in—a category              the Sync button and sit back
      Configure MP3 Players. Click                  One caveat: iTunes Sync           that includes phones such as         while your playlist breaks
      Add, give your player a                     currently works only with           the BlackBerry Pearl and the         free of its iTunes shackles.
      name, and click the button                  players that receive a drive-       Motorola Razr V3.                                     —Rick Broida


                 How do I remove a USB drive if Windows says
                 that it isn’t safe to do so?
      INSTEAD OF EXPLAINING why a drive                          If Windows still won’t let you
      can’t be safely removed, Windows simply                 remove the drive, it’s time for des-
      recommends—via a dialog box—that you                    perate measures. Here are two:
      wait and try again, and that often works.                  1. You can shut down your PC,
      But while you’re waiting, check your task-              remove the device, and then
      bar and system tray for apps that might be              reboot. It works, but it’s time
      running files off the USB drive. Close any               consuming and annoying.
      such programs, as well as any apps that                    2. You could take a deep breath
      were running files from that drive, even if              and just pull the stupid thing out.
      you’ve already closed those files.                       I know, I’m not supposed to tell
         Still no luck? Try Task Manager:                     you that. It’s bad advice. But I’ve     USE TASK MANAGER to locate any processes that may
         1. Press <Ctrl>-<Alt>-<Delete>. In Vista,            done it more times than I’d care        be running from your USB drive, and click End Process.
      follow that by clicking Start Task Manager.             to admit, and it has never back-
         2. Click the Processes tab.                          fired on me. I can’t guarantee that it won’t       remove icon. When it can’t safely close a
         3. Examine the list of processes, looking            backfire on you, however. And don’t even           drive, it shows you what processes are
      for anything that could be from that drive—a            think about attempting this if your external      causing the problem and allows you to
      process with a name similar to that of one              drive is NTFS-formatted.                          stop them.
      of the files on the drive, for instance.                    If those solutions don’t help, here’s             USB Safely Remove has other cool fea-
         4. If you do find such a process, select              another one you can try. Download and             tures, too. You can rename your USB devic-
      it, click the End Process button, and then              install USB Safely Remove (on the DVD).           es, set up a hot-key to stop a particular
      confirm your decision when prompted.                     This shareware program puts its own icon          device, and set autorun options.
         5. Try removing the drive again.                     in the system tray in place of Windows’                                      —Lincoln Spector

 88   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   M AY 2 0 0 8
Make Your Own Video Mashups for YouTube
SOME OF YOUTUBE’S best            for clips. With a program
videos aren’t exactly original    such as Replay AV (pcworld.
creations. Many are mashups,      in/downloads/index.jsp), for in-
meaning they’re a mixture of      stance, you can capture just
original and existing material.   about any streaming audio
A classic example is “Vote        or video. Head to sites like
Different” (      AOL Video (
watch?v=6h3G-lMZxjo), which       and to unearth all
combines a Hillary Clinton        manner of news clips, TV
speech with Apple’s iconic        shows, and even movies. If
“1984” TV commercial. The         you have a Media Center PC
clip itself plays like the        with a TV tuner, you can re-
original, but with Clinton’s      cord shows and then extract
visage superimposed on            clips using editing software.
various screens and her voice     YOU CAN EVEN borrow
overlaid on the soundtrack. In    from other YouTube videos,         A FUNNY VIDEO mashup like this one of Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer in
contrast to the slick “Vote       provided they’re designated        an iPod ad can make your handiwork famous on YouTube.
Different,” the entertaining      “public.” You’ll need to
“Ballmer Monkeyboy iPod           download the videos and            try Partners in Rhyme (www.        from YouTube into a single
Mashup” /         convert them to a format  and           video, though you can’t
watch?v=FncILxajmlw) takes        your editing program sup-                     actually edit the footage.
footage of Microsoft              ports. Free Web sites such as                                           Import your video into
president Steve Ballmer  and can        Edit and Upload                    your editing program. Most
wigging out on stage and          do both in one step: Paste in      To turn your found footage         programs will automatically
superimposes it on a familiar     the URL of the YouTube             into a cool mashup, fire up        split your raw footage into
iPod-commercial background.       video, select a format, and        Movie Maker in Windows or          separate clips by detecting
                                  provide your e-mail address.       use iMovie on a Mac. Or try        scene changes. With that
Create a Mashup                   You’ll get a message contain-      YouTube’s own Remixer              done, you can cut your
Before you get started with       ing a link to download the         ( Re-       clips to the proper length
your own mashup, keep in          converted video.                   mixer lets you add titles,         and arrange them in any
mind that YouTube strictly          Several sites offer free         transitions, borders, and          order. You can trim each
enforces copyright laws; you      sound effects and music to         music. It also allows you to       clip from its beginning and
can include copyrighted           complete your production;          combine multiple videos            end, or split it in two.
songs and video clips                                                                                       Using your application’s
only if it qualifies as “fair                                                                               timeline view, you can
use.” Unfortunately,                                                                                        drag and drop clips to
making that determina-                                                                                      put them in the desired
tion can be complicated.                                                                                    order. Add transitions
Check out YouTube’s                                                                                         by dragging them in
guidelines on copyright-                                                                                    between clips.
ed content, and then use                                                                                      After you’ve finished
good judgment. Obvi-                                                                                        editing your video, save it
ously a 10-minute clip                                                                                      as a YouTube-friendly file.
from The Office would be                                                                                    YouTube accepts videos
copyright infringement,                                                                                     in popular formats such
but a clip of Michael say-                                                                                  as AVI, MOV, and WMV,
ing, “That’s what she                                                                                       and converts them to its
said,” may be fair game.                                                                                    own FLV format. Just be
   Finding material for                                                                                     sure to keep the file size
your mashup requires a        YOU DON’T HAVE to buy expensive editing software to put your mashup           under 100MB.
little creative borrowing     together. Movie Maker comes with Windows XP and Vista.                                      —Rick Broida

                                                                                                         M AY 2 0 0 8   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   89
Here’s How

      Fix Your Photos With
      Two Free Tools
      THESE DAYS, pretty much                     box will appear, inviting you
      everyone is an amateur pho-                 to resize the images to any
      tographer. But high-end                     of four possible sizes: Small
      photo-editing tools aren’t                  (640 by 480 pixels), Medium
      the best choice for everyone.               (800 by 600 pixels), Large
      Two free downloads can                      (1024 by 768 pixels), or Hand-
      make digital photography a                  held PC (240 by 320 pixels).
      lot more fun—and a lot                      When you make your selec-                                    rough
                                                                                    YOU DON’T HAVE to muddle through bloated photo apps just to scale
      more productive—without                     tion and click OK, it will cre-   down your family photos. Image Resizer does it in seconds.
      taking shots at your wallet.                ate copies of your pictures in
                                                  the new size while leaving the    Photoscape                          much more. It also has some
      Image Resizer                               originals intact. By clicking     Photoscape (included on previ-      original tools, such as one
      Need a quick-and-dirty way                  the Advanced button before        ous month DVD) is a remark-         that combines multiple pho-
      to resize a group of photo-                 clicking OK, you can elect to     able free software that any         tos in a single frame. Anoth-
      graphs? Get this free, excep-               resize the original pictures      self-respecting digital pho-        er convenient tool takes
      tionally easy-to-use Power-                 instead of making a copy.         tographer will want on his          photos that are in the RAW
      Toy from Microsoft (pcworld.                   Note: You can make pic-        or her PC. This program             format used by many digital
      in/downloads/index.jsp). Right-             tures smaller, but not larger;    comes with a file viewer, a         cameras and converts them
      click a single photograph or                if you choose a size bigger       photo editor, a slide show          to JPG format, so they’ll
      a group of photos, and se-                  than the original, the pro-       creator, a batch editor, a          work with more applications.
      lect Resize Pictures; a dialog              gram simply won’t obey.           screen-capture program, and                        —Preston Gralla


           How do I read a file that                                            If you believe that it’s an image file, download and install XnView
                                                                             (on the DVD). This free utility displays image files saved in a number
           Windows doesn’t associate with                                    of formats, including Photoshop’s own .psd, and it can convert
      any of my applications?                                                images between them. It also comes with a basic editor.
                                                                               Microsoft Office can read documents and images in a variety of
      IF DOUBLE-CLICKING A file gives you an error message rather             formats—assuming that you’ve installed the right filters. To see
      than launching a program, try the drag-and-drop test, as follows:      what filters you’ve installed and to install others, follow these steps:
         Make an educated guess as to the file’s associated application,        To start, select Start•Run, type appwiz.cpl; and press <Enter>.
      based on the context in which you received the file. For instance, if     Now select Microsoft Office… and click Change.
      it came attached to an e-mail message referring to it as a report or     In the resulting wizard, select Add or Remove Features and click
      letter, it’s likely a word processing file.                                                                    Continue (Office 2007) or Next
         Launch the appropriate program for                                                                         (earlier versions). If you get a
      that type of file, and drag the file to the                                                                     page containing check boxes
      menu/toolbar portion of the app’s win-                                                                        for the Office applications, plus
      dow. If the file opens, you guessed                                                                            another check box labeled
      correctly and you are all set.                                                                                Choose advanced customiza-
         Or visit FILExt, The File Extension                                                                        tion of applications, check that
      Source ( Enter the mystery                                                                         box. Once the Update button
      file’s extension into the text box; the                                                                        changes to Next, click it.
      site will say what type of file it is and,                                                                        In the resulting feature list,
      as well, offer possibly helpful links.                                                                        expand Office Shared Features
         Once you’ve identified the file type                                                                         and then Converters and Filters.
      and the program that probably created                                                                            Select what you want; then
      it, go to the software vendor’s site and   IF YOU HAVE an image file you can’t open and view, the free,        click Update (or Continue).
      look for a free viewer program.            downloadable XnView utility can probably open it for you.                          —Lincoln Spector

 90   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   M AY 2 0 0 8
Fix Hard-Drive and Folder Annoyances With These Simple Tips
  Boot unbootable drives, stop irritating startup
  folders, and speed up Windows Explorer.

