SECURITY SUITE SHOOTOUT TAKING PROTECTION TO THE NEXT LEVEL Top 200 Web Sites Undiscovered and Classic Destinations for Fun, Work, and Good Living 25 YEARS OF TECHNOLOGY PC LABS TESTS YOUR NEXT PC S P EC I A L DOUBLE I S S U E! 41 Hot New Systems Put to the Test NOVEMBER 6, 2007 WWW.PCMAG.COM HV20 HR10 HG10 ©2007 Canon U.S.A., Inc. All rights reserved. “HDV” and the “HDV” logo are trademarks of Sony Corporation and Victor Company of Japan, LCD screen image is simulated. High deﬁnition footage captured in the AVCHD format and recorded to DVD can only be played back with Meet the family. Three HD camcorders. perfect for HD. Our camcorders also share Three HD recording formats. another genetic trait: stability. SuperRange Our latest line of High Deﬁnition camcorders Optical Image Stabilization addresses a covers the spectrum of HD formats. wide range of vibration — from normal The HG10 AVCHD HDD camcorder offers the longest hand - held jitters to the shake of a moving recording time of all three — up to 15 hours of HD vehicle. All without any loss in image quality. video on a 40 GB internal Hard Disk Drive. So Speaking of quality, each of our HD camcorders there’s no need for tapes or discs. Then there’s carries an auto focus system called Instant A F. the HR10, an AVCHD camcorder It’s technology that adds an external sensor to designed for the person who our internal auto focus system. The result is dramatically faster auto focus speed and accuracy, Intuitive handling makes shooting and playback as simple as it sounds. which is essential for HD. While we were at it, we even included the same sensor technology that made our enjoys the convenience of Canon EOS Digital SLR cameras the recording directly to DVD. And choice of professional photographers. completing the trio is the HV20 The Canon Full HD CMOS image HD camcorder that records High sensor captures HD information at Definition video to mini DV tape. 1920 x1080 for ultra-realistic detail. That makes three brilliant ways And for the budding ﬁlmmaker, each to get the ultimate in camcorder comes with 24p Cinema High Definition video Mode, a feature that allows you to capture. Despite their vThere’s HD, and there’s Canon HD. And each differences, our cam- and every technology makes it possible. corders have a lot in common — like our lenses, for instance. Our High Deﬁnition story starts with Genuine Canon Optics. add a cinematic look and feel to your own productions. So there it is: the highest form of High After all, we have a history of over 70 years of optical Definition from Canon. Ushering us all expertise. So it’s no surprise that our lenses deliver into the HD era with High Def inition the finest HD image quality. Behind the lens, we have our exclusive DIGIC DV II Image Processor, optimized formats and features that meet your high expectations. And no matter which model you choose, you’ll discover so for HD Video. DIGIC DV II offers incredibly many ways to bring High Definition precise color and tonal reproduction — to your life. To learn more about Canon’s line of HD camcorders, visit Superior HD begins with the lens. And no one can match Canon’s legendary optical expertise. www.usa.canon.com/hdexpert Limited (JVC). Canon and DIGIC are registered trademarks of Canon Inc. in the United States. IMAGEANYWARE is a trademark of Canon. AVCHD-compatible DVD players. For further information, visit www.canondv.com Looking for a total websit cka 1&1 Home Pa ge s h t n o m 3 * free! October 31st. Offer expires Yahoo! Go Daddy Included Domains STARTER 2 1 through contract duration Web Space DELUXE $1.99 per year with purchase 120 GB 5 GB 100 GB 1,200 GB 200 GB 1,000 GB 1,200 IMAP or POP3 200 POP3 1,000 POP3 2 GB Unlimited 10 MB ✓ 12 Pages ✓ Extra charge applies ✓ Freeware Photo Gallery ✓ RSS Feed Creator ✓ ✓ – ✓ $4.99/month Ad-free Blog ✓ Monthly Transfer Volume Our complete web hosting solution gives you everything you need to quickly and easily create an attractive website. Order before October 31, 2007 and get 3 months free! Home E-mail Accounts Mailbox Size Search Engine Submission Website Builder 90-Day Money Back Guarantee Support Freeware ✓ – – ✓ 24/7 Toll-free Phone, 24/7 Toll-free Phone, 24/7 Phone, E-mail E-mail E-mail $ Price Per Month SPECIAL OFFER 4 99 1195 $6 99 $ 3 months free!* $8.96 ﬁrst 2 months $ TOTAL/YEAR 44 91 Save 10% with 1 year contract 137 42 $ 75 48 $ We offer a variety of hosting packages to ﬁt your needs and budget. © 2007 1&1 Internet, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit 1and1.com for full promotional offer details. *Offer valid for Home Package only, 12 month minimum contract term required. **50% discount valid for 3 months and applies to Business I and II server packages only, two year minimum contract term required. Prices based on comparable Linux web hosting package prices, effective 8/27/2007. Product and program specifications, availability, and pricing subject to change without notice. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Creating a website has never been easier. 1 Choose your layout 2 Arrange your pages Home Pictures Directions Contact Our website builder runs from a browser window and lets you build a professional-looking site in minutes, without the need for an expert programmer or web designer. Let the wizard guide you through the process. Choose from a selection of templates and edit fonts and colors for added personalization. Using the simple point-and-click prompts and a built-in text editor, your website can be online in minutes! Call 1.877.go1and1 e solution? Exclusive Limited Time Offers: today, offers Visit our website st. expire October 31 DOMAINS .us Act now and save! Create your own .us domain. For a limited time, America’s internet address is on sale. $ 2 99 first year SERVERS RVERS Need a business server? Sign up now and we’ll waive the $99 setup fee. Save 50% on the first 3 months when you sign up for a 2 year server contract. 3 4 Add text and pictures Visit us now Publish your website 1and1.com Save 50%** Toshiba recommends Windows Vista® Ultimate Get the ultimate in HD and a revolutionary recordable HD DVD drive 1 with the Qosmio® G45 notebook PC. Enjoy a quiet evening with an indie film, your Qosmio G45 and millions of beautiful pixels. With HD DVD providing up to 6x the resolution of DVDs, 2 you’ll discover a supreme home-theater experience. 1 Throw in genuine Windows Vista® Ultimate, a 17-inch Ultimate TruBrite® widescreen display and four built-in Harman Kardon® Bass Reflex speakers, and pretty soon any movie will seem like a blockbuster. To learn more, visit www.toshiba.com/blockbuster. 1. Because HD DVD is a new format that makes use of new technologies, certain disc, digital connection and other compatibility and/or performance issues are possible. Depending on HD DVD content, you may experience “frame dropping” or lower performance. See HD DVD Technology Legal Footnote at www.info.toshiba.com. 2. Based on pixel count compared to standard NTSC DVD output. Qosmio and TruBrite are registered trademarks of Toshiba America Information Systems, Inc., and/or Toshiba Corporation. Intel, the Intel logo, the Centrino logo, and Centrino are trademarks of Intel Corporation in the U.S. and other countries. Windows and Windows Vista are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the U.S. and other countries. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. While Toshiba has made every effort at the time of publication to ensure the accuracy of the information provided herein, product specifications, configurations, prices, system/component/options availability are all subject to change without notice. For the most up-to-date product information about your computer, or to stay current with the various computer software or hardware options, visit Toshiba’s Web site at www.pcsupport.toshiba.com. ©2007 Toshiba America Information Systems, Inc. All rights reserved. PContents VOL. 26 NO. 21/22 NOVEMBER 6, 2007 FIRST LOOKS 27 Software Norton Internet Security 2008 Panda Internet Security 2008 Adobe Acrobat 8 Standard BullZip PDF Printer deskPDF Professional PDF Converter Professional 4 Pownce.com Totalidea TweakVI COVE R S TO RY The Ultimate PC Buying Guide With the holidays just around the corner, PC manufacturers are rolling out their best systems. Whether you want to buy a new computer for yourself, or to surprise someone special, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve tested dozens of systems—gaming rigs, family PCs, budget desktops, and laptops—to bring you our top picks and pans. 34 Consumer Electronics Apple iPod touch Apple iPod nano (3rd generation) Motorola Q9m (Verizon) HTC Advantage Sony PSP (model 2000) Westinghouse TX-47F430S TomTom GO 720 Fuji FinePix Z5fd Helio Fin Nokia E65 Security Suite Shootout page 27 Top 200 Web Sites page 78 46 Hardware Canon Pixma Pro9000 Iomega eGo CyberPower Gamer Ultra 8500 SE 48 Business Sony VAIO VGN-TZ150N Your Next PC page 64 ASUS U1F HP Ofﬁcejet Pro K5400dtn Color Printer Budget Graphics Cards page 95 Xerox Phaser 8560MFP/D 54 The Best Stuff NOVEMBER 6, 2007 PC MAGAZINE 5 PCONTENTS GRAPHICS CARD SUPERGUIDE Better Graphics On a Budget S P E C I A L R E P O R T: I N T E R N E T Best of the Web 2007 Try as we might, we can’t ﬁt all the best Web sites in the universe in a mere list of 100. That’s why we’ve scoured the Net to to bring you the choicest morsels, including the Top 100 Undiscovered sites as well as our annual Top 100 Classic sites. FRONT SIDE OPINIONS 17 News Better medication through computing; the new generation of thin clients; solidstate storage arrives; outlawing Wi-Fi scarﬁng; putting a price on music piracy. 9 First Word Lance Ulanoff 18 At a Glance Photonic computing; Microsoft’s SideWinder mouse; weird research projects. 58 John C. Dvorak 59 Inside Track John C. Dvorak 60 Jim Louderback If you’re going to upgrade your PC to Vista, you’re probably going to need a new graphics card. We test six entry-level and midgrade graphics cards and give you step-by-step instructions on upgrading your PC for Vista-ready graphics. SOLUTIONS Want more from our experts? Visit us online for: 106 Ask Neil • Breaking tech news to keep you informed 108 Ask Loyd • Industry analysis from our expert columnists 110 Business Building a better Web site; keeping customers; new Microsoft Word features for longer documents. • Lively tech discussions in our PCMag.com Forums 62 Dan Costa 63 Sascha Segan 56 25 YEARS 20 Q&A Felicia Yue, product manager of Sportvision. OF PC MAG 2002. iRobot cofounder Colin Angle; the wireless revolution; memories of Windows 95. • PCMag.com’s Product Guides, with product pricing, reviews, and comparisons 128 BACKSPACE 22 Connected Traveler Using Web 2.0 to meet people and save money while traveling; handy travel gear. PC Magazine, ISSN 0888-8507, is published semi-monthly, except monthly in July and three issues in November, at $44.97 for one year. Ziff Davis Media Inc., 28 East 28th Street, New York, NY 10016-7940. Periodicals postage paid at New York, NY 10016-7940 and at additional mailing ofﬁces. POSTMASTER: Address changes to PC Magazine, P.O. Box 54070, Boulder, CO 80328-4070. The Canadian GST registration number is 865286033. Publications Mail Agreement No. 40009221. Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to P.O. Box 503, R.P.O. West Beaver Creek, Richmond Hill, ON L4B 4R6, Canada. Printed in the U.S.A. 6 PC MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 6, 2007 INSIDE PCMAG.COM 103 Yahoo! Pipes Create your own mash-ups—no coding required. Take control of your PC’s start-up process with our latest utility, StartUp Cop Pro 3. This applet lets you decide which programs to launch at startup—and checks for threats using Bit9’s database. You can download StartUp Cop Pro 3 for $7.97 or access a year’s worth of utilities for $19.97. Find more details at go.pcmag.com/download. Illustration by Christoph Niemann Do the math. 0 + 5 % % Intro APR** Cashback Bonus®* Discover More Card gives you more ® SM • 0% APR on purchases until May 2008 and on balance transfers until November 2008** • 5% Cashback Bonus®* in categories like travel, home, gas, restaurants, movies and more • 5% to 20% Cashback Bonus at top retailers through our exclusive online shopping site • Up to 1% unlimited Cashback Bonus on all other purchases APPLY TODAY! apply.Discovercard.com 1-800-347-0320 Invitation #: FHCQ **Earn unlimited cash rewards on all purchases. Earn a full 5% Cashback Bonus on purchases throughout the year by participating in each Get More program. In addition, earn a full 1% on all other purchases after your total annual purchases exceed $3,000; other purchases that are part of your ﬁrst $1,500 earn .25% and other purchases that are part of your second $1,500 earn .50%. Warehouse purchases (those made at select warehouse clubs, discount stores and their afﬁliates) earn .25%. We do not include warehouse purchases or Get More program purchases (up to the dollar limit speciﬁed in each applicable program) in calculating your total annual purchases to determine your tier level. Rewards are redeemable in $20 increments. Full terms and conditions will be sent with your Card. **Purchase APR is 0% until the last day of the billing period ending during May 2008. Balance transfer APR is 0% until the last day of the billing period ending during November 2008. Standard purchase APR: 13.99%. Cash APR: 22.99%. Default APR: up to 28.99%. Min. ﬁn. chg.: $.50. Cash transaction fee: 3% min. $5 and no max. Balance transfer fee: 3%, min. $10, max. $75. Rates as of August 1, 2007. ©2007 Discover Bank, Member FDIC Fujitsu recommends Windows Vista® Business. Small wonder. Family of Notebooks U800 800 Ultra-Mobile PC P1600 Portable PC All the functionality. Half the size. The new 1.5-pound Fujitsu U800 Ultra-Mobile PC is massively versatile and wonderfully small. With its Intel® Pentium® M processor, you can easily launch Microsoft Vista® applications and YouTube™ videos and view them on a vivid 5.6-inch monitor/touch-screen. Share data and peripherals effortlessly with built-in Bluetooth® technology. And keep all your data ultra-safe with biometric security. It’s even Wireless WAN enabled* and includes a webcam. To learn more go to us.fujitsu.com/computers/smallwonder T2000 Tablet PC** T4200 Tablet PC** series ** Fujitsu T2000 and T4000 ® ™ Tablet PCs feature Intel Core 2 Duo processor technology. ©2007 Fujitsu Computer Systems Corporation. All rights reserved. Fujitsu, the Fujitsu logo and LifeBook are registered trademarks of Fujitsu Limited. Centrino, Intel, Intel Core, Core Inside, the Centrino logo, Pentium M, and the Intel logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries. Microsoft and Windows are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. * Wireless WAN not available on all models. U800 Ultra-Mobile PC Runs on Genuine Windows Vista® Business • 1.5lbs • 5 hour battery life • 40GB hard drive • Webcam included • Bluetooth® • 5.6” screen • Wireless WAN enabled* • FIRST WORD LANCE ULANOFF Fair Use Is a Failure Blame the Apple iPhone for my new love affair with mobile video. I’ve always taken a skeptical view of video on tiny screens— until recently. A few weeks ago I took the iPhone on a business trip. I watched the Scott Baio Is 45 . . . And Single realityshow premiere, along with other brainless video treats. Most screens on devices of this genre are too small for my enjoyment. Thanks to the iPhone, I’ve turned a corner and started thinking about all the other video I might consume on this pocket-size device. I set my sights on the massive DVD collection in my den, almost a decade’s worth of my favorite movies. I also know that my future is ﬁlled with business trips. So, naturally, I now want to get that DVD content onto the iPhone. But that would be breaking the law. Some people, however, would consider my plans fair use. The term “fair use” was a widely recognized, albeit not specifically codified agreement between content creators and consumers for decades. It became an ofﬁcial part of copyright law in 1976, right around the time VCRs arrived. Prior to that, fair use dealt largely with copying portions of books for research papers and classrooms, and the less-common practice of backing up audio LPs to tape. The VCR changed things. Suddenly, consumers could copy entire television shows and even movies from broadcast TV. The movie studios and television networks grew concerned, and it became obvious that more onerous copyright controls would essentially kill the nascent VCR industry. Fast-forward to the digital age, with its content-copying free-for-all. We encounter content piracy at every turn: Street corners are littered with a wide selection of pirated DVDs, thousands of unsanctioned studio and network clips are all over YouTube, and recently the world was stunned to find complete PDF pages of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on the Internet long before it arrived on store shelves. Fair use made sense only as long as it was virtually impossible for individuals to replicate mass-market distribution of major content. The digital nature of all content, and easy access to the Internet and a broadband pipe, have fundamentally changed the equation. So where does that leave me and other law-abiding citizens who simply want to watch Pirates of the Caribbean 2 on our iPhones? Content providers counsel buying a version from iTunes. Nuts to them— I’m not paying twice. As an experiment, I started looking for easy ways to transfer a purchased DVD movie onto an iPod. Doz- The advent of Blu-ray, HD DVD, and new encryption schemes has slowed the DVD-ripping engine down, but it hasn’t stopped it. Soon someone will hack HD encryption, and new ripper apps will arrive. Most people who do what I did are acting in the spirit of fair use and have no intention of distributing the content. Realistically, though, once it’s in a digital form, redistribution is a possibility. Fair use just doesn’t work in the digital age, and it’s time for content providers to recognize that if they don’t give people viewing options, people will generate them on their own. I suggest that movie studios create a slightly more deluxe version of Where does that leave law-abiding citizens who want to watch Pirates of the Caribbean 2 on their iPhones? Content providers counsel buying a version from iTunes. Nuts to them—I’m not paying twice. ens of programs are out there, but many are too hard to use. Open-source HandBrake is a favorite choice of Mac users. And AoAMedia.com’s spectacularly easy DVD Ripper includes output options for the AppleTV and the iPod. For my tests, I used DVD Ripper on Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride. Since the trialware version rips only 10 minutes of video, I ripped and converted one of the extra features. Next, I grabbed the completed file and dropped it into iTunes. Then I synced the iPod and was soon watching the clip. The whole process took only about 5 minutes. DVD encryption was nothing to this app, and though many similar apps discourage DVD ripping and others won’t do it at all, it’s likely that apps such as DVD Ripper are not going away anytime soon. their DVD offerings: For another 99 cents, say, you would also be able to download the ﬁlm. That may not be fair use, but it is fair. In This Issue The following pages are ﬁlled with everything I love about PC Magazine. Our blockbuster PC story is the ultimate system buying guide, complete with a features table, benchmarks, and scorecards. We also show you how to buy a solid graphics card without breaking the bank. And for those who live online, we’ve produced what I consider to be our best Top Web Sites story ever, with 200 fantastic destinations. TALK TO THE CHIEF You can contact Lance at Lance_Ulanoff@ziffdavis.com. For more of his columns, go to go.pcmag .com/ulanoff. NOVEMBER 6, 2007 PC MAGAZINE 9 ® W W W. P C M A G C O N N E C T. C O M Visit PC Magazine Connect for special offers from PC Magazine and select partners. It’s your resource for sweepstakes, downloads, announcements and updates that keep you connected. www.pcmag.com EDITOR-IN-CHIEF EDITOR Lance Ulanoff Stephanie Chang EXECUTIVE PRODUCT DIRECTOR Robyn Peterson DIRECTOR OF ONLINE CONTENT, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER EXECUTIVE EDITORS ART DIRECTOR Vicki B. Jacobson Dan Costa (reviews), Carol L. Gonsher, Jeremy A. Kaplan Richard J. Demler PC LABS DIRECTOR, SENIOR EDITOR (HARDWARE) Laarni Almendrala Ragaza Sean Carroll (software, Internet, networking), Carol Mangis (blogs), Sarah Pike (Solutions), Erik Rhey (Front Side) SENIOR WRITER Eric Grifﬁth FEATURES EDITOR Dan Evans REVIEWS EDITORS Brian Bennett (consumer electronics), Gary Berline (software, Internet, networking), Tony Hoffman (hardware) SENIOR EDITORS DISKEEPER® 2007 Speed up your PCs and servers automatically! New Diskeeper® 2007 guarantees peak system performance and reliability at all times. Now compatible with Windows Vista! Try it free for 45 days. Download from www.diskeeper.com/pc45 Cisco Cheng, Tim Gideon, Robert Heron, Michael Muchmore, Oliver Rist, Neil J. Rubenking, Joel Santo Domingo, Sascha Segan, M. David Stone JUNIOR ANALYST Brian Neal PRODUCT REVIEW COORDINATOR PJ Jacobowitz INVENTORY CONTROL COORDINATOR Nicole Graham PC LABS LEAD ANALYSTS Michael St. George ASSOCIATE ART DIRECTOR Aaron Able Christopher Ewen GRAPHICS DIRECTOR David Foster Scott Schedivy ART SENIOR ASSOCIATE ART DIRECTOR ASSISTANT ART DIRECTOR STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Nicholas Cosmo Jacqueline Oquendo Elizabeth A. Parry COPY EDITORS Margaret McVeigh, Ann Ovodow PRODUCTION EDITORIAL PRODUCTION DIRECTOR PRODUCTION COORDINATOR COPY CHIEF Yun-San Tsai Mark Lamorgese, Whitney A. Reynolds NEWS EDITOR Mark Hachman NEWS REPORTER Chloe Albanesius ASSOCIATE EDITORS Jennifer L. DeLeo, Brian Heater (blogs), Molly K. McLaughlin (reviews), Kyle Monson ASSISTANT EDITOR Corinne Iozzio REVIEWS PRODUCERS Errol Pierre-Louis, Nicole Price Fasig PRODUCTION ARTISTS Veronica de Leon, Renée Lightner COMMERCE PRODUCERS Iman Edwards, Arielle Rochette UTILITY PROGRAM MANAGER Tim Smith COMMUNITY MANAGER Jim Lynch ONLINE MANAGER, ONLINE PRODUCTION PRODUCERS DIGITAL LOVE PROGRAM In honor of our 25th Anniversary, PC Magazine has partnered with the National Cristina Foundation (NCF) to create the PC Magazine Digital Love Program. Donate your old, unused technology, and help give someone the power to learn. Go to www.go.pcmag. com/donate to ﬁnd out more. Helen Bradley, John R. Delaney, Richard V. Dragan, John C. Dvorak, Craig Ellison, Galen Fott, Bill Howard, Don Labriola, Jim Louderback, Bill Machrone, Ed Mendelson, Jan Ozer, Neil Randall, Matthew D. Sarrel, Larry Seltzer, Don Willmott CONTRIBUTING EDITORS PRODUCER COMING TO YOU LIVE AND ON DEMAND -IT’S DIGITALLIFETV.COM Twice a week, host and teech journalist Patrick Norton and co-host Robert Heron dish up product reviews and how-tos on the coolest digital technology, video games and equipment and new Website launches for tech fans. Go to DL.TV.com 4]`OZZbVWaO\R`SdWaWb eee^Q[OUQ]\\SQbQ][ Loyd Case Jeremy Atkinson EXTREMETECH.COM EDITOR SENIOR TECHNOLOGY ANALYSTS Jason Cross, Joel Durham THE INDEPENDENT GUIDE SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION PC Magazine is the Independent Guide to Technology. Our mission is to test and review computer- and Internet-related products and services and report fairly and objectively on the results. Our editors do not invest in ﬁrms whose products or services we review, nor do we accept travel tickets or other gifts of value from such ﬁrms. Except where noted, PC Magazine reviews are of products and services that are currently available. 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We cannot look up stories from past issues, recommend products, or diagnose problems with your PC by phone. An index of past issues is at www.pcmag.com/ previous_issues. For a list of upcoming stories, browse www.pcmag.com. For a full description of who on staff covers what, go to www.pcmag .com/whocoverswhat. If you are dissatisﬁed with a product advertised in PC Magazine and cannot resolve the problem with the vendor, write (do not call) Anne King, Advertising Department, at the above address. Please include copies of your correspondence with the vendor. ADVERTISEMENT The Crucial Flaw in Server Performance Today’s server technology is designed to withstand critical workloads. But there is still one major flaw, and a secret edge for solving it. scheduled defragmentation leaves fragmented files behind after running, or in best cases only provides a very short respite from performance loss. Only Diskeeper 2007 consistently eliminates fragmentation to continuously provide maximum performance and reliability — automatically2. The Importance of Server Reliability It’s important enough that a single user is able to rely on a computer, and that the user’s data is always there and quickly retrievable. But when that computer is a server, and when the number of users escalates from one or a few up to thousands, the word “important” as it relates to reliability and uptime becomes a severe understatement. In today’s corporate world, servers are the brains and backbones of the enterprise, for executives, employees and, most importantly, customers and prospects. Even a few minutes of server slow-down or downtime impacts the bottom line of the company. A large part of the reason that server reliability has become so vital is the evolution of the Web. No longer the static display that it once was, the Web is now a place where billions in commerce is conducted, where buyers shop for commodities, pricing and availability, and where customers log in to place and track orders. CRM applications, once only used for internal employees on the phone, now interface with Web applications so that customers and even employees can interact with the company online. Databases such as SQL must be instantly responsive, as these interface with the Web as well. Server Technology Evolves to Keep Up — Almost Server technology has some time since passed the point of being single-box/singledisk solution, having migrated into solutions such as SAN (Storage Area Networks), providing scalability, redundancy, reliability, and performance. Technology such as virtualization takes server computing one step further, making more efficient use of resources for greater power to deliver data and services. Chip technology such as quad-core is being marketed to keep pace with the constantly rising need for processing power. But despite all these advances, the cornerstone to server response remains the hard drives, as they remain the slowest components — the “weakest links.” Unfortunately emerging technologies such as virtualization don’t change that fact, and actually exacerbate it. While being the weakest links, disks are also the storehouse for all server applications and data. Keeping those drives defragmented for optimum performance has long ago become a “given”1 — but it’s the defragmentation technology that can make the crucial difference between keeping drives at maximum performance and simply “functioning.” With “I am very pleased with [the improved] performance I am seeing on the Windows® 2003 servers we have Diskeeper 2007 installed and running on. SQL creates and deletes many temporary tables. Setting up the defrags to be automatic, the SQL performance increased substantially. Queries that originally took 30 seconds or so are completing in 5 – 10 seconds. The only change was having Diskeeper 2007 installed and operating.” today’s frantic pace of 24/7 server disk access, fragmentation is continuous and constant, and scheduled defragmentation does not keep pace2. To keep fragmentation from corrupting workflow, you truly need Diskeeper® 2007 with its proprietary InvisiTasking™ technology defragmenting your disks, constantly and invisibly, with no hit on system resources. Diskeeper EnterpriseServer version also contains advanced technologies such as Terabyte Volume Engine™ 2.0. “Diskeeper has transparently prevented disk fragmentation from building up and measurably slowing down our production servers. The ability to prevent fragmentation from building up without impacting CPU load on the servers has been a key feature of the product.” “Previously we were unable to defragment the terabyte arrays and fragmentation was resulting in processing delays of incoming data files. This resulted in our SQL server falling behind during times of high usage. Now, thanks to Diskeeper, we have breathing room to handle future growth.” William Cox, IT Director, Georgia Department of Easy Care and Learning, Atlanta, GA Julie McGowan, Santa Cruz County, CA InvisiTasking: The Secret Edge to Server Performance As thousands of IT personnel throughout the world have discovered, Diskeeper 2007 Server, with its proprietary breakthrough InvisiTasking technology, defragments and enhances file systems in real-time, with no scheduling needed. Testing has shown that Richard B. West, Systems Management Architect, IT Solutions and Infrastructure Engineering, Melbourne, FL The backbone of enterprise computing environments is the server. And disk subsystems are, undoubtedly, vital to the overall performance of a server. And as tens of thousands have discovered, the most essential component for maintaining maximum performance and reliability of those drives is Diskeeper 2007 Server editions. Take advantage of the free 45-day trial and see for yourself. Special Offer Maximizing Performance and Reliability —Automatically! ™ Try Diskeeper 2007 FREE for 45 days! Download: www.diskeeper.com/pc8 (Note: Special 45-day trialware is only available at the above link) Volume licensing and Government / Education discounts are available from your favorite reseller or call 800-829-6468 code 4414 1 File Fragmentation White Paper www.diskeeper.com/paper3 2 White Paper: Is Real-Time Defrag Needed? www.diskeeper.com/paper4 © 2007 Diskeeper Corporation. All Rights Reserved. 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Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. ® FeedBack Three Views on Net Neutrality I read Lance Ulanoff ’s column on Net neutrality (“A Nitwit’s Guide to Net Neutrality,” page 7) in the September 18 issue. Although we are on the same side, I think his analogy is off. Here is my view of Net neutrality: I pay my ISP n dollars per month for x bandwidth. I should be able to use that bandwidth however I choose. Ulanoff says: “To be fair, ISPs charge that bandwidth hogs like Google and YouTube pay no more than joesblog.com for serving content over their networks.” This is not a fair statement. Google’s ISP charges Google a ton of money for getting those bits onto the backbone. And my ISP charges me for taking those bits off the backbone. What the ISPs want is for my ISP to be able to charge Google. Here is the analogy that I like to use. I pay my local road commission via property taxes so much per year for road construction and upkeep. I use these roads to go to businesses such as McDonald’s and Target. But McDonald’s doesn’t give a dime to my local road commission. It is freeloading. In a road-unneutral world, my road commission would ask me where I was going every time I left my house and ask that business for a fee. If the business paid, I could drive 50 miles per hour to that business. If it didn’t pay, I could only drive 20 MPH and might have to wait longer at every red light. The only reason Net neutrality is an issue is that the ISPs for home users have an oligopoly—cable and DSL. In a truly competitive market, I could choose an ISP that was neutral, and others could choose an ISP that was “packet-shaped.” I might pay a little more, but that would be fine. —Bill Doran Under Ulanoff ’s interpretation of this issue, no one should ever be allowed to charge more to provide more service. So I should be able to get your magazine at the price I pay for my newspaper, 50 cents, and a Rolls-Royce for the cost of a Ford Escort. I already willingly pay more for wireless HOW TO CONTACT US We welcome your comments and suggestions. When sending e-mail to Feedback, please state in the subject line of your message which article or column prompted your response. E-mail email@example.com. All letters become the property of PC Magazine and are subject to editing. We regret that we cannot answer letters individually. 14 PC MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 6, 2007 The only reason Net neutrality is an issue is that the ISPs for home users have an oligopoly—cable and DSL. In a truly competitive market, I could choose an ISP that was neutral. broadband than slow dial-up so I can have faster service. This, like stealing copyrighted content, is one more example of his generation’s “something for nothing” attitude. When can I expect my lower-priced magazine?—Bill Deaver Here’s another analogy for Net neutrality: “common carrier,” as applied to railroads and oil pipelines. In the late 1800s, Americans saw two justiﬁcations for regulating privately owned railroads. First, to lay track, railroad companies needed rights of way through both private and public land, which required both public support and full cooperation from the government. Second, because the public did not want two or more railroads to compete by laying parallel tracks through one right of way, a railroad in that path had monopoly power that could—and did—selectively ruin customers through discriminatory pricing. So, the Interstate Commerce Commission was born to regulate railroads. The railroads were called “common carriers,” and the ICC banned them from using discriminatory pricing—but only for customers, not for products shipped, for which the ICC issued rate schedules. So, a railroad today can charge different rates for cars and computers, but it cannot discriminate between Mitsubishi and Yamaha, which both ship both cars and computers. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission applies the same logic to pipelines and oil companies shipping different kinds of oil. The common-carrier principles apply to the Net. Phone and cable companies cannot string cable or use the air waves without public and government help, and communities don’t want multiple cables covering the same ground. If carriers could charge different customers different rates, they would have the power to nourish some customers and to kill others. To cite the YouTube example, you cannot use the large size of video files to justify charging it higher Internet rates. YouTube also sends and receives other, smaller kinds of ﬁles, and even its videos are much smaller than a full episode of CSI or a feature ﬁlm. It makes no more sense to give phone and cable companies life-or-death power over Internet commerce than it did to give railroads that power over interstate commerce. Might it make sense to let Internet carriers charge different rates for different kinds of ﬁles? Then we would need a “Net Commerce Commission” to set complicated rate schedules for carried products, just as the railroads and pipelines have. You don’t need a Ph.D. in public policy to see the possibilities for arguments and lawsuits.—Dave Datz A VoIP Reality Check In regard to your IP PBX Buying Guide (“Small Business Talks Big,” page 67) and your Solutions article (“Virtual Phone Systems,” page 79) in your September 4 issue, you make many arguments in favor of such systems but fail to inform readers properly about the negatives. I have to say that the largest issue with the IP PBX systems you reviewed is reliability. All those systems are computer-based, and as we are all painfully aware, computers are not really reliable. Phone systems have customized architectures that were designed from the ground up to be reliable; they are not based on a PC architecture that’s over 30 years old. Newer phone systems include flash memory for voice storage, instead of hard drives that wear out. The recurring costs of hosted phone systems, along with the fact that you never actually own anything, can be bested by purchasing a traditional phone system using a monthly lease payment with a small buyout at the end of the lease. In addition, both articles fail to point out the human element. If you buy or lease a phone system, you can have tech- / 2D 3 @ B 7 A 3 ; 3 < B nician at your door if you need one. If you have a falling-out with your service company, you can call another dealer for that brand (with the hardware warranties for most brands intact). If you have a falling-out with GotVMail, you’re stuck.—Jonathan Vine Cut Apple Some Slack, Louderback I read the Apple section of Jim Louderback’s column in the September 18 issue (“That VuDu That U Du,” page 50) and felt compelled to respond. Jim oversells his argument when he says Apple sees everything through the iPod lens. It pains me to have to point out that Apple is ﬁrst and foremost a computer company. It sold computers before Microsoft existed (some argue that it invented the personal computer—debatable, I know), and the company still sells computers today. And they’re good computers too! I can tolerate a certain amount of bias from “PC” Magazine, but I think this article goes a bit too far. Let’s be honest. Apple computers are good. iPods are good. The iPhone is expensive, but it’s at least pretty good. People continue to pay a premium for all these, and Apple’s market share is increasing, despite all the criticism in magazines such as yours. And Apple’s products can be good at the same time that many PCs are good. So express a point of view, by all means, but don’t abandon all objectivity. —Ron Embry PC MVP: Neil Rubenking I want to let you know how much I appreciate the help I have received from Neil Rubenking. I have e-mailed him several times with problems that I couldn’t solve and gotten an answer almost immediately. Only once was he not able to ﬁgure things out, because he couldn’t replicate my problem. I solved it by getting a new computer! The other times he has been extremely helpful, and I never would have been able to get things right without him. I have thanked him myself, but I want to let you know what a helpful service he provides. I’ve been a PC Magazine reader for 25 years, and I feel as if CORRECTIONS AND AMPLIFICATIONS In John Dvorak’s Inside Track column of September 18, we incorrectly cited the name of one of the two companies that years ago “dominated the ﬂash-memory business.” The correct name of the company is Lexar Media Inc. the names and faces I see in your magazine are my friends.—Isabel Berney A Pat on the Back Your September 4 issue is the best in a very long time. A lot of good stuff on PCs and not much on new cars! Lance Ulanoff’s column on page 11 seems to promise this. Ask Neil is terriﬁc, and Home and Business Solutions are fabulous. The “Reinvent Your PC” feature story is also excellent. And Jim Louderback’s ﬁnal First Word has made me happy to stay with Win XP (at least until the second iteration of Vista).—Bob Lurie Double Your Pleasure Thanks for the tip in September 18’s Ask Neil (“Two Yahoo! Log-Ins at Once,” page 78) I am now able to view (on screen) two financial and brokerage accounts at the same time! For example, I can view my spouse’s account and my own account at the same time. Previously, I always had to log out and log back in.—Troy Crowder Vista, Schmista I enjoyed Sascha Segan’s column, “The Vista Irrelevancy” (September 18, page 56). Not only are consumers uninterested in Windows, they are fleeing from it in droves. I’m an IT veteran, and for the past ten years have been consulting primarily for consumers and small businesses. When I started, it was Windows, all Windows—and my fellow geeks chuckled when I mentioned my Mac experience. These days, my Windows customers sob for help, while my Mac folks contentedly go about their business, asking only for the occasional upgrade or help with a font issue. While the Mac is enjoying record sales, nobody wants Vista. When buying new PCs, my Windows users are demanding Win XP. Those who wind up with Vista do so primarily by accident, and are, at best, unimpressed. So am I. Vista is nothing but Windows dressing, fancy graphics sprucing up the same tired problems. My customers aren’t willing to pony up for the godlike hardware required to run this sorry excuse for an OS. People aren’t starting to look for alternatives, they’ve already embraced them. As far as the consumer and small business market goes, both Vista and Windows are irrelevant.