Pc magazine 2011-08


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Pc magazine 2011-08

  1. 1. The 13 hottest android phones august 2011 First Looks: HP’s Answer to the iPad Our Essential HDTV Buying Guide 6 Things Google+ Has Over Facebook fastest mobilenetworks21 Cities. 6,000 miles. 8 Networks. 140,000 tests. Theresults of our second annual survey will surprise you. PCMag hit the road to test eight 3G and 4G networks in
  2. 2. august 2011 vol. 30 no. 832 OVER STORY C the fastest mobile networks in america We hit the road to test eight 3G and 4G networks in 21 U.S. cities. Before you buy your next phone or tablet, find out which wireless carrier has the fastest data network where you live.PC MAGAZINE DIGITAL EDITION august 2011
  3. 3. 8 14 FIRST LOOKS TECH NEWS8 CONsuMEr ELECTrONICs 5 FrONT sIDE HP TouchPad (Wi-Fi) How Google+ stacks up against Olympus PEN E-P3 Facebook; ISPs get serious about HTC EVO 3D piracy; $99 eReaders, coming soon. Samsung PN51D550C1F TomTom GO 2535 M LIVE OPINIONS 2 FIrsT wOrD: LANCE uLANOFF14 hArDwArE 26 JOhN C. DvOrAk Alienware M17X (Sandy Bridge) 28 sAsChA sEGAN Lenovo IdeaPad V570-1066A9U 30 DAN COsTA Velocity Micro Edge Z4018 BusINEss FEATURES Dell Vostro 3350 52 ThE BEsT ANDrOID PhONEs Brother MFC-J6710DW The variety of Android phones seems endless these days. But only21 NETwOrkING these 13 make it onto our list. NetTALK DUO SOLUTIONS22 sOFTwArE 58 ChOOsING ThE rIGhT hDTv Google Chrome 12 LCD, LED or plasma? We’ll help you Hulu Plus (for iPad) decide which is right for you. Google Docs (Summer 2011) 64 DELETING AN ONLINE ACCOuNT76 EDITOrs’ ChOICE Here are specific instructions on how to break up with the 30 most popular online services. PC Magazine Digital Edition, ISSN 0888-8507, is published monthly at $12 for one year. Ziff Davis, 28 East 28th Street, New York NY 10016-7940. AUGUST 2011 PC MAGAZINE DIGITAL EDITION 1
  4. 4. FIRST WORD LANCE ULANOFFMozilla Is Right: BringOn The Auto UpdatesF irefox 5 is now the poster boy Chrome model, with auto-updates and, for all that’s wrong with slip- scandalously, no support for previous ver- stream, blink-and-you-missed- sions. Yes, I’ve heard the controversy. Busi- it, auto-updating software. I nesses, in particular, are up in arms because don’t get it; this hands-free Firefox 4 has been cast aside in favor of theapproach has been, in other instances, a shiny, new Firefox 5.real boon for me. Out of curiosity, I downloaded Firefox My Apple iPad is full of software that reg- 5 and was stunned by how much it hadularly gets significant updates. They do not changed since my last update (somewherehappen automatically, but they do wipe around version 3.5). Firefox 5 is leaner andout previous versions with no fuss or muss. faster than any Firefox I’ve used before. ItsOnline, I love that Google’s Chrome Web interface actually reminds me just a bit—browser auto-updates. On any given day, I and not in a bad way—of Ubuntu, a Linuxcan be pleasantly surprised with a new ver- distro. In this version, it has managed tosion and new Chrome features and func- carve out a look somewhat distinct fromtionality. Sometimes the changes are super the increasingly indistinguishable browsersubtle and address things like speed and competitors. Overall, I’m happy with thestability. Other times, the logo has changed Firefox 5 update, but there are many whoand I notice odd new buttons. None of this are not.bothers me or slows me down. Sometimes Slipstream updates and lack of supportI benefit greatly from the changes; other for legacy products is a big no-no in the ITtimes, I scarcely notice them until someone world. Businesses move to new technologymentions their existence. at a glacial pace. This is to protect their bot- Firefox, a Web browser I long-since tom line. New hardware and software thatstopped using, now follows the Google doesn’t work with other mission-critical2 PC MAGAZINE DIGITAL EDITION AUGUST 2011
  5. 5. IT admins feel betrayed. If Firefox 5 does not work with some mission-critical business app, they will be blamed. Maybe they’re also upset that control has been wrested from their hands.products could mean lost work, lost time, updates, no one complained. I’m guess-and a whole bunch of confused employees. ing that this is because Google is making This is why Windows 3.1, Windows 95 the biggest inroads in the consumer space.and Windows XP survived for so long in the Internet Explorer gets weekly securitybusiness world. To this day, I can walk into updates, but as a business veteran, Micro-local businesses and find them running soft would never dream of silently upgrad-custom or industry-specific applications ing customers from Internet Explorer 7 oron Windows 95. I would argue, of course, 8 to IE9.that companies stuck in the last century I think the size and intensity of thiswill likely get last-century business results Firefox upgrade and support dustup iswhile their newer competitors upgrade also a result of many businesses adoptingand race ahead at 2011 speed. Firefox over the last decade. Perhaps they fell in love with the vast array of extensions,Browsers: Not A Typical Piece of Software some of which were probably designed forWeb browsers are an interesting case. their industries. Now, however, these sameIT admins clearly see Internet Explorer, IT admins feel betrayed. If Firefox 5 doesGoogle Chrome, and Firefox as just not work with some mission-critical busi-another piece of software—one they have ness app, they’ll be blamed. On the otherto manage and standardize companywide. hand, I wonder if those same IT guys areThis seems like madness to me. A Web simply upset that a little bit of control hasbrowser is little more than a container for been wrested from their hands. I suspecteverything you’ll do on the Web. Web sites that Firefox 5 will work quite well in theand Web services are built with some leg- majority of businesses and that companiesacy browser compatibility, but they’re also simply don’t want software and system-being built using new tools and with the update controls to migrate from IT to thelatest browser features and functionality end user. Unfortunately for them, I don’tin mind. Internet Explorer 6.0 won’t do as see anything stopping this trend.well as IE 7, 8, and 9 with some of the newer Follow me on Twitter! Catch the chief’sWeb services. comments on the latest tech developments at When Google started doing auto- twitter.com/LanceUlanoff. AUGUST 2011 PC MAGAZINE DIGITAL EDITION 3
  6. 6. Editor-in-Chief, pc magazine network Lance Ulanoff ®Editor, pc magazine digital edition Stephanie ChangDIRECTOR OF ONLINE CONTENT, EXECUTIVE PRODUCERVicki B. JacobsonExecutive Editor Dan CostaNEWS DIRECTOR Peter Pachal www.pcmag.comcreative director Chris PhillipsHOME PAGE EDITOR Don SearsfEatures editoR Eric Griffithmanager, online production Yun-San TsaiProducers Mark Lamorgese, Whitney A. Reynoldsnews editors Chloe Albanesius (East Coast), Mark Hachman (West Coast)reporters Leslie Horn, Damon Poeter, Sarah Yinassociate editor Jennifer Bergen (blogs)Commerce Producer Arielle Rochetteassistant editor Hilary ScottUtility Program Manager Tim Smithassistant designer Jackie SmithContributing Editors Tim Bajarin, John R. Delaney, John C. Dvorak, Bill Howard,Jamie Lendino, Edward Mendelsonpc labs managing editors Sean Carroll (software, security, Internet, business),Wendy Sheehan Donnell (consumer electronics), Laarni Almendrala Ragaza (hardware)Lead Analysts Cisco Cheng (laptops), Tim Gideon (consumer electronics),Samara Lynn (business, networking), Michael Muchmore (software),Matthew Murray (DIY, components) Neil J. Rubenking (security),Joel Santo Domingo (desktops), Sascha Segan (mobile), M. David Stone (printers, scanners)Analysts Tony Hoffman (printers, scanners), Jeffrey Wilson (software, Internet, networking)junior analysts Alex Colon (consumer electronics), Jill Duffy (software, Internet, networking),Will Fenton (software, Internet, networking), Will Greenwald (consumer electronics),David Pierce (consumer electronics), Natalie Shoemaker (hardware),Brian Westover (hardware),inventory Control Coordinator Nicole GrahamStaff PhotographeR Scott Schedivyinterns Andrew Freedman, Julius Motal, Amelia Wehrsenior vice President, digital salesEric Koepele 212-503-5250Vice President, Marketing James Selden 212-503-4689marketing manager Lindsay Garrison 212-503-5270Advertising Office 28 E. 28th St., New York, NY 10016-7940; phone, 800-336-2423,212-503-3500; fax, 212-503-5000; www.pcmagmedia.comZiff Davis INC.Chief executive officer Vivek Shahchief operating officer Steven Horowitzchief technology officer Joey Fortunageneral counsel Stephen Hickssenior Vice President, content Lance Ulanoffsenior Vice President and General manager, Data solutionsBennett Zuckersenior Vice President, business development Anurag Harshsenior vice President, digital sales Eric KoepeleVice Presidents Larry Chevres (Engineering), James Selden (Marketing)DIRECTOR Joseph Mirabella (Licensing)THE INDEPENDENT GUIDE PC Magazine is the Independent Guide to Technology. Our mission is to test and review computer-and Internet-related