PC & Tech Authority Magazine Issue: June, 2003
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Issue: 0 | June, 2003

About PC & Tech Authority Magazine:

Australia's premier computer magazine, PC Authority gives you the facts, opinions and insight to make informed PC and tech purchasing decisions. Every issue is packed with the latest products, reviewed by an expert team of technical writers and guarantees more Aussie exclusives and first looks than any other Australian PC magazine.

Trusted for its reliable & objective product reviews, the foundation of the magazine is the comprehensive and thorough evaluations of every product tested by the tech team in our Labs. Its readers are both PC enthsusiasts at home and small-medium business decision makers at work.

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Articles in this issue

ACCESS 2003

Again, SharePoint and XML support separate Access 2003 from its predecessors, and Access can now import and export XML data using custom Schemas. Exports can employ XSLT transforms to match data formats to other custom Schemas, and you may include related data such as look-up tables so you export structured data.

Acer Veriton 7500G

Businesses have come to rely on Acer workstations for their stability and usability without a huge price tag, and this system easily fulfills these requirements.

ADOBE ACROBAT 6.0 PROFESSIONAL BETA

Adobe has been riding high on the success of the portable document format (PDF), and the Acrobat creation tools needed to generate them. Later in the year version 6.0 will be launched, but in the meantime we have a preview of Acrobat Professional 6.0 Beta.

BenQ DC2300

The BenQ DC2300 is a 2.1-megapixel camera with 2,048 x 1,536 optical resolution, 8MB internal memory, fixed focus, and built-in flash. It stores images and video in MMC and SD card media, has a USB interface and takes AA batteries. A fairly low priced camera, the DC2300 offers white-balance modes, metering modes and exposure adjustments.

Beyond Computers BEY5010

You can't help but to notice the slim-line chassis with its brushed aluminium finish this machine sports. Flipping down the front panel reveals the front-mounted audio, USB, and infrared port, which is a nice inclusion for those corporate customers using PDAs or mobile phones with IR synching.

Canon PowerShot A300

The Canon A300 is an entry level 3.2-megapixel camera with rather plain specifications and an average range of photgraphic features.

CANON PowerShot Digital IXUS 400

A sexy magnesium-alloy housing gives the IXUS 400 one of the most compact camera bodies submitted this month. The bright 118,000-pixel LCD gives an excellent preview of your images or for shot placement when not using the viewfinder.

CANON PowerShot S50

Once the lens shutters are opened, the Canon PowerShot S50 powers up and welcomes you with a tone. Similar to the smaller Canon IXUS 400 in terms of features, it too ships with a 32MB CF card and AV cables. With fairly easy to navigate menus, the S50 also features video capture and a thumb-sliding preview mode.

Click! The No-nonsense Guide To Digital Cameras

Beginning with the basics of digital cameras, the underlying hardware and the concepts of taking a good photo, Click!, by Ron White expands on this information in great detail in the following chapters. Although this comes across as a ‘Dummies' type title, it contains enough good information to be considered by the self-styled digital photo enthusiast as well as the beginner.

Creative PCCAM 850

The Creative PC-CAM 850 is a 2-megapixel digital camera geared to double up as a Webcam and a camcorder. Priced at a low $279, it hosts an impressive 16MB of built-in memory, writes to both MMC and SD card media and also has S-Video output.

DR. FIX IT

It's a fair guess that if you're a frequent burner of optical media that you have more than a few scratched or dirty discs that can no longer be read by your drive.

EXCEL 2003

The buzzword in Excel 2003 is XML, best illustrated by the new mapping feature. This lets you map cells, columns and ranges to data held in XML data sources, so you can create Excel workbooks showing data from Web Services or other back-end data stores. The XML data is validated on input into Excel against a custom XML Schema under your control. Excel can also save your work in a native XML workbook format, which keeps any formatting but avoids the proprietary XLS file format. You may also, however, save data as a pure XML data file, leaving any formatting in the template. This XML data file can be put through BizTalk or imported into a back-end database.

FRONTPAGE 2003

FrontPage used to pride itself on its almost code-free approach to Web design, but not any more. Top of the new coding features is the Split View, which combines layout and HTML views. There are also improved code formatting and Auto-complete features, providing a drop-down list of context-sensitive options as you type. Auto-complete also handles regularly reused code snippets and works with HTML, CSS, XSL, JavaScript, JScript, VBScript and ASP .NET, which are all directly editable.

Gigabyte GA-8KNXP

Gigabyte's new Canterwood-based GA-8KNXP is, without a doubt, one of the most full-featured motherboards we've ever seen. It incorporates all of the basics offered by the MSI 865PE Neo2 (see below) plus more. The differences between the older 845 and new 865 (Springdale) and 875 (Canterwood) chipsets are primarily feature-based – the 875P is designed to be the ultra-high-end option for extreme power users. As such, it's more expensive but has more niche capabilities.