—Triona Guidry JOIN PC MAGAZINE BEHIND THE SCENES AT CES IN FABULOUS LAS VEGAS! Experience the bright lights of the Vegas strip with a four day, three night trip to Las Vegas including dinner each night, tickets to a show and passes to attend the Consumer Electronics Show. Don’t miss your chance to win this once in a lifetime experience! To enter visit www.pcmagconnect.com/OFFICE2007 Made possible by: Sponsored by: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase will not improve your chances of winning. The “PC Magazine Behind the Scenes at CES Sweepstakes” is open to legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia age 21 or older at time of entry. Sweepstakes begins at 12:01 AM Eastern Time (“ET”) on August 21, 2007 and ends at 11:59 PM (ET) on November 16, 2007. For details on how to enter and view Ofﬁcial Rules, which govern this sweepstakes, visit www. pcmagconnect.com/OFFICE2007. Void where prohibited. The Internet can’t hide from the AT&T LaptopConnect Card. Tired of playing hide and seek with the Internet? Get the AT&T LaptopConnect Card and easily access the Internet at mobile broadband speeds when you’re out of the office, on the road, away from hotspots. > Delivers mobile broadband speeds in more than 165 major U.S. markets and more cities worldwide than any other U.S. carrier. > Send and receive email, download large attachments, and access corporate systems at mobile broadband speeds. > Enables secure laptop connections to AT&T BroadbandConnect and EDGE networks. > Fast and easy set up. FREE AT&T Global 3G LaptopConnect Card after $100 mail-in rebate with 2-year service agreement on DataConnect plan $59.99 or higher. For more information, visit www.wireless.att.com/laptopconnect or go to your nearest AT&T store. Coverage not available in all areas. Limited-time offer. Other conditions and restrictions apply. See contract and rate plan brochure for details. Subscriber must live and have a mailing address within AT&T’s owned network coverage area. Up to $36 activation fee applies. Equipment price and availability may vary by market and may not be available from independent retailers. Early Termination Fee: None if cancelled in the first 30 days; thereafter $175. Some agents impose additional fees. Sales tax calculated based on price of unactivated equipment. Certain email systems may require additional hardware and/or software to access. Service provided by AT&T Mobility. ©2007 AT&T Knowledge Ventures. All rights reserved. AT&T and the AT&T logo are trademarks of AT&T Knowledge Ventures and/or AT&T affiliated companies. FrontSide What’s New from the World of Tech Computing a Cure Scientists are building digital libraries of drug data to fight potential outbreaks. You’ve seen the killer virus used a hundred times as a doomsday scenario in movies. But outbreaks can happen in real life, and if they do, scientists need to come up with a cure fast. Twenty-ﬁrst century computing is helping them in that quest. Cheminformatics is the process of creating molecular models and archiving research on drugs. Scientists are compiling a library from that data to serve as a starting point in ﬁghting illness. In the face of a terrorist attack or newly discovered virus, chemists can tap into the library to develop an antibody or treatment much faster. “If you wanted to test out a hundred compounds, with cheminformatics there Illustration by Pietari Posti would be about a one-day turnaround,” says Dr. Wendy Cornell, the director of Merck’s Molecular Systems (MolSys) laboratory. “If you started from scratch, it would take months to synthesize them.” Currently, Merck’s drug archive is two million and growing. To perform the drug modeling, the lab team uses a cluster of several PCs, linked by a 1-gigabit-persecond network—and connected to two remote labs—to profile new drugs. The system uses shared memory processing to speed throughput. The lab can load up to a 100,000 compounds into a single test. At the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, Dr. Artem Cherka- sov is using a similar process—which he calls chemoinformatics, with an additional o—and artificial intelligence to map the compound structures of existing drugs with new viruses, looking for similarities. “In the case of new infectious threats, there might be no time to develop a completely new drug from the ground up, as the corresponding toxicological studies and regulatory investigations will take years to complete properly,” Cherkasov says. The promise of these technologies is that they will soon be able to create new drugs or ﬁnd new uses for existing ones to save many more lives.—John Brandon NOVEMBER 6, 2007 PC MAGAZINE 17 FRONTSIDE Computer Labs on a Budget Desktop virtualization promises dramatic cost and energy savings for businesses and schools. Imagine the money you’d save if you could run a whole office or computer lab from one PC. In this scheme, each workstation would have nothing more than a monitor, keyboard, mouse, and small box that clones the host computer. A few companies are making that vision possible with desktop virtualization. Unlike thin clients of the past, which were slower and shoddier than traditional PCs, “the [virtual desktop] user experience is no different from having a full-fledged PC,” says Michael Rose, an analyst with the research ﬁrm IDC. One company, Pano Logic, has created a sleek, palm-size device that, with no CPU, memory, OS, or software, clones Microsoft Windows XP or Vista systems from a server to workstations. And NComputing, has a system that harnesses one PC’s BUDGET LEARNING A school in North Carolina using NComputing’s virtualization lab. untapped power and deploys its resources. Desktop virtualization can also provide companies with tighter data security by restricting USB privileges and storing all data and software on a server. If someone steals a virtualization device, no information is lost. Virtual desktops offer another beneﬁt for our eco-conscious times: They consume a fraction of the energy used by a traditional PC lab. And because they have less hardware, fewer parts will go to the e-waste graveyard. NComputing has already deployed more than 500,000 workstations in 70 countries. In the U.S., North Carolina’s McDowell School District purchased NComputing technology last year to upgrade its computers at a cost of $250 to $350 per workstation. Barry Pace, the district’s tech director, admits that virtual desktops are not problem-free: If one computer freezes, all the workstations freeze with it. But overall, Pace says, he is pleased with the solution. “We were able to eliminate 900 to 1,000 legacy desktops in one school year, and we wouldn’t have been able to do so otherwise.” —Heather Eng Desktop Virtualization: How it Works In NComputing's X-Series desktop virtualization scheme, each workstation connects to the host computer via a terminal box, which links with the host system via PCI Card. The host computer's resources are divided among the terminals while giving each workstation its own independent experience. Host Computer User 1 User 2 User 3 User 4 PCI Card G E A R LO G A Superior Gaming Mouse At the Games Convention in Leipzig, Germany, Microsoft unveiled its SideWinder gaming mouse ($79.95) to ﬁll the void in gaming hardware customization. It’s designed to be more ergonomic, with its two vertical side buttons, a wide metal scroll wheel, and four balanced weights. Its Quick Turn capability, which lets gamers check their position wherever they are in the game, requires just a click of a button. For more gaming customization, the SideWinder offers changeable feet for different glide preferences, a cable anchor (which doubles as the weight tray), and three DPI switches. Perhaps the most innovative feature is the gaming mouse’s LCD (yes, it has an LCD!). It’s meant to make it easy to keep track of key gaming actions—including DPI and steps for recording macros.—Jennifer L. DeLeo For more gear, show reports, and product news, visit Gearlog at www.gearlog.com 18 PC MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 6, 2007 User 5 User 6 User 7 The Solid State of Storage BEST of the Internet The likely successor to the hard drive is solid state. But there’s still a price barrier. Are hard disk drives destined to go the way of floppy drives? If the nascent trend in laptops is any indication, solid-state drives (SSDs) may eventually supplant hard drives. SSDs are made of nonvolatile ﬂash memory— rather than the spinning disks and read/write heads of hard drives—and are prized for their lower power consumption, reduced heat buildup, and dead-quiet operation. They are also impervious to shakes, shocks, and drops, which is why Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Sony, and Toshiba have brought notebooks with SSDs to market. SanDisk, one of the top SSD makers, says the flash memory drives can also improve system performance with data transfer rates of 67MB per second or more. SSDs can also stretch battery life, requiring just 0.9 watt of power, versus 1.9 watts for a hard drive. The catch, however, is the price tag. SSDs cost from $11 to $19 per gigabyte, whereas hard drives cost a mere 32 cents per gigabyte. And though several companies have announced 128GB SSDs, most offerings top out at 64GB. “Businesses need to look at total cost of ownership of SSD versus HDD,” says Jim Elliott, director of ﬂash marketing at Samsung. “If you’re managing a ﬂeet of laptops, SSDs can reduce failure rates, downtime, and lost productivity.” ACCUWEATHER .COM ASTRONOMY CENTER www.accuweather .com/astronomy Accuweather’s new Astronomy Center includes data on space weather, astronomy news, nightly viewing conditions for different celestial objects, and more.—Alan Henry SanDisk’s ﬂash-based solid state drive Dell’s ATC series with SSD storage SSD prices will keep them out of the hands of most consumers. Laptops with SSDs cost $500 to $700 more than ones outﬁtted with three times the amount of hard disk storage. Analysts at Gartner predict that prices will fall and capacities will rise so that by 2010, about 20 percent of notebooks will ship with SSDs.—John R. Quain WOWIO www.wowio.com WOWIO is an e-book site that offers all of its books for free in PDF format, so they’re easy to download, easy to read, and very portable. —AH F U T U R E WATC H Computing Sees the Light Imagine a CPU clocked at a few hundred terahertz. A program that typically needs a full day to run would take a fraction of a second. Photonics, or the study of light and other radiant energy, could make it possible. A U.K. research team led by Fetah Benabid at the University of Bath is working toward this goal with the help of a special optical ﬁber called “hollow-core photonic crystal ﬁber,” which allows THE CORE OF PHOTONICS This diagram spectrally coherent light (or light that is aligned spectrally) shows a hollow-core photonics structure. to pass through. The research may unlock the power to synthesize and control the shape of photon waves. Combine this with the separate explorations into quantum memory and the photonic computer may become a reality. Does this mean the death of electronics? Not quite; people are the limiting factor. “We have to slow things down for human use,” Benabid says. “Photonics will always include some kind of electronics, at least as an interface.”—Anton Galang DEEZER www.deezer.com Formerly known as Blogmusik, Deezer is the hot new music site of the moment. No fees, no registration—not even a free username and password—and instant, one-click access.—Mark Hachman For more cool Web sites and handy utilities and apps, visit PC Magazine’s blog AppScout (www .appscout.com). NOVEMBER 6, 2007 PC MAGAZINE 19 FRONTSIDE Pinching Wi-Fi Poachers Police are arresting those who connect to unsecured wireless networks. But is it really a crime to surf for free? Piggybacking on your neighbors Wi-Fi connection may seem like a victimless crime unworthy of punishment, but some officials beg to differ. In late August, the BBC reported that London police arrested a 39-year-old man for connecting to an unsecured Wi-Fi network while standing outside the network owner’s home. In the U.K., clear provisions such as the Communications Act 2003 and the Computer Misuse Act ban this practice. But here in the States, the laws are vaguer. The closest the U.S. comes to outlawing Wi-Fi mooching is Title 18, Section 1030 of the U.S. Code, which prohibits “unauthorized access.” According to Tracy Mitrano, director of information technology policy at Cornell University, there are three types of laws that courts use to try to prosecute WiFi ﬁlchers: those dealing with trespassing, hacking, and creating counterfeit cable boxes. “It’s not a perfect fit,” Mitrano says. “Trespass law was based on physical space. I don’t think any of them successfully address the issue.” Often, state and local regulations are prosecuted in vastly different ways. In 2005, a Florida man was charged with a third-class felony for lurking outside a Tampa house with his laptop. And two men, one in Alaska and one in Michigan, were handed down fines for accessing free Wi-Fi hot spots from the street, instead of inside the walls of the business. In 2006, the legislature of Westchester County, on the outskirts of New York City, became the ﬁrst in the country to pass a law requiring businesses to secure their internal wireless networks. County Board Chair Bill Ryan says that the measure was put into place to protect both the data of local businesses and the personal information of employees. Mitrano, like many others, feels the responsibility lies with users to secure their home or business networks. She warns against hindering wireless technology’s progress through overlegislation. “Thank goodness we don’t live in a country where we are required to process all of our technology through federal and state governments—where it is not released until lawmakers are shown every intended and unintended use to establish a legal framework,” she says. “We would throw ourselves back into the Stone Age if we did that.”—Erik Rhey WEIRD RESEARCH PROJECTS What lurks behind the walls of academia. 1. University College London Neuroscientist Henrik Ehrsson is testing virtual simulation of an OBE (out-of-body experience) using head-mounted video displays. 2. Carnegie Mellon The Entertainment Technology Center is working on “live virtual computergenerated robotic theatre puppetry” to create “Virpets” (or virtual puppets). 3. Stanford University The Rope Manipulation Planning project involves “design motion planning to manipulate a rope” (that is, teaching robots how to tie knots). Q & A : F E LI C I A Y U E , S P O R T V I S I O N Behind the First-Down Line Felicia Yue, product manager for Sportvision—the company that created such TV sports enhancements as the NFL’s virtual first-down line—talks about the tech that goes into bringing the big game to your living room. Q: What kind of pregame preparation is required to create the “1st & Ten” line? A: We typically have one or two trained operators at each venue setting up the day before a game. The operators “teach” the main computers in the TV trucks what the football ﬁeld looks like from each game camera. They also set up special minicomputers on each camera, which send pan, tilt, and zoom [PTZ] information down to the main computers. They can combine this PTZ data with a 3D model of the football ﬁeld to create a very accurate calculation of what the yellow line should look like from each camera angle. 20 PC MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 6, 2007 Q : How i s t h e line implemented during the game itself? A: There is one main in-game operator who updates the location of the line each time a firstd ow n c o nve r sion is made and who also builds the chroma key. Building the chroma key is the magic step that creates the illusion of players walking over the yellow line. Basically, we select which colors the yellow line should be drawn on. We choose all the shades of green that are in the grass and exclude all other colors, such as those of the uniforms, helmets, and skin tones. Q: Are there particular conditions that are difﬁcult to work with? A: Rainy, snowy, muddy fields are difficult to chroma-key, as are some lighting conditions. Also, the Green Bay Packers uniforms can be a similar shade of green to the grass, so choosing the right shades of green to draw the line on while excluding the greens in the uniforms becomes a challenge. Q: Is American football better suited than other sports to using technology? A: Yes. American football has lots of predictable breaks in the action, as well as many commercial breaks. Unless there’s a hurry-up offense in effect, you typically get at least 30 seconds between plays to update your graphics and settings. Other sports like soccer are more difficult to incorporate virtual graphics into because the stoppages in the game action are far less predictable.—Anton Galang FRONTSIDE The Price of Piracy A new report says music thievery costs our economy billions. Are such numbers reliable? Calculating a business’s losses from theft typically involves some sleight of hand. Estimates are often based on the assumption that most items stolen would have been sold. But can such a formula be applied to music? A new study by the Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI) finds that global music piracy costs the U.S. economy $12.5 billion in losses and 71,060 jobs annually. The report, titled, “The True Cost of Sound Recording Piracy to the U.S. Economy,” breaks down losses by physical piracy (bootleg CDs) and illegal downloads on peer-to-peer networks. Mitch Bainwol, CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), released a statement saying, “This new report vividly illustrates the serious economic harm caused by the widespread availability of illegal music PIRATE’S BOOTY According to the music industry, billions are lost from bootlegs. either via the Internet or on the streets.” To derive these numbers, the study estimated “substitution” rates, which assumes that without counterfeit channels, many pirates would purchase legitimate products. The report uses an average substitution rate of 65.7 percent for physical piracy and 20 percent for Internet piracy. In turn, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis used industry-specific numbers to derive the cascading effects of those direct losses throughout the rest of the U.S. economy. But Koleman Strumpf, a professor of economics at the University of Kansas, is skeptical. He is the coauthor, with Felix Oberholzer-Gee of Harvard Business School, of a study that found that ﬁle sharing has no signiﬁcant effect on CD sales in the U.S. “If they [IPI] want to parade a large number, they have to defend it,” Strumpf says. “I don’t see it in this study.” Stephen E. Siwek, however, the author of the IPI study, says that Strumpf’s ﬁndings are ﬂawed. “I would be very hard pressed to accept their results based on the dramatic decline in CD sales that we have seen in the last few years.”—Isabelle Groc CO N N EC TE D TR AV E LE R Social Networking on the Go Using Web 2.0 in your travel plans can help you save money and meet new people. In the dim, dark past (in other words, a few years ago), travel could be a lonely experience. Now, thanks to a slew of Web 2.0 social networking sites, even solo travelers can be surrounded by new friends practically at every stop of their journey. If you’re flying alone, AirTroductions (www.airtroductions .com) can make sure your seat neighbor isn’t a screaming baby, belligerent cocktail swiller, or a hogger of pillows, blankets, and armrest. You ﬁll out a proﬁle and ﬁnd someone simpatico to sit next to on your ﬂight or to meet in the airport for a chat or quick meal. Saving money on rental cars or taxis is also a mouse click away. Your local craigslist (www.craigslist.org) site has a ride-share section under Community for ﬁnding someone going to the airport. You can also check your destination’s craigslist to ﬁnd a ride back to the airport or around town. An alternative for New York City is a site called Hitchsters (www.hitchsters.com). Even when you reach your destination, you needn’t be lonely. Why bed down in a generic, overpriced hotel room when you could be staying with a friendly local who is eager to show you around? GlobalFreeloaders.com is a network of travelers who request a place to stay in exchange for offering a couch or extra bed to others in the network. You can search your destination and see what’s available, along with a detailed proﬁle of the person you could be ULTRA-BUDGET ACCOMMODATIONS At CouchSurﬁng.com, users provide a proﬁle in hopes of a place to crash while traveling. staying with. A more relaxed version of this is the nonproﬁt organization called the CouchSurﬁng Project (www.couchsurﬁng.com), whose Web site connects people who want to open their homes to travelers with those looking for a place to crash. If you want to meet people at your destination but still return to room service at night, you can also use the site just to meet up with locals for drinks or walkabouts.—Aaron Dalton Smart Travel Gadgets The coolest new toys for your trip. Microsoft Mobile Memory Mouse 8000 $99.95 list www.microsoft.com The Mobile Memory Mouse 8000 may cost more than you’d expect to pay for a computer mouse, but it has 1GB of ﬂash memory built right into the transceiver! This rechargeable mouse also features 2.4-GHz wireless technology, four-way scrolling, and a magniﬁer.—Jennifer L. DeLeo Skooba Skin 1012 Sleeptracker Pro $179 direct www.sleeptracker.com The Sleeptracker Pro watch monitors your sleeping patterns. An internal accelerometer detects the movements associated with restlessness that indicate we are in a light sleep stage. You can also upload your sleep data to your computer via USB and review it by day, week, or month. It’s even waterproof up to 20 meters. Compared with the ﬁrst-gen Sleeptracker, it has a vibrating alarm, instead of just the standard beeps, and a sleeker design.—JLD 22 PC MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 6, 2007 $27.95 direct www.skoobadesign.com The Skooba Skin 1012 is a customizable laptop case that you can decorate with markers, pens, paint, and glue. The only thing you can’t do is use heat (so no iron-ons!), which will do terrible things to the fabric. Some customer-designed bags are displayed on the site—lots of creative, cool stuff. Art supplies are not included.—Molly K. McLaughlin Flip Video Ultra 2GB, $179.99 list 1GB, $149.99 www.theﬂip.com Pure Digital Technologies hopes to make your video experience more efﬁcient with the new Flip Video Ultra Camcorder. It’s not just for shooting video: You can organize and edit your videos right on the device. The Ultra has onetouch recording, one-click e-mailing of videos and video greeting cards, still-photo capture, and custom movie mixing; built-in software also lets you upload to video sites like YouTube.—JLD Panasonic recommends Windows Vista® Business. LEGALLY, WE CANNOT SAY YOU CAN CONNECT ANYWHERE. A laptop this thin and rugged is good for business in the places you’d least expect. No specially designated area or coffee shop needed. The business-rugged Panasonic Toughbook® Y5 has broadband wireless access built-in so you can email and work online 24/7 from virtually anywhere your cell phone does. It’s lightweight, yet rugged enough to withstand bumps, drops and spills on the road with a magnesium alloy case, shock-mounted hard drive and spill-resistant keyboard. The Toughbook Y5. It outperforms in locations more remote than we can legally say. For more information visit panasonic.com/businessrugged. To purchase now call Mooring Tech (1.866.381.9159). THE RUGGED ORIGINAL. Intel, Intel logo, Intel Centrino, Intel Centrino logo, Intel Inside, Intel Inside logo and Pentium are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries. Toughbook notebook PCs are covered by a 3-year limited warranty, parts and labor. To view the full text of the warranty, log on to panasonic.com/business/toughbook/support.asp. Please consult your Panasonic representative prior to purchase. ©2007 Panasonic Corporation of North America. All rights reserved. ConnectAnywhere_H_MT_FY07-1 imagine color as mother nature intended 226CW 906CW Desktop Monitors with exclusive MagicSpectrum technology ©2007 Samsung Electronics America, Inc. All rights reserved. Samsung is a registered trademark of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. All product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies. Screen image simulated. with MagicSpectrum without MagicSpectrum Whether you’re into gaming, watching movies or viewing photos, Samsung’s SyncMaster monitors with exclusive MagicSpectrum technology will change the way you experience color. MagicSpectrum displays deliver up to 90% – 114% of the NTSC standard producing richer, more natural colors than traditional LCD monitors. With the Samsung CW series, it’s not that hard to imagine. To see color the way it was meant to be seen, call 1-800-SAMSUNG or go to www.MagicSpectrum.com ©2007 Trend Micro Incorporated. All rights reserved. Go ahead. Let your employees email, IM, and share their creative vision online, with conﬁdence. Trend Micro Internet security solutions automatically monitor, respond, and protect your business from online threats. So while we’re busy keeping your infrastructure out of harm’s way, you can keep your eye on the prize. Learn more at trendmicro.com. GO AHEAD. WEB IT UP. USEFUL KEYBOARD SHORTCUTS for navigating digital magazines PAGE DOWN ................................. flip to next page PAGE UP....................................... flip to prior page ENTER ................................... zoom in on left page SHIFT + ENTER ..................... zoom in on right page ENTER .................. zoom back out to full-page view C ....................................... flip to Table of Contents HOME ......................................... flip to front cover END............................................. flip to back page USEFUL KEYBOARD SHORTCUTS for navigating digital magazines PAGE DOWN ................................. flip to next page PAGE UP....................................... flip to prior page ENTER ................................... zoom in on left page SHIFT + ENTER ..................... zoom in on right page ENTER .................. zoom back out to full-page view C ....................................... flip to Table of Contents HOME ......................................... flip to front cover END............................................. flip to back page FirstLooks OUR RATINGS KEY: lllll EXCELLENT l llllm VERY GOOD l lllmm GOOD l llmmm FAIR l lmmmm POOR Remotely monitor NIS 2008 on other network systems New One-Click help even shows wait times! Norton Internet Security 2008 $69.99 for 3 licenses llllh NORTON INTERNET SECURITY 2008 The Best Defense Gets Better Norton Internet Security crushed the competition in 2007, and since then the leading suite has only gotten better. The 2008 edition adds identity management, and new BrowserDefender technology defends against Web-based attacks. The firewall stealths all ports and is totally resistant to malware. It allows Internet access to known good programs, removes known bad ones, and watches others for malicious behavior. Very effective intrusion prevention stopped a dozen exploits. The new Network Map can control the access that network-connected devices have to your PC and warn you if your wireless network is unsecured, but it doesn’t detect wireless intruders. The antivirus/antispyware scan takes longer than most but cleans up the dozens of ﬁles and Registry items the majority of competitors leave. It’s accurate, too: It scored 9.3 out of 10 for malware removal and 10 against commercial keyloggers. It managed 9.0 against malware installs on a clean system and 10 against commercial keyloggers. As always, the antivirus is highly rated by the independent testing labs. Identity Safe, new in this edition, stores personal information in one or more identity cards, then automatically ﬁlls in Web forms. It also records your username and password for secured Web sites, then ﬁlls in the info when you next visit. Additionally, you can use the log-in record as a smart favorite that goes to the site and logs in for you. Naturally, the identity data is password protected. Highly accurate phishing protection ensures that you don’t give your private data to a fraudulent site. Antispam, parental control, and privacy control reside in an optional add-on. Identity Safe made privacy control obsolete, and the parental control system is just a rudimentary content-based Web ﬁlter. The antispam designated way too much valid mail as spam, though it does have a well-designed whitelist you can use to protect known correspondents. Norton 360 introduced built-in One-Click help, and now NIS has it, too. If AutoFix can’t automatically ﬁnd and correct a problem, you can get help via e-mail, phone, or live chat. The live chat analyst can remote-control your system to resolve issues. The 2008 suites are still rolling out, so there’s a chance another player could dethrone Symantec’s masterpiece. But for now, Norton Internet Security is the suite to beat.—Neil J. Rubenking PROS Virus/spyware scans are highly accurate, thorough. Top-quality, nonintrusive ﬁrewall. New Identity Safe manages personal info, passwords. Built-in help has live chat. CONS Too many valid messages were marked as spam. Rudimentary parental control. For more: go.pcmag.com/nis2008 INSIDE 27 Software 34 Consumer Electronics 46 Hardware 50 Business 54 The Best Stuff NOVEMBER 6, 2007 PC MAGAZINE 27 FIRST LOOKS SOFTWARE If a security setting needs attention, you’ll know it The backup facility comes preconﬁgured to copy important ﬁles Panda Internet Security 2008 PANDA INTERNET SECURITY 2008 $69.95 yearly for three licenses Security Suite Stomps Spies l l l h m PROS Stellar antispyware. Backs up important ﬁles. No confusing ﬁrewall pop-ups. CONS Poor antispam. Useless anti-phishing. Limited parental control. Tune-up feature is nothing special. For more: go.pcmag.com/ pandais08 Don’t be fooled. The 2008 version of Panda Internet Security may look like last year’s model, but you’ll find exciting additions, like Wi-Fi security and backup capability. The biggest change is invisible, though: The on-demand virus and spyware scanner uses new technology, and it truly rocks. Panda 2008 defends against zero-day viruses and spyware using its TruPrevent behavior-based protection. Its signature-based scanning now uses “megadetection” technology, which comes from the company’s TotalScan online scanner, and it was mega-successful. The suite removed every spyware sample from my infested systems and prevented all of them from installing on a clean system. It wasn’t nearly as effective at detecting and removing commercial keyloggers, but I give much less weight to that. Like Symantec’s firewall, Panda’s uses its own discretion for program control rather than inundating you with confusing questions. The feature lets known good programs access the Internet and deletes known malware. By watching the behavior of unknown programs, the ﬁrewall decides whether to allow them access. And naturally, it stealths all ports, making your computer invisible to outside attackers. New Wi-Fi intruder detection actually senses any network access—wired or wireless—but 28 PC MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 6, 2007 if your Wi-Fi network is encrypted (as it should be), this capability doesn’t add much. The spam filter, parental control module, and privacy protection features are virtually unchanged. Spammers, however, have advanced; as a result, Panda 2008 let over half the junk e-mail into the Inbox. Also, parental and privacy features remain mediocre, and the new browser-independent feature for blocking fraudulent (phishing) sites detected none—three other products veriﬁed all 50 test URLs as rogue sites. Another new capability will back up your essential ﬁles to a local or network-connected disk, then optionally transfer the information to a CD or DVD. Backups occur once per day; your only choice is the time. It’s a very basic solution, but it’s better than no backup. You also get a free year of hosted online backup (1GB) with a Panda partner, but when the year is up you have to pay. You’d be better off with 2GB free from Mozy and no time limit. And although Panda has added a performance optimization feature, Windows and Internet Explorer offer the same or better. Virus and spyware protection are this suite’s super standouts. If Panda can bring the other modules up to a similar level, the next version of its suite will be an all-around killer.—NJR Think GAIA For Life and for Earth 1000x MORE CLICKS. Wirelessly surf, click, and surf some more with the battery that’s equal to 1000 regular alkalines*. • 4x more shots than with alkaline • Long storage life • Recharges in most modern chargers† • Recharge up to 1000 times • Ready right out of the pack • No memory effect www.eneloopusa.com Sanyo North America Corporation. All rights reserved. eneloop is a registered trademark of Sanyo Energy USA Corp. All rights reserved. *Estimate based on test results for battery life according to standard JIS C8708 (4.4). Actual results may vary according to use. Sanyo eneloop batteries can be charged with most chargers for Ni-MH batteries. † FIRST LOOKS SOFTWARE A PDQ Guide to PDFs If you need a guarantee that others will be able to read your digital docs, you need a PDF creator. One of these four should fill the bill—and your budget. Adobe Acrobat 8 Standard $299 direct; upgrade, $99 llllm PROS Flexible, featurepacked PDF creation, editing, commenting, import/export. Converts Web sites to single, multipage PDFs. Can embed index in PDF ﬁles for fast searching. CONS Some tools are hard to ﬁnd. Costly. Can’t create ﬁllable PDF forms. OCR module has problems with older documents. For more: go.pcmag.com/acrobat8standard Opening screen leads to help ﬁles and video demos Adobe Acrobat 8 Standard You can get a less expensive PDF document maker than the highly polished Adobe Acrobat 8 Standard, but not a better one. You don’t get all the features of the Professional edition, such as the ability to create fillable PDF forms, but you can create PDF ﬁles directly from Microsoft Ofﬁce applications. Within Acrobat, drop-down menus on a toolbar provide quick access to the most commonly used features, which let you perform tasks such as creating, combining, exporting, securing, and commenting on PDF ﬁles. Some of the app’s most impressive capabilities enable you to combine multiple PDF documents into one ﬁle and let you e-mail one or more ﬁles in a secure package. With scanned images from office documents and modern books and periodic als, converting to searchable PDF files works well. For very old books, you’ll get better results with Nuance’s PDF Converter 4 Professional or Abbyy’s ABBYY PDF Transformer 2.0 Pro. Acrobat can index scanned ﬁles, though, making searches lightning-fast. Although the software can convert multipage Web content, maintaining active form ﬁelds, it won’t correctly handle button bars. And exporting PDF ﬁles to Microsoft Word or other standard formats 30 PC MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 6, 2007 doesn’t always produce perfect results. Still, Adobe’s product remains the gold standard. BullZip PDF Printer After hours spent testing freeware PDF creators, I kept just one: the simple, fast, straightforward BullZip PDF Printer. Print to its driver, and from the tabbed dialog box that appears, you can specify the security and display settings for the ﬁle, apply a watermark, and append the output to another PDF ﬁle. A macro capability allows ﬁlenames to include information such as the date, time, and username. BullZip lets you create multiple PDF printers, each with a different set of options. To generate a PDF file, you simply pick a printer—most competing programs require you to pick a previously saved profile from a separate dialog, a more complex process. You can also control BullZip from the Windows command prompt, letting you automate tasks—not so with many free or low-cost rivals. Actual PDF creation features are minimal: You can’t, for example, translate Microsoft Word comments into PDF annotation. For features like that, try one of the other packages reviewed here. But you get high-quality output and an efﬁcient program with a no-fuss interface. DeskPDF Professional For a tenth the price of Adobe Acrobat 8 Standard, deskPDF Professional provides what most personal and small-business users require and even throws in clever conveniences. You can create PDFs by printing from the standard Windows print dialog, by dragging documents onto a desktop icon, or from within Microsoft Ofﬁce apps. My favorite feature puts all your PDF-making options in a single dialog box that gives the usual choices for specifying a ﬁlename and folder. It also lets you set output quality, send the PDF as an e-mail attachment if you want, and determine how the ﬁle will display by setting options for zoom levels and more—features other programs (including Acrobat) bury. Another welcome convenience lets you save multiple settings as reusable proﬁles. Despite the low price, you get some high-level features. You can convert Ofﬁce document annotations into PDF comments, for example, and merge multiple PDF ﬁles, although the latter isn’t exactly intuitive. For more than creating or merging PDF docs, you’ll need a higher-end product, but deskPDF Professional gives most users all they need. PDF Converter Professional 4 Depending on your needs, you may be able to get more for less with PDF Converter Professional. The program isn’t as polished as Acrobat Standard—for example, a PDF page disappeared when I added a comment and then opened the utility’s navigation panel. But closing the ﬁle without saving it and then opening the uncommented version brought the page back, and I was pleasantly surprised by the package’s ﬂexibility, usability, and superior OCR capability. An automatically installed plug-in provides redaction that completely removes sensitive material so hackers can’t uncover it—a crucial feature for some users, and one not in Acrobat Standard. An even bigger plus is the OCR capability, which excels at the really hard jobs that cause Acrobat to stumble, such as transforming a PDF of a scanned 19th-century book into a text-searchable PDF. Unfortunately, this software lags behind Adobe’s latest versions of Acrobat Standard and Professional in PDF indexing. It can create a separate index ﬁle for one or more PDFs but can’t embed the index into a PDF. For that convenience, you’ll have to stay with Acrobat. Otherwise, PDF Converter Professional is a worthy low-cost alternative.—Edward Mendelson BullZip PDF Printer Free lllmm PROS Simple PDF creation. Advanced settings for security and display via dialog box or from command line. CONS Can’t set initial zoom level for PDF ﬁles or translate Word comments to PDF annotations. For more: go.pcmag.com/bullzippdf deskPDF Professional $29.95 direct lllhm PROS Straightforward. Easily accessed display, security settings. Converts Ofﬁce comments to PDF annotations. Output defaults are easy to set. Raw PostScript output. CONS Unintuitive interface for merging two ﬁles. For more: go.pcmag.com/deskpdfpro PDF Converter Professional 4 $99.95 direct lllhm PROS Converts PDF ﬁles to Microsoft Ofﬁce and WordPerfect docs. Exceptionally accurate OCR on image-only PDFs. Advanced PDF editing and form ﬁlling. Removes sensitive data totally. CONS Some unintuitive menus, operations. Can create indexes only in separate ﬁles, not embedded in PDFs. No warning if you have an old copy without a dataremoval feature. For more: go.pcmag.com/pdfconvertpro4 NOVEMBER 6, 2007 PC MAGAZINE 31 FIRST LOOKS SOFTWARE POWNCE Share More than Twitters Pownce Basic version, free; with 100MB ﬁle-size limit, $20 yearly l l l l m PROS Good interface. Options for lightweight desktop with notiﬁcation, private sharing. CONS No mobile posting or notiﬁcation. No public page of posts. For more: go.pcmag.com/pownce Entry boxes below Message, Link, File, and Event buttons change to suit each task Twitter and its clones may be okay for quickly sharing thoughts with a large audience. But what if you also want to send invites or share ﬁles and videos? Try Pownce. Like Twitter, it’s lighter than blogging software: Short posts all appear on a single page rather than getting their own pages. But Pownce lacks a public page and doesn’t give users the ability to post via mobile phone or PDA. By default, the interface is set up for posting a simple message, but when you click the Link, File, or Event links, the entry areas change to reveal appropriate extra ﬁelds. If you enter a YouTube link, your post will include a player for the video. With a free account, ﬁle size can be up to 10MB; a $20 yearly Pro account ups that to 100MB. You decide who gets to see your posts, and you can even create user groups. In addition to its Web interface, the service offers a pre-beta desktop version that takes advantage of Adobe’s new AIR (Adobe Integrated Runtime) technology. If you want less than a blog but more than IM or e-mail for sharing your remarks and ﬁles, you’ll like Pownce.