products and services and report fairly and objectively on the results. Our editors do not invest in firmswhose products or services we review, nor do we accept travel tickets or other gifts of value from such firms. Except wherenoted, PC Magazine reviews are of products and services that are currently available. Our reviews are written without regard toadvertising or business relationships with any vendor.How to Contact the Editors We welcome comments from readers. Send your comments to Internet address pcmag@pcmag.com or to PC Magazine, 28 E. 28th St., New York, NY 10016-7940. Please include a daytime telephone number. PCMagazine’s general number is 212-503-3500. The West Coast Operations number is 415-547-8000. We cannot look up storiesfrom past issues, recommend products, or diagnose problems with your PC by phone. An index of past issues is at www.pcmag.com/previous_issues. For a list of upcoming stories, browse www.pcmag.com. For a full description of who on staffcovers what, go to www.pcmag.com/whocoverswhat.Permissions, Reprints For permission to reuse material in this publication or to use our logo, contact Ziff Davis’ Director ofLicensing, Joseph Mirabella, at permissions@pcmag.com, or by phone at 212-503-5256 or by fax at 212-503-5420. Material inthis publication may not be reproduced in any form without written permission.For reprints, please contact the YGS Group: telephone, 800-290-5460; fax, 717-399-8900; e-mail, pcmag@theygsgroup.com. The following are registered trademarks of Ziff Davis Publishing Holdings Inc.: i-Bench, NetBench, PC ­ IRECT, PC Labs, DPC MAGAZINE, PC MAGAZINE AWARD FOR TECHNICAL EXCELLENCE, PC MAGAZINE EDITORS’ CHOICE, PC MagNet,ServerBench, WinBench, Winstone, Ziff Davis’ corporate logo, and PCMAG.com. The following are trademarks of Ziff DavisPublishing Holdings Inc.: After Hours, CPUmark, EasyComputing, ExtremeTech, First Looks, First Looks Plus, i-Bench, LabNotes, Lab Tales, PC Bench, PC Labs Scorecard, PC Magazine At Home, PC Magazine CD, Front Side, PC Magazine Extra, PCMagazine Marketlink, PC Solutions, PC Tech, Power Programming, Quick Clips, ScreenDemos, SMB Boot Camp, Tech Notes,and WinDrain. Other trademarks and trade names used throughout the publication are the property of their respectiveowners. Copyright © 2008 Ziff Davis Publishing Holdings Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part withoutpermission is prohibited.Subscription INFORMATION For subscription service questions, for address changes, or to order, please contact us: Inter-net: service.pcmag.com (for customer service) or subscribe.pcmag.com (to order). telephone: 800-289-0429 or 386-597-4372 in the U.S. and Canada, 386-597-4370 elsewhere. mail: PC Magazine, PO Box 54070, Boulder, CO 80322-4070 (pleaseinclude your postal address and e-mail address with any correspondence, as it will expedite processing). fax: 386-447-2321in the U.S., Canada, and elsewhere. e-mail: subhelp@pcmag.com (please type your full name, your postal address, and thee-mail address at which you subscribe). Subscriptions: The one-year subscription rate is $24.97. PC Magazine is publishedmonthly. 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  7. 7. Front What’s New from the World of Tech SOCIAL CIRCLES Google+ focuses more on friend groupings than friend accumulation.How Google+ StacksUp Against FacebookAs expected, Google’s new social net- steps back from the friend-accumulationwork, Google+, has grown rapidly in a short game and instead considers how we, asperiod of time. By the middle of last month social human creatures, already think aboutit had climbed to more than 5 million users— our friends. The outcome is cliques, or whatimpressive, given that its field trial had Google is calling Circles. In real life, friendsbegun just a few weeks earlier. But it’s still a come in mini subgroups, usually based onlong way from Facebook’s 750 million users. how we met. As it goes head-to-head against the Most—but not all—of the new and excit-behemoth network, Google is attempting ing ideas that Google has germinating into offer things Facebook doesn’t. Google+ Google+ come down to cliques, or friends AUGUST 2011 PC MAGAZINE DIGITAL EDITION 5
  8. 8. frontsidegrouping off into smaller subsets. That’s aradical departure from Facebook, whichdoes have some ability to put friends intodifferent buckets, but not in a way that’scentral to the overall experience. From there,Google+’s innovation comes in the form ofhow these circles of friends interact: video,mobile group chats, sharing and discussingcontent specific to a circle’s shared interest,and so on. Here are six of its big ideas thatmay very well rock the social networking GROUP VIDEO CHAT Google+ makes it easy forboat. friends to make party plans, for example, while 1. Easily share photos, links, or posts with consulting their Google calendars.only your friends (excluding your mom,professional acquaintances, and college video asynchronously, then discussing itprofessors). Google+ allows you to custom- with comments.ize your Circles fairly easily, with drag-and- 4. Curate content based on your inter-drop actions, to limit who can see what. ests. Through its Sparks feature, Google+When you share something, you share it to delivers articles, blogs, and other contenta circle or multiple circles. In Facebook, you from the entire Web—not just from withinhave a few options for limiting who can see the social-network platform—based onwhat, but it’s not nearly as easy to manage. terms that you enter. In Facebook, you can 2. Plan details of an event with live video become a fan of or “like” something, butchat. Google+ has a free, multi-user video can’t actually cultivate an interest.chat feature called Hangouts—Facebook 5. Instantly upload photos and vid-has nothing like this (though last month it eos to the cloud, but decide later how tointroduced embedded one-on-one video share them. Google+ mobile apps (comingcalling with Skype). If you’re collaborating soon), will have a feature that automaticallywith friends to host a party, travel together, uploads any photo or video you take onor create a project, the ability to hold a video your phone using the app to your account,chat right within the context of all the other ready to share. But it doesn’t go public rightinformation goes well beyond what Face- away, so you can decide later who will get tobook can do with event-planning. see it. 3. Watch a YouTube video in real-time 6. Quit. Ever tried to delete your Face-with friends. Within Hangouts, you and book account? The option is so buried it’syour friends can watch and search for You- nearly impossible to find. (But go to ourTube videos together as a group. The clos- Solutions story to find out how to do this.)est thing to this in Facebook is watching a Google+ lets people leave easily.—Jill Duffy6 PC MAGAZINE DIGITAL EDITION AUGUST 2011
  9. 9. Pirates, Beware: ISPsAgree to Copyright AlertsDo you subscribe to HBO or did you ille- all ISPs will use. Going forward, suspectedgally download that latest episode of “True illegal downloaders will first get a notice. IfBlood” online? If it’s the latter, you might they ignore it, the ISP might resort to pop-soon begin receiving warnings from your ups or redirects to special Web sites thatISP, thanks to a new agreement between display the alert. If those too are ignored,Hollywood studios and Internet service the ISP will turn to “mitigation measures,”providers. which could include bandwidth throttling A coalition of copyright holders and ISPs or permanent re-direction to a warninglike Comcast and Verizon have signed up landing page until contact is established.for the “Copyright Alert System,” which Participating ISPs include ATT, Cablevi-will provide notices to consumers if they sion, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Ver-are suspected of illegal downloading. izon. The effort also has the support of the Many ISPs already provide warnings to Recording Industry Association of Amer-users if sketchy behavior is detected, but ica and the Motion Picture Association ofthe Copyright Alert System is intended America, as well as small and independentto provide a standardized approach that studios and labels.—Chloe Albanesius$99 eReaders In Our Near Future?Consumers should expect $99 Kindles and Gartner analyst Allen Weiner said theNooks before the end of 2011, one knowl- growing demand for tablets will play a role inedgeable source has told PCMag. the price drop. Ereaders are actually enjoy- Current-generation eReaders like Ama- ing more robust sales growth than tabletszon’s Kindle 3 and Barnes Noble’s first- according to some recent studies, but a hostedition Nook are priced between $139 and of new tablets are entering the market, some$249 based on features like Wi-Fi, 3G con- at price points that veer dangerously close tonectivity, and color screens. those of high-end eReaders. “If competition But technology developments and mar- in the tablet space drives prices down closerket forces will bring down prices for these to those of eReaders, you’ll see eReadercurrent eReaders to under $100, said the prices drop to compensate,” Weiner said.source, who asked not to be named. —Peter Pachal and Damon Poeter AUGUST 2011 PC MAGAZINE DIGITAL EDITION 7
