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SECURITY SUITES NEW! HIGH-DEF DVD
TOTAL PROTECTION AGAINST First Hands-On Tests
SPYWARE, HACKERS & SPAM How to Build the PERFECT PC
JULY 2006 u TECHNOLOGY ADVICE YOU CAN TRUST ® u WWW.PCWORLD.COM

100
BEST
PRODUCTS
OF THE YEAR
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W W W . P C W O R L D . C O M

F E AT U R E S

S ECU R I T Y S U I T ES

100 All-In-One Security


Today, threats to your PC take many forms,
from simple viruses to sophisticated spy-
ware. Though you can defend your system
with separate tools by different makers,
security suites promise integrated, compre-
hensive protection from dangers old and
new. We tested ten such packages, pitting
them against a rogues’ gallery of malware.

O N L I N E STO RAG E

121 Store It
on the Web
Online data storage
services provide a
hedge against hard
disk failure with off-
site backup, a conve-
nient place to store files
when you’re running out of
room, and an easy way to share anything
82 from spreadsheets to videos with family,
friends, and coworkers. We look at 17 free
and low-cost services—and pick our favorite
C OV E R S T O RY
for each of these three major uses.

82 The 100 Best Products


O N TH E COVE R
of the Year
Our World Class awards for 2006
121 45
pay tribute to outstanding products
and services as diverse as dual-core 20
CPUs, image editors, wide-screen 100
LCDs, e-mail apps, digital cameras, 128
browsers, and (of course) PCs. Plus:
We take a not-very-nostalgic look at
82
some true technology lowlights—the
25 worst tech products of all time.

Cover photography by Marc Simon.


100

J U LY 2 0 0 6 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M 7
R E V I E WS & R A N K I N G S D E PA R T M E N T S

52 Audio Players 17 Up Front


Models from Apple, Cre- A look behind this year’s World Class Awards.
ative, Dell, and SanDisk
76 34 Letters
57 Ultra Mobile PCs A range of reactions to our “Fabulous Freebies.”
Samsung Q1, 41 Consumer Watch
TabletKiosk EO Charges for cell phone extras add up—and up.
58 Top 10 Notebook PCs 45 Hassle-Free PC
60 DVD Software Refuse e-mail with huge attachments; use blind-
Ulead MovieFactory 5 copy addressing to protect recipients’ privacy.
60 Notebook PC 47 Gadget Freak
Toshiba Satellite Is the truly universal remote just a cruel mirage?
P105-S921 49 Bugs and Fixes
61 Plasma Displays What to do when security patches need patching.
Models from Maxent, 152 Full Disclosure
Samsung, and Vizio Craving a hot new product? Better cool off a bit.
62 Top 10 Inkjet MFPs
64 Hard Drive N E WS & T R E N D S
Seagate Barracuda
7200.10 750GB 20 High-Def DVD Products Arrive
67 Top 5 NAS Drives They’re here, but until the format war between
68 Accounting Software Blu-ray and HD DVD gets resolved, consumers
Peachtree Premium 2007 47 must carefully weigh their buying alternatives.
70 Video System 24 First Draft-N Networking Gear Disappoints
MovieBeam Player Equipment based on the interim 802.11n wire-
70 GPS Device less standard is slower than 802.11g products.
Sony Nav-U NV-U70 26 Microsoft Revamps Media Player
72 Backup Utilities In a major overhaul, the software acquires a new,
Apps from CMS Prod- Vista-style interface. We test-drive the beta.
ucts, NTI, and Stardock 28 Beware of Mailed Ads That Look Like Bills
74 Value Desktop PC Companies are targeting domain name owners
eMachines T6532 with marketing pitches disguised as invoices.
76 Digital Camcorder 30 Plugged In
Panasonic VDR-D300 AMD and Intel are poised to do battle yet again.
78 More Reviews
See page 52 for a complete list of H E R E ’ S H OW
new products reviewed.
74
128 Step-By-Step
FIND-IT URLs
Assemble your own fully equipped desktop PC.
TO ACCESS INFORMATION about any item in PC World with an accom- 132 Windows Tips
panying Find-It URL, enter find.pcworld.com/xxxxx (where xxxxx is A safe way to run programs that you don’t trust.
the appropriate five-digit number) into your browser’s location field. 134 Internet Tips
You’ll jump to a Web page containing the information you want. Identify IP addresses; create Web site shortcuts.
136 Answer Line
Transfer important data to a new drive partition.
C O M I N G U P I N AU G U S T
138 GPS Tips
The Top 10 Security Threats You Internet News Wrangling: New Use waypoints to customize your GPS device.
Don’t Know About: The latest on sites and software make getting
the battle for control of your PC. the news you need a breeze. RESOURCES
Affordable Dual-Core PCs: A new Cheap Laptop Tweaks: Tips and
crop of value desktops promise add-on hardware and software for 12 How to Contact PC World
high speed for around $1500. getting more from your notebook. 141 PC World Marketplace
151 Advertiser Index

J U LY 2 0 0 6 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M 9
HHAAR
RRRY
Y M c CRAC
CKKEENN

How the 100 Best Products Got That Way


Eclectic. Inventive. Essential. Our World Class winners are all that and more.
in 1983, PC World’s founders had a brainstorm: Why not create an honor the Year, Intel’s Core Duo processor plat-
form, which showed up both in powerful
roll of terrific products in an array of categories? Their inaugural “World
new Windows notebooks and in the first
Class PC Contest” celebrated 14 very old-school items. (Hey, back in those Macs that can dual-boot into Windows.
We took pains, however, to ensure that
days a monochrome dot-matrix printer could be the essence of cool.)
the list didn’t devolve into a
Fast-forward to 2006. The parade of items you already
competition we now call the know about. In fact, I’d never
World Class Awards remains a heard of some of the products
popular yearly extravaganza, until a colleague made an im-
and not just in its traditional passioned case for them. (One
dead-tree form: 2005’s version example is JavaCool’s EULA-
was by far the best-read story in lyzer Personal, which gives
the history of our Web site. cryptic, interminable software
This year’s edition—“The 100 end-user agreements the once-
Best Products of the Year”*— over so you don’t have to.)
starts on page 82. Once again, Another methodology tweak
the festivities span both print for 2006: For the first time, we
and online. Head over to find. told editors to rate contenders
pcworld.com/53158 to see an for the list regardless of price
expanded version offering ex- WORLD CLASS HONCHO Stafford with a few of our 100 winners. tag. “That helped some prod-
tras such as online video and, ucts, like Yamaha’s RX-V4600
on June 6, a live chat session with Senior “Traditional computing products are still receiver, which sells for $1200,” says
Writer Alan Stafford, who edited the fea- important, of course, but our winners Alan. We had a hunch, though, that this
ture and spearheaded the weeks of meet- also reflect the smart technology that can approach wouldn’t result in big-ticket
ings, ballots, and impromptu hallway now be found in everything from Web luxuries pushing out useful bargains,
dialogues that determined our winners. services to consumer electronics.” and it didn’t. In fact, more than a quarter
Perusing this year’s roster, I’m struck Does ranking such far-flung items of the winners are free applications and
by its sheer diversity. “The products we from 1 to 100 seem quixotic? There was services—the latest evidence that we
cover extend far beyond the PC, because plenty of method to our madness: PCW technology users are truly living in a
technology today means so much more editors painstakingly rated every con- golden age of freebies.
than simply sitting at a desk hammering tender on multiple measures. As always, If these awards are anything like last
away at a spreadsheet,” Alan explains. the ultimate benchmark was whether a year’s, they’ll be read, reread, debated,
product or service did something worth and dissected until it’s time for us to do
* WONDERING WHY “The Best Prod-
ucts of the Year” appear in our July
doing, and did it well—a question that
was equally applicable whether what we
our World Class thing all over again. And
that’s part of the fun. Let the conversa-
issue? Glad you asked. For eons, we were judging was a laptop, a security tion begin: Write me at mageditor@
doled out trophies during the mid- suite, a music service, or an HDTV set. pcworld.com with your take on our picks,
PHOTOGRAPH: RICK RIZNER

year PC Expo show. The show died, But this year, we formally took each and I’ll report back at my Techlog blog
but the awards still flourish. Call nominee’s impact into consideration as (blogs.pcworld.com/techlog).
them “The Best Products at This well as its excellence. Those that were
Particular Moment,” if you prefer... influential and widely adopted scored Harry McCracken is the editor in chief of
points here, including 2006’s Product of PC World.

J U LY 2 0 0 6 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M 17
What’s new and what’s next in technology INSIDE

22 BLU-RAY AND HD DVD


COMPARED
24 FIRST TESTS OF DRAFT-N
WI-FI GEAR
26 HANDS-ON WITH THE NEW
WINDOWS MEDIA PLAYER
28 WATCH OUT FOR ADS THAT
LOOK LIKE BILLS
30 PLUGGED IN: FASTER
DESKTOP DUAL-CORE CPUs

E D I T E D BY E D WA R D N . A L B R O

DVD Goes High-Def


HIGH-DEFINITION DVD PRODUCTS ARE HERE, BUT CONSUMERS STILL FACE A THORNY DILEMMA
AS TWO INCOMPATIBLE FORMATS BATTLE FOR THEIR DOLLARS. B Y M E L I S S A J . P E R E N S O N
after much bluster Warner Brothers, are sup-
and several false starts, porting both formats).
high-definition DVD For now, early adopters
products for home and have a clear choice—
PC have arrived—but in which format you pick
two incompatible formats, depends on what you
Blu-ray Disc and HD want to do with the device.
DVD. That means buyers The HD DVD camp’s ini-
will have to carefully tial living-room players
weigh their options as we and read-only drives are
wait to see which—if solely for playing HD
either—technology will HIGH-DEF FOR the DVD movies. The first
inherit DVD’s crown. living room and PC: Blu-ray Disc products are
For the companies in- Toshiba’s HD DVD player, PC-centric data recorders,
volved in developing the the HD-A1 ($500, above); though they’ll also play
technologies, the stakes Pioneer’s Blu-ray BDR-101A Blu-ray Disc movies due
are high: In play is a lucra- burner ($1000) for computers. out in June. We tested the
tive pool of licensing fees, first shipping products
not to mention bragging for a rundown of the differ- Hollywood movies that should from each side, and found
rights for dominating the liv- ences between HD DVD and become available for each for- that they lived up to the hype.
ing room. Proponents in each Blu-ray, as well as a list of re- mat. Blu-ray Disc has the sup- The trickle of devices will
PHOTOGRAPH: MARC SIMON

camp are quick to point out leased and upcoming prod- port of six major studios—all turn into a landslide later this
the advantages of their format ucts for each format.) of the majors except for Uni- year. Blu-ray especially has an
over the other, but in reality, The most significant differ- versal, which is one of three impressive array of announced
the specs are more alike than ence between the two is the studios backing HD DVD (the offerings on the way—but the
not. (See our chart on page 22 number of high-definition other two, Paramount and prices are almost twice that of

20 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M J U LY 2 0 0 6
IN BRIEF
comparable HD DVD devices. seemed interminable. Plus, pack about 22GB on a single
The first Blu-ray video players the unusually long remote is write-once disc (nearly five
should cost $1000 and up; you awkward to handle. These times the 4.7GB capacity of a Product Pipeline
can score Toshiba’s HD DVD design quirks are the harder single-layer DVD disc), in MICROSOFT BETAS: It’s
player, the HD-A1, for $500. to swallow considering this is around 45 minutes. We raining public betas in Red-
Also on the horizon: Micro- a next-generation product tar- achieved a throughput of 67 mond. Beta 2 of Microsoft
soft will offer an external HD geted at home theater lovers, megabits per second, which is Office 2007—which won’t
DVD drive for its Xbox 360 who are used to the fast very close to the theoretical expire until the shipping
console, while Sony’s highly response and polished designs maximum of 72 mbps—or 9 product is in stores (in early
anticipated PlayStation 3 will of today’s DVD players. megabytes per second—for 2007, Microsoft says)—is
incorporate a Blu-ray drive. We also got a sneak peek at 2X BD-R. It took just a bit lon- available for free download
Toshiba’s $3000 Qosmio G35- ger than that to copy the same at find.pcworld.com/53618;
HD DVD FOR HOME AV650, the first notebook disc back to the hard drive. read about it at find.pcworld.
the first hd dvd player to containing a read-only HD The promise of so much com/53620. And Beta 2 of
ship, Toshiba’s HD-A1, both DVD drive. This model, ship- capacity on a single disc is Internet Explorer 7 for Win-
impressed and disappointed. ping in June, is a hefty desk- alluring, not only for storing dows XP SP2—the first IE 7
The HD-A1 produced video top replacement unit packing video and music, but also for beta intended for a general
that was eye-catchingly streamlining data back- audience—is also available
brilliant, as we observed
with HD DVD movies
Today, which format ups. Backing up your
data with the Pioneer
for download (go to find.
pcworld.com/53626 ); see
such as Serenity and The will take a little bit lon- our commentary at find.
Phantom of the Opera. you pick depends on ger than burning five pcworld.com/53630.
And once you’ve seen single-layer DVD-Rs,
the quality that a high- what you want to do: but you’ll save time
def movie can deliver, compared with burning
you’ll be hooked. play back video only, the same capacity to
We attached the HD- double-layer DVD+R.
A1 to a Samsung 32- or record data as well. And that’s not counting
inch plasma TV, whose the time for disc swaps.
maximum resolution of 1080i a 2-GHz Intel Core Duo (Blu-ray movies were unavail-
matches the top output of the T2500 chip, 1GB of RAM, able in time to test playback.)
HD-A1. In the first 15 min- 200GB of hard disk storage, a However, Pioneer made
utes of Phantom, the high-def 17-inch, 1920-by-1200 display, some sacrifices to rush the
advantage was clear, as com- nVidia GeForce Go 7600 BDR-101A to market. It does
pared with an upconverted graphics with 256MB of not read or write to CDs, and
standard-def Phantom DVD. memory, an analog TV tuner, its write speeds to standard
Viewing the HD DVD, we ob- and HDMI output at 1080i. DVD formats are slower than
served more depth, better with a dedicated DVD burner
facial textures and skin tones BLU-RAY BURNERS (8X DVD+R versus 16X for a PALM’S TREO 700P: A
on the dancers, superior han- the first blu-ray offer- standard DVD drive, for Palm OS–based version of
dling of light, fewer artifacts, ings—Pioneer Electronics’ example). It also does not the Treo 700—the first Palm
and details like the individual BDR-101A ($1000) and Sony’s write to dual-layer 50GB BD to support fast EvDO data
toes on the chickens’ feet, AR Premium VGN-AR19G media. The second wave of networks—should be on sale
which the comparison DVD laptop ($3500)—are intended burners, due this summer, by the time you read this.
rendered as blurry blobs. more for video and data burn- will handle CD writing and The Treo 700p is in many
But in design and mechani- ing, not home entertainment. dual-layer writes, making ways a lot like its Windows
cal playback, the HD-A1 fal- We tested the production- those drives more appropriate Mobile–based predecessor,
ters. The unit is bulky, its but- level BDR-101A drive using for data pack rats who want the Treo 700w—but with im-
tons felt slow to respond, BD-R media from TDK, and maximum storage capacity. provements such as out-of-
jumping among different close-to-final software from Another drawback: The box support for its use as a
parts of a disc was sluggish, Sonic Solutions. The unit’s drive, geared for the profes- high-speed wireless modem
and, most critically, the time appeal for data and video sional authoring market, lacks (if you buy a data plan pro-
the unit took to begin playing burning is undeniable: In PC any software for disc author- viding that functionality).
after we inserted the disc World’s tests, we were able to ing and packet writing.

J U LY 2 0 0 6 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M 21
NEWS & T RENDS

By contrast, the first laptop with any new format, howev-


to boast a Blu-ray burner, er, change is already on the
Sony’s VGN-AR19G, is clearly horizon—and you should be
aimed at consumers. Out in cautious before you leap.
June, the 8.8-pound unit had For one thing, while the
a preproduction drive, so we first Blu-ray Disc players for
did not test its speed. But we the living room, due out this
had no problems playing discs summer, output at 1080p,
we recorded in the Pioneer on none of the first-generation
the Sony, and vice versa. HD DVD players do so: 1080p
For its price, you get a 2- produces smoother action TOSHIBA’S QOSMIO
GHz Core Duo T2500 proces- sequences than 1080i. The lat- G35-AV650 has a
sor, 1GB DDR2 memory, a est HDTVs support 1080p, read-only HD DVD drive
17-inch screen powered by and Universal and Warner ($3000, right); Sony’s VGN-AR19G
nVidia GeForce Go 7600 GT Brothers already encode their notebook features a Blu-ray burner ($3500).
graphics with 256MB of RAM, HD films at 1080p. Second-
a TV tuner, and HDMI con- generation players will sup- scheme, which doesn’t sup- bandwidth Digital Content
nectors, making it a well- port 1080p, according to the port the ability to legally copy Protection connection over
equipped, if pricey, desktop HD DVD Promotion Group, a movie from disc to disc, or DVI or HDMI (go to find.
replacement system. but release dates are not set. to another device, like a por- pcworld.com/53542 for more
Another consideration: no table player (see find.pcworld. on HDCP). Any HDTV with
CAVEATS AHEAD managed content. All first- com/53540 for details). HDMI should be covered, but
clearly, these new for- generation Blu-ray and HD Yet another gotcha: To many PC monitors and older
mats offer something beyond DVD devices use an interim enjoy the full-resolution HD sets with DVI only may not.
what today’s DVDs can. As version of the copy-protection image, you’ll need a High- An HD copy-protection ele-
ment allows Hollywood stu-
F E AT U R E S C O M PA R I S O N
dios to degrade output over
analog or non-HDCP video
SIDE BY SIDE: TWO FLAVORS OF HIGH-DEF DVD connections, to 960 by 540
BLU-RAY AND HD DVD specs are similar, but product types, costs, and availability vary widely. pixels—half HD’s full resolu-
SPECIFICATIONS Blu-ray Disc (BD) HD DVD tion. Most studios say they
1
won’t do this at the outset, but
25GB single-layer BD-R/RE /ROM; 50GB dual-layer 15GB single-layer R/ROM, 30GB dual-layer R/ROM,
Capacity BD-R/RE 1/ROM 20GB RW/RAM, 45GB triple-layer HD DVD-ROM the capability exists—and
many of those same studios
Throughput 1X BD = 36 mbps 2 1X HD DVD= 36.55 mbps 2
made sure it was available.
And don’t expect either
Price of media $20 for BD-R, $25 for BD-RE Not available 3
camp to ship any living-room
recorders until end of year or
Announced movie titles 13 30
(through June 2006) the beginning of 2007.
Pioneer BDR-101A rewritable drive ($1000); Sony Toshiba HD-A1 player ($500), HD-XA1 player ($800);
Too many factors are still
June 2006 AR Premium VGN-AR19G notebook with Blu-ray Toshiba Qosmio G35-AV650 laptop with read-only up in the air to pick a winner
burner ($3500) HD DVD drive ($3000)
in this format war. In terms
Samsung BD-P1000 ($999), Pioneer BDP-HD1
of hardware, studio commit-
DEVICES

($1800), and Sony BDP-S1 ($1000) players; Sony RCA HDV5000 player ($500); Acer Aspire 9800 laptop
Summer 2006 VGC-RC310G ($2250) PC; PC burners from BenQ, I-O with read-only HD DVD drive ($2600) ment, and pure specs, Blu-ray
Data, LG, Lite-On, Samsung, and Sony 4
has the edge. However, HD
Panasonic DMP-BD10 player (September, $1500);
DVD’s significant price
Panasonic PC burner 4 (September); Sony Xbox 360 console external HD DVD drive 4; living-room
Fall 2006 and later PlayStation 3 console (November, $499 and $599); recorders (Winter 2006) advantage may end up decid-
living-room recorders (Winter 2006)
ing the issue. If you don’t
With wider studio support, better specs, and data HD DVD devices currently deliver high-def content at a need to be the first on your
PHOTOGRAPH: MARC SIMON

Bottom line burning here today, Blu-ray has tons of potential. more reasonable price, but you’ll find fewer hardware
But being on the cutting edge will cost you dearly. choices—and ultimately fewer movie choices. block with an HD movie play-
er or you don’t have dozens of
FOOTNOTES: 1 RE is Blu-ray’s rewritable disc format. 2 CD and DVD throughput is expressed in megabytes per second (MBps); 36 megabits per
second is 4.5 MBps, and 36.55 mbps is 4.57 MBps. 3 Media pricing not yet available. However, pricing is expected to be comparable to Blu-ray’s. gigabytes to archive, you may
4
Pricing and/or timing not yet announced. CHART NOTES: Both formats support the following video codecs: MPEG-2, MPEG-4, AVC, and VC-1. be best off waiting a bit to take
Both also support (at minimum) the Advanced Access Content System (AACS) copy-protection scheme. And both can play standard DVDs.
the high-def DVD plunge.

22 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M J U LY 2 0 0 6
NEWS & T RENDS

NETWORKING

First Draft-N Wi-Fi


Gear Disappointing
NETWORKS BASED ON DRAFT OF THE 802.11N
STANDARD AREN’T THE FASTEST AVAILABLE.
the impending 802.11n less-N, and Netgear’s Range-
Wi-Fi standard, which prom- Max Next lines were slower at WI-FI BEFORE ITS time? Netgear’s RangeMax Next (left) and Link-
ises spectacularly fast net- close and medium ranges sys’s Wireless-N routers comply with an early version of 802.11n.
working, won’t be final for than older Linksys SRX400
months. But products based products based on the Airgo and PC Card did beat the nected to the Broadcom-based
on the first draft of the stan- Networks True MIMO Gen3 SRX400 products (and all oth- products only at 802.11g
dard are here. After conduct- technology we looked at in ers in our test group)—but speeds (Netgear says it has
ing preliminary testing, how- February (see find.pcworld. the Buffalo and Linksys could since fixed this with a firm-
ever, we recommend that you com/53514). And while the not hold a connection long ware upgrade). Draft-n prod-
pass on draft-n gear unless average medium-range speed enough to complete the test. ucts using different chips also
you simply must buy now. of 24 megabits per second for Products based on the same differ in how they handle
the draft-n products was more draft-n chips from Broadcom interference from nearby net-
BY THE NUMBERS than double the 11-mbps rate (the Buffalo, Linksys, and works (see find.pcworld.com/
in our tests, with WPA2 for a standard 802.11g net- Netgear RangeMax Next lines) 53556 for more information).
encryption turned on (see work with no speed-boosting worked together fine. But The final 802.11n standard
below), shipping draft-n– technology, it still fell far short Netgear’s RangeMax Next promises theoretical through-
compliant routers and PC of 10/100 ethernet’s 80 mbps. Gigabit Edition router (with a put up to 12 times as fast as
Cards from Buffalo Technol- At long-range distance, Net- gigabit ethernet switch and 802.11g’s and interoperability
ogy’s Nfiniti, Linksys’s Wire- gear’s RangeMax Next router based on Marvell chips) con- certification by the Wi-Fi Alli-
ance. Vendors hope—but
TEST REPORT
don’t guarantee—that you
will be able to upgrade draft-n
DRAFT-N GEAR PROVES INCONSISTENT gear to the final standard.
FILE TRANSFER SPEEDS on networks based on gear using Broadcom’s draft-802.11n chips were
generally slower than on a network employing Airgo Networks’ True MIMO Gen3 technology.
WAIT IF YOU CAN

THROUGHPUT given the underwhelm-


ROUTER/PC CARD Close range Medium range Long range i n g performance and the
(5 feet) (25 feet) (50 feet)
interoperability and interfer-
Draft-n product lines (based on Broadcom chips)
ence issues of draft-n, we rec-
Buffalo AirStation Nfiniti Wireless Router & Access Point ommend waiting. But if you
(WZR-G300N) and Notebook Adapter (WLI-CB-G300N) 26.1 mbps 19.3 mbps Failed
must buy right away, go with
find.pcworld.com/53544
Airgo Gen3–based products
Linksys Wireless-N Broadband Router (WRT300N) for performance and stability;
and Notebook Adapter (WPC300N) 27.5 mbps 24.3 mbps Failed
consider similarly priced
find.pcworld.com/53546
draft-n gear ($150 to $180 for
Netgear RangeMax Next Wireless Router routers with 10/100 ethernet,
(WNR834B) and Adapter (WN511B) 25.8 mbps 24.3 mbps 10.9 mbps
find.pcworld.com/53548
$120 to $130 for PC Cards) if
you want a chance of upgrad-
PHOTOGRAPH: MARC SIMON

802.11g with proprietary MIMO technology (based on Airgo Networks’ True MIMO Gen3 chips)
ing to the eventual standard.
Linksys Wireless-G Broadband Router with SRX400 And if you do buy draft-n,
(WRT54GX4)and Notebook Adapter (WPC54GX4) 42.6 mbps 30.7 mbps 2.4 mbps
find.pcworld.com/53552 look for firmware upgrades to
enhance performance.
HOW WE TEST: Speeds based on time required to transfer an 87MB file. Higher numbers are faster. For details, see find.pcworld.com/53554.
—Becky Waring

24 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M J U LY 2 0 0 6
NEWS & T RENDS

M E D I A P L AY E R S

New Windows Media Player Looks Good


BETA OF WMP 11 FEATURES STREAMLINED INTERFACE AND INTEGRATED SEARCH.
microsoft is putting a er, Vista-like interface and service, is tightly integrated appearance. Browse to find.
new face on Windows Media improved handling of large with the player. In a test drive pcworld.com/53594 for a full
Player, the app’s biggest over- libraries and album art. of the new version, we were look at both Windows Media
haul in years. The beta of the MTV’s Urge, a music store impressed by Media Player’s Player 11 and Urge.
updated client offers a clean- and portable-subscription streamlined, yet powerful new —Eric Dahl

TEST REPORT

WMP 11 FOCUSES on using the center pane and


search boxes for navigation. The never-ending INTEGRATED SEARCH HELPS you drill down
drop-downs of the old Artist/Album view are gone. through large libraries to exactly the song, artist,
or album you want.
The best part: It’s
amazingly fast,
updating results
with each press of
the key.

A UNIVERSAL
Back button lets
you retrace your
steps whether
you’re browsing
a subscription
service or your
own library. And ALBUM ART TAKES on a greater significance in WMP 11.
a handy drop- The player’s artist view stacks up images to give you
down lets you another visual cue when navigating your collection.
manage other
types of media in
your collection.

HERE’S HOW ENHANCED CD burning


streamlined Media automatically spans
Player can get: If you multiple discs when
grab a corner and necessary and clearly
resize the window to its smallest point, it collapses into a clean, compact shows how much space
player with only the most essential controls and playback data visible. remains on the last disc.

IN ANOTHER TOUCH from


Windows Vista, WMP
features greatly simplified
menus, with the most
important choices made
available by clicking on the NEW VIEW OPTIONS let you browse your collection
bottom of the menu button. using icons, text, or this Expanded Tile display.

26 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M J U LY 2 0 0 6
NEWS & T RENDS

CONSUMER ALERT

Beware of Mailed Ads That Look Like Bills


LISTING CORP. AND OTHERS SEND DOMAIN NAME OWNERS SERVICE PITCHES VIA U.S. MAIL.
the document that ar - forums. And a spokesperson In researching this article, “We take consumer com-
rived in the mail at the San for MaxterHost.com, which we found more than a dozen plaints seriously and address
Diego chapter of the Ameri- had hosted Listing Corp.’s sites with similar marketing any such situations immedi-
can Society for Industrial Web site, says it shut down pitches. Some were defunct ately and cooperate fully with
Security looked just like a bill, the site in March because of and could be accessed only by the appropriate governmental
complete with a perforated complaints it received (the using Google’s cached ver- and consumer advocacy orga-
mail-in section and an enve- site has since reopened using sions. The ones that were live nizations,” Zach said, adding
lope for sending payment. another Web host). in late April included three that the firm has a “no ques-
“It had our domain name Listing Corp. did not re - that have also drawn com- tions asked” refund policy.
on it, and it looked like an in- spond to repeated e-mail in- plaints for postal mailings: The Chicago Better Busi-
voice, so we paid it,” explains quiries to addresses in its Internet Corporation Listing ness Bureau has received 22
Herb Thompson, chairman domain registration informa- Service (www.icls.net), regis- complaints about the compa-
of ASIS San Diego. ny in the past 15 months,
But the document was actu- spokesperson Tom Joyce said,
ally a marketing pitch from a adding that the complainants
company called Listing Corp. eventually received refunds.
For $60, the company wrote, Zach said his company was
it would submit ASIS’s Web not related to any of the look-
site to 20 unspecified major alike services we found; but
search engines and follow up software that traces the IP
with quarterly e-mail reports. addresses where sent e-mail
On the back of the document, messages are received indi-
in boldface capital letters, was cated that our e-mail to both
a disclaimer: “This is not a ILSCorp.net and ILSCorp.
bill. This is a solicitation. You co.uk went to the same IP
are under no obligation to pay address, assigned to a com-
the amount stated above un- puter somewhere in Canada.
less you accept this offer.”
Thompson says ASIS never FINDING THE DISCLAIMER: You have to read the back of Listing
CAREFUL READING
heard from Listing Corp. after Corp.’s invoicelike direct-mail pitch to learn that it’s not a bill. if you receive question-
sending payment, and key- able invoice-like mail, you can
word searches for ASIS a few tion. The telephone number tered with a California ad - file a complaint with the FBI’s
months later produced no in that database, ‘1.3251782’, dress; Internet Listing Servic- Internet Crime Complaint
links to the organization’s site. is incomplete, and the postal es Corp. ( www.ilscorp.net), Center ( www.ic3.gov), the
He feels his group was hood- address is for a Mail Boxes with a Netherlands address; Federal Trade Commission
winked—and he isn’t alone. Etc. box in New York City. and Internet Listing Service (find.pcworld.com/53238),
U.S. Postal Inspection Ser- (or Services, depending on the U.S. Postal Service (find.
vice spokesperson Paul Krenn NAME GAMES which page of the site you pcworld.com/53240), or your
says that following a “signifi- listing corp. is just one of read) Corp. (www.ilscorp.co. local Better Business Bureau
cant” number of complaints, several firms that send simi- uk), registered in Azerbaijan. (find.pcworld.com/53242).
the service is conducting a lar mail to domain name own- Efforts to contact these com- “I’m savvy enough to spot a
“review” to determine wheth- ers. Over the past 15 months, panies produced just one scam,” says New York photog-
er Listing Corp. is in violation the U.S. Postal Inspection response, a phone call from a rapher Martin Crook, who
of federal mail fraud laws. A Service Fraud Complaint Sys- man who identified himself received two letters from List-
Google search for ‘Listing tem has logged 875 com- only as Zach and said he ing Corp. “But this thing real-
Corp.’ turns up links to scores plaints about such mail, for worked in Chicago for Inter- ly looked like a bill.”
of complaints on blogs and losses totaling $8161. net Listing Services Corp. —Tom Spring

28 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M J U LY 2 0 0 6
NEWS & T RENDS

HERE\NOW

PLUGGED IN
N A P ST E R R A D I O :
1 New free offering lets
you stream any track up to
ERIC DAHL five times. napster.com
BLURB.COM: Beta
2 site is attracting lots
of buzz with its blog-to-

Faster Dual-Core Processors book publishing option.