—Michael Muchmore FIRST LOOKS SOFTWARE Shouldn’t have made that change? No problem Shut down Windows with one click—ﬁnally! Basic, free; Premium, $30 direct; Ultimate, $40 lllhm TOTALIDEA TWEAKVI Whip Vista into Shape Why waste time waiting for Microsoft to come out with a Vista release of the TweakUI Windows configuration utility? Just grab Totalidea Software’s TweakVI. Even the Basic version covered here goes considerably beyond its forefather’s capabilities. Better still, the smart installer makes getting started easy, and you don’t need much tech know-how to use the app. The System Information and Tweaks area lets you see system information and configure hard drive details, CPU settings, and Vista’s boot manager. An especially useful feature gives you access to the CD keys for your Microsoft Windows and Ofﬁce software and also lets you back up your Ofﬁce XP/2003/2007 product activation ﬁles. The CPU section, where you can optimize the system cache according to your system’s RAM—as well as force core processes to remain in physical memory instead of being shunted off to virtual memory—does a much better job than the built-in Vista equivalent. Hard drive tweaks let you further speed your system by enabling defragmentation of boot ﬁles (placing them next to each other for faster start-ups), disabling an NTFS feature that places a time stamp for the last access of folders and ﬁles, and more. Visual Tweaks collects all the configuration options available in various Windows dialog boxes— Totalidea TweakVI from the Appearance button in Display Properties through the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialog. Internet Tweaks contains a huge array of settings for Microsoft Outlook and Windows Mail, Internet Explorer, and Firefox. Miscellaneous tools let you change system folder settings, hide speciﬁc Control Panel applets, and make a number of other modifications that tighten your control over your system and change the look of the interface. TweakVI not only provides customization elements that you won’t find in Windows itself, it also collects the huge array of Windows customization options into one interface. The choices are generally well explained, so you’re not likely to run into trouble. But if you do, you can easily revert to the Windows defaults. The paid editions add, among many other things, features for automatic shutdown, password generation, and managing software installation and system updates. Ultimate adds a disk doctor feature and a utility for protecting folders and dealing with virtual drives and page ﬁles. Even with the free version, TweakVI offers considerably more conﬁguration possibilities than Microsoft’s own TweakUI. Choose one of the paid editions and you have an entire suite of OS conﬁguration tools. This package isn’t really a competitor to TweakUI at all—it’s a signiﬁcantly better tool all around.—Neil Randall PROS Installs intelligently. Provides scads of system information. Makes conﬁguration highly accessible. CONS Somewhat costly yearly subscription for advanced versions. For more: go.pcmag.com/tweakvi NOVEMBER 6, 2007 PC MAGAZINE 33 FIRST LOOKS CONSUMER ELECTRONICS Same display as the iPhone’s Apple iPod touch 8GB, $299 direct; 16GB, $399 l l l l l PROS Beautiful multitouch display. Wi-Fi access. Buy music via Wi-Fi. Excellent user interface. Browser is a delight. Access to YouTube content. Thinner than the iPhone. Double-click for music in any screen. CONS Can’t turn off Starbucks feature. Can’t get podcasts or purchase video via Wi-Fi. Earbuds suck. For more: go.pcmag.com/ ipodtouch Double-click for music controls APPLE IPOD TOUCH A New Player Masterpiece When the iPhone came out in June, many people (including me) loved it but wanted it without the phone—and without that pesky two-year AT&T Wireless contract. With the new iPod touch, the company has answered our prayers and even added a Wi-Fi version of the iTunes Music Store. Now you can download tracks anywhere there’s Wi-Fi. Apple has announced a partnership with Starbucks that enables iPhone and touch owners to purchase songs they hear in Starbucks stores via Wi-Fi. It would be nice if the Wi-Fi store offered video purchases—currently it’s music only. And, yes, the earbuds still suck. But these are my only complaints, and they’re minor. The relatively hefty prices don’t bug me either. Why? Because this is probably the best portable media player ever made. On the iPod touch and iPhone, navigation of the music, video, and photo menus is identical, as is the excellent combo of the multitouch screen and the Safari Web browser. Both players load and sync with iTunes and can be managed much the same way manually. The touch is much skinnier than the iPhone, however, and that pesky recessed headphone jack is gone—as is the ability to send e-mail (unless you use a Web-based program like Gmail). The YouTube features are nearly identical, except that the iPod touch does not allow users to send clip links to friends. The excellent Cover Flow, part of iTunes and featured on the iPhone, arranges albums alphabetically in a horizontal array using the albums’ cover art. 34 PC MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 6, 2007 Headphone jack is not recessed Drag your ﬁnger across the display to slide the covers, as if thumbing through a virtual vinyl collection. Clicking on the central album cover ﬂips the graphic over and reveals a music tracklist. From here you can click on a song and start playing. The real hero is the new iTunes Wi-Fi Music store. Searching for artists can be done with the virtual keyboard or via tabs such as Featured and Top Tens. Provided that your Wi-Fi signal strength is decent, downloading a song takes only seconds, and the track is immediately put into your player’s library. Next time you plug into your PC, the songs will transfer to your computer’s library. I wish Apple would include user-adjustable EQ settings such as the ones competitors like Samsung, Sansa, and Sony build into their players. With crappy earbuds and settings like Jazz and Dance, your best bet is to leave the EQ off and upgrade your earphones. I also had hoped you could turn the Starbucks feature off—you might not want to see a corporate logo pop up whenever you walk by a store, and you’re even less likely to share Starbucks’ musical tastes. Again, these are fairly minor complaints. More signiﬁcant gripes? Podcast users will be disappointed that they can’t get their ’casts via the Wi-Fi store, and the store doesn’t sell video, either . . . yet. Whenever Apple releases a new product, “fanboys” proclaim it the greatest ever, while “haters” lambaste the product and the fanboys as well. This time the fanboys are right: The iPod touch is amazing.—Tim Gideon Whether you’re a real estate developer or a toy manufacturer, Qwest’s tailored solutions allow you to get the most out of your network. Because every company is unique, Qwest offers a consultative approach with a full portfolio of business solutions. When your communications are optimized, business thrives. That’s why 95% of Fortune 500® companies choose Qwest. Get Qwest. Get Nimble. Call 1 877-816-8544 or visit qwest.com/business. Services not available in all areas. Subject to applicable restrictrions, tariffs and service agreements. Contact Qwest for details. © 2007 Qwest. All Rights Reserved. FIRST LOOKS CONSUMER ELECTRONICS New split-screen interface Highest pixel-per-inch count in any iPod Apple iPod nano (3rd generation) APPLE IPOD NANO (3RD GENERATION) 4GB, $149 list; 8GB, $199 Pocket-Size Yet Plenty Powerful l l l l h PROS Widescreen video. New, excellent user interface. Superb new graphics. Extremely thin. Strong battery life. CONS Cover Flow loses something without the touch screen. Crappy earbuds. No video out (yet). For more: go.pcmag.com/nano3 Since its inception, the only thing Apple’s small player ever really lacked was the ability to screen video—a trick that didn’t mesh with the iTunes Store’s commitment to TV shows and f ilm downloads. Sporting a bright, 2-inch widescreen that shows video in the highest pixel-per-inch count of any iPod ever, the nano is an entirely new beast. The flash player, which comes in 4GB and 8GB capacities, is wider than previous models. But when you hold it alongside a second-generation nano, its widened dimensions don’t seem to matter: A beautiful screen and a just-as-thin body make the device seem like a huge evolutionary step for the line. The new user interface combines the nicer touches of the iPhone’s slick UI—like Cover Flow—with novel elements (a split screen that shows album covers for highlighted songs and a new Now Playing screen). File support offers no surprises. For audio, the nano plays AAC (16 to 320 Kbps)—including, obviously, DRM and DRM-free tracks from iTunes, MP3 (all bit rates, including VBR), Audible files, AIFF, and WAV. If you have WMA ﬁles, loading them into iTunes automatically converts them to AAC, so while there’s no compatibility, there is at least a workaround. Video support is the typical Apple array: H.264 and MPEG-4. The new main menu has a split screen, dividing the space equally between the familiar iPod menu 36 PC MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 6, 2007 lists on the left and a moving image of an album cover, photo, or video on the right. When no tune is playing, the main menu shows a variety of album covers slowly ﬂoating by, with speciﬁc spots zoomed in on. It’s a nice look. I found video performance to be exceptional. The player has the same resolution as the old iPod video (now called the classic) but applied to a screen that’s a half-inch smaller. The result is an even sharper picture. When the new Brightness setting is adjusted to the highest level, the new nano's screen is much brighter than the previous model’s, as well. (Apple claims it’s a 65 percent difference.) The nano is not without its flaws. The video output function is listed on the menu but cannot be switched on. Its inclusion implies that this function will be available with iTunes upgrades down the road, but for the time being, there’s no way to watch nano-loaded video on your TV or video iPod dock. Also, Cover Flow, while beautiful and useful, trips up occasionally during fast scrolling. Album covers appear to have jagged edges, and sometimes the artwork takes a moment to appear. The feature is not nearly as sexy as it is on the iPhone. Even with these minor flaws, nothing beats the nano in its price range. Throw in the few bundled games with quality graphics and you’ve got yourself a winner.—Tim Gideon I thought a virus was slowing my PC. Then I realized it was my security software. 40 million users and thousands of businesses have already discovered that protection against viruses, spyware, spam and other threats doesn’t have to slow your PC. They’ve made the move to AVG Internet Security—smarter, faster, easy-to-use security software. Tough on threats. Easy on you. Download your free trial today at www.grisoft .com FIRST LOOKS CONSUMER ELECTRONICS MOTOROLA Q9M (VERIZON) Sophisticated, but Sluggish This latest smartphone for Verizon pairs excellent call quality with a top-notch keyboard, making it a strong Windows Mobile choice. I just wish it felt a little quicker. The Q9m’s keyboard is the biggest change from the old Motorola Q. The larger, rectangular keys are easier to settle your fingers on (which helps prevent mistyping), and they depress with satisfying clicks. All but the most ham-handed will ﬂy over this smartphone's keyboard. A superior phone, the Q9m has very strong reception. The earpiece and especially the speakerphone are unusually loud and clear, and ringtones sound terriﬁc. Verizon has updated the Q9m with a lot of useful new software. At the head of the pack is DataViz DocumentsToGo for Windows Mobile 6, which lets you view PDFs and view, edit, and create Microsoft Ofﬁce documents. Also, its Word-, Excel-, and PowerPoint-compatible apps are refreshing oases of cutting and pasting. Verizon’s new media-player home screen is less accommodating, but you don’t have to use it. The Q9m’s one problem is that it feels a bit laggy. When typing an e-mail message, I sometimes had to wait for the screen to catch up with my typing, and PDF ﬁles took quite some time to open. Still, the new Q is a powerful, ﬂexible mobile ofﬁce. —Sascha Segan Motorola Q9m (Verizon) $199 to $349.99 list llllm PROS Excellent phone quality. Top-notch keyboard. Ability to read and edit Microsoft Ofﬁce documents. CONS Feels slow. Lackluster camera. No GPS. No cut-and-paste in e-mails. For more: go.pcmag.com/q9m Best smartphone keyboard yet es 2.3 x 3.9 x 0.5 inch HTC ADVANTAGE Phone, Laptop in One Detachable keyboard HTC Advantage Joystick or touch screen? You choose! 38 PC MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 6, 2007 $899.99 list lllmm PROS Stunning, bright screen. Includes basic document editing and robust keyboard. Built-in HSDPA, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. CONS Too large to be a primary mobile phone. Occasional OS glitches. Sluggish system performance. Pricey. For more: go.pcmag.com/advantage At 12.7 ounces, this massive device is meant to be an überPDA—a handheld for adventurous computer enthusiasts who wish they could inject their Treo with steroids. It can replace a laptop in more situations than any other smartphone on the market, but it doubles as a phone only when you wear a headset or use the speakerphone. Though the Advantage’s top-end 624-MHz Marvell PXA270 processor aced our benchmark tests, the unit still felt pokey. But built-in HSDPA and Wi-Fi didn’t disappoint, grabbing speeds approximating 700 Kbps on the AT&T network. The device’s keyboard is big, but ﬂat and soft. The Advantage makes a handy in-car GPS, thanks to its big 5-inch screen and TeleNav’s built-in GPS Navigator 5.1 software. One button press gets TeleNav to reroute you around tie-ups. The device runs Windows Mobile, so you can sync e-mail, calendar, and contacts with Microsoft Outlook 2003 and 2007, and the unit can receive push Exchange e-mail. Ofﬁce Mobile still needs work, though: I saw formatting errors in some documents, which limits the handset’s usefulness when editing important ﬁles. You can save data to the internal 8GB hard drive or to a miniSD card. The Advantage could bridge the gap between handhelds and laptops, but for $900 you might as well buy a laptop and get a free phone from your carrier.—Jamie Lendino FIRST LOOKS CONSUMER ELECTRONICS ttons Elevated pad andntbu provide better co rol Screen looks amazing Quicker load times Less complicated slot opens more easily Sony PSP (model 2000) SONY PSP (MODEL 2000) $169.99 direct Slimmer, Faster Mobile Gaming l l l l m PROS Sleeker and lighter than the original. AV output. Additional RAM makes load times faster. Displays photos. Plays video and music ﬁles. Built-in Wi-Fi and Webbrowsing capabilities. Stunning widescreen display. CONS Unfortunate power button location is unchanged from the original. AV output lacks gaming support for interlaced-only TV sets. USB charging alternative is inconvenient. UMD load times still an issue. Screen smudges easily. For more: go.pcmag.com/psp2000 Slimmed down and souped up, Sony’s latest handheld gaming device offers some welcome improvements over its predecessor. It boasts more RAM to make game load times a little faster, and it’s now able to output video straight to your TV. At 2.8 by 6.6 by 0.6 inches (HWD) the new PSP has been streamlined, and its sleekness is noticeable when compared with the original (which measures 2.9 by 6.7 by 0.9 inches). The major difference between the two devices, however, is that the new PSP feels much lighter. Weighing 6.7 ounces, it’s a third lighter than its predecessor. Those seasoned by hours of game play on the original model will feel the difference instantly. A new A/V port serves two purposes. Since the port uses the 3.5mm minijack format, it can be used with any standard headset for listening. The port also doubles as a video-out: A special cable (sold separately for about $20) lets you output your PSP games, videos, movies, and photos directly to your television or any LCD monitor via component or composite connections. Videos and photos are displayed at DVD-quality resolution (up to 720 by 480, or 480p), but games are limited to the PSP’s native resolution of 480 by 272 pixels in progressive format only. Out of juice from all those movies? Fortunately, you can fully charge the PSP via a computer’s USB port in roughly 5 hours. 40 PC MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 6, 2007 The PSP’s multimedia prowess is impressive, and the new model is no different. The device can play back full-length movies on UMD (Universal Media Disc—over 450 movies are available), play a wide range of digital audio ﬁles, and even transfer recorded shows from TiVo (series 2) DVRs. I found that the 480p and 480i modes looked better; when the PSP upscaled video to HD resolution, the result was a slightly distorted picture. In general, AVI and H.264/MPEG-4 ﬁles looked ﬁne on a 65-inch HDTV, and my S.W.A.T. UMD gave nearly as good a picture as you can get with a standard DVD. Though rich on multimedia functions, the PSP’s primary focus is gaming. Most games for the PSP now rely on richly detailed 3D graphics, and more and more titles are starting to take advantage of the device’s Wi-Fi capability and offer multiplayer options. Add in the PSP’s TiVo compatibility, as well as the ability to access streaming music and video via Sony’s Location Free system or a PS3, and the PSP becomes a powerful, portable media extender, albeit pretty much tied to other Sony hardware. All in all, the new “enhanced” PSP is a satisfying addition to any gaming enthusiast’s collection, and a must-buy for gamers who currently do not own a PSP system. The new enhancements only broaden the appeal of this already exceptional gaming device.—Brian K. Neal FIRST LOOKS CONSUMER ELECTRONICS 47-inch widescreen display Westinghouse TX-47F430S $1,799.99 list lllhm PROS: Excellent 1080i video processing. Four HDMI ports. Attractive price. CONS: Poor contrast ratio. No video noise reduction control. Oversaturated greens in skin tones. For more: go.pcmag.com/ tx47f430s 1080p resolution WESTINGHOUSE TX-47F430S HDMI Ports Galore, and More There’s no disputing that HDTVs look their best when displaying high-definition video, and the ideal way to transmit this pristine high-def signal is over an HDMI cable. That’s the draw for Westinghouse Digital’s affordable new 47-inch LCD set. This well-priced TV boasts a total of four HDMI ports for your viewing pleasure. The TX-47F430S measures 31.4 by 46.1 by 9.8 inches (HWD) with its base attached, and weighs in at 71.6 pounds. On-display controls consist of a series of thin buttons along the right side of the TV’s frame. A lone Westinghouse logo adorns the bottom bezel, as does an unobtrusive blue power-indicator light. The TX-47F430S’s two integrated 10W speakers are concealed within the TV’s frame along the bottom edge and fire downward. The set delivers ample volume for a large room, and an integrated subwoofer (15W) helps balance the system’s otherwise bright sound. Watching standard-definition video using DVD and satellite television sources revealed that the TX-47F430S’s picture was a bit too colorful. Light skin tones were excessively green, and grass lawns tended to look eerily electric, likely a “feature” designed to grab the attention of outdoor sports fans. Also distracting, at viewing angles of 20 degrees or more, was screen glare that over- whelmed the corners and edges of the picture, resulting in decreased image contrast. Apart from that, the set’s results on the HD HQV Benchmark test DVD were among the best I’ve seen; I recorded perfect performance within the HQV’s ﬁlm resolution loss tests. In fact, the TX-47F430S is one of only two HDTVs I’ve reviewed that properly process 24p video material encoded in 1080i format. Sadly, contrast was another story. I configured the TX-47F430S for dark-room, eye-friendly viewing by lowering the backlight control, which produced a respectable but still relatively bright 0.25 Cd/m2 black level with a nearly identical contrast ratio of 463:1. Power consumption measurements put the monthly operating cost of the TX-47F430S at a relatively pricey $10.65 with the backlight set to maximum. I based my calculations on 8 hours of daily operation with a kilowatt-hour cost of $0.13. This was more than $3 higher than any similarly sized LCD I’ve measured to date. Despite the set’s competitive price, videophiles may be put off by the TV’s oversaturated green, relatively poor black levels, low gamma response, and lack of video noise reduction controls. I did ﬁnd the TX-47F430S’s picture quality more appealing, however, once its color was calibrated to realistic levels.—Robert Heron PORTS INCLUDED HDMI 4 Component 2 Composite 1 DVI 0 IEEE 1394 0 RF 1 S-Video 1 VGA 1 CableCARD 0 NOVEMBER 6, 2007 PC MAGAZINE 41 Get all your functions in one place. Better yet, CDW can help you get them all in one machine. HP LaserJet® 3055 All-in-One • Monochrome laser printer, copier, scanner and fax • Print and copy speed: up to 19 ppm • Print resolution: 1200 x 1200 dpi • Scan resolution: 1200 x 1200 optical dpi • Duty cycle: 7000 pages per month • USB 2.0 and Ethernet ports 69999 $ CDW 951782 HP LaserJet® 3390 All-in-One • Monochrome laser printer, copier, fax and color flatbed scanner with automatic duplexing • Print speed: up to 22 ppm • Copy speed: up to 19 ppm • Print resolution: 1200 x 1200 dpi • Scan resolution: 1200 x 1200 optical dpi • Duty cycle: 10,000 pages per month • USB 2.0 and Ethernet ports Offer subject to CDW’s standard terms and conditions of sale, available at CDW.com. ©2007 CDW Corporation 51999 $ CDW 951784 HP Color LaserJet® 2840mfp Multifunction Printer • Color laser printer, copier, fax and scanner • Print and copy speed: up to 20 ppm black, 4 ppm color • Print resolution: 600 x 600 dpi with HP ImageREt 2400 • Scan resolution: 1200 x 1200 optical dpi • Duty cycle: 30,000 pages per month • USB and Ethernet ports 74999 89999 $ CDW 762969 Xerox® Phaser® 6110MFPX $ • Network-ready, color laser printer, copier, scanner, fax and scan to e-mail • Print and copy speed: up to 17 ppm black, 4 ppm color • Print resolution: 2400 x 600 Image Quality • Scan resolution: 600 x 1200 dpi • Duty cycle: 24,200 pages per month • USB and Ethernet ports CDW 1066685 Xerox® Phaser® 6115MFPN • Color laser printer, copier, scanner and fax • Print and copy speed: up to 20 ppm black, 5 ppm color • Print resolution: 2400 x 600 dpi • Copy resolution: 600 x 600 dpi • Duty cycle: 35,000 pages per month • USB 2.0 and Ethernet ports Xerox® Phaser® 8560MFPN 1499 99 $ CDW 1127973 • • • • • • Solid ink color printer, copier, scanner and fax Print and copy speed: up to 30 ppm black, 30 ppm color Print resolution: 2400 dpi FinePoint, 600 x 600 dpi Scan resolution: 300 x 300 dpi Duty cycle: 85,000 pages per month USB 2.0 and Ethernet ports We’re there with the printing solutions you need. How would you like to save space, save money and increase your coworkers’ productivity? Multifunction printers can do all of that. With all your printing, faxing, scanning and other business functions in one place, it’s easier for more people to use them — even at the same time. We’re there with a full line of top multifunction printers. And you can always count on us for fast, dependable delivery. So call today. The sooner you switch to multifunction printers, the sooner you’ll get more done. CDW.com 800.399.4CDW 79999 $ CDW 1127970 FIRST LOOKS CONSUMER ELECTRONICS One-touch activation of a face-detection mode FUJI FINEPIX Z5FD Ultracompact With Awesome Auto Controls A sturdy build, quick performance, and useful advanced automatic features give this Fuji 6.3-megapixel ultracompact a big competitive edge. Stylish and available in four colors, the Z5fd has a sliding front cover that acts as the power switch and also protects the lens and built-in ﬂash. Geared toward auto-shooting, the camera features 12 scene modes, as well as a mode that takes a quick pair of shots—one with ﬂash and one without—and lets you save the one you prefer. Its 3X zoom lens has a focal length of 36mm to 108mm, with a maximum aperture of f/3.5 on the wide end and f/4.2 when zoomed in. The Z5fd’s 2.5-inch LCD is ﬂexible in that you can adjust its brightness and refresh rate. In both daylight and flash shots, images were well exposed and exhibited realistic color. One serious problem, however, was the heavy processing that left visible noise in my images. At the camera’s maximum ISO setting (1600), this noise made images look more like pastel drawings than like photographs. But when it came to performance, the Z5fd excelled, with a boot-up time of 2.7 seconds, a 2.3-second recycle time, and a 1-second shutter lag. Despite its image problems, the well-crafted Fuji Z5fd is a good buy with a set of features typically found in more expensive models. —Aimee Baldridge Fuji FinePix Z5fd $199.99 list lllhm PROS Useful advanced automatic features. Responsive operation. Sturdy build. CONS Noticeable artifacts in photos. Limited manual adjustments. Some frequently used functions aren’t quick to access. For more: go.pcmag.com/z5fd 2.5-inch LCD automatically brightens in low light Lone power button—all other input is done with the on-screen keyboard TOMTOM GO 720 A GPS That’s Always Up to Date TomTom GO 720 3.3 by 4.7 by 0.9 inches $499.95 list llllm PROS Text to speech. Multisegment routing. Map Share technology. Optional trafﬁc receiver. Lots of audio output options. CONS Limited cell-phone support. Mobile services are not compatible on Verizon or Sprint. For more: go.pcmag.com/go720 44 PC MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 6, 2007 Keeping GPS maps and POIs (points of interest) up to date is a gargantuan task. TomTom tries to alleviate this problem with its innovative Map Share technology, along with a little help from drivers like you. When you ﬁrst power up the TomTom GO 720, you notice a new Map Corrections icon in the main menu. From here, you can make edits such as reversing trafﬁc direction, changing a street name, and adding or augmenting POIs. You can also specify which types of changes you’d like to download: yours, those veriﬁed by TomTom, or ones from “trusted sources.” The included USB dock makes it simple to connect to your PC for updates. The 7.8-ounce GO 720 sports a sleek new design, too: a 4.3inch WQVGA touch screen display and a Bluetooth speakerphone interface. Its GPS receiver performed on a par with those of other devices using the ubiquitous SiRFstarIII, and there were no surprises in my road tests. The TomTom Jukebox media player is the best I’ve seen in a PND, offering a variety of search options and audio book support. Furthermore, the GO 720 includes text-to-speech conversion, with the option to purchase celebrity voices. There’s a lot to like about the TomTom GO 720, not least of which is the promise of easy map updates, as well as communitybased road and POI ﬁxes.—Craig Ellison FIRST LOOKS CONSUMER ELECTRONICS NOKIA E65 Business-Class Cellular Helio Fin $375 direct, $175 with contract lllmm PROS Slim. Three-megapixel camera. Full Web browser. Excellent e-mail client. CONS Very short battery life. Annoyingly ﬂat keypad. Feels sluggish in advanced applications. For more: go.pcmag.com/ﬁn Keys are large but too ﬂat HELIO FIN Thin but Short-Lived Take a look at this sweet, svelte little cell. It happens to be the thinnest phone yet from Helio, the extremely Web-friendly cellular carrier, and the company’s best camera phone, too. But with its slim body also comes an annoyingly short battery life. The Fin is a very good voice phone. Calls sound clear, with no hiss, though the speakerphone is somewhat quiet. For Helio users, however, voice is just where handhelds begin. This cell has the de rigueur MP3/AAC player supporting 4GB memory cards, though there’s no integration with Windows Media Player. (Better PC media software will come soon, Helio says.) With its big 2.3-inch, 320-by-240-pixel screen, you can navigate full Web pages, check multiple e-mail accounts including Yahoo! and Windows Live, or log on to MySpace. The ability to read Microsoft Office attachments in e-mails is a bonus. A 3-megapixel camera takes photos that but look a bit washed out in daylight and have a tendency to blur under low light. But the Fin’s performance felt sluggish at times, the flat keypad was a bit difﬁcult to use, and battery life was pathetic, providing less than 3 hours of talk time. This brief battery life hurts, especially because this is a phone you’d want to use for extensive gaming and Web browsing. Helio’s Ocean, while larger, is a much better platform for the cellular carrier’s rich set of Web and messaging services.—Sascha Segan A classy pin-striped suit of a phone, Nokia’s new handset gives you smartphone power with a digniﬁed feature-phone look. With its aluminum faceplate and snappy slide-out keypad, the E65’s build is unusually solid and feels decidedly rich. Watch out, though, as some of this cell’s keys may be too small for the ham-thumbed. The E65 is a Symbian Series 60 smartphone with unusually speedy EDGE data support, as well as Wi-Fi. Voice calls sounded clear, though the speakerphone’s sound level was low. The built-in e-mail client works with POP/IMAP accounts, and third-party software can let you edit Ofﬁce documents. Nokia’s Web browser, which handles full pages, is the best available on any mobile platform. The bundled music player app had no trouble with MP3 tracks but couldn’t play unprotected iTunes Plus AAC ﬁles. For pictures, an internal 2-megapixel camera takes detailed, grayish photos with good light balance. Battery life, at 7 hours and 44 minutes of talk time, is pretty good. Sold as an unlocked device, E65 is especially appealing to world travelers, who appreciate the ability to swap in foreign SIM cards. But any professional could warm up to this solid GSM handset, which may look and act like an ordinary phone but offers a host of smartphone features.—Jamie Lendino Nokia E65 $449 direct llllm PROS Sharp, bright screen. Crisp slider mechanism and keypad. Includes Wi-Fi. Superb Web browser. Fast camera. CONS Lacks 3G support. No document editing. For more: go.pcmag.com/e65 Leathertextured back NOVEMBER 6, 2007 PC MAGAZINE 45 FIRST LOOKS HARDWARE PictBridge/ USB port Front-loading paper path for large-format printing Canon Pixma Pro9000 $499.99 list L L L L M PROS Topquality color photos and graphics. Maximum 13-by-19-inch paper size. Choice of ﬁne-art papers available. CONS Relatively poor text quality. For more: go.pcmag.com/pro9000 CANON PIXMA PRO9000 Photo Prints Fit for Framing Almost any ink jet printer can churn out decent photos, particularly at small sizes. But to get exceptional quality, and to print on ﬁne-art papers at sizes up to 13 by 19 inches, you need a high-end printer built for professional photographers or serious amateurs. The Canon Pixma Pro9000 may just ﬁll the bill. The Pro9000 packs an eight-color ink system, designed both to widen the range of colors it can print and to reproduce the subtle shading that makes skin tones look realistic and rounded objects look three-dimensional. Although it can serve as an all-purpose printer in a pinch, the Pro9000 is clearly built for photos: The default paper setting in the driver is for photo paper. Slower than its rivals, the Pro9000 ran through our business applications suite at a lackadaisical 25:58 (min:sec), but nobody is going to buy it to output spreadsheets. And although print speed is far less important than output quality for photos, it’s worth noting that, in its price class, the Pro9000 is the fastest photo printer I’ve tested, averaging 1:06 for each 4-by-6 print and 2:05 for each 8-by-10. Photo quality is equally impressive. When tested with semigloss ﬁne-art paper, the Pro9000 earned a perfect score on almost every point I use to evaluate color prints. The only shortcoming was a slight tint on a monochrome photo. I also printed our standard 46 PC MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 6, 2007 photo suite on a range of other papers. With matte paper, the quality was just as good for color photos and better for monochrome prints, which were free of tint. I also printed an assortment of photos on several of Canon's fine art papers, including Museum Etching, Photo Rag, Premium Matte, and Semi-Gloss. I was so impressed with the results that I plan to frame several of the photos. Graphics quality is also superior, with no notable ﬂaws. This makes the Pro9000 a ﬁne choice for graphic artists. Its text output was a little bit below par for an ink jet, particularly with more stylized, non-business fonts, but few people will be using the Pro9000 to print text. At 7.6 by 26.0 by 14.0 inches (HWD) and 30.8 pounds, the Pro9000 is larger and heavier than most ink jets. You’ll need extra room in the front and back to print on large-size paper, in effect making the printer’s footprint 26 by 26 inches. But for most photo enthusiasts, the Pro9000’s spectacular prints will be well worth the extra space it takes up. For photo quality in its price range, the Pro9000 can’t be beat. About its only real drawback is that, if you print a lot of photos in a single session, you may ﬁnd that one or another of its eight ink cartridges will always seem to be on the brink of needing replacement.—M. David Stone FIRST LOOKS HARDWARE IOMEGA EGO Iomega eGo $160 street lllhm PROS Large capacity. Drop resistance. Compact. Good dollarper-gigabyte value. CONS Dual-headed cable’s “Y-section” is a bit short. You have to download backup software. Backup software is Windows-only. Chrome attracts ﬁngerprints. For more: go.pcmag.com/ego Pocket-size drive (5.3 by 3.5 by 0.8 inches) Storage to Go Pocket USB hard drives are all the rage. One of the more attractive and reasonably priced offerings is the Iomega eGo. The drive packs 160GB of storage capacity into its red, chrome-accented frame. It’s shielded from tumbles and comes with a fine backup program—at least if you’re a Microsoft Windows user. Designed to be economical, the eGo offers a better cost per gigabyte ($1) than many of its peers. Its hard drive yields decent performance, taking 54 seconds to copy our 1.2GB test folder, which is fast enough for backup or data transfer. The drive is rated to survive a fall of 51 inches—at least when it’s not plugged in and operating. The eGo comes with a license for a good backup program, EMC’s Retrospect HD. Retrospect can protect both document folders and entire hard drives, including the operating system and applications. But the drawback is that you have to download the program from Iomega’s support site. Worse, it works only on Windows systems. All in all, the eGo is a solid portable hard drive for storing and transporting your digital life. It should be on your short list if you’re looking for more storage for your laptop or home PC.—Joel Santo Domingo Auto Movie Creator Automatic! Intelligent Movie Creation Software Auto Movie Creator is for everyone who wants to make a movie in a flash. Start by importing videos or photos from a camera, simply follow the Assistant Director wizard and you are ready to export your movie to a DVD, your website, blog, or any portable device. The Assistant Director wizard offers intelligent suggestions for adding effects, transitions, and titles. It automatically creates clips based on scene changes, lets you add music and voice narrations. You can create a professional looking movie in a few minutes! Capture video and audio from any USB or FireWire input device R The Assistant Director takes all the guesswork out of movie-making R Automatically divide your video footage into scenes R Add narration and background music to your video effortlessly R Our other products Download Free Trial www.deskshare.com/amc DeskShare WebCam Monitor Digital Media Converter My Screen Recorder Pro Software to help you excel ! Phone: 1-516-620-3152 FIRST LOOKS HARDWARE Cooling fan (loud) CyberPower Gamer Ultra 8500 SE $849 direct; $999 with 19-inch widescreen LCD monitor lllhm PROS Gaming performance on a sub-$1,000 system. Good performance on our multimedia benchmark tests. Nice mix of components for the money. Three-year warranty. CONS Loud cooling fans. Ball mouse. No included security software. For more: go.pcmag.com/ cyberpower8500se Ball mouse?! CYBERPOWER GAMER ULTRA 8500 SE Gaming Rig with Room to Grow As a budding gamer, you needn’t shell out ﬁve grand for a system with all the bells and whistles. You don’t even have to get a mainstream desktop and slap a gaming card into it. Instead, you could get the sub-$1,000 CyberPower Gamer Ultra 8500 SE and expand it as your skill and funding increase. The 8500 SE, with its windowed, mid-tower case adorned with a Smilodon (saber-toothed tiger) logo and LED lighting, looks like a gaming rig. It contains a speedy, 3-GHz dual-core AMD Athlon 64 X2 6000+ processor, 1GB of 800-MHz DDR2 memory, a 320GB hard drive, and an nVidia GeForce 8600 GT graphics card with 256MB of graphics memory. The card is DX10-compliant and has an SLI connector. The system can support a lot of expansion: four more hard drives, two more memory DIMMs, two more PCIe x1 cards, and two more PCI cards. The case is a cinch to get into, with easy-to-open latches. Its downside is the loud case fans. You’ll probably want to turn the speakers up or wear headphones. Gaming performance wasn’t bad for a system at this price. At 1,280-by-1,024 resolution, the 8500SE scored 46 frames per second on Prey and 48 fps on 48 PC MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 6, 2007 Company of Heroes. At this resolution, it will be a bit jerky in action situations. The 8500 SE took 1:12 (min:sec) on our Photoshop CS2 test and a respectable 1:23 on the Windows Media Encoder test . The CyberPower Gamer Ultra 8500 SE is a reasonably priced performance system, with a decent feature set. It’s a good choice for a beginning gamer or a ﬁlm student.—Joel Santo Domingo Specs: 3.0-GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2 6000+ processor; 1GB 800-MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 320GB, 7,200-rpm SATA hard drive; 256MB nVidia GeForce 8600 GT graphics card; Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium PERFORMANCE TESTS 3D TESTS High scores are best. 3DMARK06 Bold type denotes ﬁ rst place. RESOLUTION GAMING TESTS (fps) PREY COMPANY OF HEROES 1,280 x 1,024 2,560 x 1,600 1,280 x 1,024 2,560 x 1,600 1,280 x 1,024 2,560 x 1,600 AA/AF** Default 0X/8X Default High 0X/0X 0X/0X CyberPower Gamer Ultra 8500 SE 4,428 1,774 46 16 48 4 Velocity Micro Vector GX Campus Edition (2007) * 5,112 2,331 51 18 55 11 * Editors' Choice, reported for comparison. ** Anti-aliasing/anisotropic ﬁ ltering. You’ve never settled for less. Why do it with your color laser all-in-one? Choose Plan b. Up to 21ppm DCP-9040CN Color Laser Digital Copier/Printer $ 599* MFC-9440CN Color Laser All-in-One $ 699* MFC-9840CDW Wireless Color Laser All-in-One $ 849* When choosing a color laser all-in-one, Plan A is settling for the ordinary. Plan B from Brother is all about making the smarter choice. So you get more of the features you need. The 21ppm1 maximum color printing speeds you want. And the affordability you’ve been waiting for. It’s a combination that’s deﬁnitely not Plan A. And it’s only found in the full color laser line from Brother. So don’t compromise on quality or break your budget. Choose Plan B. Visit us online at www.brother.com Available at: Ofﬁce Depot, OfﬁceMax, Staples, Fry’s Electronics, BestBuy.com, Costco.com, Brandsmart, Microcenter, J&R Computer World, CDW, Insight, PC Connection, PC Mall, Zones, Quill, PC Nation, TigerDirect.com, Provantage, Amazon.com, Buy.com, Newegg.com and other ﬁne resellers. *Estimated street price, dealer price may vary. 1pages per minute. © 2007 Brother International Corporation, Bridgewater, NJ Brother Industries, Ltd. Nagoya, Japan FIRST LOOKS BUSINESS LED screen Sony VAIO VGN-TZ150N $2,299 direct l l l h m PROS Carbon ﬁber case. Improved, raised keyboard. LED-backlit screen. Integrated optical drive. 2.7-pound featherweight. Excellent battery life. CONS Too much bloatware. Slow ULV processor. 