YOU PRESS YOUR PC’s power button, and instead of seeing the
familiar Windows logo, you encounter a boot-failure message. You
could throw yourself in front of a moving truck—or maybe just read
my quick fix. I also show you how to correct dopey folder behavior
and how to uninstall unwanted programs cleanly.

My PC Won’t Boot (OMG!)                                                  TO REPAIR THE Registry entry for this folder, add quotation marks
   The Hassle: I booted my laptop only to see a message stating          to both the start and the end of the folder’s path.
‘Boot Failure: System Halted’. I’ve tried every partition-recovery
program under the sun, but my notebook still won’t boot. H-e-l-p!        Tasks (from Control Panel). Not there? See if a shortcut with the
   The Fix: Stay calm. Somehow the laptop’s BIOS isn’t able to           program’s folder resides in the Startup folder (Start•Programs•
identify your hard drive’s partition. But chances are good you can       Startup). No luck? Then use WinPatrol, a free utility for removing
fix it. First, boot to the BIOS (press <Del> or <F10> as you boot) and    background programs (find it on the DVD), and see if it’s listed. If it
jot down the current settings. Then find the option to set the BIOS       is, use WinPatrol’s Remove feature.
back to the default. It’s usually the menu item on the far right.           My guess, though, is that Windows is trying to read a Registry
Reboot and keep your fingers crossed. If that doesn’t work, grab a        entry with an incorrect value, likely a string that contains spaces
copy of the free DTIData NTFS Recovery Repair tool (          but is not surrounded by quotation marks. Windows is reading only
downloads/index.jsp). It lets you repair the boot sector and make        part of the path, so it opens up a folder on the desktop.
the drive bootable again. Before you start, however, it’s essential to      You can manually massage this Registry entry by opening RegE-
read the instructions at          dit (click Start•Run, type regedit, and press <Enter>). Next, use
htmand        <Ctrl-F> to search for the path you see in the Explorer folder that
tion-repair-data-recovery-software/.                                     appears on your desktop. This path will look similar to ‘C:\Program
                                                                         Files\VMware Workstation\vmware.exe’ with a space separating
Program Folder Opens at Startup                                          other characters, such as ‘%1’, if they appear. In the right-hand
  The Hassle: When I boot my system, an Explorer folder pops open        panel, double-click the item and add a quotation mark to the start
on the desktop for the VMWare virtualization app I recently in-          and the end of the path. If the problem is not resolved, you may
stalled. Where’s this folder coming from—and how do I stop it?           have additional flawed Registry entries. Some fun, eh?
  The Fix: You’ll need to go on a treasure hunt to find where the
program’s folder is loading. The first spot to look is in Scheduled       Speed Up Windows Explorer
                                                                            The Hassle: I use Windows XP on a fast, dual-core system with a
   TOOL OF THE MONTH                                                     SATA II drive and lots of RAM. Yet Windows’ My Computer some-
                                                                         times takes a full 2 minutes to open.

   Revo Uninstaller                                                         The Fix: Ah, the pain. I’ll bet you’re on a network, and XP is mer-
                                                                         rily monitoring shared resources—a printer, for instance, or a net-
   I NEVER USE Windows’ brain-dead uninstaller. It’s slow, it            worked folder—to make connecting to those resources easier. But
   supplies scant info, and it often leaves remnants of the app          you can turn off the monitoring, and still access shared stuff.
   behind. My replacement is Revo Uninstaller, a free tool so               Open Windows Explorer, go to Tools•Folder Options, click on the
   useful, it’s on my Start menu. It tells me the unwanted pro-          View tab, and uncheck Automatically search for network folders
   gram’s version and location, when I installed it, and the ven-        and printers—and you’ll feel the speed again.
   dor URL. I highlight an entry to uninstall, and a click brings
   me to the program’s folder or Registry entry. After Revo uses         Back Up—But Validate, Too
   the app’s uninstall routine, it scans my PC and finds remain-          I made a terrible discovery. My old, reliable backup image wasn’t
   ing odds and ends—files, folders, and Registry entries. A              any good. I had backed up to a drive with a bad sector, so my Acro-
   dialog box gives me options to delete them or remove them             nis True Image backup was corrupt. Lesson learned: Always,
   from the Registry.                                                    always find and use your backup program’s validate feature. It’s
                                                                         the only way to be certain of having a reliable backup.

                                                                                                            M AY 2 0 0 8   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   91
     Painless Installations                                                               MAKE A WINDOWS
        Installing Windows and its updates on an end-                                     XP ‘SLIPDISC’
        less sucession of PCs is tiresome. Here we tell
        you a less painful method, called slipstreaming

                                                                                           You’ll need version 2.0 or later of the .Net Framework
                                                                                           installed to slipstream Windows; if it isn’t showing under
                                                                                           Add/Remove Programs, install version 3.5 from www.
                                                                                           ae52-4e35-b531-508d977d32a6&displaylang=en. Next,
                                                                                           download nLite 1.41 from www.nliteos.comdownload.html.
                                                                                           But don’t launch the application just yet.

                 UPGRADES                        If your Windows CD doesn’t
     INSTALLING WINDOWS                          contain Service Pack 2 (SP2),
     XP is a miserable experience.               you’ll have to install that sepa-
     Fact. Whether you’re install-               rately. And then there’s the 80
     ing it on a new computer or                 or so updates that have mate-
     reinstalling it on your cur-                rialized since SP2 was
     rent machine, it’s the sort of              released. It never ends.
     activity that’s more than like-                There is a solution, howev-
     ly to ruin a weekend.                       er. Over the following pages,
       First, you sit twiddling your             we’ll show you the art of ‘slip-
     thumbs, waiting to enter                    streaming’. No, we won’t be
     your product code. Next, you                tucking in behind Lewis Ham-               Launch WUD. Select all the updates shown in your Update
     specify your language, key-                 ilton and belting down the                 List. Some updates won’t slipstream; let nLite worry over
     board layout and time zone.                 Hangar Straight. Instead,           those later. Naturally, if your CD already contains SP2, you don’t
     And once the initial installa-              we’ll be demonstrating a            need that. When you’re finished, click Change and create a folder
     tion finishes, the real fun and             handy time-saving process.          called Slipstream Updates. Click Download.
     games begin.                                                —Jason D’Allison

94   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   M AY 2 0 0 8
98 VIDEO PROJECT                                       102 WINDOWS PROJECT                                     98
    We’ll focus on transferring raw HD footage to a          In the following project we tell you how to
    Windows Vista computer, then editing it for              reach stations you’ll enjoy with a few
    playback. Editing and outputting to the Mpeg2            flicks of the dial. We’ve even got details
    format – which is used for commercial DVD                on how to record radio content and set
    releases – follows the same process.                     presets for stations you enjoy.

         Create a folder in Windows Explorer called ‘Slipstream                 Now assemble the Windows updates. To make this painless,
         Source’. We’ve created ours within My Documents. Pop your              download and install Windows Updates Downloader (WUD)
existing Windows CD into your optical drive, close the setup wizard      from Before launching it, click
if it autoplays, then copy the entire contents of the disc to your new   ‘Update Lists’ on the same page. Click the file appropriate to your
folder (highlight everything then drag-and-drop).                        operating system and select ‘Open with’.

       Download hardware drivers specific to your PC. (We’ve got                   Most of your drivers will be compressed. That’s no good –
       drivers for our G33 chipset, GMA 3100 graphics, Realtek                    nLite will need access to all the individual files (particularly
ALC883 sound and Marvell 88E8056 LAN.) If your PC needs                  the .inf files). To uncompress a driver package without launching the
a driver loaded before Windows will install, get that driver now.        driver’s setup wizard, simply use your favorite zip utility.
Put everything in a new folder called Slipstream Drivers.                Be sure to retain the folder structures the files extract to.