3 153 HOURS: That’s


the claimed battery
PLUS: BUSINESS NOTEBOOKS GO WIDE SCREEN, AND WI-FI GETS TINY. life you’ll get from a single
PROCESSOR WIDE SCREENS charge with MobiBlu’s B153
WARS AT WORK flash-based MP3 player.
find.pcworld.com/53550
The Buzz: Both AMD The Buzz: As the tech
I N S TA N T M E D I A :
and Intel are shaking industry continues its 4 Free client downloads
things up in the processor push to make sure that mov-
and caches Internet video;
market as the chip titans pre- ies look good on every con-
it even delivers popular
pare to launch new proces- ceivable device, wide-aspect
tech videoblog Rocket-
sors. AMD’s transition is a notebook panels are becom-
boom in HD. im.com
simple one: By the time you ing cheaper and more com-
POPULAR SITES: An
read this, its desktop Athlon mon. That’s leading some 5 easy way to track new
64, 64-FX, X2, and Sempron CPU will provide a 40 percent notebook vendors to consider
additions to del.icio.us.
lines will have moved to a new increase in processing power adding them to even plain-
www.populicio.us/
socket called AM2. The chief and a 40 percent reduction in vanilla laptops. Business note-
benefit of the socket change is energy usage versus today’s books from Fujitsu and HP
support for DDR2 memory, Pentium C 950 chips. are among the first to make ed haven’t impressed. Plus,
which doesn’t cost much more Bottom Line: If you need a the transition, but you can soon you’ll be able to easily
than standard DDR these new PC right this minute, an expect to see more business- add Wi-Fi to any camera that
days. That should provide a AMD-based AM2-socket sys- focused wide screens this uses SD Cards. A start-up
small speed increase for tem is a solid choice. But if year. Heck, even Lenovo is called Eye-Fi is behind the
AMD-based PCs, but nothing you can hold off a bit, and you offering a wide-screen model technology, which packs a Wi-
like the boost expected from don’t mind the double deuce in its ThinkPad line. Fi adapter into a standard-size
Intel’s Core 2 Duo desktop references, it might pay to Bottom Line: The wide-screen SD Card along with 1GB of
chips, due this summer. Intel wait for the first benchmarks look may be all the rage, storage. Eye-Fi’s $100
claims that its next-generation of Core 2 Duo PCs. but if you’re primarily Eye-Film card can
browsing the Web and even automatical-
FUTURE TECH
working on office doc- ly upload images
uments, you’ll quickly to your computer

BETTER CPU COOLING start to miss the ex-


tra vertical resolu-
or an online photo
sharing service.
IF YOU’VE EVER been concerned about all the heat your PC tion you get from a Bottom Line: Isn’t
generates, you’re probably familiar with thermal grease, a comparable standard- miniaturization great?
compound used to fill in the microscopic gaps between a aspect display. There’s a rea- Let’s hope the Eye-Fi
computer’s CPU and its heat sink. This type of thermal son books are taller than they folks can make this work with
interface material helps to conduct heat away from the chip; are wide: Your eye can track more than just cameras. I
the more efficient the TIM, the better the cooling. With pro- only so far across a line. know plenty of Treo users
cessors getting faster (and hotter), researchers at Purdue who’d love this card.
ILLUSTRATION: GORDON STUDER

University have been working to improve this interface,


TINY SD AND WI-FI
using carbon nanotubes. By arranging a “carpet” of heat- The Buzz: So your digi- You can contact PC World Senior
conducting nanotubes on both surfaces, the engineers say tal camera didn’t come Editor Eric Dahl at eric_dahl@
they’ve created a high-tech Velcro of sorts that conducts with built-in Wi-Fi? That’s pcworld.com; visit find.pcworld.
heat dramatically more efficiently than current TIMs do. probably a good thing, since com/31643 to read additional
the Wi-Fi cameras we’ve test- Plugged In columns.

30 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M J U LY 2 0 0 6
LETTERS
E-MAIL ACCOUNTS: HOW CAR GPS SUPPORT ADVICE
MORE IS BETTER? SHAVED A TICKET FROM A PRO

recently i needed to several complaints. We could have been


print out my tax return, clearer about the tools’ limitations, and
but I discovered that my we apologize for the confusion.
printer was inoperative. —Laura Blackwell
Fortunately I had just
installed PDF Creator READERS’ TIPS ON
(one of the freebies I EXTENDED WARRANTIES
found out about in thanks for an excellent article [“Are
your timely article). Extended Warranties Worth It?” May].
I used the utility to I travel in my work, using PowerPoint
make a standard PDF presentations, and I bring along my own
file, and then I e-mailed it to another loca- laptop and projector. To protect against
FREEBIES: THUMBS UP, DOWN tion. In short, it’s a good thing the May theft and breakage, I obtained a rider on
thanks to dylan tweney for “101 issue came out before April 15! my house insurance for about $50 a year
Fabulous Freebies” [May]! I downloaded Also, since I have a habit of folding over that covers both devices.
two of the listed programs, Spybot Search a corner of the pages that I wish to return Also, consider asking whether a war-
& Destroy and Ad-Aware, and they solved to, this is a very dog-eared issue. ranty on your item could be negotiated—
a problem that had been vexing me for Bart Bresnik the insurance company’s offering, if
six months. (“Vexed” is a radically clean Mansfield, Massachusetts available, likely would cost less than the
expression for what the little bug did to vendor’s, as you’re already a client.
my computer and my attitude.) It’s par- your introductory paragraph Fred Plastow, Warsaw, Indiana
ticularly nice that he recommended both says, “These are the real deal—no hob-
programs, as what one misses the other bled half-products or demos that time out one good potential source of ex-
gets. Many, many thanks. after 30 days.” I beg to differ with regard tended warranties may be the product’s
Mac McCauley, Oregon City, Oregon to two downloads I checked out today. manufacturer, rather than the retailer. In
One was Foxit Reader, which your arti- researching a warranty for my 60-inch
your excellent article missed one cle says includes “a ‘typewriter’ that lets Sony TV, I found the best deal from Sony
organizational tool that has been in con- you edit any text in the PDF.” Technically itself ($229 for four years).
stant use on my computer ever since correct, but it shows a message declaring Gary McCready, Salisbury, Maryland
Steve Bass recommended it in his online that any text typed in will contain mark-
Tips and Tweaks column from last Octo- ings that can only be removed by the full i can’t overemphasize the impor-
ber [find.pcworld.com/53518]. paid version of the program. tance of an accidental-damage coverage
Anyone who is attempting to keep on The other download, the free version of policy for portable electronic items. My
top of personal and professional data eFax, allows only two free outgoing faxes, digital camera once slipped from my
should give EverNote ( www.evernote. despite the article’s implication that you shoulder to a tile floor. Repairs, done at
com/en) a try. A paid version of the pro- can send and receive equally. no charge but itemized on the invoice,
gram is available, too, but I have been Wallace Cassel, Eugene, Oregon came to more than three times the cost of
very happy with the freebie. Editor’s response: You zeroed in on the the warranty—a bargain in my book.
Carol Campbell, Truro, Nova Scotia two items about which we’ve received Dave Samuels, Spring Hill, Florida
PHOTOGRAPH: RICK RIZNER

T E L L U S W H AT YO U T H I N K
many states have laws governing
RATE THIS ISSUE by going to www.pcworld.com/pcwinput—you could win a $300 gift extended warranties. In my state, for in-
certificate from Amazon.com. The site explains the official rules and offers an alter- stance, the law provides “automatic war-
nate method of entry into the prize drawing. ranty protection [for four years] in addi-
tion to any ‘express’ written or verbal

34 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M J U LY 2 0 0 6
warranty provided by a manufacturer or not share my e-mail address with other
seller.” This law covers “all new and used parties. I can only say, Bravo for them!
goods purchased for family, household Karen Brown, Loudon, Tennessee
or personal use”—just about every kind
of product except used cars. MORE THAN JUST DIRECTIONS
When seeking a repair for a defective that was a nice write-up on the differ-
TV that was beyond the manufacturer’s ent online map services and GPS systems
warranty period, I brought our state law [“Never Ask for Directions Again,” May].
to the manufacturer’s attention, and the I have used both of the USB GPS systems
maker repaired the unit at no cost to me. [reviewed online at find.pcworld.com/
Bill Harrington, Denmark, Maine 52540], and I prefer the Earthmate.
One thing not mentioned in the story is
one point i would add to your article: the wonderful ability to record and play
Salespeople are often wrong about what back your trip. After being pulled over for
is included in an extended warranty speeding and charged with going 16 mph
plan—the fine print may specifically ex- over the limit, I went to court and was
clude, say, accidental damage that the able to show my route, speed, and direc-
salesperson claims will be covered. tion. It knocked the ticket down to 6 mph
Steve Landes, Glen Ellyn, Illinois over and put $60 back where it belonged.
Dan Ripley, Palmetto, Georgia
WHEN CARS GET TOO SMART
now with OnStar periodically sending you gave high marks to MapQuest
you diagnostic stats about your car by e- for accuracy. However, for almost a year
mail [find.pcworld.com/53510] and with the Utah Department of Transportation
Microsoft getting into the fray [“Cars That has been trying to get MapQuest to up-
Are Smarter Than date information
You Are,” Gadget
Freak, May], I can’t
Maybe you’re on renumbered ex-
its for the state’s
wait till a hacker major north-south
breaks into a car’s supposed to wait highways—so far
onboard computer to no avail. On a
and gives carjack- years for your rebate map and accompa-
ing a whole new nying directions
angle. Or for the to come in the mail. that MapQuest pro-
day when the idiot vided me in March,
“General Protection Fault” warning lights the stated exit numbers were still wrong.
up on the dashboard. It’ll almost make Walter Bornemeier, North Salt Lake, Utah
the jokes from years ago look prophetic.
Craig Steffler, Helena, Montana
RECORD WAIT FOR A REBATE?
as a subscriber since the late eighties,
A CLEAN E-MAIL ACCOUNT I’ve seen my share of letters to the editor
in the may Consumer Watch [“The Ulti- about rebate problems. I’m writing be-
mate Tech Consumer Guide”], you sug- cause I just got a check in the mail. Since
gest creating a second e-mail account I wasn’t expecting it, I surmised it must
dedicated to online shopping. Good idea, be an old rebate. My current records go
though maybe not only for the reason— back only to 2004, and it wasn’t among
privacy—you put forth. I maintain several them. I didn’t think it could be any older,
separate e-mail accounts: personal, busi- but I dug out earlier records, and sure
ness, buying, and junk (for Web sites that enough, there it was—a claim sent on
require an e-mail address). August 24, 2003! So maybe the lesson is
To my knowledge, my buying account— that you’re supposed to wait for years, not
in contrast to the others—has never re- months, for that precious rebate.
ceived a single piece of spam. That tells Michael S. Comeau
me that the shopping sites I buy from do Canoga Park, California

J U LY 2 0 0 6 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M 35
L E TT ERS

rep in the insurance industry for over 14 gram’s ability to open and save Microsoft
THE MOST IMPORTANT years. If I’ve learned anything about get- Word documents in their native format.
FUNCTION OF A CELL PHONE ting good service, and quickly, it is that it While WordPerfect will convert Word
in the market for a new cell phone, I takes more than just not being rude. documents, Microsoft’s Office does not
was looking through your reviews [“Pick Be nice and be willing to push compli- convert WordPerfect documents. And
the Perfect Cell Phone,” June, and other ments up when they are due. The tech WordPerfect’s Word Compatibility Tool-
reviews at PCWorld.com]. wants to help you and will help you. That bar gives you the option to save your doc-
Remarkably comprehensive! You seem person did not cause the problem you uments in any of several formats: Word,
to address everything from the operating want fixed, and doesn’t have the intimate PDF, HTML, or XML. Invaluable!
system to the battery life, from the games knowledge you have of your own system. Another consideration to bear in mind
available to how well the thing will toast a Be prepared to listen. Have a notepad is that Corel will give you an uncondi-
bagel. Your reviews handy. Ask for and tional 30-day free trial of the suite.
discuss just about
everything that a
Getting good write down a case
or reference num-
Paul Garatt, Paducah, Kentucky

person could pos- ber for your call. KEEPING UP WITH


sibly want to know service, quickly, The representative DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
about a specific will often give you digital photography is coming
phone, except— takes more than not their name and ID into its own now. The pace of technologi-
how well does it number. Use their cal advancement in this realm is truly
work as a phone? being rude. name, and be ap- astounding to us old-timers. Shortly, dig-
In particular, I pre ciative. “Jane, ital “film” will surpass the image quality
am interested in knowing which cell thank you for helping me with my print- of real film, and the end of such progress
phones provide the best reception in er” will go farther than “Okay, it works is nowhere in sight.
areas where the carrier’s signal is weak. now [click],” because invariably you’ll call These technological improvements
And how good is each device’s audio back for help with something else and allow more people to do serious photog-
reproduction? Discussions with friends you may get that same person. raphy. I know dozens of amateurs who
suggest that I’m far from alone in want- Part of what grooms an okay tech to- have high-end cameras and want high-
ing this kind of information. ward becoming a stellar one is getting a end results. And I believe that artistic
Seems to me that your phone reviews caller who wants to tell their boss that expression is a deep-seated human need.
are slanted almost exclusively toward they did a great job. That’s why you keep For these reasons, I would encourage
early adopters and technology geeks— a notepad nearby and request the repre- you to expand your coverage of products
those consumers who happen to enjoy sentative’s ID. Managers and supervisors and technologies for high-quality, high-
spending their time playing with built-in live for escalations that begin with “No, end digital photography.
cameras, background images, ring tones, it’s not a problem. In fact, Jane was so Bob Hall, Nantucket, Massachusetts
and 87 other features that have nothing nice and thorough that I wanted to make
to do with the core function of wireless sure her managers knew about it.” Be PC World welcomes letters to the editor. We
voice communication. ready to explain exactly why you are com- reserve the right to edit for length and clar-
Perhaps future phone reviews could be plimenting the tech. ity. Send e-mail to letters@pcworld.com.
broken into two parts: function as a cell All of this will help keep that good tech
CORRECTIONS
phone, and bells and whistles. By doing available to you for the next call.
so, I think you would provide a service to Michael Parkinson, Omaha, Nebraska IN THE JUNE issue’s “New Devices
a much wider audience. Promise Protection in a Box” (News
Jim McCormack, San Diego
COREL WORDPERFECT OFFICE and Trends), one product—the Spam
kudos for acknowledging Corel Cube—was, in one instance, incor-
SUPPORT TIPS FROM A PRO WordPerfect Office as superior to Micro- rectly named.
despite the line on the June cover— soft Office [“WordPerfect Office: A Better In the May Hardware Tips, the in-
”Never Call Tech Support Again!”—you App Mix, for Less,” Reviews and Rankings, structions for updating your graph-
probably will have to call for help some- June]. Your reviewer, Dennis O’Reilly, ics board’s device driver should have
time. Will you get the support you want? recognized a very powerful feature of said to visit the vendor’s Web site
I work as a PC tech for the City of WordPerfect—that is, its ability to give and search for a new driver for your
Omaha and Douglas County, supporting you finer control over the look of a docu- card model on the site’s Downloads
3400 machines, associated users, and ment via the Reveal Codes option. or Support pages.
multiple networking technologies. I The software’s other important features PC World regrets the errors.
worked previously as a customer service should be noted, as well. One is the pro-

36 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M J U LY 2 0 0 6
YA R D E N A A R A R

AVOID UNEXPECTED SAFER SURFING WITH AN SORRY SUPPORT FOR


CELLULAR CHARGES ANTIPHISHING TOOLBAR BITDEFENDER

Cell Phone Fees That Sneak Up on You


New services are designed to add a few bucks to your monthly bill.
i used to think that the hardest part I did on my husband’s Motorola hand- aren’t on an all-you-can-eat data plan.
about owning a cell phone was settling set, in the name of research), and you’ll Sometimes you get clues about impend-
on a rate plan: How many anytime min- be asked whether you want to pay a few ing charges: After I downloaded a game
utes? How many prime-time minutes? bucks to get the full version. demo on my husband’s phone, a mes-
National or local? Should my husband Fair enough, but apart from the way sage appeared saying that I’d used 46,000
and I get a family plan? But lately I’m many small charges—for games, ring bytes of his data plan’s allotment.
thinking that the bigger challenge But such on-the-fly notification
involves figuring out how to keep is atypical. Listen to a snippet of a
track of all the ways carriers and song in the Sprint Music Store, for
their partners are trying to milk me example, and even if you don’t buy
for additional dough. it, you’ll be charged for the data if
Wireless carriers have jargon for you don’t have a Vision data plan.
this topic: ARPU (or just RPU), I should mention here that in
pronounced “ahr-pooh.” The acro- researching this column, I was re-
nym stands for Average Revenue minded of another cell phone pet
Per User (or Revenue Per User), peeve of mine, which is just how
and carriers are forever trying to difficult it can be to determine cell
raise it—that is, to squeeze more phone service costs in general. Car-
money out of us hapless users. In- riers often make you go through
creasingly they’re doing it through the motions of choosing a handset
new services offered on their high- and signing up for service before
speed data networks and the sophis- they’ll provide detailed information
ticated handsets built for them. on what they’ll be charging you.

DATA IS GOLD MONEY FOR MESSAGES


for customers, the huge ex- messaging—instant, text, pic-
pansion in data services means that we’ll tones, ring-back tones, music, and so ture, you name it—can be another stealth
be seeing a growing number of applica- on—can mount up, you might find addi- budget buster. That’s because, regardless
tions and services for everything from tional charges that contribute to an unex- of your data plan, most carriers charge
entertainment and companionship to pectedly big bill at the end of the month. separately for messaging.
shopping and GPS navigation aids. Some On Verizon Wireless, for example, you
of these offerings will be ad supported, BUCKS FOR BYTES pay 10 cents per message sent or received.
some will be subscription based, some whatever you do that involves send- Again, heavy users of messaging services
will be pay-as-you-go, and some will be ing data, the biggest hidden expense can can save money by purchasing bundles:
ILLUSTRATION: CHRISTOPH NEIMANN

hybrids (some content may even be free, be charges for use of the network itself, Verizon offers a $10-a-month messaging
but with charges for premium features). normally the amount of data you both plan that covers unlimited messages to
Where fees apply, they are usually indi- send and receive (measured in kilobytes fellow Verizon customers, plus 500 mes-
cated. (Be sure to note, however, whether or megabytes). You constantly run into sages to non-Verizon phone numbers;
it’s a one-time fee or a monthly subscrip- the disclaimer “carrier charges may ap- $15 and $20 plans cover 1000 and 2500
tion.) For example, play a demo of the ply,” but you rarely see how much band- out-of-network messages, respectively.
game Bejeweled on a Cingular phone (as width you’re using and what it costs if you The cost of text messaging may

J U LY 2 0 0 6 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M 41
CO N SUM ER WATCH

come as a shock if you’re accustomed to Vision plan, you must pay $5 a month tion to bombard friends with images
using AOL, MSN, or Yahoo instant mes- for access to its Picture Mail service, plus probably isn’t as strong as the urge to
saging services on the desktop, where 2 cents per KB for each photo you upload. continue responding to text messages.
they’re lumped in with all of your other Consequently, sending a typical 50KB
Internet traffic and there’s no economic image would cost $1 on top of the $5 fee. HIGH TAB FOR TEXTING
incentive to keep conversations short. what’s insidious about text mes-
On a cell phone, carriers typically PAYPAL MOBILE saging is the way it’s being used to power
limit text messages to a relatively terse lets you initiate services (and more income for carriers).
160 characters. But the bigger issue is payments American Idol voting is just the tip of the
that every message you send, regard- via text iceberg: PayPal, for example, now lets you
less of how long or short it is, racks up a message. initiate payments via text messaging.
charge—typing and sending “OK” costs SMS.ac, a popular teen community site,
the same amount as transmitting a long invites you to sign up for a dizzying vari-
sentence—so it’s to your advantage ety of message services. You can receive
to keep your conversations brief and messages from people who want to meet
the number of messages you send to you based on the profile that you create
a minimum. (The exception to this when you sign up via the Web. You can
rule is Sprint, which includes unlim- get news alerts. You can arrange for cal-
ited AIM, MSN, and Yahoo instant endar reminders. You can obtain photos.
messages for Vision subscribers.) You pay SMS.ac only for the messages it
Using your camera-enabled cell sends you, but they cost up to 50 cents
phone to send pictures is even more apiece, and the charges show up on your
expensive: Cingular and Verizon phone bill. If you become popular on the
both charge 25 cents per picture mes- That’s a lot more than the U.S. Postal site, you could incur big charges without
sage sent or received (plus data charges Service charges for a picture postcard. realizing it until your bill comes. And you
if you’re not on an all-you-can-eat plan). In fairness, your photo will get where have to send text messages to stop the
With Sprint, if you don’t have a Power it’s going much faster, and the tempta- messages—so you pay to stop paying.

P R I VAC Y WAT C H

Protect Yourself With an Antiphishing Toolbar


THINK YOU CAN spot a phishing site? can provide a detailed site report. TrustWatch’s reports let you
Don’t be too sure. A recent study know whether the site is included on any blacklists of suspect
determined that a well-constructed sites and whether it uses SSL technology for secure transfers.
fake Bank of the West page fooled 90 TrustWatch also makes an extension for Firefox that embeds
percent of the study’s participants, site-report links in Google search-result pages.
including some very technically so- Other good options abound. The EarthLink Toolbar with
phisticated people. Fortunately, sev- ScamBlocker (find.pcworld.com/53178) alerts you with a pop-
eral tools can help ensure that you don’t fall for such a con. up message when you visit a site that has hosted phishing
A number of companies make free browser plug-ins that can attacks. (You don’t need to be an EarthLink subscriber to use
detect phishing sites. Most give you a visual warning when the tool.) Corestreet’s SpoofStick (find.pcworld.com/53180)
you’re on a site that’s trying to pass itself off as something it’s helps clue you in to a phishing site by putting the domain name
not. Some assemble a list of fake sites based on reports from of the site that you’re visiting in huge, bold letters in IE’s tool-
users who’ve stumbled upon them. Others analyze the site’s bar. Cloudmark’s IE Toolbar (find.pcworld.com/53182) auto-
address to see if it’s misleading: For instance, the URL might matically blocks sites known to host phishing scams. And eBay
have “ebay” in it when it’s not actually a part of ebay.com. offers a toolbar (find.pcworld.com/53184) equipped with an
Several toolbars use a combination of approaches. Account Guard feature that warns you if you’re about to enter
The Netcraft toolbar (find.pcworld.com/53176) is my favorite. your eBay or PayPal password in a fake Web site’s log-in page.
ILLUSTRATION: MARK MATCHO

It shows you who the site is registered to, and provides a “risk The phishing study cited above, however, found that a quar-
rating” that can help you quickly decide whether you want to ter of participants didn’t look at phishing clues already present
enter your password. A close second comes from TrustWatch in browsers, like the padlock icon and address bar. These days
(www.trustwatch.com), which makes a toolbar for Internet it doesn’t pay to be asleep at the wheel as you cruise the Net.
Explorer that validates legitimate Web sites and, like Netcraft, —Andrew Brandt

42 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M J U LY 2 0 0 6
O N YO U R S I D E

Sketchy Support for BitDefender Buyer


IN AUGUST 2005, I purchased On Your Side responds: This wasn’t the
the antivirus application Bit- only letter we received alerting us to Bit-
Defender as a one-year sub- Defender’s slow response time, which
scription (it earned a Best Buy in your may be due in part to the fact that the
March 2006 roundup). Six months vendor is based in Romania. In the Unit-
later I started receiving warnings that ed States, BitDefender has only two
my subscription had expired. I called tech support people, but the company
the customer service number and was says that it is expanding its U.S. staff
told to uninstall and then reload the and adding an 800 number. If the U.S.
software. The warning still appeared. I lines are busy, calls will be redirected to
sent two e-mail messages describing English-speaking tech support repre-
my problem but got no answers. Four sentatives in Romania. In the mean-
more phone calls to tech support led to time, BitDefender recommends access-
a recording each time. I have received ing its live chat for technical support.
neither responses to my e-mail nor any Kelly did get his problem fixed over the
returned phone calls. Currently I have phone, ten days after his original call;
no antivirus protection on my laptop. the company extended his subscription
William Kelly to compensate him for the delay.
Lower Gwynedd, Pennsylvania —Amber Bouman

SMS.ac is clearly mindful of the poten- shopper: Ask carrier sales reps for pricing
tial for overenthusiastic customers to rack details that will help you determine the
up big bills. Among other things, it pub- true costs of any services that interest you,
lished a Mobile Consumer Bill of Rights and ask if there’s any way to track your
on its Web site, which includes a clause bandwidth and message usage between
stating that “mobile consumers have the monthly bills. Cingular, for instance,
right to know exact costs for all products shows data usage as well as voice usage
and services prior to purchase.” But the on customers’ account pages.
fact remains that you don’t always have Look into alternative services and work-
all this information at your fingertips arounds. For example, on many PDA-
when you’re on your handset. phone hybrids you can avoid instant mes-
saging fees by using Intellisync Verichat,
SUBSCRIPTION FEES a universal IM client that circumvents
subscription services are another messaging fees, at a cost of $25 a year.
source of swollen monthly cell phone And instead of downloading songs from
bills. Amp’d Mobile, the teen-oriented cell a carrier’s music service, get a phone
phone service, now offers its customers equipped with a memory card slot so you
the ability to buy movie tickets from their can play tunes you’ve ripped on your PC.
cell phones—after they sign up for a $2- Don’t give your cell service easy access
a-month subscription. But you’ll still pay to your wallet. Say pooh to ARPU.
the usual convenience fee for buying tick-
ets online. Do you really want to pay $24 Yardena Arar is a senior editor, Andrew
a year just to use a feature that’s widely Brandt is a contributing editor, and Amber
available on an Internet-connected PC? Bouman is an editorial assistant for PC
Most real-time navigation services cater- World . E-mail them at consumerwatch@
ing to GPS-enabled cell phones will also pcworld.com, privacywatch@pcworld.com, or
be available exclusively via subscription, onyourside@pcworld.com. To read previously
with monthly fees in the vicinity of $10. published Consumer Watch, Privacy Watch,
But downloading map and routing infor- or On Your Side columns, visit find.pcworld.
mation may result in additional charges. com/31703, find.pcworld.com/31706, or find.
Your best defense as a smart cell phone pcworld.com/31709, respectively.

J U LY 2 0 0 6 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M 43
STEVE BASS

Get Relief From Annoying E-Mail


Avoid large file attachments; protect yourself from spam and dopey messages.
do associates e-mail you humon- In Outlook 2003, choose Tools• check Bcc Field. In Netscape, click
gous attachments? Do dopey friends not Options, select the Mail Setup the To field and scroll to Bcc. In
know how to blind-copy e-mail to protect tab, click Send/Receive • Yahoo Mail, click BCC . The
your privacy? I have a few ways for you to Edit, and check Down- easiest are AOL.com, Eudo-
be less annoyed—and less annoying. load complete item in- ra, and MSN Hotmail—
The Hassle: Don’t laugh, but I’m still on cluding attachments just fill the ‘bcc’ field.
dial-up (I live out in the sticks and can’t get and Download The classic AOL on-
broadband). I’ve asked my friends not to only headers for line service is more
send file attachments the size of the Posei- items larger than work: In the Copy
don, but they often forget. Other than get- xx KB (where xx is To box, enter each
ting new friends, do you have a solution? a number you pick recipient’s e-mail ad-
The Fix: When I travel and stay in motels from a drop-down dress in parentheses.
that offer only dial-up (my wife calls me menu). Be sure to There’s a downside to
cheap; I think I’m thrifty), I skip gargan- check the box next blind-copied addresses:
tuan downloads. It takes just a few min- to Receive mail items. Some ISPs matter-of-
utes to change the settings in your e-mail The Hassle: I e-mail a mes- factly bounce them. But I
program. In Outlook Express, create a sage to a bunch of friends, and have a workaround. In -
rule: Select Tools•Message Rules•Mail• they complain that the list of address- stead of using e-mail, I send
Modify, and then scroll through the con- es is longer than the actual note. What’s batches of messages (as many
ditions and check Where the message size the deal with my e-mail messages? as 2400 at a time) on one or the
is more than size. In the ‘Select actions for The Fix: I’ll bet you’re adding e-mail other of two free Web services—Yahoo
your rule’ menu, scroll to and check Do addresses to the To: field—and broad- Groups ( find.pcworld.com/52854 ) or
not Download it from the server. (Unfortu- casting everyone’s address in your e-mail. Topica (find.pcworld.com/52856).
nately, you’ll never know that the person Instead, maintain everyone’s anonymity Quick tip: You can make it easier for
sent you an e-mail.) In the Rule Descrip- by using your e-mail’s blind-copy feature. friends and family to filter your e-mail
tion box, click the size link, set the maxi- Finding it can be tricky, however. In Out- messages by including a phrase like
mum allowed message size, and click OK look Express, select View and check All “Geeky Buddies” or “Today’s Joke” in the
twice. I set mine at 1000KB (about 1MB). Headers . In Outlook, choose View and To: field. It’s easy to do and it may work
with your e-mail program. Experiment by
TOOL OF THE MONTH
typing (Special Friends) in the To: field.
Then fill in the blind-copy fields using
Welcome-Screen, Incoming E-Mail Fixes the steps outlined above in the discussion
WINDOWS XP’S WELCOME screen may PC is connected to a network domain. about sending smart with BCCs. For a
insist that you have unread messages Want to screen your incoming mes- blank To: line, enter an open parenthesis,
even when you don’t. That’s because sages? If you have a Gmail account or a space, and a close parenthesis (in some
the screen is updated if you use Hot- use EarthLink, try adding a plus symbol e-mail programs, such as AOL and Hot-
ILLUSTRATION: ROBERT NEUBECKER

mail, Outlook, or Outlook Express (even and a few characters after your name mail, use just a space).
if you use another e-mail app). To stop when filling out Web forms. I might type
this alert from appearing, use TweakUI stevebass+XYZ@gmail.com and then have Contributing Editor Steve Bass writes the
(find.pcworld.com/52726): Expand Log- my e-mail program filter the replies; you Bass Blog (find.pcworld.com/50264 ). To
on, and uncheck Show unread mail on can also see whether a Web company is read his previous columns and newsletters,
Welcome screen. This won’t work if your reselling your e-mail address. go to find.pcworld.com/50268. Contact him
at hasslefreepc@pcworld.com.