1GB of RAM is not enough for Vista. Slow-spinning hard drive. For more: go.pcmag.com/sonytz150n Raised keyboard Carbon-ﬁber frame SONY VAIO VGN-TZ150N Laptop’s Beauty Is Only Skin-Deep Laptop manufacturers are putting their focus on design these days, and they’ve come out with some amazingly sleek and sexy creations. This is ﬁne—as long as they don’t forget that performance and features are an important part of the mix. The Sony VAIO VGN-TZ150N epitomizes elegance. It’s a featherweight (2.7-pound) ultraportable with a gorgeous, LED-enhanced screen, a raised keyboard, and a durable carbon-ﬁber frame. Too bad that Sony hasn’t paid equal attention to what’s beneath the snazzy exterior. If you need a system to keep you productive, you’ll run into a few snags with this one. The TZ150N has some top-notch features: LED backlighting that makes viewing the 11.1-inch screen a joy, a dual-layer DVD burner, a Sprint EV-DO Rev PERFORMANCE TESTS hr:min SYSMARK 2007 PREVIEW: OVERALL L Sony VAIO VGN-TZ150N 3:49 Dell XPS M1330* 3:23 L High scores are best. M Low scores are best. Bold type denotes ﬁ rst place. BATTERY RUNDOWN SCORE L * Editors' Choice, reported for comparison. 50 PC MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 6, 2007 MULTIMEDIA TESTS WINDOWS MEDIA ENCODER M PHOTOSHOP CS2 ACTION SET min:sec min:sec 47 2:32 2:58 96 1:32 1:07 A modem—and a webcam, which, as far as I know, is unique in a system weighing less than 3 pounds. Not so hot is the 1.06-GHz ultra-low-voltage (ULV) Intel Core 2 Duo U7500 processor; nor does it help that the system comes with only 1GB of RAM. (You’ll want to double that to do justice to Windows Vista Business.) Then there’s the hard drive. Although its capacity (100GB) is adequate, it spins at only 4,200 rpm. Worse, the system is loaded with bloatware: no less than 30 VAIO apps, plus lots of trialware such as Corel Snapfire, Microsoft Office 2007, and Norton Internet Security. One advantage to the TZ150N’s low power is that it extends battery life. The unit lasted almost 4 hours (3:47) playing back a DVD, which translates into roughly 6 or 7 hours’ worth of more routine tasks. But long battery life doesn’t make up for feeble components, especially considering that the TZ150N carries the price tag of a luxury item.—Cisco Cheng Specs: 1.06-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo U7500; 1GB DDR2 SDRAM; 100GB, 4,200-rpm hard drive; Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950; 11.1-inch, 1,366-by-768 screen; 2.7pound system weight (3.3-pound travel weight); 63-Wh, 5.8-Ah lithium ion battery; Windows Vista Business. FIRST LOOKS BUSINESS LED-backlit screen ASUS U1F $2,100 street l l l h m PROS LED backlight offers terriﬁc contrast. Good battery life. Leather palm rests. Featherweight. Innovative design. CONS Lacks an integrated optical drive. Low-powered components. For more: go.pcmag.com/asusu1f ASUS U1F An LED-Lit Ultraportable The ASUS U1F is a sweet ultraportable with awesome picture quality and an innovative design. It’s a traveler’s delight, packing a lot of appealing features, but one thing you’ll miss is an optical drive. Thanks to LED backlighting, the U1F’s 11.1-inch screen looks magniﬁcent. Digital photos and even YouTube videos look amazing under low light. However, the screen is very sensitive to glare coming from any light source above you. ASUS uses a magnesium-aluminum alloy in its frame to protect the screen, which is only 5mm (0.2 inches) thick. The small form factor presents challenges to ultraportable manufacturers. It’s unfortunate that ASUS didn’t integrate an optical drive, as Panasonic, Toshiba, and Sony have managed to do on similar lightweight systems. (See the review of Sony’s VAIO PERFORMANCE TESTS L High scores are best. M Low scores are best. Bold type denotes ﬁ rst place. ASUS U1F Lenovo ThinkPad X60 (Vista)* * Editors' Choice, reported for comparison. hr:min SYSMARK 2007 PREVIEW: OVERALL L 2:48 3:45 BATTERY RUNDOWN SCORE L MULTIMEDIA TESTS WINDOWS MEDIA ENCODER PHOTOSHOP CS2 ACTION SET min:sec min:sec 49 3:15 3:48 N/A 1:47 1:12 N/A—Not applicable: The product could not complete the test. 52 PC MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 6, 2007 M Leather palm rests VGN-TZ150N, page 50.) Another nit is that the U1F runs a weak ultra-low-voltage (ULV) 1.06-GHz Intel Core Duo U2400 processor, which hampers performance. Also, its hard drive spins at just 4,200 rpm. The keyboard is a bit unwieldy, though the leather on the palm rests is a nice touch. The touchpad is responsive, but the mouse buttons were difﬁcult to press. The U1F has four USB ports, rare on such a small system, and adds a FireWire port, an ExpressCard slot, and a 4-in-1 card reader. The U1F has a peculiar RAM configuration. It comes with 1.5GB of memory (a 512MB and a 1GB module), enough to run Windows Vista Business. Still, I’d have liked to see a full 2GB of RAM. Good battery life is just one of the things we like in this 2.7-pound wonder. The battery lasted 2 hours 48 minutes running a DVD; you’d probably get 5 to 6 hours on more basic tasks. I’d like the U1F better, though, with an integrated optical drive and a little more power.—Cisco Cheng Specs: 1.06-GHz Intel Core Duo U2400; 1.5GB DDR2; 80GB, 4,200-rpm hard drive; Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950, 224MB; 11.1-inch, 1,366-by-768 screen; 2.7-pound system weight (3.4-pound travel weight); 53-Wh, 4.8-Ah lithium ion battery; Microsoft Windows Vista Business. FIRST LOOKS BUSINESS HP Ofﬁcejet Pro K5400dtn Color Printer Ink jet with laser-class speed $249.99 direct llllm PROS Laser-class speed for business applications. Network connector. Built-in duplexer. Two paper trays. CONS Photo quality is far less than ideal. Photos aren’t even slightly water-resistant. For more: go.pcmag.com/hpk5400dtn 350-sheet and 250-sheet paper trays HP OFFICEJET PRO K5400DTN Laser-Class Ink Jet If you’re looking for a color printer for a small ofﬁce, you might go with an inexpensive laser printer. Or you might pick the HP Ofﬁcejet Pro K5400dtn Color Printer, an ink jet with many of the qualities of a color laser, at a much lower price and running costs. The K5400dtn has laser-like speed on text, ﬁnishing our business suite in 8 minutes 49 seconds, a record for standard ink jets. But photo speed was not very good, averaging 2:25 (min:sec) for a 4-by-6 and 5:22 for an 8-by-10. Like a laser, the K5400dtn is optimized for business printing, and that includes out- put quality. Text and graphics were decent (though not laser-quality), but photos fell short. Colors were often too punchy, and prints prone to smudging. Paper-handling capability is strong, thanks to the two paper trays and duplexer. The K5400dtn is priced inexpensively, and at 1.5 cents for a blackand-white page and 6 cents for a color page, the company’s claimed cost per page is relatively low. When it comes to quality, the K5400dtn may not be a match for a laser, but small ofﬁces may ﬁnd it a good substitute.—M. David Stone XEROX PHASER 8560MFP/D As Solid as Its Ink Solid-ink printers are designed to compete with color lasers, offering laser-like speed and output quality. They’re pretty much exclusive to Xerox, whose latest, the Phaser 8560MFP/D, is among the more impressive laser-class all-in-ones I’ve seen. Solid-ink printers are best for an ofﬁce that can keep the printer running all night so that the ink stays melted. The 8560MFP/D is a whiz at paper handling, with a standard 625-sheet paper capacity and a 1,675-sheet maximum with optional trays. It also has a built-in duplexer. The 8560MFP/D went through our business applications suite in 10 minutes 31 seconds, faster than the fastest color laser AIO I’ve tested. It also prints photos quickly, averaging 23 seconds for a 4-by-6 and 36 seconds for an 8-by-10. The 8560MFP/D’s output quality is superb. Text is a bit below ideal. Graphics were good enough for any internal business need. Photos were superior for a laser-class printer, good enough to pass as true photo quality at arm’s length. If you’re looking for a color laser AIO, don’t rule out a solid-ink unit. The Xerox Phaser 8560MFP/D offers an effective balance of speed, output quality, and features for a small to midsize ofﬁce.—MDS Xerox Phaser 8560MFP/D $2,000 street l l l l m 525-sheet and 100-sheet paper trays PROS Fast. Reasonably high quality. Prints, scans, and faxes from a PC. Standalone copier and fax. CONS Fax feature is inconveniently hidden in a driver. For more: go.pcmag.com/ xerox8560mfpd NOVEMBER 6, 2007 PC MAGAZINE 53 TheBestStuff Editors’ Choices in Key Categories For the complete reviews of these products, go to go.pcmag.com/ editorschoice SMB COLOR LASERS Xerox Phaser 6180N $500 street Xerox Phaser 6360DN (NETWORKED) $1,600 street PHOTO PRINTERS ALL-IN-ONE Canon Pixma MP960 $400 street BUDGET PROSUMER DESKTOPS Apple iMac (20-inch Aluminum) $1,499 direct MAINSTREAM Dell Inspiron 531 $709 direct GAMING Falcon Northwest Mach V (Radeon HD 2900 XT) $7,930 direct NEW HP Blackbird 002 Q $5,500 direct ALL-IN-ONE HP TouchSmart IQ770 PC $1,800 direct BUSINESS Lenovo ThinkCentre M55e Velocity Micro Vector GX Campus Edition 2007 $999 direct LAPTOPS & NOTEBOOKS Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch (LED) $1,999 direct Nokia N95 $749.99 list REAR-PROJECTION HP Pavilion md5880n $3,499.99 list VERIZON WIRELESS PLASMA Pioneer PRO-940HD $3,300 list Vizio VP42 $1,099.99 list CELLULAR CARDS LCD MONITORS Samsung SyncMaster 305T SPRINT HIGH-END Epson PictureMate Flash $300 street PORTABLE HP Deskjet 460wf $299 direct COMPACT BUDGET HP Photosmart A516 $100 street COMPACT HIGH-END HP Photosmart A716 $250 street PROSUMER HP Photosmart Pro B9180 $1,999.99 list ALL-PURPOSE FLATBED Canon CanoScan 8600F $180 list Canon PowerShot SD1000 $299.99 list $400 street DOCUMENT Canon Rebel XTi $799 list Nikon D80 $999.95 list Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3 $349.95 list DIGITAL CAMCORDERS Sony Handycam DCR-DVD508 (SD) $899.99 list Sony HDR-HC3 HDV 1080i Handycam (HD) $1,499.99 direct DIGITAL PHOTO FRAMES Pandigital 8.0" Digital Photo Frame (DPF-80-2) $199.99 list PROJECTORS Planon DocuPen RC800 HIGH-END SXGA+ BUDGET $299.99 direct Canon Realis SX50 Dell Inspiron 1420 $1,099 direct PORTABLE $5,000 street Plustek OpticSlim M12 Corporate $299 direct HIGH-END XGA Dell XPS M1330 $2,200 direct VISTA SOHO/PERSONAL DOCUMENT $3,000 street NEW HP Pavilion dv9500t Q Xerox Documate 152 $595 list BUDGET SVGA $4,048 direct MULTI-DRIVE Drobo $499 direct PORTABLE TABLET PCS Dell 1200MP $699 direct MAINSTREAM XGA Toshiba TDP-T95U $1,299 direct AT&T Western Digital MyBook Pro Motorola RAZR2 V9m $330 direct $249.99 list HIGH-DEFINITION PLAYERS TiVo HD $299.99 list SPRINT MEDIA HUBS Slingbox Pro $249.99 direct VERIZON WIRELESS (mono laser) $250 street MP3 PLAYERS STANDARD INK JET HARD DISK Canon Pixma iP4300 Photo Apple iPod 80GB $349 direct $99.99 direct FLASH ALL-IN-ONE INK JET Apple iPod nano (3rd gen) Canon Pixma MP600 Photo $199 direct $199.99 direct NEW Apple iPod touch Q ALL-IN-ONE HIGH-END INK JET From $299 direct Canon Pixma MP830 Ofﬁce BUDGET FLASH $300 street Samsung YP-U3 (2GB) $90 list HP Ofﬁcejet Pro L7680 $400 street SPEAKERS/DOCKS Chestnut Hill Sound George $549 direct 54 PC MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 6, 2007 SUITE Adobe Creative Suite 3 $999 direct PHOTO MANAGEMENT ProShow Gold 3.0 $69.95 direct DIGITAL VIDEO $799 direct Final Cut Studio 2 $1,299 direct SightSpeed 6.0 Free E-MAIL Windows Live Hotmail (beta) Free Toshiba TDP-FF1AU $699 direct $2,299 direct ALL-IN-ONE WITH NETWORKING DIGITAL IMAGING Yahoo! Mail (beta) Free PORTABLE DESKTOP Canon imageClass MF 4150 CONTACT MANAGERS & PIMS AnyTime Organizer Deluxe 10.0 $29.95 direct VIDEOCONFERENCING Canon Realis X600 Lenovo ThinkPad X60 ALL-IN-ONE GPS DEVICES Garmin nüvi 680 $999.99 list Adobe Premiere Pro CS3 Toshiba 200GB USB 2.0 External Hard Drive $230 direct PRINTERS HEADSETS Aliph Jawbone $119.99 list PROFESSIONAL EDITING VISTA INTERNET TELEPHONY GE DECT 6.0 Wireless Handset for Skype $149 list $299.99 list SUPERZOOM PEN SCANNER STORAGE Sierra Wireless AirCard 875U D-SLR HIGH-END ALL-PURPOSE FLATBED Canon CanoScan 9950F $99.99 direct ULTRACOMPACT $700 street SCANNERS Sierra Wireless AirCard 595 AT&T DIGITAL CAMERAS $4,708 direct Lenovo ThinkPad T60p Motorola RAZR V3xx $49.99 list $500 street Canon DR-2580C $875 street BUSINESS AT&T Canon Pixma Pro9000 Alienware Area-51 m9750 $1,949 direct LG VX3450 $29.99 list LCD HDTV GAMING ULTRAPORTABLE VOICE PHONES Sharp LC-32D40U $1,599.99 list $1,259 direct BUDGET AT&T, T-MOBILE HDTVS FEATURE PHONES FINANCIAL QuickBooks Simple Start 2007 $99.95 direct OFFICE SUITES Microsoft Ofﬁce 2007 $149 direct 2 Motorola RAZR V9m SECURITY $249.99 list WEB-BASED ANTISPAM OnlyMyEmail Personal 2 Motorola RAZR V9m $3 direct $299.99 list ANTI SPYWARE T-MOBILE TV Panda Anti-Rootkit Free Spy Sweeper 5.5 with Antivirus $39.95 direct Samsung SCH-U620 $149.99 list FIREWALL SMARTPHONES Comodo Personal Firewall 2.0 Free SPRINT NONSIGNATURE ANTI-MALWARE Motorola RIZR Z3 $99.99 list BlackBerry 8830 $199.99 list BlackBerry 8830 $199.99 list Norton Antibot $29.99 direct Primary Response SafeConnect 2.1 $29.95 direct HELIO PARENTAL CONTROL Helio Ocean $295 list Safe Eyes 5.0 $49.95 direct AT&T, T-MOBILE (KEYBOARD) SUITE Nokia E61i $484.95 list Norton Internet Security 2008 $69.99 direct VERIZON WIRELESS Where’s Your Point N? From Your Linksys N Router. Into the breeze. 3 feet from the pool. To Point N. Point N is the place you never thought a wireless router could reach. It’s sharing photos beside the pool. Watching videos on the veranda. Sending emails from the second floor bedroom. There are thousands of places you can connect from, but only one way to get there… Linksys Wireless-N Ultra Range routers. Find out where N will take you. www.linksys.com WRT150N Linksys is a registered trademark or trademark of Cisco Systems, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and certain other countries. Maximum performance derived from IEEE Standard 802.11 specifications. Actual performance can vary, including lower wireless network capacity, data throughput rate, range and coverage. Performance depends on many factors, conditions and variables, including distance from the access point, volume of network traffic, building materials and construction, operating system used, mix of wireless products used, interference and other adverse conditions. Copyright © 2007 Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved. 25 YEARS OF PC MAGAZINE 2002 INNOVATORS Colin Angle Our future robot overlords owe their evolution to Rosie on The Jetsons. Colin Angle knows she set a stellar example. From the day iRobot began, the cofounder and CEO was constantly asked, “When are you going to clean my ﬂoors?” For years, Angle and his team—including cofounder and CTO Rodney Brooks, Panasonic Professor of Robotics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology—learned a lot about cleaning. But their bots never made it to market. Costs were too high. It wasn’t until they broke the magical sub-$200 barrier in mid-2002—and ﬁnally garnered deals with catalog retailers—that the Roomba hit America’s ﬂoors. The Roomba was the ﬁrst truly useful consumer robot—sorry, Sony AIBO—and is the most successful yet. Two million have been sold. The new iRobot vacuums are even more versatile: some clean a workshop, others scrub a kitchen ﬂoor. Angle says iRobot’s secret is doing everything possible to make a product better. His staff “accelerates the destruction of Roomba, so we can see it fail—and improve it.” RIDING A WIRELESS WAVE When did phones stop being phones and become . . . computers? We dove into wireless data headﬁrst in May with a Wireless Super Guide, examining e-mail devices, call-forwarding services, PDA modems, and the promising Stinger phone platform. It didn’t create the “wireless ecosystem” Microsoft envisioned, but mobile phones became our most personal computers anyway. PC Mag even hired an analyst (hello, Sascha Segan) just to keep track of it all. PRODUCT FLASHBACK Creative Labs Sound Blaster Audigy Platinum eX $250 l l l l l Requires Intel Pentium 266 MHz, 64MB RAM, Windows 98SE or higher PROS External break-out box adds more ports than anyone should need. CONS Pricey, complex setup, takes up two PCI slots. BOTTOM LINE Creative Labs has topped itself once again. “For three years, the Creative Labs PCI audio cards dominated the market. The company ups the ante with its new Audigy series . . . [it] makes a huge difference in the quality of your PC sound output, and it is in your best interest to take full advantage of it.”—Rich Brown, January 15, 2002 What product had you wating in line? Send your memories of hot technology to pcmag@ziffdavis. com with “PC Mag Anniversary” in the subject line. 56 PC MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 6, 2007 READERS RESPOND When Windows Was Loved I got to Egghead Software in Altamonte Springs, Florida, around 6 p.m [on August 23, 1995]. They opened up at midnight to sell Windows 95. By 11 p.m. the crowd was really large. People had come in from all over central Florida. The most unusual group had desktop computers in their van. They planned to install it all night long during their trip back to the University of Florida. I took the next day off to install the new Windows OS myself.—James L. Cioccio, Kansas City, Missouri Advertisement Discover a Mathematical World of Startling Beauty and Insight when you experience The Joy of Thinking: The Beauty and Power of Classical Mathematical Ideas—in 24 fascinating and provocative lectures on DVD L No Special Knowledge Required! The Joy of Thinking requires no specialized or advanced knowledge of math, and is as appropriate for high school students as for adults. Designed for those already fascinated with math and eager to learn more, and those merely curious about the subject, the lectures feature two of the most entertaining and honored teachers in mathematics today: Professor Edward B. 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Order before January 4, 2008, to receive these savings. 7. 9. 10. 11. 12. A fractal 13. 14. About The Teaching Company We review hundreds of top-rated professors from America’s best colleges and universities each year. From this extraordinary group we choose only those rated highest by panels of our customers. Fewer than 10% of these world-class scholar-teachers are selected to make The Great Courses. We’ve been doing this since 1990, producing more than 3,000 hours of material in modern and ancient history, philosophy, literature, fine arts, the sciences, and mathematics for intelligent, engaged, adult lifelong learners. If a course is ever less than completely satisfying, you may exchange it for another, or we will refund your money promptly. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. The Hidden Beauty of the Golden Rectangle The Pythagorean Theorem and Geometry of Ellipses Not-so-Platonic Relationships in Platonic Solids Hunting for a Sixth Platonic Solid Is There a Fourth Dimension? Can We See It? 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Please send me a free copy of your current catalog (no purchase necessary). Special offer is available online at www.TEACH12.com/4pcm Offer Good Through: January 4, 2008 JOHN C. DVORAK My Top Ten Bright Ideas When you follow the computer scene the way I do, you begin to develop a list of complaints and ideas for fixing them. Here’s my latest Top Ten list. 1. Sun-Apple Merger This has been under discussion since 1985 or so, with no action taken. I have personally never seen two companies that suit each other to a T as these two do. It would tribalism—but they are no longer valid. Linus Torvalds could make this happen overnight. 4. Motherboard Standardization Why do we need so many motherboard variations? How many different x86 boards do we need in the world? I know there are rationalizations for this, since every new glue chip that hits the market What about Intel building a fabrication plant in Macon, Georgia, instead of China? I understand all the bogus arguments from the outsourcing perspective. “Bogus” is the operative word. round out the line of machines perfectly and put Sun out of its misery. At one point in the late 1990s, Sun would have been the big dog in the deal, putting Apple out of its misery. Now it is the other way around. 2. Microsoft Split As anyone who has read my columns over the years knows, I’m a big promoter of a Microsoft split. Whether it is into two, three, or four entities, I do not care. All I know is that the Microsoft shareholders and the company itself would beneﬁt from a breakup. Only the egos of the executives keep it from happening. 3. Uniﬁcation of Linux More than anything else, the industry needs a unification of the Linux operating system, with one purveyor that can control the details of the operating system in such a way that you do not have all these confusing distros (see Inside Track, opposite). The current ﬂavor of the day is Ubuntu. In a year or two, it’ll be another distro. Years ago there were good reasons for this internecine battling—a form of 58 PC MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 6, 2007 improves things a little. But this is a bigger mess than Linux distros. 5. Make Dead Products Public Domain It’s ridiculous how much superb computer code and how many cool products and inventions get shelved and die. Sometimes one company buys another and then decides to stop marketing the acquired product because it is not making enough money. Users are left in the lurch. There should be a proviso in the copyright and patent laws about abandoned properties. They should become public domain. I’ve been harping on this for years. 6. AMD-Intel Merger I’m sick of watching these two companies bicker. Enough said. 7. Universal Ink Cartridges Why does a single printer company have a line of, say, 30 different printers that use 20 different kinds of ink cartridges? I could as easily complain about the price of ink (another peeve of mine), but that said, what is the point of all these different cartridges? What’s weird about it is that every company in the world constantly moans and groans about having too many SKUs. Meanwhile, this situation continues unabated. We’re not talking about unique cartridge mechanisms here; they’re mostly just little tanks ﬁlled with ink. 8. Standard Cell Batteries Digital cameras should use standard cells so people could buy batteries in situations where they cannot recharge. This change would also get camera manufacturers back into the business of making cameras rather than making weird, overpriced proprietary batteries for profit. Companies have to ﬁgure out if they are in the camera business or the battery business. 9. Stop Outsourcing Everything This issue has died down in the news lately, but the problem is worse than ever. Intel is dropping $2.5 billion into a fabrication plant in China. Money is ﬂowing into India in much the same way—by the billions. What about building a fab in Macon, Georgia, instead? And, yes, I understand all the bogus arguments from the outsourcing perspective. “Bogus” is the operative word. 10. Get Rid of DRM There is more money being lost in digital rights management schemes than any savings from thwarting piracy. I’m not convinced that piracy prevention is necessarily that good an idea when the evidence continues to indicate that a more open market for file sharing results in increased sales. But everyone in Hollywood sees that seeming contradiction as a mere coincidence. Honestly, I could pull together similar lists of complaints week after week. This is it—for now. DVORAK LIVE ON THE WEB John’s Internet TV show airs every Wednesday at 3:30 EST on CrankyGeeks.com—and you can download back episodes whenever you like. Dvorak’s InsideTrack Another Bad Idea Bites the Dust Dept.: Palm wised up and killed that Foleo micro laptop project. No one wants this form factor. It began with the Gateway Handbook, deteriorated into the Toshiba Libretto, then mutated into the OQO after a few other exercises in futility. The Palm decision supposedly happened because Apple’s iPhone has challenged the smartphone category, and Palm now wants to concentrate on smartphones. Everyone wants to, despite the rather small market. Microsoft even says it would seriously consider developing a Zune phone. I hope Microsoft calls it the PhoZune. Get the URL now! Numerous Zune fanboy sites (yes, they exist) have been trying to guess at the name. Some ideas: the Z-phone, the Pune, the Zell Phone, Telezune, MicroPhone (get it?), Zobile, Zone, etc. Another guess from me—and a likely candidate considering the way things are going for Microsoft—the Microsoft Zune Mobile Phone. The company must be galled by the attention being paid to Apple, considering that Microsoft has been in the business for some time. In the meantime, I got one of the rare (in the U.S.) Neonode N2 smartphones from Sweden. It plays movies, shows photos, takes pictures, uses a touch screen, and does much of what the iPhone does, in a package the size of a pager. It hooks to a computer and becomes a thumb drive so you can easily download WAV and MP3 files to use as ringtones. Why can’t you do that with the iPhone? I’ll eventually post an elaborate review on www.dvorak.org/blog. Never-Ending Stats Dept.: A site called W3Counter (www .w3counter.com) tallied 33 million visits at over 5,000 Web sites to develop some interesting stats people should know. The most interesting by far is that very few people have jumped on the Windows Vista bandwagon. (Duh!) The market share for operating systems is still led by Windows XP, at 83.5 percent, followed by Windows 2000, with 3.9 percent. The Mac OS comes in third, with 3.7 percent, followed by Vista, with 3.5 percent. Linux as a desktop OS is still moribund, at 1.3 percent, the same as the laggards such as Windows 98. This does not bode well for Linux on the desktop. There needs to be a rigid Linux standard or reference platform. Too many people have too much gear that simply doesn’t work with Linux; either no drivers exist or the gear is just incompatible. People do not want to put together an elaborate system only to ﬁnd that their printer doesn’t work or that their system doesn’t recognize the hard drive. Some sort of seal of approval list that covers the top 10 Linux distros and what works with them should reside in one place. Right now this information is scattered. It needs to be sensibly consolidated in one site with someone handing out “Approved” stickers. Of course, the likelihood of this happening is zilch, since there are too many anarchists in the Linux community. Not that that’s a bad thing. Two other things in the survey worth noting: First, IE 6/7 has 66.2 percent of the market. Remarkable when you consider that, at one time, Microsoft had nearly 100 percent. And Opera is very low at 0.6 percent. This doesn’t sound right, and it tells me that many of the smarter users take advantage of the Opera option of pretending to be IE. This is so downloads and other functions go smoothly at sites that refuse to accommodate non-Microsoft browsers. Opera should have 2 to 5 percent market share, if not more. All those estimates would further reduce the IE numbers. Most of the rest goes to Mozilla/Firefox. In addition to browsers, the survey covered screen size. 1,024-by-768 is the winner, at 49.5 percent. But only 8.3 percent of the users run a smaller (800-by-600) size. All the rest—over 42 percent—are bigger! So people should get off the old 640-by-480 bandwagon for Web sites. Digital Cameras Are Clicking Dept.: Many interesting machinations are taking place in the digital-camera arena, with pocket cameras moving to 12 megapixels. Kodak has two models selling for less than $249. All sorts of cool, subtle feature improvements are showing up on the new offerings, at a great low price. I am impressed with what Kodak is doing. This new 12MP CCD (charge-coupled device) sensor is the hot ticket. But Kodak and a few other companies are making noise about ﬁnally moving over to CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor). Nikon just showed its new D3 full-frame 35mm D-SLR, and just like the Kodak, it uses a big CMOS sensor. Its little brother, the D300, is also CMOS. So the change ﬁrst promised around 1997 is ﬁnally beginning. Ha! Will the E-Book Rise Again? Dept: The e-book and e-book reader have been nibbling at the collective unconscious for years. But the promise has not been fulﬁlled, as users have not warmed up to electronic reading devices. The Apple iPhone may change that, with its sharp image and page-flipping touch screen that adds needed tactility. Instead of iPhonecompatible e-books, though, expect more proprietary readers and new incompatible formats. That said, what happens if Apple decides to do an e-book reader? It will take off and leave everyone in disbelief. Is it a coincidence Apple took the iBook off the market but still has the name in waiting? After all, the company needs more content to sell online, doesn’t it? It’s just too logical to ignore. WANT MORE DVORAK? John writes a weekly column for our Web site, too. Log on to go.pcmag.com/dvorak. Or you can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. NOVEMBER 6, 2007 PC MAGAZINE 59 JIM LOUDERBACK My Tech-Support Rant Those T-Mobile support people are some of the nicest folks around. Too bad they’re so useless. Here’s my problem. I returned from Europe with a snazzy new Windows mobile phone available only on the Continent. No problem, as it works on AT&T or T-Mobile’s GSM network here in the States. I wanted to avoid AT&T’s iPhonesaturated network, which made T-Mobile the obvious choice. My wife’s already on T-Mobile with a Sidekick II, so the family plan saves me a few bucks. The bad news? Compared with the Sidekick, I’ll be paying 50 percent for free. But they’ll probably end up charging me double for all those service calls. Foleo, We Hardly Knew Ye I was crestfallen when I heard that Palm cancelled its $500 Foleo just before launch. Not because I had high hopes for this tweener device, a halﬂing wedged between notebooks and smartphones. Nope, I was eagerly looking forward to buying a bunch for $100 on Woot when they were finally discontinued. Palm did the smart thing, but why did it try to buck history? Back in the mid-1990s, It’s been weeks, and although my T-Mobile voice service works beautifully, nary an Internet bit has been delivered. My only hope is that I just might get voice service for free. more for unlimited Internet access on my smartphone. And I had to sign a one-year contract for the privilege of paying through the nose for that service. But that’s all beside the point, which was to rant about T-Mobile’s emasculated support. I already had a T-Mobile SIM card, so the company activated my phone in minutes. But in trying to add unlimited Internet service, I suffered through a steady progression of cheery reps, only to encounter this Catch-22: Despite the fact that I could make and receive calls, my SIM card number had been deactivated. “We’ll ﬁx it,” they each insisted, “within 24 to 48 hours. And I’ll call you if there’s a problem.” T-Mobile reps, apparently, live no longer than fruit flies. Every two-day period came and went with no calls and no Internet access. It’s been weeks, and although my voice service works beautifully, nary an Internet bit has been delivered. My only hope is that I just might get voice service 60 PC MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 6, 2007 HP had high hopes for its Omnibook. Alas, with anemic storage, poor graphics, and Microsoft Ofﬁce and Windows in ROM, it failed to catch on. A few years later, Windows CE devices with full keyboards and 8inch screens debuted but suffered the cruel death of a thousand compromises. And don’t get me started on Magic Cap. Some companies never learn. Microsoft, Samsung, and others have recently been pushing their $1,000 Origami/UltraMobile PC tablet computers that run a baby version of Windows. Woot and Origami will shortly meet. At least Palm tried to get a reasonable $500 price. But the Foleo was still a halﬂing, neither ﬁsh nor fowl, neither a full-featured notebook nor a pocket-size smartphone. Why launch a third device class that has to be synchronized, supported, and serviced? Hats off to Palm for realizing that the Foleo’s portability and battery life just weren’t compelling enough to justify the price. My only question is why the company entertained the notion in the ﬁrst place. Beware Social Networks Bearing Gifts Finally, a cautionary tale about the changing nature of spam. One of my coworkers, a savvy Web professional we’ll call Rube, unwittingly fell prey to an Internet scam. He received an invitation from a new social network, called Quechup, which sounded promising. After filling out the requisite personal information, the software asked to check his contacts, to see if any of his friends were already members. Rube proffered his Gmail username and password, and then the unscrupulous program took him to the cleaners. Without asking or telling, it stripped his contacts out of Gmail, and then sent e-mails to every one of them, inviting them to join Quechup and spoofing Rube’s e-mail address to make it look as if he’d personally penned the message. That’s wrong in so many ways. First, Rube never should have given this program—no matter how trustworthy it seemed—his Gmail username and password. But that minor error is dwarfed by the outrageous and possibly criminal audacity of Quechup’s snarfing his personal contacts and then spamming them as if Rube had personally authorized the messages. I know, because I received an invite from Rube and went through the same process, using a fake e-mail account to monitor its behavior. Quechup is the worst sort of malware masquerading as a legitimate program. It just goes to show you that even seemingly legitimate Web businesses can’t be trusted. So if you get a message from a friend inviting you to join something, be aware. It just might be a scam. Rube won’t let it happen again. And don’t you fall for it either. KEEP IN TOUCH Contact Jim Louderback at Jim_Louderback@ziffdavis.com. For more columns: go.pcmag.com/louderback. DAN COSTA My Space Is Not Your Space On campuses everywhere, Facebook is bigger than binge drinking. That is a good thing, but the company’s recent decision to extend beyond colleges presents graduates with a problem potentially even more destructive than underage drinking: overage Facebooking. Facebook’s beauty was the community of like-minded users to which it catered. Now, the company has decided to expand its focus and invite users of all ages to join the fray. Bad idea. Facebook is killing the originality of its community. If Facebook wants to use its technology to help people who aren’t college students network, it should rebrand itself or even launch a separate site. Perhaps to TheBig- MySpace (teens/young adults, 14 to 30 years old) MySpace is the gateway social-networking service—there is nothing wrong with passing through it, but make sure you get to the other side. It’s garish, loud, and inﬁnitely customizable. Almost everybody I know, of every age, has a MySpace page. Officially, you have to be 14 years old to sign up, but my stepson signed up when he was 11 and simply claimed to be 100 years old. If you are older than 30, it is time to move on. Leave the page up as a testament to your youth, but it is time to put away childish things. There are two exceptions to this rule. First, if you are a musician, a MySpace Facebook decided to expand its focus and invite users of all ages to join the fray. Bad idea. The company is killing the originality of its community. Chill.com? Maybe give users the option of connecting across networks, the way The Knot does for wedding planners. Once married, they are dumped into The Nest. I am not trying to keep the 50something, married software engineer away from the 17-year old coed cheerleader majoring in Art History—although maybe I should be. I simply believe there is far more value for the people of the Facebook community if Facebook the company continues to focus on the college students who made it successful. Social-networking sites want as many people to sign up as possible, so they can make the most money before they sell to Google or Yahoo!. But that doesn’t mean you should join. My advice is to follow a few simple rules before you sign up for any old network. Bear in mind, these aren’t the companies’ stated rules—they are mine. They tend to break down by age range. 