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@PCPRO FACEBOOK.COM/PCPRO August2018 Issue286

HIGHLIGHTS THIS MONTH Full contents overleaf

REVIEW
OF THE MONTH
Windows 10 April 2018 Update
Don’t tell a soul, but Windows 10 has slowly
developed into a truly excellent operating
system. There are no groundbreaking features
in this update - although many of us at PC Pro
are card-carrying fans of the Timeline - but
instead a feeling of coalescence. Microsoft has
stamped out a number of the irritations and,
with some careful nips and tucks, made
day-to-day living more enjoyable.
Find out why on...
p52

p30 p42 p116

TIP OF THE MONTH PROJECT OF THE MONTH GOOGLE FREEBIES


Or perhaps we should say tips of the month
instead, because our main feature – on
The Raspberry Pi is a gift that just keeps on
giving, with its latest iteration costing around
OF THE MONTH
Kevin Partner returns with his verdict on three
“hacking” the Windows Registry – is packed £30 and offering more than enough power to Google tools that don’t get the airtime they
with the blighters. It’s time to take deep- create your own home server or even host your deserve but could both save you money and
level control of what you see and how own website. Nik Rawlinson provides step-by- provide valuable insight. Discover what they
Windows behaves. step advice. are on p116.

PERSON OF p22 p74


THE MONTH
Meinhard Benn
THE LABS IN ONE NUMBER

64GHz
Meinhard wants to create
pocket change for the web.
Why? So, just like paying for
the paper at your newsagent,
you can make micropayments
for web articles and in-app
purchases without the
hassle. Find out
what makes We’re cheating, but that’s what you get if you times the number
SatoshiPay of threads by the overclocked processor power inside two of our
different stunning PCs this month. They’re quite fast.
from p22.

3
BEST MECHANICAL KEYBOARDS ON TEST p72
RASPBERRY PI
HOME SERVER
Build your own in
under 30 minutes p42

POWERHOUSE
PCs FROM £999
Eight heavyweight
systems do battle p74

WINDOWS p38
Following a spate
of mass shootings

REGISTRY
in the US, could
smart guns help
end the violence?
PASSWOR
MANAGERD
WORTH £2
The hacker’s Claim yo
on p66
ur
0
copy

guide PCMAKE YOUR


DO EXACTLY
WHAT YOU
WANT
p30

What can your boss Windows 10


ISSUE 286 AUGUST 2018 £5.99

see about you? Spring Update


Private messages aren’t Everything you
as secure as you think p46 need to know p52

FEATURES BRIEFING

COVER STORY 10 No end to GDPR email hell


30 The hacker’s guide to the Registry Confusion over what the GDPR rules actually mean
It’s time to take full control of Windows: could lead to further waves of re-consent requests
Darien Graham-Smith demystifies the Registry from companies.
and shares a treasure trove of handy hacks.
12 Unveiled: Hot hardware releases
38 Are smart guns the silver bullet? A screen-centric HP ultraportable, a futuristic
Guns are out of control in the US. Could smart Hub from Microsoft and the first 10nm Intel CPU. 3 SUBSCRIBE:
weapons succeed where politicians have failed? THREE ISSUES
Davey Winder finds out. 13 Amazon’s face scanner raises FOR £1
doubts over Echo Subscribe to
COVER STORY The tech giant’s reputation is at risk over PC Pro today and
42 Build a Raspberry Pi home government surveillance deals. you can benefit
server in 30 minutes 3 THE PC PRO from our three
Want to stream your music, create Dropbox-like PODCAST 14 Firms go to war on ‘right to repair’ issues for £1 offer –
storage or even host your own website? Nik Join the PC Pro As new laws are proposed to let consumers repair visit subscribe.
Rawlinson provides step-by-step advice. podcast live every their own tech, manufacturers redouble their pcpro.co.uk now.
fortnight or efforts to prevent it, Stewart Mitchell discovers. 13 SEC RET
SKI LLS

COVER STORY download via iTunes.