                                                                                                                M AY 2 0 0 8   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   95

             Launch nLite. Skip the welcome screen, click Browse and                      One by one, work through your chosen tasks. First up is the
             navigate to your source folder. First, you’ll get a summary                  integration of SP2. Click Select, navigate to your updates
      confirming which flavor of Windows you’re playing with. Next, after         folder, locate ‘windowsxp-kb835935-sp2-enu.exe’, then click Open.
      skipping the presets screen, you’ll be shown a list of tasks. Select the    nLite will immediately begin slipstreaming and SP2 will be inte-
      ones you’re interested in – probably the whole lot.                         grated into your Windows source files.

              Now’s your chance to remove any unwanted Windows                           You can configure Windows to install without user intervention.
              components. Skip the compatibilities screen and you’ll see                 Under the General tab, enter your product key and set
      a list of 10 categories. Cast your eyes over the several hundred            Unattended Mode to ‘Fully automated’. Specify language, keyboard
      entries and tick the things you think you can live without. We’ve           layout and time zone on the Regional tab, then give names to your PC,
      removed MSN Explorer, Sound Recorder and the XP Tour.                       workgroup, owner and organization under Owner and Network ID.


      7-ZIP                                              WMP11 INTEGRATOR                                   SP3 RELEASE CANDIDATE
      To extract the individual files from a com-        nLite is great, but it’s not infallible. For       Windows XP SP2 was released in 2004, so
      pressed driver package, you need a zip             example, it can’t slipstream Windows Media         the OS is due an update. Really, we’re all
      utility. The most common tools are WinZip          Player 11.0. If that’s an application you’re       waiting for SP3, which will have all those
      and WinRAR, but these applications aren’t          likely to want, download WMP11 Integrator.         updates built in. The SP3 Release Candi-
      free – and their seemingly never-ending            This tool comes from the developer behind          date is available and is almost the finished
      trials ultimately expire. Download open-           Windows Updates Downloader and will rel-           product, but try it at your own risk.
      source 7-Zip instead. It has all the impor-        ish the job that nLite doesn’t. Be sure to use
      tant features of the big hitters and it’s free.    it before you break out nLite, however.            aspx?FamilyID=75ed934c-8423-4386-ad98-36-                                                   b124a720aa&DisplayLang=en

 96   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   M AY 2 0 0 8
       Now integrate your updates. Click Insert and navigate to                     Now you can add your drivers if you wish. Click Insert,
       your updates folder. You’ll find several subfolders, so open                  select ‘Multiple driver folder’, then navigate to your driver
each one in turn and add the contents. To add multiple files at once,        folder. nLite will analyse the subfolders – select the entries
click the first file, press Shift and Ctrl, then click the last file. If       appropriate to your hardware and OS. Windows will ask if it should
nLite flags anything as unslipstreamable, click ok.                          install any storage-controller drivers in text mode. Yes, it should.

       Run through the Options screen. Here, you can enable, disable               Your ‘slipdisc’ will now be finalised. Again, if nLite flags any-
       or modify various settings. When you’re finished, take a look at             thing as unslipstreamable, simply click ok. When you’re
the Tweaks screen. Listed here are dozens of options best described         ready, pop a blank disc into your optical drive, set Mode to Direct
as miscellaneous. We’ve selected the one that sets Internet Explorer’s      Burn, then click Burn. From now on, your Windows XP installations
homepage to                                                     should be relatively pain-free!


IT’S OFTEN BELIEVED that service packs need to be installed one
after the other. For example, if your XP CD has neither SP1 nor SP2 inte-
grated, some folks will say you need to install SP1, then SP2, then the
additional updates. But that’s not true.
  Windows service packs are cumulative: each new one                        TAKE IT EASY
includes all the updates from the previous ones (except where               When burning your slipstreamed Windows CD, exercise caution.
older updates have been superseded by newer ones). That’s                   Don’t be tempted to crank up the dial and burn it at 52-speed
why this workshop makes no mention of SP1 – it’s redundant.                 (assuming your drive supports such a speed). You can get away with
When the finished version of SP3 finally materializes, SP2 will             the odd blip on, say, a music CD, but a single error on a data CD can
be redundant too.                                                           result in catastrophe. Stick to 16-speed.

                                                                                                                  M AY 2 0 0 8   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   97
                                                                                   USEFUL PRODUCTS

      Action Stations                                                              Motionbox
                                                                                   Motionbox, like YouTube, provides a
                                                                                   space for uploading and sharing
         We show you how you can adopt a more relaxed                              video. However, Motionbox also
         approach to your footages with the help of Movie                          allows you to edit footage, breaking
         Maker’s upgraded toolsets.                                                it down into individual frames and
                                                                                   creating mashups with other users’
                                                                                   shared videos.

                                                                                           IMPORT HD VIDEO TO
                                                                                           WINDOWS VISTA

                      VIDEO                       HD (high-definition) video is
      WINDOWS VISTA IS noth-                      now supported: you can                  Launch Movie Maker by clicking on Vista’s Start button and
      ing if not visual. Even those               directly import video foot-             choosing it from All Programs. Click on the ‘Import video’
      who have found little to                    age and stills, then edit,              or the ‘Capture from video device’ option, as appropriate. If
      praise have noted Vista’s aes-              enhance and share your                  you’re going to import video directly from your camcorder,
      thetic appeal – particularly its            project. You can also create            ensure that it is switched on and connected to your PC.
      stylish, translucent windows.               slideshows and add transi-
        Some of this visual                       tions, effects, music and nar-
      panache is practical; most                  ration to your work.
      obviously in Windows                          As is common with video
      Media Center and through                    editors, Movie Maker’s basic
      the updated tools in Win-                   setup focuses on a story-
      dows Movie Maker, which                     board and timeline; a pre-
      we will outline here.                       view window helps you
        Movie Maker tools included                decide on edits and transi-
      in the Home Premium and                     tions before rendering your
      Ultimate versions of Windows                project for output.
      Vista compete directly with                   Movie Maker works close-
      entry-level video-editing pack-             ly with Windows Photo Gal-
      ages offered by Pinnacle,                   lery. Imported video is
      Roxio and Ulead. While Movie                added to the Video folder
      Maker might not stand up                    and can be managed from
                                                                                           To import selected parts of your footage, click the ‘Only
      against the more comprehen-                 within Windows Photo Gal-
                                                                                           import parts of the videotape to my computer’ option and
      sive video editors’ toolsets, it’s          lery. This makes rating, tag-
                                                                                   choose Next. On the ‘Cue the videotape and then start importing
      a vast improvement on Micro-                ging and organizing your
                                                                                   video’ page, choose a starting point using your camera’s controls or
      soft’s original attempts at a               footage quick and easy.
                                                                                   the Camera Controls under ‘Import video’. Click ‘Start video import’.
      home movie-making package.                                    —Zoe Mutter

 98   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   M AY 2 0 0 8
Fobaz Photo Books                                                                                          Panasonic AG-HSC1U
Offers flexibility with its collections of                                                                  P
                                                                                                           Panasonic claims its AG-HSC1U is
photo books, in which the title and                                                                        th
                                                                                                           the world’s smallest and lightest
back page can be individually                                                                              3CCD HD video camera. It record
designed. Available in different colors                                                                    full-HD video and is designed to be
and in a variety of layouts, the books                                                                     c
                                                                                                           compact yet resistant to wear and
hold 30 to 80 pages. They also come                                                                        tear. It also features advanced opti-
in various sizes.                                                                                          cal image stabilizer.                                                                                        

       Windows Movie Maker’s Autoplay dialog box should pop up. Set                Type a name for the file you wish to import in the Name box.
       the camera mode to play – this is often labelled VTR or VCR on              Select a save-to location from the list, or click Browse to
the camera. Movie Maker should recognize your camera and display             choose another. Choose a video file format from the Formats list;
the Import Video dialog. If you don’t see this window, choose File,          choosing ‘Windows Media Video File (single file)’ creates a single
‘Import from digital video camera’ from the options listed on the left.      Windows Media Video file with all the footage on the tape.

        When the process reaches the point where you want to stop                    Movie Maker supports a large number of video, audio and
        importing video, click Stop Video Import. Repeat this with each              image file formats. To import files stored on your PC, choose
clip. Don’t worry if you import footage that you don’t want – you can        File, Import Media Items. You can also drag files from the Photo
discard it later. You can split up imported clips as much as you like once   Gallery into Movie Maker. Choosing Make a Movie in Photo Gallery
they are in Movie Maker and delete as much as you need.                      automatically adds credits, titles and transitions.

                                                                                                                 M AY 2 0 0 8   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   99

               Movie Maker’s Tasks pane lists common actions, while the                 The default view is Storyboard – a sequence of thumbnail

               Collections window is used to access folders of clips. Select            clips, effects and transitions, which you can drag around and
               these using the View menu. The preview window on the right        rearrange. Audio is visible only in Timeline view, which has a more
               displays clips and can be adjusted in size by dragging the cor-   detailed option for finer editing such as trimming clips. Clicking the
               ners. Playback is controlled with the buttons underneath.         arrow beside the mode title switches between the two views.