  10. 10. First INSIDE 8 consumer electronics 14 hardware 18 business 21 NETWORKING 22 softwareHP TouchPad (Wi-Fi)The Second-BestTablet in TownW hile iPad competitors as thick as the iPad 2, but otherwise similar like the Motorola Xoom in its dimensions and display size. and RIM BlackBerry PlayBook basked in the Multitask With Ease spotlight these past HP’s webOS 3.0 is tremendous for multi-few months, HP worked quietly in the back- taskers. Everything—apps, browser win-ground, readying its webOS-based Touch- dows, videos, photos, and more—can bePad for release. Unlike Motorola and RIM, minimized to “card” size with a downwardHP held off on the release until all major fea- swipe or a tap on the Home button. When intures were ready. Good decision. card-viewing mode, you scroll through live The TouchPad is a fully formed, well-con- thumbnails of every app, window, or file youceived, well-designed tablet with a graceful have open. To close an app, just flick the cardoperating system and a unique approach to upward, and it flies off your screen. If you’remultitasking. It offers a more enjoyable user browsing multiple windows online, they canexperience than any of the current Android either be shown next to each other for easyHoneycomb tablets. It’s no iPad, but it’s the scrolling, or be grouped by stacking them.best non-Apple tablet we’ve seen yet. Within those stacks, you see the actual live Currently, the TouchPad is available with window, not simple icons, the way Apple’sWi-Fi only; HP says the tablet will eventu- iOS displays apps within folders.ally be offered on ATT, but connectivity All the praise for webOS 3.0’s user inter-details, pricing, and timing have yet to be face is tempered slightly by the system’sannounced. The TouchPad is almost twice occasional tendency to be a bit jumpy.8 PC MAGAZINE DIGITAL EDITION August 2011
  11. 11. our ratings key: l l l l l EXCELLENT l l l l m VERY GOOD l l l m m GOOD l l m m m FAIR l m m m m POOR HP TouchPad (Wi-Fi) 16GB for $499 or 32GB for $599, list L l l l m PROS Top-notch, intuitive user interface. Fast performance. 9.7-inch, 4:3 screen excel- lent for video and photos. Synergy features make integrating with social networks and Web sites easy. Strong Facebook app. CONS App selection is limited. No rear- facing camera or video-recording capabili- ties. Screen sometimes needs multiple taps. Almost twice as thick as the iPad 2.Whether you’re playing Angry Birds or Some Catch-Up to Doviewing video, prepare for occasional stut- The HP TouchPad is the most worthy com-ters in the action and playback. This is not to petitor to the top-of-the-tablet-heap Applesay the tablet is slow, but that it lacks some iPad. There’s room for improvement, butof the fluidity and grace of the iPad. webOS 3.0 has the secret ingredient that The HP App Catalog is a long way from iOS has always had, and that Google’s Hon-Apple’s App Store selection for the iPad, but eycomb still seems to lack: It’s fun and sim-the company is making a strong effort out ple to use. But has it arrived too late to theof the gate; 260 apps were available during party? Much of that depends on whetherour review, and that’s more than the mea- HP can convince developers to makeger number of Honeycomb-specific apps enough meaningful apps for the TouchPadfrom major developers. The real question is in the next nine months, before the iPad 3whether major developers will take the time arrives.—Tim Gideon and David Pierceto make webOS versions of their apps. CLICK HERE FOR MORE August 2011 PC MAGAZINE DIGITAL EDITION 9
  12. 12. first looks consumer electronicsOlympus PEN E-P3Impressive,Yet PricedBeyondIts ClassO lympus has taken note of its past Olympus PEN E-P3 mistakes with Micro Four Thirds $899.99 direct (with 14-42mm f/3.5-5/6 zoom lens digital cameras and responded or 17mm f/2.8 prime lens) with the PEN E-P3. It offers L l l l m blazing-fast focus speed, an PROS Beautiful images and video. Fastintegrated flash, and a revamped processor performance. Improved autofocus speed over its predecessor. Built-in flash. Big, bright OLEDthat makes it much speedier than its prede- touch screen.cessors at processing pictures. At $899.99, CONS Expensive. A bit heavy and slightly larg- er than its predecessor. No optical viewfinder.though, it’s still planted firmly in the D-SLR Touch-screen interaction can be confusing.price range, and is missing some key D-SLRfeatures like an optical viewfinder. recorded indoors, and since the E-P3 can The E-P3 uses Olympus’ new TruePic VI autofocus while recording video it’s likedual-core image processor, which delivers using a dedicated camcorder. Unfortu-seriously fast shooting (think frames per nately, though, you’ll hear some subtle lenssecond, not seconds per frame). I was able noise as you zoom in and out.to get a shot about every 0.4 seconds in sin- Micro Four Thirds cameras in general pro-gle-shot mode, with virtually no shutter lag. vide a clever compromise: not-quite-D-SLR In terms of image sharpness, the E-P3 image quality, but a smaller camera body.scored very well, with a center-weighted The E-P3 is a solid choice, though Panason-average of 2,001 lines per picture height. ic’s slightly faster GF2 is worth checking out(Results higher than 1,800 mean very sharp too. Or if you don’t mind carrying a largerimages, and 2,000 and above is typically camera, you could get better performanceD-SLR territory.) for the same price with our Editors’ Choice Video captured by the E-P3 is impres- D-SLR pick, the Nikon D5100.—David Piercesive. Footage looks excellent, even when CLICK HERE FOR MORE10 PC MAGAZINE DIGITAL EDITION AUGUST 2011
  13. 13. first looks consumer electronicsHTC EVO 3D (Sprint)The First 3DPhone: It’sA Mixed BagA wesome yet baffling, breath- HTC EVO 3D (Sprint) taking yet frustrating, the HTC $199.99 direct with contract L l l m m EVO 3D is a super-cool, super- The 4G-equipped, Android-Based HTC EVO powerful phone that requires 3D for Sprint is the nation’s first 3D phone, but some patience. As the first it struggles with making phone calls and con- necting to the Web.glasses-free 3D phone in the United States, PROS Dual-core processor. Gorgeous Androidthe EVO 3D was a conversation starter skin. Latest version of Android. No-glasses 3Deverywhere I went with it. But Internet con- screen.nection problems, bits of missing hardware CONS Lousy call quality. Trouble connecting toand software, and a very narrow 3D-viewing Internet. 3D has offers a very narrow viewing angle.angle makes this a phone for adventurousearly adopters rather than the masses. The EVO 3D uses parallax-barrier 3D garbled, with some syllables swallowed bytechnology; you must hold the phone in a the phone.very specific spot to see the 3D, and only The HTC EVO 3D has a super-fast proces-one person can watch at a time. The 3D sor, but awful reception and 3G connectiv-swings between breathtaking and stom- ity. The 3D blows your mind, until it givesach-churning. When it works, it’s like living you a headache. It connects to TVs usingin a crazy, science-fiction world. Move your an adapter nobody can find. It’s a bunch ofhand just a little bit, and you have double brilliant but half-baked ideas. The EVO 3Dvision. Watch for too long, and you have a experience has enough missing parts thatheadache. it’s a buyer-beware, early-adopter phone. When it comes to basic phone functions, Mainstream users looking for a Sprintthe EVO 3D fails. I struggled with reception smartphone should stick with the provenand Internet connectivity issues all through Samsung Epic 4G instead.—Sascha Seganmy test period. Calls sounded muddy and CLICK HERE FOR MORE AUGUST 2011 PC MAGAZINE DIGITAL EDITION 11
  14. 14. first looks consumer electronicsSamsung PN51D550C1FAn Affordable PlasmaThat Supports 3DY ou don’t need to spend a lot of money for a 3D HDTV, even if you want a huge one. Sam- s u n g ’s P N 5 1 D 5 5 0 C 1 F i s a 51-inch plasma HDTV that sup-ports 3D, looks great, offers a very effectivepower-saving mode, and costs $1,300. Let’s be clear, though: Corners have beencut to make this set affordable. For example, Samsung PN51D550C1Fwhile it has 3D support, it doesn’t integrate $1,299.99 list l l l h mNetflix or any other video-streaming ser- PROS Inexpensive. Effective power-savingvices. In fact, you get no Web apps, though Standard mode that halves energy consump-there is local-network access through tion.DLNA. The PN51D550C1F also delivers less- CONS No Web apps. Shadow details aren’t the best for a plasma display. 3D shows somethan-stellar shadow detail when compared crosstalk.with other plasma screens. For the most part, the set proved admira- If you watch the PN51D550C1F with theble in our picture-quality tests. Its color levels screen at full brightness and everythingwere satisfyingly accurate. Black levels were turned up and optimized, it’s appropriatelyslightly disappointing for a plasma, falling power-hungry, a common issue for plasmas.behind last year’s Panasonic TC-P42GT25 However, an EnergyStar-branded Standardand our LED-backlit Editors’ Choice LG mode cuts the power consumption down toInfinia 47LW5600 in quality, though both of near-LED LCD levels without dimming thethose sets are more expensive. screen to the point that it’s unwatchable. The 3D looked generally good, but I Despite its mediocre black-level qualityoccasionally noticed some crosstalk, espe- and lack of Web apps, the PN51D550C1F iscially in scenes with considerable motion an affordable way to get a large 3D screenbetween distant backgrounds and close in your home. —Will Greenwaldforeground objects (like the flying scenes). CLICK HERE FOR MORE12 PC MAGAZINE DIGITAL EDITION AUGUST 2011