62 PC MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 6, 2007 page is job requirement. MySpace made its bones helping bands connect with fans, and it remains one of the best ways for bands to reach fans. I would also make an exception for political candidates, though I don’t really believe Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton are staying up late updating their Top 8s. These Potemkin pages may be a farce, but they’re still better than having kids get all their political information from South Park. Friendster (old Friendster users, 25 to 35) It isn’t that no one under 25 should have a Friendster page; it’s just that no one under 25 has one. The company claims to have more than 48 million members, but I bet most of those pages haven’t been updated in a long time. Industry reports claims page views are rising, but it seems to me Facebook and MySpace are stealing Friendster’s lunch—and eating it at the cool kids’ table. LinkedIn.com (professionals, 22 to 80) LinkedIn is designed for business networking and makes it pretty easy to connect to your peers and keep your professional history online. Just don’t try to use it for romance. This is a place to do business. eHarmony (straight singles, 35 to 60) After you put your single ways—or that first marriage—behind you, this is the place to go for romantic compatibility. Unfortunately, the site doesn’t offer any options for gay people. Founder Neil Clark Warren says it is because he hasn’t done enough research into same-sex relationships to provide accurate matches. Yahoo! and Match.com will gladly ﬁll in the gap. aSmallWorld (beautiful, rich, and powerful of any age) For the most exclusive social network, you can try to get into aSmallWorld. Whereas most networking services want to do everything to get you to sign up, aSmallWorld probably won’t let you pass the home page. To join you have to be invited by a trusted member. Once past the virtual velvet rope, you are presumably treated to pop-ups for high-end cognac and oceanfront real-estate in the Hamptons. I will report back as soon as my invite arrives. There is a community for everyone, every reason, and every season online. One giant, connected, indiscriminate network would look like, well, the Web. Sure, online social networking is all the rage, but you have to know your place. Just because you get an invite doesn’t mean you should accept it. Please network responsibly. VOICE YOUR OPINION Debate Dan on this topic at go.pcmag.com/costa. SASCHA SEGAN Less Anonymity, More Privacy We need less anonymity on the Internet. And we need more privacy. And the two should go together. The vast, lazy culture of message-board anonymity is a perfect example of “slacktivism”—an easy but false solution to the problem of our eroding right to true privacy, which will take real grit and courage to solve. Face it, all “anonymity” saves you from is accountability before your peers. It lets people release the worst in themselves through trolling and online fraud, and disconnects people from a reality where you’re held responsible for the stupid things you say. It dramatically lowers the post on message boards just to inflame passions, not to engage in genuine discussion. Wonder if they’d do that if their names were attached? And the plague of spam would certainly slow if rules requiring the authentication of e-mail senders came into force. Meanwhile, you may have a false anonymity, but you have no privacy—not from Google’s database of Web searches, private addresses, and phone numbers, nor from goverment agencies’ searches of your ISP’s records. False anonymity leads to a complacency where we forget that we don’t have privacy where it really counts— because we’re able to act like idiots in front “Anonymity” lets people release the worst in themselves through trolling and online fraud, and disconnects people from a reality where you’re held responsible for the stupid things you say. reliability of Internet communication, as people can lie without real consequence. It makes Internet-based activism a joke when any online petition can be signed by a thousand sock puppets. Internet users need to face up to the 21st-century truth: What’s online can’t be separated from “real life.” It’s all real. It’s just life. Losing the weak anonymity of handles and the false differentiation between “reality” and “cyberspace” would stamp out all sorts of worthless, childish behavior. Take the jerk who has a second wife on Second Life, to the dismay of wife #1. There is no “second life.” There’s only one life, bigamist. Even Second Life the company is starting to figure that out, demanding identity veriﬁcation to access some parts of the service. Or take the loser who IM’d me trying to impersonate a celebrity for no apparent reason. Or all the folks who of strangers who don’t matter. You may think you can pretend to be somebody else on the Internet, but the Department of Homeland Security doesn’t see the distinction between you and your cyber-self. Getting rid of the Internet’s lazy anonymity habits will actually aid the cause of privacy, because it’ll finally bring the issue of online privacy into the day-today world. Do you want to protect your message-board postings from prying eyes? Well, right now they can be probed by any law-enforcement tyro with a grudge. Without the imaginary shield of weak anonymity, people will have the incentive to rise up and demand some laws that would actually protect privacy—against our peers, our corporations, and our government. We can have a real societal debate over what information should be public and when people should be accountable. My vote: If I want something I write not to be indexed and not to be searchable, or if I want to delete something I wrote anywhere, I should be able to do so. With the duty of accountability should come the right to power over your own words. Real privacy would help the people who actually need to be anonymous on the Net: corporate whistle-blowers, teenagers seeking advice from Planned Parenthood, that sort of thing. Just as in the non-Net world, there are limited situations where people need to be anonymous. But we should start from a presumption that people should be honest about who they are unless they have a real need for anonymity. Those who truly require it, the few Deep Throats, are outnumbered by self-serving agenda-pushers, cowards who don’t live up to their words. Opinions worth having are worth putting your name to. Do you see people walking down the street in ski masks and wigs to hide their identities and calling themselves “xxLuvNKisses906xx?” I don’t, and I live in New York City. Or how about, let’s open a ghetto. If people want to flame each other with handles without a real reason for doing so, they can do so on a limited set of message boards, which will quickly devolve into sludge. Perhaps each purveyor of message boards can have one free-for-all forum allowing that sort of nonsense. On the rest of the Net, we’ll be grownups. My proposal here applies only to the U.S. and Canada. People who live under more oppressive regimes can post all the anonymous stuff they want; they have my blessing. But we, luckily, live in a place where the government and Web ﬁrms will respond to the people, if the people get angry enough. And if the people sign their own names. MORE SEGAN ONLINE Have a comment on Sascha’s latest PC Labs-tested and rated reviews of mobile gear at go.pcmag.com/ segan? Speak up, but use your real name. NOVEMBER 6, 2007 PC MAGAZINE 63 THE ULTIMATE PC BUYING GUIDE It’s that time of the year again, when PC manufacturers roll out their best and brightest systems for the holidays. If you’re planning on buying a new system to start the next year right, or want to surprise a loved one with a system of his or her dreams, you’ll find out what you need to know right here. We have sifted through the coolest, the fastest, and even the cheapest systems out there to bring you our picks for the best PCs to buy. Whether you’re looking for the ultimate gaming rig, the best family system, the cheapest desktop, or the coolest desktop-replacement laptop, we give you the must-have (and maybe the must-avoid) systems. So sit back, relax, and find your ultimate PC. By Joel Santo Domingo and Cisco Cheng INSIDE DESKTOPS Mainstream 66 | Business 67 | Budget 69 | Small-Form-Factor 69 | Gaming 70 | Media Centers 71 64 PC MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 6, 2007 Desktop Performance 73 | LAPTOPS Desktop-Replacement Laptops 75 | Tablet PCs 75 | Laptop Performance 76 NOVEMBER 6, 2007 PC MAGAZINE 65 Mainstream Desktops By Joel Santo Domingo • Dell Inspiron 531 (Blu-ray) Mainstream is a broad category. The newest mainstream systems we’ve seen cost as little as $1,200 or as much as $3,000. If you’re looking at a $500 PC, you’re trying to get the most bang for your buck while holding your purse strings tight. With a top-end PC, you’re looking for something more speciﬁc, such as gaming performance. A mainstream system falls somewhere in between. I tend to define mainstream desktops as those systems you want to buy because you need more features than you’d get with a simple $500 PC, or because your old PC is just too darn slow. Two of the systems we review are all-in-one PCs that combine the best parts of notebook computers with the larger screen and design presence of a desktop built into a LCD panel. Meanwhile, the towers are multimedia powerhouses, with the expansion space, hard drive space, and computing power you can’t ﬁnd in a notebook (yet). Apple iMac (20-inch, Aluminum) $1,649 direct llllh • HP Pavilion Media Center TV m8100y PC 66 PC MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 6, 2007 Apple’s latest iMac continues the design excellence that placed previous versions at the top of the all-in-one PC heap. Improvements include a new metal keyboard, a more ecofriendly aluminum-and-glass recyclable exterior, and updates to the excellent iLife 08 software suite. Aside from its lack of TV tuners of any kind (that’s what the iTunes store is for), the new iMac is the epitome of simple-to-use multimedia. The built-in webcam, the ability to suck virtually any digital media off your digital camera or Business Desktops Buying desktop PCs for your small business can be more efﬁcient than getting laptops for all your workers. They are usually less expensive, and they’re built on technologies that won’t go obsolete as quickly as mobile tech.—JSD • Apple iMac (20-inch, Aluminum) • Gateway DX440X camcorder, and the iLife suite with which to glom the resulting pictures, music, and videos together mean that you have an instant YouTube/Facebook/MySpace machine that takes just minutes to set up. To coin (steal) a phrase, this is the computer for the rest of us. the Dell Inspiron 531 (Blu-ray), it rips one out of the park with its larger hard drive, built-in TV tuner, enhanced graphics memory (though slower 3D graphics), a bay for a (proprietary) multimedia drive cartridge, and better overall performance. This is the one to get if you have about $1,200 to $1,500 to spend. It’s also a better bargain than the HP m8100y if you don’t need HD-quality movie playback or burning. Specs: 2.4-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7700 processor; 2GB, 667-MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 320GB, 7,200-rpm hard drive; 256MB ATI Radeon HD 2600 PRO graphics card; Mac OS X 10.4. Dell Inspiron 531 (Blu-ray) $1,129 direct; $1,409 with 20-inch LCD widescreen monitor l l l m m Dell’s Inspiron 531 (Blu-ray) is one of the two bargains in this category, coming in at under $1,200 without a monitor. Though it has more computing power than sub-$1,000 PCs do, it falls a step behind the competition. Its Blu-ray drive is read-only, but you can use it to watch HD-quality movies. Other pluses include Bluetooth, a USB multimedia keyboard, and the recommended “No Additional Software” option. Not a bad machine, but the Gateway DX440X is a better value. Specs: 2.6-GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core 5000+ processor; 2GB, 667-MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 320GB, 7,200-rpm hard drive; 256MB ATI Radeon HD 2600XT graphics card; Windows Vista Home Premium. Gateway DX440X $1,108 direct; $1,268 with 19-inch LCD widescreen monitor l l l h m The Gateway DX440X is the best choice here for the cash-strapped multimedia enthusiast. For about the same price as Specs: 2.4-GHz Core 2 Quad Q6600 processor; 2GB DDR2 SDRAM; 500GB, 7,200-rpm hard drive; 512MB nVidia GeForce 8500GT graphics card; Windows Vista Home Premium. • Dell Vostro 200 Dell Vostro 200 $899 direct (E-Value Code: OC brde2ph) lllhm Dell has introduced a small business desktop in the mold of the Inspiron consumer desktop. It’s a good choice for business that doesn’t have IT staffers. HP Compaq dx2300 $563 direct lllhm HP Pavilion Media Center TV m8100y PC $2,199 direct, $2,769 with 24-inch LCD widescreen monitor llllh This fully loaded HP desktop is the one with the most multimedia bells and whistles in the group. These include a dualcore processor, full-size removable hard drive bay, TV tuner, combo Blu-ray/HD DVD burner (read-and-write Blu-ray, CDs, and DVDs, read-only HD DVD), wireless keyboard, mouse, and a multitude of input and output ports. With the removable HP Personal Media Drives, storage is convenient and limitless, so your home videos and downloads have a place to stay when you’re not actively enjoying them. Performance was on a par with that of the Gateway DX440X, so go for the cheaper DX440X if you don’t need or want Blu-ray and HD DVD in one package. This is the one I would buy if I were a budding ﬁlmmaker. HP’s “budget” business desktop is just enough for the clerical worker in a medium-size business. It’s not a powerhouse, but you’re not paying your employees for ripping MP3s and working on YouTube videos, right? HP rp5700 $1,299 direct llllm HP’s “long life” PC will be available in its current conﬁguration for the next ﬁve years, whereas most business PCs top out at 18 months. This reduces administration headaches and IT costs. The system’s “green” features are an added bonus. Lenovo ThinkCentre M55e $1,259 direct llllm The ThinkCentre line is no stranger to the corporate worker. ThinkVantage utilities, including rescue and recovery enterprise-class components, and a good feature set make this smallform-factor PC a shoo-in for businesses of all sizes. NOVEMBER 6, 2007 PC MAGAZINE 67 • Sony VAIO VGC-LT19U Specs: 2.4-GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 processor; 2GB DDR2 SDRAM; 250GB, 7,200-rpm hard drive, 512MB nVidia GeForce 8500GT graphics card; Windows Vista Home Premium. Sony VAIO VGC-LT19U $2,900 direct l l l l m The VAIO VGC-LT19U is the PC to get if you want to hide it in plain sight, in your bedroom or front room perhaps. It can be mounted on a wall or positioned in a cabinet, and it looks just like an HDTV set if you hide the (wireless) mouse and keyboard. Too bad there’s a huge amount of bloatware, and the price of the fully loaded version is high. (A basic LT without tuners starts at $1,700.) An external CableCARD tuner, a built-in webcam, a glorious 22-inch widescreen, and an HD-movie-friendly Blu-ray burner are big pluses. Specs: 2.2-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500 processor; 2GB, 667-MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 500GB, 7,200-rpm hard drive; 256MB nVidia GeForce 8400M GT graphics card; Windows Vista Ultimate. • Velocity Micro Pro Magix SLI (dual-card) graphics, the Pro Magix yields the gaming and multimedia performance normally found in gaming rigs. It also features two hard drives, one at 500GB and 7,200 rpm and the other at 150GB and 10,000 rpm. Both utilitarian and a thing of beauty, the new case even looks mean. The ProMagix is for the speed freak or the well-heeled gaming fan who wants to play at an impressive number of frames per second but can’t stomach the thought of a $6K+ bill. Specs: 2.4-GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 processor (overclocked to 3.2 GHz); 2GB 800-MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 150GB, 10,000-rpm hard drive, and 500GB, 7,200-rpm hard drive; two 320MB EVGA nVidia GeForce 8800 GTS graphics cards (SLI); Windows Vista Home Premium. How We Rate Desktops The Design category takes into account aesthetics (which is admittedly subjective) and also covers how well design elements function within a PC. We’re looking for systems that use design intelligently to make the product better. Usability rates the functionality of some design elements (for instance, how much sense the placement of the card reader may make in ergonomic terms), but it also takes into account elements such as bloatware (or lack thereof), environmental concerns such as noise, and expandability and upgrades. The Features rating looks at components: hard drives, card readers, TV tuners, and the like. We also considered system memory, the amount of hard drive space, and optical drive(s). Performance is pretty self-explanatory. The rating is based on the system’s benchmark-test results. The Overall rating takes all the other ratings into consideration, along with intangibles such as value for the dollar. MAINSTREAM SCORECARD DESIGN USABILITY FEATURES PERFORMANCE OVERALL Apple iMac (20-inch, Aluminum) lllll lllll llllm lllmm lll l h Velocity Micro ProMagix Dell Inspiron 531 (Blu-ray) lllmm lllhm llllm lllmm lll m m $2,926 direct; $3,295 with 22-inch LCD widescreen monitor Gateway DX440X lllmm lllmm llllm llllm lll h m l l l h m HP Pavilion m8100y lllhm lllhm lllll llllm lll l h Performance and more performance: That’s what the ProMagix gets you. With an overclocked quad-core processor and Sony VAIO VGC-LT19U llllh lllll llllh lllmm lll l m Velocity Micro ProMagix lllhm lllhm llllh lllll lll h m 68 PC MAGAZINE NOVEMER 6, 2007 The best possible rating is 5. RED denotes Editors' Choice. Small-FormFactor Desktops Like cell phones and the cars on the road, desktop PCs are shrinking in size as never before. The combination of laptop processors, integrated components, and decent-size hard drives means that these little wonders can do most, if not all, of the tasks that your old tower PC could do—and more.—JSD • Compaq Presario SR5130NX Budget Desktops By Joel Santo Domingo Six years ago, we stated that you weren’t really getting such a bargain if you paid only $500 for a PC, but that’s changed. These days, you can buy a system with 1GB or 2GB of RAM, a speedy dual-core processor, and over 160GB of drive space for less than $500. These specs make these systems more than capable of running Windows Vista, collecting your digital photos and music, and helping you enjoy them in the comfort of your home-office chair. The sweet spot for Windows Vista is 2GB because it gives the operating system some breathing room if you’re the type who keeps a lot of windows open at the same time. Look for at least that much memory in your next PC. If you’ve gotten steamed staring at the hourglass while waiting for your PC to do something, you know what I mean. The following PCs have what it takes to manage your digital life while giving you a portal to the Web, all without emptying your wallet. Acer Aspire T180 $379 direct Specs: 2.4-GHz AMD Athlon 64 3800+ processor; 1GB, 667-MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 160GB, 7,200-rpm hard drive; 256MB integrated nVidia GeForce 6100 graphics; Windows Vista Home Basic. Compaq Presario SR5130NX $480 direct lllmm The Compaq Presario SR5130NX is a cheap PC for the growing media enthusiast. It’s glossy black with silver highlights and comes with Vista Home Premium, an AMD Athlon 64 X2 dual-core 3800+ processor, and a DVD burner that lets you burn labels onto LightScribe discs. Performance was good, albeit middle-of-the-pack. Drawbacks include a short Norton Internet Security subscription (60 days) and a lot of bloatware. Still, there’s a lot to like here for the majority of users. Specs: 2-GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ processor; 1GB, 667-MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 200GB, 7,200-rpm hard drive; 128MB integrated nVidia GeForce 6150SE graphics; Windows Vista Home Premium. l l h m m The Acer Aspire T180 is hobbled by its single-core Athlon processor. It placed last on our multimedia tests, so I can recommend it only for light use and Web browsing. Still, on the plus side, it comes with 90 days of Norton AntiVirus, and it’s bloatware-free. It also has the most internal tool-less expansion space. The Aspire is one of the more stylish value PCs, and it is the least expensive desktop in our lineup. That said, the other choices here are a lot more computer for not a lot more money. • enano e2 model ex7400u Acer Aspire L310 $849 direct lllhm The Acer Aspire L310 is a really small PC, and its design is as attractive as that of the Apple Mac mini. This is a terriﬁc Windows-based alternative to the mini, and it comes with hardly any bloatware. Apple Mac mini $874 direct lllmm The Apple Mac mini is a success story in the small-form-factor arena. It has a minimalist design, with a capable processor and wireless networking (including 802.11n and Bluetooth). You probably won’t miss its limited expandability if saving space is your aim. enano e2 model ex7400u $1,825 direct llhmm Though the ex7400u model I reviewed is a bit overpriced, enano’s core product (and lower-priced conﬁgurations) is sound. It’s a small PC with power and multimedia capabilities. It also has a green “hook”: energy efﬁciency, Energy Star certiﬁcation, and fewer hazardous materials used in its construction. HP Slimline Pavilion S3020n $580 direct llllm • Dell Inspiron 531s There may soon be a new version in this series, but it should be as capable as the S3020n. The Slimline trades a little space (it’s bigger than the other smallsize systems here) for a lot of capability (desktop-class hard drives and the HP Pocket Media Drive bay). NOVEMBER 6, 2007 PC MAGAZINE 69 • Systemax Venture E21 Gaming Desktops • Acer Aspire T180 By Joel Santo Domingo Dell Inspiron 531s $499 direct (E-value code: DDPMGX1) l l l l m The slim, stylish Inspiron 531s uses a small-form-factor chassis to save desk space. The 531s’s pluses include good-to-great performance numbers for a value PC, thanks to its ATI Radeon HD 2400 discrete graphics card. The 531s also has 2GB of memory, one of only two value PCs that we feature here to do so. Dell now gives you a “No Additional Software” option to avoid bloatware. About the only nits to pick are the choice of Vista Home Basic, the short (30-day) McAfee freetrial subscription, and the lack of a DVD burner. Otherwise, the 531s represents the best overall value here. Specs: 2.1-GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2 4000+ processor; 2GB, 667-MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 160GB, 7,200-rpm hard drive; 256MB ATI Radeon HD 2400 graphics card; Vista Home Basic. eMachines T5234 $499 direct l l l h m The eMachines T5234’s performance numbers are almost a mirror of the sim- ilarly equipped Compaq’s. It has the advantage of a longer (90-day) McAfee Internet security suite subscription. The amount of bloatware is a downside. Media enthusiasts and general users will like this Vista Home Premium–equipped budget desktop. Specs: 2.1-GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2 4000+ processor; 1GB 667-MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 320GB, 7,200-rpm SATA hard drive; 128MB integrated nVidia GeForce 6150SE graphics; Windows Vista Home Premium. Systemax Venture E21 $499 direct lllhm The Venture E21’s drab case holds the heart of a lion, with an Intel Core 2 Duo CPU and 2GB of system memory. It aced the photo-editing test and also placed ﬁrst on our Windows Media test. Another plus is a year’s subscription to CA eTrust Anti-Virus. Though the system is otherwise lackluster, you can’t argue with its performance numbers. Specs: 1.8-GHz Pentium E2160 processor; 2GB, 533-MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 250GB, 7,200-rpm hard drive; 224MB integrated Intel GMA950 graphics; Windows Vista Home Premium. BUDGET SCORECARD DESIGN USABILITY FEATURES PERFORMANCE OVERALL Acer Aspire T180 l l l m m l l l m m l l h m m llmmm llhmm Compaq Presario SR5130NX l l l m m l l l m m l l l m m lllmm lllmm Dell Inspiron 531s l l l h m l l l h m l l l l m lllhm llllm eMachines T5234 l l l m m l l l m m l l l h m lllmm lllhm Systemax Venture E21 l l h m m l l l m m l l l l m lllhm lllhm The best possible rating is 5. RED denotes Editors' Choice. 70 PC MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 6, 2007 The ultimate gaming PC used to be solely about benchmark numbers. Now, nearly all the system builders overclock, and since they get their components from the same sources (Intel, AMD, ATI, nVidia), it is no wonder that these systems rack up similar benchmark scores. All seven of this year’s competitors use the same quadcore overclockable processor: the Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6850. The differences are in the features and execution. The HP Blackbird 002’s efﬁciency, cooling, performance, serviceability, and good looks raise the bar way above the competition’s reach. New tech, like solid-state drives in the Falcon Northwest Mach V, increases the appeal of crazy-expensive systems. There are also a couple of Blu-ray and HD DVD drives in the mix. Gaming is not just about the benchmark drag races anymore; you have to make the system drool-worthy yet packed with useful extras. ABS Ultimate X Magnum $6,399 direct lllhm Though the ABS Ultimate X Magnum is water-cooled, it’s noisy. The din from the cooling fans drowns out all other sounds in the room. Good thing it does perform, with very-good-to-excellent scores all around in multimedia and 3D. The ABS proves it can play with the big boys and is worthy of consideration. Specs: 3.0-GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6850 (overclocked to 3.33 GHz); 4GB DDR3 SDRAM; four 150GB, 10,000-rpm SATA hard drives (RAID 0); one 750GB, 7,200-rpm SATA hard drive; two 1GB ATI Radeon HD 2900XT graphics cards (CrossFire); Windows Vista Ultimate. Media Centers Not long ago, a Media Center was any system running Windows Media Center Edition. When Microsoft built MCE into the Vista Premium and Ultimate versions, the stakes got higher. Digital Cable Tuner and copious storage rule the day now.—JSD • Dell XPS 720 H2C • HP TouchSmart IQ770 PC HP Pavilion a6130n $750 direct llllm The a6130n has expandable disk storage through the innovative HP Pocket Media Bay drive. It has integrated graphics, so it lacks 3D chops, but it’s powerful enough to handle all your digital life. HP TouchSmart IQ770 PC $1,800 direct llllm The TouchSmart succeeds where previous all-in-one PCs have tried and failed. It has a touch-screen interface that works. It could use a speed bump and an HD DVD drive, but this all-in-one is a perfect TV/DVR/family communications center/kitchen PC. Velocity Micro CineMagix Grand Theater $3,699 direct lllmm The Grand Theater does something that even a $5K+ gaming rig can’t: It replaces your TiVo, recording HDTV over cable, even the premium channels. It does all this while looking like a piece of stereo equipment, unlike the gaming PCs. • HP Blackbird 002 Dell XPS 720 H2C $7,756 direct; $8,955 w/27-inch widescreen l l l h m Dell’s latest gaming PC is still in the old XPS 700 case, but now it has a new, optional window to show off the thermoelectric cooler. The exterior design is still love-itor-hate-it, but the internals—including a 1TB hard drive and 4GB of memory—are sound. This is the performance gaming system for those who can handle Dell’s quirky take on upgrades: Components such as the power supply, motherboard, and sound card are often Dell-speciﬁc. Specs: 3-GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6850 (overclocked to 3.67 GHz); 4GB, 1,066-MHz DDR2 SDRAM; two 160GB 10,000-rpm SATA hard drives ( RAID 0); one 1TB 7,200-rpm hard drive, two 768MB nVidia GeForce 8800 Ultra graphics cards (SLI); Windows Vista Ultimate. Velocity Micro Vector GX Campus Edition 2007 $999 direct llllm It may have “Campus Edition” in its name, but this is a system for the budding director in your family. Its overclocked processor gives it the legs it needs to keep up with the latest Internet trends, including helping you express your creativity on the Web. NOVEMBER 6, 2007 PC MAGAZINE 71 • ABS Ultimate X Magnum • Falcon Northwest Mach V (8800 Ultra SLI) Falcon Northwest Mach V (8800 Ultra SLI) $10,995 direct l l l l m Falcon’s latest Mach V, now with two nVidia GeForce 800 Ultra graphics cards in an SLI configuration, is as much of a speed demon as the car that inspired its optional ($710) “BMW Montego Blue” paint job. It comes with an Intel Core 2 Duo Extreme QX6850 CPU overclocked to 3.9 GHz. This, along with the pair of nVidia GeForce 8800 Ultra graphics cards, helped it to beat the competition on several of our benchmark tests. Its solid-state hard drives boost the cost, but boot-up and program launches are near-instantaneous. This one is for the exotic technology fan for whom cost is really, really no object. Specs: 3-GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6850 (overclocked to 3.9 GHz); 4GB, 800-MHz DDR2 SDRAM; two 32GB solid-state drives (RAID 0); one 1TB, 7,200-rpm hard drive; two 768MB nVidia GeForce 8800 Ultra graphics cards (SLI ); Windows Vista Ultimate. HP Blackbird 002 $5,400 direct lllll The Blackbird comes from a huge system manufacturer, but its internals are from a so-called boutique builder. It has “Voodoo DNA,” which means that its parts have been handpicked by the overclocking experts from Voodoo PC. The Blackbird’s case is mostly a machined block of solid metal, with a good heft and feel. Its design sets it apart— it looks like nothing else in the world, inside GAMING SCORECARD and out. The system’s “foot” helps stand the system above the rest, literally as well as ﬁguratively, while providing increased airﬂow to the components inside. In addition to the CPU’s liquid cooling system, internal features include separate and innovative Voodoo-style wind tunnels that blow air over the graphics cards. Tool-less hard drive caddies enable easy upgrades. I love the Blackbird’s swinging chassis door that lets you into the case with one ﬁnger. The Blackbird is competitive, though not the fastest on the benchmark tests. Still, it’s a system well worth showing off. It’s the one I want. Specs: 3-GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6850 processor (overclocked to 3.67 GHz); 2GB, 1,066MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 160GB, 7,200-rpm hard drive; 320GB, 7,200-rpm SATA hard drive; two 1GB ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT graphics cards (CrossFire); Windows Vista Ultimate. Overdrive PC Core2.SLI DESIGN USABILITY FEATURES PERFORMANCE OVERALL ABS Ultimate X Magnum l l h m m l l h m m l l l l m llllh lllhm llllm Dell XPS 720 H2C l l l h m l l l l m l l l l h llllm lllhm Falcon Northwest Mach V (8800) l l l h m l l l l m l l l l l llllh llllm HP Blackbird 002 l l l l l l l l l h l l l l h llllm lllll Overdrive PC Core2.SLI l l l m m l l l m m l l l l h llllh llllm Polywell P3503 l l m m m l l m m m l l l l m lllhm llhmm Velocity Micro Gamer's Edge PCX l l l m m l l l l m l l l l m llllm llllm The Overdrive PC Core2.SLI, along with its stablemate, the Velocity Micro Gamers’ Edge PCX, is unique among these gaming rigs in that it is air-cooled yet overclocked for performance (the other systems went with sealed water or liquid cooling for their CPUs). This 4.0-GHz overclocked system won top scores on several of our gaming K The best possible rating is 5. RED denotes Editors' Choice. 72 PC MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 6, 2007 $7,190 direct Desktop Performance: What the Numbers Mean Whether they’re PCs under $500, mainstream systems, or obscenely monstrous gaming machines that cost as much as a car, the newest desktops share some common themes: dual- and quad-core processors, discrete dual graphics cards, and beefedup memory. Although the performance of the budget and mainstream systems was pretty much what we expected, things were a little more complicated with the gaming rigs. In the budget desktop category, it’s easy to see why the performance leaders are the Dell Inspiron 531s and the Systemax Venture E21. Both have dual-core processors and 2GB of RAM. The other systems came with 1GB of memory, which hurt their Adobe Photoshop scores. Notably, the Acer Aspire T180 we tested had a single-core Athlon 3800+, so though that system had the highest clock speed here, it was the worst performer. (Think of it as two slower people performing a shared task faster than one quick person.) The Venture E21 beat out the Inspiron 531s on Photoshop partly because of its Intel Pentium E2160 processor: Photoshop has Intel-based optimizations that make Intel CPUs a better choice for photo editing. With the mainstream systems, we saw that more horsepower means better performance. The Velocity Micro ProMagix, with its overclocked Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 processor (3.24 GHz, up from the stock 2.4 GHz) and two nVidia GeForce 8800 GTS graphics cards, ran away with wins across the gamut of benchmark tests. On 3DMark06, it scored 15,000 points when the others were all in the 2,400-to-4,700 range. The other systems MAINSTREAM AND BUDGET TESTS aren’t too shabby, though, if 3D gaming isn’t your main concern. The Gateway DX440X and HP Pavilion m8100y both use a stockclocked version of the Q6600 quad-core processor, and both have single GeForce 8500GT graphics cards. The DX440X and m8100y are excellent-performing multimedia systems. You just have to decide if the HP’s extra features—such as HD DVD/Bluray and the removable drive—are worth the extra expense. The two all-in-one PCs, the Apple iMac (20-inch, Aluminum) and the Sony VAIO VGC-LT19U, both use notebook-class components to help with power and heat issues, but both are still competitive. You don’t pay (too much) in performance for their sleek bodies, which is a vast improvement over notebook-componentbased desktops of the past (Compaq iPaq PC, anyone?). Things are less clear-cut on the high-end systems. Five out of our seven gaming PCs placed ﬁrst on at least one of the benchmark tests, including the various subsets in SYSmark 2007 Preview. It is perhaps notable that the Editors’ Choice HP Blackbird 002 did not place ﬁrst on any of those tests, though it was within a few percentage points of the winner or slower by only a couple of seconds on many of them. The 3D tests were dominated by systems running dual-card nVidia GeForce 8800 Ultra SLI graphics (speciﬁcally, the Overdrive PC Core 2.SLI and Falcon NW Mach V). The dual-card ATI Radeon HD 2900XT Crossﬁre graphics in the ABS Ultimate X Magnum and HP Blackbird 002 were smooth and stutter-free, but the 8800 Ultra SLI systems won the races. Interestingly, K 0:58 745 102 95 4,767 1:26 1:08 721 152 142 138 2,442 0:59 0:44 1,262 129 126 144 131 2,409 0:59 0:44 1,266 92 90 131 124 108 2,604 1:22 0:59 672 320MB nVidia GeForce 8800GTS (SLI) 179 195 217 187 194 15,338 0:47 0:37 1,749 AMD Athlon 64 3800+ (2.4 GHz) 256MB (integrated) nVidia GeForce 6100 48 36 56 77 52 217 2:45 5:21 5:21 Compaq Presario SR5130NX AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ (2.0 GHz) 128MB (integrated) nVidia GeForce 6150SE 55 45 53 84 58 247 1:48 4:37 4:37 Dell Inspiron 531s AMD Athlon 64 X2 4000+ (2.11 GHz) 256MB ATI Radeon HD 2400 76 52 82 86 73 1,222 1:44 2:14 2:14 eMachines T5234 AMD Athlon 64 X2 4000+ (2.1 GHz) 128MB (integrated) nVidia GeForce 6150SE 56 49 58 85 60 265 1:51 4:59 4:59 Systemax Venture E21 Intel Core 2 Duo E2160 (1.8 GHz) 224MB (integrated) Intel GMA 950 70 80 83 86 80 232 1:41 1:08 1:08 N/A N/A N/A Dell Inspiron 531 (Blu-ray) AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core 5000+ (2.6 GHz) 256MB ATI Radeon HD 2600XT 84 104 91 Gateway DX440X Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 (2.4 GHz) 512MB nVidia GeForce 8500GT 123 135 HP Pavilion m8100y Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 (2.4 GHz) 512MB nVidia GeForce 8500GT 127 Sony VAIO VGC-LT19U Intel Core 2 Duo T7500 (2.2 GHz) 256MB (Integrated) nVidia GeForce 8400M GT Velocity Micro ProMagix Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 (2.4 GHz @ 3.24 GHz) Acer Aspire T180 CINEBENCH 9.5 † 1:16 256MB ATI Radeon HD 2600 PRO min:sec 3,784 Intel Core 2 Duo T7700 (2.4 GHz) M Low scores are best. Bold type denotes ﬁ rst place. PHOTOSHOP CS2 ACTION SET N/A Apple iMac (20-inch, Aluminum) L High scores are best. 3DMARK06 min:sec N/A OFFICE PRODUCTIVITY Default GRAPHICS CHIPSET VIDEO CREATION 1,280 x 1,024 AA/AF* PROCESSOR ELECTRONIC LEARNING RESOLUTION WINDOWS MEDIA ENCODER MULTIMEDIA M OVERALL 3D L 3D MODELING SYSMARK 2007 PREVIEW L MAINSTREAM BUDGET RED denotes Editors' Choice. * Anti-aliasing/anisotropic ﬁltering. N/A—Not applicable: The product could not complete the test. †On Cinebench 9.5 high scores are best. NOVEMBER 6, 2007 PC MAGAZINE 73 GAMING TESTS into class-leading performance, and it allowed the ABS and Polywell systems to outperform PCs with higher-clocked processors. The gap isn’t huge—only a couple of seconds on a test that these machines ﬁnish in less than 30 seconds—but it is still signiﬁcant, since DDR3 is forward-looking technology. Mainstream systems and budget systems will take from 1 minute to as many as 5 minutes on the same Photoshop test. So we see that quad-core rules the game grid, along with dual-card graphics. But you can certainly get a system with multimedia performance in the mainstream $1,000-to-$2,000 space, and if you choose wisely, even in the $500 space. It’s all a matter of how much coin you want to trade for your time waiting for things to happen on your PC.—JSD 220 10,907 100 83 0:40 0:22 202 208 14,979 109 118 0:42 0:25 200 225 219 14,273 133 126 0:42 0:25 159 52 209 134 11,303 115 92 0:42 0:30 209 188 254 210 214 13,635 127 156 0:46 0:31 768MB nVidia GeForce 8800 Ultra N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 8,745 74 65 0:40 0:25 786MB nVidia GeForce 8800 GTX (SLI) 198 213 234 208 208 13,452 109 137 0:43 0:28 1GB ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT (CrossFire) 194 249 230 Dell XPS 720 H2C 3.0 GHz @ 3.67 GHz 768MB nVidia GeForce 8800 Ultra (SLI) 185 229 220 Falcon Northwest Mach V (8800 Ultra SLI) 3.0 GHz @ 3.9 GHz 768MB nVidia GeForce 8800 Ultra (SLI) 217 235 HP Blackbird 002 3.0 GHz @ 3.67 GHz 1GB ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT (CrossFire) 187 Overdrive PC Core2.SLI 3.0 GHz @ 4.0 GHz 768MB nVidia GeForce 8800 Ultra (SLI) Polywell P3503 3.0 GHz Velocity Micro Gamer's Edge 3.0 GHz @ 3.67 GHz * Anti-aliasing/anisotropic ﬁltering. N/A—Not applicable: The product could not complete the test. tests and was competitive on the others. I just wish its dozen-plus fans weren’t so loud. This is the one you want if you’re looking to win the benchmark drag races. Specs: 3-GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6850 processor (overclocked to 4 GHz); 2GB, 800-MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 150GB, 10,000-rpm SATA hard drive, 750GB, 7,200-rpm SATA hard drive; two 768MB nVidia GeForce 8800 Ultra graphics cards (SLI); Windows Vista Home Premium. Polywell P3503 $4,559 direct and it didn’t even ﬁnish the SYSmark 2007 Preview tests. It had problems, including crashes. The P3503’s so-so build quality didn’t help its overall score. While its price tag is low for a high-end gaming box, alas, in the high-tech gaming stratosphere, you get what you pay for. Specs: 3-GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6850 processor; 4GB, 1,600-MHz DDR3 SDRAM; two 74GB, 10,000-rpm SATA hard drives (RAID 0), two 500GB, 7,200-rpm SATA hard drives (RAID 0); 768MB nVidia GeForce 8800 Ultra graphics card; Windows Vista Ultimate. l l h m m The Polywell P3503 is the one system here that runs the Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6850 CPU at its normal 3.0-GHz clock speed. Although it came in ﬁrst on the Windows Encoder test (finishing in 40 seconds), it was last on many of our benchmark tests, 74 PC MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 6, 2007 PHOTOSHOP CS2 ACTION SET WINDOWS MEDIA ENCODER 209 3.0 GHz @ 3.33 GHz COMPANY OF HEROES min:sec 0X/0X OFFICE PRODUCTIVITY 2,560 x 1,600 High VIDEO CREATION 2,560 x 1,600 0X/8X ELECTRONIC LEARNING OVERALL PREY 2,560 x 1,600 ABS Ultimate X Magnum RED denotes Editors' Choice. 3DMARK06 MULTIMEDIA M AA/AF* GRAPHICS CHIPSET M Low scores are best. Bold type denotes ﬁ rst place. GAMING (FPS) L RESOLUTION INTEL CORE 2 EXTREME QX6850 PROCESSOR L High scores are best. 3D L 3D MODELING SYSMARK 2007 PREVIEW L min:sec the Polywell P3503, the lone system with only one nVidia GeForce 8800 Ultra card, still returned smooth, stutter-free results at 2,560-by-1,600 resolution on both Prey and Company of Heroes gaming tests. This is the raison d’etre for gaming PCs: You pay major bank for smooth game play, even with all the eye candy turned on. Another new technology we saw was DDR3 SDSRAM. The ABS Ultimate X Magnum and the Polywell P3503 are the ﬁrst systems we’ve tested that have it. Both were the fastest or among the fastest on the memory-intensive Windows Media Encoder and Photoshop tests. Theoretically, DDR3-1,600 MHz has a peak transfer rate of 12.8 gigabytes per second versus 6.4 GBps for DDR2-800 MHz. This extra bandwidth translates Velocity Micro Gamers’ Edge PCX $5,126 direct llllm The Gamers’ Edge capitalizes on the bang-for-the-buck quotient. It’s not the fastest here, though it comes close on several benchmark tests. It’s not the prettiest, though it is attractive, with a full complement of internal lights to show off the neat wiring inside. It’s not the best equipped, but it is loaded. It offers two DVD burners, 10 USB 2.0 ports, and Creative Labs’ X-Fi Extreme Gamer’s card and 5.1 surround speakers. And its price is among the more manageable (that is, for the $5K+ club). The Velocity Micro Gamers’ Edge PCX makes its case as a highperforming gaming desktop with great value for the money. Specs: 3-GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6850 processor (overclocked to 3.67 GHz); 2GB, 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 150GB, 10,000-rpm SATA hard drive, 750GB, 7,200-rpm SATA hard drive; two 768MB nVidia GeForce 8800 GTX graphics cards (SLI) conﬁguration; Windows Vista Home Premium. Get eWEEK— SPECIAL OFFER FOR PC MAGAZINE DIGITAL READERS FREE! Only eWEEK provides news, analysis and real world reviews to help senior IT decision-makers reach the right decisions in building their enterprise infrastructure. TO APPLY FOR YOUR FREE SUBSCRIPTION CLICK HERE Get eWEEK— SPECIAL OFFER FOR PC MAGAZINE DIGITAL READERS FREE! Only eWEEK provides news, analysis and real world reviews to help senior IT decision-makers reach the right decisions in building their enterprise infrastructure. TO APPLY FOR YOUR FREE SUBSCRIPTION CLICK HERE Tablet PCs The concept behind a convertible tablet PC is simple. Flip it open and it looks and functions like a regular laptop. Rotate the laptop screen 180 degrees, however, and suddenly you can apply the digital pen to the screen as you would pen to paper. The trick is to ﬁnd the best combination of power and features. And we, as always, are here to help.—CC DesktopReplacement Laptops • Acer Aspire 5920G By Cisco Cheng Despite its name, the desktop-replacement laptop has evolved into something more than just a portable version of a desktop. Thanks to shrinking components, you can now find a 17-inch widescreen desktop replacement that’s under 8 pounds. The heavier ones will pack in more power, multiple drives, more storage capacity, and cool media features. Most offer options for either a Blu-ray or an HD DVD drive. They’ll feature high-resolution screens, as well as integrated webcams, wireless remotes, and cellular modems. Thinner bodies, fancier metals, cool finishes, and LED effects are just some of the things being done to heighten their appeal. All of these extras come at a cost, so be prepared to spend at least $2,000 on one of these. Acer Aspire 5920G rock. Inside you’ll find a pretty 15.4-inch widescreen and a built-in HD DVD-ROM, running off the latest Intel components and powerful nVidia graphics. Specs: 2-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300 processor; 2GB DDR2 SDRAM; 200GB, 5,400-rpm hard drive; 256MB nVidia GeForce 8600M GT graphics card; 15.4-inch 1,280-by-800 screen; Windows Vista Home Ultimate. Apple MacBook Pro 17-inch (Intel Core 2 Duo T7700) $3,799 direct llllm The MacBook Pro has added to its fabulous 1-inch-thick body and 17 inches’ worth of widescreen goodness a whole new set of Intel components, faster graphics, and bigger hard drives. With all that, it retains its claim to fame as the thinnest and lightest 17-inch laptop on the market. $1,999 list l l l l m Acer calls its new Aspire a Gemstone, and we agree: It’s a gem. The cover is edged with a piano-black ﬁnish reminiscent of a shiny Specs: 2.4-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7700 processor; 3GB DDR2 SDRAM; 160GB, 7,200-rpm hard drive; 512MB nVidia GeForce 8600M GT graphics card; 17-inch, 1,920-by-1,200 screen; Mac OS 10.4.9. • Gateway M285-E Fujitsu LifeBook T4210 Tablet PC $2,349 direct llllm This full-featured convertible tablet integrates a DVD burner and standardvoltage processing parts. The built-in security features and the lightweight chassis make it a great choice for professionals on the move. Gateway M285-E $1,843 direct lllhm The M285-E is one of the few convertible tablets that give you enough screen real estate (14 inches) and powerful discrete graphics to take your 3D drawings to another level. Lenovo ThinkPad X60 Tablet $2,299 direct llllh What’s not to love about this sturdy convertible tablet? Along with its magnesium-alloy housing, the superior keyboard, great battery life, and ubiquitous wireless options are a boon for tablet lovers. Toshiba Portégé R400-S4931 $2,599 direct llllm • Sony VAIO VGN-AR590E • HP Pavilion dv9500t The R400 is super-lightweight and sports a sexy, white piano ﬁnish. We also love the fact that it has a Verizon EV-DO modem built into its 3.7-pound frame. NOVEMBER 6, 2007 PC MAGAZINE 75 Laptop Performance: What the Numbers Mean LAPTOP TESTS as graphics-heavy software. Thanks to SLI graphics and a super processor, the Dell M1730 reigns supreme in the gaming arena. The Gateway M-150X, the only laptop to use an ATI graphics chipset, didn’t fare as well as its counterparts with nVidia cards. The nVidia GeForce 8600M GT was the graphics card of choice among three of our desktop replacements, the Acer Aspire 5920G, the MacBook Pro 17-inch, and the Sony VAIO VGNAR590E. The MacBook Pro scored signiﬁcantly better than the Sony and Acer laptops on 3DMark06 at 1,024-by-768 resolution, most likely because processor and hard drive speeds come into play at low resolutions. The HP Pavilion dv9500t, with its lowergrade nVidia GeForce 8600M GS card, placed low on our 3D and gaming tests. (Because Toshiba uses a weaker integrated graphics chipset that couldn’t be expected to handle the gaming tests, we didn’t run them on the P205-S6237.) This story also introduces BAPCo’s latest battery metric: MobileMark 2007. Desktop-replacement laptops aren’t known for their long-lasting batteries. However, the HP Pavilion dv9500t and the Acer Aspire 5920G managed over 3 hours of battery life, thanks to a combination of 70+ Wh batteries and cooler-running components.