             Effects are added in much the same way as Transitions.                       Titles and credits appear on a separate track in Timeline view.
             Select the clip you want to apply the effect to and choose                   To make them appear before or after the clip, place them on
      Tools, Effects. Choose an effect from the Contents pane and click          the Timeline’s Video track. Place them on the Title Overlay track to
      Play in the preview monitor to preview it. Now choose Clip, Add            make them appear over the top of a clip. Click Tools, Titles and Cred-
      to Timeline or Add to Storyboard.                                          its, select your title and type into the Enter text for title box.

             To add Narration, select Timeline. Move the indicator on the               To publish your movie to your PC choose File, Publish Movie.
             Audio/Music track to where you want narration to begin. Click              Choose ‘This computer’ and click Next. Type a name in the
      Tools, Narrate Timeline. Click Show Options and Mute Speakers.             box. Select where you want to save your published movie in the Pub-
      Select the audio-capture device, click Start Narration and begin           lish box. Click Next, Publish. To watch the video after publishing,
      speaking. Select Stop Narration when you have finished.                     choose ‘Play when I click Finish’. Click Finish.

100   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   M AY 2 0 0 8
        One of the first things you’ll want to do is organize your clips             Storyboard transitions appear between clips; Timeline dis-
        and split any that need it. Select a clip by clicking on it. Click          plays them on a separate track. Click a point in the video you
Play under the preview monitor, then Pause when you reach the point          wish to enhance with a transition. Choose Tools, Transitions, select
where you want to split it. Underneath the preview monitor click Split.      one, then add it to your project using the Clip menu. Dragging the
To join two clips choose Clip, Combine.                                      sides alters the duration; Edit, Remove deletes it.

       To alter the title animation click ‘Change the title animation               It’s easy to improve the ambience of your movie in
 7     and select an animation from the list’. Adjust the font and                  Windows Movie Maker by adding some background music.
color if necessary by clicking Change the text and font and color,           Choose File, Import Media Items and browse for the audio file
then click Add Title. You can adjust the duration of the title or credit     you wish to include. Next, click Import and drag the music file
by clicking the end trim handle and dragging it.                             to the Audio/Music track of the Timeline.


YOU AREN’T LIMITED to publishing your WMM movie to your computer. It’s also possible
to publish the movie and burn it straight to disc or even send it as an e-mail attachment.
   To burn your movie to DVD insert the blank disc into the burner, open your project and
click File, Publish Movie. Now click DVD, hit Next and follow the onscreen steps. To send
it as an e-mail attachment click File, Publish Movie, choose E-mail and then click Next.
Once it has been published you can save it to your computer and then e-mail it.
   To attach the movie to the message click Attach Movie and fill in information such as your
e-mail address. A time-saving way of creating your movie is to select Tools, AutoMovie, select
an editing style and then add your title and music in a few simple steps. It couldn’t be easier!

                                                                                                                  M AY 2 0 0 8   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   101
                                                                                    USEFUL LINKS

      Listen Live Online                                                            Radio-Locator
                                                                                    This useful and comprehensive list
                                                                                    of radio stations from around the
         We can’t get enough of Web radio, a sprawling                              world filters its search results by
         world of crystal-clear musical exploration. Tune in                        genre or location. This means you
         and chill out with our step-by-step guide.                                 can, for instance, check out any of the
                                                                                    stations that are listed as originating
                                                                                    from India.

                                                                                         SET UP AND RECORD
                                                                                         INTERNET RADIO

                   WINDOWS                        vices act as on-demand broad-
      FOR ME, ONE of the most                     cast radio, enabling you to              Internet radio stations have been a part of Windows Media
      useful technological develop-               catch up on programmes                   Player (WMP) for years. If you’re using WMP 9.0 then you
      ments of the past five years                you’ve missed or to record               can access radio by clicking the Radio Tuner tab on the left
      has been digital radio. I’m a               them for playback in Win-                of the window. In WMP 10.0 the button’s moved to the top
      huge fan of Digital Audio                   dows Media Player or on a                right, but in WMP 11.0 you have to do a bit more digging.
      Broadcast (DAB) radios.                     portable device. But web
      DAB radio is cleaner and                    radio isn’t just about keeping
      clearer than the FM alterna-                up with your favorite prog-
      tive, which (particularly in                ammes. It’s also about discov-
      urban settings) is too often                ery: connecting with new
      prey to interference from                   musical genres and communi-
      bedroom broadcasters send-                  ties, whether distant or local.
      ing out a ‘big up’ to their                 There’s a touch of the Radio
      mates down the road. Broad-                 Free Europe ethos about web
      casts on the digital spectrum               radio’s lack of frontiers, with
      add to the diversity of pro-                users accidentally tuning in to
      gramming, too.                              unexpectedly interesting
        Online digital radio stations             characters and viewpoints.
      are more interesting still.                   And if you simply want to
      Depending on your tastes,                   chill out with a playlist
      you can use web-based pro-                  designed to take you back to
                                                                                           Alternatively, the BBC’s Internet radio services are avail-
      gramming as an extension of                 your misspent youth, a few
                                                                                           able through your web browser. Browse to their site, click
      what you’d normally listen to               well-chosen terms into a por-
                                                                                    the Radio button and select a station. If you haven’t installed
      as a background or diversion                tal or search engine can bring
                                                                                    RealPlayer on your computer, you’ll be guided through
      from whatever’s keeping you                 up endless gems.
                                                                                    the installation process.
      at your desk. Listen-again ser-                        —Rosemary Haworth

102   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   M AY 2 0 0 8
Flac Compressor                                                                              WinAmp
You’re probably familiar with the MP3 and WMA                                                A quick way to discover a lot of radio stations is
compression formats, which produce much small-                                               to download WinAmp. This much-loved alternative
er audio files than WAV but at the expense of                                                 to Media Player offers a huge selection of radio sta-
sound quality. Free lossless audio quality (Flac)                                            tions, helpfully categorised by genre. As well as
also produces smaller files than WAV, but it                                                  playing radio, WinAmp can record and play back all
doesn’t lose any sound quality. Install Flac Com-                                            kinds of content in a variety of different formats.
pressor from our DVD.                                                                        And it’s free. Find it in our DVD.                                                                

        In WMP 11.0, Click Media Guide in the menu bar. There are five              The Radio Tuner page lets you select stations by their genre
        buttons located near the top of the main screen: Home, Music,              or enter keywords and search for specific content. Clicking
Movies, Games and Radio. Select Radio. The main Radio page shows a         on a listed station brings up further information about its content,
small number of featured channels. You can see a wider selection by        takes you to its website or simply plays its output. You can add
clicking Radio Tuner in the list on the right.                             stations of interest to your MyStations list, too.

        Carefully chose which audio and video file types you want Real-                 ecord                            stream, you’ll need a
                                                                                   To record an Internet radio audio stream y
        Player to play – we suggest picking RealAudio and video files               dedicated audio stream recorder, such as Freecorder
only to start with. You can now tune in and listen live to any BBC radio   ( or in the DVD). Once the applet has
station, as well as recordings of most programmes for up to                installed, an extra toolbar is added to your browser. You can now
a week after broadcast using the Listen Again service.                     record any audio stream directly from the website that’s playing it.

                                                                                                                 M AY 2 0 0 8   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   103
            To record an incoming audio stream, click Record in the Free-          A file browser opens when you click the Play button. Handily,
        7   corder toolbar. Click Stop to end the recording. There                 Freecorder automatically includes the date and time of the
      are Play and Pause controls to the right of these buttons. Hit Set-   recording in the filename. Recordings can be made in MP3 or WAV
      tings to adjust various options. These include specifying             formats. With Replay Converter (
      where recorded audio files are saved.                                  php), you can convert them to other formats.

             To convert the recorded files to other formats using Replay            Select any of the file format from the Target Format drop-
             Converter, click Add Files and select the files you want to            down list and click on Start Conversion Job to begin the con-
      convert from the folder where you have saved your recorded            version process. The files will automatically get converted and
      files. Choose the appropriate option to save the files in the desired   stored in the location you specified. If multiple files are added then
      location and select Convert Audio option.                             the files will be automatically converted one by one.


      YOU CAN PUT direct links to your favourite radio stations on your desktop so
      you don’t have to plough through Media Player each time you want to hear
      what they’re streaming.
        Browse to the website of the station concerned – or to the relevant
      iPlayer page if it’s a BBC station. Select and copy its URL to the clipboard
      (Ctrl, C). Right-click the desktop and select New, Shortcut. Paste the URL
      (Ctrl, V) into the ‘Location of the item’ field. Click Next. Type a suitable
      name for the shortcut on the following page. Click Finish. A double-click on the desktop shortcut takes you straight to the page and
      starts running the audio stream. You can add extra shortcuts for any stations you want.

104   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   M AY 2 0 0 8
PCW WIZARD CONTEST #18:                                       W I N N E R AV N I S H A N A N D

Create Panorama with any Camera

                                                                                    Take pictures with your camera so that a part of one picture is
  Panaromic shots are visually stunning as they

                                                                                    the same as the previous one. The left part of the second
  come closest to the human eye’s angle of view.
                                                                                    photo should be the same as the right part of the first one(or
  Here is how you can create panaroma picture
                                                                                    vice versa). Shoot the photos while keeping the camera fully
  with any camera, using a suitable software.

