By sticking with the same intuitive management console, the latest version of Computer Associates' (CA) antivirus software remains notably easy to use, and has increased its coverage by adding new virus-scanning capabilities for PDAs, plug-ins for a variety of gateways, and protection options for Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes/Domino. You also get remote browser access and the option to designate secondary signature servers, which clients will use if the primary distribution server fails.
We knew that Outpost Personal Firewall Pro 2 would improve on its predecessor, but this version is a major upgrade. I'm not just talking about the superb revamped interface, which couples simplicity with power, but a quick look under the pretty skin confirms that this is a serious development.
Xenofex 2 is an updated range of Photoshop-compatible plug-ins from Alien Skin, the developer of Eye Candy 4000, one of the most popular filter collections and a personal favourite of ours. This was mainly down to its interface, which is thankfully shared by the new Xenofex collection.
There are the odd occasions in this line of work when I’m presented with an application that causes me to exclaim ‘I don’t believe it’. Office Mail from Burrotech is one such example.
An impressive little printer, its incredibly light and portable design makes the LBP-1120 perfect for the space-conscious small business home business operator with limited work area.
The most expensive camera in this Labs by $100, it outshone the competition in almost all aspects. A real case of getting what you pay for.
It was a very close race between the Canon MV630i and the Sony TRV 355E as to which camera should take out the overall award. While the MV630i is $170 dearer, it has a better still photo resolution (1,024 x 768 compared to a screen-only 640 x 480), but the TRV 355E has superior PC connectivity and editing software.
A good mini-cam that compromises on some features in return for high portability. It has similar specs to the MV630i but a $600 higher price, so the cost for the reduction in size is a noticeable one.
It is comparable with the other mini cameras in the lab.
The 20-30GB Nomad Jukebox Zen NX is Creative's latest hard disk-based MP3/WMA player; an evolution of predecessor, the Zen. The model we reviewed was a 20GB unit, which equates to around 667 hours of 64Kbps WMA encoding, or 333 hours of 128Kbps MP3 encoding.
On receiving this unit, we were impressed by the mammoth 15.4in widescreen display. Although sceptical of its ability to perform given its monster display size, we were proven wrong at every turn, with the 8600 performing similarly to the more expensive Toshiba Tecra S1 Notebook (July 2003 page 40). Absolutely bursting at the gills with features, this Notebook boasts an array of connectivity options including side mounted FireWire and IrDA, while on the rear of the unit we find two USB and legacy serial, parallel and S-Video ports.
Beware the hype when buying a digital video camera.
The digital revolution is entering a new, more mature phase. The early adopters are now on to their second or third generation of digital equipment, prices have come down to a more consumer oriented level, and the general public is becoming more digitally aware.
As we were dealing with entry-level DV cameras, we set a price ceiling of $2,000 and in fact, five of the seven cameras tested came in at under $1,500, with one even under $1,000. Given this, we looked at them as an average consumer would, and not as a power user, so more effort was put into looking at the basics rather than some of the fancier bells and whistles.
The second most expensive printer to purchase, Epson’s C900 outlay cost is quite high given its fairly low quality results; as a consequence, this printer’s value rating suffers. Saving face, it managed to finish fourth overall for the speed portion of our testing.
Surprisingly, for a printer of this cost, it is another unit to lack integrated network connectivity, although it is available as an expansion option.
Finishing second overall in our roundup the Epson EPL-6100 was edged out of first place by the HP 1300 and the OKI C5100, with its incredible range of features. However, this is not to say that the Epson EPL-6100 doesn’t have a wide range of functions. On the contrary, it boasts some innovative design and logical technological functions. Its large 250 page input tray makes it ideal for bulk printing, although it shares the same much smaller volume 100 page output tray capacities as both the Lexmark E321 and Minolta-QMS PagePro 1200W models.