GigaFast HomePlug

The HomePlug networking standard has been around in the States and other countries for a few years, and has proven a popular alternative to running CAT 5 cabling in your walls or for the (then) expensive cost of setting up a wireless network. HomePlug is wired networking for sure, but it uses an existing infrastructure in your office or domicile: your copper electricity power 'network' that feeds your TV, hair-dryer, fridge and any other electrical appliance the juice it needs to run. In short, HomePlug uses your house's electrical wiring.

HP PhotoSmart 720

Out of the box this camera produced beautiful results, despite being only 3-megapixels. It produced some fantastic images under our testing conditions and also in regular applications.

HP PhotoSmart 850

The HP PhotoSmart 850 has a huge protruding lens, and a fairly fast-responding display and a clever feature that turns off either the viewfinder or the LCD if not required (depending on which one you're using at the time).

IBM NetVista M42 (830544A)

The IBM NetVista M42 business PC offers a 2.4GHz Pentium 4 with 256MB DDR RAM and a 40GB hard disk.

INFOPATH

At its heart, you can think of InfoPath as being a forms engine. Drag the item you need onto the page, wire it up to a data source, and you have something akin to Microsoft Access. But that's where the similarities end.

Kodak EasyShare CX4230

The EasyShare CX4230 is a 2.1-megapixel unit with 16MB internal memory, ability to write to both SD and MMC, 3x optical zoom, auto focus, USB and PC card connectivity, and video-out.

KODAK EasyShare LS443

Kodak's LS433 is similar than its little brother the LS633, and they fight it out on slightly different battlefields. The 4-megapixel LS443 is the slightly bulkier of the two, has a smaller display and weighs a little more.

KODAK EasyShare LS633

Receiving this model last month, we knew we were seeing innovation in action with the introduction of OLED technology and the ultra wide and bright 2.2-inch display. OLED allows for less power consumption while providing a noticeably brighter and clearer display than other technologies – perfect for direct sunlight and angular viewing.

KODAK EASYSHARE PRINTER DOCK 6000

The Kodak EasyShare Printer Dock 6000 is a tiny photo printer-cum-camera dock for Kodak EasyShare CX/DX 6000 and LS600-series cameras. Although it's designed to print 4 x 6in borderless prints, the dock is capable of a lot more. The abundance of functions this dock can perform boggles the mind. Ranging from slide show streaming, three-hour camera Li-Ion battery charging, multiple print runs and PC file-synching, this printer does it all.

MICROSOFT OFFICE 2003 BETA 2

It has been over two years since we previewed Office XP, but Microsoft has finally given us a glimpse of Office 2003. The finished version should be on the shelves by the end of July, but will it be worth the upgrade? The answer could be an emphatic 'yes' if you're a Tablet PC user, as Microsoft has just launched OneNote (see page 59), making full use of electronic ink. The company is also introducing InfoPath (see page 59) for designing electronic forms, with the flexibility of XML. The classic apps have also had their seen refurbishment, with Outlook (page 56) getting the most attention, and FrontPage and Publisher (page 58) a bit of a revamp.

MINOLTA DiMAGE 7i

For a camera as packed with controls as this, Minolta has still kept the body comfortable and light. With more features than your average Boeing, this camera's menu modes are entered into with a jog dial that locks in the off position, stopping you from draining your batteries with accidental inside travel-gear shots.

Minolta DiMAGE F300

The DiMAGE F300 is a 5.3-megapixel camera, with a built-in 3x optical zoom, 32MB of internal memory, and support for SD and MMC media. It's a camera that allows a good deal of control of exposure, colour, contrast, saturation, and white balance and also features a noise reduction system.

MSI Neo2-FIS2R

MSI's new motherboard is based on the Intel 865, or Springdale chipset, heralding the arrival of a host of new technologies (such as support for dual-channel DDR-RAM, AGP 8x and SATA) in Pentium 4 boards. These technologies have been commonplace in Althon boards for more than six months, and it's been an agonizing wait for many Pentium 4 fans.

Nikon Coolpix 3100

The Nikon Coolpix comes with a 3.2-megapixel CCD, 3x optical zoom and a good range of basic features needed for quick and easy shooting. One of the smallest in this round-up, the Nikon Coolpix 3100 is slightly larger than a credit card and about an inch and half thick. Its build quality is good and it will make an excellent travel accessory, easily fitting into a purse or a pocket.

NIKON Coolpix 4500

Just another 4-megapixel camera is what we expected when we opened the box and pulled out the Nikon Coolpix 4500, but this beauty soon proved us wrong.

Olympus Camedia C-5050 Zoom

The Camedia C-5050 is a 5.3-megapixel camera offering a good balance of automatic and manual settings, catering for users who like a professional look and feel. It also offers USB connectivity, separate status LCD, optical resolution of 2,560 x 1,920, support for RAW output format and video-out.