  15. 15. first looks consumer electronicsTomTom GO 2535 M LIVEThe BestRoutingAnd TrafficUpdatesT his powerful, high-end GPS TomTom GO 2535 M LIVE has the best live Internet con- $349 street l l l l m nectivity we’ve tested yet, and PROS Very accurate routing. Lifetime map and includes lifetime maps, traffic traffic updates. Responsive, vibrant display. updates, and Google Local, Improved graphics and on-screen fonts. Clearall without annoying ads. It’s not perfect, voice prompts. Highly customizable. No ads.and isn’t as slim or sexy as the Garmin nüvi CONS Low screen resolution. Numerous bugs. Some organizational issues with POIs.3790T, but it has the best routing, audio, andtraffic performance on the market today. Routing performance was sublime. It was inputting my home address, the unitalways locked onto my location within froze entirely, and required a hard reboot.moments. All of my regular test destinations Another time, it trapped me in a rapid-fireworked as expected, and a few even sur- series of Route dialogs; tapping the Doneprised me. During one test, it even smartly icon to begin driving just flashed the screenadvised me that on a slow Sunday evening, and brought the same window back.it was faster to travel through downtown Overall, the GO 2535 M LIVE is a solid, for-Boston than to skirt around the city as usual. ward-looking choice. Yet the Garmin nüvi The live updates really work, too; during 3790T remains our Editors’ Choice; it is con-my tests the GO 2535 M LIVE was aware siderably thinner and offers a higher-reso-that a section of interstate had recently low- lution screen with 3D terrain mapping thatered the speed limit by 10 mph. blows away the GO 2535 M LIVE’s older- Several bugs marred my time with the style, ray-traced maps.—Jamie LendinoGO 2535 M LIVE. During initial setup, as I CLICK HERE FOR MORE AUGUST 2011 PC MAGAZINE DIGITAL EDITION 13
  16. 16. first looks hardwareAlienware M17X (Sandy Bridge)The Most Powerful,Coolest GamingLaptop Around The Alienware M17X (Sandy of which are USB 3.0 (with speeds 10 times Bridge) is the epitome of a dedi- that of USB 2.0), two USB 2.0, and one cated gaming laptop, offering a eSATA/USB combo. A slot-loading Blu-ray wide selection of Sandy Bridge drive is included in this configuration. The quad-core processors, the fast- speakers are crisp and fully immerse youest Nvidia and AMD graphics chips, and into any 3D game, but it lacks a subwoofer,some of the most advanced features known for base.to laptops. In addition, its menacing lookscomplement the menacing parts, making Mind-Blowing Performancefor a package that’s bound to strike fear in With its 2.2-GHz Intel Core i7-2720QM pro-your LAN opponents and boost your gam- cessor, 8GB of DDR3 memory, and the RAIDing cred. 0 hard drives, the M17X scored 10,042 in The M17X (Sandy Bridge) has a feature PCMark Vantage—an overall performanceset worthy of the highest praise. Its list of gauge—effortlessly beating the Acervideo options is the most notable, which AS8950G-9839 (8,211), Asus G73SW-BST6include mini-DisplayPort, HDMI-Out, VGA- (7,845), and Dell XPS 15 (8,089) in. The M17XOut, and a port rarely found in laptops: also dominated in processing-related tasksHDMI-in. With HDMI-in, the 17-inch screen like Handbrake (1:53), Adobe Photoshopcan be used with your gaming console, DVD CS5 (3:26), and Cinebench R11.5 (5.4).player, camcorder, or another laptop that The M17X (Sandy Bridge) runs on thehas HDMI-out. There are five USB ports, two AMD Radeon 6970M with 2GB of VRAM—I Specs 2.2-GHz Intel Core i7-2720M processor; 1500GB hard drive; 8GB DDR3 RAM; AMD Radeon HD 6970M and Intel HD Graphics 3000 graphics; 17.3-inch widescreen; 9.8 pounds; 802.11n wireless; DVD+/-RW DL with Blu-Ray optical drive; Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium14 PC MAGAZINE DIGITAL EDITION AUGUST 2011
  17. 17. Alienware M17X (Sandy Bridge)$2,254 directl l l l hPROS Best-looking gaming laptop.Solidly made chassis. Outstandinggame-play and gaming scores. 1080pscreen resolution. Great keyboard.Impressive lighting effects. Soft mousebuttons. HDMI-In is a rare laptop find.CONS Screen has the characteristicsof a mirror. Battery life is below average. battery. Despite using one of the biggest batteries available (90WH), the M17X lastedone of the best mobile graphics chips avail- 2 hours 24 minutes on MobileMark 2007.able (there’s also an option for the Nvidia But experienced gamers will tell you thatGeForce GTX 460M). Not a single frame few games are played off of the AC adapter,was lost while playing Call of Duty (Black so it will stay anchored to a desk more oftenOps) and Crysis after turning up anti-alias- than not.ing (8X), anisotropic filtering, and shadow While the Alienware M17X (Sandy Bridge)detail. At the highest possible settings, the can run you a pretty penny, few laptops canM17X also received top marks in Crysis (58.7 rival its gaming prowess. Even if its rivalsframes per second) and Lost Planet 2 (57.4 could squeeze in similar parts, they’ll stillfps). It scored 20,097 on 3DMark 06 tests, have to contend with the M17X’s out-of-this-easily beating the Acer AS8950G-9839 world looks and phenomenal feature set.(10,773), XPS 15 (9,787), and G73SW That’s why we’re calling it the best gaming(15,525). laptop in the world.—Cisco Cheng Powerful components aren’t kind to the CLICK HERE FOR MORE AUGUST 2011 PC MAGAZINE DIGITAL EDITION 15
  18. 18. first looks hardwareLenovo IdeaPad V570-1066A9UA BargainBeyondCompare Every now and then we run across Lenovo IdeaPad V570-1066A9U an unbelievable bargain. The $629.99 list (at Best Buy) l l l l m Lenovo IdeaPad V570-1066A9U PROS Powerful Core i5 processor. Sizable is one clear example. For a mere 640GB hard drive. WiDi 2.0 and WiMAX. Alumi- $629, you get a 15.6-inch screen, a num construction looks sleek. Inexpensive.second-generation Intel Core i5 processor, CONS Slow-spinning hard drive. Small Shift key.a spacious hard drive, plenty of connectivityoptions, WiDi 2.0, and WiMAX connectivity. bench R11.5 test, garnering a score of 2.6 One of the few budget laptops clad in compared with the Pavilion dv6-6013cl’saluminum, the IdeaPad V570 weighs 5.47 score of 2.04. In our Photoshop CS5 test, thepounds. Its 15.6-inch screen has a 1,366-by- IdeaPad V570 went through 12 of our image768 resolution, which translates to 720p HD. filters in 4 minutes 10 seconds, trouncing theThe keys on the full-size chiclet keyboard dv6-6013cl’s time of 5:48. The 48Wh 6-cellare curved to mold to your finger and have battery lasted a respectable 4 hours 41 min-a nice, firm feel. The textured multi-touch utes on our MobileMark 2007 test.touchpad responded well to two-finger The IdeaPad V570-1066A9U comes withscrolling and pinch-zoom commands, and a Core i5 processor that dishes out the high-the mouse buttons offered up a soft and est performance scores within its category.silent clicking experience. A full set of features, with wireless connec- The IdeaPad V570’s 2.3-GHz Intel Core tion options like WiDi and WiMAX, are icingi5-2410M processor and 6GB of memory did on the cake, making the Lenovo V570-wonders for its performance scores, com- 1066A9U an easy Editors’ Choice pick forpared to other budget laptops. It proved budget laptops.—Natalie Shoemakeritself as a multimedia laptop in our Cine- CLICK HERE FOR MOREI Specs 2.3-GHz Intel Core i5-2410M processor; 640GB hard drive; 6GB RAM; Intel GMA HD 3000 graphics; 15.6- inch widescreen; 5.47 pounds; 802.11n wireless; DVD+/-RW optical drive; Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium16 PC MAGAZINE DIGITAL EDITION AUGUST 2011