J U LY 2 0 0 6 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M 45
DAN TYNAN

One Remote to Rule Them All


Can one gizmo control every device in the house? The possibilities are remote.
some men dream of winning the lot- recording a keyboard macro on a PC. commands like ‘MoveSur+’ (though you
tery or running off to Fiji with Keira In most cases the SRU9600 worked can use the software on the PC to change
Knightley. I dream of having a single re- fine, but I had to manually train it to work the names of the commands).
mote to control every TV set, DVD player, with my Magnavox DVD/VCR player by The software has its own problems. For
and stereo system in my house. I’d wear putting it nose-to-nose with my old re- example, when you’re programming ac-
it in a holster on my hip and sleep with it mote and alternately pressing buttons on tivities like ‘Watch a DVD’, it’s easy to get
under my pillow. Best of all, I’d take the each device. Finding the up, down, and stuck in an endless loop. And if you aren’t
cluster of remotes occupying my careful, the Harmony CD installs
coffee table and toss them into the nagware that pops up plugs for
largest landfill I could find. other Logitech products. To its cred-
There are two kinds of universal it, Logitech offers free phone sup-
remotes: the ones included with port, with native English speakers
custom-installed home theaters and minimal hold times. The bad
that somebody else programs for news is, you’ll probably need it.
you, and the programmable ones
that you can buy at Electronics R UNIVERSAL LIFE
Us for a couple hundred dollars. any gizmo that comes with a
Since I haven’t won the lottery nearly 1-hour instructional DVD
(yet), I looked at low-end to mid- doesn’t inspire much confidence.
range controllers from Philips, And while the disc for Universal’s
Logitech, and Universal Remote. R7 ( www.universalremote.com)
Besides controlling each device, does a good job of explaining the
these babies allow you to create remote’s intricacies, you’ll need a
macros so you can press one but- number 2 pencil, a notepad, and
ton to turn on your television, more patience than I could muster
launch your DVD player, and switch your side directional buttons essential to navi- to get things working. The R7 has cool
A/V receiver over to surround-sound gating TiVo also took me a while. Even features the others don’t—like the ability
mode. Sounds dreamy, doesn’t it? Unfor- so, the SRU9600 was easily my favorite. to control sound for all devices without
tunately, my dreams started to crumble switching between them, and the ability
when I put the remotes to the test. IMPERFECT HARMONY to turn everything off with one button—
to program logitech’s Harmony and at $50 it’s certainly priced right. But
POLISHED PHILIPS 550 ($150, www.logitech.com), you con- be prepared for a lot of trial and error,
certainly the slickest looking of nect it to your PC’s USB port. Logitech’s and multiple training-DVD viewings.
the three, Philips’s SRU9600 ($150, www. Web-based software prompts you for type Of the three, the Philips offers the great-
philipsusa.com) has a 1.5-by-3-inch touch- of device, maker, and model, and then est control with the least amount of has-
screen LCD that changes depending on downloads the right codes to the remote. sle. But I would keep the other remotes in
the device you control. To program it, you The 550 controlled most of my devices a drawer nearby, just in case. And, Keira?
pick the type of device, use a click-dial to without a hassle but seemed totally flum- I’m ready to leave whenever you are.
ILLUSTRATION: BARRY BLITT

scroll through a looong list of manufac- moxed by my Sony CD Jukebox. Worse,


turers, and hold down OK while the re- the remote’s LCD is only about an inch Contributing Editor Dan Tynan is the author
mote finds the codes. Programming it to square, so you have to scroll through of Computer Privacy Annoyances (O’Reilly
automatically perform all of the functions multiple screens (22 of them for my Pio- Media, 2005). You can send him e-mail at
to, say, play a DVD or a CD is as easy as neer A/V receiver) and puzzle out cryptic gadgetfreak@pcworld.com.

J U LY 2 0 0 6 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M 47
BUGS & FIXES
STUART J. JOHNSTON

Critical Microsoft Patches Cause Havoc


Also: Take charge of Automatic Updates, and get critical Firefox fixes.
healer, heal thyself: This any HP DeskJet printer with a patch via Windows Update IN BRIEF
month three Microsoft secu- card reader, and HP scanners; (find.pcworld.com/53462). If
rity fixes ended up causing a some HP cameras and optical you have Automatic Updates Firefox Plugs Holes
lot of folks serious problems drives also bundled the soft- enabled, it will automatically MOZILLA.ORG has patched
with Internet Explorer, Office, determine if you need the a half dozen critical security
and Outlook Express. “patched” patch. (See the tips flaws in its Firefox browser.
A recent patch for Win- below for more on configur- Versions 1.5.0.2 and newer
dows Explorer, distributed via ing Automatic Updates.) or 1.0.8 and newer will pro-
Windows Update, essentially Meanwhile, a patch for IE tect you. You can download
rendered Office unusable plugged eight critical holes in the latest version of Firefox
for many people, preventing the browser but also altered at www.getfirefox.com. For
them from opening or saving IE’s behavior in response to more info on the bugs, go to
files. For others, IE’s address
Three fixes an ongoing patent lawsuit find.pcworld.com/53472.
bar refused to accept manu- create serious brought by a California uni-
ally entered URLs. versity. The update adjusts As if those bugs weren’t
The trouble mainly affected
problems. the way IE handles commonly enough, users have reported
users who have the HP Share- ware. And certain PCs run- used ActiveX controls, partic- that their Outlook Express 6
to-Web program, which is no ning older nVidia graphics ularly for plug-ins such as the address book vanished after
longer distributed. It came cards had problems as well. Macromedia Flash Player. they installed a Microsoft
with HP PhotoSmart software, Microsoft has issued a new For the browser change to security patch (find.pcworld.
work correctly, Web sites have com/53466) for that program.
to make corresponding chang- Microsoft has said only that
AVOID PATCH CRASH: TIPS FOR STAYING SAFE es. Otherwise, every ActiveX it is looking into the prob-
DON’T LET BUGGY patches goad you into disabling Automatic control on a site requires an lem. Users on the company’s
Updates. Instead, take charge with these steps. extra click to activate. forum say they were able to

1 INSTALL AT YOUR COMMAND Set Windows Update to


automatically download patches, but to install them only
Microsoft has been trying
to get the word out to Web
retrieve their address books
by uninstalling the patch.
when you say so. Open the Control Panel, choose System, and site managers, but of course Luckily, the bug it fixes isn’t
then click the Automatic Updates tab. Select Download updates many of the millions of sites critical, so removing the patch
for me, but let me choose when to install them, and click OK. out there didn’t get updated. seems to be an ac ceptable

2 CHECK FOR PROBLEMS When you’re prompted to install


patches, select Custom Install (Advanced) to see a short
And users, who received little
notice about the change, were
way to get OE’s address book
working again.
description of each patch, as well as its Microsoft Knowledge caught off guard when many
Base (KB) number. Use that KB number to search for any sites suddenly seemed broken. Stuart J. Johnston is a contrib-
reported problems at Microsoft’s Security Response Center Microsoft released a tempo- uting editor for PC World. Visit
Blog (find.pcworld.com/53474 ) or the company’s Windows rary workaround that undoes find.pcworld.com/31580 to see
ILLUSTRATION: HEADCASE DESIGN

Update security newsgroup (find.pcworld.com/53468). the ActiveX control patch more Bugs and Fixes columns.

3 PREP A ROLLBACK Set a restore point before installing


patches so you can always revert to a working configura-
while leaving the security
update intact. The fix is due to
BUGGED?

tion. You can also remove most patches via the Windows Add/ be phased out soon because of FOUND A HARDWARE or soft-
Remove Programs utility, which lists the date and KB number the continuing patent battle, ware bug? Send us an e-mail
for each installed patch as long as you check the Show Updates but for now you can get it at on it to bugs@pcworld.com.
box up top. Remove critical patches only as a last resort. find.pcworld.com/53464.

J U LY 2 0 0 6 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M 49
Lab-tested and hands-on evaluations of the latest products REVIEWS

57 SAMSUNG Q1,
TABLETKIOSK EO

REVIEWS &
60 ULEAD DVD MOVIEFACTORY 5
60 TOSHIBA SATELLITE
P105-S921
61 MAXENT MX-50X3,
SAMSUNG HP-S5053,

RANKINGS
VIZIO P50 HDM
64 SEAGATE BARRACUDA
7200.10 750GB

E D I T E D BY DA N N Y A L L E N A N D L AU R A B L AC KW E L L

Small Players,
Big Sound
We test the audio quality and evaluate the
usability of flash players, and pick a Best Buy.
AU D I O P L AY E RS based devices are. And if you
portable audio don’t require that your audio
players may offer eye- player hold your entire music
catching features, such as the collection (or if you already
ability to display photos and have a bulky player that stores
video clips, but ultimately the it all), one of these small flash
devices must be judged by players makes the perfect
one thing: How good does the traveling companion. In addi-
music sound? tion, though their capacities
For the first time, the PC are dwarfed by 60GB hard-
World Test Center has con- drive models, flash players CREATIVE’S LOW-PRICED ZEN Nano Plus matches the high audio
ducted sound-quality tests on have increased their storage quality of the pricier iPod Nano. Dell’s DJ Ditty costs just $89.
audio players to determine space. A 4GB flash player will
which produce the finest hold about 1000 MP3s encod- evaluated are about the size ounce and is so small you
sound. For details about these ed at 128 kilobits per second. of a cigarette lighter (too could pop it in your mouth.
tests, see the audio players If you want an armband for small and narrow to include Despite this novelty, it missed
section of “How We Test” at listening on the move, how- a thumb wheel). On the other the chart due to its lack of fea-
find.pcworld.com/53160. ever, note that Creative’s Zen hand, some rectangular mod- tures and mediocre usability.
Lightweight audio players Nano Plus has one, but the els have room for a larger
NEW AUDIO TESTS
PHOTOGRAPHS: MARC SIMON

with flash-based memory are iPod Nano’s costs $29 extra. screen, making navigating
the best choice for listening to Flash players come in a mix their menus easier. The light- beginning with this
music while at the gym or on of shapes and sizes—variables est player we tested is the issue, the PC World Test Cen-
the go. Their lack of moving that can impact their usability. 2GB MobiBlu DAH-1500i ter will evaluate the sound
parts makes them less vulner- There is such a thing as too (also known as the “Cube”). quality of audio players using
able to drops than hard-drive- small. Some of the players we The unit weighs less than an an ATS-2 analyzer provided

52 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M J U LY 2 0 0 6
RANKINGS

68 SAGE PEACHTREE PREMIUM 2007 58 TOP 10 NOTEBOOK PCs


70 MOVIEBEAM PLAYER 62 TOP 10 MULTIFUNCTION INKJETS
70 SONY NAV-U NV-U70 67 TOP 5 NETWORK-ATTACHED DRIVES
72 CMS BOUNCEBACK PROFESSIONAL 7.0,
NTI SHADOW 3,
STARDOCK KEEPSAFE
74 EMACHINES T6532
76 PANASONIC VDR-D300
78 MORE REVIEWS
AT PCWORLD.COM

76 60

by Audio Precision, a maker ensure that the player could Our tests measure the Earbuds” on page 54. We
of audio testing equipment. reproduce very high and very audio output from each play- were particularly unimpressed
We conducted several tests on low frequencies. All of the er’s headphone jack, rather with the Creative Zen Nano
each player. For example, we players we evaluated earned than from the included ear- Plus’s earbuds, which is a
measured the output level high scores on this test. We buds. To get the best possible shame because the player’s
each device could attain before also measured the signal-to- sound quality, you’ll want to audio quality is top-notch.
reaching 1 percent distortion, noise ratio and the harmonic upgrade from the basic ear- Only the Zen Nano Plus
generally regarded as the distortion of each player’s buds that come with these and the iPod Nano received a
highest acceptable amount. audio output; obviously, noise players. We outline some of score of Superior for overall
We also measured each de- or distortion will make your your headphone options in audio quality. That and a low
vice’s frequency response to listening less enjoyable. “First Things First: Ditch the price earned the Zen Nano
Plus our Best Buy. However,
FLASH-BASED PLAYER PCW Rating Performance Features and specifications
no other player tops the ele-
• 1GB gant design of the iPod Nano.

1
Creative Zen Nano Plus
$109
find.pcworld.com/53170
83
Very Good
• Overall audio quality: Superior
• Signal-to-noise ratio: -81db
• Overall design: Good
• Windows Media Player software
• FM tuner, voice recording
Of the players on the chart,
the SanDisk Sansa c150 added
• 1.2 ounces
3 Bottom line: Top-of-the-line player offers audio quality for a low price. Includes an armband and so-so earbuds. Uses one AAA battery. the most distortion to audio,
• 4GB
and the SanDisk Sansa e260

2
Apple iPod Nano
$249
find.pcworld.com/53174
76
Good
• Overall audio quality: Superior
• Signal-to-noise ratio: -82db
• Overall design: Very Good
• iTunes software
• Photo
posted the highest signal-to-
noise ratio. Two players, the
• 1.6 ounces
Creative Zen Nano Plus and
3 Bottom line: This elegant model has high audio quality and native photo support, but it’s pricey and limits you to the iTunes Music Store.
the Dell DJ Ditty, tied for cre-
• 512MB ating the least distortion.

3
Dell DJ Ditty
$89
find.pcworld.com/53168
76
Good
• Overall audio quality: Very Good
• Signal-to-noise ratio: -79db
• Overall design: Fair
• Musicmatch software
• FM tuner
If you like to crank up the
tunes, the iPod Nano is your
• 1.3 ounces
3 Bottom line: Inexpensive, low-capacity player has an FM tuner, but doesn’t record broadcasts or have a built-in microphone. best bet: In our tests it gener-
• 2GB
ated the loudest signal before

4
SanDisk Sansa c150
$149
find.pcworld.com/53164
75
Good
• Overall audio quality: Very Good
• Signal-to-noise ratio: -80db
• Overall design: Fair
• Rhapsody, Sansa Media Converter software
• FM tuner, voice recording, photo
reaching 1 percent distortion.
It also showed the best fre-
• 1.6 ounces
quency response, re-creating
3 Bottom line: Button use and menus are a bit clunky on the inexpensive c150. Photos require software conversion. Uses one AAA battery.
frequencies across the spec-
• 4GB trum with less variance than

5
SanDisk Sansa e260
$229
find.pcworld.com/53188
72Good
• Overall audio quality: Good
• Signal-to-noise ratio: -74db
• Overall design: Fair
• Rhapsody, Sansa Media Converter software
• FM tuner, voice recording, photo, video
the other players did. The
iPod Nano’s sole shortcoming
• 2.7 ounces
3 Bottom line: Unit has a thumb wheel and a big 1.8-inch screen, but navigation can be unintuitive. Rechargeable battery is replaceable. was its average showing in
our measurement of cross
CHART NOTE: Ratings are as of 5/5/06. Lower signal-to-noise ratios are better (the iPod Nano scored the best on this test). For details on
how we test audio players, see find.pcworld.com/53160. talk—the blending of the left
and right audio channels,

J U LY 2 0 0 6 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M 53
R EV I EWS & RANK IN GS

which degrades the ste- of the Creative Zen Nano use Apple’s iTunes software.
reo image. The Creative Plus is that in addition to Most of the players on the
Zen Nano Plus got the its built-in mike, it has a chart support the Rhapsody,
best score on this test. line-in jack you can use Napster, and Yahoo online
to record from, say, a por- music stores. With the iPod
FM AND table CD player. Nano, you have to shop at
RECORDING Apple’s iTunes Music Store.
all the players we BATTERIES Support for music subscrip-
tested, except the iPod some flash players tion services is a slightly dif-
Nano, include an FM use batteries that you can ferent story. All of the players
tuner. Three—the Cre- replace yourself. The Zen except the iPod Nano carry
ative Zen Nano Plus, as Nano Plus and SanDisk Microsoft’s PlaysForSure
well as the SanDisk c150 Sansa c150 use one AAA logo. But be aware that the
and e260 players—can record SANDISK’S SANSA E260 (left) battery. Both the SanDisk Creative Zen Nano Plus sup-
FM broadcasts. Don’t expect earned the lowest audio quality Sansa e260 and iPod Nano ports only downloads under
the tuners in these small play- score; the c150 fared better. run on a rechargeable lithium the system, and not subscrip-
ers to get the crisp reception ion battery; you can change tion services as the other three
you get from your car stereo Aside from the Dell DJ Ditty, the Sansa e260’s battery your- players do. A list of compati-
or to make pristine recordings which has no EQ presets, the self, but not the iPod Nano’s, ble devices is available at
of radio shows, however; re- other players we looked at nor the lithium polymer bat- www.playsforsure.com.
cordings we made with the offer between 4 and 8 settings. tery in the Dell DJ Ditty.
SanDisk e260 had more static In our experience, however, All of the players on the PHOTOS, TOO
than the original broadcast. using an audio player’s EQ chart are rated to last at least a few of the players can dis-
Most players typically store lowers the output level and 14 hours on one charge. play photos on their color
20 radio station presets. The distorts the signal. screen. The iPod Nano’s 1.5-
Creative Zen Nano Plus can A built-in microphone is SHOPPING FOR TUNES inch screen and the SanDisk
store 32 presets, while the handy for recording voice the ipod nano is the only e260’s 1.8-inch screen are big
Dell DJ Ditty allows you to memos. Among the models player here that doesn’t allow enough to make photo view-
store just 10. As for equalizer we tested, only the iPod Nano you to drag and drop music ing fun (in theory anyway).
settings, the iPod Nano offers and Dell DJ Ditty lacked a files onto it using Windows However, you can’t drag
the most, with 22 EQ presets. mike. One convenient feature Explorer—you’re required to and drop photos onto either
player. To view photos on the
EARPHONES
iPod Nano you have to use
iTunes, and with the Sansa
First Things First: Ditch the Earbuds e260 you must use its Media
Converter software; the same
THE EARPHONES THAT come If you prefer something small- goes for playing video (the
packed with audio players er, try the $150 Sennheiser Sansa e260 is the only player
don’t do the music justice. To PXC250 set ( find.pcworld. here that does so). In practice,
hear the high-quality sound of com/48024), which includes a the e260’s large screen is
a Creative Zen Nano Plus or noise-cancelling feature. wasted real estate: Photos we
an iPod Nano, you need better In-the-ear headphones: loaded left about half of the
PHOTOGRAPH: MARC SIMON; ILLUSTRATION: HARRY CAMPBELL

headphones. Here are a few Standard earbuds are lousy at screen blank, and the PDF
options—one for as low as $8. blocking out sound. However, manual offered no help. On
Over-the-ear headphones: the $249 Super.fi 5 Pro ear- the Sansa c150’s 1.2-inch
Bulky headphones aren’t as portable as ear- phones from Ultimate Ears (find.pcworld. color screen, photos displayed
buds. But on the plus side, a set of cans tends com/53560) have tips designed to fit snugly, smaller than a postage stamp.
to block out noisy disruptions. Those with as do the $500 Shure E500 Push to Hear Such multimedia features
closed cups that surround the ears will shut earbuds (find.pcworld.com/53562), which at are merely extras on flash-
out more noise than those with smaller cups press time were expected to ship in mid-June. based players, though. What
or only foam earpieces. One good pick is a If these are too pricey, don’t despair. We’ve these devices do best is play
former PC World Best Buy, the $150 Bose Tri- also been impressed by the $8 Sennheiser music. So choose one, and get
Port headphones (find.pcworld.com/48020). MX 300 earbuds (find.pcworld.com/53498). out and enjoy yourself!
—Eric Butterfield

54 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M J U LY 2 0 0 6
REVIEWS & RA N K IN GS

Head-to-Head: First Ultra Mobile PCs Arrive


MOBILE COMPUTING
the first systems based on
the Microsoft/Intel Ultra
Mobile PC specification—
Samsung’s Q1 and Tablet-
Kiosk’s EO —prove you can
cram an awful lot into a small
package. Both devices con-
dense the best features of a
tablet PC into a package that’s
less than half the size and
weight of a typical laptop.
Notably missing, however,
is the $500 to $1000 price that NEW ULTRA MOBILE PCs from TabletKiosk (left) and Samsung each include a 7-inch
Microsoft and Intel had prom- LCD, a 40GB hard drive, and Microsoft’s Windows XP Tablet Edition operating system.
ised for UMPCs. My 512MB
configuration of the shipping the UMPC spec combines a you can connect to a second with a microphone and two
Q1 sells for $1099, and the touch screen with a tablet’s monitor with either machine, speakers built into its case
shipping 1GB EO system I pen input. The two devices I which lets you extend your (the EO includes a set of ear-
tested sells for $1164 (Tablet- looked at are about the same desktop, use the external dis- bud headphones with a handy
Kiosk also sells an $899 model size and weight: 9 by 5.5 by play alone, or show the same built-in microphone).
with only 256MB of memory). 1.25 inches deep, and just screen content on both dis-
Those prices don’t include under 2 pounds. If the units plays (for presentations). NOTES INTO TYPE
critical options like an exter- were red, you would think Unfortunately, each device’s both machines provide
nal optical drive, a keyboard, they were Etch-A-Sketches cramped screen real estate the Windows Journal app, for
or an extra battery pack. with a few extra buttons. makes navigation difficult. At taking handwritten notes and
Each tablet has two pow- the default 800-by-480 resolu- converting them into type.
NOTEBOOK ered USB ports, and each has tion, many open windows The program did a surpris-
REPLACEMENT? a 7-inch LCD and a 1.8-inch were truncated, and dialog ingly good job translating my
even at those steep prices, 40GB hard drive. Both sys- boxes often opened outside of cursive and printed scribbles
I think that people who prefer tems run Windows XP Tablet the viewable area, requiring into something approximat-
writing by hand to keying, PC Edition with Touch Pack some “guess” clicks. At high- ing English (the TabletKiosk
and anybody who likes using (designed specifically for the er resolutions, the problem also includes Windows Jour-
a stylus instead of a mouse, UMPC’s touch screen). was even more noticeable. nal). For a longtime note-taker
may find these products a Other common features: Neither system includes a like me, this is the feature that
viable alternative. Of the two built-in 802.11b/g and Blue- standard attachable optical will make or break a UMPC.
systems, I give the edge to the tooth for connecting to wire- disk drive—which I found Though these devices are
Q1, which offers more con- less networks, plus screen ironic, since both ship with usually oriented in landscape
nectivity options and support resolutions of 800 by 480 (the restore CDs. Another early up- mode, the Q1 also has a por-
for portrait view. default on both), 800 by 600, grade will likely be an addi- trait mode, which I found
Previously called Origami, and 1024 by 600. In addition, tional battery pack. Using more natural when taking
each unit’s standard battery, notes with Windows Journal
Q1 EO the Q1 ran for only 1.75 hours and the included stylus.
Samsung TabletKiosk on a single charge and the EO If these devices were to cost
PCW Rating 70 Good PCW Rating 65 Fair lasted about 2.25 hours. Of less, either one could be the
This promising UMPC packs plenty The EO demonstrates the the two models, the Q1 packs portable PC I’ve longed for.
PHOTOGRAPH: MARC SIMON

of features and excels as a note- promise of the UMPC design but in more useful features than Both can replace a laptop, if
taking device, but the necessary lacks necessary features such as the EO, such as an ethernet you can live with an over-
extras push up the price. an optical drive and a keyboard. port and a VGA connection crowded screen and a few
Street: $1099 Street: $1164 for linking to an external costly but necessary add-ons.
find.pcworld.com/53564 find.pcworld.com/53566 monitor. The Q1 also comes —Dennis O’Reilly

J U LY 2 0 0 6 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M 57
R EV I EWS & RANK IN GS

TOP 10 NOTEBOOK PCS

Dell, Lenovo Laptops Take Over Top Spots


both sections of ALL-PURPOSE NOTEBOOK PCW Rating Performance Features and specifications
this month’s note- • 1.66-GHz Core Duo T2300
book chart have new number
ones. Among all-purpose lap- 1
Dell Inspiron E1505
$1149 NEW
find.pcworld.com/53124
85
Very Good
• WorldBench 5 score: 82 Good
• Overall design: Good
• Tested battery life: 2:19
• 15.4-inch wide screen
• 6.5 pounds
• DVD+R DL/DVD±RW
tops, Dell’s spiffy Inspiron
3 Bottom line: This inexpensive entertainment portable navigates easily between multimedia features, and offers terrific value.
E1505 displaces the long-time
leader, Lenovo’s ThinkPad R52. • 1.73-GHz Pentium M 740

The Lenovo ThinkPad X60s de-


buts in first place among our 2
Lenovo ThinkPad R52
$1149
find.pcworld.com/47828
83
Very Good
• WorldBench 5 score: 77 Good
• Overall design: Very Good
• Tested battery life: 3:30
• 14.1-inch screen
• 6.1 pounds
• DVD-ROM/CD-RW
ultraportables, supplanting 3 Bottom line: Lenovo’s R52 has a comfortable keyboard, and its modular bay accepts many optional drives.
the venerable ThinkPad X41. • 1.66-GHz Core Solo T1300
Dell’s Inspiron E1505, a su-
perb entertainment laptop, 3
Toshiba Tecra A6-S513
$1149 NEW
find.pcworld.com/53130
83
Very Good
• WorldBench 5 score: 77 Good
• Overall design: Good
• Tested battery life: 3:55
• 14.1-inch wide screen
• 5.4 pounds
• DVD-ROM/CD-RW
has a fine keyboard. The ma-
3 Bottom line: Handsome business portable offers great battery life and extra security features, including a fingerprint reader.
chine’s MediaDirect button
• 2-GHz Pentium M 760

4
Micro Express FL3020
$1199
find.pcworld.com/50880
79Good
• WorldBench 5 score: 94 Superior
• Overall design: Fair
• Tested battery life: 2:03
• 14.1-inch wide screen
• 5.2 pounds
• DVD+R DL/DVD±RW

3 Bottom line: This average-priced notebook is an impressive performer and has a built-in Webcam, but its battery life is short.

• 2.2-GHz Turion 64 ML-40

5
HP Compaq nx6125
$1499
find.pcworld.com/49660
77
Good
• WorldBench 5 score: 81 Good
• Overall design: Very Good
• Tested battery life: 3:25
• 15.0-inch screen
• 6.3 pounds
• DVD±RW

3 Bottom line: Business model has a slightly dull screen but does everything else right. A six-in-one media-card reader sits up front.
ULTRAPORTABLE NOTEBOOK
• 1.66-GHz Core Duo L2400

83
DELL’S INSPIRON E1505 takes Lenovo ThinkPad X60s • WorldBench 5 score: 83 Very Good
• 12.1-inch screen
your entertainment on the road. $2299 NEW • Overall design: Very Good
• 3.5 pounds
1 find.pcworld.com/52694 Very Good • Tested battery life: 8:21
• DVD-ROM/CD-RW
offers fast access to your music, 3 Bottom line: Strong performance, terrific battery life, and an illuminated keyboard make this expensive business notebook a winner.
pictures, movies, and videos.
• 1.73-GHz Pentium M 740
Toshiba’s Tecra A6-S513 ar-
rives on the all-purpose chart
2
Acer TravelMate 3000
$1199
find.pcworld.com/48906
76Good
• WorldBench 5 score: 78 Good
• Overall design: Good
• Tested battery life: 3:58
• 12.1-inch wide screen
• 3.2 pounds
• DVD-ROM/CD-RW
with both a fingerprint reader
and a TPM (Trusted Platform 3 Bottom line: Inexpensive model comes with two batteries, a four-in-one media-card reader, and an external optical drive.

Module) for security. • 2-GHz Pentium M 760


Lenovo’s speedy ThinkPad
X60s includes a tiptop key- 3
Alienware Sentia m3200
$1454
find.pcworld.com/52022
76Good
• WorldBench 5 score: 92 Superior
• Overall design: Good
• Tested battery life: 2:53
• 12.1-inch wide screen
• 4.8 pounds
• DVD±R DL/DVD±RW
board. Its key-illuminating
3 Bottom line: Alienware’s fast thin-and-light notebook offers a bright wide-screen display and a well-designed case.
ThinkLight is one example of
the X60s’s great design. • 1.2-GHz Pentium M ULV 753

—Dan Sommer
4
Fujitsu LifeBook P7120 Notebook
$2099
find.pcworld.com/52028
75Good
• WorldBench 5 score: 60 Fair
• Overall design: Very Good
• Tested battery life: 6:26
• 10.6-inch wide screen
• 2.8 pounds
• DVD+R DL/DVD±RW
ONLINE
3 Bottom line: Cleverly designed, stylish laptop makes a fine ultraportable. A high price is its only significant drawback.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
about the notebook PCs HP Compaq nc4200 Notebook PC
74 • WorldBench 5 score: 79 Very Good • 1.86-GHz Pentium M 750
PHOTOGRAPH: RICK RIZNER

• Overall design: Good • 12.1-inch screen


reviewed in this chart, in- 5 $1549
find.pcworld.com/52024 • Tested battery life: 5:12 • 3.9 pounds
Good
cluding details about how
we tested them, go to find. 3 Bottom line: This business-oriented laptop has no optical drive, but it successfully marries portability and a great keyboard.

pcworld.com/53522. CHART NOTES: Prices and ratings are as of 5/5/06. For each model, weight listed does not include the AC adapter, power cord, or optical drive.

