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June, 2011

Who are the real broadband conmen: the ISPs or the ASA?

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Ethernet cable frayed

When you’ve dug yourself a hole, stop digging. Or if you’re the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), keep going until you hit the molten core of the Earth itself.

Regular PC Pro readers will know how the ASA has allowed ISPs to over-egg the speed of their broadband connections by permitting them to advertise fantasy “up to” speeds, which Ofcom’s research has proven time and again are pure fiction. Even Ofcom itself called for this insidious practice to stop over a year ago, since when the ASA has dithered with a year-long consultation on the use of “up to” speeds, but still hasn’t arrived at a conclusion.

Consequently, one ISP took matters into its own hands. Last year, Virgin Media launched its Stop The Broadband Con website, calling on ISPs to advertise typical rather than maximum speeds – very similar recommendations to those made by Ofcom itself.

(more…)

Archos G9 8in and 10in tablets review: first look

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

Every company has spent millions since the launch of the iPad trying to leap onto the bandwagon that Apple built, but Archos released its first Android tablet way back in 2009 – and is now unveiling its latest 8in and 10.1 models, dubbed the G9 series.
The most important and, potentially, the most confusing aspect of the two new machines? Price. The base figures are impressive, with the 8in 80 G9 starting at £199 inc VAT and the 10in 101 G9 weighing in at £249 inc VAT, but CEO Henri Crohas confirmed that a multitude of  models – all running Honeycomb – will be available from the Autumn launch.
Crohas explained that SKUs will vary on storage: both the 8in and 10.1in models will be sold with “at least 8GB of Flash” on-board, with more expensive models offering 16GB and 32GB.
In a departure from other tablets, Archos is also offering both of its new models with a 250GB hard disk; Crohas explained that Archos has “redesigned the file system [and] the guts of Android”, as well as installing a “four gigabyte flash memory cache” to ensure the platter-based models won’t suffer from slowdown.
Further details were confirmed by Archos COO Loic Poirier, who explained that “higher models” will be available with 1GB of RAM, too – and cheaper tablets will be furnished with just 512MB. He wasn’t giving away all of the prices, only revealing that upgrading the 10.1in model to 16GB of flash storage will up the price to £279 inc VAT, and you’ll have to fork out £399 inc VAT for the 10.1in model with a 250GB hard disk. Prices for the various 8in tablets, or 32GB models, weren’t available.
Both models are powered by a dual core 1.5GHz Texas Instruments processor built around the Cortex A9 instruction set, with graphical duties handled by the Neon GPU on the same chip. That’s an impressive-sounding part, and Crohas said the processor “can go up to 50% faster” than most of its rivals – although that statistic was borne out of the aging Drhystone benchmark, which features old code that isn’t necessarily representative of real-life applications.
That’s quite a boast, but Android still felt slightly sluggish as we navigated the OS. Still, media handling – an Archos speciality – proved better, with 720p versions of The King’s Speech and The Dark Knight, and a 1080p version of Toy Story 3, playing flawlessly. Even so, the screen resolutions mean you won’t be able to watch true 1080p content without using the mini HDMI output.
The budget can be felt elsewhere, too. The plastic exterior can’t match the built quality of sheer style of metallic rivals, and you’ll have to shell out extra cash for 3G, with a recessed area in the rear of both tablets able to house an Archos-branded dongle that’ll cost £49 and accept your own SIM card.
Seperate 3G dongles, a range of cheap prices and traditional hard disks, then – Archos is certainly taking risks with its two new tablets. It’s just a shame that you’ll have to wait until nearer the September launch to get our verdict on these two new models.

Archos 80 and 101 tablets

Several companies have spent millions since the launch of the iPad trying to leap onto the bandwagon that Apple built, but Archos released its first Android device way back in 2009 – and it’s now unveiling its latest 8in and 10.1in models, dubbed the G9 series.

The most important and, potentially, the most confusing aspect of the two new machines? Price. The base figures are impressive, with the 8in 80 G9 starting at £199 inc VAT and the 10in 101 G9 costing £249 inc VAT, but CEO Henri Crohas confirmed that a multitude of  models – all running Honeycomb – will be available from the Autumn.