  19. 19. first looks hardwareVelocity Micro Edge Z40High-EndGaming AtA Low Price The Velocity Micro Edge Z40 is Velocity Micro Edge Z40 the latest champion in the bud- $1,199 direct l l l l m get-gaming PC arena—it includes PROS Tops scores in 3D benchmarks. Nice a feature set that used to take price. Second-generation Intel Core i5 thousands of dollars to achieve. processor. Internal expansion room. USB 3.0, eSATA, and HDMI. 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi.This desktop is expandable, rocks hard on CONS Not SLI compatible. PCIe x16 slot onlythe game grid, and already has most of the works at x4 speeds for CrossFireX.features that an enthusiast user looks for.The Edge Z40 is the one to buy if you’relooking for a high-performance desktop at Gamer Dragon (2:09) and the V3 Gaminga reasonable price. PC Move 3DS (1:31). It also outpaced the two The Edge Z40, which uses Velocity on our gaming tests, delivering 105 framesMicro’s Classic aluminum case, has plenty per second on Crysis and 130 fps on Lostof internal storage, with space for an addi- Planet 2 at the Medium/Middle quality lev-tional optical drive, four extra hard drives, els. When bumped up to Very High/Hightwo memory DIMMs, and five SATA connec- quality, the system returned almost play-tors for the drives. Outside, there are more able scores for Crysis (30 fps) and playablethan the usual number of access ports, scores for Lost Planet 2 (49 fps).including eight USB 2.0 ports, one combo The Edge Z40 is a speed demon that’sUSB/eSATA port, two USB 3.0 ports, two loaded with features and expandabilityFireWire ports, and a mini-HDMI port. options, making it our new Editors’ Choice The Edge Z40 blazed through our tests, winner for entry-level gaming desktops.dispatching the Handbrake video test in 1 —Joel Santo Domingominute 21 seconds, beating the Cyberpower CLICK HERE FOR MOREI Specs 4-GHz Intel Core i5 processor; 1000GB hard drive; 4GB RAM; Nvidia GeForce GTX 560 Ti graphics; Blu-Ray Disc optical drive; Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium AUGUST 2O11 PC MAGAZINE DIGITAL EDITION 17
  20. 20. first looks businessDell Vostro 3350A Small-BusinessRoad Warrior’sCompanion Spending a fortune on a Dell Lati- X1 and ThinkPad Edge E420s. The full-size tude is often unnecessary for keyboard, though not backlit, and wide companies that don’t need an touchpad make for a comfortable typing extensive feature and parts list. and navigating experience. That’s why Dell has the Vostro line An internal DVD burner is included, as arefor small businesses. The Dell Vostro 3350, three USB ports; two are USB 3.0, and thea 13-inch small business laptop, caters to third is an eSATA/USB 2.0 combo (for stor-professionals who prize battery life and age expansion). It’s equipped with an HDMImobility above everything else. The power port and usual features like a card reader,of its second-generation Core i5 processor, VGA, Ethernet, and a webcam. Storageover nine hours of battery life, and budget- capacities aren’t cavernous, but the 320GBconscious price earn the Vostro 3350 an drive is fast-spinning. You get the gamutEditors’ Choice in the small-business cat- of wireless and wired connections, includ-egory. ing Ethernet, Wi-Fi 802.11n, Bluetooth, and The Vostro 3350 weighs just 4.8 pounds, optional 3G Mobile Broadband (with GSMmaking it very manageable on the road. Its or CDMA technologies).13.3-inch widescreen is two sizes smaller Unlike the Dell V130 and HP 5310m, thethan the 15.6-inch one found in the Dell Lati- Vostro 3350 runs on a full-powered, stan-tude E5510, but its resolution is the same dard-voltage processor. Not only that,(1,366-by-768). The screen is also matte, the 2.3-GHz Intel Core i5-2410M is basedso it doesn’t give off as much glare as the on Sandy Bridge technology. It’s as pow-glossy ones found in the Lenovo ThinkPad erful as the Lenovo X1, but at a fraction ofI Specs 2.3-GHz Intel Core i5-2410M processor; 320GB hard drive; 4GB RAM; Intel HD Graphics 3000 graphics; 13.3- inch widescreen; 4.8 pounds; 802.11n wireless; DVD+R DL optical drive; Microsoft Windows 7 Professional Edition18 PC MAGAZINE DIGITAL EDITION AUGUST 2011
  21. 21. Dell Vostro 3350 $741 direct l l l l m PROS Budget-friendly. Best-of-breed battery life. Good performance. Excellent keyboard. Two USB 3.0 ports. Fast spinning hard drive. CONS Humongous battery is an eye-sore.its costs. On PCMark Vantage, an over- MobileMark 2007 tests. In the batteryall performance gauge, the Vostro 3350 department, the 3350 simply blows all oth-scored 6,688, easily trumping the Dell V130 ers out of the water.(4,228), Dell E5510 (6,159), and Dell E420s The Dell Vostro 3350 is an all-around ter-(6,454). Along with 4GB of DDR3 memory, rific small business laptop, packed with thethe Vostro 3350 also topped the others future-proofed features and enough bat-in Handbrake (2:33) and Cinebench R11.5 tery life to fly you almost anywhere in the(2.56) tests. world on a single charge. For all of this we The icing on the cake is the whopping give it our Editors’ Choice nod for small-80WH battery, which delivered an impres- business laptops.—Cisco Chengsive 9 hours 36 minutes of battery life on CLICK HERE FOR MORE AUGUST 2011 PC MAGAZINE DIGITAL EDITION 19
  22. 22. first looks businessBrother MFC-J6710DWTop TabloidPrintingFor SmallBusinesses If you’re looking for an inexpen- Brother MFC-J6710DW sive inkjet printer that offers a $300 street l l l l m tabloid-size printing option, look PROS Prints and scans at up to tabloid size (11 no further. The Brother MFC- by 17 inches). Automatic document feeder. Two J6710DW is a terrific choice for paper trays. Duplex (two-sided) printing.small businesses that need to print on both CONS Although photo quality is easily goodsizes of paper on a regular basis. enough for business use, it’s a touch on the low side for an ink jet. This printer is nearly identical to theBrother MFC-J6510DW inkjet MFP, whichcosts $50 less, except that the MFC- capable inkjet we’ve tested to date.J6710DW has two 250-sheet paper trays As for output quality, the MFC-J6710DWinstead of one. Both can print on tabloid- scored about the same as the MFC-size (11-by-17-inch) paper, but the MFC- J6510DW, making it equal to or better thanJ6710DW offers a dedicated tabloid tray. most inkjets across the board. However, its The MFC-J6710DW can scan and fax over photo quality just barely made the grade.a network and work as a standalone copier, But for office printers, text and graphicsfax machine, and e-mail sender. It can print quality are more important, and the qualityin duplex (on both sides of a sheet of paper) here is adequate for most business needs.at up to tabloid size, and both its flatbed Any small office that needs tabloid print-and 35-page automatic document feeder ing should consider the MFC-J6710DW,can handle tabloid-size paper. for its speed as well as its copying, faxing, I clocked the printer on our business tabloid-size scanning, and duplex printingapplications suite at 4.1 effective pages per abilities.—M. David Stoneminute (ppm), making it the fastest tabloid- CLICK HERE FOR MORE20 PC MAGAZINE DIGITAL EDITION AUGUST 2011
  23. 23. first looks NETWORKINGNetTALK DUOVoIP That’sAffordableAnd Reliable Many people have ditched tra- ditional telephone service for NetTALK DUO mobile phones, but others aren’t $69.95 direct with one year free service, then quite ready to make that leap, par- $29.95 per year ticularly those with spotty mobile l l l l mcoverage at home. If you’re in this category PROS Uses a traditional phone to make Internet-based calls. Flat per-year charge forand have a high-speed Internet connection, calls within the U.S. Very good sound qual-NetTALK DUO is a terrific option; in fact, it’s ity. Voicemail, call-waiting, three-way calling, and other good features included. Relativelythe best Internet-based solution for making simple to set up.calls within the U.S. CONS Some routers are not supported. In- NetTALK DUO is a physical device that ternational rates vary widely.comes bundled with a number of otherbasic phone services, like voicemail and call- delay is common with many VoIP services.waiting. You plug an existing phone handset If you’re considering netTALK, you shouldinto the DUO device and connect the device know that you can’t use your existing phoneto your Internet modem or router. number with it. Also, the company restricts NetTALK is priced aggressively, at $69.95, users to 5,000 minutes per month, to pre-which includes a year of free service; after vent telemarketers from taking advantagethat you pay $29.95 per year. of NetTALK’s services. Finally, the DUO In my testing, quality was excellent when doesn’t work with all routers, so you shouldcalling both toll-free and local landline num- make sure yours is supported.bers, but a little choppy for mobile numbers, Despite these three caveats, NetTALKmost likely due to the mobile network itself DUO’s rich features and aggressive pricingand not NetTALK. Occasionally I did have to make it our Editors’ Choice for consumerwait up to 12 seconds after dialing before I VoIP services.—Jill Duffyheard ringing on the other end, although a CLICK HERE FOR MORE AUGUST 2011 PC MAGAZINE DIGITAL EDITION 21