       Download and install Panorama Perfect Lite from http://www.                In the software, select File > Open to open all your pictures.
                                                                            3     Next, you need to enter how you shot the pictures (left to
Find out the the 35mm equivalent focal length of your lens. Look up        right or vice-versa). Enter the focal length and click Set. Then drag
your manual or the specifications online. If your focal length is 38mm      the picture on the right towards the left pane and click on Next.
– 114mm, consider 38mm because you took the pictures zoomed out.           Repeat this for all your pictures and click File > Create Panorama.

                                                                                              Winner’s Details: Mr. Avnish Anand, New Delhi.

   Contest # 23

                              PCW                                                                                MEGA
                              WIZARD                                                                           TRANSCEND
                                                                                                               8GB PEN DRIVE
                              How can you use your mobile a a
                              wireless webcam for your PC?
                                                                                                                                                                     * Terms & Conditions Apply

                              What were the steps you took to use your bluetooth
                              enabled camera phone as a wireless webcam for your
                              laptop? The winner will receive an 8 GB pen drive, and the
                              top 10 entries get a PC World cap each.                             10 CAPS
                                                                                                  TO BE WON!
                               Email your entries along with your latest photograph
                               (high resolution) to
                               DEADLINE: 12th MAY, 2008                                                            M AY 2 0 0 8   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   105
                                                                                                                             VISIT: www.transcend
Cover DVD
      Ashampoo Clipfinder 1.37
         Download and man-                                                                                                  in the Portal Search field at
         age all your favorite                                                                                              the top to search across all
         videos from popular                                                                                                the websites simultaneously.
         websites by a click of                                                                                             Video results are accompa-
         a button, and even                                                                                                 nied with thumbnails, video
         categorize them with                                                                                               name, size, length in time,
         this nifty tool.                                                                                                   rating, etc. Double-click on a
                                                                                                                            thumbnail to view the rele-
      WITH AT LEAST a steady 256                                                                                            vant video in its actual reso-
      Kbps connection, it is now                                                                                            lution; you can also down-
      possible to exploit the servic-                                                                                       load the video while you’re
      es of video sharing sites like                                                                                        viewing it. In the My Videos
      YouTube and Metacafe con-                     LOOK UP A video simultaneously across several video portals. Make       section, you can categorize
      siderably well. This is further               sure you have a fast Internet connection, though.                       the videos you have viewed
      enhanced with applications                                                                                            and downloaded. All in all,
      like Ashampoo Clipfinder                     Key instantly. To register it          Ashampoo ClipFinder in            Ashampoo Clipfinder’s abili-
      that allows you to download                  as full version, we recom-             your quest for videos online.     ty to do a good job matches
      your favorite videos.                        mend taking those extra few            With the scope of the videos      up with its glossy interface.
         The installation process                  steps to get a registered acti-        not limited to YouTube,                           —Jayesh Shinde
      prompts you to enter an                      vation key. After installation,, Veoh, Google
      e-mail address and directs                   and at first-run, you can con-         Video, Metacafe, and MyS-
                                                                                                                             I N S TA L L AT I O N D E TA I L S
      you to Ashampoo’s website,                   veniently enter the key into           pace, it is an impressive one-
                                                                                                                              System Requirements:
      whereupon you receive an                     the pop-up dialogue box                stop video search program.
                                                                                                                              • Win 2000/XP/Vista
      activation message. Click on                 and start using the program.           You can manually enter key-
                                                                                                                              • 500 MHz Processor
      it to register yourself with                   Once all that’s taken care           words in a specific website,
                                                                                                                              • 128 MB of RAM
      Ashampoo and you’ll be                       of, you’ll soon realize how            all of which are lined up intu-
                                                                                                                              • 10 MB of hard disk space
      sent the product Activation                  simple and easy it is to use           itively on the main screen, or

      Contest # 24

                                          PCW                                                                           MEGA
                                          CRITIC                                                                         HEAD
                                          W              i w Ashampoo
                                          What’s your view on Asham
                                          Clip Finder 1.37 ?
                                                                                                                                                                  * Terms & Conditions Apply

                                          We’ve provided the full free version on this month’s DVD.
                                          What’s your opinion of it? Send us a 350-word review,
                                          and your rating for the product (on a scale of 10) along
                                          with a captioned screenshot. The best review will find
                                          a place in the magazine!
                                                                                                    10 CAPS
                                                                                                    TO BE WON!
                                           Email your entries along with your latest photograph
                                           (high resolution) to
106   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N           DEADLINE: 12th MAY, 2008
                                   M AY 2 0 0 8
Knoppix LiveDVD 5.3.1                                                                                             the Compiz Fusion
                                                                                                                  window manager.
WHAT IF YOUR PC hard-                tings that spoil the                                                         You could also
ware were to suddenly start          PC’s operation,                                                              modify the Knoppix
acting up? Would it not help         since he or she can                                                          disc to include
to have a fully featured oper-       just restart the lab                                                         extra packages or
ating system running from a          machine after a                                                               remove stuff that
DVD without the hassle of            session, and all set-                                                         you don’t want.
settings, that gave you access       tings are back                                                                With hundreds of
to data on your hard disk?           to defaults!                                                                  packages (including
This would work even when               To use Knoppix, OPEN AND STANDARDS-COMPLIANT, from the OS                  kernel sources),
the HDD was not usable giv-          pop in the PC          kernel all the way to the browser.                     this new version of
ing you access to an office          World DVD, go to                                                              Knoppix is a
suite and the Internet. Now          the folder Data >> Linux,write      complete installation.         definite addition to your
what if all this came for free?      the ISO image file to a blank       Knoppix is a veteran (in       arsenal of tools.
  The Knoppix LiveDVD is an          DVD and then boot from it.          existence since 2002) of the                — Madana Prathap
amazing concept for a num-           If you want to install it to        OS-from-CD trend and has
ber of purposes. A prime             hard disk, then boot from           been the first to implement
                                                                                                           I N STA L L AT I O N D E TA I L S
example is that of a computer        the DVD, open a ‘Konsole’           many new features. You can
                                                                                                          System Requirements:
lab where the teacher needs          (command prompt) from               retain files, settings and new
                                                                                                          • System Requirements:
to have working PCs for stu-         the icons on taskbar, and           application installs between
                                                                                                          • 500 MHz Processor
dents to learn and experi-           type: sudo knoppix-installer        reboots, using UnionFS.
                                                                                                          • 128 MB RAM
ment upon. There is no fear          Follow the prompts of the           Show-off 3D effects to your
                                                                                                          • Bootable DVD-ROM drive
of any residual viruses or set-      wizard from there, to               friends on the desktop using

PCW CRITIC CONTEST #19:                                    W I N N E R R O H I T G A U TA M

Ashampoo Photo Commander 5
ASHAMPOO PHOTO COMMANDER 5 is                                                                          application you can do all your adjust-
probably one of the only applications                                                                  ments and enhancements directly in
that provides a one-stop solution for                                                                  the organizer. There are a host of edit-
photo editing. It has a lot to offer                                                                   ing options like removing red-eye
shutterbugs and image collectors.                                                                      effect, adjusting colors, contrast, hue
When using it for the first time, it                                                                    and many other parameters. The
seemed to function like any other                                                                      option for resizing, rotating and crop-
image organizer but turned out to be                                                                   ping gives you the option to do a quick
totally different, in the sense that it                                                                fix for your photos. It also comes with
provides a complete solution for                                                                       a wide range of special effects.
viewing, editing, manipulating and                                                                       Almost everything is done with a
organizing your photo collection.                                                                      couple of clicks – adding picture
  It is very user-friendly, intuitive and                                                              frames, correcting your photos,
easy to use, and you can even custom-                                                                  making greeting cards, collages and
ize its look and feel which is a great fea- A ONE STOP solution for all your photo needs with com-     slide shows, sharing your pictures
ture. It makes organizing your pictures prehensive set of tools that makes it really impressive.       on CDs or DVDs or your website and
and getting them to look great as sim-                                                                 much more.
ple as pressing the button on your camera. You’ll save time, have a       Verdict : The ultimate one-stop photo solution.
barrel of fun and your friends and family will be really impressed.       Rating : 9/10
  It makes managing and organizing even the largest collections
                                                                                      Winner’s Details: Rohit Gautam, lives in Jalandhar,
of digital photos easy. Its powerful integrated photo editing tools
make it a one-stop solution. Instead of switching to a graphics

                                                                                                                M AY 2 0 0 8   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   107
Cover DVD

      TeraCopy                                     MUST TRY                        JOHN MARINGMEI