Absolutely jam packed with features, this notebook isn't your run-of-the-mill basic-function productivity laptop. At every turn we found hardware above and beyond the call of duty including a 64MB FX5200 graphics card, sexy widescreen display, 80GB hard disk drive and DVD-RAM/DVD-R/RW slot mounted drive for all your backup and home movie-making needs. A hybrid somewhere between legacy continuation and dismissal, this notebook features three rear-mounted USB 2.0 ports and parallel connectivity.
One of the largest form factor printers in our roundup, HP’s Colour LaserJet 1500L has a giant footprint. Although not unattractive, with a purple ramp-like front cover, be prepared to sacrifice a reasonably sized piece of office real estate for this printer.
A nice small footprint, which is an advantage in small office spaces, is the order of the day with HP’s offering to the mono marketplace.
The LaserJet 1300 produced high quality text, with above average readability even on a grey background and at small point sizes. The embedded image on the test page was slightly over exposed, but still had good definition and solid well-formed black text, helping it to score highest overall in neutral text readability. Our monochrome test page turned up some minor blemishing and driver banding, but a reasonably smooth gradient helped the printer finish in first place overall here too.
TCO, or total cost of ownership, is virtually a mantra when it comes to volume printers. Unlike other peripherals, like monitors or scanners, the initial purchase price of a printer represents only a small proportion of its overall cost over its lifetime. Consumables, like toner and replacement image drums, add to the cost, and some printers with low initial purchase prices can easily turn out to be significantly more expensive than more pricey units, after a couple of years.
This month, the PC Authority Labs team looks at a colourful range of printers suitable for the small-medium office market.
There are two areas to look at when testing laser printers: speed and print quality. We used a range of different documents to test the different aspects of each and weighted the results to give the Quality and Speed scores. More detail on each test is also provided online at www.pcauthority.com.au.
While it produced well-defined and solid text all the way down to small font sizes, the E321 did feature a few minor print quality shortcomings; these included heavy toner saturation, making the images dark and murky while poor dithering on gradients made the images appear banded and blotchy.
Surely, this can't be right – a full-colour laser printer for only $1,800? You'd better believe it,
The catch is that the 2300W is a GDI (graphical device interface) printer, so it doesn't have an internal processor and relies on the host system to do all the legwork in preparing the pages. Furthermore, it's parallel and USB 1.1 only and it can't accept a network card. That aside, the printer offers a fine set of features for the price. There's a 600 x 600dpi resolution with a 1,200 x 600dpi Fine ART mode, along with 4ppm colour and 16ppm mono print speeds.
Rating exceptionally well in the TCO portion of our analysis, the PagePro 1200W scored almost twice the average for purchase price due to its incredibly low retail price. Don’t be fooled by the price tag though, this unit features plenty of qualities some other more expensive printers can only dream about.
What do you need from a cordless keyboard? Basically, no cord, and keys that work. Things like smooth action, well-spaced keys, special-function Internet controls and a weighty feel that stops it sliding around are all pluses.
The Quadro FX3000 is based on the same NV35 core that powers the latest GeForce FX 5900 cards, but with a few new additions to cater to the professional market. Compared to the older Quadro FX2000, which was based on the NV30, or GeForce FX5800, the FX3000 has double the memory, at 256MB, as well as a 256-bit memory interface, giving double the theoretical graphics bandwidth, hitting just over 27GB/s. It also supports other features from the NV35, including a 128-bit floating-point precision graphics pipeline, 128-bit colour, 12-bit sub-pixel accuracy, 16x full-scene anti-aliasing, 3D volumetric textures, and of course support for all the latest OpenGL, DirectX and NVIDIA’s own Cg graphics language versions.
Clearly finishing first in the colour laser category, the C5100 is the pinnacle of affordable laser printing. Big and bulky, it doesn’t have a small footprint though, so be prepared to give up some of your workspace for it.
This well-priced mini cam fits snugly in the palm of your hand and like any good entry-level camera can even be used by a child. It's just a matter of pointing and shooting which gets points in our books for a consumer camera.