  24. 24. first looks softwareGoogle Chrome 12Fast, Fluid,Simplified Browsing Chrome Instant means your Web Google Chrome 12 page is ready to read before you FREE L l l l h finish typing the address. This, PROS Super-fast JavaScript performance. its speed, minimalist design, and Excellent security through sandboxing and advanced support for HTML5 now download malware warnings. Flashhave been attracting more and more users cookie handling. Instant site prediction. Easy installation. Excellent tab implementation.to the browser. Themes. Extensions for customization. The latest version adds more security Bookmark and preference syncing. Tab process isolation. Strong support for HTML 5. Built-inoptions and limited hardware acceleration. Flash player and PDF reader.Google Chrome’s speed at displaying CONS Paranoids won’t want to give GoogleWeb pages is seemingly only matched another way to collect data about them. Some occasional minor site incompatibilities.by the speed with which its developmentteam adds new features. With Chrome12, Google has added a couple impor- and fluid Web experience, Google Chrometant security enhancements, and new 3D 12 can’t be beat.graphics capabilities. Other browsers like Firefox, Internet Built-in Flash and PDF SupportExplorer, Safari, and Opera 11 have flattered Chrome 12 is the only browser to come withGoogle’s entry by imitating its sparse user Adobe Flash built in, rather than requiringinterface and lightning speed. Firefox’s a separate (and annoying) installation. Andmakers have even emulated Google’s fast not having to perform the frequent requiredupdate schedule. updates of the Flash plugin separately is But Chrome continues to lead the pack another boon—it updates automaticallywith its groundbreaking speed, support with the browser.for new Web standards, and its minimal- Chrome 12 boasts a PDF reader as well, soist application window that lets the Web you don’t have to worry about installing anypage shine unimpeded. If you want a fast Adobe plugins for viewing specialized Web22 PC MAGAZINE DIGITAL EDITION AUGUST 2011
  25. 25. content. When you load a PDF, an intuitive considers Chrome path-breaking in a safetytoolbar shows when your mouse cursor sense. The entire program architecture isis in the southeast vicinity of the browser internally sandboxed so that almost all vul-window. From this, you can have the docu- nerabilities are unexploitable in any practicalment fill the width of the window, show a full way. By integrating Flash, Google automati-page, or zoom in and out. By default, you cally updates it, which is certainly an impor-can select text for cutting and pasting, but tant security advance, and as mentioned,I couldn’t copy and paste images. You can that built-in plugin is now sandboxed in theprint the PDF as you would any Web page. Windows 7 and Vista versions of Chrome.Chrome Instant Should Chrome Be Your Browser?This is one of the niftiest things to be added Chrome started the trend in simplifying theto Chrome in a while. Start typing a Web user interface and making it wickedly fast.address in the Omnibar, and before you’re While other browsers have nearly achievedeven done, a page from your history or a parity in JavaScript performance, in HTMLsearch-result page is displayed below in the 5 support Google’s browser has also takenmain browser window. I just type “PC,” and the lead. Google Chrome’s blazing speed,PCMag.com is already loaded. Most sites we extension capability, excellent tab func-visit, we’ve visited before, so having them tionality, Instant feature, built-in Flash andready to go before you even finish typing is PDF reading, and syncing capabilities makea big speeder-upper. Chrome 12 a delight to use. That’s why it remains our Editors’ Choice for Web brows-Security ers.—Michael MuchmorePCMag’s security blogger, Larry Seltzer, CLICK HERE FOR MORE AUGUST 2011 PC MAGAZINE DIGITAL EDITION 23
  26. 26. first looks softwareHulu Plus (for iPad)The Go-To App ForTV Shows, Not MoviesT here are numerous ways to watch TV and movies on your iPad, but if you want profes- sional-quality TV, there’s no better option than Hulu Plus.The iPad app (which comes with a $7.99monthly service charge) offers a deepercatalog of shows and a higher maximumresolution (720p when available) than thefree browser-based Hulu service, making ita must for on-the-go TV fiends. Hulu Plus, for the most part, gives youeverything that the free, browser-based Hulu Plus (for iPad)Hulu Plus offers, plus more content. The Free (plus $7.99 monthly service charge) L l l l mfree, basic Hulu service lets you view the PROS A wide variety of TV programming fromlast five episodes of a particular show, but several sources. Easy-to-navigate design. CrispHulu Plus lets you view entire back seasons, picture quality. Access to entire back seasons.better movies, and Hulu Plus exclusive pro- CONS Ads. No CBS content. Weak film selec-gramming. tion. Some content can’t be streamed. Netflix for iPad has a similar streamingoption for $7.99 per month that lets youwatch movies and TV shows on your tablet. gives you the ability to watch the full seasonIt offers much of the same deep catalog as of a current season you can’t get on Netflix.Hulu Plus but from more providers, includ- If you’re the type of person who wants toing HBO and Showtime. Hulu Plus is much stay on top of current TV shows, Hulu Pluseasier to navigate and has far better video is the way to go. If you’re more of a moviequality, but with Netflix you can see a wider person, Crackle and Netflix are bettervariety of popular shows and movies with- options.—Jeffrey L. Wilsonout dealing with ads. However, Hulu Plus CLICK HERE FOR MORE24 PC MAGAZINE DIGITAL EDITION AUGUST 2011
  27. 27. first looks softwareGoogle Docs (Summer 2011)The BestWay ToCollaborateIn the Cloud Google Docs is everywhere; you Google Docs (Summer 2011) can use it wherever you have Inter- Free L l l l m net access and a Web browser. PROS The best-balanced and most widely used It’s the oldest of the online appli- cloud-based productivity suite. Simple editing, cation suites, but it’s gradually collaboration, and tight integration with othershed its earlier skins and developed sleek Google functions.new ones. Other online-only suites, notably CONS No easy way to edit while offline.Zoho, have a bigger feature set, but GoogleDocs comes close to the ideal balance of e-mail or embed in a Web page to conduct afeatures, speed, and convenience. survey or send out invitations. I could either Google Docs loads reasonably quickly, create new documents from a menu inand its characteristically uncluttered inter- Google Docs or upload existing documentsface lets you get to work instantly. You never in current Microsoft Office formats and lethave to save your work; like most other Google Docs convert it to its own internalonline application suites, Google Docs qui- format, with reasonably good fidelity to theetly saves your document whenever you originals, despite the much smaller featuremake a change. If you want to recover an set in Google Docs than in Office. Googleearlier version of your work, simply click on Docs supports real-time collaboration onthe undo and redo arrows in the toolbar, or documents, worksheets, and presentations.you can consult a Revision History dialog. It doesn’t replace Microsoft Office on the Google Docs creates five different kinds desktop, but Google Docs offers unbeat-of files—word-processed documents, work- able flexibility and speed when collaborat-sheets, presentations, vector-based draw- ing in the cloud.—Edward Mendelsonings, and fill-in forms that you can either CLICK HERE FOR MORE AUGUST 2011 PC MAGAZINE DIGITAL EDITION 25
  28. 28. AUTTAG john c. dvorak The Black Box in Your Car Is a Cop in Disguise T here has been a lot of talk lately unless they are incredible duds, like to fool about putting GPS devices around once in a while. This may include and so-called “black boxes” getting plastered at a wedding, smooching in all new cars. The black box a co-worker or even having sex in the office, logs technical details about making an illegal U-turn at 2 in the morning your car over time, such as driving speed, when nobody is around, or driving at 104 and actually, most new cars already have mph on a back road in South Carolina. some sort of black box installed as part of There are a lot of possibilities. Any that the computerized ignition system. involve an automobile will be verboten once The combination of black box and GPS the black box and GPS become installed by and perhaps more aggressive software will law. And that day is near. change the way everyone drives. It will be like having a police officer in the car with This Will Save Me Money! Or Will It? you. I assure you, this is coming. Already we’re being sold on the “good Any technologies that make police work news” of all this. Insurance programs will easier is promoted like crazy because old- monitor our driving habits and determine fashioned crime-solving is always difficult. which of us deserves a fat discount for being Having spy cams, illegal wire taps and track- safe drivers. What’s wrong with that? ing devices everywhere simplifies every- But let’s look beyond the insurance dis- thing so law enforcement can relax and chat count. Already we are hearing about all the over a delicious doughnut. cases in which the GPS tracking of wander- The public generally has mixed feelings ing spouses has led to divorce. Reminds me about all this. They like the idea of less crime. of having a key logger installed on your com- But they do not particularly like the idea of puter so everything you do on the machine being watched 24/7. In general most people, is tracked and recorded. 26 PC MAGAZINE DIGITAL EDITION august 2011