      IF YOU HAVE ever encoun-
      tered file-copying errors and
                                                  Teach An Old Dog New Tricks
      freezes, and been generally                 OPTIMIZING YOUR PC, using a webcam dur-
      annoyed over the sluggish                   ing online chats, or extracting zip files – these
      rate at which Windows                       are some of the most common tasks you per-
      moves files around, Tera-                   form on your computer. Despite their repeated
      Copy should save a lot of                   usage, these tasks still remain popular no mat-
      frustration. TeraCopy                       ter how commonly they are used. But now
      employs dynamic buffers and                 there are some tools that give these a little
      asynchronous copy methods                   edge by introducing interesting innovations.
      that considerably reduces                   Read on and discover three useful apps that do
      seek time, thus speeding up                 just that.
      data transfer rates, especially
      between two hard drives. In                 Fine Tune Your System
      instances involving large file              Love it or hate it, but the need to maintain your
      transfers across multiple                   PC and keep it running optimally is something
      drives, TeraCopy allows you                 you simply can’t ignore. There are a myriad of
      to pause transfer of files and              useful applications available to tweak and opti-
      then resume it later. The pro-              mize your system. But they often consist of just
      gram is comparatively faster,               a few tools. If you want a more comprehen-
                                                                                                        TRANSFORM YOURSELF DURING video chats with
      and relatively better, than                 sive application for enhancing your system per-
                                                                                                        the myriad of effects available in WebcamMax.
      Windows’ native file copy                   formance and giving it a fresh look, ‘TuneUp
      and move functions. Shell                   Utilities 2008’ fits the bill very well. It includes   use it without really using a WebCam.
      integration is supported and                a treasure trove of tools for improving system           Using it is a breeze and adding effects is just a
                                                  performance, cleaning up junk files, and cus-          few mouse clicks away. The effects you can add
                                                  tomizing Windows look and feel.                       to your video range all the way from Back-
                                                     You can optimize your system easily with just      grounds, Transformations, Masks, Frames, Emoti-
                                                  a few mouse clicks. And there is abundance of         cons, to Text Effects. There are hundreds of them
                                                  advanced settings that expert users will find          included with the application but if you want more
                                                  useful. Apart from the usual system optimiza-         effects, you can use the effects package which is
      A CLEAN INTERFACE with shell                tion, it also comes with powerful features like       downloadable from their site (also included on
      integration makes TeraCopy a                hard drive defragmentation, data recovery and         the DVD). Find a trial version in the ‘Internet’ sec-
      power tool.                                 eraser tools. It also provides a useful utility -     tion. (You can also find a similar free alternative
                                                  ‘1-Click Maintenance’ that offers you the option      but with lesser functionality – ManyCam).
      TeraCopy can replace Win-
                                                  to optimize the most common PC settings
      dows Explorer’s file copy and
                                                  quickly and easily in one click.                      Streamline Zip Files
      move functions. Once
                                                     But what makes it stand out is its support for     The problem with zip files is that while extracting
      installed, you don’t need to
                                                  customizing Windows User Interface like               them, we sometimes save them in different places
      fire up the program separate-
                                                  Icons, Visual Styles, Windows Boot and Logon          and it is difficult to manage them efficiently. The
      ly every time; just right-click
                                                  Screen. If you are not satisfied with the options      perfect solution would be to create install and
      on any file and select Tera-
                                                  available, you can download thousands more            uninstall applications from the files extracted from
      Copy… from the pop-up
                                                  from their site directly. Find a trial version in     zip files. This is what ZipInstaller does for you.
      menu, it’s that simple.
                                                  the ‘Utilities’ section.                                 It lets you extract all files from the zip file and
                       —Jayesh Shinde
                                                                                                        in addition copy them to the destination folder

        I N S TA L L AT I O N D E TA I L S
                                                  Animate Your WebCam Experience                        you select; it also creates a shortcut in the start
                                                  Using your WebCam for normal video chatting           menu and on your desktop. And that’s not all, it
         System Requirements:
                                                  has been possible for ages. Now you can throw in      even adds an uninstall module to allow you to
         • Windows 98/ME/2000/XP
                                                  more fun and excitement with WebCamMax. It            automatically remove the software in the future.
         • 500 MHz Processor
                                                  lets you add amazing video effects for video chat-    Find it free in the ‘Utilities’ section.
         • 512 MB of RAM
                                                  ting with your friends. It comes with support for        Write and tell me what you think about these
         • 1 MB of hard disk space
                                                  almost all instant messengers and you can even        apps at

108   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   M AY 2 0 0 8 2.4                                                                                          Access 2007 files. The
                                                                                                           already existing PDF
MOST PC USERS are familiar         Office 2007 file                                                        support in Writer,
with the OpenOffice (OO)           formats (such as                                                        has been enhanced
application. If an individual      DOCX, XLSX,                                                             to be able to place
needs basic functions like a       etc.). If you need                                                      bookmark links in
word processor, spreadsheet,       to convert your                                                         created PDF files.
and presentation application,      existing docu-                                                             What is more, the
then OpenOffice would              ments to webpag- OPENOFFICE IMPRESS CAN create presentation slides      current version is
probably be the most eco-          es, OO manages to for you, based on templates.                          visually appealing
nomical choice. OO consists        generate reason-                                                        and retains the
of Writer, Calc, Impress,          able HTML without exces-          With this version, OO       familiar interface of pull-
Base, Draw and Math for a          sive redundant code. The       brings in a large number of    down menus and toolbars;
complete productivity suite.       suite also has the ability to  new features and improve-      along with improved speed,
  OO uses the Open Docu-           save documents to PDF or       ments all around. For          and polished looks.
ment Format to store docu-         presentations to flash (SWF)   instance, Impress (the pre-                  — Madana Prathap
ments. MS Office formats           files so that you can make     sentation application) sup-
such as the binary DOC,            use of your content in vari-   ports extensions for OpenGL       I N STA L L AT I O N D E TA I L S
XLS, and PPT are already           ous ways. Being compliant      3D transitions between
                                                                                                   System Requirements:
fully supported. Efforts are       with standards, the database   slides. The charting tool has
                                                                                                   • Windows 98 or later
also being made to enable          application lets you connect   received many additional abil-
                                                                                                   • 128 MB RAM
read-write support within          to external servers running    ities. The database applica-
                                                                                                   • 800 MB hard-disk space
OpenOffice for the newer           MySQL and even Oracle.         tion supports Microsoft

EDITOR’S PICK                               VIJAY RAMACHANDRAN

ArtRage 2 Starter Edition
WHEN WAS THE last time you                                                                             can oil paint if you like and watch
mixed colors on a palette to paint                                                                     every brush stroke emerge in all
that one good portrait, without cre-                                                                   its vividness, and even apply
ating a mess? Probably, not since                                                                      metallic tinges to designs.
you left school. Now, try your hand                                                                    Actions like softness and pres-
at ArtRage 2 Starter Edition (find it                                                                   sure applied by the brushes are
on this month’s DVD) and experi-                                                                       tweakable to the desired degree.
ence painting as you never have.                                                                       Mixing of colors itself is a lot of
   The primary purpose of this tool                                                                    fun. You can smear and smudge,
is to simulate and offer a real-life                                                                    and can even load an image from
canvas painting experience on the                                                                       your camera or hard drive and
PC, and it succeeds in achieving                                                                        trace it out. Brush sizes and
that objective with flying colors.       AN IMPRESSIVE INTERFACE with a great drawing experience         thickness can be changed, and in
ArtRage distinctly has a character- makes ArtRage a must try.                                           the Help section, you can learn
istic Mac air and feel to it, and                                                                       the key combinations that sup-
you’ll know what I mean when you use it. Installing it is easy and   port short-cuts to perform quick maneuvers.
right away you notice its impressive and stylish interface. It is       Kids will especially enjoy fulfilling their creativity with ArtRage.
uncluttered, and offers a large canvas space. Every toolbar and      There are a few more features available in the full version (like lay-
docked widget can be hidden away from view with a simple             ers support, stencils, and a host of in-built filters) that really
mouse click.                                                         allows you take complete control of this paint program. Maybe it’s
   The combination of drawing tools it supports ranges from an       time to start working on that long awaited virtual masterpiece.
air brush, chalk, pencil, crayon, to a color picker and eraser. You  Anyone vying to be the next Van Gogh?