Crohas explained that SKUs will vary on storage: both the 8in and 10.1in models will be sold with “at least 8GB of Flash” on-board, with more expensive models offering 16GB and 32GB. (more…)

Sony VAIO Z Series (2011) review: first look

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

DSC01204

***We’ve now published our comprehensive review of Sony’s VAIO Z Series, so click here for the full lowdown *** Sony’s VAIO Z Series is one of the finest ultraportables to ever travel the Earth, but now, several years after its 2009 debut, Sony has ripped up the rulebook and started afresh. At a launch event in London, we caught our first up-close look at the all-new Z Series.

(more…)

How new EU cookies rules could decimate web advertising

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

The web publishing industry is practically dependent on Google Analytics and other analytics tools. Without accurate tracking, we can’t tell how many people visit our website, what they’re looking at and, crucially for the finances of most websites, which adverts they’re clicking on.

Now look what happened when the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) began asking visitors to its website if it could drop cookies on their computer, as the new EU legislation requires:

ICO cookies graph (more…)

Why is the cut-price Final Cut Pro X getting such bad press?

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

Final Cut Pro X

I had a briefing at Apple HQ about its new Final Cut Pro X video-editing application, and it all looked very impressive. The Apple rep had plenty of new features to talk about – the new magnetic timeline, full 64-bit support and automatic clip categorisation among others – and the demo ran, as most Apple demos do, without a hitch.

The price of the thing is what staggers the most. The product it succeeds – Final Cut Pro 7 – retailed at £800 when it was first release back in 2009. Now, only two years later, Apple has slashed that price ruthlessly: Final Cut Pro X will be available exclusively for download from the Mac App Store at only £180. (more…)

AMD Llano for laptops review: first look

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

49144A_Llano_FP1__DualBlack-1Just when we’ve grown used to Intel being the dominant force in the processor world, AMD has finally begun to mount its Fusion defence. Its Brazos chips have already staged a land-grab in the netbook and ultraportable sector, and now its new addition to the family, codenamed Llano, is making a play for the laptop market.

(more…)

Posted in: Random

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Superzoom cameras: take me to the bridge

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

the advantage of superzoom bridge cameras

There’s an excellent Labs round-up of Superzoom cameras (also commonly called “bridge cameras”) in the latest issue of PC Pro. My only criticism is that it doesn’t makes a strong enough case for its subject.

Most people tend to think that there are only two types of digital camera to choose from: point-and-click compact cameras majoring in convenience, and high-end DSLRs majoring in picture quality. Anything in between is – almost by definition – seen as an uncomfortable compromise. However I think that the vast majority of users would actually be far better off with this intermediate format.

(more…)

Are security breaches really bad PR?

Monday, June 20th, 2011

Beautiful (Vain) People

There’s a general belief in the security industry that being hacked is bad for business: it makes your firm look careless and will cost you customers.

I’ve always wondered if that’s true. Will Sony lose gamers’ hearts because it lost their password details? Will Citi Group, Sega, or any other recent target go out of business over a hack? Or is the PR fallout from a breach not actually as bad as the security industry says?

(more…)

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Posted in: Newsdesk

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The 8-bit computer that’s been built by hand

Friday, June 17th, 2011

Duo Adept

Us tech folk take pride in building our own computers, but these days it’s easy, isn’t it? As long as you’ve got a motherboard with the right socket and the right type of memory, you’re good to go: lock down the processor, snap in the RAM, pop in the graphics card and plug in the hard disk. Voila, a computer.

Not everyone follows this traditional route, though. Programming enthusiast Jack Eisenmann has constructed his own PC from scratch using TTL chips and, presumably, plenty of patience. (more…)

Tags: , ,

Posted in: Random

Permalink

What LulzSec logins reveal about bookworms

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

LulzToday the hacking group LulzSec posted 62,000 hacked email usernames and passwords online. But don’t panic: I’ve been through the list and I can confirm that none of my details have been compromised. So far.

Not everyone has been so lucky, though. As I write this, unscrupulous voyeurs around the globe are sifting through these compromised email accounts looking for… well, whatever they can find. We’ve heard of people finding login details for social-networking sites, online-dating services and even porn sites.

Here at PC Pro we can’t condone such behaviour, fascinating though it would doubtless be to gain such an insight into a stranger’s private life. Happily, the email addresses and passwords themselves are quite revealing.

(more…)

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