  29. 29. The combination of black box and GPS will change the way everyone drives. It will be like having a police officer in the car with you. The key logger, considered by many an off the road. What if these annual appoint- abomination, is exactly what the black box ments also served the purpose of analyz- will become. It won’t seem onerous at first, ing each car’s black-box data? So besides but just wait. paying $100 for the smog check, you get You know that today, if you get into a hor- an additional bill that outlines every pos- rible accident and it becomes a “he said, she sible traffic violation that occurred over the said” controversy, the first thing investiga- past year. Using GPS, it can show instances tors do is check cell phone records to see if of speeding, illegal U-turning, and failing to one of the two parties was actually on the stop at stop signs, too. phone at the exact time of the accident. This is a potential bonanza for state cof- Bingo. Now we know who is at fault. fers, and don’t think for a second that I’m the Let’s take that to a new level with the black only one who sees the potential. box. We can now tell what your speed was. OK, that is reasonable. But how about if the Too Many Gray Areas box can also tell whether you had one or two Of course, many if not most of these viola- hands on the wheel? Were you fiddling with tions would be bogus or questionable. You the myriad controls on your dashboard? might be told to turn around and make an And exactly how loud was your radio? Did illegal U-turn by a policeman. No worries, the mic in your car pick up your singing there will be a process in which you can pro- voice? A-ha; perhaps you were paying more test the fine. Of course you’d have to recall attention to your private karaoke session the circumstances exactly. And you’d have than you were to your driving? to deal with the always-faulty mechanism of filing the protest. But Wait; It Gets Worse In other words, just pay the fine. And know We all know that states and counties are that the insurance companies will be in on cash-strapped. Increasing the number of this racket and will jack up your rates for all fines for traffic and parking violations is an those driving errors. excellent revenue stream. God, I love technology. In California you have to bring your car in Dvorak uncensored Can’t get enough of annually for a smog check—an incredible John’s rants? Check out his blog, www.dvorak. scam in and of itself since the test is expen- org/blog, where he targets technology and oh, so sive and does nothing to get polluting cars much more. august 2011 PC MAGAZINE DIGITAL EDITION 27AUTTATAAGATAUTUT
  30. 30. SASCHA SEGANWhy Apple Is SellingUnlocked iPhonesHere in the U.S.W hen Apple started sell- counts for bringing your own phone. That’s ing unlocked iPhone 4s “an extra $450 mostly for the privilege of here in the U.S. recently, feeling more liberated and fancy free,” he I was stunned. Why concludes. would they do that? Apple does nothing without a reason. It’s The GSM iPhone 4 only works well on not saying what it is, but some folks I knowATT. Sure, you can run it on 2G EDGE with on Twitter provided some pretty good ones.T-Mobile, but that’s a lousy user experience,and Apple is all about providing smooth Bumping Up an Aging Productuser experiences. I just can’t accept that Keeping the iPhone 4 alive: Geller sug-T-Mobile users want the iPhone so desper- gests “there’s nothing to lose by Apple sell-ately that they’re willing to give up 3G for ing them unlocked three months before ait, although I may be wrong about that, too. new iPhone.” Apple traditionally releases Boy Genius Report’s Jon Geller was right iPhones in June, and there’s no new iPhonewhen he said that Apple sells unlocked this summer. That could create a troughiPhones in 85 other countries. But those in sales and mindshare. So the unlockedcountries all have more than one GSM iPhone at least gets the aging hardwareiPhone-compatible 3G carrier. Canada has into the news.three. Pundit Dave Zatz points out that for Sell an iPhone 4 now, iPhone 5 later: ZachAmericans, the “unlocked” iPhone will cost Epstein theorizes this lets people buy an$450 more over two years than the locked iPhone 4 without re-upping their ATT con-model, because ATT doesn’t give any dis- tracts, so they can buy September’s new28 PC MAGAZINE DIGITAL EDITION AUGUST 2011
  31. 31. Apple doesn’t just sell hardware. It sells end-to-end experiences, and there’s something very incomplete about the end-to-end experience of an “unlocked” iPhone in the U.S.iPhone at a subsidized price. It’s a kludge, Compared to that, $649 is a bargain. Applethough: Consumers are either essentially could be welcoming gray-market exportspaying more than $200 a month to use a of these phones to more costly countries.phone for three months, when they’ll then When the iPad 2 came out, Apple limited thehave to cope with reselling their phones on number people could buy to prevent themeBay this fall. Still, it’s an idea. from being snapped up by resellers. But if Currying favor with the FCC: ATT is try- Apple has a surplus of iPhone 4s, the com-ing to merge with T-Mobile right now, so pany may be willing to open the floodgates.Apple wants to do things to make it notlook like a rapacious, wannabe monop- Why Wouldn’t Apple Do It?oly. As Jon Fingas suggests, what would Apple has nothing to lose: I’m uncomfort-be better than to wave around a bunch of able with this theory because Apple doesn’tunlocked iPhones? No monopoly here, just sell hardware. It sells end-to-end expe-Senator. Anyone can have a GSM iPhone! riences, and there’s something very incom- International travelers are a real mar- plete about the end-to-end experience ofket: Jan Dawson, an analyst with Ovum, an “unlocked” iPhone in the U.S. I can seeTweeted that ATT and Verizon consider average consumers thinking an “unlocked”international travelers to be a real, if not a phone works on Sprint, Verizon, or T-Mobilehuge market. One of the big advantages of 3G—after all, that would make sense, in ahaving an unlocked phone is that you can sane world—and Apple’s entire customeravoid your home carrier’s high roaming strategy is designed to prevent confusionfees by buying a local SIM card. The prob- and frustration like that. But Apple may justlem with this is, unless you’re familiar with feel that U.S. consumers are smart enoughthe language and culture of your destina- to understand that their unlocked iPhonestion, this can be very difficult. (I’ve tried.) aren’t truly free at all. In that case, the com- The export market: Because of exchange pany could feel it has nothing to lose byrates and taxes, Apple products are less putting those phones out there.expensive in the U.S. than in some other STAY PHONE-SMART Keep up with the latestcountries. An unlocked, 16GB iPhone 4 is on smartphones by reading Sascha’s column at£512 in the U.K.—that’s $839 in U.S. dollars. go.pcmag.com/segan. AUGUST 2011 PC MAGAZINE DIGITAL EDITION 29
  32. 32. dan costaNook, Kindle, andThe Perils of ‘Lock-In’E arlier this summer, PCMag ing costs. Lock-in costs which create barri- announced a new Editors’ ers to market entry may result in antitrust Choice for eBook readers action against a monopoly. today: the Barnes and Noble The entry lists a variety of examples: SIM Nook. Amazon has always locks on cell phones, both IBM’s and Micro-managed to keep the Kindle a step ahead soft’s past business practices, even theof the Nook, beating it on usability, price simple notion of gift certificates as a formand portability, but the Nook changes of lock-in. I’d like to add eBooks to this listthat. It is compact, affordable, and at $139 because any way you slice it, Kindle’s pro-priced competitively. As an early adopter, prietary format constitutes a form of lock-avid reader, and current owner of a Kindle in. And right now, it is keeping me from2, I should be the Nook’s ideal customer. becoming a Nook customer.But I’m not. You see, like millions of you, Iam locked in. Years Later, I Suddenly Feel Locked In “Lock-in” is one of those phrases that Now, this isn’t exactly news to me. I knewthe tech-intelligentsia like to throw around what was happening and happily acceptedwith righteous indignation at conferences, Amazon’s terms of my Kindle usage. I havebut most people really don’t understand it been buying books for years and now evenuntil they see it in action. Here’s how Wiki- have several magazine subscriptions. Thepedia defines “vendor lock-in”: thing is, until now, I didn’t care. The Kindle In economics, vendor lock-in, also known was always the better device, albeit not byas proprietary lock-in or customer lock-in, much. Now that has changed, and I am cry-makes a customer dependent on a vendor ing foul.for products and services, unable to use To be fair, I should note that vendor lock-another vendor without substantial switch- in in the eBook space is an unusual case.30 PC MAGAZINE DIGITAL EDITION AUGUST 2011