58 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M J U LY 2 0 0 6
R EV I EWS & RANK IN GS

MovieFactory Makes Creating Movie Discs Easy


D V D S O F T W A R E video-related burning chores
rather than attempting you might want to perform.
to be everything to everyone, For the most part, I found
Ulead’s $50 DVD MovieFactory the software convenient to
5 instead focuses on just one navigate and use for the dif-
job—burning video and mov- ferent tasks. Creating a basic
ies to disc—and tries to make DVD videodisc was a simple
it as painless as possible. and pleasant experience: You
Getting started is easy. The just choose the files, and, if
launcher’s interface is bliss- they aren’t already MPEG-2
fully uncluttered and clean, encoded, the software will do
offering quick access to fea- the necessary transcoding. It
tures that handily cover most works with a variety of for- MOVIEFACTORY’S INTERFACE makes performing burning tasks easy.
mats and is ready to output to
DVD MovieFactory 5 high-definition optical as well. bility. When I was creating a like about MovieFactory, I
Ulead Systems Among the other improve- videodisc, for example, I was suspect this package will be-
PCW Rating 80 Very Good ments: Ulead has bolstered often frustrated by the suite’s come merely one component
Useful, relatively easy-to-use the video editing tools and inability to undo an action. of my disc-burning arsenal—
software for creating movie introduced an Ad-Zapper fea- Also, I couldn’t rotate a back- a supplement to, but not a re-
DVDs could offer a bit more ture for removing commer- ground image, nor could I placement for, suites from
creative flexibility. cials from TV content. find any way to change the Nero or Roxio, which each cost
Street: $50 This application’s biggest image-quality settings. about twice the price.
find.pcworld.com/53200 drawback is its limited flexi- Though I found much to —Melissa J. Perenson

Big, Beautiful Gaming Notebook From Toshiba


N O T E B O O K format rewritable DVD drive, The Satellite soundly deliv- for music, video, or games.
a terrific screen, 160GB of storage, gigabit eth- ered that kick on our World- The P105-S921 has a good
rich sound, and supe- ernet, 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi, Bench 5 tests, earning a score keyboard and a full numeric
rior performance make the 1GB of DDR2 SDRAM, and of 95—which shows that it’s keypad next to it. One gripe:
Satellite P105-S921 gaming an Intel 1.83-GHz Core Duo plenty fast for most purposes. Because the <Backspace> key
notebook from Toshiba really T2400 processor for some You also get good graphics is next to the numeric keypad,
stand out. The system’s $1999 high-performance kick. performance from the unit’s I accidentally bumped into
price—quite reasonable con- nVidia GeForce Go 7900 GS the keypad several times while
sidering what you get for it— TOSHIBA’S SATELLITE P105- graphics with 256MB of dedi- getting used to the layout.
only sweetens the deal. S921 has a gorgeous screen. cated GDDR3 memory. This The Satellite P105-S921
The P105-S921 is a isn’t nVidia’s top-of-the-line packs a lot of power and does
hefty beast—there’s chip (that’s the 7900 GTX), so at a price that makes it
no getting around and the 7900 GS doesn’t quite worth a very close look.
that. The unit weighs match the power of the 7900 —Anush Yegyazarian
9.2 pounds ready for GTX, but you should still get
travel, and measures excellent game play out of it. Satellite P105-S921
15.5 by 10.8 by nearly 2 And movie playback looked Toshiba
PHOTOGRAPHS: MARC SIMON

inches. But that hulk- smooth, with great colors. PCW Rating 83 Very Good
ing package comes fully The pair of Har- This full-featured gaming system
loaded. The laptop has a man/Kardon offers a great screen and very
beautiful 17-inch, glossy, speakers with good speakers, at a fair price.
wide-screen (1440-by-900- subwoofer pro- Street: $1999
pixel) LCD, a built-in multi- vide full, rich sound find.pcworld.com/53212

60 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M J U LY 2 0 0 6
Monitor or HDTV? Pick Your Perfect Plasma
P L A S M A D I S P L AYS tuner provider’s remote con-
for many folks, a trol, though, you might want
big plasma HDTV is to look into a universal re -
more mouthwatering than a mote. For example, the Max-
fresh funnel cake; but the pric- ent’s is full of buttons that
es are much harder to swallow. teasingly call out unavailable
It’s tempting to try to save functions, including Channel
money where you can, perhaps Up and Channel Down. But if
by buying a tunerless high- you already have a setup that
definition monitor instead of works with the MX-50X3, the
an actual HDTV. We tested TV picture could be as appeal-
Samsung’s $4000 HP-S5053, ing as the monetary savings.
an HDTV, and compared it The other HD monitor we
with the $2500 Maxent MX- evaluated, the 50-inch, $2500
50X3 and Vizio P50 HDM HD Vizio P50 HDM, fared poorly
monitors. All three are 50-inch with our test jury. The dis-
plasmas, but what those plas- play’s picture appeared dark
ma screens can do, and what and lacking in detail on all TV
you need in order to get a good and DVD content tests. De-
picture, varies with the model. MAXENT’S MX-50X3 50-INCH plasma monitor offers an appealing spite what the inclusion of
With its gleaming black combination of good image quality and a reasonable price. two HDMI inputs implies,
cabinet, brushed-metal accent, the unit’s quality seemed a
and blue-lit power button, the and contrast remained strong content. We particularly liked better fit for showing Power-
Samsung HP-S5053 cuts a even in our bright-lights test its strong colors on both types Point slides in a conference-
figure worthy of its $4000 ask- and in our challenging DVD of TV shows. This plasma room presentation than for
ing price. A tour through the tests. Many TVs have trouble monitor gave its weakest per- watching TV and DVDs in the
set’s features reveals many displaying the contrast in a formance on DVD playback, living room. On the plus side,
HDTV checklist items: an dimly lit scene on our The losing details in the shadowy Vizio’s clear commitment to
NTSC tuner for analog TV Lord of the Rings: The Return of Lord of the Rings scene and easy setup—thorough docu-
programming, an ATSC tuner the King DVD test, but the balking at the mix of vivid col- mentation, great on-screen
for digital TV content, two HP-S5053 set ably handled ors and natural skin tones in menus, and clearly labeled
HDMI inputs, and both RCA such challenging tasks as cap- the movie Seabiscuit. inputs—is one of the P50
and digital audio outputs. turing the highlights on a HDM’s best selling points.
In PC World’s jury testing, black velvet cloak. TUNER REQUIRED An HDTV—or an HD mon-
the Samsung HDTV pleased Image quality, however, an hd monitor has nei- itor—is only part of the recipe
viewers by displaying natural- doesn’t have to cost you sev- ther an NTSC nor an ATSC for high-def. Before you buy,
looking skin tones and satu- eral grand: The $2500 Maxent tuner. That means you’ll need make sure you know which
rated colors on both standard- MX-50X3 HD plasma moni- to add an HD-ready tuner in ingredients you’ll need.
definition and high-definition tor’s test scores nearly equaled order to use the Maxent or the You’ll pay more for (and get
TV content, as well as on DVD the Samsung’s marks on both Vizio as a television. If you more from) a full-featured
content. The unit’s brightness standard- and high-def TV don’t care for your set-top HDTV like the Samsung set.
Its price of $4000 lowered its
MX-50X3 HP-S5053 P50 HDM score compared with the two
Maxent Samsung Vizio monitors here, but it isn’t out
PCW Rating 81 Very Good PCW Rating 79 Good PCW Rating 79 Good of line with the cost of compa-
With nice image quality and a low A good picture, plenty of Easy setup (and so-so TV picture rable HDTVs. That said, you
price, this HD monitor is a good connections, and appealing extras quality) make this HD monitor an may be satisfied with the
buy for people who already have come together in this HDTV acceptable choice for budget- price/performance balance of
a decent HD tuner. plasma—but it will cost you. aware businesses. an HD monitor like the Max-
Street: $2500 List: $4000 Street: $2500 ent. Its value is hard to beat.
find.pcworld.com/53076 find.pcworld.com/53074 find.pcworld.com/53072 —Laura Blackwell

J U LY 2 0 0 6 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M 61
R EV I EWS & RANK IN GS

TO P 1 0 M U LTI F U N C TI O N I N KJ E T S

Latest All-in-Ones Pack in the Features


a couple of versa- MULTIFUNCTION INKJET PCW Rating Performance Features and specifications
tile multifunction ink-
• Text quality: Very Good • 29 ppm text
jet printers ideal for a small
business or home office debut 1
Canon Pixma MP500
$200
find.pcworld.com/51040
82
Very Good
• Graphics quality: Good
• Tested speed (ppm): 6.4
• 19 ppm graphics
• 9600-by-2400-dpi maximum true color
text/2.4 graphics resolution
in this month’s chart.
In second place, Canon’s 3 Bottom line: Dual paper trays, a built-in duplexer, and strong text and photos make the Pixma MP500 a good value even without fax capability.

$300 Pixma MP830 includes • Text quality: Very Good • 30 ppm text
a 2.5-inch LCD, fax function-
ality, and a 35-page automatic 2
Canon Pixma MP830
$300 NEW
find.pcworld.com/53194
81
Very Good
• Graphics quality: Good
• Tested speed (ppm): 8.2
• 24 ppm graphics
• 9600-by-2400-dpi maximum true color
text/2.9 graphics resolution
document feeder with duplex-
3 Bottom line: The fast-performing Pixma MP830 includes fax and duplex ADF capabilities, and it produces top-notch prints, copies, and scans.
ing that saves you from hav-
ing to flip two-sided sheets • Text quality: Very Good • 30 ppm text

over manually. It broke print


3
HP Officejet 7410 All-in-One
$500
find.pcworld.com/51046
77 • Graphics quality: Good
• Tested speed (ppm): 6.9
• 20 ppm graphics
• 4800-by-1200-dpi maximum true color
and scan speed records in Good text/2.1 graphics resolution
most of our lab tests and pro- 3 Bottom line: Wi-Fi and excellent paper handling justify this unit’s price. It’s well equipped with an ADF, fax, and a 2.5-inch LCD.
duced rich color photos.
• Text quality: Very Good • 9.8 ppm text
Priced at $200, Brother’s
compact MFC-640CW is load- 4
HP Officejet 7210 All-in-One
$300
find.pcworld.com/47608
77Good
• Graphics quality: Good
• Tested speed (ppm): 6.8
• 5.7 ppm graphics
• 4800-by-1200-dpi maximum true color
text/2.2 graphics resolution
ed with nice features such as
3 Bottom line: This model provides ethernet networking and high print quality, in addition to offering fast copying and photo printing.

• Text quality: Very Good • 29 ppm text

5
Canon Pixma MP950
$400
find.pcworld.com/51042
77Good
• Graphics quality: Very Good
• Tested speed (ppm): 8.4
• 22 ppm graphics
• 9600-by-2400-dpi maximum true color
text/2.4 graphics resolution

3 Bottom line: The Pixma MP950 has a 3.6-inch LCD and great paper handling, and yields high-quality text and photos. Scan results were mixed.

• Text quality: Good • 20 ppm text

6
Epson Stylus CX7800
$180
find.pcworld.com/51044
77Good
• Graphics quality: Good
• Tested speed (ppm): 1.7
• 19 ppm graphics
• 5760-by-1440-dpi maximum true color
text/1.4 graphics resolution

3 Bottom line: This affordable unit has good-quality scans and photo output, but suffers from a small LCD, slow printing, and basic paper handling.
CANON’S NEW PIXMA MP830
• Text quality: Fair • 20 ppm text
is speedy and full featured.

7
Brother MFC-640CW
$200 NEW
find.pcworld.com/53192
76Good
• Graphics quality: Fair
• Tested speed (ppm): 3.4
• 15 ppm graphics
• 6000-by-1200-dpi maximum true color
text/1.1 graphics resolution
a ten-page ADF, color faxing,
a speakerphone (with a hand- 3 Bottom line: Feature-packed and appealingly priced, the MFC-640CW boasts fax capabilities, an ADF, and ethernet and Wi-Fi networking.

set), and a digital answering • Text quality: Very Good • 7.4 ppm text
machine. The device, ranked
seventh, also provides built-in 8
HP PSC 1610 All-in-One
$130
find.pcworld.com/47610
75Good
• Graphics quality: Good
• Tested speed (ppm): 4.9
• 5 ppm graphics
• 4800-by-1200-dpi maximum true color
text/1.4 graphics resolution
Wi-Fi and ethernet interfaces,
3 Bottom line: This model has a low price for high print quality overall. It’s fast at printing photos but slow at copying.
and it can print or fax from—
or scan to—a networked PC. • Text quality: Fair • 22 ppm text

—Danny Allen
9
Lexmark P4350
$130
find.pcworld.com/51048
75Good
• Graphics quality: Poor
• Tested speed (ppm): 7.3
• 15 ppm graphics
• 4800-by-1200-dpi maximum true color
text/1.3 graphics resolution
ONLINE
3 Bottom line: The P4350 is affordably priced and has good text print speeds, but comes with a tiny screen and limited paper handling.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
• Text quality: Fair • 20 ppm text
about the multifunction Brother MFC-5840CN
74
PHOTOGRAPH: RICK RIZNER

• Graphics quality: Poor • 15 ppm graphics


$180
printers reviewed in this 10 find.pcworld.com/47552 Good
• Tested speed (ppm): 3.4
text/1.1 graphics
• 6000-by-1200-dpi maximum true color
resolution
chart, including testing
details, go to find.pcworld. 3 Bottom line: This MFP offers networking, but text printing and scan speeds are slow, and copy speed is below average.

com/53496. CHART NOTE: Prices and ratings are as of 5/5/06.

62 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M J U LY 2 0 0 6
R EV I EWS & RANK IN GS

Seagate’s New Giant Drive Spins to the Top


H A R D D R I V E S Digital Raptor X, which runs and it completed a script
the new seagate at 10,000 rpm. On our write that creates a 538MB
B a r ra c u d a 7 20 0.1 0 tests, the Barracuda took only compressed file in 5
750GB drive sets records for 2 minutes, 16 seconds to write minutes, 20 seconds
capacity and performance at a a 3.06GB file of folders (fin- (beating the speedy
surprisingly low price. This ishing just 2 seconds behind Raptor WD740GD,
big, fast, and affordable drive the Raptor X), and 1 minute, the next-fastest drive,
should satisfy even the most 39 seconds to write a 3.06GB by 14 seconds).
demanding digital pack rat. .zip file (3 seconds ahead of The Barracuda man-
The Barracuda drive we the Raptor X, and 52 seconds ages its breakthrough
tested has 16MB of cache and faster than another Barracuda capacity —a 50 per-
supports SATA-150 by de - drive, the 7200.8 400GB). The cent increase over the
fault. We evaluated it using 7200.10’s performance was previous industry
SATA-300, which required also strong on other World- high-water mark of
resetting a single jumper. Bench 5 tests. It took 6 min- 500GB—using per-
In our performance tests, utes, 37 seconds to complete pendicular magnetic
the drive excelled across the our ISO image-file test script recording (or PMR),
spectrum. It rates as the fast- in Nero’s Nero Express 6.0.0.3 which increases the
est 7200-rpm hard drive we’ve (in which we create a 538MB drive’s areal density
tested; and overall, it was best- set of files, and burn eight by changing the way
ed only by the 150GB Western ISO images from that set); the drive records data on
its disks. With PMR, bits of THE SEAGATE
ASK OUR EXPERTS
data—which are represented BARRACUDA 7200.10
by magnetized particles whose uses perpendicular recording to

Memory: Seeing Double north and south poles are


typically oriented in either
achieve 750GB of storage.

I HAVE A motherboard that supports PC2100 DDR RAM. direction—are arranged per- the usual $1-per-gigabyte pric-
Should I use two memory slots for optimum bandwidth pendicularly to the surface of ing model we have seen with
instead of a single slot? Will two 256MB memory modules the disk, so that the bits are previous new drives. By the
perform better than a single 512MB module? closer together than with tra- time you read this, Seagate
Hong Ng, Singapore ditional, longitudinal record- will also be shipping its exter-
ing, where the particles are nal 750GB Pushbutton Back-
Associate Editor Liane Cassavoy responds: arranged parallel to the disk up Hard Drive (the expected
In short, yes to both. If your motherboard surface. With this arrange- price at launch is $560).
supports dual-channel memory, installing ment, drive manufacturers Seagate’s Barracuda 7200.10
two identical modules should improve com- can either squeeze more data 750GB combines voluminous
puter performance by 10 to 15 percent, onto a drive using the same storage and high-end perfor-
according to Mike Sanor, technical support manager at number of platters and heads mance in a single hard drive.
memory manufacturer Crucial Technology. While systems as in a traditional, longitudi- If you’re in the market for
also work with a single memory module, installing modules nal drive, or they can achieve high-capacity storage, this
PHOTOGRAPHS: MARC SIMON; RICK RIZNER (PORTRAIT)

in identical pairs boosts performance, because it gives each the same overall capacity as in model is your best bet.
module its own pathway to the memory controller, doubling a traditional drive using fewer —Melissa J. Perenson
the peak data bandwidth. (Consult your computer’s manual components and less power.
to determine which two sockets on your motherboard sup- On a cost-per-gigabyte basis, Barracuda 7200.10 750GB
port dual-channel memory.) Sanor also says that manufac- your wallet won’t take a huge Seagate
turers are phasing out PC2100 DDR, but the more widely hit, either. The SATA version PCW Rating 86 Very Good
available PC2700 DDR is backward-compatible. of the Barracuda 7200.10 Gargantuan drive offers record-
750GB will debut at $590, or high storage capacity and class-
Need information or advice about a buying decision? Drop $0.79 per gigabyte—higher leading performance.
us a line at askourexperts@pcworld.com. than the $0.62 average cost of Street: $590
7200-rpm drives, but less than find.pcworld.com/53196

64 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M J U LY 2 0 0 6
REVIEWS & RA N K IN GS

T O P 5 N E T WO R K-AT TAC H E D D R I V E S

Slim Ximeta NAS Drive Delivers Top Speed


network-attached puter allows the device to Debuting at num-
storage lets you keep appear as a local drive for each ber four this month
data in a single location that’s networked machine, is Maxtor’s Shared
accessible to any computer on instead of as a net- Storage Plus drive.
the same network. We tested work drive shared At 500GB, the model
three new models for this among them. is the largest single-
month’s chart, which includes The end result: drive NAS device we have
both multidrive-array models Faster performance tested; unfortunately, it is also
and single-drive units. when you’re transfer- among the slowest. Maxtor’s
The slender Ximeta Net- ring files to and from the de- utilities, which include back-
Disk ND10 debuts at number vice. For example, the Ximeta XIMETA CRUISES AHEAD of up and drive management,
one after turning in a stellar took just 317 seconds to copy the pack with its compact are more full-featured than
performance in our bench- a 3.06GB folder of files, while NetDisk ND10 hard drive. most, and very easy to use.
marks. While other NAS units the second-place Infrant Tech- Especially noteworthy is the
typically appear as networked nologies ReadyNAS NV (a the Ximeta drive: Besides hav- software’s Drag and Sort com-
drives on connected PCs, the multidrive array with its own ing a custom version of Acro- ponent; this feature lets you
Ximeta product uses a propri- special software) took 372 sec- nis TrueImage 9 backup soft- automatically sort files by type
etary Network Direct Attached onds, and the remaining units ware preinstalled, the product (for example, movies, photos,
Storage (NDAS) chip and its each took more than 500 sec- includes a USB 2.0 port (a software, documents).
own networking protocol to onds. In addition, the Ximeta rare find in NAS drives); this Our last new drive tested
enable direct communication NetDisk outran all comers in feature allows you to use the this month finished out of the
between the device and the the file copying test, where we NetDisk as a boot drive if your Top 5 despite solid perfor-
computers. Special software copy a single large .zip file. system’s BIOS supports boot- mance numbers and a good
that you install on each com- Another notable aspect of ing from a USB drive. price. The Plextor PX-EH40L’s
greatest weakness is its omis-
NETWORK-ATTACHED STORAGE PCW Rating Performance Features and specifications
sion of utilities for drive man-
• 400GB agement and backup, features

1
Ximeta NetDisk ND10
$480 NEW
find.pcworld.com/53216
80
Very Good
• Overall performance: Superior
• Copy files: 317 seconds
• File search: 42 seconds
• 7200 rpm
• 10/100 ethernet
that are common among NAS
devices. To install the drive,
• Cost per gigabyte: $1.20
3 Bottom line: Stellar performer shoots past competitors thanks to its NDAS technology, but you’ll need to install an applet on each PC. you have to manually seek it
Infrant Technologies • Overall performance: • 1000GB
out in Windows Explorer, and

2
ReadyNAS NV
$1199 77
Good
Very Good
• Copy files: 372 seconds
• 7200 rpm
• Gigabit ethernet
then map a drive letter to it.
The unit did well in tests—
find.pcworld.com/52074 • File search: 100 seconds • Cost per gigabyte: $1.20
it bested all but the Ximeta
3 Bottom line: Superfast multidrive terabyte NAS box is loaded with features, but it ships with a usable capacity of only 660GB.
among our single-drive NAS
Buffalo Technology LinkStation • 250GB boxes—and we liked its sleek

3
250GB Network Storage Center
$230
77
Good
• Overall performance: Poor
• Copy files: 597 seconds
• File search: 105 seconds
• 5400 rpm
• 10/100 ethernet
design, matching network
cable, and easy-view status
find.pcworld.com/45888 • Cost per gigabyte: $0.92
3 Bottom line: A great, inexpensive pick for the home user who doesn’t need massive capacity or high performance. lights. But the lack of software
• 500GB
kept the drive off the chart.

4
Maxtor Shared Storage Plus
$500 NEW
find.pcworld.com/53198
76Good
• Overall performance: Poor
• Copy files: 586 seconds
• File search: 111 seconds
• 7200 rpm
• 10/100 ethernet
ONLINE
—Melissa J. Perenson

• Cost per gigabyte: $1.00


3 Bottom line: Hefty drive packs plenty of storage, but is slow. Includes useful file-sorting and backup software.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Buffalo Technology • 1000GB on the network-attached
75
PHOTOGRAPH: RICK RIZNER

• Overall performance: Good


TeraStation Home Server • 7200 rpm
• Copy files: 645 seconds storage drives reviewed
5 $850
find.pcworld.com/52082 Good • File search: 88 seconds
• Gigabit ethernet
• Cost per gigabyte: $0.85 here, including testing
3 Bottom line: Multidrive array has media server support for use with a multimedia-centric home network; includes backup software. details, go to find.pcworld.
com/53508.
CHART NOTES: Prices and ratings are as of 4/28/06.

J U LY 2 0 0 6 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M 67
R EV I EWS & RANK IN GS

Peachtree 2007 Improves MS Office Integration


ACCOUNTING SOFTWARE the user interface by adding a
the small-business ac - Business Status Center and
counting market is hotly com- by making it easier for you to
petitive, and Sage Software has view account lists.
kept close tabs on what its ri- Users of recent versions
vals are up to. With Peachtree (2000 or later) of Excel and Out-
Premium 2007, Sage strength- look will welcome Peachtree’s
ens its product in response to closer links to Office. You can
the tougher competition. export data from Peachtree
For starters, Peachtree has into Excel with a new option
bolstered the software’s inte- that retains the layout and the
gration with Microsoft Office, format of the Peachtree report,
thereby countering the threat along with the accounting
from Microsoft’s Office Small numbers. Your export retains
Business Accounting ( find. formulas, too, and you can
pcworld.com/53226). Other keep report headers and fro- PEACHTREE’S INTERFACE NOW includes a Business Status display—
improvements include a new zen panes for easier scrolling a screen providing a graphic snapshot of your company’s finances.
and more powerful back-end of on-screen financial reports.
database that’s similar to In- Creating a budget within tact information for custom- the screen in a format that’s
tuit’s upgrade in QuickBooks Peachtree is easier, too. The ers, vendors, and employees easier to understand.
2006 ( find.pcworld.com/ software now operates more will automatically be kept up- As usual, Peachtree comes
53228). The late beta version like a spreadsheet. Once you’ve to-date in both apps. in several editions. I reviewed
of Peachtree Premium 2007 set up synchronization, your Sage replaces the Btrieve the $500 Peachtree Premium,
that I reviewed also enhances Outlook and Peachtree con- database it used in Peachtree a five-user-ready application
2006 with the more robust for businesses that require
TECH TREND
Pervasive 9.1 database. Single- such advanced accounting
user businesses with relatively features as departmentalized

No-Box Security Software few transactions likely won’t


notice much performance im-
financial statements, serial-
ized inventory, progress bill-
YOUR SECURITY SOFTWARE may have arrived in a box, but provement with the upgrade, ings, and company consolida-
it must download regular program updates and virus defini- but companies with many tion. If you don’t need these
tions from the Internet to recognize and guard against the transactions or with multiple Premium frills, the single-user
latest threats. Very soon, however, boxed security software users should experience a Peachtree Complete (priced at
will begin facing new competition from online applications. nice performance boost—and $270) may be a better match
For example, as of June Microsoft fewer multiuser lockups. for your company’s needs.
is launching its Windows Live The app simplifies organiz- Peachtree Premium 2007’s
OneCare, offering PC security ing and looking up informa- improved user interface and
and utilities services for $50 a tion by including 25 lists for tighter integration with Office
year; and Symantec’s compara- sorting by customer, vendor, make it a worthwhile upgrade
ble service, code-named Gene- inventory, employee, and so for all current Peachtree users.
sis, will become available in Sep- on. You can quickly sort each —Richard Morochove
tember. But don’t expect retail list in several different ways
boxes to disappear. As long as just by clicking on a column, Peachtree Premium 2007
shoppers drive to stores, se - which makes it easier to find Sage Software
ILLUSTRATION: HARRY CAMPBELL

curity companies will continue the information you want. PCW Rating 81 Very Good
to sell software in boxes. Even Even the main Peachtree Good small-business accounting
Microsoft and Symantec plan to offer their new services via screen has a new streamlined app now offers better Microsoft
retail. Still, that box may be more a way for security compa- look. The new Business Sta- Office integration.
nies to reach you than a way for you to reach their software. tus display, which replaces the List: $500 for one user (Peachtree
—Narasu Rebbapragada Peachtree Today screen, packs Complete 2007 costs $270)
more usable information onto find.pcworld.com/53230

68 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M J U LY 2 0 0 6
R EV I EWS & RANK IN GS

Beam Films Directly


to Your Living Room
V I D E O S Y S T E M cable box, the $200 MovieBeam
the prospect of on-demand Player gives you a changing
access to movies will attract group of 100 titles that it
many people to the Movie- stores on a 160GB hard
Beam service. But despite its drive (the service sends 10
long-term promise, this first new titles over the air every GET UP TO 100 movies with MovieBeam (with antenna and remote).
iteration needs fine tuning week, while arbitrarily delet-
before I’ll count on it as a reg- ing others; you can’t specify and convenient, which makes (it reminds me of the pixela-
ular entertainment option. titles that you might want to scrolling through movie titles tion that I see with TiVo’s 2-
A bit slimmer than a typical keep longer). Each time you a pleasure. And the nicely bal- hour mode). Finally, although
access a movie, it costs $2 to anced remote is easy to use. having 100 titles to choose
MovieBeam Player $4; and you can view your My gripes with the player from sounds like a lot, it isn’t
MovieBeam new “rental” as often as you are practical ones. You never really, and far too many of the
PCW Rating 77 Good like during the next 24 hours. know exactly when a movie is titles offered are mediocre.
Service delivers on-demand The player is exceptionally going to disappear, you can’t For now, MovieBeam is too
movie rentals, but it suffers from easy to set up, thanks to a search the offerings by type, much a work in progress for
middling image quality and a handy step-by-step guide in- and the unit sometimes exhib- me to recommend, but I see
limited selection of titles. cluded in the box, well-labeled its quirky behavior (such as a enough potential here to look
List: $200 for box, plus $2 to $4 ports, and an attractive TiVo- delay when you move between forward to what the service
per movie rental esque on-screen menu. movie and menu). The play- has coming up next.
find.pcworld.com/53490 The menu system is fast er’s image quality is iffy, too —Melissa J. Perenson

the eastbound or the west-


Sony’s First GPS Comes Up Short bound off-ramp. I did like the
way the device recalculated
G P S D E V I C E store branch was miles closer. stance the device directed me my directions when I veered
sony’s first gps model for Time and again while I was to continue for several miles off-course, and I also appreci-
the U.S. market, the compact testing the Nav-U, the routes along a surface street running ated the Nav-U’s blocked-road
Nav-U NV-U70 is designed for the device suggested frustrat- parallel to a faster-moving free- feature, which helps you navi-
in-car use and has a bright, ed me. Typically the instruc- way that was just 50 yards away. gate around traffic jams.
clear 3.5-inch LCD screen. tions would get me where I The feature that I missed the Nonetheless, the Nav-U’s
But compared to other GPS needed to go, but they neces- most—and one that other GPS incomplete directions and
devices I’ve tested, it supplied sitated more driving time devices have—is an ability to questionable route choices
second-rate routes and imper- than was necessary. In one in- designate roads and intersec- put it behind less-expensive
fect driving instructions. tions to avoid entirely. If you and better-navigating prod-
The Nav-U’s touch-screen SONY’S NAV-U NV-U70S offers specify a road as blocked, the ucts from competitors Gar-
display and built-in maps of less-than-perfect directions. Nav-U automatically unblocks min and TomTom.
the 48 contiguous states (the it for the next route you plan —Dennis O’Reilly
included CD offers additional in the same driving area.
U.S. maps) made initial setup A bigger problem for me, Nav-U NV-U70
easy. Sony says its database especially considering that the Sony
contains 1.6 million points of Nav-U is primarily an in-car PCW Rating 73 Good
PHOTOGRAPHS: MARC SIMON

interest, but it’s far from com- navigation device, was the The device’s small size, bright
plete: When I searched for a lack of detail in the directions. screen, and clear sound don’t
Whole Foods grocery store, For example, the device’s clear fully compensate for its dubious
the device directed me to one voice would instruct me to routes and ambiguous directions.
some 15 miles away from my exit a freeway, but it wouldn’t Street: $550
location, even though another specify whether I should use find.pcworld.com/53232