                                                                                                            M AY 2 0 0 8   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   109
Cover DVD

      Need for Speed: ProStreet Porsche demo
      “It is time to take racing off the                                                                               But the outstanding online
      streets. If you want to race, go to                                                                              gameplay is just one item
      your local race course.”                                                                                         on a long list of reasons to
        So says the new conserva-                                                                                      play ProStreet. The great
      tive shift in ProStreet – but it                                                                                 visuals, solid racing
      packs in the same quality rac-                                                                                   mechanics, lengthy career
      ing that you’ve come to                                                                                          mode and customization
      expect from this lauded fran-                                                                                    options help make this one
      chise. The most noticeable dif-                                                                                  of the most deep and
      ference between ProStreet                                                                                        enjoyable racing titles
      and its predecessors lies in its                                                                                 around. Even if the title’s
      graphics. This is the first Need            NFSPS TRADES IN the high speed chases and midnight races for         new direction doesn’t jive
      for Speed game to sport truly               legally sanctioned events.                                           with you, there’s no deny-
      next-gen visuals with gor-                                                                                       ing the level of polish
      geous vehicle modeling, spot-               with a branching career           ProStreet also takes online        inherent in this slick racer.
      on damage rendering, and a                  mode. As up and coming            play to another level with           The keyboard controls are
      general high-level of detail. All           street racer Ryan Cooper,         plenty of new venues and           similar to how the NFS
      this visual flash comes with a              your ultimate goal is to take     race types, as well as a slick     series has always been. For
      price: the game features a                  on the kings of four racing       new system that makes it far       beginners, controlling the
      ridiculous amount of logos,                 modes: grip, drift, drag, and     easier to actually socialize       car might take a bit of effort
      advertisements, and various                 speed. Successfully usurp         with your fellow racers. The       at first, but as long as you
      other graphics on the screen.               their spots and you’re free       online modes are solid and         slow down at turns, you
        ProStreet also does away                  to challenge the street king      the ability to set up virtual      should be fine on the road
      with the open worlds of                     to become the top racer. It’s     race days that your buddies        to the top. NFSPS uses the
      previous Need for Speed                     a long road to the head of        can enter on their own sched-      F12 key to take a screen-
      games and replaces them                     the class though.                 ule offers a lot of flexibility.   shot. Most recent graphics
                                                                                                                       cards are supported, wheth-
        PCW BEST SCREENSHOT CONTEST #20: WINNER JHARNA LASKAR                                                          er they are AGP or PCI-Ex-
                                                                                                                       press, as long as they are
                                                                                                                       compatible with Pixel Shad-
      The Club Demo Captured                                                                                           er 2.0 – the ATi Radeon
      Kudos to Jharna Laskar for winning last month’s Best Screenshot Contest. You can also find the                    9500, nVidia GeForce 6200,
      names and entries of the runners up on this month’s DVD. We also encourage you to try out Need                   and above. Do make sure
      For Speed ProStreet Porsche Demo and send us your best screenshot to win the prize!                              your graphics drivers are
                                                                                                                       updated to the most recent
        Last Month’s Winner                                                     JHARNA LASKAR
                                                                                                                       version. This new second
                                                                                Wins a wireless combo for sub-
                                                                                                                       demo features two Porsche
                                                                                mitting this fantastic screen-
                                                                                                                       cars (911 GT2 / 911 GT3RS)
                                                                                shot that captures one of The
                                                                                                                       drivable on the Porsche
                                                                                Club’s exciting moments.
                                                                                                                       Leipzig testing track.
                                                                                                                                           — GamePro
                                                                        Runner Up                                                 and Madana Prathap

                                                                                                                        I N S TA L L AT I O N D E TA I L S
                                                                                                                         System Requirements:
                                                                                                                         • Windows XP or Vista
                                                                                                                         • 2.8GHz Single-core Processor
                                                                                                                         • 1GB RAM
                                  MANISH MENGHANI                                                                        • 128MB Graphics card
      A great head shot by the protagonist from The Club.                                                                • 1.5 GB free HDD space

110   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   M AY 2 0 0 8
                                                                                                Contest #25

It’s Playtime and How!

SHOOT-EM-UPS THAT DON’T kill people. Shown above is the
shooting paddle from DX-ball 2.

THE DVD THIS month has                 cheering yourself onward to
many fun games which can               better your last score. It uses
run just fine on most home
PCs and laptops, without
                                       the three-life system, so if
                                       you collide with other cars                   PCW BEST
blowing a hole in the pock-
et on an upgrade.
StuntMania!pro v2.6:
                                       on the road and burn to a
                                       crisp, you have three strikes
                                       before you’re out. You can
                                                                                     SCREEN SHOT
Speeding, trying to drive              collect items such as weapon                  Take a shot at Need for Speed:
straight up walls, jumping             caches, missiles, etc., as you                ProStreet Porsche edition.
off the top of the road, all           go along the road. Remem-
things you are not likely to           ber to turn on anti-aliasing
                                                                                     In this month’s DVD, we have published the demo
do in real life. The car-rac-          and hardware vertex mode.                     version of this exciting game. Try it out and send
ing game StuntMania                    Chicken Invaders 1 and 2:                     us a screenshot capturing your best moment of the
thrives on this however,               The Chicken Of The Earth                      game. The winner gets showcased here and wins a
and gives you a whole lot              have been oppressed for                       wireless combo for his effort. Other top 10 entries
of moves, including ones               centuries, and chicken                        receive PC World caps each.
that you execute in mid-               from outer space are all set
air! This game demo offers             to take revenge. In this
three modes of play, and               alien-invaders-style game,
you’ll quickly get the hang            you have a spaceship to
of it. You can control your            shoot the chicken and they
car using the arrow keys or
WASD keys on a keyboard,
                                       in turn bomb you with
                                       eggs. This game is very                                                                     COMBO
                                                                                                                                                    * Terms & Conditions Apply
or a joystick. The main aim            light on system resources,
is to accumulate points for            and if a friend has come
a higher score. Most hard-             over, you can join forces
ware surviving today would             for a two-player game –
be able to easily handle the           each using a different set of
maximum resolution and                 keys on the keyboard.
graphical effects that this                        — Madana Prathap
game can throw at it.
Highway Pursuit: This simple
                                         I N S TA L L AT I O N D E TA I L S
car racer is addictive! Within
                                          System Requirements:
the first ten seconds, you are
                                          • Windows XP
already on track for a high
                                          • 500 MHz Processor
score, and from that point                                                                                                                 10 CAPS
on, you just want to keep
                                          • 128 MB RAM                                                                                     TO BE WON!
                                                                                    Email your entries along with your latest photograph
                                                                                    (high resolution) to

                                  M AY 2 0 0 8   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   111
                                                                                    DEADLINE: 12th MAY, 2008
Cover DVD

      PCW Best Internet Tools                                                                                        net connection as a graph
                                                                                                                     that is fairly accurate. It also
      THE INTERNET HAS                                                                                               has an option to track your
      become an integral part and                                                                                    Web usage history over a
      simplified our lives in an                                                                                     period of time and see how
      unimaginably short space                                                                                       much bandwidth is being
      of time. With the slew of                                                                                      consumed. A local HTTP
      tools listed below, your                                                                                       proxy, Proxomitron lets you
      ride on the Web will now                                                                                       reclaim your browser and
      become smoother.                                                                                               Internet experience. After
      Browsing and File Transfer:                                                                                    installation, you have to
      When it comes to browsing                                                                                      change your browser’s
      the Net, Firefox claims the                                                                                    proxy settings to allow traf-
      honors and continues to                                                                                        fic to pass through Prox-
      remain unmatched in its                                                                                        omitron, and with it filters
      appeal. It implements tabbed                                                                                   enabled, you can surf the
      browsing features very well                                                                                    Web with much more
      with no dearth of customiz-                                                                                    authority as it rewrites Web
      able add-on plugins that                                                                                       pages as they are displayed.
      make this browser virtually                                                                                    Add-ons and Utilities: You
      synonymous with the Net                     AS A PARENTAL control and filter system, Naomi keeps an ever        need to have IE7 Pro, if
      and relegates all others to                 watchful eye on the system and records activity                    Internet Explorer 7 is your
      play second fiddle. If you pre-                                                                                preferred browser. It’s an
      fer browsing through Web                    source, cross-platform can-        sites or chat programs but      add-on with an exhaustive
      pages while remaining offline,              didate known as Thunder-           filters the entire Internet     array of features like recog-
      WinHTTrack lets you do just                 bird. Improved security            traffic passing through the     nizing mouse gestures, web
      that by downloading an                      includes phishing protec-          computer in real-time and       accelerator, spell check,
      entire website on to your                   tion, ability to disallow          blocks out obscene, porno-      inline search, support for
      hard disk and let you view its              images from entering your          graphic, and other unwant-      Greasemonkey scripts, and
      contents offline at your lei-               inbox, and robust junk-mail        ed materials from being         more. In a way, it completes
      sure. Free Download Manager                 filters. Feature rich and very     accessed. Similarly, for pro-   IE and makes sure it doesn’t
      integrates well with most                   well equipped with customi-        tection against rogue soft-     miss a trick over other
      browsers and has advanced                   zation options like Firefox,       ware that installs itself       browsers. Adblock Plus for
      automation features; and                    Thunderbird flies high and         unknowingly even if you         Firefox should hold you
      offers noticeably high down-                overshadows all others.            aren’t viewing any website, a   good against most annoying
      load speeds too. BitTorrent                 Skype remains the definitive       firewall program is a must      pop-up ads, try it if you
      clients have been around for                tool for voice messaging,          have. ZoneAlarm Free Fire-      haven’t already. A shell
      a while, however, none com-                 including making phone             wall is an award-winning        extension like GmailFS adds
      pare to uTorrent, a fully-fea-              calls over the Internet. Tril-     intrusion detection and         a drive letter to your My
      tured file transfer client with             lian is an all-in-one text mes-    blocking tool that secures      Computer and enables you
      minimal system resource                     saging and chat program for        your PC from hack attacks       to use Gmail’s inbox for file
      footprint. Webmasters and                   AIM, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo               and other unknown threats.      storage. You can drag and
      site operators will appreciate              Messenger and IRC, and             Easy-to-use and install,        drop files, which are stored
      tools like SmartFTP which is                supports encrypted messag-         ZoneAlarm Firewall lets you     as e-mail attachments, and
      a powerful FTP manager,                     ing, group chats, file trans-      assign access rights to pro-    retrieve them easily.
      highly customizable to a                    fers and lot more.                 grams whenever they try to                       —Jayesh Shinde
      degree that allows site-to-site             Activity Monitoring and            connect to the Internet,
      transfer, background file                   Security: Naomi is a free Web      ensuring no one escapes the
                                                                                                                      I N S TA L L AT I O N D E TA I L S
      transferring and scheduling.                filtering application, featur-     radar without your permis-
                                                                                                                       System Requirements:
      Email and Messaging: An                     ing a content control mecha-       sion. BitMeter 2 is a band-
                                                                                                                       • Windows 2000 or higher
      email client that gives                     nism to protect kids from          width monitoring tool and
                                                                                                                       • 500 MHz processor
      Microsoft Outlook a run for                 online abuse. It doesn’t just      displays the download and
                                                                                                                       • 256 MB RAM (recommended)
      its money is Mozilla’s open                 keep track of visited web-         upload speed of your Inter-

