September 10th, 2013 | Edited by Zoran Stosic | hardware
A budget 24-inch monitor, but are its pictures up to scratch?
Props to AOC for making an effort. It wasn’t that long ago that pretty much every AOC panel out there looked like it was hewn from pressed plastic sweepings taken from the Airfix factory floor. They certainly looked cheap. The cheerful bit? Not so much.
But now there’s this new 24-inch effort. Okay, on close inspection you’re not going to confuse it with a premium panel. The plastics are pretty coarse and the snap-in panel that curls around the rear of the stand will make your teeth itch if slightly mismatched panel gaps and a broader sense of tactility are things that bother you. But the look is certainly pleasantly contemporary. It’s pretty snazzy for a monitor costing £131, that’s for sure.
The main downside of the styling-led design is that it restricts you to height and tilt adjustment. Then again, at this end of the market, tilt-only is usually your lot. If anything, AOC is a little ahead of the game by that metric.
No oil painting
Anyway, what about the image quality and features? We’re talking about 24-inches of TN technology and the inevitable 1,920 by 1,080 resolution that comes along with it.
Now, it’s certainly true that in the past we’ve been pretty down on TN panels. Part of that was due to the inherent shortcomings of TN tech. Poor viewing angles, dodgy colour reproduction, iffy blacks and contrast – that sort of thing. Our dim view of TN panels was also down to choice. There simply wasn’t any.
Things are different now, what with a new generation of more affordable IPS arriving on the scene and TN itself lifting its game. Ironically, that actually makes it easier to take this AOC on its own merits.
Unfortunately, however, the out-of-the-box experience here is so poor, it’s difficult to see just what those merits might be. At default settings it looks absolutely awful, with washed-out black tones and a general dullness. Dig into the OSD menu, adjust the basic contrast, brightness and gamma settings and you quickly realise it’s no dice. This thing just looks rubbish. At that point most potential buyers would write this panel off.
However, if you stick at it you’ll eventually stumble across the monitor’s Picture Boost setting. It’s pretty fiddly to use because you not only have to set the level, but also stretch its effects across the screen. For some reason, as standard it’s set to alter only a small portion of the image, but never mind, because when fully extended it revives this panel with something resembling the sort of vibrancy and contrast you might expect from a modern TN panel.
That said, this improvement appears to come at the cost of colour fidelity, with some hues appearing crushed when viewing the test scales. AOC has also provided user-configurable dynamic contrast and pixel response settings, which is nice, but it’s not enough to make up for what is fundamentally wonky image processing.
It’s also worth noting that the monitor comes in two versions. The ‘H’ suffix on our review unit indicates an HDMI port and the absence of DVI connectivity, while the non-‘H’ model is precisely the opposite.
September 5th, 2013 | Edited by Zoran Stosic | software
Coveted PC Magazine Best Standalone Antivirus Award Signifies Exceptional Protection Against Malware and Viruses
Webroot, a leader in delivering Internet security as a service, today announced that Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus was awarded Best Standalone Antivirus software in the security category for the second straight year by PC Magazine for the “Best Products of 2012″. With 100 percent detection and 9.9 points, Webroot bested all competitors with the highest score for malware blocking and removal, and was chosen by PC Magazine as the best of the best for the year.
Based on industry-standard benchmarks and several in-house tests to gather quantifiable, reliable, and reproducible results, PC Magazine named Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus the Best Standalone Antivirus thanks to its speed and malware protection capabilities.
“Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus 2013 gives you speedy scanning and excellent malware blocking in a ridiculously small package,” according to PC Magazine. “The average user can rely on Webroot for set-and-forget protection. For experts and enthusiasts, it offers tons of advanced tools.”
Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus provides exceptional protection against viruses, spyware and online threats. With Webroot’s unique cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution, users can quickly install and perform a full system scan, as part of the installation process, in a matter of minutes. During the process, it executes a number of tasks, including analyzing the user’s system, storage, and Internet use to make personalized recommendations for configuring the product’s overall behavior for best performance. In addition to superior antivirus protection, it includes firewall-style program control, anti-phishing features, powerful protection for browser and secure connections and advanced tools for the security savvy and IT professionals.
“PC Magazine is a leading expert on independent reviews on the latest security products and services, and we are extremely honored to have received this mark of distinction,” said Mike Malloy, Webroot’s executive vice president of products and strategy. “By uniquely protecting individuals and families from the most dangerous online threats with less impact on system performance than any other security product available today, Webroot has emerged as the innovation leader for antivirus protection and the market has recognized this with gains in market share and higher customer loyalty.”
The award marks the second consecutive year Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus has been recognized as a PC Magazine “Best of the Year” security product, and is the latest in a series of accolades for Webroot endpoint protection products. Most recently, the company was awarded with PC Magazine Editor’s Choice Awards in Antivirus and Suites categories for providing enhanced malware protection. In addition, Webroot owns a 31 percent share of the U.S. retail security software market, according to October 2012 data from The NPD Group. This new number two position includes a 16-point unit share lead over the number three brand and signifies continued momentum for Webroot.