OF THE
AM AZO
N ECH O
RASPBE p42

ALL-NE RRY PI:

46 What does your boss know


W VER
Full test SION
Raspberrof the best

Visit mixlr.com/ VIEWPOINTS


y Pi ever
BUILD p58

SUPER YOUR OWN


CLO UD

about you?
12 ultra
-fast NAS

DUMP
drives on
6
pcpro to sign up
test p74 FULLPR
WORTHODUCTS
£147

OFFIC
See
p66

24
Think your private messages on work systems DARIEN GRAHAM-SMITH Email isn’t ● Who
E
● Free
should
stay
alternativ ● Who should
es: Goo
DO YOU STI
leav
gle vs Libre e
LL NEED ANT
IVIRUS SOF
TWARE?

are safe? Think again. Barry Collins explores dying – it’s about to show its true value.
Offi
Offic
ce
e p30 p38
SMAR
16 ON
TEST SPEAKT
Echo vs ERS
the rest
UK’s bigg in
est test
FULL CHEAPES p74

what your boss can see.


REVIEW
BEST IPA T&
ISSUE 284

AVOID
Ubuntu aren’t we EVER
So why
XPS 13 Dell
JUNE 2018

excited?
The Red

25
p48

enigma dit
Shou BONU
£5.99

ld you buy SO S
Ant FTW

BARRY COLLINS Making people think SHOC


Linux ultra a i-m AR
portable Good vs wo alware E
? p54 evil: wha
makes Redd
rth
£31
t

BILLS K
p66

it tick? p38

BEST MEC

PROFILE they’re talking to a human is dumb.


HANICA
L KEYBOA
RDS ON
How to RASPB TEST p72
HOME ERRY PI
avoid
sneaky
charges Build your SERVER
on your under 30 own in
bro
& mobile adband
minutes
bills p30 POWERH p42
£5.99

PCs FR OUSE

22 SatoshiPay
25
JULY 2018

Digital Eight heav OM £99

NICOLE KOBIE Disc inferno: a Windows


refusenik 9
ISSUE 285

Why peop systems yweight


s Gemin

WINDO
le do batt
cling to le p74
i PDA
EX REVI

analogue The Psio


CL EW

inspired n-

WS
US

p42
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phone p58

REGIST
285 PC
Pro Cover

We meet the entrepreneur who is using licence to print money.


DVD.indd
1

The hack RY
blockchain technology to crack the tricky
PASSW

guide er ’s MA ORD
WORTNAGER
Claim H£20
your
MAKE YOU on copy

26
p66

PC DO EXA R
WHAT CTLY

micropayments market and help web publishers DICK POUNTAIN Hello, my name is Dick
YOU
WANT
ISSUE 286

p30
What can
see abo your bos
AUGUST

ut you? s Window

sell their content to consumers. and I am not a photographer.


2018 £5.99

Private mess
as secur ages aren’ Spring s 10
e as you
think
t
Everything
Update
p46
you
286 PC
Pro Cover
DVD.indd
1
need to
know p52

4
@PCPRO FACEBOOK.COM/PCPRO August2018 Issue286

Will Motorola
p70 reclaim its place as REVIEWS THIS MONTH
king of the budget
handsets with the
SOFTWARE Cooler Master MasterKeys
Moto G6?
Windows 10 April 2018 Update 52 Pro L RGB 72
IDrive RemotePC 101 Corsair Gaming K95 RGB
Platinum 73
LAPTOPS Logitech Carbon G513 RGB 73
Asus ZenBook 13 SteelSeries Apex M800 73
UX331UN-EG009T 58
HP Spectre 13 (2018) 60 POWERHOUSE PCs
HP EliteBook 840 G5 63 CCL Reaper GT 80
Chillblast Fusion Titanium 81
VIRTUAL REALITY CyberPower Infinity X88 GTX 82
Oculus Go 64 Lenovo Legion Y720 83
Palicomp Intel i7 Nebula 84
4K MONITOR PC Specialist Vulcan S-01 86
ViewSonic VP3268-4K 65 Scan 3XS Gamer 88
Wired2Fire Diablo Nemesis 89
SMARTPHONES
OnePlus 6 68 BUSINESS BACKUP SOFTWARE
Motorola Moto G6 70 Backup Everything Business 94
Motorola Moto G6 Plus 71 Barracuda Backup Vx 96
SolarWinds Backup 18.4 97
MECHANICAL KEYBOARDS Veritas Backup Exec 20 98
Cherry MX Board 3.0 72
Cooler Master MasterKeys BUSINESS ROUTER
MK750 72 DrayTek Vigor 2862Lac 100