—CC WINDOWS MEDIA ENCODER N/A N/A 3,048 35.4 17.6 1:29 1:07 131 115 2,829 25.1 13.3 1:20 1:07 162 147 138 6,016 50.7 28.1 1:08 0:43 79 127 114 106 1,350 22.3 11.7 1:28 1:11 111 84 106 118 104 1,970 20 9.7 1:25 1:17 1:47 102 93 125 110 107 2,613 23.5 8.6 1:32 0:59 2:10 53 59 52 83 61 N/A N/A N/A 2:07 2:04 ELECTRONIC LEARNING VIDEO CREATION OFFICE PRODUCTIVITY N/A N/A N/A Apple MacBook Pro 17-inch T7700 (2.4 GHz) nVidia GeForce 8600M GT 2:43 123 97 112 Dell XPS M1730 X7900 Extreme (2.8 GHz) nVidia GeForce 8700M GT 1:26 130 117 Gateway M-150X T7300 (2.0 GHz) ATI Mobility Radeon HD 2400XT 2:19 111 HP Pavilion dv9500t T7500 (2.2 GHz) nVidia GeForce 8600M GS 3:10 Sony VAIO VGNAR590E T7300 (2.0 GHz) nVidia GeForce 8600M GT Toshiba Satellite P205-S6237 T2080 (1.73 GHz) Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950 † High quality. Dell XPS M1730 Price: $4,024 direct l l l l h What do you get when you combine the fastest laptop parts with the most mind-blowing LED effects? You get the best gaming laptop known to man. The Dell XPS M1730 is a rare breed, integrating an Intel Core 2 Duo Extreme processor, an Ageia physics card, and some of the most masterfully crafted color-shifting lights available on a laptop. 76 PC MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 6, 2007 hr:min L 3:21 PHOTOSHOP CS2 ACTION SET 0X/4X min:sec OVERALL Native MOBILEMARK 2007 Native † 0X/4X Acer Aspire 5920G * Anti-aliasing/anisotropic ﬁltering. COMPANY OF HEROES Native nVidia GeForce 8600M GT RED denotes Editors' Choice. PREY 0X/4X T7300 (2.0 GHz) Bold type denotes ﬁ rst place. 3DMARK06 MULTIMEDIA M AA/AF* GRAPHICS CHIPSET M Low scores are best. GAMING (FPS) L RESOLUTION INTEL CORE 2 DUO PROCESSOR L High scores are best. 3D L 3D MODELING SYSMARK 2007 PREVIEW L min:sec It’s natural to expect desktop-like performance numbers from desktop replacement laptops, and these systems do not disappoint. With Intel dual-core CPUs and discrete graphics, we’re seeing performance that could have given some of last year’s desktops a run for their money. On SYSmark 2007 Preview tests, the Dell XPS 1730 stood out from the rest of the pack. This pricey gaming system, with a 2.8-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo X7900 Extreme CPU and an nVidia GeForce 8700M GT graphics card, had SYSmark Overall scores that were at least 20 percent faster than its closest competitor, the Apple MacBook Pro 17-inch (Core 2 Duo T7700). And because video-encoding tests rely heavily on the processor, it’s no surprise that the Dell XPS M1730 eclipsed the rest of the competition on the multimedia tests. With the exception of the Toshiba Satellite P205-S6237, every system in this lineup had at least 2GB of RAM, which plays a huge role in SYSmark and Photoshop scores. The MacBook Pro 17-inch deserves honorable mention for ﬁnishing second in our video-encoding tests with its 2.4-GHz T7700 processor. The discrete graphics cards, increasingly common in desktop replacement laptops, allow you to run popular 3D games, as well N/A—Not applicable: The product could not complete the test. This is a practical desktop replacement whose only downside is its high price. Specs: 2.8-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo X7900 Extreme processor; 2GB DDR2 SDRAM; 400GB, 7,200rpm hard drive; 256MB nVidia GeForce 8700M GT SLI graphics card; 17-inch, 1,920-by-1,200 screen; Windows Vista Home Premium. Gateway M-150X $1,926 direct lllhm Gateway has given its plain corporate designs a newfound sex appeal. The M-150X’s glossy black finish and laminated imprints are in step with the latest design trends. Gateway has also put highdeﬁnition technology in the spotlight by integrating an HD DVD-ROM, an HDMI port, and an option for a 1,920-by-1,200 resolution screen. Specs: 2-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300 processor; 2GB, DDR2 SDRAM; 100GB, 7,200-rpm hard drive; 128MB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 2400XT graphics card; 15.4-inch, 1,280-by-800 screen; Windows Vista Home Premium. MORE ON THE WEB For the full reviews of all the systems here, point your browser to go.pcmag .com/ultimatepc • Dell XPS M1730 • Gateway M-150X HP Pavilion dv9500t Toshiba Satellite P205-S6237 $1,949 direct $999 direct l l l l h lllhm grated graphics. It may not run the fastest components, but it’ll handle basic and moderate workloads. The dv9500t is a tough act to follow when you factor in both features and price. It’s not often you’ll ﬁnd an HD DVD-ROM, a gorgeous 17inch widescreen, and dual hard drives for under $2,000. Looking at the dv9500t’s unique imprints and sleek black ﬁnish, you can see that HP’s effort to transform its laptops into stylish devices has paid off. Not long ago, 17-inch widescreen laptops came at a premium, but not so these days. Toshiba is serving up this 17-inch widescreen LCD for only $999. It comes with a 1.73-GHz dual-core processor and inte- Specs: 2.2-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500 processor; 2GB DDR2 SDRAM; 320GB, 5,400-rpm hard drive; 256MB nVidia GeForce 8600M GS graphics card; 17-inch, 1,440-by-900 screen; Windows Vista Home Premium. Sony VAIO VGN-AR590E $3,149 direct l l l h m It’s the best Blu-ray experience on a laptop. The sleek AR series is one of the bestlooking media centers in the industry. Sony isn’t shy about putting in the latest processors and multiple hard drives, though you might want to stay away from the CableCARD tuner option. Specs: 2-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300; 2GB DDR2 SDRAM; 320GB, 5,400-rpm hard drive; 256MB nVidia GeForce 8600M GT graphics card; 17-inch, 1,920-by-1,200 screen; Windows Vista Home Premium. Specs: 1.73-GHz Intel Core 2 T2080 processor; 1GB DDR2 SDRAM; 120GB, 5,400-rpm hard drive; 224MB Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950 graphics; 17-inch, 1440-by-900 screen; Windows Vista Home Premium. Q How We Rate Desktop Replacement Laptops The Design rating takes into account aesthetics (admittedly, a subjective assessment) and also covers how well design elements function within the laptop. We considered colors, the metals used, and the balance between the system’s weight and its thickness. Usability rates the placement and responsiveness of the keyboard, numeric keypad, touchpad, and mouse. The software load (whether bloated or perhaps anemic) is also factored in. How a laptop opens and closes and portability are additional considerations. Under Features, we look at storage capacity, the amount of USB ports, high-deﬁnition screens and drives, A/V accessories, and dedicated media keys. Performance rating is clear-cut: We look at benchmark-test results, processor speeds, RAM conﬁguration, graphics cards, hard drive speeds, and battery life. The Overall rating takes all the other ratings into consideration, along with intangibles such as value for the dollar. LAPTOP SCORECARD DESIGN USABILITY FEATURES PERFORMANCE OVERALL Acer Aspire 5920G llllm lllhm llllm llllm lll l m Apple MacBook Pro 17-inch llllh llllm lllhm llllh lll l m Dell XPS M1730 llllh llllm llllm lllll lll l h Gateway M-150X lllhm lllhm lllhm llllm lll h m HP Pavilion dv9500t llllh llllh llllm llllm lll l h Sony VAIO VGN-AR590E llllm lllmm llllm lllhm lll h m Toshiba Satellite P205-S6237 lllmm lllhm lllmm lllhm lll h m The best possible rating is 5. RED denotes Editors' Choice. NOVEMBER 6, 2007 PC MAGAZINE 77 T H E B E S T INSIDE 80 Info, Reference, & Search 83 News, Politics, & Government 85 Hardware News & Blogs 80 Health & Food 83 Reading 86 Software & Internet Blogs 81 84 Shopping, Classiﬁed, & Travel 86 Video 82 Money & Career 84 Download & DIY 87 Web Apps 82 Music 85 Gaming 88 Top 100 Classic Web Sites Lifestyle & Entertainment 78 PC MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 6, 2007 Illustration by Christoph Neiman of T H E W E B We put our heads together to come up with the ultimate list of undiscovered and classic sites to satisfy your appetite for the Web. By Kyle Monson Every year, we at PC Magazine excavate our browser bookmarks, poll coworkers and friends, dig deep into the World Wide Web, and put our heads together to come up with PC Magazine’s list of the Top 100 Undiscovered Web Sites that have grabbed our attention. You’ll ﬁnd a large collection of Web apps and tech sites, excellent blogs, offbeat social networks, and, as always, a few addictive Flash games for those slow days at work. Some sites are completely under the radar, while others are hugely popular within a speciﬁc demographic. But all deserve to be in your bookmarks. In the story’s second half you’ll ﬁnd our Top 100 Classic Sites—the established best-of-breed sites in their respective categories. Download both lists directly to your bookmarks from go.pcmag.com/topwebsites. NOVEMBER 6, 2007 PC MAGAZINE 79 Top 100 Undiscovered Sites Our picks for the top new or under-the-radar sites of 2007. You may not know many of these sites, but you should. Info, Reference, and Search AfterVote www.aftervote.com AfterVote is a search aggregator that combines results from Google, Yahoo!, and MSN. Each search results page shows you a particular page’s ranking on each search site, lets you vote for and rank each result, and offers quick bookmarking. It also offers goodies such as Firefox plug-ins, desktop searchers, Yahoo! widgets, and more.—Corinne Iozzio Footnote www.footnote.com For genealogists, history buffs, and even the average Web passerby, Footnote has a deal with the National Archives to digitize and upload every document it houses. You can ﬁnd anything from handwritten notes from the Continental Congress to Project Blue Book UFO sightings. Users can also upload their own content, so you may be able to find your own high-school yearbook.—Lisa Ruefenacht Hard to Find 800 Numbers www.hardtoﬁnd800numbers.com Waiting on hold for customer service or tech support is painful enough, so why do tech companies also have to make it so hard to find the toll-free 800 number to call? With Hard to Find 800 Numbers, you’ll never have to scramble for contact information again. The site organizes companies alphabetically and displays phone numbers and hours of operation. —Jennifer L. DeLeo Ninjawords www.ninjawords.com Sometimes you need to know the meaning of a word, and you need to know it twotenths of a second faster than any other dictionary site can get it to you. That’s why Ninjawords is there. Like a ninja, it’s smart, fast, and accurate. And fortunately, unlike a ninja, it is not deadly.—Whitney Reynolds Uncyclopedia www.uncyclopedia.org If the stress of worrying whether a Wikipedia article is factual and accurate is getting you down, take a break and check out Uncyclopedia; it promises to be contentfree. It’s easy to lose a few hours laughing at the nonsense presented with a straight face here. You could even “learn” a few “facts”; for instance, did you know that a shark, while atop an elephant, is considered the deadliest animal ever? If anyone questions you, just tell them you read it on the Internet.—WR Wikisky.org www.wikisky.org Much as Google has figured out how to harness user-submitted content to improve Google Earth, Wikisky.org turns the collective wiki-eye on the vast reaches of space. Check out the draggable space model with constellations highlighted, learn more about distant stars, or see a model of the stars that are above you right now.—Kyle Monson Wink www.wink.com Wink is a people-search engine that culls results from social-networking sites (MySpace, LinkedIn, Bebo, and more), followed by results from other sites where users keep public profiles, followed by results from the Web at large. You can craft your own Wink proﬁle if you want to shape what others see when they do a search on your name, or you can just hunt for longlost friends.—KM Health and Food Cork’d www.corkd.com If you have trouble keeping track of whether that Château Lafite in your cellar is a 1787 or a 1788, this site can help you get your corks in a row. If your taste tends more to the Two-Buck Chuck varietals, this site also offers user-generated reviews and recommendations for wines you might like based upon your tastes.—WR UNCYCLOPEDIA Lose a few hours laughing at nonsense presented with a straight face. 80 PC MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 6, 2007 ExtraTasty www.extratasty.com It used to be that a social network for booze hounds was called “a bar,” but apparently, there are also Web sites devoted to keeping track of your friends and your drinks. ExtraTasty lets you search for drink recipes, share drink recipes, and talk to friends about drink recipes. Get the picture? —Vicki B. Jacobson Lumosity www.lumosity.com It’s not the ﬁrst “brain-training” site we’ve ever encountered, but it may be the most scientiﬁc. On this site you can play games that have been lab-tested and shown to improve memory, attention, processing speed, and even cognitive control. If you decide you want the complete brain-training treatment, you’ll have to spend $9.95 a month or $79.95 a year.—Carol Mangis Menupages www.menupages.com The days of having to keep a messy stack of takeout menus or not knowing if a restaurant has a vegetarian option before you make the reservations are over. Menupages offers menus and reviews for thousands of restaurants in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, Washington, and South Florida.—WR Top Secret Recipes www.topsecretrecipes.com Bring the recipes of your favorite restaurants into your kitchen with Todd Wilbur’s Top Secret Recipes. Wilbur clones the secret recipes of popular restaurants, letting you work up your favorite menu items in the comfort of your own home. Also, check out “The Sleuth” for secrets and lore about food.—VBJ Who Is Sick? www.whoissick.org/sickness We all know that misery loves company. If you can’t manage to find company to share your illness, try turning to the Who Is Sick? database. This fun beta site maps out illnesses, showing you who’s got what (runny nose, cough, fever, headache, muscle ache, stomachache, or whatever ailment), and where. It’s a good little timewaster—and when you’re sick, it can be oddly comforting to know that others nearby are suffering, too.—Sean Carroll The World’s Healthiest Foods www.whfoods.com This is the site for anyone who’s read a quick blurb in a magazine or seen a health segment on the news and thought “cherries fight XYZ disease? Really?” The site provides info on how foods affect our health and can boost energy. You also get daily menus laying out three smart, nutrient-rich meals.—CI Lifestyle & Entertainment Dethroner www.dethroner.com Dethroner is the classy men’s magazine of the Web world. With themed content based on topics like beer, meat, and danger, and features such as “Testosterone Television,” a guide to the manliest sights on TV, this site has everything the modern man needs (or the modern woman, provided her interests are beer, meat, and danger).—WR EXPN www.expn.com EXPN is like ESPN but with an X for eXtreme—you know, for the kids. It covers the dangerous stuff in sports, such as skating, surfing, motocross, and the X Games. EXPN has great photos and videos of death-defying stunts, along with the typical (and safer) sports columns, feature stories, and podcasts.—KM FirstShowing.net www.ﬁrstshowing.net Many of us have no idea what goes into making a ﬁlm and what takes place behind the scenes. For those interested in peeking behind the curtain, this movie blog will keep you up to date on the hot gossip. (It’s also a great place to ﬁnd new teasers, trailers, and production stills.)—CI Going.com www.going.com Tired of your lame friends wanting to go to the same restaurant, watch the same movies, and play the same video games night after night? Going.com is just the ticket. Search hundreds of local events by location, popularity, and time. Then search for other Going.com members (currently over 123,000 active) who are headed to the same place. Going also hosts monthly parties for its members.—CI I Can Has Cheezburger? www.icanhascheezburger.com Cats are comical. You either get that or you don’t. If you do, this site will make you very, very happy. The site collects and posts pictures of kitties that are captioned using ungrammatical “lolspeak,” to (mostly) hilarious effect. Vote on the captioned pictures, awarding them 1 to 5 LUMOSITY Lab-tested games to help improve memory and attention. cheezburgers; leave comments; and vote on the comments, too.—CM iminlikewithyou www.iminlikewithyou.com This dating site twists the old formula of online meet-and-greet. You can’t just strike up a conversation. Rather, you must “bid” on a particular user. Users who are bid on get to choose someone from the top ﬁve bidders to interact with, and that’s how you collect friends. If you’re miserly, you’ll make no friends . . . but if you bid too generously you’ll run out of points to bid with. Earn more points by answering questions about yourself.—KM I Watch Stuff www.iwatchstuff.com Staffed by (gasp) trained journalists, I Watch Stuff has an air of actual credibility spliced into its snark-ﬁlled posts about ﬁlm news, trailers, and clips. That’s not to say they’re above snifﬁng out gay subtext in celebrity interviews or mocking Paula Abdul’s reality show—but that’s why we keep going back.—CI MeeVee www.meevee.com MeeVee is more than just your average TV listings. It also provides personalized recommendations on shows you might want to watch, based on shows or stars you already enjoy. You can also create channels based on your own interests; type in a keyword and you’ll get videos, news, gossip, and show listings based around it.—WR MyPunchbowl www.mypunchbowl.com Planning a party is a hassle, but invitations needn’t be an additional headache. Just jaunt over to MyPunchbowl. The simple NOVEMBER 6, 2007 PC MAGAZINE 81 depth interviews with both stars and upand-comers are must-reads.—Dan Evans BULLPOO An investors’ online community for swapping tips and making trades. interface makes creating your invitation fun, walking you through styles and images, offering suggestions, and even helping locate supplies. A message board is automatically created to let invited guests chat before the main event.—Jeremy A. Kaplan Skeptic www.skeptic.com Skeptic is a playground for those who face life with an incredulously raised eyebrow. Debunkers can find videos, articles, and podcasts that cast doubts on controversial subjects from UFOs to, uh, the existence of God.—WR Money and Career BullPoo www.bullpoo.com The scatologically named site is an online community where investors can swap tips (or stocks) and talk money. It includes builtin stock-ticker features, solid blog content, and virtual brokerages for conducting online trades. A leaderboard displays the net worth of the top ten users.—KM Indeed www.indeed.com Bored with your job? Search Indeed.com for something new. It checks job Web sites, newspapers, and company career pages by keyword and location to ﬁt your needs. Or browse jobs alphabetically by state, category, company, or job title. Save your searches and have them delivered to your inbox or via an RSS reader.—JLD Kiva www.kiva.org Put your cash to work helping those less 82 PC MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 6, 2007 fortunate with Kiva, a site that makes small loans to deserving entrepreneurs worldwide. You might choose to ﬁnance a boutique in Kenya ($200), help an Ecuadorian shopkeeper diversify into toys ($600), or fund the launch of a ﬁrewood business in Uganda ($350). You can lend as much or as little of the total as you like; Kiva takes care of tracking the loan and getting your money back.—SC Rentometer www.rentometer.com Rentometer compares your rent with the rest of your neighborhood. Just enter in your address and how much you pay—no personal information is saved—and the site will let you know if you’re paying more, less, or the average compared with users in your area. A Google Map shows logged rents, so you know which doors to knock on to score that rent-controlled place of your dreams.—WR Trulia www.trulia.com Whether you’re looking to upgrade, move, or flip undervalued property, Trulia has the sound real-estate advice and extensive home listings you need. It provides you with all the vital stats for your new neighborhood, including schools, local buying and selling trends, and purchasing advice from local real-estate agents.—CI Music AllHipHop.com www.allhiphop.com More than just record reviews and industry rumors, AllHipHop.com includes a large archive of editorial content. Its in- Amie Street www.amiestreet.com Amie Street applies the simple economic principle of supply and demand to music selling. New or not-as-popular tracks sell for less, and popular tracks sell for more. Tracks start off free and go up to $0.98 as they catch on. The site gives new bands a way to get their music heard, and listeners get a free way to check out new bands, so it’s a win/win!—KM Beethere.net www.beethere.net Going to live music shows can be a hassle, but finding good shows in your area doesn’t have to be part of the problem. BeeThere makes it possible to track your favorite artists and their tour dates in 800 cities, using your iTunes collection as a starting point.—Brian Heater Imeem www.imeem.com Imeem is a social-networking/musicdiscovery site that’s becoming one of the Web’s most popular destinations for the young. With an attractive design and partnerships with Warner Music, SnoCap, and Pitchfork, it’s sure to catch on with us old folks as well before too long.—BH Musicovery www.musicovery.com This free music player asks you to plot your mood on a spectrum and then creates a chart of songs to fit that mood. Narrow your results by genre, year, and whether the tunes are hits or not. It’s a great way to discover new music and find the perfect tunes to ﬁt your day.—KM SingShot www.singshot.com Why sing in the shower? The SingShot online community provides a way for crooners, belters, and the tone-deaf to strut their stuff. Record to karaoke tracks, rate others’ recordings, and enter your songs into member-initiated contests.—Gina Suk Slacker www.slacker.com This Internet radio service was a bit slow in getting online, but with a name like “Slacker,” what do you expect? It’s been run through the regular corporate filters and media machines? Take things into your own hands with Topix. It has local sections for thousands of towns and communities and includes news links, stories, and blog posts gathered and overseen by local editors. If your hometown doesn’t have its own section, start one yourself.—BH SLACKER Internet radio done right. worth the wait. The station browser and “heart,” skip, and ban options make creating or tweaking a custom station so effortless even a, um, slacker can do it.—CI News, Politics, and Government Guerrilla News Network www.guerrillanews.com Combine CNN with Wikipedia and you’ve got Guerrilla News Network. It’s an independent news organization that strives to bring global issues to the masses through wide-ranging articles, headlines, videos, and blogs. Articles are all written by GNN users or contributors. You can ﬁlter content on the site by country, keyword, and topic.—JLD MediaStorm www.mediastorm.org Photojournalist and technological innovator Brian Storm’s site is a mixture of multimedia stories that incorporates video, audio, photography, and personal essays. This beautifully crafted multimedia Web site is sponsored by WashingtonPost.com and welcomes online submissions. It’s great for browsing, too.—JLD Tech President www.techpresident.com There’s no denying the huge impact the Web will have on the 2008 presidential race. To respond to the political trend, the Presidential Democracy Forum started Tech President to keep tabs on campaign sites, YouTube postings, and how each candidate’s friend pool on social-networking sites is growing (or not).—CI Topix www.topix.net Tired of getting news only after it’s been Reading Act-I-Vate community.livejournal.com/ act_i_vate This LiveJournal-based collective offers “serialized graphic novels” by some of underground comics’ brightest stars, including Dean Haspiel, Nick Bertozzi, and Dan Goldman. The site is also the home of Kevin Colden’s award-winning serial, Fishtown.—BH copyblogger www.copyblogger.com A blog about online marketing? Look closer: Copyblogger is chock-full of excellent tips and practical advice for online writing and blogging.—KM Goodreads www.goodreads.com Goodreads combines the nosy fun of snooping through your friends’ bookshelves with the antisocial, shut-in joy of not actually having to go to their homes. The site not only lets you keep track of how many Danielle Steel novels you have, but also introduces you to other people with similar tastes.—WR Librivox, however, provides pod fodder for free. The site features a collection of public-domain books read by volunteers— and anyone can volunteer. Some narrators are better than others, but almost everything is at least decent. The collection (a bit more than 800 Project Gutenberg works so far) is a bit of a hodgepodge, with everything from Walt Whitman to Edgar Rice Burroughs.—SC The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs fakesteve.blogspot.com If you’re the type who gets excited by sexy gadgets, sleek OSs, and sultry photos of guys in black turtlenecks, then Fake Steve has the keynote address to your heart. The blog—there’s a Forbes editor in there somewhere—lends a uniquely Jobsian perspective to the insane media coverage of the Apple empire.—BH Verbotomy www.verbotomy.com Verbotomy gives you the power to create words from meanings with daily challenges: The site provides a definition, and you invent a verb (or Verboticism)—usually a mashup of others, such as “Flirtagonist.” Entries are judged based on spelling and whether anything similar already exists. You can also hear your word pronounced, courtesy of AT&T Sound Labs.—CI xkcd www.xkcd.com In the endless sea of mediocrity that is comics on the Web, there are occasional islands of hope, and one of them is xkcd. The drawings are simple stick ﬁgures, but the jokes Ironic Sans www.ironicsans.com No, it’s not a site full of fonts for hipsters. Ironic Sans is actually a sharp and clever blog. The site’s author, photographer David Friedman, is a font of great ideas and musings on design that he’s kind enough not to keep to himself. Highlights include the Google Maps Guide to Ghostbusters; the “60 Seconds in the Life of . . .” video series; and the Uncensor the Internet Firefox plugin.—WR Librivox www.librivox.org Audiobooks are ridiculously expensive: The latest Harry Potter title is $80 on CD. XKCD Fabulous comics for nerds. NOVEMBER 6, 2007 PC MAGAZINE 83 are a source of nerdy glee, from limericks about Slashdot to musings on the romance of the Fibonacci sequence.—WR Shopping, Classifieds, and Travel The Bargainist www.bargainist.com Everyone loves a bargain; that’s what makes The Bargainist so great. Updated several times a day, it scours the Web for the best bargains, coupons, and free offers, from garden supplies and beauty products to movies and computers. The Stores section reveals bargain links to over 50 retailers and online stores.—JLD Do My Stuff www.domystuff.com No time to pick up that dry cleaning or do some little project around the house? No problem. A quick post on DoMyStuff.com sends your chore into cyberspace where businesses and individuals place bids; the lowest bidder wins. There are even online escrow accounts to keep your payment safe until the task is done.—CI EuroCheapo www.eurocheapo.com Heading across the pond? Let EuroCheapo’s team of expert hotel reviewers show you how and where you can save a buck (or a euro). Search for the best rates by city, peruse photos of your options, and—if you don’t trust the site’s own reviewers—read user reviews.—KM Roadside America www.roadsideamerica.com Roadside America is your definitive resource for kooky, nichey, and downright bizarre landmarks, such as the “Ax Murder House” and the birthplace of Kool-Aid. Use this site to plan your next road trip and getting from here to there will be more interesting than your average game of “I Spy.”—BH TheThingsIWant.com www.thethingsiwant.com This ultimate service for creating shopping and wish lists lets you make sure your friends and family pick out the perfect gift for you. With the click of a button on your favorite shopping sites, items you’re interested in will be added to your lists, with images, prices, and commerce links.—GS Ugallery.com www.ugallery.com Ugallery.com helps college artists find recognition; it includes artists from more than 60 universities nationwide. They’re not all Picassos, but the site vets artists’ work before letting them in and claims to accept only 25 percent of applicants. It’s a pleasure to browse as well as an affordable way to get your hands on a beautiful piece of original art.—Christopher Ewen Wikitravel www.wikitravel.org We’ve seen a ton of travel sites, but for the sheer amount of information, not one touches the user-generated content of Wikitravel. Need to ﬁnd out how much to tip in Costa Rica or where the sweet surf spots are in Santa Cruz? Wikitravel is your one-stop destination.—BH Yapta www.yapta.com Simply enter in your flight information and the price you paid for your tickets, and Yapta will track the ticket price for your ﬂight(s) from that point on. If the fare drops before you leave on your trip, the site will let you know the price difference and how to claim a refund or vouchers from the airline.—KM Download and DIY afreeDLL afreedll.com Hunting for a missing DLL (DynamicLink Library)? AfreeDLL makes finding, downloading, and restoring DLLs a breeze, and all of the downloads are free. You can browse the site’s most popular files or search alphabetically, and the site includes explanations and helpful tutorials to walk you through the download and installation process.—KM DaFont www.dafont.com With almost 7,500 fonts uploaded by various users worldwide, DaFont has the coolest, freshest fonts you’d ever need. Simply browse for fonts either by the categories listed at the top of each page, or by searching for a speciﬁc font name. Most of these free fonts are compatible with both Macs and PCs.—LR UGALLERY.COM Get affordable, original art from students at universities nationwide. 84 PC MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 6, 2007 DZone www.dzone.com DZone is a developer’s dream and much more—a vast network of user-submitted links to message boards, news, coding tricks, and more. The DZone Snippets section is the “ultimate community source clipboard” for everything from Java to C++. If you’re looking for new tools or tips, a quick DZone scan will definitely put you on the right path.—CI Infected or Not www.infectedornot.com Panda’s Infected or Not service offers the excellent (and free) NanoScan tool to ascertain quickly whether there’s malware on your machine. It also tracks PC infections around the world. Get the data on both active and latent threats, and ﬁnd out what percentage of scanned PCs have gunk on them.—KM InviteShare www.inviteshare.com Don’t you hate when the coolest new Web services are by-invitation-only closed betas? If you aren’t on the invite list, InviteShare is your ticket in. The free service lets early beta users share their invites—and the more you share, the more likely you’ll receive the invites you crave.—CM MajorGeeks.com www.majorgeeks.com If your PC is behaving badly, MajorGeeks .com has a collection of free and paid apps and utilities for your PC that have been tested to recover, repair, protect, back up— the list goes on and on. Sort ﬁles by name, date, license, OS, or popularity.—JLD OldVersion.com www.oldversion.com Everyone’s encountered new versions of products that add unnecessary features. Or worse, a new version that’s simply incompatible with the other apps you need for daily use. Roll back to the good old days with OldVersion.com! Need QuickTime 2.0 or AIM 5.9? Chances are, if you want it, OldVersion’s got it.—JAK ProgrammableWeb www.programmableweb.com ProgrammableWeb keeps tabs on mashups and open APIs across the Web. When a service such as Google Maps or Flickr opens its API, ProgrammableWeb is one of the best resources for ﬁnding new extensions or building your own.—KM Website Grader www.websitegrader.com Submit your URL (and your competitors’ URLs) to Website Grader and it will give you some basic feedback on how your site is doing and in what areas it can improve. It’s a free way to get advice on optimizing your site for search engines, which can drastically boost your trafﬁc.—KM Gaming Armor Games www.armorgames.com Is the boss looking? No? Good, then you can have a ﬁne time at Armor Games, the home of countless free Flash-based games, all playable on the Web. This site has everything from classic card and puzzle games to more complicated adventure or strategy games.—WR K2xl www.k2xl.com Watch dots. Place cursor on dot. Click mouse. Watch chain reaction as dots explode. Repeat. Basically, this is all there is to Boomshine, one of K2xl’s highly addictive Flash games. It’s actually really hard to watch these beautifully colored dots dance across your screen and not become hooked on this simple and relaxing game.—VBJ Kongregate www.kongregate.com Kongregate is a flash-video game site driven by user-generated content. Aspiring game developers submit their work to have it played and debated among the site’s online community. Not every game is a hit, but games such as Desktop Defender and Castle Wars will hook you and leave you wondering what happened to all that free time you used to have.—DE LikeBetter www.likebetter.com This site presents you with two pictures, and you click on the one you like better. Repeat on a new pair of images. After you’ve made your personal preference known on enough pairs of photos, LikeBetter’s “brain” will know what kind of person you really are . . . and what kind of people you should befriend through its site.—WR Line Rider www.ofﬁcial-linerider.com There’s something oddly addictive about sending a fragile, scarf-clad man hurtling down a steep, crudely drawn slope on a sled. Line Rider is a simple online game that lets you draw any kind of sledding course for your character, who will then bravely sled it with no regard for his personal safety.—KM LIKEBETTER The “brain” knows you. Shacknews www.shacknews.com The monumentally massive Shacknews really is the new go-to spot for all your gaming news. On top of an oft-updated blog, there are Shack Reviews, a ShackCast, and a FileShack filled with downloadable demos, movies, and game mods. It also highlights the best and brightest comments right on the home page.—CI Hardware News and Blogs All Things Digital www.allthingsd.com All Things Digital is the online brand extension of the D: All Things Digital conference, which in turn is a brand extension of Walt Mossberg’s technology coverage for The Wall Street Journal. The site uses both text and video to dish on the hottest tech news, and industry experts and fresh voices contribute to the conversation. —KM Anything But iPod www.anythingbutipod.com Who wants to be a part of the Apple iPod’s 80 percent market share? Certainly not the bloggers and readers of Anything But iPod, which tracks the market for non-Apple audio hardware, software, and accessories. Whether you’re a fan of SanDisk players, Archos PMPs, or the Microsoft Zune, ABi’s got the news, rumors, and details.—KM Everything USB www.everythingusb.com Everything USB is a gadget blog dedicated to the one-wired-connection wonders that are USB computer peripherals. From keyboards to webcams and everything in between, the newest and coolest—not NOVEMBER 6, 2007 PC MAGAZINE 85 MakeUseOf.com www.makeuseof.com If you’re searching for in-depth, handson reviews of the latest Web apps, keep looking. MakeUseOf.com’s real strength lies in its quick but surprisingly comprehensive roundups of apps and sites in a given space. If you’re looking to discover the best iPhone apps, Firefox extensions, or accounting sites, MakeUseOf can point you in the right direction.—BH USTREAM.TV Stream your footage live as you record it, or watch video clips from others. to mention the weirdest—gizmos pass through here on their way to the market.—CI GoodCleanTech www.goodcleantech.com With this brand-new resource, brought to you by the editors and analysts of PC Magazine, consumers and techies should ﬁnd it much easier to be green. The site’s goal is to keep you apprised of all manner of environmentally conscientious technology in an illustrated, user-friendly format. —Maggie McVeigh iLounge www.ilounge.com Industry news, hands-on product reviews, tips, tricks, downloads—everything you wanted to know about the iPod (and now the iPhone, as well) can be found on iLounge, which is every bit as userfriendly as the MP3 player that gave it its name.—BH Phone Scoop www.phonescoop.com Phone Scoop is an online resource for mobile-phone users and enthusiasts, with an emphasis on news, reviews, and building a mobile-phone community. It continues to grow each year, with more in-depth coverage and videos. Don’t miss the site’s glossary to familiarize yourself with relevant technical terms such as CDMA and SIM.—JLD TechMeme www.techmeme.com We’re not exactly sure what kind of secret sauce Gabe Rivera uses to ﬁnd stories for his TechMeme news aggregator, but what we do know is that it brilliantly unearths 86 PC MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 6, 2007 the hottest news stories on the Web. It posts breaking tech news from around the Web and routinely beats sites such as Digg (as well as the major media) to the story.—KM Software and Internet Blogs AppScout www.appscout.com Our AppScout blog is a great place to ﬁnd software tips and tricks, cool or useful Web sites and applications, and the latest news from the world of Web technology. The blog is written mainly by PC Magazine editors and analysts, and we give readers exclusive access to our regular vendor meetings, trade shows, and interviews.—KM Download Squad www.downloadsquad.com Download Squad is basically Engadget for software and Web apps, and it’s owned by the same company, Weblogs Inc. The blog traffics in rumors and news announcements, posts frequently, and has fun content like “Today’s Time Waster”—ways for bored cubicle-dwellers to entertain themselves online.—KM eHub www.emilychang.com/go/ehub Somehow Emily Chang manages to get wind of every Web 2.0 app long before the rest of the blogging world does. Her synopses are short and sweet, which is just ﬁne, given the frequency of her page updates. eHub has been branching out recently, too, adding interviews, job listings, news, and events.—BH Mashable www.mashable.com Mashable, a blog devoted to covering MySpace, Facebook, and their ilk, reports on the exploding world of social-networking apps and features. It’s a top-notch news resource for Web 2.0 developers and even MySpace users who want to pimp their pages with the latest plug-ins.