70 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M J U LY 2 0 0 6
R EV I EWS & RANK IN GS

New Applications Make Backup Chores Easier


BACKUP UTILITIES happened a couple of times, I
if backup isn’t easy, it just realized that the program was
doesn’t get done. Three new creating a baseline backup of
products—NTI’s Shadow 3 , the folders I was watching
Stardock’s KeepSafe, and CMS (copying the originals for safe-
Products’ BounceBack Profes- keeping). NTI has since fixed
sional 7—promise easy back- this problem; early adopters
ups, but only two deliver. should download the update.
Happily, the automatic, con- Meanwhile, Stardock’s take
tinuous native backup prom- on real-time backup is Keep-
ised by the intuitive Shadow 3 Safe. I liked the $30 program’s
now works as advertised. Set utilitarian approach to the job;
the $30 program to watch im- it performed flawlessly, and it
portant folders, and it copies even offers a system restore
new and revised files to a safe function, something that
location as changes occur. Un- Shadow 3 lacks. NTI SHADOW 3 offers a list of filters that let you easily select the
like the finicky Shadow 2 (re- Alas, the software does not types of files you want to monitor for regular backups.
viewed at find.pcworld.com/ include an option for creating
53524), version 3 performed a baseline backup, so you have revamped BounceBack Pro- over KeepSafe for its ease of
perfectly during my tests. to copy your existing files to fessional 7.0 takes the tradi- use. Current users of Bounce-
The only enigma I encoun- the backup location manually tional, scheduled approach to Back Professional are well ad-
tered was a mysterious dialog or to a folder that KeepSafe backups. In my informal tests, vised to stick with version 6
box that popped up to tell me is already watching. the $70 program performed until CMS gets its applica-
that an operation was success- While Shadow 3 and Keep- backups without error, but I tion’s interface sorted out.
fully completed. After this Safe work in real time, CMS’s still can’t recommend it. —Jon L. Jacobi
BounceBack’s ability to copy
GOTCHA!
your entire system to an auxil- Shadow 3
iary hard drive and make that NTI

Where’s My PC Card Slot? drive bootable can be extreme-


ly handy. Unfortunately, it’s
PCW Rating 85 Very Good
Automatic background file
TECHNOLOGY IS ALWAYS on the move—and sometimes it one of the only things the pro- backup doesn’t get any easier,
moves faster than we’d like. Recently, with the arrival of the gram does particularly well. but it won’t let you restore files.
ExpressCard slot, some unsuspecting notebook buyers have BounceBack’s redesigned List: $30
experienced that phenomenon first-hand. Based on a stan- interface is singularly counter- find.pcworld.com/53204
dard announced in 2003, the Ex- intuitive. And I discovered
KeepSafe
pressCard slot replaces today’s that the interface permitted
Stardock
PC Card slot, improving perfor- me to define a single location
PCW Rating 83 Very Good
mance and using thinner, lighter as both the backup source and
No baseline backup, but in
cards. Unfortunately, it can’t the destination—a huge no-
other respects this is a helpful
support today’s PC Cards. no. The program also defaults
background utility.
What does that fact mean to to giving every backup job the
List: $30
you? If your new notebook has same name, and I could not
find.pcworld.com/53206
only an ExpressCard slot, you’ll figure out any way to delete a
have to replace all of your exist- previously defined job. BounceBack Professional 7.0
Finally, the app lacks sup-
ILLUSTRATION: HARRY CAMPBELL

ing PC Card–based hardware— CMS Products


such as Wi-Fi cards, memory port for many media formats— PCW Rating 67 Fair
card readers, and port adapters. Otherwise, if you’re in the such as optical discs and Pricey product works, but its
market for a new notebook and need a standard PC Card tape—that other schedule- poor interface and limited media
slot, you can still find a unit that offers both slot types. based programs can handle. support are real drawbacks.
—Tom Mainelli Among these three applica- List: $70
tions, Shadow 3 wins the nod find.pcworld.com/53208

72 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M J U LY 2 0 0 6
R EV I EWS & RANK IN GS

eMachines Offers Bare-Bones Media Center PC


VA L U E D E S K T O P Our shipping test unit’s port, as well as four USB 2.0
the new emachines T6532 components included a 2.2- ports. A fifth USB 2.0 port is
Media Center PC is a no-frills GHz AMD Athlon 64 3500+ located up front, along with a
system designed to handle CPU, 1GB of Samsung’s five-in-one media-card reader.
everyday tasks. Although the DDR400 memory, a Toshi- The system comes bundled
$900 T6532 has Windows XP ba multiformat double- with a multimedia key-
Media Center Edition 2005 in- layer DVD writer, and board, a rudimentary
stalled, it’s not a home theater a fairly sizable 200GB mouse, and stereo
system: It lacks a remote con- 7200-rpm Western Digital speakers. The accom-
trol, a TV tuner, and digital hard drive. The system re- panying software
audio and video ports. ceived a WorldBench 5 score THE EMACHINES T6532 PC package includes Microsoft
of 91, putting it on a par with with the optional 17-inch LCD. Works 8 and Money 2006.
T6532 other desktops with similar If you already own a moni-
eMachines prices. Advanced gaming is you install your own graphics tor or want to purchase one
PCW Rating 83 Very Good not its forte, though. For ren- card as your needs grow. elsewhere, you can buy the
Inexpensive and expandable PC dering graphics, it relies on The minimalist MSI 7207 midtower for $580 sans its 17-

PHOTOGRAPH: MARC SIMON


offers adequate performance an integrated GeForce 6100 motherboard comes with two inch, 1280-by-1024 LCD dis-
for routine tasks, but its Media graphics chip that siphons off open PCI slots (a third slot is play with 12ms response time.
Center features are lacking. up to 128MB of the PC’s main occupied by a 56-kbps mo - Either way, you’ll get a very
List: $900 memory. Thankfully, an avail- dem) and provides both a par- serviceable entry-level PC.
find.pcworld.com/53186 able PCI Express slot will let allel and a 10/100 ethernet —Danny Allen

74 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M J U LY 2 0 0 6
R EV I EWS & RANK IN GS

DVD Camcorder Takes


High-Quality Video
C A M C O R D E R matched optics—fine detail.
instead of relying on a The VDR-D300 uses 3-inch
single CCD sensor, as most DVD minidiscs for record-
DVD camcorders do, Pana- ing, and it can store between
sonic’s $800 VDR-D300 carries 30 and 70 minutes of video PANASONIC’S VDR-D300 USES became somewhat distract-
three—one for each primary on each. You can capture still three color-specific CCD sensors ing, and colors were pale.
color. As a result, this feature- images, too, and store them to capture top-notch video. The VDR-D300 is one of the
packed camcorder captures on an SD Card at a resolution first DVD camcorders to in-
video with strong, accurate of up to 3.1 megapixels. below the record button. The clude optical image stabiliza-
colors and—thanks to its well- The 21-ounce camcorder fit camera has extensive manual tion, and Panasonic’s imple-
comfortably in my hand, with controls and an external micro- mentation provided a fairly
Panasonic VDR-D300 the record and zoom buttons phone input—features rarely effective buffer against my
Panasonic falling under my thumb and seen on DVD camcorders. wavering hands.
PCW Rating 81 Very Good index finger. The joystick for With its three CCD sensors The VDR-D300 is a bit pric-

PHOTOGRAPH: MARC SIMON


The VDR-D300 captures high- navigating the menus and the VDR-D300 excelled in my ey for a standard-definition
quality video and is comfortable playing back content is con- informal video tests, outper- camcorder, but its significant
to use, though it is rather pricey. veniently located next to the forming most DVD camcord- edge in image quality makes
Street: $800 record button, but the menu ers I’ve seen. But in low light it a worthwhile investment.
find.pcworld.com/53224 button is awkwardly situated the video’s digital noise level —Richard Baguley

76 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M J U LY 2 0 0 6
R EV I EWS & RANK IN GS

More Reviews at PCWorld.com


S H O R T L I S T: G R E E N P C ONLINE EXTRAS

Eco-Friendly Tech Gear Notebooks and More


given the rising cost of energy, going POINT YOUR BROWSER toward PC World’s Web site for the
green for your wallet’s sake makes sense, and latest reviews, including looks at these notable products.
it could help the environment. Check out the
ecologically friendly offerings below. Lenovo ThinkPad Z60t
—Anush Yegyazarian, Senior Editor Street: $1999
find.pcworld.com/53218
RECYCLING This light 14-inch wide-screen
Apple Take-Back Service, free unit has a lot going for it,
find.pcworld.com/53482 including good battery
In the market for a new Mac? Apple will accept your old sys- life and a
tem into its recycling program, and will pay for the shipping.
great
PORTABLE POWER keyboard.
Voltaic Solar Bags, $239 list
find.pcworld.com/53484
Opera 9 Public Beta
These bags have three solar panels and a lithium ion battery Free
pack to give your small portables juice when you need it.
find.pcworld.com/53244
LAPTOP This Web browser
Toshiba Satellite A105 series, prices vary includes widgets and
find.pcworld.com/53486
other handy features,
This line of Toshiba laptops complies with an environmental and allows you to set
directive aimed at limiting the use of hazardous substances.
site-specific viewing and
security preferences.

S H O R T L I S T: C E L L P H O N E S
B E H I N D T H E R ATI N G S

Phones and Accessories ONLINE REVIEWS REINVENTED: Our online product


today’s cell phones handle more than just reviews now feature dynamic PCW Ratings that re-
voice calls. They let you stay in contact with flect technology changes, features, and price up-
friends and colleagues wherever, whenever. dates. If a product is still under consideration for review, its
These tools make staying in touch effortless. rating and ranking may move up or down. We’ve also added
—Liane Cassavoy, Associate Editor deeper Test Reports and powerful new tools that allow you
to customize our charts to your tastes. And try out our new-
PDA-PHONE HYBRID est feature: Complete Product Listings. Unlike our Ranked
RIM BlackBerry 8700g, $300 with a two-year Charts, which are a snapshot of today’s best products, our
contract from T-Mobile; find.pcworld.com/53478
Complete Product Listings contain all the products we’ve
Stay constantly connected to your e-mail with RIM’s speedy recently reviewed. Even better, you can now use robust sort-
device, which offers support for T-Mobile’s fast EDGE network.
ing and filtering tools to create the chart you want. Check
MOBILE SERVICE out our revamped reviews at find.pcworld.com/50858.
Yahoo Go for Mobile, free
find.pcworld.com/53476
Best BEST BUY AWARDS go to hardware, software, and
This no-cost service for Nokia Series 60 phones automatically BUY services in our ranked charts and other product
syncs Yahoo contacts and allows mobile access to e-mail.
comparisons that deliver outstanding quality and value.
PORTRAITS: RICK RIZNER

ACCESSORY
Backup Pal, price varies by phone
find.pcworld.com/53480
TEST THE PC WORLD Test Center formally tests all prod-
Center ucts designated with this icon. For more on how we
Lost your cell phone? You haven’t lost your address book. test specific products, visit find.pcworld.com/49974.
The Backup Pal transfers your contacts to your new phone.

78 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M J U LY 2 0 0 6
Powerful
computers,
handy services,
tiny utilities,
mammoth HDTVs—
our editors’ top picks
include all these and a
whole lot more. Plus: the
worst products of all time.
82 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M J U LY 2 0 0 6
100 B EST P RO D U CTS

you know how many new-product pitches we get every year?


Thousands, each declaring that the item is the best in its category.
Though many of the companies making these claims are clearly
delusional, some creations do stand as superbly designed top per-
formers in their field—and The

100
you’ll find all of them right
here in our roster of the 100
best products of the year.
We rated each candidate
on its design, performance,
and specifications. We gen-
erally did not consider price
in our evaluations; instead,
we looked for products that
represent the cream of the

Best
crop. But in compiling our list, some products were such great
bargains that we couldn’t ignore them. Of course, ranking laptops
and Linux distributions in one place is tricky, but we used the
same scoring system for each candidate and assessed them as
consistently as we could.

Products
This year we have also as-
signed each candidate an
“impact” score, to recog-
nize significant products

of theYear
that changed the tech-
nology landscape. And last, we ranked every
World Class award winner by its final score,
creating our list of the year’s top 100 products.
We’ve also identified a few of the year’s
most noteworthy companies, including our pick for the loser of EDITED BY ALAN STAFFORD
the year. And we’ve named the 25 worst products of all time— PHOTOGRAPHS BY MARC SIMON

read about them on page 86. For more information on our list of
World Class products, visit find.pcworld.com/53158.

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PRODUCT
OF THE YEAR 5 SEAGATE 160GB PORTABLE HARD
DRIVE Portable Hard Drive ($380)
This hard drive was one of the first to use
perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR)

1 INTEL CORE DUO Notebook/Desktop CPU


($450 and up) Intel’s Core Duo provides mul-
titasking power never before possible on a portable
technology to pack more data into the
same space. Another PMR-based Seagate
hard drive, the Barracuda 7200.10, is the
PC, and yet it supports astounding battery life for first desktop model to reach 750GB.
mobile devices. The Core Duo processor is so good that
it’s the CPU of choice not only for Windows laptops but also
for Apple’s Windows-capable laptop and for desktop Macs.
In today’s mobile world, Core Duo gives Intel a leg up. AMD’s Athlon 64 X2 Dual-Core
6 GOOGLE EARTH Satellite Imagery
(free) News channels use Google
Earth to zoom in on Iraq; you can use it to
(#2) is astoundingly good, but AMD hasn’t yet captured that power in a mobile version; focus on neighboring houses, or to explore
and its notebook processors aren’t nearly as potent or as battery-efficient as Intel’s. the rest of the world from your desktop.

2 AMD ATHLON 64 X2 DUAL-CORE


Desktop CPU ($300 and up) The
most powerful desktop CPU ever made
7 ADOBE PREMIERE ELEMENTS 2
Video Editor ($100) This strong, sta-
ble video editing application costs about
had a dual-core design first. If you need full one-eighth as much as Premiere Pro, Ado-
power for increasingly demanding applica- be’s professional video editor. And it’s so
tions and you’re tied to a desk, X2 is for you. good you may not notice the difference.

3 CRAIGSLIST.ORG Web Classifieds


(mostly free) Now established in over
200 cities around the globe, this commu-
8 CANON EOS 30D Digital SLR Camera
($1499) An 8.2-megapixel shooter,
the EOS 30D makes many of the pro-level
nity classified-ad service puts the hurt on features from Canon’s EOS 5D available
newspapers’ overpriced classifieds. Sell a at a friendlier price. It also earned extreme-
used piano or find a soul mate—gratis. ly high marks in our image-quality tests.

T O P C O M PA N Y

4 APPLE IPOD NANO Digital Audio


Player ($149 to $249) You get up to
4GB of capacity in a tiny device that nev-
ertheless has room for a crisp color dis-
WEB
3 play. It’s scratch-prone, but it’s still cool. Company of the Year

2 H YAHOO has progressed far beyond


being a mere search engine; it has
5 emerged as the number-one online
developer, on the strength of great
revamps of Yahoo Mail (#30) and
Yahoo Maps (#56), smart acquisi-
tions of Web stars such as Del.icio.us
(#93) and Flickr (#78), and develop-
ment of the Yahoo 360 personalized
Web spaces and of the Yahoo Music
Engine (#73). Google may get a lot
more attention, but Yahoo has been
getting more things accomplished.

84 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M J U LY 2 0 0 6
8
14

9 YOUTUBE.COM Video-
Sharing Site (free)
Enjoy watching videos of
every kind at this massive
community of amateur
videographers, and upload
your own productions—at no cost.

10 APPLE BOOT CAMP Mac Dual-


Booter (free) Astonishingly, Ap-
ple has finally given its blessing to run-
16 NVIDIA
GE FORCE 7600 GT
Graphics Card Chip Set ($200) Our
ning Windows on a Mac, with this utility. list doesn’t focus on outstanding val-
18
Next up: running the Mac OS on a Win- ues, but how could we overlook this
dows box—or pigs flying through the sky. powerful chip set? At $200, it’s a steal.

11 ADOBE PHOTOSHOP ELEMENTS 4


Image Editor ($100) The latest ver-
sion of Elements is the most elegant and
17 GOOGLE Search Engine (free)
Google’s clean, fast-loading inter-
face helps it remain the most-used and
20
YAMAHA RX-V4600
powerful image-editing and -organizing best-loved search engine on the Internet. Home-Theater Receiver ($1200) The RX-
application available for under $600 (the Have you googled anything today? V4600 is the first receiver to deliver high-
price of Adobe’s pro-level Photoshop CS2). definition radio, which sounds better and

12 MOZILLA FIREFOX 1.5 Web Browser


(free) The 2005 product of the
18 SONOS ZONEPLAYER 80 Digital
Audio Streamer ($349) The Zone-
Player offers the most elegant way to play
comes in more clearly than regular old
AM and FM signals. Too costly? Consider
Boston Acoustics’ tabletop Receptor
year continues to improve, with a better digital audio throughout your home; this Radio HD, which lists at just $299.
set of features and stronger security than version omits its predecessor’s amplifier,
Microsoft’s Internet Explorer offers. thereby reducing the price significantly. Online extras: find.pcworld.com/53158.

13 ENGADGET.COM Gadget VIDEO GAME


Blog (free) Even if Engad-
get decided to devote itself to game
shows and golf, we’d probably still
read it, just because the blog’s writ-
19 I love RedOctane’s
ing is so snarky and entertaining. Guitar Hero because it lets
me indulge in the air-guitar
14 TOSHIBA HD-A1 HD DVD Player
($500) The first high-definition
optical disc player on the market, the HD-
fantasies that began for me
A1 will probably be the least expensive
one for some time, too. Say good-bye to
when I first heard “Cross-
your $40 DVD player and say hello to gor- roads.” This Sony PlayStation 2 game ($70) is com-
geous high-definition movies on disc. pletely addictive, and I’ve never run into a title with such
wide appeal across age and gender lines. Everybody

15 TOSHIBA QOSMIO G35-AV600


Power Notebook Computer
($2548) The jazzy Qosmio notebook
wants to go all Clapton with
the included guitar once they
see it in action. Well, okay, a
line got even better this year. In fact, few arhythmic types don’t care,
PORTRAIT: RICK RIZNER

the G35-AV600 is the best Media but they probably weren’t air-
Center desktop replacement guitaring “Infected” in the
we’ve ever seen. Toshiba recent- dorm back in the day, either.
ly released a version that comes —Ramon G. McLeod
with an HD DVD-ROM drive.

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29

21 PIONEER BDR-101A Blu-


ray Drive ($1000) The
first Blu-ray drive comes not
to securely share resources with
others—without having to spend
time worrying about firewalls.
as a set-top player for high-
definition movies, but as an
internal PC drive for backing
up massive amounts of data.
27 UBUNTU Linux Dis-
tribution (free) The
Breezy Badger release of Ubun-
tu has a desktop interface that

22 ADOBE PHOTOSHOP
CS2 Image Editor
($600) Anything that you want
Windows users may find re-
assuringly familiar. The new
Dapper Drake version should
to do with a digital image, you be out as you read this.
can do with Photoshop CS2.
Not a pro? Avoid CS2’s expense by opting
for Adobe’s Photoshop Elements (#11).
does more than just provide you with a
link. It’ll even let you know whether to-
day’s deal is better than last week’s.
28 MOZILLA THUNDER BIRD 1.5
E-Mail Application (free) Excel-
lent junk-mail filtering and efficient

23 CITRIX GOTOMYPC 5 Remote Ac-


cess ($20 per month) Turn any
Web-connected computer into a clone of 25 PALM GPS NAVIGATOR GPS
($250) A clear interface and reli-
address gathering make Thunderbird the
best e-mail application for your electronic
correspondence, regardless of price. Look
your distant desktop, so you can gain ac- able directions make this device a great for a beta of version 2 this summer.
cess to programs, files, and networks. Go- add-on to your Palm PDA. Don’t leave
ToMyPC is a bit pricey, but its speedy, se-
cure, hassle-free approach is unbeatable.
home without it; don’t get lost with it.
29 CANON PIXMA MP950 Multi-
function Printer ($400) The

24 DEALNEWS.COM Online Bargain


Tracker (free) Many sites keep
26 MIONET Remote Access ($7 per
month) Two-way remote access
permits you to tunnel into your work
MP950’s magnificent 3.6-inch color LCD
screen and whoa-Nelly resolution of 3200
by 6400 dots per inch are among the most
track of bargains for you, but Dealnews computer from home and vice versa—or impressive photo MFP specs available.

HALL OF SHAME

The 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time


SOME PRODUCTS ARE truly awful—born of bad ideas, victim- work around its bugs something to do. And Sony’s rootkit-
ized by comically bad implementation, or produced by compa- infested CDs (#5, 2005) crashed PCs and exposed them to se-
nies trying to make a buck with scant regard for customers. We curity risks, all in a ham-handed attempt at copy protection.
can laugh now, but when the products first appeared, we wanted
to hunt down the responsible parties. In fact, we’re still ticked; THE REST OF OUR LIST: 15 Iomega Zip Drive
hence our list of the 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time. 6 Disney The Lion King 16 Comet Cursor
AMERICA ONLINE (#1; 1989 to present) tops our list CD-ROM 17 Apple Macintosh Portable
due to its infamously slow service, especially when 7 Microsoft Bob 18 IBM Deskstar 75GXP
it adopted an all-you-can-eat plan in the late 1990s. 8 Microsoft Internet 19 OQO Model 1
You can also blame kludgy software, the “1000 hours free” CDs, Explorer 6 20 CueCat
and hardball tactics intended to discourage cancellations. 9 Pressplay and MusicNet 21 Eyetop Wearable DVD
We also had problems with Real Networks’ RealPlayer (#2, 10 DBase IV Player
1999); though we’re happier with the most recent versions, its 11 Priceline Groceries & Gas 22 Apple Pippin
legacy of privacy intrusions and annoying pop-ups made it a 12 PointCast 23 Free PCs
clear pick. Syncronys sold hundreds of thousands of copies of 13 IBM PCjr 24 DigiScent
its SoftRAM (#3, 1995) memory-doubling software before it 14 Gateway Anniversary PC 25 Sharp Actius RD3D
was forced to admit that the product did nothing. Windows Mil-
lennium Edition (#4, 2000) was supposed to tide people over For the stories behind all of these products, plus a list of addi-
until Windows XP arrived—it did, by giving the users who had to tional dishonorable mentions, visit find.pcworld.com/53460.

86 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M J U LY 2 0 0 6
sider watching Desperate Housewives epi-
sodes on. Not that we would actually
watch Desperate Housewives, of course.

37 LENOVO THINKPAD X60S Ultra-


light Notebook ($1299 and up)
Though this rock-solid 3-pound laptop
doesn’t carry a built-in optical drive, it
has the best keyboard you’ll find on an

30
ultralight; and with the latest in Core Duo
processors, it’s a great performer, too.

30 YAHOO MAIL (BETA) Web-Based


E-Mail (free) This limited beta
easy to use. It works with Google’s Hello
to support no-cost photo hosting and post-
38 SIDESTEP.COM Travel Site (free)
Shopping for bargain flights
can be a hassle. But SideStep.com collects
offering rates as the best Web mail client ing, and you can upload pictures from air fares from multiple sources; you sim-
we’ve seen. Its Ajax-based interface con- your camera phone to your Blogger blog. ply check off boxes to sift the results. It
vincingly imitates Outlook Express, with- works for rental cars and hotel rooms, too.
out carrying over that program’s clutter.
34 SONY CYBER-SHOT DSC-R1 Ad-
vanced Digital Camera ($900)
39 WINDOWS LIVE LOCAL Online

31 TIVO Digital Video Recorder ($17


per month service and hardware)
The company recently added neat new ser-
This 10.3-megapixel camera is hardly a
digital single-lens reflex model, but for
many users it’s as close to one as they’ll
Mapping (free) Offering attrac-
tive maps, with bird’s-eye views of

Online extras: find.pcworld.com/53158.


vices such as weather and traffic updates, ever need. And unlike most digital SLRs,
and podcasts. But we’re still waiting for the DSC-R1 has an LCD monitor that
T O P C O M PA N Y
more capacity, faster networking, and provides a live preview of your subject.
widespread support for high definition.

35 APPLE MAC MINI Value Desktop SOFTWARE


32 AVVENU Remote File Access
(free) Use this utility to set up
your desktop PC as a simple file server
Computer ($599 to $799) Talk
about dual personalities: This tiny, inex-
pensive, dual-core Apple box has the
Company of the Year
that friends and family can access secure- heart of an Intel machine and the soul of a
ly over the Internet. Avvenu is great for Mac. It runs the Mac OS natively, and with
sharing digital photographs without go- Boot Camp it can run Windows XP, too.
ing to the trouble of e-mailing them.

33 BLOGGER Blogging Service (free)


It’s not the most sophisticated
36 APPLE IPOD Digital Audio/Video
Player ($299 to $399) The video-
enabled iPod is the only device equipped
blogging tool around, but it is free and with a 2.5-inch screen that we would con- H IN THE 1990S, Adobe was known
for its professional software; its
dumbed-down consumer products
didn’t fare so well. Now, however, the

35 company makes stellar $100 apps


that regular folks can use—for exam-
ple, Premiere Elements 2 (#7) and
Photoshop Elements 4 (#11)—while
continuing to improve its pro appli-
cations. How can Adobe afford to sell
an app with 90 percent of Photo-
shop’s power for only 10 percent of
its price? Volume, volume, volume.

J U LY 2 0 0 6 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M 87
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46

some locations, Microsoft’s service comes


across as almost a hybrid of Google Earth
and Yahoo Maps (that’s a good thing).
43 APPLE ITUNES
Digital Audio
Software (free) Not just a
conduit for files between

40 CREATIVE SOUND BLASTER


X-FI Sound Card ($129 to $400)
Creative deserves credit for introduc-
Apple’s Music Store and
an iPod, iTunes is great
even if just for your desk-
ing high-end audio—including multi- top. It’s compatible with
channel DVD-Audio playback—to desk- both Macs and Windows PCs.
top PCs. The X-Fi has 7.1-channel output
44
and dedicated RAM for storing sound
samples, thus boosting game performance
when heavy sound processing is needed.
44 OLYMPUS EVOLT E-330 Digital
SLR Camera ($1100) The E-330
shows you a live preview on its LCD—a

41 A L I E N WA R E A U R O R A 75 0 0
Power Desktop Computer ($1799
first for a digital SLR—and it has a useful
dust-removal feature (addressing a com-
mon bugaboo that afflicts such cameras).
46 CREATIVE ZEN VISION:M Digi-
tal Audio/Video Player ($300)
Exceptional screen quality, a responsive
and up) You can configure this flashy PC interface, and great battery life make this
with the best of everything, including
AMD Athlon 64 X2, nVidia SLI graphics,
and the Ageia PhysX processor. You’ll pay
45 ULTIMATE EARS SUPER.FI 5
PRO Earphones ($250) Compa-
rable in sound quality to Shure’s high-
portable player a worthy alternative to an
iPod, if you like to run wide of the herd.

dearly for it, all right, but this gaming rig


is tops if you want to play.
end E5C earphones, this set costs far less.
And it does a nice job of sound isolation. 47 GOOGLE DESKTOP Desktop
Search (free) Where did you
put that file? To find it you could spend 10
FLAT-PANEL MONITOR
42
minutes using Windows’ search utility—
or 10 seconds using Google Desktop.

I love the NEC MultiSync 48 OPERA 9 (BETA) Browser (free)


Opera deserves more exposure
LCD 2180WG-LED because its than it usually gets. Opera 9 is loaded
with polished out-of-the-box features,
LED backlighting (a first among desk- such as useful ad and graphics blocking.
top PC monitors) gives it crisp contrast and detail.
The leaky fluorescent backlights that most
LCDs use add a faint glow, turning
inky black to graphite gray. But on
49 MITSUBISHI XD460U Projector
($2100) The XD460U ranked
high for overall image quality in our tests,
this 21.3-inch ($6900) beauty, a making it a great choice as a crossover
black zipper pull stood out sharp- projector for both conference-room and
ly against a black jacket pocket living-room use. It relies on a five-segment
and nuanced whites and grays color wheel to achieve better imaging.
of a snowy mountain loomed in
the background. The LED tech-
nology is sure to catch on.
—Laura Blackwell
50 VONAGE VoIP Service ($15 and
up) Its Internet phone packag-
es aren’t the cheapest, but Vonage has
useful features such as call-forwarding
during an outage and quality controls.

51 STUMBLEUPON Browser Add-On


PORTRAIT: RICK RIZNER

(free) When you click a toolbar


button in Firefox, it will transport you to a
random site that fits your preferences.

Online extras: find.pcworld.com/53158.