POWER
REGULARS HOUSE
PCs
Editor’s letter 7 Subscriptions 108
The A-List 16 Next month 129
Readers’ comments 28 One last thing… 130

THE NETWORK
Which of
92 Business backup software p74 these eight
Want to make sure your data is safe? Dave supercharged
Mitchell tests four software options. systems is
right for you?
99 Cheat Sheet: core-edge computing
Why core-edge can freshen up your network.
REAL WORLD COMPUTING
102 The 800lb gorilla problem
How to deal with “gorilla” software suppliers.

106 How do I take my website to the


110 JON HONEYBALL Jon does battle with Windows Update,
discovers a Microsoft extension for Chrome, and says a few
kind words on the passing of Apple AirPort.
next level?
We show how a few tweaks can help your site.

FUTURES
113 PAUL OCKENDEN Paul investigates a minuscule new entry-
level drone from a DJI-backed startup, before taking a look at a
Chinese competitor for the Raspberry Pi.

124 Why you could soon be paying


for the web
Publishers are looking for new ways to charge
116 KEVIN PARTNER Just like the Yellow Pages, Google isn’t only
for search. Kevin explains how to make the most of three of
Google’s “lost heroes”: Forms, Keep and Sites.
readers for online content.

127 What is... Valleytronics?


We explore a chip-building breakthrough.
118 DAVEY WINDER When is a security update not a security
update? When it’s an Android security update, of course.
Davey explains why.

128 Geek Day Out: Video games


at the V&A
The design – and disruption – of video games.
120 STEVE CASSIDY Antivirus software not doing its job?
Steve introduces a couple of unheralded champions in the
fight against infections.

5
@PCPRO FACEBOOK.COM/PCPRO August2018 Issue286

Editor’s letter
Ifyoucan’t
beat’em,godo
somethingelse
AS THE THERMOMETER tipped over 30˚C in the shade, my in status: you probably don’t boast about working in the
regular conference combo of jeans and jacket was proving Microsoft store in the same way you do for Apple.
overkill. But this is the problem of a work trip abroad: That’s a shame. A couple of hours earlier, I’d been
you’re there for the briefest of times, you’re normally in a watching Acer CEO Jason Chen announce a super-slim
mad hurry to pack, and you anticipate spending most of 15in laptop that weighs under 1kg. While this has the
your time in an air-conditioned conference centre. disadvantage of not actually existing yet – the laptop
Instead, I was wandering the sun-scorched New York shown on stage wasn’t even a working prototype, just a
streets in search of interesting tech and gaudy souvenirs – mock-up – it looks like an incredible piece of engineering.
although I spent almost as much time people-watching. It also adds to the rich diversity of Windows laptops you
Aside from the tourists, everyone in New York is locked in can buy. Even in this issue, we’ve got a 13.3in Asus laptop
their own world, cocooned by earphones. Most frequently, (see p58), the glamorous HP Spectre 13 (p60) and a 14in
the faintly ridiculous Apple AirPods, which at least business ultraportable from the same company (p63).
Londoners have had the good sense to ignore. (I’ll gloss over the fact that two of those three laptops have
Indeed, it’s aptly named the Big Apple. The brand’s an uncanny resemblance to MacBooks.)
dominance was obvious, from the laptops people used in Want greater diversity? Fine. How about desktop PCs?
Starbucks to the phones in their hands and the huge Apple In fact, the biggest portion of Chen’s announcements
store at the top of Fifth Avenue. I didn’t visit it this year, revolved around gaming: Acer’s first mechanical keyboard
being unwilling to traipse to the top of the street, but I did will accompany rucksacks, giant desk mats and a fleet of
pop into Microsoft’s flagship store a bit further down. new gaming PCs of all sizes. This is an area of absolute
It’s the first time I’ve visited this shop, although back in dominance for Windows systems, as shown by the eight
2012 I spent several hundred dollars on a Surface RT at a daunting systems we put to the test on p74.
pop-up Microsoft store that was essentially its proof-of- My message to Microsoft? Forget Apple. It’s not the
concept predecessor. Despite the six-year gap, and the competition. You’ll never lure the people with AirPods in
sweeping corporate changes of Satya Nadella, I’m not their ears and iPhone Xes in their pockets. Instead,
convinced Microsoft has moved on. In my view, it’s slipped concentrate on your strengths: the diversity of your
further into a battle against Apple that it will never win. partners; the flexibility of your OS, as underlined by our
The moment you step through the doors, it’s feature on tweaking the Registry on p30; your long-
embarrassingly obvious the company has scoured Apple’s standing business credentials. Leave the anodised
shop looking for tips. The floor is flooded with helpers, but aluminium and slick stores to Apple.
where Apple sales assistants have an almost cloying desire
to help you, the Microsoft assistants seem more interested Tim Danton
in chatting with one another. That’s perhaps a difference Editor-in-chief