—KM Uncov www.uncov.com Uncov is kind of the bizarro equivalent of TechCrunch. It mercilessly reviews startups, harshes on everything Web 2.0, and passes along (or makes up) juicy Silicon Valley rumors. The blog posts are written by potty-mouthed software nerds who dig deep into Web apps, exposing the sloppy programming and faulty business models that so much of the Web is built on.—KM Video Dabble www.dabble.com Dabble.com aggregates video clips from major services such as YouTube, blip.tv, and Revver, along with smaller sites and video podcasters. The site lets you search all the video services at once and organize your favorite clips from them into custom playlists that you can share with the Dabble community.—KM PrezVid www.prezvid.com The pundits and talking heads have all proclaimed that much of the upcoming presidential election campaign will play out on the Internet—speciﬁcally, on YouTube. Jeff Jarvis is following the YouTube campaigns on his PrezVid blog, where he adds his own (written) commentary to YouTube clips of the candidates’ TV appearances, stump speeches, gaffes, and rallies.—KM ScienceHack www.sciencehack.com ScienceHack is a video-search engine dedicated to the world of science, including physics, green energy, and space. What sets it apart from the rest is that every indexed video is screened and approved by real scientists. You can search for a video by keyword or by selecting a tag.—JLD uLinkx www.ulinkx.com For serendipitous video searching, check out uLinkx, which ﬁnds the most popular videos from across the Web and makes aimless video browsing fun and easy. Warning: The “Most Popular” videos that uLinkx aggregates are often salacious (especially the ones from YouTube).—KM Ustream.tv www.ustream.tv Ustream.tv makes it easy to stream your footage live—as it’s being recorded. All you need is a webcam or video camera, a PC, and an Internet connection. There’s plenty to watch on Ustream, though obviously much of it is, shall we say, rough?—KM VideoJug www.videojug.com VideoJug touts itself as an “encyclopedia of everything,” but what sets it apart from other how-to sites is the way the information is presented: no long articles, just video. All the video content is written, reviewed, and produced by experts and professionals to ensure that the information and advice is factual and, to put it bluntly, won’t kill you.—CI Web Apps Bubbl.us www.bubbl.us This free Web application helps you organize your thoughts into easily readable and colorful mind maps to print and to share online. Bubbl.us lets you interact with your team to pool and sort out your thoughts in a clean, crisp way that leaves the usual conference-room mishmash and endless e-mail threads behind.—CI PICNIK Upload your photos, then crop, edit, add special effects, and share them. Eyejot www.eyejot.com Eyejot combines elements of e-mail, voice mail, and video chat into one free streamlined solution. The site lets you record a video message and e-mail a link to your friends, who can click on the link at their leisure, view your message, and reply via their own video messages.—KM MediaFire www.mediaﬁre.com Media Fire is a free ﬁle-sharing and storage service that lets users upload unlimited files and images. After the easy, registration-free ﬁle-upload process, you can access your data from any computer and post links to the ﬁles to share with family (and coworkers if you’re using the site for work-related purposes).—CI Meebo www.meebo.com Why bother installing software for all your instant-messaging accounts? Use your most important app—your Web browser— to log on to all of them at once. Sign up with Meebo to access AIM, GoogleTalk, MSN, and Yahoo! networks automatically, without a separate program.—Eric Grifﬁth Only2Clicks www.only2clicks.com Only2Clicks lets you set up a customized home page with instant access to the sites on which you spend the majority of your time, along with previews of what’s on their home pages. Yes, the Opera browser has this “speed-dial” feature built in, but Only2Clicks is a free and easy way to add this functionality to any browser.—KM Picnik www.picnik.com Upload a photo or import online photos from Flickr, Picasa, and others; then Picnik’s real-time online manipulation tools let you crop, sharpen, adjust exposure and color, and more. Add some effects, such as doodles or infrared (try the “gooify” feature for true wackiness), and then share them with your friends.—JAK Remember the Milk www.rememberthemilk.com Get organized with Remember the Milk, a handy online list-making app that makes your to-do list accessible from anywhere. Adding items to your list is as easy as sending an e-mail, and you can receive reminders via e-mail, IM, or text message.—KM Wetpaint www.wetpaint.com Wikis have revolutionized the way we consume information online, but for the most part, they’ve never really been dynamic in terms of aesthetics and creation. Wetpaint makes good-looking, easy-to-create wikis a reality, and since it’s a Web 2.0 site, you can bet dollars to donuts that it includes a social-networking component.—BH Zamzar www.zamzar.com Before Zamzar, you had to download a utility—or two or three—to convert file formats. But with Zamzar, you can convert anything—images, documents, and YouTube videos—and have it e-mailed back to you in four quick steps . . . without downloading a thing.—CI Zoho www.zoho.com Zoho has the typical stuff (word processor, spreadsheet, and presentations) along with some distinctive items such as the Zoho Creator database, a notebook, a Wiki, and a Web-based collaboration tool. Not all the modules are free (like the project manager and CRM tools), but all are exceptionally well done and kept fresh with new options and features.—EG NOVEMBER 6, 2007 PC MAGAZINE 87 Top 100 Classic Sites You’ll see a lot of familiar URLs on this list, and we hope there are also quite a few that you haven’t heard of before. These sites are best-of-breed in their respective categories. Info and Reference About.com www.about.com Thirty-four million monthly visitors head to About.com for guidance on subjects from careers to child-raising to technology.—JLD How Stuff Works www.howstuffworks.com Find out how everything really works when experts share their knowledge on any and all subjects.—CI Internet Archive www.archive.org The archive and its celebrated WayBack Machine are, at this very moment, dutifully cataloging the Internet.—KM The Library of Congress www.loc.gov Home to numerous reference materials, digitized collections, films—everything ever published in the country.—LR Merriam-Webster Online www.m-w.com Besides the regular old dictionary features, learn your mother tongue with fun stuff like the Word of the Day and crossword puzzles.—KM Nolo www.nolo.com Get legal documents, advice, and information for your business or family from this excellent online law resource center for non-lawyers.—KM NICKELODEON ONLINE Brimming with kid-centric news, forums, podcasts, and more. (“Who invented the smiley face?”) with a delicious combination of sarcasm and profanity.—CI certainly among the most eccentric, the resulting conglomerate is truly “A Directory of Wonderful Things.”—KM Urban Dictionary www.urbandictionary.com This user-generated online slang dictionary doesn’t just teach us creative new ways to swear; it can actually expand our common vernacular.—VBJ Epicurious www.epicurious.com The online home of Gourmet and Bon Appetit, Epicurious has the swank recipes you’d expect to ﬁnd here.—CI Wikipedia www.wikipedia.org Love it or hate it, you can’t ignore the poster child for the wisdom of crowds, now featuring 8 million articles written in 253 languages.—BH Lifestyle Snopes www.snopes.com An extensive index of urban legends, common fallacies, old wives’ tales, strange news stories, rumors, trashy gossip, and more.—CI Beliefnet www.beliefnet.com This Web community covers all faiths: Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, even Scientology and China’s Falun Gong. (Sorry, Jedis. Try StarWars.com.)—EG The Straight Dope www.straightdope.com Tackling the burning questions of the day Boing Boing www.boingboing.net Among the top blogs on the Web, and 88 PC MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 6, 2007 Food Network www.foodnetwork.com As if you can’t get enough Rachael Ray, get more—along with tons of extra recipes, entertaining tips, and 10-minute meal suggestions.—CI Nickelodeon Online www.nick.com The site captures the essence and draw that is Nickelodeon—it will suck your kids in for hours.—CI Money Bloomberg.com The go-to financial news service for the guys who manage your stock portfolio, and also for the Wall Street bigwigs who manage theirs.—KM Internal Revenue Service www.irs.gov The tax code doesn’t make things easy, but the Web site does, with all the forms you need, plus loads of tips on how to save on your taxes.—KM The Motley Fool www.fool.com The Motley Fool’s credo is “To Educate, Amuse, and Enrich”—and it means “enrich” literally.—KM Music, Movies, and TV allmusic www.allmusic.com An exhaustive resource for music chronologies, history, biographical information, and criticism, compiled by more than 900 writers.—BH The Internet Movie Database www.imdb.com The most complete movie guide ever, with movie news, ﬁlmmaker bios, and unbelievably detailed indexing of every film and TV show.—CI Netﬂix www.netﬂix.com The company that revolutionized the way videos are rented eight years ago must be doing something right, after one billion transactions.—BH Pitchfork www.PitchforkMedia.com This über-hip and impartially snarky site has eclipsed the Spins and Rolling Stones of the world for news and reviews of independent artists.—BH Television Without Pity www.televisionwithoutpity.com The staff of professional “recappers” gives you the full dirt on TV’s most popular shows, complete with quips that you can pass off as your own.—CI News CNN.com www.cnn.com Recently redesigned and as newsy as ever, PITCHFORK Fans can’t ignore this über-hip site for independent-music news and reviews. the cable news network’s Web site provides 24/7/365 coverage of the world.—EG Digg www.digg.com The premise: an online popularity contest. The contestants: everything on the Internet. Can you Digg it?—EG Fark.com www.fark.com Fark is not news. In fact, it wants to be synonymous with “not news.” The Farkers who submit the stories also provide witty commentary.—EG Gawker www.gawker.com The grande dame of celebrity blogs, Gawker has single-handedly made snark the most valuable blog commodity.—VBJ Onion can be enjoyed daily, hourly, or even (if your boss isn’t looking) by the minute.—Alex Ivey Slate www.slate.com The news site that excels at taking the leading stories of the day and reanalyzing them is consistently both excellent and engaging.—KM The Smoking Gun www.thesmokinggun.com Existing at the crossroads of First Amendment rights and gossip, The Smoking Gun specializes in incriminating evidence. Celebs beware.—BH Politics and Government Guardian Unlimited www.guardian.co.uk The Guardian is one of the most celebrated English-language newspapers for its journalistic transparency. The Web version is equally excellent, and free.—BH Electronic Frontier Foundation www.eff.org Regardless of whether you’re aware of it or not, the EFF is looking out for you, defending the civil rights of citizens as they pertain to technology.—BH NPR www.npr.org News coverage doesn’t get much better than NPR, which runs the gamut in terms of coverage, from serious to downright silly.—LR Fact Check www.factcheck.org The team at the Annenberg Political Fact Check does the verifying for you, translating political speak into plain English.—CI The New York Times www.nytimes.com As you’d expect from the number-one newspaper in America, the site is chockfull of video, photos, and traditional news articles.—LR The Onion www.theonion.com A perk of living in the Internet age: The The Hufﬁngton Post www.hufﬁngtonpost.com This political commentary site (known as the HuffPo) has become a news provider to be reckoned with.—EG opensecrets.org www.opensecrets.org Follow the money that floats politics on both sides of the aisle with help from the Center for Responsive Politics.—EG NOVEMBER 6, 2007 PC MAGAZINE 89 Shopping, Classifieds, and Travel WEBMD Internet doc for your ailments. PODCAST ALLEY The ’cast lover’s portal. USA.gov It’s the home page for the Land of the Free, offering governmental information and services.—JLD NASA www.nasa.gov The neatest stuff at NASA.gov is for kids and educators. There is great material about the earth, ocean, and space for all levels of students.—AI Reading and Listening Arts & Letters Daily www.artsandlettersdaily.com A clearinghouse for a dizzying number of articles on various subjects. What do they all have in common? Great writing. —Laarni Almendrala Ragaza McSweeney’s Internet Tendency www.mcsweeneys.net Until the hipster literati take over, McSweeney’s will have to be content with being the best spot online where the wellread can kill some time.—BH Podcast Alley www.podcastalley.com The “podcast lovers’ portal,” indeed. This alley is teeming with home-brewed programming.—EG Project Gutenberg www.gutenberg.org The foremost online source for publicdomain literature, with over 20,000 books available.—Lisa Ruefenacht Science and Nature Centers for Disease Control and Prevention www.cdc.gov Forget computer viruses and malware, there are plenty of human ailments and diseases to go around. The CDC tracks them all.—EG 90 PC MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 6, 2007 National Geographic Online www.nationalgeographic.com Millions of species, thousands of cultures, seven continents, one Earth: National Geographic Online is one site that delivers it all.—Yun-San Tsai ScienceDaily www.sciencedaily.com News and videos are updated every 15 minutes on topics such as health, space, and computers.—JLD Space.com Get the latest news and everything else cosmophiles could want for exploring the ﬁnal frontier from a PC.—Tony Hoffman WebMD www.webmd.com If a Web site could replace a real, live doctor, WebMD would be just about as close as you could come.—CI Search Amazon www.amazon.com Amazon isn’t content selling everything from DVDs to designer jeans. Check out Unbox for videos and even a new online grocery store.—CI The Consumerist www.consumerist.com Read cathartic rants about retailers, and learn to save money on purchases.—KM craigslist www.craigslist.org The world’s most popular online classiﬁeds site is the premier one-stop destination for rentals, jobs, secondhand goods, and, yep, casual encounters.—BH Dynamism.com Buy your share of Japanese PCs, phones, and wacky gadgets such as a duck-inspired USB ﬂash drive or robotic bird.—JLD eBay www.ebay.com The phrase online auction is synonymous with eBay.—BH Google Product Search www.google.com/products The former Froogle is a shopper’s dream come true—a centralized product search that shows you all the sites selling what you’re looking for.—LR Priceline www.priceline.com You can still Name Your Own Price to an extent, but these days the deal-making site also offers you preexisting deals.—EG Google www.google.com We poke fun at it, but this search engine is a fantastic tool that has revolutionized the way results are found and presented.—KM ThinkGeek www.thinkgeek.com This online store makes it easy to satisfy your geeky appetites for oddball gadgets. —JLD Technorati www.technorati.com Technorati’s core mission: to give you a quick snapshot of what’s happening in the blogosphere.—KM TripAdvisor www.tripadvisor.com Utilize user-to-user communication on what works and what doesn’t when you’re out and about.—EG Social Networking Facebook www.facebook.com This social network shares its premise with MySpace, but with less design ﬂexibility (thank goodness!) and more updates on your friends’ activities.—Chloe Albanesius LinkedIn www.linkedin.com LinkedIn is social networking for professionals. That means more résumés but no drunken party pics.—KM MySpace www.myspace.com The site that launched a million bathroommirror self-portraits continues to broaden its reach with features such as the video site MySpaceTV.—CA Sports ESPN www.espn.com Whatever your favorite league acronym— NBA, NFL, NHL, PGA, MLB, even NASCAR—ESPN covers it on TV and in even more detail online.—EG Yahoo! Fantasy Sports fantasysports.yahoo.com The best fantasy sports site on the Web, with an easy-to-use interface and some clever features and alerts.—KM Technology Dev and I.T. DevX www.devx.com This site is chock-full of great resources for software and Web developers of all stripes.—KM The Register www.theregister.com If your sense of humor runs along the lines of bits, bytes, and Monty Python, then The Reg may be just your thing.—LAR THINKGEEK Oddball gadgets and techy trinkets for sale. INSTRUCTABLES Instructions for DIY projects with pictures and videos. SourceForge.net www.sourceforge.net “The world’s largest open-source software development Web site”? With more than 150,000 registered projects, it’s not bluffing.—KM thing from tweaking your PC settings to organizing your home.—KM W3 Schools www.w3schools.com Find loads of free training tools and references for all levels of developers.—KM Download and D.I.Y. AVS Forum www.avsforum.com Home-theater buffs, audiophiles, and highdef junkies will feel right at home on these extensive forums.—BH DistroWatch.com www.distrowatch.com Keep pace with the many-headed hydra that is the open-source community.—KM ExtremeTech www.extremetech.com The site for people who build cutting-edge computers.—KM Instructables www.instructables.com There’s no DIY project too technical, artistic, or edible for Instructables. Each step comes with an annotated picture—occasionally a video.—EG Lifehacker www.lifehacker.com The preeminent DIY blog covers every- ProcessLibrary.com www.processlibrary.com Translates gibberish process names into familiar English and gives you a security rating and recommended action.—KM Version Tracker www.versiontracker.com Among the most popular resources to keep you on top of updates and patches.—CI Gaming 1up.com www.1up.com Serving up news on upcoming game titles, plus a huge selection of reviews, cheats, and spoiler-ﬁlled graphics.—EG IGN.com www.ign.com The site for gaming news and reviews extends to entertainment, with movie trailers and television-show recaps.—JLD Kotaku www.kotaku.com Gawker’s entry in the world of gaming blogs is everything it should be: tenacious, passionate, and full of rumors.—EG News and Blogs Akihabara News www.akihabaranews.com Based in Tokyo’s Akihabara District, this site gets the gadget-oriented scoops and NOVEMBER 6, 2007 PC MAGAZINE 91 stories that U.S. news outlets and blogs can’t.—KM Ars Technica www.arstechnica.com Propeller-heads, check out the thorough how-tos, commentary, and deep collection of helpful tech knowledge.—EG Engadget www.engadget.com The crown jewel of AOL’s Weblogs Inc., Engadget posts briefs (always with pretty pictures) on everything a true-blue or budding early adopter cares about.—EG Slashdot www.slashdot.org Before there was Digg, there was Slashdot, still the leading gathering place for hardcore nerds.—KM TechCrunch www.techcrunch.com Michael Arrington’s blog covers software and Web start-ups with inimitable passion, candor, and fervor.—KM Reviews CNET www.cnet.com There’s no denying it (though we wish we could): CNET is one of the premier technology destinations on the Web.—VBJ Digital Photography Review www.dpreview.com Get exhaustive coverage of the digitalcamera industry, with breaking news and detailed hands-on reviews of new cameras.—KM PCMag.com www.pcmag.com Is it cheeky of us to put ourselves on our own list? Perhaps, but we think it’s warranted. Online extras include our product guide, episodes of DL.TV and John Dvorak’s Cranky Geeks, PCMag Radio podcasts, our blogs like SecurityWatch and AppScout, and so much more.—KM Security and the Web BroadbandReports.com www.dslreports.com Fast Internet connections via cable, DSL, FTTH, and even VoIP services are all fair 92 PC MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 6, 2007 FLICKR Caper, senior writer Eric Grifﬁth’s dog, is ready for his closeup. game for reviews and ratings on this online community.—EG GetNetWise www.getnetwise.org An online learning center with all the info you need to keep your kids and yourself safe. Fight spam, upgrade PC security, and protect your privacy.—EG Gibson Research Corp. www.grc.com Steve Gibson fills his site with free tools and utilities (such as the legendary Shields UP!!), and information via his Security Now column/podcast.—JAK Internet Storm Center isc.sans.org A program that monitors the level of malicious activity on the Internet is this site’s heart, but visit daily for a diary of technical analysis about the data.—JAK Security Focus www.securityfocus.com Take a look at the vendor-neutral security information or read the BugTraq mailing list. It’s fascinating, informative, and really, really scary.—JAK Google Labs labs.google.com Google always has quirky and brilliant beta products in the pipeline. Check them out here.—KM Google Maps maps.google.com It’s the spinning globe you always wanted, only onscreen with infinite detail. There are new features added each year.—EG Last.fm www.last.fm This social Web radio site is perhaps the best free music-discovery engine around. Generate your own radio stations based on virtually any criteria.—BH Live Search Maps maps.live.com Street maps and satellite images are almost old hat. Live Search has bird’s-eye and 3D views that you can navigate like a flight simulation.—EG Web Apps Pandora www.pandora.com Pandora reimagined the way that we think about Internet radio. It utilizes a song’s traits to generate individual radio stations based on users’ favorites.—BH Flickr www.ﬂickr.com The user-generated photo site lets you document your life in photos for everyone to see, browse other users’ photos, and share pics with friends.—AI Yahoo! Mail (beta) mail.yahoo.com Stripped-down freemail might be all the rage, but Yahoo! goes in the opposite direction. The service acts like a fast, responsive desktop application.—KM Google Docs & Spreadsheets docs.google.com Whether or not it ever supplants Microsoft Ofﬁce, Google’s online ofﬁce software is handy, collaborative, and free.—KM YouTube www.youtube.com As therapy for the billions of bored people in the world, YouTube lets users upload and view video content for free.—LR Better Graphics On a Budget These six graphics cards feature low prices and decent performance. How do they compare with their higher-priced, enthusiast-level counterparts? And is it time for an upgrade? By Joel Durham Jr. Illustration by Sean McCabe INSIDE 96 98 99 101 Summary of Features Performance Tests How to Upgrade a Graphics Card ESD and Your Electronics NOVEMBER 6, 2007 PC MAGAZINE 95 XFX nVidia GeForce 8500 GT $85 street 256MB DDR2 memory, 128-bit interface lllmm PROS Great price. Outpaces ATI part at similar price point. Very quiet. Good Aero performance. CONS Weak performance, unless you’re willing to make your games ugly so they run faster. AMD ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT $130 street 512MB GDDR3 memory, 128-bit interface lllmm PROS Low wattage. Does a decent job on Aero. Excellent video quality. Terriﬁc for DirectX 9. CONS Insufﬁcient for DirectX 10 3D apps or games. Most people can’t tell a graphics card from an UNO card, and you’ll need one (a graphics card, that is) if you want to use Windows Vista to its full extent. Bear in mind that the vast majority of PCs in this country fit into one of two categories: those used for Web surfing, e-mail, and shopping online; and those used for business, ﬁnance, spreadsheets, and activities such as monitoring stock tickers. Neither scenario requires a vast amount of pixelpushing graphics power. So when ATI or nVidia releases a new chipset for cards that will cost upwards of $600, quite a few of us simply shake our heads and wonder if there’s a decent next-gen card for nongaming computers. The good news is that there are cards for the rest of us. Released with less fanfare than those enthusiast-level, crazy-priced cards, they are quietly available for far less money. They also pack less power for 3D applications like games—and Vista’s fancy, graphics-heavy Aero interface. Both AMD and nVidia manufacture higher- and lower-end versions of their latest chipsets. The $400 AMD ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT is the company’s top-of-the-line card, but you can buy cheaper 2600 and 2400 versions. And to complement its top-end K Summary of Features Memory The amount and type of memory that the card uses. To run Windows Vista Aero, 256MB of DDR2 SDRAM is plenty, but it might be a bit weak for gaming. GDDR3 SDRAM is faster and needs less power than other types of memory. (Discrete memory—located on the card—is faster than shared, which requires the card to talk to the computer’s main memory.) Memory interface The bandwidth between the card’s memory and its GPU, or graphics processing unit. A wider bandwidth usually means better performance. Stream processing units The number of special, multipurpose processing units available on the card. Stream processing units aren’t tied to graphical data but are used for various software functions. Die process Determines the size of the chip’s parts. Smaller parts require less power, which usually means less heat to dissipate and less fan noise to deal with. Core, shader, and memory clocks The different frequencies used by the various components of a card. Faster clocks allow more operations to be done in a shorter time. RATINGS TYPICAL PRICE MEMORY MEMORY INTERFACE (bits) Radeon HD 2400 Pro l l m m m $70 256MB DDR2 64 40 80 525 525 400 Radeon HD 2600 Pro l l l m m $100 256MB DDR2 128 120 65 600 600 500 Radeon HD 2600 XT l l l m m $130 512MB GDDR3 128 120 65 600 600 1,000 Radeon HD 2900 XT* l l l l m $400 512MB GDDR3 512 320 65 740 740 1,650 GeForce 8500 GT l l l m m $80 256MB or 512MB DDR2 128 16 80 450 900 800 GeForce 8600 GT l l l m m $150 256MB DDR2 128 32 80 540 1,180 700 GeForce 8600 GTS l l l l m $200 256MB GDDR3 128 32 80 675 1,450 2,000 GeForce 8800 GTX* l l l l l $580 768MB GDDR3 384 128 80 575 1,350 1,800 * High-end cards, tested for comparison. 96 PC MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 6, 2007 STREAM PROCESSING UNITS DIE PROCESS (nm) CORE CLOCK (MHz) SHADER CLOCK (MHz) MEMORY CLOCK (MHz) ASUS nVidia GeForce 8600 GT $150 street 256MB DDR2 memory, 128-bit interface lllmm PROS Generally decent benchmark test scores. Quiet. Excellent Aero acceleration. CONS Slow and weak in 3D apps and gaming. Insufﬁcient for DirectX 10 3D apps or games. Compares poorly with last year’s high-end cards, which now sell for a similar price. AMD ATI Radeon HD 2600 Pro $100 street 256MB DDR2 memory, 128-bit interface lllmm PROS Low wattage. Very quiet. Does a decent job on Aero. Excellent video quality. CONS Slow and weak in 3D apps and gaming. Insufﬁcient for DirectX 10 3D apps or games. Not CrossFire-compatible. ASUS nVidia GeForce 8600 GTS AMD ATI Radeon HD 2400 Pro $200 street 256MB GDDR3 memory, 128-bit interface $70 street 256MB DDR2 memory, 64-bit interface ll l l m llmmm PROS Speedy for its price. Does a great job on DirectX 9 games. Shreds Aero. CONS Insufﬁcient for DirectX 10 apps or games. Huge heat sink for a single-width card. PROS Very cheap. Energy efﬁcient. Silent. Runs Vista Aero (barely). CONS Slow and weak in 3D apps and gaming. Insufﬁcient for DirectX 10 apps or games. Limited amount of memory. NOVEMBER 6, 2007 PC MAGAZINE 97 the Radeon HD 2400 Pro, the HD 2600 Pro, and the HD 2600 XT. The other three are nVidia cards based on the GeForce 8500 GT, the 8600 GT, and the 8600 GTS chipsets. We tested two high-end cards for comparison: the Radeon HD 2900 XT and the GeForce 8800 GTX. These cards cost signiﬁcantly more than the other cards in our roundup, and, as the test results show, you get what you pay for. nVidia doesn’t make its own cards: It produces only the hardware they’re based GeForce 8800 series, nVidia offers the less-expensive 8600, 8500, and even 8400 cards (although the latter seem to be available only to OEMs). These lower-tier cards are priced from $200 down to as little as $70, but are they sufﬁcient for today’s newest technologies? Can they handle gaming at all? The Cards We tested eight cards in total. Three lowend cards are based on AMD ATI chipsets: upon. The actual nVidia cards we tested came from ASUS, EVGA, and XFX—popular manufacturers that assemble the graphics chips, circuit boards, and memory chips into products for sale on retail shelves. But keep in mind that the performance of the nVidia chips doesn’t vary much despite different company labels, so any given GeForce card with similar memory timings and speciﬁcations from any company will show performance similar to that of the card we tested. Graphics Card Performance: How We Tested Speciﬁcations are one thing, but the actual performance of cards can vary. So we tested each of these cards in different environments to see how they performed. We installed a brandnew, fresh image of Windows Vista Ultimate on a computer and turned off variables that might eat up processing time, such as automatic updates. And we used the latest drivers for each card, without enabling overclocking. First we ran 3DMark06, a synthetic test that focuses primarily on the graphics card. It runs six gamelike environments (four on the graphics card, two on the CPU) and measures the frame rates that each “game” sustains, as well as other factors, such as how many polygons and pixels (the building blocks of 3D images) the card can render each second. 3DMark06 then spits out a number, in 3DMarks, which constitutes the card’s score. Not surprisingly, the more a card costs, the higher its score and the better it generally does. This test shows why hard-core gamers spend all that money on a high-end GPU: Pixel-pushing power makes all games look better. We also ran a number of gaming tests. These are performed not only for comparison but also to see how well a card can run a particular 3D game. Most game results are reported in frames per second (fps), which refers to how many frames of animaBENCHMARK TESTS PREY (fps) High scores are best. 3DMARK06 4XAA, 8XAF Radeon HD 2400 Pro 2,292 2.4 1.9 Radeon HD 2600 Pro 3,393 36.7 14.2 Radeon HD 2600 XT 4,953 54.8 21.8 Radeon HD 2900 XT* 10,321 119.7 84.1 GeForce 8500 GT 2,215 20.2 14.4 GeForce 8600 GT 3,969 37.5 22.9 GeForce 8600 GTS 5,184 50.6 32.1 GeForce 8800 GTX* 10,707 130.4 93.4 * High-end cards, tested for comparison. All tests were run at 1,260-by-1,024 resolution. 98 PC MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 6, 2007 tion the card can draw in a single second. A rate of 30 fps is considered playable. Anything less and you’ll be able to discern the changes from one frame to the next. We ran each test at the relatively low resolution of 1,280-by1,024, with the game set at its defaults. We then ran the same test with some features turned on: namely, anti-aliasing—the removal of jagged edges and lines—and, if it was available, anisotropic ﬁltering—the smoothing of the image between close up and faraway items. (Company of Heroes, for example, does not have anisotropic ﬁltering.) These features further burden the graphics card and therefore result in lower frame rates; however, with these features turned on, images look better. The lowest-end cards couldn’t run the DirectX 9 game Prey at acceptable frame rates. Better cards could—barely. The moreexpensive gaming cards had no trouble with it. We ran Company of Heroes twice: once in DirectX 9 and once in DirectX 10. And just look at the difference! DirectX 10 takes a 30 percent or higher hit on performance. While in DirectX 9, most of the cards render the game at playable frame rates; in DirectX 10, few do. Each of these cards has its strengths and weaknesses. As most of the benchmark test results showed, higher-end cards produce better performance. If all you’re looking for is simple graphics and absolutely no gaming ﬂare, the cheapest ATI or nVidia cards will sufﬁce. The upside is, these cards are COMPANY OF HEROES (fps) remarkably quiet and energy efﬁcient as well (especially the ATI models). DX9 DX9 4XAA DX10 DX10 4XAA The more you want gaming or even 39.4 27.9 14.6 9.6 Aero performance, the more you’ll have 56.9 43.0 35.7 22.3 to spend—and that’s truly the bottom 58.6 45.9 39.4 30.6 line. Besides, DirectX 10 isn’t a draw for 51.7 49.4 42.6 40.4 the lower end of these cards at all. If you’re looking forward to future DirectX 27.1 21.0 14.6 13.1 10 gaming, you simply have to go high 47.8 40.1 30.3 26.5 end. That means buying an expensive 54.6 53.6 38.2 34.8 card from nVidia’s GeForce 8 series or 59.2 57.3 54.3 51.7 from ATI’s HD 2000 series. Start saving AA—Anti-aliasing; AF—anisotropic ﬁltering. those pennies! How to Upgrade a Graphics Card Save a bundle on your graphics card upgrade by doing it yourself. It’s not difficult, and our handy guide does away with all the guesswork. Windows Vista is the most graphically intensive operating system ever, and DirectX 10, its multimedia and gaming component, has computer users all over the world considering upgrading their PCs. With its 3D-driven Aero graphical user interface (GUI), Vista requires more graphics-card muscle than XP does. And because DirectX 10 isn’t backward- compatible, gamers who are captivated by its powerful specs are being forced to upgrade their hardware in order to enjoy it. Unlike earlier versions of Windows, which used the 2D components of graphics hardware to display their GUIs, Windows Vista presents its Aero interface in a 3D-intensive manner. The various windows displayed on-screen are actually 3D surfaces. That allows interesting effects like Flip 3D, the new alternative to the AltTab method of browsing through open Illustration by Sean McCabe programs. It also means Vista needs more sophisticated graphics cards than Windows XP or Windows 9x ever did. DirectX The DirectX libraries make gaming and multimedia possible on the Windows platform, and they absolutely require current-generation hardware. (Vista does feature a version of DirectX 9 as well, for compatibility with older games.) Basically, DirectX is a series of application program interfaces (APIs). An API, in turn, is a layer of code that makes it easier for manufacturers and programmers to create hardware and software for a given platform. In theory, developers shouldn’t have to worry about making their products compatible with the vast amount of hardware that exists; they simply make their titles compatible with an API. Prior to DirectX 10, each new version of DirectX has been backward-compatible. For instance, a DirectX 8 game can run on DirectX 9 hardware. DX9 games, meanwhile, will usually run on DX8 hardware— albeit without all the features of the newer library. DirectX 10, however, has thrown backward compatibility into the recycle bin. Its rigid requirements mean anyone who wants to run DirectX 10 games must have DirectX 10 hardware. DX10 hardware will work with software written for earlier versions of DirectX, but the opposite is not true: a DirectX 8 or 9 graphics card absolutely will not run DirectX 10 titles. The “Big Two” makers of graphics hardware, nVidia and AMD (ATI’s parent company), both have DirectX 10 hardware on the market. nVidia’s DirectX 10 line is the GeForce 8 series (it includes the 8800 K NOVEMBER 6, 2007 PC MAGAZINE 99 1 LET’S GET STARTED Uninstall the graphics card driver in Windows Vista. After unplugging your PC, open the case and remove the old card. 3 NEW CARDS NEED POWER 5 PRESS FIRMLY TO SEAT THE CARD Plug in the power-supply lead before you install the card. It’s a six-wire cable and should be keyed to ﬁt securely. This graphics card is fully seated and ﬂush against the slot. Note that the tab has secured the card in place. 100 PC MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 6, 2007 2 THIS SIDE DOWN 4 THE PCI EXPRESS BUS 6 FINAL STEPS Insert the gold contact edge of the graphics card into the PCI Express x16 slot. Try not to touch the contacts. The blue slot is the PCI Express x16 interface. Notice the tab at right; it must be depressed to remove the old card. Use one or two screws to secure the graphics card. Then boot up, install the latest drivers, and reboot Vista. READ THIS FIRST ESD and Safe Electronics Handling Bare electronic components on a circuit board are susceptible to all kinds of accidental damage. Handling your graphics card safely and being very careful regarding static electricity are of paramount importance. Handle the card only by its edges, and by the metal bracket on the rear. Be sure not to touch the gold contacts that slide into the slot on the motherboard. The oils on your ﬁngers can interfere with the electrical contact, which can result in the card not working properly. Also, don’t touch the chips! If you do, the small amount of static that can build up in your body may discharge and permanently damage them. ESD, or electrostatic discharge, is a silent killer of electronics. Here’s how to avoid it: GTX and GTS products, as well as the 8600 and 8500 chipsets). ATI’s is its Radeon HD 2000 series (featuring the HD 2900 XT, and the 2600 and 2400 products). You’ve probably read that early DirectX 10 efforts by game developers have been disappointing. Still, it’s only a matter of time before the developers ﬁgure out how best to use the new APIs—and consequently cease to support DirectX 9. The bottom line is this: Even if your DX9 graphics card has enough memory and muscle to handle Windows Vista, it won’t run tomorrow’s games. If your old card can’t even run Vista and you’re going to upgrade, you might as well jump to current-generation, DirectX 10 hardware. Both AMD and nVidia make a wide range of cards at several price points. The highest-end cards (such as the nVidia GeForce 8800 GTX and the AMD ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT) are aimed squarely at gamers, whereas lower-end products (from nVidia GeForce 8600 on down; AMD ATI Radeon HD 2600 series and below) are geared more for office and casual home users. The Right Slot Depending on how old your computer is, you might have to replace the entire board—and even the CPU, memory, and other components—just to replace the graphics card. That’s because physical and electronic graphics card interfaces change every few years. Until recently, the slot in which the graphics card sits, with its electronic connection to the motherboard, was called the Accelerated Graphics Port, or AGP. In late 2005 the industry switched over to a new standard called PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect) Express x16. And way back before the AGP slot existed, graphics cards used standard PCI slots. You’re not likely to ﬁnd any DirectX 10 hardware for the AGP standard, much less 1. Before you touch any electronic parts, plant your feet. 2. Ground yourself by touching part of your computer’s chassis. 3. Don’t move your feet while you work inside the computer or handle the graphics card (or any other electronic parts). 