Olympus Camedia C-740

The Olympus Camedia C-740 is a 3.2-megapixel camera offering images at 2,048 x 1,536, with a maximum 10x optical zoom. Offering USB connectivity, miniature xD-Picture card support and video output that allows pictures to be viewed on TV as well

ONENOTE

OneNote is one of those rare apps you'll wonder how you ever managed without it. It's basically a note-taking application where you work on sheets of electronic paper, putting down your ideas and rearranging them.

Opinion: Paul Thurrott: Short takes

An often irreverent look at some of the past week's other news.

OUTLOOK AND BUSINESS CONTACT MANAGER 2003

Office 2003 has undergone a lot of tweaking, but the most obvious changes are in the new and improved Outlook 2003. The differences will be obvious as soon as you fire it up.

PC Direct Extreme 2600+ PRO

The first PC Direct machine we've tested features an eye-catching black anodized case with custom stealth drive face plates on all drives and front USB and audio connectors. Easy access via the tool-less snap panels takes this case the extra mile.

PC Repair Bench Book

Not a bad tome to have in the computer room, the PC Repair Bench Book, by R Glister, is geared more towards the beginner tinkerer than the hardcore techie, but it's chock full of good information. Much more descriptive than "Upgrading and repairing PCs" (March 2003, page 63) but without the depth straight away, the PC Repair Bench Book is broken into 10 major sections.

POLYVIEW CMV 1515

After last month's massive TFT Labs it became apparent that the old 'caveat emptor' is alive and kicking. You're not always going to get what you pay for – but on rare occasions, you get a lot more, as is the case with the Polyview CMV 1515 display. Stylish and bursting at the gills with features, this monitor deserves to make a significant impact on the LCD market. It's impressive specs include a 15ms pixel response time, which is undoubtedly the fastest we've seen.

POWERPOINT 2003

PowerPoint was already the class leader, and it just got better, most notably because you can now embed video playback in full-screen mode while still in slide show view.

PUBLISHER 2003

What makes Publisher different is its automated approach to design through its colour and font schemes and huge range of publication templates. These are handled via the redesigned Task Pane, which now has a simplified Start panel offering drill-down access to project types split into print, Web and themed sets. Another ten attractive master sets increase the total to 45.

Ricoh Caplio G3

The Caplio G3 is a 3.24-megapixel compact digital camera featuring a maximum optical resolution of 2,048 x 1,536, 3x zoom and auto and manual focus. It records images to 8MB of internal memory, SD or MMC media. It is capable of audio and video capture, video-out, and it can connect to a computer via USB.

ROXIO EASY CD CREATOR 6

Easy CD Creator (ECD) 6 is a complete CD-R and DVD recorder that allows you to create audio CDs, video CDs (VCD and SVCD format) and data and movie DVDs.

Secret lens business : Digital Cameras

If you want a digital camera, then look no further than our roundup of all the latest models.

SONY CyberShot DSC-FX77

Sony's DSC-FX77 has some really nifty features, including the addition of Bluetooth connectivity.

SONY CyberShot DSC-P32

Sony has a reputation in the PC Authority Labs for providing both quality and reliable products. The DSC-P32 is no exception.

SOUND BLASTER AUDIGY 2 PLATINUM EX

Think of sound cards and chances are you're probably thinking of Creative. Thanks to its phenomenally successful Sound Blaster line of cards, Creative is easily the leader of consumer PC audio. The Sound Blaster Audigy 2 Platinum Ex is the latest in this range, and is by far the most feature rich. The question is do you need most of these features?

TARGA VQ2110

If you're in the market for a budget digital camera, then the Targa VQ2110 may be just the one for you.

TDK ARMOUR PLATED DVD-R

Although discs are far more durable than tape, they can still get scratched or soiled easily, rendering them useless and necessitating a product like Dr. Fix (opposite) to revitalise them.

The Next Big Thing Is Really Small

The Next Big Thing is Really Small, by Uldrich and Newberry, is a strange beast. Hyping the upcoming "nanotechnology age" and how businesses should prepare, the book is part nanotechnology primer, part prophetic tome, part educational text and 100% nanotech hype. Suffering from more than a bit of 'isn't nanotechnology great!' which particularly pervades the early chapters, the authors have their work cut out for them as nanotech has yet to really manifest.

VIA C3M266FL

VIA is attempting to tackle Shuttle’s stranglehold on the micro-PC market with the launch of the C3M266 motherboard coupled with a C3 processor...

Weblog: Darren Ellis: Censorship down

11-03-03 Internet censorship. What's the deal? Plus: bonus dumb links!!! Your reward for scrolling past...

WORD 2003

With its cosmetically enhanced menus and toolbars, Word 2003 is now smoother and prettier, but the bulk of Microsoft's efforts are hidden under the surface. There are a quite a number of enhancements that will appeal to everyone, but the majority of Word's new features are aimed at the corporate market, with support for XML, Smart documents and IRM (Information Rights Management).

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