CONTRIBUTORS

Darien Graham-Smith Kevin Partner Davey Winder Nik Rawlinson


Ever wondered how to Long-time contributor Davey for president? Sadly, The Raspberry Pi has
get the most from the Kevin makes a welcome it will never happen, which plenty of rivals – see p113
Windows Registry? We return to our pages with is a shame as – with the – but we love its latest
asked Darien to go explore, three underrated Google help of experts – he puts incarnation. Find out how
and he came back with tools, along with tips on together a convincing case to turn it into a home
over 20 hacks. See p30 how to use them. See p116 for smart guns from p38 server from p42

7
August2018 Issue286 @PCPRO FACEBOOK.COM/PCPRO

EDITORIAL
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Tim Danton: editor@pcpro.co.uk We review the OnePlus
6, which undercuts
EDITORIAL FELLOW
premium phones by
Dick Pountain
£300, on p68. But
ASSOCIATE EDITOR it’s still £469. How
Darien Graham-Smith much do you think is LETTERS letters@pcpro.co.uk
REVIEWS EDITOR, ALPHR reasonable to spend on TWITTER @pcpro
Jonathan Bray: jon@alphr.com a smartphone? FACEBOOK facebook.com/pcpro
FEATURES EDITOR SUBSCRIPTION ENQUIRIES 0330 333 9493
Barry Collins customercare@subscribe.pcpro.co.uk
FUTURES EDITOR
Nicole Kobie “After my Nexus 6P died, I PC Pro, 31-32 Alfred Place, London, WC1E 7DP
BRIEFING EDITOR panic-bought a £150 Moto
Stewart Mitchell G5S before a trip, and it’s MANAGING DIRECTOR John Garewal
LETTERS & SOFTWARE EDITOR been so good that I don’t DIRECTOR OF ADVERTISING Julian Lloyd-Evans
Nik Rawlinson see the point in spending GROUP CFO/COO Brett Reynolds
hundreds anymore.” CHIEF EXECUTIVE James Tye
ART & PRODUCTION COMPANY FOUNDER Felix Dennis
ART DIRECTOR
Paul Duggan “As you’ll be using it PRODUCTION & DISTRIBUTION
FREELANCE DESIGN constantly, spend as much as Printed by William Gibbons.
Bill Bagnall, Sarah Ratcliffe you want – for me, I want to
SUB-EDITORS spend as little as possible and Distributed by Seymour Distribution, 2 East Poultry Avenue,
Max Figgett, Priti Patel go on holiday instead. Enjoy London EC1A 9PT. Tel: 020 7429 4000.
your iPhone X, I’ll be in Paris.”
CONTRIBUTING EDITORS PC Pro is produced by Danton Media Limited and published
Steve Cassidy, monthly by Dennis Publishing Limited, a company registered in
Dave Mitchell England, number 1138891.
Jon Honeyball, “Under £400.
Paul Ockenden, Either by picking a price COPYRIGHT
Davey Winder breakthrough (for example, © Dennis Publishing Limited. PC Pro is a trademark of Felix Dennis.
the OnePlus 5) or by going This publication may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form
PHOTOGRAPHY for last year’s refurbs.” in whole or in part without the written permission of
Joy White, Drew Yapp the publishers.