88 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M J U LY 2 0 0 6
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52 NOSCRIPT 1.1.4 Browser Add-On


(free) Block hazardous Java- 57 INTUIT QUICKEN PREMIER 2006
Personal Finance ($80) Quick-
T O P C O M PA N Y

Scripts site-by-site in Firefox (the browser


itself blocks either all JavaScripts or none).
en has its annoyances—particularly its
shameless marketing pitches—but the
HARDWARE
latest version lets you attach electronic Company of the Year
53 WEBROOT SPY SWEEPER 4.5
Antispyware ($30) Spy Sweeper
images of canceled checks or statements.

catches more stuff than its competitors


do, and it provides sound advice on which
adware and spyware pieces to remove.
58 ATI RADEON X1900 XTX Graph-
ics Board ($600) Cards based
on ATI’s X1900 XTX chip and on nVidia’s
GeForce 7900 GTX chip (#92) compete

54 MICROSOFT NATURAL ERGO-


NOMIC KEYBOARD 4000 Key-
board ($60) An ergonomically optimized
for the fastest gaming performance. We
think the ATI board delivers slightly better
image quality, hence its higher ranking. H WITH A HUGE R&D budget and a
keyboard, the Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 single-minded taskmaster running
swells upward in the middle so you can
position your hands and wrists naturally. 59 JAVACOOL EULALYZER PER-
SONAL 1.1 License Analyzer
(free) We’re always urging you to read the
the show, Apple once again introduced
products that made everyone else
look bad. iPods (#36) that play video

55 WESTERN DIGITAL RAPTOR X


Hard Drive ($400) Though the
Raptor X has just 150GB of storage space,
end-user license agreements that pop up
when you install software—but who has
the time or the legal background to read
have created a new market for reruns,
Core Duo–based Macs (#35) have ex-
panded the market for Intel chips,
it’s the fastest hard drive we’ve tested. Its and understand end-user license agree- and Boot Camp software (#10) has
see-through window lets you watch it work ments? Just copy and paste EULAs into opened the door to running Windows
(if your PC’s case has a window, too). EULAlyzer, and it will tell you whether on the Mac hardware. We continue to
you’re getting into something dubious. hope that some of the Cupertino

56 YAHOO MAPS (BETA) Online


Mapping (free) Yahoo Maps—the
version still in beta—provides great direc- 60 EIZO FLEXSCAN S2410W 24-
Inch Wide-Screen LCD Monitor
crowd’s design ideas will trickle down
to the rest of the tech industry.

tions, and allows you to determine the route ($1700) This is the first 24-inch display
you want to use by setting waypoints. to take color as seriously as a graphics pro-
fessional does. Its flat, touch-sensitive
electrostatic switches are much more
61 KOSMIX.COM Search Engine (free)
Kosmix categorizes search results
into major content areas of health, travel,
comfortable to use than buttons. and politics—a valuable feature, though
55 you’ll obtain fewer results from Kosmix
than you would from Google or Yahoo.

62 T-MOBILE SDA Cellular Phone


($300) This Windows Mobile–
based handset supports cellular, Wi-Fi,
and Bluetooth wireless technologies (but
you can’t use it as a phone over Wi-Fi).
Thanks to its impressive battery life, you
can browse the Web with it all day long.

63 ASUS A8N32-SLI DELUXE


Motherboard ($200) This moth-
erboard packs every feature you could
want, including nVidia SLI graphics sup-
port, RAID support, six SATA ports, and
58 plenty of options for overclocking.

Online extras: find.pcworld.com/53158.

90 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M J U LY 2 0 0 6
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64 D E L L U LT R A S H A R P
3007WFP 30-Inch Wide-
Screen LCD Monitor ($2200) Seeing
68 INSTANT MESSAGING CLIENT

this humongous, high-resolution


LCD after spending hours in front
I love
of a 17- or 19-inch model is a bit like turn-
ing a corner and walking into a billboard.
Trillian because
it means I don’t
65 MEEBO (ALPHA) Instant Mes-
saging (free) When you’re away
have to decide
from your own PC, you can still connect. which IM client
Use this utility (still in alpha) in an Inter-
net café to access AIM, GTalk, ICQ, Jab-
to adopt. Cerulean Studios
Trillian 3.1 (free) works with nearly all
ber, MSN, or Yahoo buddies by browser.
of them. Its interface is beautiful, espe-
cially compared with AIM—hoo boy,

66 COREL PAINTER IX.5 Graphics


Software ($375) Corel’s paint-
ing program does a fine job of mimicking
that thing’s ugly. I have Trillian set up to log my conversa-
tions, so when I forget something I said, I can look it up
easily. I also like being able to set up alerts for when
real paint and canvas, watercolor and
people are online, and to issue a command from my lap-
paper, and charcoal and paper. Paint runs
top that shuts down the program on my desktop. A new
and bleeds just like the real stuff does. A
version, called Astra, should be released later this year.
recent upgrade introduces a rubber stamp
—Alan Stafford
and new photo painting capabilities.

67 SAMSUNG LN-S3251D LCD TV


($1799) Among 32-inch televi-
sion sets that we tested recently, the LN-
69 RHAPSODY Online Music (free
to $10 per month) After experi-
encing a rocky relaunch, the new Rhap-
70 IN2M MVELOPES PERSONAL 3
Online Budgeting ($8 per month
with two-year plan) When you put Mvel-
S3251D won by a significant margin. It’s sody service looks good. Now you can ac- opes on the case, you may be surprised to
very bright, so colors really pop from the cess it without desktop software (though learn how much you spend on Diet Coke
screen, and it has a well-designed stand you may want to use the client, since it and Doritos (you aren’t under any ob-
that swivels fluidly. It’s one of the best works as your streaming service and
televisions we’ve seen, regardless of type. plays songs from your MP3 library). Online extras: find.pcworld.com/53158.

64
PORTRAIT: RICK RIZNER

67
92 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M J U LY 2 0 0 6
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ligation to change your habits, of course,


but it’s still nice to know). Recent updates
make Mvelopes easier to use than ever.
79 NERO 7 ULTRA EDITION
CD/DVD Burning ($100)
Nero 7 Ultra Edition lets you copy
data, edit high-def video,

71 CANON PIXMA IP6600D Photo


Printer ($180) Who needs a photo
mart when you can get prints this good at
encode 7.1-channel audio,
play with a dance-music
synthesizer, and lots more.
home? For best results you have to use
Canon’s special (and expensive) paper.
80 NUANCE DRAG-
ON NATURALLY-

72 EMC RETROSPECT PROFES-


SIONAL 7.5 Backup Software
($100) This watch-your-back application 81
SPEAKING 8 Voice Recog-
nition ($175) The latest
Dragon is probably the best
carries two unique client apps so you can voice-recognition software
back up as many as three PCs; competing ever, though it won’t make
programs make you buy extra licenses.
74 NETWORK MAGIC
Home Networking ($4
keyboards obsolete. It works
best for dictating text (es-

73 YAHOO MUSIC ENGINE 1.1 Digital


Audio Site/Software (free to $10
per month) Subscribe to Yahoo Music En-
per month) Even when every
element of your home network
seems to have been set up cor-
pecially if you haven’t com-
pleted your Mavis Beacon
Teaches Typing lessons).
gine and you can listen to anything in the rectly, there’s invariably a baf-
service’s library. We like how it integrates
with Yahoo Messenger so that you and
your friends can share playlists; you can
fling snag. Network Magic helps you con-
figure your network with minimal hassle. 81 KODAK EASYSHARE GALLERY
Photo Printing Service ($0.15 for
each 4-by-6 print) Though its prices are
share music over a local network, too.

L O S E R C O M PA N Y
75 Z-WAVE Home Automation
($130 for starter kit) Of the lead-
ing home-automation technologies, Z-
among the highest of the online printers,
Kodak made the best prints in our tests.

WORST
Wave combines performance, reliability,
and product selection most effectively. 82 EVDO Wireless Broadband ($45
to $80 per month) What’s better
than Wi-Fi? Wi-Fi speed without the need
Company of the Year
76 BITDEFENDER 9 STANDARD
Antivirus ($30) The Best Buy
winner from our most recent roundup of
to be near an access point. Evolution-Data
Optimized service, from Verizon Wire-
less or Sprint, still has some performance
antivirus software, BitDefender 9 pro- issues, but it’s a sign of things to come.
vides top-of-the-line protection against a
H WE GET THE FEELING that Sony
doesn’t trust people. Many of its ills
rogues’ gallery of electronic miscreants.
83 LACIE D2 HARD DRIVE SERIAL
ATA External Hard Drive ($400)
over the past year involve copy pro-
tection: First was the fiasco with its
music CDs, which installed rootkits
77 SAG E S O F T WA R E S I M P LY
ACCOUNTING BASIC 13 Small-
Business Finance ($50) If you’re still try-
In our tests, this 400GB drive with an
External SATA-150 interface and a 7200-
rpm mechanism outperformed every USB
on PCs to hide digital rights manage- ing to manage your business finances in 2.0 or FireWire 400 drive we evaluated.
ment spyware, thereby exposing the Excel or Quicken, you owe it to yourself
computers to viruses. Then came de-
lays in the delivery of Blu-ray drives
due to difficulties implementing a
to invest $50 in this entry-level small-
business accounting package instead. 84 HP MD5880N DLP TV ($4000)
A 58-inch Digital Light Projec-
tion set, the well-designed Md5880n was
second copy protection scheme. And
as a result of the Blu-ray problems, 78 FLICKR Photo-Sharing Site (free
to $25 per year) Yet another Ya-
the highest-scoring television in our tests.

Sony had to push back its PlaySta-


tion 3 console to November. All this
from the company that virtually pio-
hoo property, Flickr wins out as the best
community-based photo-sharing site.
Neatest feature: You can tag photos—
85 QNEXT 2 P-to-P Communica-
tions (free) Not just for instant
messaging, this Java-based suite sup-
neered copying with the Betamax. yours or others’—with keywords and then
browse pictures based on those keywords. Online extras: find.pcworld.com/53158.

94 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M J U LY 2 0 0 6
1 0 0 B EST PRO DUCTS

87

ports IM, videoconferencing, VoIP, file impressive social experiment, Del.icio.us


sharing, music and photo sharing, and invites you to share your favorite links
remote PC access (it won’t wash your with friends and larger communities.
car or make you dinner, though).

86 SALLING CLICKER 3 Pre-


sentation Remote ($24)
94 SERIOUS MAGIC OVATION
PowerPoint Add-On ($100)
Import PowerPoint slides into this
Use this inexpensive utility to turn tool and add fancy video effects to
a Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone make your otherwise boring sales
into a remote control for changing presentations the talk of the office.
presentation slides or switching
songs on a media player.
95 WORDPRESS Blogging
Tool (free) Two practical

87 EPSON PERFECTION
V700 PHOTO Scanner
controls make this product stand
out: Photos and art are resizable on
($550) The flatbed V700 has a maximum
optical resolution of 6400 dpi, a significant
advance over the 4800-dpi competition.
91 FUJIFILM FINEPIX E900 Point-
and-Shoot Digital Camera ($410)
Fujifilm’s 9-megapixel point-and-shoot
the fly inside the editing space, and divid-
ing a blog entry into two parts is simple.

88 MINDJET MINDMANAGER PRO


6 Data-Organizing Software
captured very sharp images with low dis-
tortion, earning top scores in our tests. 96 AMAZON A9 TOOLBAR Search
Toolbar (free) Share bookmarks
among multiple computers, and store
($349) For people who swear by “mind
mapping”—using software to organize
and manage information through flow
92 NVIDIA GEFORCE 7900 GTX
GPU ($549) Graphics cards that
use this power-hungry processor are so
notes about sites (if you have opened an
Amazon.com account). Take that, Google.

charting—this app is the best we’ve seen. expensive that you’ll need to sign on for a
second paper route to pay for it. But the 97 THINKFREE OFFICE ONLINE
Online Office Suite (free) Think-

89 MICROSOFT XBOX 360 Game


Console ($400 and up) With a
payoff is excellent gaming performance. Free gives you Office-compatible word
processing, spreadsheet, and presenta-
pair of 3.2-GHz CPUs, half a gig of RAM,
and built-in wireless, the Xbox 360 93 DEL.ICIO.US Social Networking
(free) Both an excellent way to
tion applications in a browser window.

can run games in high def.

DIGITAL AUDIO/VIDEO PLAYER


store and categorize bookmarks and an
98 G R E AS E M O N K EY F i r e fox
Extension (free) Now here’s a
mechanic you can trust. Greasemonkey

90 I love the allows you to add community-built scripts


to the Firefox browser. Hundreds of use-
ful scripts are downloadable for free.

iRiver Clix, a
2GB successor 99 NEWSGATOR FEEDDEMON 2
RSS Reader ($30) With Feed-

to the 1GB U10, Demon’s options, you’re just a step shy


of having news injected intravenously.
because it’s smaller and
cuter than the video-enabled iPod
despite packing a similar-size (2.2-
inch, 320-by-240-
100 SYSINTERNALS
ROOTKIT REVEALER
1.7 Antispyware (free) This free
pixel) display. I simply tool can’t fix your rootkit-
transcode files from the televi- infested Sony CDs, but it
PORTRAIT: RICK RIZNER

sion shows I’ve recorded, for free. The Clix can determine whether
($199) has FM radio and Flash games, and it holds your PC has been com-
about 28 hours of audio files or 4.5 hours of video files. promised by them.
—Danny Allen
Online extras: find.pcworld.com/53158.

96 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M J U LY 2 0 0 6
SECUR I TY SUI TES

Suites of antivirus, antispyware,


and firewall software can provide
convenient, solid protection
against today’s worst threats.
Our tests of ten contenders show
who’s got your back.

All-in-One
SECURITY | BY NARASU REBBAPRAGADA |

it takes a multifaceted strategy to fight can be a complicated—and expensive—task.


today’s complex range of security threats, Security suites offer convenience and afford-
which can no longer be neatly separated into ability; their individual components, con-
distinct categories. Worms may ride in with figurable from one interface, are designed to
spam, and spyware apps may unleash Tro- interoperate smoothly. That said, suites re-
jan horses, so your PC requires multiple quire a certain degree of trust in that you’re
kinds of security software to stay safe. depending on one company to protect your
You can build your system’s defenses with computer and data completely. Since run-
stand-alone antivirus, antispyware, and fire- ning multiple antivirus engines and fire-
wall products, or you can get everything in walls can invite major system problems, peo-
an all-in-one suite. Opting for three or more ple who want a suite should buy one and
separate security apps lets you pick the best stick to it. (Turn to “Ten Tips for Running
of breed in each category, but running them Security Suites” on page 110 for more.)

100 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M J U LY 2 0 0 6 I L L U S T R AT I O N S B Y R I C H A R D D O W N S
J U LY 2 0 0 6 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M 101
SECUR I TY SUI TES

tails appear at find.pcworld.com/53488). fee ($25 to $60 per year). In regard to per-
SUITE CONTENDERS We looked at four factors: performance formance, remember that security soft-
to find out if today’s suites are worth (malware detection and speed), features, ware is only as good as its last update,
the commitment, we chose ten products design (ease of use), and price. The pack- which can contain tweaks to its engine as
—a combination of new and established ages ranged from $40 to $80 for first-time well as new malware signatures. As for
offerings—to run through a gauntlet of software purchases with a year of updates; features, the products were relatively con-
performance and usability tests (more de- subsequently you’ll have to pay a renewal sistent, though some had useful add-ons.

TEST REPORT

TOP SUITES ARE WELL ROUNDED AND FEATURE RICH


THOUGH IT WASN’T the top performer, Symantec’s suite put together the best blend of features in an easy-to-use package.
ANTIVIRUS AND ANTISPYWARE DETECTION FIREWALL SPEED
Performance Unidentified Adware Malware Inside Outside
SECURITY SUITE 1 PCW Rating score WildList AV-Test detection cleanup Drag on system
viruses threats malware (via attacks attacks performance 3
heuristics) blocked 2 blocked 2

Symantec Norton
1 Internet Security 2006
$70 ($35 renewal)
84
Very Good
Very Good 100% 98% 65% 82% 54% 100% 100% 13%

find.pcworld.com/53146

McAfee Internet
2
Security Suite 2006
$70 ($35 renewal)
83
Very Good
Superior 100% 97% 74% 96% 88% 90% 100% 6%

find.pcworld.com/53144

Panda Platinum 2006


3
Internet Security
$80 ($60 renewal)
81
Very Good
Very Good 100% 94% 91% 77% 38% 90% 100% 14%

find.pcworld.com/53150

F-Secure Internet
4
Security 2006
$60 ($42 renewal)
79Good
Good 100% 99% 76% 50% 31% 80% 100% 3%

find.pcworld.com/53142

Trend Micro PC-cillin


5
Internet Security 2006
$50 ($25 renewal)
79Good
Good 100% 67% 67% 60% 58% 80% 50% 4%

find.pcworld.com/53152

Zone Labs ZoneAlarm


6
Internet Security Suite
$70 ($25 renewal)
77Good
Good 100% 35% 48% 46% 79% 100% 100% 3%

find.pcworld.com/53154

Microsoft Windows
7
Live OneCare
$50 ($50 renewal)
76Good
Good 99% 69% 41% 64% 88% 100% 50% 1%

find.pcworld.com/53148

CA eTrust Internet
8
Security Suite 2006
$70 ($40 renewal)
75Good
Good 100% 46% 59% 65% 88% 100% 100% 3%

find.pcworld.com/53140

BitDefender 9
9
Internet Security
$65 ($49 renewal)
73Good
Good 100% 96% 74% 60% 42% 60% 75% 11%

find.pcworld.com/53138

10
Aluria Security Center
$40 ($28 renewal)
find.pcworld.com/53136
68 Fair
Fair 100% 72% 52% 89% 33% 30% 75% 160%

FOOTNOTES: 1 Prices as of 4/15/06. 2 Test conducted at default settings. 3 Percentage slowdown of WorldBench 5 Microsoft Windows Media Encoder application script caused by suite. CHART NOTE: For

102 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M J U LY 2 0 0 6
To assess design, we looked at how make an educated decision about what to though, and its telephone tech support
simple the suites were to install, how easy do next. Above all, we looked at perfor- charges a whopping $30 per incident.
their features were to find, and how well mance, determined by how well each The top performer in our malware tests
the software explained its options. We suite detected and blocked incoming was McAfee’s suite, which also has extra
also evaluated malware warning alerts to threats as well as by how effectively it features such as instant-messaging pro-
determine whether the dialog boxes pro- cleaned up malware already on a system. tection and an antiphishing plug-in for
vided enough in for mation to let you We contracted with Ger-
man re search company
AV-Test.org (find.pcworld.
com/51168), which threw
more than 174,000 worms,
viruses, back-door pro-
grams, bots (aka zombies),
Design
Bottom line spyware components, Tro-
score
jan horses, and adware
samples at each suite. In ad-
Symantec’s suite produced top-tier malware
detection and cleanup test scores, but it dition, AV-Test.org ana-
Good
would benefit from a more streamlined inter- lyzed each suite’s heuristics
face and fewer pop-up alerts.
(its ability to detect as-yet- SYMANTEC’S SUITE, OUR Best Buy, performs well,

The excellent malware detection and cleanup


unidentified malware), as has a lot of features, and is easy to use.
Fair scores of McAfee’s full-featured suite make well as each firewall. We
up for its terrible installation routine.
also checked how fast each could perform Internet Explorer. However, the suite suf-
a full security sweep of our test system fers from a bad installation routine and
Panda has superior heuristics, a top-notch and how much running it slowed down pricey phone support ($3 per minute).
Good firewall, and speedy on-demand scanning,
but its interface needs better organization. our apps in our WorldBench 5 tests. Zone Labs’ suite, which integrates an
Though our testing was
F-Secure’s five scanning engines–including
extensive, we didn’t fully
Very Good one for rootkits–produced excellent malware evaluate behavior-based
detection scores but the slowest scan speed.
detection. The Microsoft,
Panda, and Zone Labs suites
Trend Micro’s interface, speed, and features offer this technology, which
Very Good (including an antiphishing toolbar) were bet-
ter than its malware detection scores. can identify a new threat by
the actions it takes (for ex-
Zone Labs’ feature-rich suite bundles a ample, if a program tries to
superior firewall with an older version of CA’s
Very Good
antivirus scanner, which unfortunately did
make suspicious Registry
not perform well in our tests. changes). This feature can
offer a viable supplement to signature-
Microsoft’s new subscription-based PC tune-
up and security package performed well in based detection, but testing it thoroughly
Good
tests but isn’t as full featured or as highly proved too unwieldy for this review.
configurable as other suites.
ALURIA’S SUITE CAN scan packed files but
The least integrated security suite we tested,
BEST PROTECTORS not compressed executable programs.
CA’s product combines Zone Labs’ excellent
Good
firewall with lackluster antivirus and anti-
all of the suites we tested proved good
spyware protection. at something, but none excelled at every- older version of CA’s lackluster eTrust
thing. Our Best Buy, Symantec’s suite, antivirus engine, ranked seventh in our
Despite strong antivirus protection, Bit-
Defender has an underperforming adware performed consistently across our tests. performance tests, despite its great fire-
Good
scanner and cryptic firewall alerts. Scan Highlights include a second-place rank- wall. Zone Labs plans to update its CA
speed was slow.
ing in detecting AV-Test.org’s collection engine in June. Regardless, the suite still
The slow Aluria suite handled adware well, of back doors, bots, and Trojan horses, managed sixth place overall, as it’s packed
but it failed to catch boot viruses, which–
Good
while negligible in number–should have been
and a perfect firewall score. It provides with features and easy to use.
easy to detect. instant-messaging protection, parental The poor performance of the BitDe-
controls, and a data-privacy feature. Its fender suite surprised us. Slow speed, a
testing details, see find.pcworld.com/53488.
interface could be more streamlined, mediocre adware scanner, and a less-

J U LY 2 0 0 6 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M 103
SECUR I TY SUI TES

[ McAfee and F-Secure did the best


job of finding viruses and spyware.

than-impressive firewall contributed to


the suite’s ninth-place overall ranking.
included in AV-Test.org’s collection of
bots, Trojan horses, and back doors; a
of bots, and 39 percent of Trojan horses.
Zone Labs’ suite scored worse, spotting
30 percent of back doors, 49 percent of
bots, and 31 percent of Trojan horses.
F-Secure’s suite was the strongest, catch-
ing more than 98 percent of these threats.
In adware tests McAfee’s suite scored
best, catching 96 percent of 713 actively
Newcomer Aluria’s in expensive but suite’s detection rate for the last of these running components. Aluria, with its
bare-bones suite placed last. The software is a good indicator of how well it works background in fighting adware and spy-
can scan your whole drive, but it lacks the against spyware. Detection of adware— ware, ranked second with an 89 percent
ability to scan a user-defined set of files software that can bring
and folders. It also can’t look for malware unwanted ads and collect
embedded within packed executable files data on your Web surfing
such as ASPack or UPX. (Worm authors habits—is a separate test.
hide malware within packed executables, Most of the suites were
and sometimes, to avoid detection by se- 100 percent successful at
curity software, they take existing mal- detecting the 1822 com-
ware and repackage it.) In addition, at its ponents of boot, file, mac-
default settings Aluria’s firewall is too ro, and script mal ware
permeable, and it’s a resource hog. from the January 2006
WildList, a public list of
VIRUSES, SPYWARE, widespread viruses, worms, and
AND ADWARE bots. Surprisingly, Aluria’s pack-
mcafee and f-secure’s packages did age missed all boot-virus compo-
the best job of finding what’s loosely clas- nents, Microsoft’s failed to spot
sified as viruses and spyware, each scoring 14 components of seven worms,
among the top three in relevant tests. Pan- and Trend Micro’s missed two
da’s package was the best in heuristics components of one worm. In our
tests. The McAfee and Aluria suites sur- WildList tests, boot-virus components THE CA ETRUST security suite integrates
passed the group in detecting adware. were statistically insignificant, which Zone Labs’ sophisticated firewall.
A note: Spyware has become the catch- explains Aluria’s 100 percent score in our
all term for keyloggers, ad ware, back chart. Nevertheless, your security soft- detection rate. Once again, though, the
doors, and other Web-borne predators— ware should detect all WildList threats. Zone Labs package performed worst, de-
many of which are not new and not clas- On AV-Test.org’s collection of 168,523 tecting only 46 percent of adware.
sified as spyware by researchers. In our back doors, bots, and Trojan horses, To assess heuristics, AV-Test.org evalu-
tests, we differentiate between spyware results were mixed. CA’s suite detected ated how well the suites could proactively
and adware. The really nasty spyware is only 37 percent of back doors, 72 percent spot January 2006 WildList malware with-
out the benefit of January (and newer)
signature updates. Panda’s suite domi-
nated, detecting 91 percent of the files.
F-Secure’s was a distant second, catching
76 percent. At 41 percent, the Microsoft
app’s heuristics were the worst; Zone Labs’
suite was second from the bottom. We
should note, however, that the behavior-
based features of these suites (also pres-
ent in Panda’s product) might make up
for their poor showing, thereby improv-
ing their overall results. For example,
AV-Test.org found that Panda TruPre-
PANDA SUPPLEMENTS ITS top-notch heuristics with behavior-based malware detection. vent will block up to 90 percent of net-

104 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M J U LY 2 0 0 6
SECUR I TY SUI TES

work and e-mail worms and that Zone says that the ability to unpack a com- worms. McAfee’s package cleaned the
Labs’ OSFirewall will stop up to 70 per- pressed executable will be included in its most malware files and system changes,
cent of network and e-mail worms. suite’s next version, due later this year as scrubbing everything except a variant of
We also tested the suites’ detection of a free upgrade for current users. Zone Mytob that targeted the security software
malware within compressed archives Labs says that it is working with CA to itself. Microsoft’s product also did well,
such as .zip, .rar, and .cab files, and with- improve its product’s detection of packed purging all worms and remnants except
in runtime compressed program files like malware and that its OSFirewall detects Registry changes made by Netsky.BA and
ASPack and UPX. Most of them could and blocks both known and unknown mal- Mytob.AR. F-Secure’s suite proved better at
look in files that were compressed once, ware as soon as the packed file opens. finding malware than at removing it,
multiple times, or as a self-extracting In a perfect world, security software cleaning only five of the ten worm files.
archive, but they were less uniformly able would detect and block all threats at first
to penetrate runtime compressed pro- sight. In reality, bad stuff slips through FIREWALLS THAT FIGHT
gram files. The F-Secure, McAfee, and Bit- the cracks. We tested the packages’ ability while the line between antivirus and
Defender suites did best; Aluria’s and to clean up files, Registry entries, and antispyware protection has blurred re-
Zone Labs’ brought up the rear. Aluria Hosts-file changes made by ten WildList cently, software firewalls are still dis-

SUITE DEALS

Let Your ISP Provide


YOUR SECURITY SUITE
NOBODY they ever reach users’ computers. Weinstein says that each
genuinely day the company blocks about 8 million phishing attempts and
enjoys spending nearly 1.5 million pieces of spam from reaching its customers.
money on secu-
r i t y s o f t wa re,
EARTHLINK FIGHTS SPYWARE
but savvy computer EARTHLINK TOOK ITS efforts to create an all-in-one security
users understand that package so seriously that it purchased the antispyware soft-
it’s a pill they have to swal- ware company Aluria in 2005. Now EarthLink’s Protection Con-
low. What many people don’t realize, trol Center—a 16MB download free to dial-up and broadband
though, is that they may already customers and available to non-EarthLink customers for a $5
have access to such software—for free. monthly fee—includes apps created by both companies, as well
As Internet-based dangers have increased, as antivirus and firewall features from partner Authentium.
large Internet service providers such as America One of the reasons EarthLink chose Aluria as a partner early
Online, EarthLink, and PeoplePC have bolstered the security on was that its technology is very adaptable, says Ben Kaplan,
packages they offer to their customers. Often the packages are EarthLink’s product manager of security applications. “We
a combination of homegrown tools and off-the-shelf apps, some could apply their technologies to our own and control how it
of which are included in the suites we tested for this story. looks.” The result is a simple, consolidated interface that
EarthLink users understand, he says. The company estimates
AOL’S DE FACTO SUITE that about 1.4 million people currently use the software.
FOR EXAMPLE, AOL’S Safety and Security Center bundles the PeoplePC, an EarthLink subsidiary that provides budget
company’s own spam-protection, parental-control, pop-up- dial-up Internet access, recently launched its own Aluria-based
blocking, and antiphishing tools together with the firewall, Internet Security Pack. The software is similar to the Earth-
antivirus, and antispyware components of McAfee’s suite. Link suite but sports its own look. The company’s Security
AOL’s package, a 28MB download, consists of numerous dif- Plus members can download the program for free, and stan-
ferent applications, but to users the bundle should appear as dard members can purchase the product for $2 per month.
a single, seamless program, according to Andrew Weinstein, a So why are ISPs going to all the trouble and expense of offer-
company spokesperson. “We made the Internet easy; now we ing these comprehensive security services? It’s simple—they
want to make security easy, too,” he says. want to keep their customers happy. As Kaplan puts it, “We’re
One of the ways AOL tries to make life easier for its custom- heavily invested in protecting our consumers and bringing
ers is by blocking many Internet threats at its servers, before great value to their staying with EarthLink.” —Tom Mainelli

106 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M J U LY 2 0 0 6
SECUR I TY SUI TES

[ McAfee and Panda packed in the


most security extras.

tinct animals, monitoring inbound and


outbound network traffic and flagging
a user will receive. “We want our custom-
ers to be able to configure the product the
Prevent behavior-based technology to de-
cide whether a piece of code is malicious.
In our tests to evaluate the products’
response to outside attacks, the packages
from CA, F-Secure, McAfee, Panda, Sy-
mantec, and Zone Labs received scores of
100 percent. These suites blocked all
standard and stealth port scans. They
suspicious behavior. The firewalls of the way they want to,” says Jack Dunston, halted Internet traffic trying to enter the
ten suites we tried all let you set some sort product manager for Aluria Software. PC through ports opened for SMB-based
of general security level, whitelist and We also tested the firewalls to see file sharing, which suggests that they can
blacklist individual applications, and en- whether they could spot malware attempt- differentiate between good and bad traffic
able specific ports and network protocols. ing to smuggle data out of the PC. Zone on your home network. They also did not
Great firewalls can differentiate between Labs’ firewall was again 100 percent suc- reveal data about our test PCs’ operating
good and bad traffic, alert you to serious cessful, passing all 17 leak tests, with systems. Once again, however, Aluria’s
trouble, and provide enough detail about Microsoft’s in second place, passing 7 firewall failed two of the four tests at de-
detected activity for you to fault settings, though it would have scored
make an educated decision 100 percent at its high setting. Both Trend
about whether to allow it. Micro’s and BitDefender’s firewalls did
Subpar firewalls pipe up not block open SMB shares—and neither
so frequently with undeci- did the Microsoft firewall, which also ren-
pherable information that dered the OS guessable to port sniffers.
you may end up blocking
traffic you need—or worse, EXTRAS, EXTRAS
turning the firewall off. all of the suites have antispam protec-
We tested the suites’ fire- tion; beyond that, they offer slightly differ-
walls for their ability at ent feature sets. The McAfee and Panda
default settings to block products packed in the most security ex-
attacks from outside sourc- THE WEB SITE Filter acts as Trend Micro’s parental controls. tras, while the Microsoft one had the least
es, as well as from malware (although OneCare does include backup
apps already on the PC. The CA, Micro- tests. The other products earned very low software and disk tune-up tools).
soft, Symantec, and Zone Labs products scores, and Panda’s passed none of the Except for the Aluria and Microsoft
each scored 100 percent in our inside- leak tests. Keep in mind that AV-Test.org products, all of the suites have parental
attack tests: Malware was unable to deac- runs standardized leak-test utilities avail- controls where you can block undesirable
tivate the firewall in memory, delete it able to security vendors. Zone Labs, for Web site categories such as sex, drugs,
from the hard drive, or steal the rights of one, builds its products to pass all leak and gambling. Trend Micro’s suite offers
legitimate programs (some malware, for tests; Panda, on the other hand, says that equivalent URL filtering, though it
example, will be dressed up to look like it doesn’t optimize its software for
Internet Explorer and will try to grab all leak tests, instead relying on its Tru-
the rights that you have granted IE). And
back-door applications placed on our test
computers both before and after we in-
stalled each of these four suites weren’t
able to access the Internet.
At its default settings Aluria’s firewall
failed all of our inside-attack tests, but at
its high setting it passed both the stolen-
application-rights test and the back-door
test. Aluria says that the suite’s default
security level, which leaves open network
ports 80 and 443, is purposely set to min- ZONE LABS’ CONTROLS for IM clients
imize the number of initial firewall alerts are extensive.