September 5th, 2013 | Edited by Zoran Stosic | hardware
Microsoft Corp on Tuesday said it will buy Nokia’s mobile phone business for 5.44 billion euros. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2014 and it is subject to approval by Nokia’s shareholders and regulatory approvals. Here are some key facts about the deal:
* As part of the transaction, Nokia will grant Microsoft a 10 year non-exclusive license to its patents as of the time of the closing of the deal and Microsoft will grant Nokia reciprocal rights. In addition, Nokia will grant Microsoft an option to extend this mutual patent agreement to perpetuity. Of the total purchase price of EUR 5.44 billion, EUR 3.79 billion relates to the purchase of substantially all of the Devices & Services business, and EUR 1.65 billion relates to the mutual patent agreement and future option. Additionally, Microsoft will become a strategic license of the HERE platform, and will separately pay Nokia for a four year license.
* Microsoft has agreed to make immediately available to Nokia EUR 1.5 billion of financing in the form of three EUR 500 million tranches of convertible bonds to be issued by Nokia maturing in 5, 6 and 7 years respectively. It is at Nokia’s discretion if it chooses to draw down all or some of these tranches.
* At closing, approximately 32,000 people from Nokia are expected to transfer to Microsoft, including approximately 4,700 people in Finland. Nokia’s CTO (Chief Technology Office) organization and patent portfolio will remain within the Nokia Group.
* Microsoft has said it will draw from its overseas cash resources to fund the transaction.
* Microsoft also said it is acquiring Nokia’s Asha brand of low to mid-level smartphones and will license the Nokia brand for current Nokia mobile products.
* Nokia CEO Stephen Elop will be coming back to Microsoft, and he will lead an expanded Devices team, which includes all of Microsoft’s current Devices and Studios work. Nokia board chairman Risto Siilasmaa will take over CEO duties while the Finnish firm looks for a new CEO to replace Elop.
September 5th, 2013 | Edited by Zoran Stosic | software
Parallels is best known for its virtualization software that lets people run Windows from within OS X. Now the company is stepping into a different — and much more crowded — space with Parallels Access, a remote access solution for controlling your Windows or Mac computer from an iPad. Unlike existing players, however, Parallels says its software “applifies” full-fledged Mac and Windows apps so they run as if they were made for iPad.
The setup process is rather straightforward. Users are required to download an iPad client and run an agent on a Mac or Windows PC. The real highlight comes from the way things are presented once you launch Access on your iPad; rather than just mirroring your computer screen and translating touch into cursor actions, the software detects applications on your desktop and presents them with a grid-style launcher, laid out like other iOS apps.
Desktop apps launch maximized to a full screen view, which gives a native feel to them, and Access will overlay gesture controls to enable iOS-like touch gestures including one finger scroll, pinch to zoom, two finger tap for right click, and triple tap to select. The app lets users copy and paste content from the computer to the iPad, the other way around, or even between computers if you are accessing more than one.
By default, the app launcher shows your most commonly used desktop applications, but you can add and delete those from the home grid as you see fit. For everything else there’s a handy search field.
There’s also an app switcher feature to move between desktop applications with ease, and of course you can always go into full desktop mode and use the mouse pointer whenever finger input just won’t cut it. The keyboard shows up when needed with dedicated keys for functions and arrows tacked onto the standard iOS version.
Initial impressions around the web are mostly positive, though they do note that the experience isn’t always frustration free — depending on the application, inevitably you’ll find yourself tapping on elements that aren’t finger friendly, but Access minimizes this by interpreting taps that are close to buttons so you hit the right one.
More than early software glitches the primary letdown seems to be pricing. Parallels Access will set you back $80 per year for each computer being accessed. The Mac agent is available immediately with a 14-day free trial, while the Windows agent is currently in beta and is available at no charge for a more generous 90 days.
September 5th, 2013 | Edited by Zoran Stosic | hardware
Samsung is targeting the new memory at enterprise servers in next-generation data centers.
Samsung Electronics has started mass producing DDR4 memories that it expects will go into enterprise servers in next-generation data centers.
A successor to the DDR3 (Double Data Rate 3), DDR4 memories are expected to offer higher performance, reliability and lower power consumption than its predecessor.
However, there have been some doubts as to whether the market is ready to transition in volumes from DDR3 memories which are still being designed into servers and other products. Some analysts have forecast that the component will get designed into servers and later PCs only by 2015.
Samsung said on Thursday that early market availability of the 4-gigabit (Gb) DDR4 devices, which use 20-nanometer process technology, will create demand for 16GB and 32GB memory modules.
The 4Gb-based DDR4 has a data transmission rate of 2,667 megabits-per-second, a 1.25-fold increase over 20nm-class DDR3, while lowering power consumption by more than 30 percent, Samsung said.
Samsung did not immediately provide information on the schedule for shipment of the new memories. The pricing information is not available, a spokesman said.
Microelectronics standards body JEDEC Solid State Technology Association published in September 2012 the initial DDR4 standard.