CONTRIBUTORS “It depends on how you plan SUBSCRIPTIONS


Stuart Andrews, Antony Leather, to use it. In the home, a lot of Price: UK £49.99; Europe £70; Rest of World £90. Visit
Alan Martin, Christopher Minasians, these devices get handed dennismags.co.uk/pcpro for our best offers. To renew a
Kevin Partner, Nathan Spendelow down within families, so it subscription, change an address or report any problems, visit
makes sense to buy managemymags.co.uk
ADVERTISING something that will last. A
Tel: 020 7907 6662 business will need a strong LIABILITY
GROUP ADVERTISING MANAGER element of platform While every care has been taken in the preparation of this
Ben Topp: ben_topp@dennis.co.uk standardisation for remote magazine, the publishers cannot be held responsible for the
SENIOR SALES EXECUTIVE management, app accuracy of the information herein, or any consequence arising
Heather Shearer: heather_shearer@dennis.co.uk deployment and so on. That from it. Please note that all judgements have been made in the
might push them to doing context of equipment available to PC Pro at time of review, and
PRODUCTION larger waves of updates, but that “value for money” comments are based on UK prices at the
GROUP PRODUCTION DIRECTOR less frequently.” time of review, which are subject to fluctuation and are only
Robin Ryan
applicable to the UK market.
NETWORK PRODUCTION MANAGER
Kerry Lambird
“Every year when the new SYNDICATION & INTERNATIONAL LICENSING
PRODUCTION EXECUTIVE
flagship phones arrive I say, PC Pro is available for licensing overseas. Licensing contact:
Sophie Griffin
‘I can’t imagine paying that Nicole Adams, nicole_adams@dennis.co.uk,+44 20 7907 6134.
CIRCULATION & SUBSCRIPTIONS much for a phone’. And
Tel: 0330 333 9493 then, a few months later,
customercare@subscribe.pcpro.co.uk I usually do. Whether
CIRCULATION MANAGER that’s reasonable or not The Professional
Emma Read I can’t answer…” Publishers Association
Member
NEWSTRADE DIRECTOR
David Barker
“I’d say under £250 is CERTIFIED DISTRIBUTION
LOGOS & REPRINTS
reasonable (off contract). 23,994 (Jan-Dec 2017)
Tel: 020 7907 6132
However, my current phone
Ryan Chambers: ryan_chambers@dennis.co.uk
is a Galaxy S8+ (pre-
ordered, on contract),
SOFTWARE DOWNLOAD TECHNICAL SUPPORT
which will have cost the
software@pcpro.co.uk
business £1,056 by the end
of contract. So, erm…”

8
Briefıng
Slug Sectionhead

Background and analysis on all the important news stories

Unveiled: best new hardware Amazon Echo under attack PC Probe


A screen-centric ultraportable, Government surveillance deals put Tech firms go to war over
futuristic Hub and new CPU p12 tech giant’s reputation at risk p13 the ‘right to repair’ p14

Noendto
Confusion over GDPR rules
could see ongoing waves of
re-consent requests

GDPRemailhell

THE BARRAGE OF GDPR emails looks set gain re-consent through fear of losing ABOVE Think waited until the last minute. “The
to continue, despite the regulation’s many of the contacts in their you’ve seen the last RNLI did a long process of getting
drive to reduce inbox clutter. databases. “What we will certainly of pleading GDPR opt-in consent and ended up with half
In the run-up to the General Data have seen is a load of companies that emails cluttering a million people (which is great) but it
Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming have completely mucked up their up your inbox? was a slow, considered process done
into effect at the end of May, people marketing base,” said Brown. “If you Think again when no-one else was doing the same
were overwhelmed with emails ask 100 people to re-consent, how thing,” said Turner.
asking them to re-consent to ensure many people are actually going to “I think organisations joining in
companies could continue to send bother to do that? 10%?” this current frenzy will be hit by a
them marketing emails. Now that companies have asked wave of indifference. I expect uptake
“Don’t lose your discounts – let us for permission to continue sending to be very low. When it’s done, the
stay in touch,” was a common refrain, messages and received no response, result will be shrunken databases and
but according to experts, companies they may have to continue to make no legal method to send marketing to
that sent these messages and failed to contact to rebuild bridges, even if many people.”
get a response could still follow up such approaches are illegal in The irony for many companies is
with further requests or continue with themselves. “They’ll be sending that they may not have needed to send
marketing messages regardless. pleading emails with spurious any messages out in the first place.
“I expect what we’ll really see is a justification for the rest of the year,” “The law around the consent for
lot of companies come grovelling in said Tim Turner of data protection sending marketing email hasn’t really
the next few weeks saying: ‘Actually, training specialist 2040 Training. changed since 2003,” said Brown.
we asked you to re-consent – sorry “Most companies should have had
about that – we’re just going to send Last-minute rush consent already.”
you email unless you object’,” said Re-consent rates are expected to be Companies would have either had
Neil Brown of internet specialist law low, but, according to Turner, a soft opt-in gathered during online
firm decoded:Legal. charities and other organisations that transactions, or full consent, meaning
Companies could either rely on sent requests out before the late rush it’s possible that many of the
previous consent or keep trying to fared better than companies that companies sending messages either