108 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M J U LY 2 0 0 6
SECUR I TY SUI TES

doesn’t call the feature parental controls. privacy controls that prevent sensi-
While CA’s suite doesn’t provide its own tive data, such as credit card infor-
parental controls, it does include a sepa- mation, from leaving your PC—how-
rate CD that offers the service through ever, the suites’ high-privacy settings
BlueCoat’s K9 Web Protection. Zone are aggressive. For example, the
Labs’ package supplies Smart Filtering maximum privacy setting in Syman-
Dynamic Real-Time Rating for categoriz- tec’s suite invoked a high-risk cook-
ing Web sites that aren’t currently on a ie alert every time a site dropped a
user- or software-defined whitelist or cookie onto our test system, even
blacklist. The BitDefender, McAfee, and when it was from a reputable site such as
F-Secure suites go the extra mile, permit- the New York Times’ site or PCWorld.com.
ting parents to specify times when their At the suite’s default settings, cookies
kids can and can’t surf the Web. like these are not considered high risk.
The CA, McAfee, Symantec, Panda, Other cool features: The McAfee, Pan- MCAFEE DOESN’T DIFFERENTIATE between
Trend Micro, and Zone Labs suites offer da, Symantec, and Zone Labs suites adware and spyware, calling either one a PUP.

MAINTENANCE

10 Tips for
RUNNING SECURITY SUITES
ATTEMPTING TO separate antispyware utility alongside your security suite, but
install and run a you should be careful to coordinate the two products’ sched-
full-featured se- ules to ensure that you have only one application’s scanner
curity suite can and update engine running at a time.
be a complex and 6 Stay networked: PCs connected to a network, particularly
daunting propo- via VPN, may have custom network settings. If after installing a
sition, especially security suite your system hangs during the reboot, disconnect
if the task involves from the network. When you’ve rebooted successfully, recon-
replacing one ven- nect to the network and let the security suite configure your
dor’s product with an- firewall’s settings. (Most products have a wizard to do this.)
other company’s pack- 7 Handle printing and file sharing: Your firewall should have
age. We asked several security companies to contribute advice predefined profiles that enable you to conduct file and print
on properly installing and maintaining security software. sharing; if it doesn’t, you will have to create manual rules in
1 Trash your old security software: You should run just one your firewall that permit outbound TCP traffic to port 1023 and
antivirus engine at a time. Completely uninstall one antivirus inbound traffic to port 139.
product and reboot your PC before installing another one. 8 Document your woes: If a product gives you any indication of
Also, turn Windows’ firewall off when using another company’s a problem—such as an error message or a malware warning—
firewall; some products will offer to turn it off for you. write down the exact wording of the entire message. Even bet-
2 Check your hard drive’s health: It’s wise to run Windows’ ter, take a screen shot of the information.
Chkdsk utility several times before installation to rule out or 9 Send away your bad stuff: If you encounter suspicious files
repair problems with your system’s hard drive. Go to Start, or e-mail messages, don’t open and investigate them yourself.
Run and type chkdsk in the dialog box. Click OK . Send them to your security provider, making sure to follow the
3 Freshen up Windows: Run Windows Update to make sure that proper procedure. Most vendors have adopted an automated
your system is completely up-to-date before you install secu- method for users to submit suspicious files.
rity software, which you should also be certain to update. 10 Keep your subscription current: We can’t overemphasize
4 Make an ID card: In case you need to call tech support, make this point. Security products are only as effective as their lat-
a record of the install date, the serial number, and the support est update, and updates are typically not provided after your
phone number of your security suite. You will need this informa- annual subscription expires. Once your year of coverage is up,
tion, and some tech support calls are charged by the minute. don’t forget to renew or replace your security software.
5 Run an extra antispyware app, if you wish: You can run a —Narasu Rebbapragada

110 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M J U LY 2 0 0 6
SECUR I TY SUI TES

scan several instant-messaging clients for subsequent dialog box makes you opt out F-Secure says that its real-time protection
infected attachments. (Microsoft’s scans of receiving newsletters about virus and its five scan engines—two for viruses
only MSN Messenger.) The Panda, Trend threats, McAfee promotions, and McAfee and one each for spyware, rootkits, and
Micro, and Zone Labs packages warn you partner promotions. Also, initially we heuristics—slow down scan speed.
when interlopers are mooching off your couldn’t download software updates via We measured the suites’ drag on sys-
Wi-Fi connection. (McAfee’s $80 Wireless Firefox; we had to use Internet Explorer tem resources by installing them with
Home Network Security Suite also offers and temporarily allow pop-up windows. default settings and then running World-
protection for your Wi-Fi network.) CA’s suite was the worst integrated, Bench 5. Microsoft’s product imposed
While some extra features are handy, depositing four icons in our system tray. the lightest load, increasing the execution
others only bulk up a suite’s interface. A Plus, the main interface doesn’t link to time of each of our nine WorldBench 5
prime example is Symantec’s Norton Blue Coat’s parental controls. application tests by 4 percent or less. (An
Protection Center, an addi- increase of 15 percent would
tional window that monitors be noticeable.) The Aluria
the functions of the suite’s suite was the hungriest re -
components. Adding source hog, more than
another icon to your al- doubling the execution
ready crowded system time of our ACDSee
tray, it pops up regu- PowerPack and Micro-
larly to tell you the sta- soft Windows Media
tus of your security Encoder tests. BitDe-
protection. It also presents fender’s package also bogged
marketing for other, related down our system, causing a
products; the Data Recovery 25 percent time increase in
portion will show a status of our Microsoft Office 2002 test
“no coverage” until you buy and a 69 percent time increase
and install Symantec’s $50 in the Mozilla test.
SystemWorks utility suite. As for malware alerts, Mi-
crosoft’s firewall warnings
INSTALLATION AND gave complete program
USABILITY and path information for
suites are simple to use apps trying to access the
when they install cleanly, or- Internet. BitDefender’s
ganize your configuration op- package had clearer virus
tions well, run quickly, and alert you MICROSOFT’S FIREWALL ALERT about LimeWire activity alerts than firewall warn-
clearly to potential malware. Microsoft’s was more informative and polished than BitDefender’s. ings. The McAfee suite
and Trend Micro’s suites fit those criteria refused to classify a threat
the best, but for different reasons. Micro- Symantec’s suite seemed to talk the as adware or spyware, instead using the
soft’s product is easy to configure because most, regularly popping up software sta- vague term PUP—potentially unwanted
there just isn’t a lot to configure—a setup tus alerts and cookie warnings. Some program—to describe both. For a closer
that many PC users might find limiting. people may want this level of explanation; look at the alerts, see each suite’s online
On the other hand, Trend Micro’s suite those who don’t may prefer F-Secure’s review at find.pcworld.com/53488.
does an excellent job of cramming a multi- suite, which has a lot of deep settings but Overall, even the highest-rated suites,
tude of options into a well-structured and little instruction about managing them. from Symantec and McAfee, weren’t the
aesthetically pleasing interface. Speed also differentiated the products. best at all tasks, so power users may still
All the suites installed properly, and all Panda’s suite performed the fastest on- want to mix and match best-of-breed se-
configured our test PC’s network settings demand virus scan, taking 6 minutes, 39 curity components. Many other people,
correctly. (Right now, Microsoft’s Win- seconds to speed through 14.7GB worth though, will find it hard to beat the conve-
dows Defender antispyware app is a sepa- of files and folders on our test PC. Trend nience of one-stop security shopping.
rate software install.) Our few gripes were Micro’s was second-fastest with a scan
with McAfee’s suite: Its painful installa- time of 7 minutes, 37 seconds. F-Secure’s Senior Associate Editor Narasu Rebbapraga-
tion required five restarts and the cre- was the slowest, completing the scan at a da covers security topics for PC World; Tom
ation of a user name and password. A glacial pace of 28 minutes, 46 seconds. Mainelli is a senior editor.

112 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M J U LY 2 0 0 6
STORAG E

These 17 free and low-cost services


make it easier than ever to back up
and share your files online.

STORE IT
WEB
ON THE >>>
all your important files—text
documents, spreadsheets, music and
videos, you name it—may start out
sitting safe and snug on your PC’s
hard drive. But what if the drive goes
belly up, or runs out of room? And
what if you’d like an easy way to
share those files with coworkers or
friends? Web-based storage services
let you back up your data, store your
files on a Web server, or share them
quickly and simply with anyone,
often at no cost. Of the 17 services we
ILLUSTRATIONS BY HEADCASE DESIGN

tried, our favorite backup service is


IBackup, while the GoDaddy Online
File Folder is our pick of the storage
sites. And for sharing files, we like
the free 4shared.com service.

BY JON L. JACOBI, ERIK LARKIN, AND STEVE BASS

J U LY 2 0 0 6 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M 121
STORAGE

Back Up to the Web IBackup doesn’t require that your friends


open an IBackup account to view the files
offsite backups are Though IBackup is the best all-around you want to share with them.
the safest way to protect backup service I tested, the beta version The service’s client software isn’t as
data. These six services— of Mozy has much to recommend it, easy to use as the XDrive Desktop client.
IBackup, XDrive, First- despite some rough edges, so it’s a ser- IBackup, though, didn’t misfire during
Backup, Acpana’s Data Deposit Box, Ele- vice to keep an eye on. Of course, not the backups as XDrive did in my tests. IBack-
phantDrive, and Mozy—are free or offer least of its virtues is that it’s free. up’s IDrive feature, like XDrive Desktop,
no-cost trials. However, you must provide maps your IBackup files to a network
credit card information to access the trial IBACKUP drive, which lets you drag and drop files
versions, so be sure to cancel if you drop both ibackup and XDrive cost the between the two.
them. Most of the services cancel auto- same, and the features of the two services
matically at the end of the trial, but are almost identical: multimedia stream- XDRIVE
XDrive rolls over to the pay plan without ing, browser-based file management, and this service supports file sharing
asking for your permission first. file sharing. However, unlike XDrive, and streaming of media files to cell
phones. You can manage your files via
O N L I N E B AC K U P
the XDrive Desktop client, or in a brows-
er via the service’s Web interface. Unfor-
Keep Your Data at a Safe Distance tunately, despite its features, the XDrive
THESE SERVICES ENSURE that your important files are secure on their Web servers Desktop client stumbled too many times:
no matter what calamity may befall the PC situated in your home or office. I encountered C++ runtime errors and
several failed backups. None of the other
Free Browser- Map as
SERVICE PCW Rating Pricing trial based network client programs I tried even hiccupped.
access drive

$10 per month or $100 per year for up to FIRSTBACKUP

1
IBackup
www.ibackup.com
78Good
5GB; $50 per month or $500 per year for
50GB; Enhanced and Workgroup plans also
available
15 days Yes Yes the client software it uses is well
designed, but FirstBackup can’t back up
3 Not quite as friendly as XDrive, but has the same low price and features as well as a more reliable backup client. automatically when the PC is idle.
FirstBackup provides just one simple

2
XDrive
www.xdrive.com
77Good
$10 per month or $100 per year for up to
5GB; $300 per year for 50GB
15 days Yes Yes
pricing plan: $4 per month (three months
minimum) for up to 50MB, $8 per month
for up to 300MB, $12 per month for up to
3 As cheap as a fee-based service gets. Features go way beyond backup, but the client software can be buggy.
1GB, and $2.75 for each additional giga-
AmberWave $4 per month (3-month minimum) or $39 byte. Those costs are affordable as long as

3
Communications
FirstBackup 77Good
per year for up to 50MB; $12 per month or
$110 per year for 1GB; additional gigabytes
cost $2.75 per month or $25 per year
15 days No No you’re backing up only limited amounts
www.firstbackup.com of data, but by the time you reach 5GB,
3 Superclean client and reliable, secure service. A good choice for businesses that want to avoid Web security hassles. the charges come to a total of $23 per
Acpana Data month, more than twice what you would

4
Deposit Box
www.datadepositbox.
76Good
$0.01 per megabyte to 1GB; $3 per gigabyte
per month above 1GB
30 days Yes No
pay for the same amount of storage on
either IBackup or XDrive.
com

3 A penny per MB is great for small amounts of storage. Client backs up during PC idle time. Excellent Web interface.

ElephantDrive n/a Free (500MB) n/a No


Not in
www.elephantdrive.com beta
BETA, NOT RATED

3 Promising beta with free storage, but it isn’t ready for prime time. Currently requires Microsoft’s .Net Framework.

Beta
Mozy n/a Free for up to 2GB; $20 per year for 5GB n/a
offers
No
www.mozy.com restore
only

3 Easy to use; customers using the free plan receive a weekly newsletter. Note that service was in beta at testing.
KEEP A CLOSE eye on the progress of your
CHART NOTES: Pricing and ratings are as of 5/10/06; n/a = not applicable.
backup in the IBackup client software.

122 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M J U LY 2 0 0 6
even though it lacks any visual feedback
ELEPHANTDRIVE while a backup restore is in progress (this
currently in beta, this should be fixed by launch time).
site offers 500MB of free Mozy’s for-pay service is downright
Web storage. Its pay plan cheap compared with the other backup
costs more than Mozy’s, services I looked at: it costs $20 to store
but at $10 per month or up to 5GB, $30 for 10GB, and $40 for
$100 per year for up to 20GB—per annum. You can perform
10GB of storage, its per- only five free restore operations per
YOU GET A clear view of your backed-up files in XDrive’s gigabyte rate is half that of month, but that should be more than
Explorer-like browser-based management application. either IBackup or XDrive. enough for most users. —Jon L. Jacobi
Without a fast upstream
ACPANA DATA DEPOSIT BOX connection, however, it could take days to SAFETY TIP
this is one of the priciest of the backup upload gigabytes of data to this service.
services I tested, although its penny-per- ElephantDrive supplies client software
megabyte-per-month plan has no mini- only for Windows. ElephantDrive says it
ONLINE PERILS
mum charge: Store nothing, pay nothing, will switch from Microsoft’s .Net Frame- A WORD OF CAUTION to anyone
or store only a few megabytes and pay work to the open Java platform to add using online storage: Servers crash,
only a few pennies per month—a boon support for Mac and Linux users. and companies go out of business,
for anyone who backs up only relatively In my tests, file transfers were stable both without warning. Never trust an
small amounts of data. and reliable, but the ElephantDrive client online storage service with the only
Data Deposit Box features a desktop did drop some connections. Neverthe- copy of your vital data. Also, while all
client software that is both reliable and less, any service whose marketing uses of these services take measures to
easy to use. Unfortunately, the service elephant puns bears watching. lock down your data, the privacy and
lacks a “do backup now” option. You do security of your files is ultimately up
get several nice bonus features with the MOZY to you. Be sure to encrypt all files
service, including the ability to share fold- mozy’s client software for upload- holding personal data, and plan for
ers by e-mail, and a file-management ing and restoring files was in beta when I the day your online files disappear.
interface that’s clean and practical. tested it, but the service performed well,

Find Ample Storage Online pay by the year rather than monthly. Still,
$10 a year per gigabyte (up to 10GB) isn’t
anyone who owns a management a breeze. But you don’t bad, considering all the extras you get.
digital camera or an MP3 even have to fire up your browser if you
music collection knows it map the service as a network place in STREAMLOAD MEDIAMAX
doesn’t take very long at all Windows, which then permits you to how does up to 25GB of free storage
to fill up a hard drive. If you have a broad- transfer files and folders by dragging and space sound? The gratis storage alone
band Internet connection, you could save dropping them from within Explorer. makes Mediamax worth a look.
some of the cost of a new hard drive by This is the only one of the storage- As befitting the name, Mediamax em-
using one of the many services offering focused services I looked at that lets you phasizes storing your music, video, and
free or dirt-cheap online storage. zip and encrypt your files and folders via photos. When you upload files, the
My favorite for music and video play- the Web interface. Oddly enough, there’s
back is Streamload, while Online File no search feature, although you can use
Folder is the choice for integrating online Windows’ search function to find files
storage with day-to-day work. on the mapped network place.
A small downloadable program allows
ONLINE FILE FOLDER you to sync an online folder with a folder
godaddy’s online storage service on your desktop, so updating one auto-
is decidedly businesslike. Its clean, matically updates the other. STREAM AUDIO AND video files for free, but
Explorer-style Web interface makes file You have no free option, and you must Streamload limits downloads and sharing.

J U LY 2 0 0 6 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M 123
STORAGE

service automatically sorts them under upload features are clunky,


such tabs as “Photoshare” and “Music particularly if you up load
Locker.” With Streamload’s easy stream- many files at once, since you
ing options, the service acts as a ready- can’t choose the destination
access library for all your media files. You folder. And while a new
just select a few songs or whole folders, Web interface affords good BOX.NET OFFERS A clean Web 2.0 interface for managing
choose Play, and listen via your favorite options for organizing your files, but storing more than 1GB will cost you.
media player. music, it sometimes balks
Unfortunately, you can quickly use up with strange errors. A stand-alone soft- tag your files and folders, is also simple.
the free service’s monthly 500MB down- ware program is expected to arrive soon. Yet Box.net offers little in the way of
load maximum. The limit leaps to 25GB extras. A stand-alone program that will
(and a whopping 250GB of storage) for BOX.NET synchronize with your desktop folders is
the cheapest paid plan ($15 a month). you get 1gb of free space and a clean, still in the works. And while you can
Streamload Mediamax is a new service, lean Web 2.0 interface with this service. stream music, you can play just one song
and it has rough edges aplenty. The file- File management, including the ability to at a time, and only through Box.net’s own
little desktop player applet.
O N L I N E S T O R AG E
The free version has some limits: You
can’t upload files larger than 10MB, and
Extend Your Hard Disk to the Web you can download only one file at a time.
IF YOUR HARD drive is running low on free space, you can avoid a costly storage The paid options—$5 a month for 5GB,
upgrade by stowing your files with one of these online storage services. and $10 a month for 15GB—do away
Browser- Map as with these limits and offer both mobile
Free
SERVICE PCW Rating Pricing trial based network
access and support for additional users.
access drive

Network SIMDESK

1
GoDaddy Online
File Folder
find.pcworld.com/53132
83
Very Good
$5 per year for up to 50MB; $10 per
year for 1GB; $20 per year for 2GB
No Yes
place, but
not a drive
letter
this service provides a number of
nice features, especially for business col-
3 Has a good Web interface, but maximum storage is 10GB. Many excellent features; a great buy if you need little space.
laboration. For example, you can map the
Streamload Free for up to 25GB (limited downloads, service as a network drive, and you can
2
Mediamax
mediamax.streamload.
81Good
sharing, and maximum file size); $15
per month or $120 per year for 250GB;
$40 per month or $360 per year for 1TB
n/a Yes No sync online files with those in a desktop
folder. It also lets you send online files to
com

3 Lots of storage and excellent media streaming; downloads, sharing, and maximum file size are limited in the free plan. a shared printer via its browser-based
interface. You can even get to that inter-

3
Box.net
www.box.net
80
Very Good
Free for up to 1GB; $5 per month or
$50 per year for 5GB; $10 per month or
$100 per year for 15GB
n/a Yes No
face using a Web-enabled mobile device.
However, the Simdesk Web interface
is inelegant, and file navigation is slow:
3 A nice interface makes the service fast and simple to use; lacks such extras as client software and network mapping.
To move a file, you have to use the pro-
gram’s buttons to cut and paste it rather

4
Simdesk
simdesk.com
78 Good
$3.50 per month for up to 1GB; $3 for
each additional gigabyte to 10GB
30 days Yes Yes than simply dragging and dropping it.
Simdesk’s pricing isn’t so hot, either: It
3 Has printer sharing and mobile access, but it uses a clunky Web interface and offers less storage than rivals do. costs $3.50 a month for up to 1GB of stor-
age and $6.50 per month for 2GB, which
Free for up to 25MB; $5 per month or

5
FlipDrive
flipdrive.com
76Good
$50 per year for up to 5GB; $10 per
month or $100 per year for 15GB; $20
per month or $199 per year for 30GB
30 days Yes No
doesn’t compare to GoDaddy’s low-cost
offerings. In addition, Simdesk imposes
a 5GB-per-month transfer limit.
3 Offers simple file downloads and lets you make photo albums, but has no other extras; Web interface is lackluster.

Online Storage FLIPDRIVE

6
Solutions
find.pcworld.
70 Good
$5 per month for up to 10GB; other
plans range from $10 per month for
20GB to $35 per month for 100GB
None
Yes, but
limited
Yes compared with the other online stor-
age services I looked at, FlipDrive feels
com/53578

3 Gives you more storage for your money than most others do, but it uses a no-frills, kludgy Web interface. spartan. The site’s free service offers only
25MB of storage, so it’s a teaser. The Flip-
CHART NOTES: Pricing and ratings are as of 5/10/06; n/a = not applicable.
Drive Web interface is utilitarian, and

124 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M J U LY 2 0 0 6
there’s no client program to use instead. can use Novell’s free Net-
The service’s Web download feature drive utility to map a net-
stands out: Choose several folders and work drive.
files, and FlipDrive automatically zips The upside: You get
them to speed your downloads and pre- more space for your
serve file names and directory structures. money: up to 10GB for
Still, dragging and dropping files to and FLIPDRIVE’S ZIPPED-UP DOWNLOADS are great, but its only $5 per month, and
from a mapped drive is probably faster. features are otherwise lacking compared with other services. up to 100GB for $35 per
You can make as many sharable photo month. For FTP users
albums as you like and order prints of ONLINE STORAGE SOLUTIONS looking for a lot of storage space with few
pictures in the album from FlipDrive. this service slaps a bare-bones inter- restrictions, and who don’t require such
However, you can’t download full-size, face around a large File Transport Proto- niceties as a functional Web interface,
full-resolution images. FlipDrive costs col account. It lacks such features as Online Storage Solutions might be a
about the same as Box.net—$5 a month online file management, media stream- good storage choice. Otherwise, another
for 5GB, $10 a month for 15GB—but its ing, file synchronizing, and other extras. storage service in this roundup will serve
top level costs $20 a month for 30GB. However, as with any FTP account, you you much better. —Erik Larkin

Share the Web Way and other dates on a shared calendar.


Besides sending e-mail within Groove,
s u r e , y o u c a n attach access the folders through an e-mail link. you can also conduct real-time, online
umpteen files to an e-mail In less than 10 minutes, I created a meetings using the service’s built-in
and blast it to three or four dozen folders and subfolders, each with instant messaging tool. If you have a
dozen of your nearest and specific rights. You can track how many microphone connected to your PC, you
dearest, but, oh, the hassle—adding each files are downloaded, but unfortunately can use Groove’s cool audio-chatting fea-
address, selecting and attaching the files you can’t find out who did the download- ture. The service even lets you do multi-
one by one, and then choking the pipes of ing. One quibble with the free account: ple tasks simultaneously—say, partici-
your ISP and those of each recipient. A You have to upload and download the pate in an online meeting while uploading
better way is to post the files on the Web files one at a time. You get more storage,
and send everybody a single URL so they multiple file transfers, and the ability to
can retrieve and open the files on their store files larger than 25MB for fees rang-
own, at their convenience. For me, the ing from $48 to $84 per year.
icing on the Web-sharing cake is that
many of the services are completely free GROOVE VIRTUAL OFFICE
of charge (and we all love a bargain). acquired last year by Microsoft, this
Of the five sharing services I looked at, collaboration service—and WebEx Web-
my favorites are YouSendIt for its sim- Office Workgroup (see below)—differ
plicity, and 4shared.com for its winning from the other sharing sites I tested in
interface. Now let me share with you my their business-ready robustness, which
opinion of these Web-sharing sites. makes them ideal for sharing data with
work associates. However, Groove is also WITH 4SHARED.COM, CONTROLLING access
4SHARED.COM great for sharing with friends and family. to shared files and folders is a breeze.
this free service provides 500MB of The service provides you with a private,
storage and lets you upload an unlimited shared workspace and offers all the criti- files and collaborating on a document.
number of files (though no single file can cal collaborative functions: file sharing, The 60-day trial version has document
exceed 25MB in size). All of the folders instant communications, and shared cal- review and other features disabled; you
you place on 4shared.com’s servers are endars. You can use Groove’s desktop can continue using the app after 60 days
permission-based, so you can easily make application to collaborate on projects and (the service is free for personal use), but
some folders available to anybody while documents by storing and sharing files in the meetings tool and other functions
restricting access to others. You can also various folders; edit and sync Word docu- won’t work, and the connection speed is
password-protect your folders, which ments and other text files; view Power- a poky 56 kbps, which makes the free ver-
adds another layer of security. Visitors Point presentations; and enter meeting sion impractical for most PC users.

J U LY 2 0 0 6 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M 125
STORAGE

WEBEX WEBOFFICE Mobile or BlackBerry) PDA.


WORKGROUP Unlike Groove, in WebOf-
webex’s collaboration tool, which fice all of your group’s activity
it acquired along with Intranets.com last is done through a browser.
year, provides a variety of ways to share WebOffice costs $60 a month
files. You can allow authorized users to for up to five users and $100
access, download, and modify the folders a month for ten users. WebEx
you create. Unlike Groove, however, Meetings costs an extra $50
WebOffice doesn’t let people work togeth- per user per month. The
er on the online files. The basic plan lim- fully-functional, 30-day trial
its storage to 250MB combined for up to includes WebEx Meetings.
five users. You can allow non-WebOffice
users to view and download files. RAPIDSHARE SHARE FILES AS large as 100MB for free—and up to 1GB
The WebOffice calendar features a this simple, no-frills, per file for a small fee—with the YouSendIt service.
group scheduling capability similar to the free site lets you upload as
scheduler in Microsoft Outlook. You can many files as you want, each as large as times, and they remain on the server as
attach documents and agendas, manage 100MB, and send the download link to long as they’re downloaded at least once
projects, and sync calendars and other any number of recipients. The files can be every 30 days. To avoid the annoying 23-
data with your Palm (but not Windows downloaded an unlimited number of second wait before you can download a
file, sign up for a premium account that
C O L L A B O R AT I O N
costs 10 euros—about $12 per month.

The Best Sites for Sharing YOUSENDIT


this free service lets you upload files
RATHER THAN WRESTLE with e-mail attachments, let these services distribute
to its Web servers for temporary storage.
your digital images, documents, and other files to family, friends, and coworkers.
You can include a personal note along
Browser- Map as
SERVICE PCW Rating Pricing
Free
based network with the upload; YouSendIt then sends
trial
access drive an e-mail to the person you’re sharing
Free for up to 500MB (25MB maximum with that explains how to pick up the file.

1
4shared.com
4shared.com
93
Superior
file); $5 per month or $48 per year for 1GB
(100MB maximum file); $6 per month or
$60 per year for 1GB (no file-size limit)
n/a Yes Yes You’re notified when the file is sent and
when it’s picked up. The recipient’s name
3 Has an easy-to-use interface; provides multiple permission-based folders, but you can’t upload multiple files at once. is automatically added to your YouSendIt
Contacts, too. While you can send your

2
Groove Virtual
Office
www.groove.net
90
Superior
$69 for the file-sharing edition; $174 for the
professional edition
60 days No No
file to several people at once, the “Send
To” field won’t hold more than 128 char-
acters; the service says it imposed this
3 Real-time file sharing; collaboration on Word docs, and more. Works only with PC-based app (no browser access).
limit to prevent spammers from using it.
$60 per month for up to five users and The free version limits the file size to

3
WebEx WebOffice
Workgroup
find.pcworld.com/53580
84
Very Good
250MB; $100 per month for ten users
and 400MB (additional users are $20 per
month each)
30 days Yes Yes 100MB. The files you upload are stored
for seven days or for a total of 25 down-
3 Ideal for large files; has a simple interface and Contacts list for storing recipient e-mail, but storage is time-limited. loads per file. That is probably more
downloads than most people will need

4
RapidShare
www.rapidshare.de/
77
Very Good
Free for unlimited storage (file size limit
of 100MB)
n/a Yes Yes
(it’s plenty for me). But $5 per month
raises the size limit to 1GB, the per-file
storage period to 14 days, and the down-
3 Feature-rich Web-based storage for files, contacts, calendar, tasks, and databases, but no real-time interaction.
loads to 100. —Steve Bass
Free for up to 100MB (25 downloads, stored
BETA, NOT RATED

YouSendIt 7 days); $5 per month for 1GB (100 down-


n/a n/a Yes Yes Jon L. Jacobi is a contributing editor, and
5 beta.yousendit.com loads, stored 14 days); $30 per month for
2GB (200 downloads, stored 14 days) Erik Larkin is an associate editor for PC
3 The only choice for unlimited downloads of gargantuan files; you face an annoying wait before downloads start. World. Contributing Editor Steve Bass writes
the Bass Blog and is the author of PC Annoy-
CHART NOTES: Pricing and ratings are as of 5/10/06; n/a = not applicable.
ances, published by O’Reilly.