  33. 33. Any way you slice it, Kindle’s proprietary format constitutes a form of lock-in. And right now, it is keeping me from becoming a Nook customer.I can read Kindle books on my Epic 4G, As more and more services are deliverediPhone, iPad, and laptop in addition to the via the cloud, expect vendor lock-in to getKindle itself. Likewise, although I can’t read even more pernicious.Nook books on the Kindle, software appslet me read the same device as the Kindle. Lock-in and iCloudThis lock-in effect really only applies to Apple, one of the most brilliant and effec-dedicated eBook readers and the stores tive manipulators of lock-in, launched itsthemselves. But for casual consumers, that major cloud-based service, iCloud, severalis plenty strong. weeks ago. Once you sign up for iCloud, how difficult will it be to migrate to Ama-It’s a Profit Deal zon Cloud Player? If you own an iPad, willAlso, from a business perspective, I can’t Apple let you purchase and play moviesdiscount the value of lock-in as a way of from Amazon’s digital store or will it forcemonetizing hardware. The only way Ama- you to use the iTunes store. Or will Applezon and Barnes and Noble can hit these just demand a 30 percent cut of all trans-phenomenal price points is through lock- actions? We know now tat the terms of ser-in, and the money they make on digital vice are actually far more important thansales. Even so, consumers need to under- the shiny new hardware that comes outstand the tradeoffs they are making. A every year.better, more functional piece of hardware As for my new Nook, the truth is my oldmay come out in six months, and you don’t Kindle 2 still works just fine. Yes, it wouldwant to be left in the dust because you been nice to have something a little morecan’t move your content. portable and the nook’s touch screen navi- The fact that both the Nook and Kindle gation blows away the four-way directionalecosystems are cloud-based services only toggle that I have to use on the Kindle. But,perpetuates the lock-in effect. You don’t if I really want something cutting-edge, Ipurchase a book to own, you purchase a can always drag out my new iPad 2.place to store the book indefinitely so you I know, I know. Do as I say, not as I do.can access it forever. And if you change TALK back to Dan E-mail your thoughts todevices, you may lose access to that place. dan_costa@pcmag.com. AUGUST 2011 PC MAGAZINE DIGITAL EDITION 31
  34. 34. In this Story: Winners by Region The National Winner Winners in 12 Cities We Tested Are you Getting 4G? How We Testedthe Fastest MobileNetworks 2011PCMag hit the road to test eight 3G and 4G networks in 21 U.S.cities. Before you buy your next phone or tablet, find out whichwireless carrier has the fastest data network where you live.By Sascha Segan and PCMag.com StaffN o m a t t e r w h e re for our second annual Fastest Mobile Net- we are these days, works survey, we’re here to tell you—not all we not only want 4G is the same. but expect to be ATT, MetroPCS, Sprint, T-Mobile, and able to get online, Verizon Wireless aren’t just using varied and fast. And with technologies for their 4G networks; in some smartphone inno- cases they’re implementing the same tech- vation moving at nology very differently. So we sent six driv-a breakneck pace, new tablets hitting the ers on a cross-country road trip with lotsmarket every day, and an increasing number of mobile phones and custom softwareof people using cellular modems and mobile (designed by network testing firm Sensorly)hotspots, access to speedy networks is to see just how fast these 4G Internet con-essential. nections really are. (See our How We Tested That’s why 4G is spreading across the story for more details.)nation. We read about and hear about 4G Last year we tested with laptops. For thisconstantly—how lightning fast it is. But after year’s test, we switched to phones, to moreperforming tests in 21 cities across the U.S. accurately reflect how Americans are using32 PC MAGAZINE DIGITAL EDITION AUGUST 2011
  35. 35. the mobilethe PCMag hit Internet. According to research bly, cities generally have either Cricket or road to testfirm NPD, as of the first quarter of 2011, MetroPCS as a local option. eight 3G andmorenetworkshalf of all new mobile phones 4G than in Bear in mind, mobile networks are con- 21 U.S. cities.purchased in the U.S. were smartphones, stantly changing, and almost always for theand analysts have projected that will grow. better. Because speeds vary based on tower We didn’t test voice quality or dropped location, network load, device used, and thecalls, which we’ve already surveyed, as part weather, we can’t predict performance in aof our annual Readers’ Choice Awards. The specific location; rather, we’re giving a snap-tests for this story were all about mobile shot of a few days’ worth of usage in severalInternet. We ran more than 140,000 tests in locations across a metro area.the 21 cities we visited. Not all the networks Following are the regional and nationalwere available in all the cities; most nota- winners; city-by-city winners appear here. AUGUST 2011 PC MAGAZINE DIGITAL EDITION 33
  36. 36. 2011 FASTEST MOBILE NETWORKNortheast winner l verizon 4gVerizon’s new 4G network covers many of the Northeast’s top metro areas, including Bos-ton, the Hartford-New York-Philadelphia corridor, Pittsburgh, and the Baltimore-Washing-ton corridor. During our tests, in Pittsburgh, Boston, New York, Philadelphia and WashingtonDC., we found that while T-Mobile’s HSPA+ 21 network is also speedy, Verizon’s 4G is by farthe fastest. Outside the metro areas, ATT offered the best balance of speed and coverage. NORTHEAST Download SPEED UpLoad SPEED UDP STREAM SUCCESS PCMag.com 3G SUCCESS Megabits per second Megabits per second percent mobile speed index percent AVERAGE MAX AVERAGE MAX voice/music videoATT 61 90.53 2.24 9.41 0.87 1.90 77.03 41.59Cricket 17 66.28 0.60 2.06 0.52 0.77 86.65 66.48MetroPCS 29 76.83 1.28 4.10 0.84 1.39 77.82 66.91Sprint 3G 43 77.46 0.59 2.22 0.40 1.02 79.54 55.50Sprint 4G 53 100.00 2.88 10.46 0.75 0.94 53.70 63.52T-Mobile 77 85.99 3.65 14.11 1.17 2.05 83.86 67.38Verizon 3G 54 87.86 0.76 2.49 0.63 1.02 91.49 76.73Verizon 4G 95 94.96 8.85 19.46 1.38 2.23 93.01 90.64southeast winner l verizon 4gIn the Southeast, we tested in Nashville, Charlotte, Atlanta, Jacksonville, and Miami/FortLauderdale. Verizon’s 4G network came out the fastest in every city, while outside the cit-ies, ATT and T-Mobile virtually tied for best results. Pick Verizon for speed and ATT forcoverage. SOUTHEAST Download SPEED UpLoad SPEED UDP STREAM SUCCESS PCMag.com 3G SUCCESS Megabits per second Megabits per second percent mobile speed index percent AVERAGE MAX AVERAGE MAX voice/music video ATT 63 90.25 2.46 12.97 0.86 1.30 79.75 77.09 Cricket 16 90.79 0.61 1.96 0.40 0.68 86.00 83.25 MetroPCS 32 91.59 1.55 5.01 1.04 1.64 89.16 89.16 Sprint 3G 35 57.70 0.44 1.82 0.34 0.66 67.70 70.75 Sprint 4G 51 100.00 3.50 9.27 0.83 0.99 62.41 58.40 T-Mobile 76 88.86 4.16 14.04 1.18 2.98 78.58 73.04 Verizon 3G 52 87.95 0.61 2.39 0.57 0.87 93.29 94.19 Verizon 4G 93 88.63 9.97 31.76 1.42 2.28 95.45 95.9534 PC MAGAZINE DIGITAL EDITION AUGUST 2011
  37. 37. central winner l verizon 4gOur Central region included our only city without Verizon 4G, Kansas City. We also testedin Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Oklahoma City and Dallas. Even with a zero score for KansasCity, Verizon 4G was the fastest network for the region. (It also covers a large area aroundChicago and in central Oklahoma.) The Central cities were some of the nation’s fastest,overall. We saw leading speeds in Chicago, Dallas, and Detroit. CENTRAL Download SPEED UpLoad SPEED UDP STREAM SUCCESS PCMag.com 3G SUCCESS Megabits per second Megabits per second percent mobile speed index percent AVERAGE MAX AVERAGE MAX voice/music videoATT 65 91.11 2.93 11.13 0.87 1.54 84.65 51.43Cricket 29 70.09 0.64 2.15 0.47 1.00 90.86 81.91MetroPCS 24 96.67 2.21 6.30 1.60 2.22 95.39 97.24Sprint 3G 36 60.24 0.48 1.98 0.36 0.67 70.02 51.10Sprint 4G 43 97.12 2.28 7.38 0.71 1.03 63.23 69.41T-Mobile 72 87.96 4.07 15.23 1.03 3.04 68.53 55.10Verizon 3G 55 90.05 0.76 2.35 0.59 0.94 93.16 84.94Verizon 4G 89 74.58 11.94 37.66 1.47 2.33 96.46 85.96west winner l verizon 4gVerizon’s 4G system was the fastest in the West as well. We tested in the states of Arizona,California, and New Mexico. Verizon 4G won every city it was in thanks to its stellar downloadspeeds. Outside the cities, ATT delivered the fastest connections, but Verizon’s much slower3G network was the most reliable. WEST Download SPEED UpLoad SPEED UDP STREAM SUCCESS PCMag.com 3G SUCCESS Megabits per second Megabits per second percent mobile speed index percent AVERAGE MAX AVERAGE MAX voice/music videoATT 64 87.16 2.03 9.06 0.67 1.18 75.49 44.49Cricket 25 78.87 0.52 1.38 0.38 0.75 79.22 67.45MetroPCS 31 87.29 1.65 4.55 0.96 1.49 87.00 75.44Sprint 3G 38 62.96 0.41 2.12 0.31 0.60 68.19 38.22Sprint 4G 38 94.26 3.65 8.52 0.73 0.98 42.49 65.98T-Mobile 77 83.70 2.88 12.88 0.93 2.35 78.37 62.02Verizon 3G 52 74.00 0.66 2.10 0.51 0.88 82.08 67.05Verizon 4G 97 93.13 7.08 26.87 1.14 1.67 89.69 82.54 AUGUST 2011 PC MAGAZINE DIGITAL EDITION 35