4. If you do move your feet, plant them again and reground yourself before you reach back into the case or pick up more electronic parts. You can also wear an antistatic bracelet that you clip to grounded metal to keep static from building up in your body. for the vanilla PCI standard. This guide, therefore, covers only the PCI Express x16 slot. Check your computer’s documentation, or that of its motherboard, to be sure it can take a PCI Express x16 graphics card. If not, you’re in for a far bigger upgrade than this article outlines. Removing the Old Graphics Card Before you tear your computer’s case open, you need to remove the software programs—the drivers—that make your old graphics card work with Windows. The drivers usually appear in the Add or Remove Programs interface (in XP) or Programs and Features (in Vista). You can open the pertinent interface through the Control Panel. Highlight the drivers and click the Uninstall button. You’ll probably encounter all kinds of prompts asking if you really want to uninstall them, and Windows Vista’s User Account Control will kick in and require your permission to let the uninstall continue. If you are using a motherboard with integrated graphics, you will need to disable them in the BIOS. Your screen might change to a lower resolution and color depth during or after the uninstall process. When it’s done, the computer will prompt you to reboot. Say no! Instead, shut down the computer, unplug the AC cord, open the case, and prepare to remove the card physically. Look for the card that corresponds with the monitor cable on the rear of the machine. That’s your computer’s graphics card. Unplug the monitor cable, then remove the screw or screws holding the graphics card in place. Pop the card upward, out of its slot. You might have to disengage a plastic clip on the slot on the motherboard, near the front of the card, to release it fully. When you’ve removed the card from the case, unplug the power-supply cable from the front of the card, if there is a power connection, and place the card into an antistatic bag. If you don’t have one handy, lay the card ﬂat on a clean surface and later, when you’ve freed up the antistatic bag that your new card came in, use it to store your old one. Installing the New Graphics Card There may be two PCIe x16 slots on your motherboard. If that’s the case, use the one that held your old graphics card. If you’re still not sure which one to use, consult the motherboard’s documentation, which should clearly identify one of them as the primary slot. Find the PCI Express powersupply lead (some current cards actually require two of these) and plug it into the socket on the card. Next, line up the card’s gold contacts with the slot on the motherboard and insert the card. Some current graphics cards are surprisingly big, so be careful not to knock any other components or cables loose inside the case. Press down on the top edge of the card until it’s ﬁrmly seated in the PCI Express x16 slot. The metal bracket on the back of the card should be tight against the case. Finally, using a screw (or two), secure the card in place. Replace the side cover and plug the monitor into the graphics card. Boot up the operating system. Cancel any Windows attempts to ﬁnd new hardware drivers, and open your favorite Web browser. Head to www.nvidia.com or www .ati.com to download the latest drivers for your graphics chip. The drivers will be in an executable program; run the program after it’s fully downloaded. In Vista, User Account Control will again break in to be sure you want to install the drivers. Simply follow the prompts and the installation routine will take care of everything. You’ll need to reboot when the driver installation is ﬁnished. After the computer boots back up, the graphics card installation is complete. Q NOVEMBER 6, 2007 PC MAGAZINE 101 If you could only see the future… you’d never get caught with your pants down—and your antivirus software out of date. Today, new Internet threats appear faster than most security products can react—putting you and your PC at risk. Unless you’re running BitDefender. With its patent pending B-HAVE proactive protection, it actually protects you from threats even before they’re discovered. And unlike some, BitDefender won’t slow your PC to a crawl. So don’t trust your critical ﬁles and your identity to a reactive security solution. Get BitDefender with proactive protection, and change your future now. FREE 24 x 7 Technical Support Try it FREE for 30 Days The Future of Security Now www.bitdefender.com/FREE/pcm Solutions PROBLEMS SOLVED THIS ISSUE 106 Outlook Express spell-checker not working 106 Unremovable shadows in Excel 110 Building a better Web site 108 How can I use multiple monitors? 112 Where do customers “drop out”? 106 Annoying USB 2.0 warning 108 Why is my computer so slow? 114 Making longer documents better Create No-Code Mashups with Yahoo! Pipes Even if you don’t wear a hat with a propeller or write code, you can “mash up” a brand-new Web service right now. By Bill Dyszel MASHING UP DATA You can combine the most relevant dynamic data from more than one site. Here we mashed the PC Magazine Editors’ Choice feed and the Yahoo! Tech Advisors feed. You’ve probably already used at least one online application that combines the services of different sources. You may have used one, say, to create a local map that shows traffic reports, or to create a map of the neighborhood you’ll be visiting in Prague, highlighting the area’s four-star restaurants. Now you can take advantage of an array of new mashup tools designed to help you assemble the relevant features of multiple online sources and create a new application that suits your needs precisely. Truly sophisticated mashups still demand coding and often require a Web server, but anyone can accomplish quite a lot right now with hosted, Web-based mashup authoring tools. An easy—and free—way to begin is by using Yahoo! Pipes (pipes.yahoo.com). It’s a totally graphical, integrated development environment that is surprisingly intuitive, and really easy enough for ordinary, everyday Web users. Yahoo! Pipes lets you mix, match, and kludge Web-based information into a conNOVEMBER 6, 2007 PC MAGAZINE 103 SOLUTIONS SOFTWARE coction to suit your taste. It requires no coding—just drag and drop data sources and operators onto the Yahoo! Pipes workspace and tie them together. The most immediately valuable application of a Yahoo! Pipes project is to manipulate the contents of one or more RSS feeds to produce a new RSS feed tailored to a speciﬁc purpose. As a primitive 1 example, we’ll remix an RSS feed from PC Magazine and another from Yahoo! to generate a uniquely useful result. That only scratches the surface of what’s possible with Yahoo! Pipes, but it’s a good place to begin. When you ﬁrst sign on to Yahoo! Pipes, you’ll see listings of Pipes projects that have already been created by others and published for public use. You can run those projects, copy them, modify their source code to create your own project, and even subscribe to the results in your favorite RSS reader. Most are pretty easy to ﬁgure out. You can learn a lot from examining other people’s projects, even if you opt not to use them as a data source for a pipe of your own. Q GET STARTED To begin, drag a source module from the list on the left to the main workspace to reveal a dialog box in which you can enter sources, instructions, or operations. In this case, we’ve dragged in the Fetch Feed module, which will capture data from an RSS feed. The Debug window at the bottom of the screen shows the results of the currently selected module. In this case, it simply displays the contents of the feed we speciﬁed in the Fetch Feed module. Drag the circle at the bottom of one module to the circle at the top of another to create a “pipe” that moves data between them. The Pipe Output module simply makes the data in your Pipes project available through an RSS feed or Java. If you need to learn more about how a module functions, click the question-mark button at the upper right-hand corner of the module dialog box to reveal a small help window at the lower right-hand corner of the Pipes workspace. 2 SELECT DATA Once you’ve chosen a feed to fetch, you can manipulate the data in the feed by choosing an operator; drag the operator in from the list on the left. The Filter module includes or excludes items according to the parameters you select. In this case we’re ﬁltering the PC Magazine Editors’ Choice RSS feed to limit the feed to items containing the word bluetooth. EDITOR’S TIP READY-MADE MASHUPS If you want to take advantage of the mashup possibilities but creating a Pipes project doesn’t ﬂoat your boat, look around the list of existing Pipes to see if someone has already created the project you need. An even better place to search for existing mashups is ProgrammableWeb (www .programmableweb.com), a clearinghouse of mashups, APIs, tools, and other mashuprelated resources. 104 PC MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 6, 2007 3 4 ADD SOURCES Now we’ll bring in multiple ﬁlters and sources to enhance the value of this mashup. In this case we’ve combined RSS feeds from two sources, one from PC Magazine and another from Yahoo!. We’ve plugged each into the Union module, which is the ﬁlter that enables multiple sources. Then we’ve run the results through a multilevel ﬁlter seeking several prominent brands: Nokia, BlackBerry, Sony, and Nintendo. The Union module wasn’t actually necessary in this case— you can stack multiple feeds in a single Fetch Feed module, but the Union module comes in handy when you’re trying to test the contents of each feed separately by connecting only one at a time. CHECK IT OUT! After saving your Pipes project, click the View Results button to see the information your project delivers. From the results screen you can click any individual item to view its contents, or you can click Edit Source to go back and tweak your project. EDITOR’S TIP 5 BACK TO RSS Pipes serves up its output through RSS, which allows you to view results in any RSS-enabled program, including most popular RSS readers, as well as Microsoft Outlook 2007. OTHER TOOLS Yahoo! Pipes is a great place to get started if you’re interested in creating mashups, but there are also other toolsets that might give you more of what you need. Some popular choices include Proto, Tequlo, and Open Kapow, along with dozens of others. Microsoft’s Popﬂy service is still an invitation-only alpha product, but it’s already developing some buzz. Google has announced a similar service, as has IBM. We’re a long way from knowing whose mashup tools will dominate the ﬁeld, but there’s never been a better time to learn how to make your Web experience your own. NOVEMBER 6, 2007 PC MAGAZINE 105 SOLUTIONS SOFTWARE AskNeil Ofﬁce 2007 Whacks OE Spell-Checker I have a Windows XP Media Center Edition PC, which includes Internet Explorer and Outlook Express as well as Office 2007. I am English, but I can get only French in the OE6 spell-checker. How can I get an English (U.K.) spell-checker? My old computer with OE6 checked in English! —Christine Henderson Q A Outlook Express doesn’t actually have a spell-check feature of its own, but it will exploit Microsoft Ofﬁce’s spell-checker if it’s installed. Your loss of English-language spell-checking is a side effect of installing Office 2007. Microsoft’s Knowledge Base article 932974 conﬁrms that installation of Ofﬁce 2007 “upgrades” the spell-check ﬁles for English, Spanish, and German to new versions that are incompatible with Outlook Express. Microsoft does not offer any solution for this problem, but it suggests you “use a search site to find spell-checking programs” or get advice in the Microsoft Communities discussion forums. You’ll have the added concern of ﬁnding one that supports English (U.K.) and not just English (U.S.). Of course, you could just switch to using Outlook for e-mail. It’s part of Ofﬁce 2007, so you’ve already paid for it. When you fire it up, it will offer to import settings and messages from Outlook Express. Who knows—you might come to prefer it! (Hmm . . . is this a sinister plot by Microsoft to marginalize Outlook Express?) A You can turn off that message, but only by turning off all USB-related error messages. Right-click My Computer and choose Properties from the pop-up menu. Click the Hardware tab and click the Device Manager button on that tab. Near the bottom find the entry for USB devices; click the plus sign at left to expand it. Find the entry for the controller itself—it should have the word “Universal” or “Open” in its name. Right-click it and choose Properties. Click the Advanced tab, check the box titled Don’t tell me about USB errors, and click OK. If there are multiple controllers listed, do this for each of them. In the future, if you experience any odd behavior or other USB device problems, go back and temporarily turn off the option to suppress USB error messages. Back from the Shadows Again I have applied a drop-shadow effect to several cells in Microsoft Excel 2003. I now wish to remove the shadow-box effect, but the “No Shadow” selection on the Drawing toolbar Q is dimmed. I have even tried to change the shadow effect, but Excel maintains the current effect while applying the new effect. How do I remove an existing drop shadow? I have searched the Microsoft Excel help and the Internet for a solution but have not been able to ﬁnd one.—Dwight Jessup A If you simply select those Excel cells again, you will indeed find that No Shadow is dimmed. And, yes, if you select one of the shadow styles, you’ll just get an additional shadow—the original won’t go away. But if you look closely, you should see a skinny border around the block of shadowed cells. If you don’t see it, move the mouse slowly around the edge of the cells until it changes to a four-way arrow. When you click the border, the display will change to show a set of object handles around the cells. In other words, you’ll see little circles at each corner and at the middle of each side, plus another that looks like a handle sticking straight up. Making sure the object handles remain visible, click the Drop Shadow button in Turn Off USB 2.0 Warning Every time I start my PC I receive a message in a dialog box informing me that the device (an external drive) I have attached to the USB port could perform faster if I attached it to a USB 2.0 port. I have not yet added a USB 2.0 card to the PC. I wonder, how can I prevent the message from appearing in the meantime?—Brian Abbishaw Q 106 PC MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 6, 2007 I’LL STICK WITH 1.1 If you don’t plan to add USB 2.0 functionality to your older computer, you can turn off the warning that appears every time you plug in a USB 2.0 device. the Drawing toolbar. Now the No Shadow option is enabled; click it. Finally, press the Delete key to delete the object handles. You’re back from the shadows again! Find the Cookies Folder in Vista Where can I ﬁnd the Cookies folder in Windows Vista? When I ran Windows XP, I put a shortcut to the Cookies folder on my desktop. When I went to a Web site, I could quickly see how many cookies a site was putting on my computer and delete them if I wanted to. I’ve tried searching in Vista but haven’t had much luck. Please help!—Walter Nowak Q A To find just about anything in Vista, you simply start typing its name at the Start menu. When you type cookies, it points you to C:\Users\ username\cookies—great! Great, that is, until you click on the link and get an “Access Denied” slap in the face. In actual fact, that path is just a kind of pointer. The cookies are stored in a completely different location. Open Windows Explorer, press F10 to see the menu, and choose Tools | Folder Options. Click the View tab. Find the option to Show hidden files and folders and check it. Find Hide protected operating system ﬁles and uncheck it (Vista will gripe). Now you can navigate to the actual location, which is twofold: C:\Users\ username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\ Windows\Cookies and C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Cookies\Low. If you like, you can put shortcuts to these on the desktop or elsewhere—just right-drag the folder, let go, and choose Create shortcut(s) here. These shortcuts will work even if you change the Windows Explorer options described above back to their default values. Clean Install Using Vista Upgrade I currently run Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional on a custom-built PC, so I have the Win 2000 operating system CD. I am planning to buy Windows Vista Ultimate upgrade edition and install it on a new PC that I’ll be building. Because I’ll be purchasing the upgrade edition of Vista, I won’t be able to completely wipe my hard drive using a thirdparty product and then install the upgrade, Q HIDDEN COOKIES The obvious folder location for cookies in Windows Vista is wrong— they’re actually stored deep in a path of hidden folders. since there would be no evidence on the hard drive that I actually had Windows 2000 installed previously. I typically clean the drive and then do a full OS reinstall about twice a year. How well does the “clean install” really clean the hard drive prior to installing the OS?—George Chimich A Some past Windows versions have let you prove upgrade-readiness by inserting the CD of the previous OS during the install process. Vista doesn’t. Microsoft speciﬁcally says: Windows Vista does not check upgrade compliance. Therefore, you cannot use an upgrade key to perform a clean installation of Windows Vista. Microsoft’s solutions are (1) first install a compliant Windows version such as 2000, XP, or Vista, or (2) purchase a full license. So, no problem! Just run through your usual full drive-wipe and reinstall of Windows 2000, and then upgrade to Vista. Hang onto that Windows 2000 CD if you want to continue this semiannual reinstallation practice. “Copy Only Subtotals in Excel” Revisited There’s a much quicker and easier solution to “Copy Only Subtotals in Excel” (February 6, 2007). With the subtotals displayed at the level you want to copy, select the entire area and then use Edit | Go To | Special and click the radio button Visible cells only. Now only the visible cells are selected (note the dashed boxes around each of the subtotal rows instead of the entire selection). Then proceed as normal: Press Ctrl-C to copy to the clipboard, move to your destination cells, and press Ctrl-V.—Jim McMichael A This is just one out of the dozens of letters in response to “Copy Only Subtotals in Excel.” I used a combination of the built-in Subtotal feature and Excel’s Advanced Filter, which many readers felt was too complex. Most of them suggested the method described above, but actually there’s an even simpler way to select only visible cells when some cells are hidden because of a ﬁlter or subtotal being active. Select Tools | Customize from the menu and click on the Commands tab. Select Edit in the left-hand list and scroll down the right-hand list until you ﬁnd the item Select Visible Cells. Drag that item onto one of your toolbars. Now, whenever you need to copy only the cells that are visible within the highlighted region, you can just click this button and then press CtrlC. Still too much work? Okay, how about this one? Highlight the region, press Alt-; (semicolon) and then Ctrl-C. That’s about as simple as anything can get! NEED ANSWERS? PC Magazine’s software expert, Neil J. Rubenking, tackles your toughest software and Internet problems. Send your questions to askneil@ ziffdavis.com. NOVEMBER 6, 2007 PC MAGAZINE 107 SOLUTIONS HARDWARE AskLoyd Multiple Monitors, Multiple Questions Q Please inform me whether I can connect two or more monitors to the same PC. If so, what additional settings are needed?—Shyam S How do I go about getting dual monitors set up at my home computer? I do a lot of CAD work, and having the extra space would be great!—Timothy Hold A You should consider several important factors before connecting multiple displays: the graphics card, the operating system, and the physical connectors. I’m going to assume that you have Microsoft Windows XP or Windows Vista. Given that, you’ll need a graphics card or graphics subsystem that supports multiple displays. Any video card manufactured in the past three years—even the budget cards—can do that. But take a minute to refer to your PC’s manual if your system has only integrated graphics hardware—that is, a graphics adapter that’s built into your system’s motherboard chipset. Some integrated graphics systems can handle more than one display, but others can’t. The bottom line is that you need a graphics adapter with two physical connectors—either VGA or DVI—and two displays with appropriate connections. If you have a video card with two DVI ports, but one or both of your displays has only VGA connectors, you can obtain DVI-toVGA adapter dongles. Once you connect both displays, either Windows or the graphics driver control panel should autodetect the second display and walk you through setting it up. If the autodetect message doesn’t pop up, you can set up the dual display yourself, either through the Display control panel or the graphics driver. The Windows control panel is simpler, but the graphics driver may give you more options. The biggest problem you may encounter is physical space on your real-world 108 PC MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 6, 2007 desk, particularly if the displays are oldstyle CRT monitors. But once you get used to having dual displays, you’ll never go back. The additional screen space is a tremendous productivity asset. Why So Slow? I build my own computers and usually figure out things on my own, but my most recent PC is causing me some problems. I used an ASUS P5V800-MX motherboard: The front-side bus is supposed to run at 800 MHz, and the PC has a 3.2-GHz processor. The machine should be running a lot faster than it is. My BIOS tells me it is running at 800 MHz, but I have a utility program that I really like called Belarc Advisor, and it’s telling me that the FSB is running at only 200 MHz, which would obviously slow things down. I’ve racked my brains and tried to get answers from ASUS, but I am getting nowhere fast.—Tasman1067 Q A This is a pretty common mistake to make; bus speed is an oddly confusing issue. Both the BIOS and your Advisor software are correct. WINDOWS DISPLAY CONTROL PANEL You can check the Extend the desktop onto this monitor box to enable your second display. Your graphics driver control panel offers more options but is also more complex. Here’s why: When you see “800-MHz FSB” (frontside bus), what you’re seeing is the effective FSB clock frequency. The FSB is actually running at 200 MHz. That is, there’s a clock control in the chip that runs the FSB at 200 MHz. Intel processors, like the one in your ASUS, can move four data items per clock cycle, however. This is commonly referred to as a “quad-pumped bus.” To simplify labeling, this is often called an 800-MHz FSB. But it’s really a 200-MHz FSB moving four data items each clock cycle. Similarly, a 1,066-MHz FSB is really running at 266 MHz but is also quadpumped. Oh . . . Blue Screen of Death Finally, an update. In “Blue Screen of . . . Wait, What?” (October 2), I gave reader Theodore Miller a checklist that might help keep his blue screens at bay—updating graphic card driver, checking memory settings in the BIOS, checking and reseating RAM modules, and ensuring the CPU fan was operational. What Mr. Miller had actually asked for, though, was a way to read the blue-screen information before his machine rebooted. And it is strange that a screen meant to convey critical system error messages should disappear before the average human could possibly read it, much less copy down the often huge amounts of information on it. My colleague Neil J. Rubenking chimed in: “You can keep that blue screen visible. Right-click My Computer. Choose Properties. Click to select the Advanced tab (or the Advanced system properties link in Vista). Click the Settings button in the Startup and Recovery pane. Uncheck Automatically restart, Click OK | OK. Now the blue-screen information will remain visible on your screen until you force a reboot with Ctrl-Alt-Del.” Thanks, Neil! NEED ANSWERS? ExtremeTech.com’s editor, Loyd Case, tackles readers’ hardware problems in each issue. Send your toughest to email@example.com. SOLUTIONS BUSINESS INTERNET DEVELOPMENT Build a Better Web Site Getting site visitors is only half the battle. By Vicki B. Jacobson Back in 1985, legendary music producer Quincy Jones invited the day’s most popular singers to record “We Are the World,” a single for charity. In his invitation, he asked the musicians to “check your egos at the door.” Sage advice, and something you should keep in mind as you gather with the editors, producers, designers, developers, and business folks who are creating or redesigning your business’s Web site. The process of designing or reworking a Web site can be a long one, and it shouldn’t be rushed. Tackling these criteria before and during the site’s development will save you time and help keep you from making costly mistakes. Deﬁne Your Goals There are user goals and then there are business goals. User goals are often deﬁned by your content, what kind of people you want to attract to your site, and the kind of experience you want to deliver for them. Business goals, well, they’re often about making money. As much as you can, define the expectations for both these areas up front. Identify Your Audience You may know your site and its content better than anyone—and you should— but, remember, you’re likely not the target audience. Identifying the user, or site visitor, should be one of the first things that you do. One way to do this is by developing personas for the types of visitors you have and want to attract. Give them names and some personality traits. Deﬁne their Internet habits (what they do online, how they might get to your site, how much experience they have navigating Web sites, how they may use your site . . . you get the picture). As you develop the site, click around the preview pages and ask yourself if you’re satisfying the needs of those personas. Develop a Project Plan If possible, all parties should know what’s going on with the project. Most important, a project plan lets the key players know 110 PC MAGAZINE NOVBEMBER 6, 2007 HOW’S IT DOING? Getting site visitors is only half the battle. You want them to stick around and ﬁnd not only what they need but also what you want them to ﬁnd. One tool we use at PCMag.com is called SiteCatalyst. It tells us how many times each link on a page has been clicked—the darker the red, the more clicks—which helps us determine how effective the page layout is. the schedule for “deliverables” (deadlines for design, usability testing, templates, development, beta testing, launch dates, and so on). Employ the same consistency for your search box. Page elements, too, should be as consistent as possible. Disorganized, cluttered pages will only frustrate visitors. Design and Development Design is just as much about the organization of content as it is about color schemes, font sizes, and compelling graphics. Everyone will have an opinion about what should be included on your main pages and on individual article pages. And you’ll be tempted to integrate all of that new technology you’ve been hearing about. Start with everything but the kitchen sink, prioritize elements, and then remove the extraneous. Consistency is the name of the game here, and nowhere is this more important than with your site navigation. Navigation bars need to stay in the same place—typically at the top or left—and look identical regardless of which page a visitor is on. Keep it tight, too—provide all the navigation buttons a visitor should need, no fewer and certainly no more. Make Pages Usable Yes, your home page is important. It’s the front door to your site, but it’s not the only way people enter. Visitors will often ﬁnd their way to your site via a search engine. That means that individual pages are just as important as your home page. Each page should be a destination, with easy access to related content as well as to the rest of the site. Deﬁne Success Is it all about money? Or are you interested in delivering a good user experience? Maybe it’s both. Set goals. These may include fast page-load times as well as the expected number of page views, unique visitors, and pages viewed per visit. It’s simple, really. Get them there. Keep them there. Everyone’s happy. Q SOLUTIONS BUSINESS SMB BOOT CAMP Keep Your Customers in View Analyzing how you deal with customers is almost always worthwhile. By Matthew D. Sarrel Is your business as efﬁcient as it should be? Or do customers slip through the cracks? Many small businesses struggle just to get routine things done, but a careful analysis of the steps you take in dealing with customers is almost always worth the time you invest. Examine the way your business functions and the daily tasks employees perform. Take a special look at the role IT systems play in the process. Then look for ways to improve and serve the customer better and less expensively. This is all common sense, of course, but it goes quite a bit further and has grown into a ﬁeld called business process analysis, or business process management. Companies pay hundreds of millions of dollars a year in software and services for it. Years ago, I worked at the New Jersey Medical School National TB Center. Part of what we did was provide preventive therapy for people infected with tuberculosis. Those who were infected but not sick were asked to take medication for six months. It’s pretty hard to get someone to take a pill every day who doesn’t even feel sick, so many patients in this category stopped coming to the clinic, and we couldn’t follow up with them. In public-health terms, that’s considered a “negative outcome.” In business-process terms, compare it to someone coming into a retail store in need of something, looking around, and leaving without buying anything. Q Fixing a Business Process The ﬁrst step in my analysis was to involve everyone who played a role, from clinic staff to data entry clerks to health ofﬁcials to the IT director. We looked at the process of preventive therapy and created a process diagram, paying special attention to where we thought patients were slipping through the cracks. Manually reviewing patient charts to schedule appointments wasn’t working. We mapped the old, manual process and a new, automated process (see below). I developed a custom database that automated the generation of reminder and missed-appointment letters, lists of delinquent patients who needed follow-up calls, and reports. It worked. We demonstrated a statistically signiﬁcant increase in the percentage of patients who completed preventive therapy. Do Your Own Business Process Analysis According to Ron Wince, CEO of Guidon Performance Solutions, a key factor in project success is engaging employees. Many people are resistant to change—especially when the change is dictated from above. It’s important for IT to understand the business side of things, and vice versa. “Hold short collaborative brainstorming sessions with cross-functional teams,” advises Wince. To write an effective database, for example, the developer needs to understand how it will be used. TAKE A BASELINE MEASUREMENT Whether you measure your success by straight ﬁnancial ﬁgures or other metrics, take stock of your current rate. BE THE CUSTOMER Look at your processes from the customer’s perspective. DIAGRAM THE PROCESS Create a process diagram that shows the steps that a customer must go through to complete a transaction. I like to use Visio for this. USE FRESH EYES Try to view the process as an outsider might, not taking anything for granted. Look for procedures that don’t make sense, where steps don’t seem to be in the right order, and where there’s a chance for customers to drop out. CHANGE Easy to say, not always so easy to do. Fix the problems you identiﬁed, either by changing the overall process or by adding or subtracting technology. MEASURE THE OUTCOME No initiative can be called successful unless you can show a positive effect such as an increase in revenue or a decrease in costs. AUTOMATED METHOD PROCESS FLOW Developing and implementing IT systems should be an ongoing process focused on continual improvement of the business process. Here’s a sample workflow that worked at the New Jersey Medical School National TB Center. Patient file incomplete END No Does patient come to clinic? START Yes Patient enters clinic Receptionist starts chart Nurse provides treatment to patient Yes Data-entry clerk generates missedappointment letter Patient is in treatment limbo No Does patient come to clinic? 112 PC MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 6, 2007 Data-entry clerk inputs appointment Receptionist schedules next visit, files chart <6 times 6th Patient file Patient time complete returns in 1 month END No Yes Data-entry clerk generates missedappointment letter Patient is in treatment limbo No Does patient come to clinic? Receptionist calls patient Data-entry clerk generates delinquency list Patient is in treatment limbo SOLUTIONS OFFICE New Features for Long Documents Although most of us use Microsoft Word most of the time, when it’s time to write a long or complex document, such as a book, we switch to higher-end page-layout software—or at least Microsoft Publisher—to get the features we need. With Word 2007, Microsoft has added a number of capabilities that make it much easier to author long documents. Most exciting for students and researchers are the greatly improved tools for providing a bibliography and citations. You can enter the information once for each source you want to cite into a convenient dialog, and then Word lets you place references. With one click, Word will generate a bibliography in one of several widely accepted standard formats. If you have multiple contributors working on your document, Word 2007 style sets, which are predeﬁned sets of style deﬁnitions saved as a template, can ensure everyone’s contributions are laid out consistently. You can provide your contributors with your style set or apply it to their contributions after you receive them. For those who need to submit their ﬁnal documents electronically, Microsoft has responded to user need and added a Document Inspector, which can remove old versions of text, hidden text, or other potentially embarrassing or conﬁdential items left around from your draft revisions.—David Cardinal, frequent contributor COMPARE Even when you are working solo, the time will come when you want to compare two different versions of a document. Word has always let you compare documents, but with Word 2007, you can see two versions in side-by-side windows, making it much easier to merge the multiple drafts into one. So if you have multiple authors or an editor, all parties can work on the document, even without using the change-tracking tools, and still have a good chance of integrating the changes from both versions. The Compare and Combine options are located on the Review ribbon. SAVE AS PDF One great new feature in Word 2007 for anyone planning either to publish a document online or to send it electronically for publication is the integrated PDF export capability. You need to download the free PDF converter from Microsoft Ofﬁce Online, but then it’s a simple matter to generate PDFs optimized for Web display or printing. To get PDF export capability, go to Save As | Find add-ins for other formats, which takes you to Microsoft’s download page. EQUATIONS Word 2007 offers a powerful new equation editor. Simply click on Equation on the Insert ribbon and the Equation Editor ribbon will appear. It is amazingly simple to input almost any mathematical equation and print professional-looking results. You can customize how the equation editor works to adapt it to the speciﬁc terminology in use in your industry, and save equations to a library for easy reuse. Note that Equations, like SmartArt and a few other new features, will not work in Compatibility mode (that is, if you save documents in Word 97–2003 format). 114 PC MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 6, 2007 O U T LO O K T I P Better Searching There are so many buttons, flags, pull-downs, and assorted gewgaws in the new Microsoft Outlook that it took me months of using the much-improved Search to notice the pull-down arrow—not the one in the box, but the doublearrow to the right of the box. And wouldn’t you know it, that arrow leads to a real, advanced search, with actual multiple fields and everything.—Sarah Pike WO R D T I P Changing Cases RESEARCH If you don’t remember where you read something or perhaps are still working on your research, use the integrated Research pane to search both Word’s internal thesaurus and an array of online research sources. Currently, the online sources are mostly Microsoft-owned sites (Encarta is probably the best known), but there is a provision for third parties to make additional research sites available. To bring up the Research pane, you can Alt-click on a word, or go to Review | Research. Hey thanks, Microsoft, for ﬁnally making a button to change the case of selected text, and putting it on Word 2007’s Ribbon. Till now, I’ve had to make do with my favorite secret key combo: Shift-F3. (Keyboard monkeys will be pleased to hear that the combo still works: Select your text and press Shift-F3 to change the case from all-lowercase to all-uppercase to sentence capitalization.) In fairness, the button adds two options that Shift-F3 won’t give you: initial caps on all words, and toggle case (for when you accidentally iNTERcAP in reverse).—SP E XC E L T I P Cell Navigation CITATIONS There is nothing I hate more about writing research papers than muddling through formatting the bibliography. Word 2007 makes it a snap by automatically generating one based on data you type in. In the References tab, choose a reference style (for example, APA or Chicago). Then click on Manage Sources, then New to create a reference list. That done, making citations, footnotes, and a bibliography really is as simple as clicking on the Insert Citation, Insert Footnote, and Bibliography buttons. Need to enter data in a number of noncontiguous Excel spreadsheet cells? Rather than inputting a value, clicking on the next location, and repeating, ﬁrst select all the cells you want using Ctrl-click. After that, hitting Enter or Tab will cause the cursor to jump automatically to each successive selection until you break the spell by clicking on a cell that’s not in the chosen group. Entry will start on whichever cell you select last, then roll around to the ﬁrst.—Gary Berline NOVEMBER 6, 2007 PC MAGAZINE 115 ! " # ! "#$ % & ''() )* )* ! +) ,-. / 0 . 0 12 +20 $% & ' % ( <=D3;03@$ %>1;/5/H7<3 ! >1;OUOhW\S;O`YSb:W\Y BackSpace EDITED BY DAN EVANS DOWN THE TUBES You’ve been to YouTube, but have you seen these “Tubes”? JEWTUBE.COM EWETUBE.COM MOOTUBE.COM NEWTUBE.COM TUTUTUBE.COM KUNGFUTUBE.COM TRUETUBE.COM & UTUBE.COM The preeminent site for Jewish home video. A blog for sheep lovers (no, not that way, sicko). Recently retired site where PBS showed clips of longhorn cattle. Yeah, um, retired. Didn’t know people still used tubes in amps? If you need a new one, shop here. Do you like YouTube but find that the videos aren’t random enough for you? Check this out. “A Web site specializing in database retrieval for kung fu video.” If you’re looking for information about construction and machine tubes, try these sites. ABORT, RETRY, FAIL by Don Willmott By “etc.” we assume they mean a tire iron, a brick, or a baseball bat. San Pedrito, Mexico. The world’s loneliest Wi-Fi hot spot. Note how CompUSA directs its Honolulu shoppers to nearby stores . . . in California. Spotted at the Hyatt Regency Cambridge Business Center. Oh, don’t apologize! ARF NEEDS YOU! If your entry is used, we’ll send you a PC Magazine T-shirt. Submit your entries via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Ziff Davis Media Inc. shall own all property rights in the entries. Winners this issue: Dan Edelstein, Dale Gibson, Justin Sloan, and Robin Wulffson. 128 PC MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 6, 2007 And we thought the OS/2 on Dvorak’s chest was hard-core. PC MAGAZINE REJECTED STORY HEADLINES HALL OF FAME 1 Digital Camcorders: Shoot Your Friends and Family 2 New Linux Software: Grab Your Apps 3 Solutions: Picking the Proper Patch and Placing It Perfectly Top right: photo by Sean Thamer, tattoo by Daniel Innes, and arm by Samuel Mulin Sidestep the obstacles of remote connectivity with BroadbandAccess Built-In from Verizon Wireless. In the world of IT, obstacles are unavoidable—except for the avoidable ones. Take remote connectivity, for instance. With Verizon Wireless BroadbandAccess Built-In, you can give your company secure, high-speed wireless access to the Internet, corporate files, company networks, and VPNs anywhere on America’s most reliable wireless broadband network without the need for PC Cards or hotspots. FREE 3-DAY TRIAL AND UP TO $100 MAIL-IN REBATE with two-year activation on a BroadbandAccess plan.* To learn more, visit www.verizonwireless.com/BUILTIN. Now available from these leading notebook manufacturers: * Rebate available on select notebooks from participating suppliers equipped with Verizon Wireless BroadbandAccess Built-In. Offer good on accounts activated through 12/31/07, with continuous service for at least 30 days. Rebate takes up to 8 weeks. Activation fee/line: $35 ($25 for $59.99 BroadbandAccess plan). Offer not available on federal, state, or local government lines of service. Cannot be combined with other offers. BroadbandAccess service is available to more than 210 million people in 245 major metropolitan areas and 194 primary airports in the U.S. Network details and coverage maps at www.verizonwireless.com. See www.verizonwireless.com/bestnetwork for details. ©2007 Verizon Wireless. All Rights Reserved. Verizon Wireless is a registered trademark of Verizon Trademark Services LLC. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. The new iMac. 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