126 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M J U LY 2 0 0 6
Expert advice on hardware, software, and the Web

E D I T E D B Y E R I C D A H L A N D D E N N I S O ’ R E I L LY

1. Get ready: To protect the components


from damage, keep them in their anti-
static packaging until you’re ready to put
them in place. Wear an antistatic wrist
strap clipped to a bare metal spot on the
chassis, or touch the chassis frequently to
equalize your charge relative to it. Handle
the motherboard, processor, memory
modules, and other sensitive parts by
their edges only, and don’t touch any
socket or connector pins. Finally, make
sure the system is unplugged until you’re
ready to start it for the first time.
2. Prepare the chassis: Take the cover off
the chassis and remove any instructions,
assembly hardware, or loose cables inside
the case. If the chassis has a removable
motherboard tray, take it out. Remove the
I/O shield from the connector area by
pressing inward on the shield until it

STEP BY STEP pops into the case (see FIGURE 1). Locate
the I/O shield that came with the mother-
board and snap it into the connector area
SCOTT MUELLER
in the chassis from the inside out.
3. Add the motherboard: As you place the
board into the chassis, align the rear-

To Get Just the PC You


Want, Build It Yourself
“dollar for dollar you’ll get more something like $400 for a flat-panel LCD,
power and features in a PC assembled amplified speakers, and Windows XP (all
by a big company than in one you build other software is either bundled with
yourself.” That’s the conventional wis- hardware or available for free). See our
dom. But new standards and improved invoice on page 130 for the details.
component integration that packs more To keep things simple, we bought all of
PHOTOGRAPHS: RICK RIZNER

functions into fewer parts now allow you our items except the OpenOffice applica-
to build a modern system for the same tion suite (which is a free download) from
cost as a similarly equipped retail PC. a single supplier, NewEgg.com. Limiting
Follow these steps to assemble an up- the number of sources for your compo-
to-date machine whose system compo- nents may reduce your shipping costs FIGURE 1: REMOVE the motherboard tray
nents should total only about $800, plus and save you time. and I/O shield prior to installing components.

128 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M J U LY 2 0 0 6
I NSI DE

128 STEP BY STEP 134 INTERNET TIPS 138 GPS TIPS


You can build a PC with the compo- Uncover information about any Web Add waypoints to your GPS device
nents you want for about the same address; create shortcuts to specific to plnpoint any location; get maps
price as an off-the-shelf model. sites; clean out your Google cookie. and route info for GPS-less cell
phones and PDAs.
132 WINDOWS TIPS 136 ANSWER LINE
Use the Run As option to open sus- Keep important data safe by storing
picious programs safely; stay secure it on a separate partition; automate
with the Cryptainer LE freebie. e-mail text entry with boilerplates.

the holes, and in- connector with an extra signal that allows
stall the screws to the motherboard to control the fan speed.
tighten the board. Plug this connector from the heat sink
4. Place the pro- into the four-wire “CPU FAN” connector
cessor: If you are on the motherboard; normally this con-
using an Intel pro- nector is next to the processor socket.
cessor, install it in 6. Don’t forget the memory: Our system
the LGA (land grid uses two 512MB modules for a total of
array) socket on 1GB of RAM. To operate in dual-channel
FIGURE 2: PLACE the processor in the motherboard’s LGA socket the motherboard mode on our motherboard, we installed
and secure it by lowering the load lever over the top of the CPU. (see FIGURE 2). this pair of modules in the blue sockets.
Conventional CPU To install DDR2 modules, open the
facing connectors with the holes in the designs put the pins on the processor, locking tabs to the side and then insert
I/O shield. If your case uses a mother- but LGA has them in the socket instead. the module into the socket so that the
board tray, install the processor and In either case, don’t touch the pins or notch aligns with the tab. Press the mod-
memory onto the motherboard first (see contacts: They are very delicate and prone ule firmly straight into the socket until
below), and then slide the board and tray to physical and electrostatic damage. the tabs lock the module into place.
securely into the chassis. LGA775 sockets, such as the one on 7. Insert the add-in cards: Next, install
With the tray removed from the case, our motherboard, use a lever to clamp a your video card and any other add-in
set the motherboard atop the mushroom- load plate over the top of the CPU. Disen- boards by removing the slot cover, insert-
shaped standoffs at a slight angle from gage the lever from the latch, raise the ing the card firmly in the appropriate slot,
the front of the board to the back, and plate, and remove its plastic cover. and securing it using either the screw
then press down until the standoffs pro- Remove the plastic cover from the pro- from the slot cover or the appropriate
trude through the holes in the board. If cessor to expose the contacts on the bot- card retention mechanism in your case.
your chassis uses conventional screws to tom. Hold the processor by the edges and
hold the motherboard, you may have to locate the pin-1 indicator and orientation
move or install brass standoffs to match notches on its sides. Line up the notches
the pattern of holes in your motherboard. in the chip with the orientation keys in
Once that’s done, set the board down the socket. Close the load plate over the
over the standoffs until they line up with top of the processor, and clamp it down.
5. Keep it cool: To attach the heat sink
to the motherboard, align the four
fasteners with the holes in the moth-
erboard and press each fastener down
until it clicks (see FIGURE 3). AMD FIGURE 4: SLIDE the hard drive into one of
heat sinks have four clips that click the 3.5-inch bays until it clicks into place.
into place before you lock their levers.
Make sure the fasteners are fully seat- 8. Park the drives: Pull the locking levers
ed and the heat sink’s base is flush on each side of one of the lower 3.5-inch
against the motherboard. bays forward (away from the chassis).
Connect the CPU fan to the proper Slide the drive into the bay with the con-
FIGURE 3: LINE up the four heat-sink fasteners head on the motherboard. LGA775 nectors facing back (see FIGURE 4). With
with holes in the motherboard and press down. processors use a new four-wire fan the drive in place, press the locking

J U LY 2 0 0 6 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M 129
HE RE’S HOW ST EP BY ST EP

9. Add a DVD burner: Slide the locking


lever of a 5.25-inch bay to the unlock
position, place your DVD or other
optical drive into the bay, and, once
it’s fully seated, relock the lever. As
with the hard drive, don’t connect the
cables yet. Note that some cases hold
the drive with external locking clips.
FIGURE 5: CONNECT the LEDs on the front
10. Adjust your cables: On the front of
of the case to their motherboard switches.
the chassis are a power switch, reset
switch, power LED, and hard-drive
LED. Find the cable for each and plug FIGURE 7: KEEP the air flowing through your
it into the appropriate front-panel case by tying off cables away from components.
switch/LED connector on the moth-
erboard (see FIGURE 5 ). Look to your motherboard. The DVD drive uses a sin-
motherboard’s manual or the legend gle 4-pin peripheral power connector,
printed on the motherboard for guidance. while the hard drive uses either a 4-pin
FIGURE 6: ATTACH the Serial ATA cable Next, locate the internal USB, FireWire, peripheral power connector or a 15-
from the motherboard to the hard drive. audio, and other I/O connectors on the pin SATA power connector. Route the
motherboard and attach their cables to cables out of the way inside the case, and
levers inward. Don’t install the cables yet. the appropriate ports. The assorted cables neatly bundle or tie off any remaining
With some cases, you use four screws to and connectors should be keyed to pre- unused power connectors to keep the air-
secure the drive. Accessing these screws vent improper installation, but consult flow unobstructed (see FIGURE 7).
in the tight quarters of a case is a major the diagrams in your motherboard’s The chassis we used in our PC has a
cause of scraped knuckles, which explains manual to be sure that you have all of the large, 120mm rear-mounted fan for added
manufacturers’ shift to levers. cables and connectors matched. cooling. Plug the three-wire connector
Now connect the data from your fan into the matching “REAR
PA R T S L I S T
cables to the disk drives. FAN” connector on the motherboard.
The 80-conductor ribbon Some case fans also take a standard 4-pin
Build a PC: Invoice cable attaches the parallel peripheral power connector.
WE CONSTRUCTED A midrange PC with the following ATA port on your mother- 12. Link outside the box: Attach your dis-
components for a total of just under $1200. board to the DVD drive, play, keyboard, mouse, and speakers to
PRODUCT Price and the thin Serial ATA the appropriate color-coded connectors
Foxconn TPS544 black/silver tool-less ATX chassis $70 cable links the first SATA on the back of the system.
Intel D945GTPLR Media Series microATX motherboard $115 port on your motherboard 13. Turn it on: Attach the power cord and
Intel Pentium 4 631 3-GHz/800-MHz 65nm processor $177 to the hard drive (see FIG- press the power button (don’t forget to
Two Gigaram 512MB (1GB) DDR2 667 (PC2-5300) DIMMs $72 URE 6). SATA cables plug power up your display too). Insert the
EVGA GeForce 6600 GT graphics board $139 in only one way. If the rib- Windows XP CD-ROM and allow the sys-
Western Digital 250GB 7200-rpm SATA hard drive $90 bon cables aren’t keyed, tem to boot from it. Once you’ve applied
Lite-On ATAPI DVD±R/RW burner $40 note the odd-colored pin-1 the network settings you received from
Encore 56-kbps Intel 537 chip set fax modem $8 wire, which matches up to your ISP, browse to openoffice.org to
ViewSonic VA902b 19-inch LCD monitor $236 the small triangle or pin-1 download your free applications. If you
Creative Inspire T3000 29-watt 2.1 speakers $41 indicator marked on the have problems loading Windows or other
Logitech PS/2 keyboard and optical wheel mouse $18 motherboard and drive software, visit find.pcworld.com/52582 to
Microsoft Windows XP Home with SP2 $90 connectors. Once you read Lincoln Spector’s tips on trouble-
OpenOffice.org 2.0.1 office suite Free have the cables attached, shooting a Windows installation. When
Subtotal: $1096 route them so they are out you are satisfied that everything works,
Shipping: $64 of the way and do not close the case by reattaching the chassis
PHOTOGRAPHS: RICK RIZNER

Total: $1160 interfere with airflow front and side panels.


through the case.
CHART NOTES: Listed prices are street prices as of the time of publication.
Shipping charges are for standard delivery (three to five business days). Some 11. Add the juice: Plug the Scott Mueller is the author of Upgrading and
online vendors may charge sales tax, which is not included here since sales large 24-pin main power Repairing PCs, 14th Edition, published by
taxes vary by state. For a more detailed breakdown of the parts we used to
assemble our computer, see find.pcworld.com/53568. connector and the 4-pin Que Publishing. You can send him e-mail at
12V connector into the scottmueller@compuserve.com.

130 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M J U LY 2 0 0 6
HE RE’S HOW

ANOTHER DESKTOP TRIP TIP

WINDOWS TIPS Windows in the march column, I


2K XP described two keyboard
98 ME shortcuts to the desktop
SCOTT DUNN (find.pcworld.com/52608): <Windows>-D
(“D” for “desktop”) to toggle showing and
hiding all windows; and <Windows>-M
(“M” for “minimize”) to hide windows

The Safest Way to Run


Suspicious Programs
you don’t need to be reminded yet harmful program running on your sys-
again to keep your virus protection up-to- tem, it also brings grief to many perfectly
date or to be cautious about the software healthy applications that need to store
you download. But what if you’re not sure settings or files in one of these
about the safety of a program you want to locations. Consequently, you
run or install? You can attempt a limited might want to reserve this trick
installation of any piece of suspect soft- for dubious applications or those
whose origins are iffy or unknown. FIGURE 2: ‘PROTECT my computer’ stops
Blogger Aaron Margosis (find.pcworld. programs from changing Windows’ Registry.
com/52606) has discovered yet another
good use for the ‘Protect my computer’ but not dialog boxes. I said the latter min-
option: If you need to prevent a particular imizes, but doesn’t restore the windows.
Web site from leaving data on your hard Warren Slack of Lakeland, Florida, points
drive, launch Internet Explorer through out that pressing <Windows> -<Shift> -M
this method prior to visiting the site. Note brings back the minimized windows.
FIGURE 1: RIGHT-CLICK an app or shortcut that when IE is running in this protected
and choose Run As to launch it securely. mode, you won’t be able to access any Send your Windows-related questions and
secured sites whose URLs begin with tips to scott_dunn@pcworld.com. We pay
ware by using a helpful feature of Win- ‘https://’. Also, some commands (such $50 for published items. Visit find.pcworld.
dows XP. To safely launch a suspicious as ‘Open Link in New Window’ on the com/31607 for more Windows Tips. Scott
program or shortcut, right-click it and context menu) may not work. Dunn is a contributing editor for PC World.
choose Run As (see FIGURE 1). Note that in
WI N D OWS TO O LB OX
some cases, such as with a mysterious
new Control Panel (.cpl) icon, you may
need to hold the <Shift> key to see the Put a Lockbox on Your System With Cryptainer LE
right-click menu’s Run As option. Windows IF YOU WANT to store your You can put secure containers on rewrit-
In the Run As dialog box, select Cur- 2K XP data or applications secure- able CDs and DVDs, as well as on other
rent user and make sure that the option 98 ME ly, give Cypherix’s Cryptain- removable media. Cryptainer LE’s encrypt-
Protect my computer and data from unau- er LE a try. The free program sets up a ed files can be sent as attachments, and
thorized program activity is checked (see virtual vault on your computer. Once you you can make the files self-extracting so
FIGURE 2). Then click OK . make a password-protected Cryptainer the recipient needs only the password (no
When running in the ‘Protect my com- file, it appears in Windows Explorer. Work additional products) to open it. Cryptainer
puter’ mode, the program is able to read with that secure container as you would LE limits containers to 25MB; as a work-
Registry settings, but it cannot change any disk, creating folders, dragging and around, you can create multiple secure
them. In addition, if your hard disk is for- dropping files, even installing applications volumes on your PC. Alternatively, you
matted with NTFS, the program won’t be on it. When you unload the drive or exit could upgrade to one of the paid versions,
able to alter any files associated with the Cryptainer, the virtual disk is visible only which permit larger containers (2.5GB for
current profile, including cookies, tem- as a file protected by 128-bit encryption. $30, 25GB for $45, 250GB for $90). Visit
porary Internet files, the desktop, and My You can back up or delete the file, but only find.pcworld.com/52610 to download your
Documents. Be aware, though, that while your password can unlock its contents. copy of the free Cryptainer.
this option protects against a potentially

132 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M J U LY 2 0 0 6
HE RE’S HOW

times, you need more than a name. For


finding the phone numbers, e-mail ad-
dresses, and other contact information
related to a domain name or an IP ad-
dress, Tschernjawski recommends the
S C O T T S PA N B A U E R
Whois lookup tools at www.dnsstuff.
com. The site also offers a handy geoloca-
tion tool that tells you where in the world

Find the Name Behind a particular IP address is located.

SHORTCUTS TO WEB SITES

a Malicious IP Address when you launch your browser, it


automatically loads whatever site you’ve
i learn a lot from PC World readers, and type command in the Open field (cmd in selected as your home page. But there are
I don’t acknowledge often enough how Windows 2000), and press <Enter>. At the probably many times when you want to
the column is steered by your questions command prompt, enter nslookup fol- open your browser to a site other than
and gentle corrections. This month, your lowed by a space and the IP address. your home page. For those occasions,
fellow readers share tips on identifying Pensacola, Florida, reader
who is trying to connect to your comput- Donald Darden offers
er, creating a shortcut to a Web site, and a time-saver: Right-
speeding searches on PCWorld.com. click the desktop (or
inside any folder) and
WHO’S CALLING, PLEASE? choose New•Shortcut.
in many cases when your firewall Enter the site’s URL (for ex-
blocks access to a remote system, or your ample, www.pcworld.com),
spam or phishing filter traps a potential click Next, give the shortcut a
e-mail attack, the only information it re- name (maybe the name of the
ports about the source is an IP address. site), and click Finish. Then
To learn more about the individual or out- FIGURE 1: CONVERT an IP address into a domain name double-click the shortcut to
fit behind the address, reader Rick Tschern- and server address using nslookup in Windows XP. go directly to your local movie
jawski of Syracuse, New York, recom- guide or sports scores, without
mends using the command-line program Press <Enter>, and after a short delay, having to pass through your home page.
nslookup in the TCP/IP networking pro- nslookup will report first the name of the
tocol in Windows 2000 and XP. domain name system (DNS) server used FASTER PCWORLD.COM FINDS
To find the more-descriptive domain for the lookup, followed by the IP address ben hyman of Champaign, Illinois,
name associated with a cryptic IP address and domain name that you want to know who uses PCWorld.com’s find.pcworld.
such as ‘65.220.224.30’, click Start•Run, about (see FIGURE 1). Type exit to close the com service religiously, has a Firefox
command-prompt window. The program shortcut. Begin by choosing Bookmarks•
will also do forward lookups, providing Manage Bookmarks, clicking New Book-
ZAP YOUR GOOGLE COOKIE the IP address linked to a domain name. mark, and entering a name in the Name
IF YOU’RE LIKE me, you worry that If you use a router or wireless hub, ns- field and http://find.pcworld.com/%s in the
Google is compiling a complex psy- lookup may complain that “default serv- Location field. Type pcw (or whatever you
chological profile based on your accu- ers are not available,” but nevertheless it want) in the Keyword field, and click OK .
mulated search requests. (“Mr. Span- will still provide the lookup information. Close the bookmark manager. To browse
bauer, you display inordinate interest For a more in-depth explanation of the to a link printed in PC World, just type
in Chuck Norris, potato guns, and self- nslookup command in Windows, browse pcw (or the text you entered) followed by a
hypnosis. We have alerted the authori- to Microsoft’s documentation page at space and then the link number in Fire-
ties.”) Luckily for all of us, Ksoft’s free find.pcworld.com/52612. fox’s address field, and press <Enter>.
G-Zapper utility cleans the informa- Sometimes, just knowing the domain
tion that identifies you uniquely out name can help you identify the frauds. Send your questions and tips to nettips@
of the Google cookie, thereby protect- For example, you can report spam to the spanbauer.com. We pay $50 for published
ing your privacy. So take off that tin- sending ISP by firing off a message to items. Go to find.pcworld.com/31523 for
foil hat and download G-Zapper from ‘abuse@domain’, where ‘domain’ is the more Internet Tips. Scott Spanbauer is a
find.pcworld.com/52614. domain name that you looked up. Other contributing editor for PC World.

134 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M J U LY 2 0 0 6
HE RE’S HOW

URE 1). Log off and then log in to the same


account again. Now delete the Applica-
tion Data folder in the old location.
Next, change the Favorites value in the
Registry Editor just as you did the App-
LINCOLN SPECTOR
Data value. If you have Microsoft’s Tweak
UI (part of the free PowerToys for Win-
dows XP; find.pcworld.com/52676), use

Move All of Your Valuable that program’s My Computer•Special


Folders option, which makes changing
various folder locations a breeze. You still

Data to a New Partition have to move the files and subfolders.


Browse to find.pcworld.com/53516 for
I FOLLOWED Jon L. Jacobi’s ad- Verify that Show hidden files and folders is instructions on relocating data in the
vice for creating a new hard drive checked, and click OK . You can change Local Settings\Application Data folder.
partition and moving My Docu- this back when you’re done, if you wish. Finally, move the shared data. In Win-
ments there (see last February’s Backup Navigate in Windows Explorer to the dows Explorer, create a folder named X:\
Tips, find.pcworld.com/52668). But not data partition you just created (I’ll refer to All Users. Use the technique above for Ap-
all of my important files are in My Docu- it as ‘X:’). Make folders for each user with plication Data to move both Shared Docu-
ments. How do I move the others over? a log-on: Select File•New•Folder and enter ments and Application Data (they are
[Name withheld] the user name. Repeat the steps below inside C:\Documents and Settings\All
separating your data isn’t as easy as for every user on the machine. Users) to this new location. Open the
relocating My Documents. By default, Your C:\Documents and Settings\log-on Registry Editor and navigate to HKEY_
Windows XP or 2000 put your files in the folder (where log-on is your log-on name) LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\
Documents and Settings folder, but some has four folders that likely hold important Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User
files in this folder should not be moved. data: My Documents, Application Data, Shell Folders. Add the new location in the
First back up your Registry; for instruc- Local Settings\Application Data, and—if ‘Value data’ field of Common AppData
tions on how to proceed, review April’s you use Internet Explorer—Favorites. and Common Documents.
“Windows Hacks” feature (find.pcworld. If you haven’t moved My Documents
com/52670). Next, if you haven’t already, yet, right-click the My Documents folder Send your questions to answer@pcworld.
use a program such as Symantec’s $70 in Windows Explorer and select Proper- com. Answer Line pays $50 for published
PartitionMagic (find.pcworld.com/52672) ties. Enter X:\log-on\My Documents as the items. See find.pcworld.com/31577 for past
or Acronis’s $50 Disk Director Suite new path (where ‘X’ is your new parti- Answer Line columns. You’ll find Contribut-
(find.pcworld.com/52674) to adjust your tion’s drive letter, and log-on is your user ing Editor Lincoln Spector’s humorous and
hard-drive partitions. When the drive is name). After asking permission, Win- other writings at www.thelinkinspector.com.
repartitioned and you’re ready to make dows will change the location of My Doc-
the move, close all apps except Windows uments and move the actual files.
Explorer. Confirm that your PC shows Moving Application Data is trickier.
EASY E-MAIL BOILERPLATE
hidden files and folders: In Windows Ex- Log in to each account and drag its Appli- MOST E-MAIL PROGRAMS let you auto-
plorer, select Tools•Folder Options•View. cation Data folder in Explorer from C:\ mate entry of your snail-mail address
Documents and Settings\log-on and other common text. Simply cre-
to X:\log-on (again, where ‘X’ is ate multiple signatures, which you can
the partition’s drive letter and place anywhere in the message—not
log-on is the user name). Now se- just at the end. To create boilerplate
lect Start•Run, type regedit, and in Outlook, select Tools•Options•Mail
press <Enter>. In the left pane, Format•Sig natures•New, and follow
navigate to and select HKEY_ the instructions. Then put the cursor
CURRENT_USER\Software\ where you want the text to appear in
Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVer- the message, select Insert•Signature,
sion\Explorer\User Shell Fold- and make your choice. Or if you use
ers . Double-click the AppData Word as your Outlook editor, use that
value, change the ‘Value data’ program’s AutoText and AutoCorrect
FIGURE 1: MOVE YOUR data folder by copying the folder field to X:\ log-on\Application (browse to find.pcworld.com/52684
in Windows Explorer and changing a Registry setting. Data, and press <Enter> (see FIG- for more on these options).

136 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M J U LY 2 0 0 6
HE RE’S HOW

current devices let you designate a way-


point by opening their Create Waypoint

GPS TIPS menu and selecting Create From Current


Pos (or Position—the exact name varies).
To enter precise latitude-longitude coor-
M
NAI CMHEA G
EOL ESS. L
HAES
RKEY
dinates, select Create From Entered Pos
(or Position). Then enter the numbers
manually; 37.78328N/ 122.39359W, for

Save Time and Money by example, sets the street address of PC


World’s offices in San Francisco.

Customizing Your GPS ON THE ROAD AGAIN


most gps devices can store from 100
gps receivers are great for avoiding use a descriptive icon of your choice. to over 1000 waypoints. Before you set
unscheduled detours on the road. But Most receivers let you enter a waypoint out on a motor trip or hiking expedition,
they can be even more helpful for plan- from a previously saved coordinate record it’s helpful to create waypoints for your
ning a trip, whether it’s a cross-country or import one from a collection of way- starting point and for points of interest
trek or a hopscotch tour of your routine points, many of which you can download along the way (they’re a big improvement
Saturday stops. You can cut your travel from Web sites offering GPS information over Hansel and Gretel’s bread crumbs).
time, and save money on gas, by creating (visit find.pcworld.com/ Say you are exploring
custom waypoints for your GPS. 53134 to find out more Yosemite National Park
A waypoint—sometimes called simply about GPS Web sites). by car and foot, and you
a “mark” or “landmark”—identifies your Each GPS receiver uses have set waypoints for a
home, a hiking trailhead, a highway rest different steps to estab- parking lot at the trail-
stop, or any location you store in a GPS lish waypoints, so con- head and for Yosemite
receiver. The waypoint might appear as sult your manual for the Village. As you wander
an icon on a map page, but your GPS details. If your GPS de- along a twisting moun-
software can maintain much more infor- vice lacks a ‘waypoint’ tain trail, you realize
mation about it, such as its latitude, lon- option, don’t fret. Some that you aren’t exactly
gitude, and elevation, and the time and units, such as the Gar- on the trail anymore; in
date when it was created. You can even min StreetPilot 5, save fact, you’re lost. Fortu-
waypoints as ‘Recent nately, you can use your
Finds’ or ‘favorites’. FIGURE 1: FIND waypoints easily GPS device to call up a
GPS MAPS WITH NO GPS Most GPS systems by giving them distinctive names. waypoint that will iden-
IF YOU HAVE a Web-enabled cell phone have a button or menu tify the distance between
or PDA, you can receive instant street selection for setting the current location your current position and the parking lot.
maps of your current location with a as a waypoint so it’s easier to return to. You won’t have street maps, but you can
subscription software package from You can give the spot a descriptive name, use the compass and the directional
Handmark (express.handmark.com). and you can choose an icon for it on the arrows to set yourself on the right path
This service for people who don’t have waypoint information page, which usu- back to the trail, your car, or the village.
GPS receivers returns precise maps ally pops up after you mark a location. As you get closer to the waypoint, its icon
based on street and city queries that (On some receivers, to open the waypoint will appear larger on your GPS screen.
you send wirelessly. You can also get information window, you must manually When using street maps, most GPS
up-to-the-minute news, weather (with select the waypoint that you just created.) receivers let you track and save your route
live radar maps), sports, stock prices, Even on GPS-enabled BlackBerries and as you move. By using PC mapping pro-
directories, and movie times and tick- other devices that do not use icons, you grams in advance of a trip, you can pre-
et purchases. The street maps can can give each point a unique name, such build routes that will automatically create
help you avoid having to ask for direc- as ‘Parking lot’ (see FIGURE 1). a trip log. You can even preset waypoints
tions; but aside from that, the ser- Setting a waypoint for a known locale— along the route, and import the fully rout-
vice’s unlimited directory assistance whether it be the cursor point on a map, ed trips to your GPS device.
(with reverse directories as well) more latitude and longitude coordinates, or
than justifies the $70 yearly subscrip- even a locale previously saved as a way- Former PC World Senior Editor Michael S.
tion. For $30 a year, you can obtain just point and imported from another GPS Lasky is now a freelance writer and PC con-
mapping and directory assistance. receiver—takes a few more steps. Most sultant in San Francisco.

138 W W W. P C W O R L D . C O M J U LY 2 0 0 6
STEPHEN MANES

The Best Buying Advice of All: Don’t!


after drooling over all the “Bests” in this issue’s cover story, you toys may not work with the schemes Hol-
lywood has devised to put fences around
might be anticipating a purchase or two. Good for you. According to
high-def content. The same will likely go
Claudia Senik, a French economics professor recently quoted in the for owners of current monitors who try
plugging them into new computers that
New York Times, the anticipation may give you more pleasure than
can handle Blu-ray discs and other high-
the purchase itself. So if that’s true, and converts. The resulting image is far from def formats. As Carly Simon says, it’s
I suspect it is, don’t run out to buy that chopped liver, but since 1080p is likely to “makin’ me late...keepin’ me waitin’.”
great new thing. Just wait. Anticipate. remain the highest-res standard for a Wi-Fi networking is in the same boat.
If anybody needs a new PC, it’s me. I’m long time, why get stuck with a display The latest products (see page 24) conform
nursing one that was new when Windows that can’t handle it without conversion? to a “draft” 802.11n standard not yet rati-
2000 was. But Vista has been delayed And don’t forget copy protection. Pio- fied. While routers and cards are sup-
again, and as I write this, Microsoft still neers who bought early HDTV equip- posed to work with their brandmates,
won’t say precisely what kind of machine ment are discovering that their pricey they may not play well with others and
you’ll need to run it. Until the definitive might not be upgradable to the final stan-
word comes, I won’t buy a replacement. Want to be a happy dard. The upshot: Equipment you buy
And even after Microsoft does release next year might not deliver all its poten-
the hardware specs—perhaps by the time
technology user? tial on your “draft” network.
you read this—users like me will think It’s all in the timing. Anticipation may create happiness, but
back to last time, when early “Windows buying too early leads
XP Ready” machines didn’t upgrade per- mostly to frustration.
fectly and a driver or six turned out to be If you sprang for an
the culprit. So we’ll probably wait to buy early-model inkjet
a PC with the new OS preinstalled—after printer, an $800 flat
we wait out the first round of bugs and panel with all the reso-
investigate the driver situation for our lution of a screen door, or a sub-VGA
peripherals. Hey, for now I’m getting digital camera, the anticipation almost
something better than a new computer: certainly beat the purchase, which prob-
an extra helping of anticipation! ably has long since been consigned to the
Vista isn’t the only thing flashing a garage or the landfill. Procrastinators get
“Wait” sign bigger and redder than the better products and fewer headaches.
ones at urban intersections. The forth- Disagree? I have an original IBM PCjr
coming Blu-ray players (see page 20) will in my closet I’d be happy to sell you. It
be able to deliver high-definition video may be one of the worst technology prod-
in the 1080p format, or 1080 progressive ucts of all time—see page 86—but in its
lines of information every 60 seconds. day, it was eagerly...anticipated.
Plenty of current TVs can display that
format—but their makers don’t mention Contributing Editor Stephen Manes is cohost
that the sets’ inputs typically accept only of PC World’s Digital Duo (www.pcworld.com/
the half-as-much-info-at-once interlaced
ILLUSTRATION: JOHN CUNEO

digitalduo) on public TV. Visit find.pcworld.


1080i format, which internal circuitry up- com/31595 for more Full Disclosure columns.

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