We take mail filtering for granted today, but it was big news back in 1991. Pegasus was the first to do it and, 12 years later, its long history ensures lots of development time and a strong community of helpful users. The latest release is a major upgrade, and filtering is still at the forefront.
There was a time when Pinnacle dominated the PC video-editing market. But, after its initial success with the DV500, the advent of sophisticated realtime editing seemed to leave the company behind. While it was a good product, the company’s Pro-ONE arrived when competitive products from Matrox and Canopus had been available for some time. The Pinnacle Edition PRO 5 is an entirely different matter.
As well as being the first company to launch EIDE DVD burners into the mainstream IT marketplace, Pioneer is the company behind DVD-R and DVD-RW recordable media formats. In the last couple of years, it has fought hard to stave off competition from Philips' rival standard, DVD+RW, and until recently buying a DVD recorder meant locking yourself into one standard over the other.
Polaroid's move into the digital market was just commonsense. After all, the digital camera market in Australia is growing faster than any other non-food consumer item except DVD software, and the days of traditional cameras seem well and truly over.
Stylish and bursting with features, Polyview deserves to take the 17in LCD market by the horns and turn it upside down as it did with the CMV1515 (June 2003). Another display to boast the 16ms pixel response time, the fast rise and fall rate of the pixels in this display make it ideal for gaming, even when playing first person shooters or watching video.
Disk-imaging software can be put to many varied uses, and products like Drive Image prove particularly useful in our labs when upgrading to a new hard disk or for swiftly refreshing a test system.
Even with falling hardware prices, the expense and yet to be finalised format war rages on with DVD writing technology deterring many a consumer. DVD+R/RW appear to be making headway gradually with both format flexibility and hardware integration into next generation platforms.
Samsung's smallest and most attractive mono laser, the ML-1510 is a speedy little printer with plenty of potential for the sub-$500 price bracket. So good in fact that we had to recommend it for its above average scores in all categories.
We originally debated whether or not to include a multifunction unit in this roundup as we feared it would not have been an apples with apples comparison, or that the print quality could not compare with the other printers on test. Given the performance of the SCX-4216F though, we were proven wrong.
Samsung has produced a nice looking mini-cam with an unusual dual zoom system. One button for optical and another for the digital, which serves more to confuse than help.
Currently only available to OEMs, although it should be released later to the consumer market, Seagate’s Momentus hard drive upgrade kit is designed to boost the common bottleneck issue of hard drive performance in notebooks, tablet PCs, digital audio players and blade servers.
Ongoing concerns about the security of wireless networks and an increasing demand to be able to connect remotely to office and home networks has forced many people to look for a reasonably priced VPN solution. Virtual Private Networks use the Internet to establish a secure link between an external PC and a local network.
A bargain can be defined as something for which you pay less than you budgeted for, and for which you get more than you expected. Under those criteria the Sony TRV 250E qualifies as a definite bargain.
Prices have come down in recent times and there is no better example than the Sony TRV 355E. Compromising on size and portability, but not on video quality or features.
Despite its size, it's still lighter than many VHS cameras but has more features and equals most for image quality.
Designed from the ground up with gamers in mind, GameVision has produced a fine looking and practical system with plenty of potential. The system is built around Intel’s now legendary 2.4GHz Pentium 4 ’C’ stepping processor, one of the most overclockable chips available on the market. With substantiated overclocks of up to 3.6GHz with stock air-cooling, these unassuming CPUs are powerhouses of frequency, if you know how to milk the most from them.
The Vivicam 5 is a 24-bit 640 x 480 digital camera, which you can almost hide in the palm lf your hand.
Why are we reviewing something that is a mere 36GB? Simple -- because this one drops access times and pumps up the transfer rate. Not targeted at the home user, the 36GB WD Raptor is marketed as an enterprise-level SATA drive -- the fastest drive on offer by WD. Capacity becomes an afterthought for the Raptor with its 10,000rpm spindle concerning itself with speed, resulting in seek times of around 5.2ms, compared to the 8.9ms of a 7,200rpm drive.