112   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   M AY 2 0 0 8
Cover DVD

  Volume 13 • Issue 11 •
                                                     NEED FOR SPEED                          ASHAMPOO                                   NOPPIX         5.
                                                                                                                                       KNOPPIX LIVEDVD 5.3.1
                                                     PRO STREET PORSCHE                                                                   otable                distribution
                                                                                                                                       Bootable updated Linux distribu
                                                     Race your porsche on closed tracks,     CLIP FINDER 1.37                          with upto 8 GB of software, including
                                                     and derive the most possible fun out    Find and immediately download vid-        the 3D desktop.Use as a productivity
  » SOFTWARE                                         of the car race courses.                eos from YouTube and similar sites,
                                                                                             at the click of a mouse!
                                                                                                                                       desktop, educational disc, internet
                                                                                                                                       kiosk, or as a system rescue disc.
  FULL PRODUCTS                                    SPOTLIGHT

  Ashampoo ClipFinder 1.37
  Aeikon Voice Operated Media Player 1.0.57 beta
                                                   » MAC UTILITIES                                         » GAMER PACK
                                                   Outspring Mail                                          Unreal Tournament 3 Bonus Pack
  Flac codec
                                                   Sweet Home 3D 1.2                                       Cheatbook Database 2008
  iTunes sync
                                                   Private Screening 1.2                                   DirectX 9c 2008 March Redistributables
  Miro 1.2.2
                                                   EasyBatchPhoto 2.2.2                                    GPU-Z 0.1.8
  Winamp 5.53
                                                   BitPlayer 1.2                                           ... and the latest Graphics Drivers
  Lipikaar - Indian Scripts
                                                   Limits 1.1
                                                                                                           » SMARTPHONE TOOLS
  Libra 0.9.2 beta
                                                   » BEST INTERNET TOOLS                                   Nokia PC Suite 6.85
                                                   Firefox                                        UltimateSearch 1.0
  ComicBase 12
                                                   uTorrent 1.7.7                                          UltimatePhone 1.5008
  Ultra Fractal 4.04 Animation Edition
                                                   Free Download Manager                                   JPGEditor 5.0.1
  ArtRage 2 Starter Edition
                                                   SmartFTP 3.0                                            Resco Backup (Palm OS) 2.21
  Ico FX
                                                   Skype 3.6                                               And more...
  Inkscape 0.46
  Photobie 4.8
  Internet Explorer 8 beta 1
                                                   GmailFS                                                 » EXCLUSIVE VIDEOS
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  IE7 Pro 2.2                                                                                              Game Developers Conference 2008: Floor guide
                                                   Adblock Plus 2.4.0                                                                                      Panasonic’s innovative digicams
                                                   BitMeter 2
  Note Mania                                                                                               Mac gets hacked at CanSecWest
                                                   And more...
  Tiny USB Office v1.0                                                                                      Toshiba’s Apripoco, a prototype robot
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  ZoneAlarm Firewall Free 7.1.100
                                                   Nokia N95 & Samsung G800: Captured
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                                                   Nokia Phone Backup and GPRS walkthrough                 BEST GAME SCREENSHOT
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                                                   Beijing Olympics 2008: A brief overview                 SUPER COOL DESKTOP
  TeraCopy 1.22
                                                                                                           PCW HANDYMAN
  Disk Heal
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                                                   » GAMES                                                 PCW WIZARD
                                                                                                           PCW CRITIC
  TRIALWARE                                        DEMOS
  Polyphonic Ringtone Wizard 3.7                   Need for Speed: ProStreet Porsche            SLIDE SHOW: PRODUCTS
  FaceMorpher Lite 2.5                             StuntMania!pro v2.5.1
  Pianito 3.5                                      ARCADE
  Photo Pos Pro                                    Super Monster Painter Extreme 1.0
  WebcamMax + Effects Pack                         Highway Pursuit
  FlashFXP 3.6                                     Hot Racing 2
  Atlantis 1.6                                     gBrainy
  WinXP and WinVista Manager                       Hellcarrier
  TuneUp Utilities 2008                            Chicken Invaders 2 Demo
  And more...                                      Chicken Invaders
                                                   SolSuite 2008 8.3
  » LINUX ZONE                                     DX Ball 1.09
                                                                                                   THE IMAC 24”
  Knoppix LiveDVD 5.3.1                            DX Ball 2 Demo
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                                                                                                                       M AY 2 0 0 8   W W W. P C W O R L D . I N   113
Full Disclosure                                                                             STEPHEN MANES

               When Companies Outsource Mars!
               AH, 21ST-CENTURY SUPPORT! Thanks to state-of-the-art inter-           tosh’s instructions. Instead, I asked the one question you
               planetary communications, the person assigned to “help” you is        must always utter when dealing with Martian support reps:
               always philosophically and sometimes physically located on Mars.      “Please tell me what you are going to have me do, all told.”
               When and if you reach a support person, the advice offered will be      Answer: “After delete temporary files we need to run
               based on a script prepared long before the support company ever       Live Update.”
               heard of your particular problem. Your mission is to avoid wast-        “Anything else?”
               ing time while gleaning possibly useful nuggets. How? Watch.            “Then run full system scan.”
                 When Outlook Express began downloading my e-mail a few                “Then what?”
               days ago, Windows popped up the dreaded message, ‘Syman-                “After follow the above steps issue persist we need to unin-
               tec Service Framework has encountered a problem and needs             stall and reinstall the product.”
               to close. We are sorry for the inconvenience.’                          In other words: Waste valuable time messing with a prod-
                 Gee, thanks. If a single tear were shed every time Windows          uct meant to help me avoid wasting valuable time.
               said it was sorry, the world’s coastal cities would be under-           I ask for details. Santosh has me look for a folder called
               water. But right now, my Net connection is dead.                      NIS080015. I don’t have that one, but I do have NIS
                 I reboot. Same story. Symantec’s Norton Internet Security             “Okay,” says Santosh. “Please delete all folder and files
               2008 dislikes something about one particular e-mail message,          except this folder.” He means the temp files. But if I’m sup-
               and when Norton crashes, it takes my Net connection with it.          posed to keep the Norton file, how do I know the others are
                 I figure I’m fairly safe, since I’ve set Outlook Express to display safe to delete? Why do I have a different folder than the one
               mail as plain text so it won’t inadvertently launch malware. I turn   he asked for? And why does the chat window disallow right-
               off Norton’s e-mail scanning, reboot, and pull down the mail.         click copying, which would let me easily save his advice?
               Then I launch Symantec’s Live Update and grab the latest Norton         Norton products have a history of delivering messages that
               bits. But when I turn scanning back on, the problem persists.         don’t mean what they say. Yesterday, Internet Security
                 When I request an online                                                                              2008’s history file said my
               support chat, Norton Inter-                The tech help I got from Symantec:                           backup program made 1455
               net Security offers to install             So bad it was downright unearthly.                           changes to Windows startup
               remote-assistance software.                                                                              files—highly unlikely.
               But that software merely pro-                                                                             Today, it tells me similar
               duces another error message.                                                                              changes were made when I
                 So I use Norton’s chat system.                                                                         booted up—but omits the
               “Please let me know when exact-                                                                         event that supposedly hap-
               ly happened this issue?” a rep                                                                              pened yesterday.
               named Santosh asks. I do. After a                                                                             After dealing with San-
               few back-and-forths, he declares,                                                                        tosh, I ended up running a
               “First we need to delete tempo-                                                                      system scan and turning e-mail
               rary files from your computer.”                                                                      protection back on—which
                 Now, this is where the whole                                                                       seems to have fixed the glitch.
               thing could have taken an ugly                                                                       But am I truly protected? Not,
               turn. This is where, had I                                                                           apparently, from Symantec’s
               obeyed blindly, I could have                                                                         own failings—or its
               spent hours futzing with San-                                                                        Martian support.
                                                                                                                                                       ILLUSTRATION: JOHN CUNEO

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Description: PC WORLD - May 2008 Issue