10
@PCPRO FACEBOOK.COM/PCPRO Briefing News
didn’t have proper consent in the first
place or misunderstood the Five
complicated new regulations.
“What you’re seeing in a lot of cases stories
is that companies either simply
weren’t complying beforehand or not to
they’ve been given shoddy advice.
Once one company started sending
miss
requests everyone joined the
bandwagon,” Brown said.
Some companies may have been 1Chipflawsstrikeagain
unsure if their consent was sufficient, Security researchers at Google and
Brown said, while others may not Microsoft have uncovered a fourth
have retained proof of when and how flavour of a processor flaw similar to
consent was gathered. Spectre and Meltdown that could be
exploited by scripts within software such 4Lastchanceinfighttoblock
No permission to as JavaScript. The newly discovered onlinesnooping
beg for permission speculative execution vulnerability The ongoing fight from Privacy
The situation is even more confused (CVE-2018-3639) could be used to sniff International over the way the UK spy
because the very act of sending data by malicious software or anyone agencies access data and use general
messages asking to be allowed to send logged into systems using many modern warrants to hack computers is heading to
messages could breach data Intel, AMD, ARM and IBM processors. the final court of appeal in December. The
regulations – so hundreds of fight dates back to 2014 and a complaint to
companies could face censure. the Investigatory Power Tribunal, but the
“It may not be appropriate to seek rights group has been granted a final
fresh consent if you are unsure how chance to redress what it calls excessive
you collected the contact information powers at the Supreme Court.
in the first place, and the consent
would not have met the standard
under our existing Data Protection
Act,” Steve Wood, deputy information
commissioner, said in a blog post.
In fact, the Information
Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has
previously issued fines to companies 2Researcherswarnofmajor
routermalwarethreat
Researchers from Cisco’s Talos labs
Companies either have uncovered a possibly state-level
simply weren’t malware targeting home and small office
routers, claiming it was already installed
complying beforehand on 500,000 devices. Primarily targeting

or they’ve been given Ukraine, the researchers say VPNFilter


has been spotted in 54 countries and that
shoddy advice it can steal website credentials, kill
infected devices and “has the potential of
for requesting permission – last year, cutting off internet access for hundreds
for example, it hit airline Flybe and of thousands of victims worldwide”.
car giant Honda with penalties. The 5SocialnetworksangerMPs
ICO said at the time that “Flybe sent UK officials are pushing ahead with plans
3.3 million emails to people who had to fine social media companies for slow
told them they didn’t want to receive removal of abusive content, having lost
marketing emails from the firm”, patience when only four of 14 networks
while Honda Motor Europe “had sent turned up to requested meetings.
289,790 emails aiming to clarify Previous plans had involved “working
certain customers’ choices for with companies” on voluntary
receiving marketing”. programmes, but the lack of impetus from
“Both companies sent emails the industry means politicians are pushing
asking for consent to future marketing for regulation.
and in doing so they broke the law,”
said Steve Eckersley, ICO head of
enforcement. “Sending emails to 3WindowsUpdatedownbeat
determine whether people want to Windows 10 users were warned to delay
receive marketing without the right the April 2018 Update (see p52) that
consent is still marketing, and it is caused a double whammy of problems and
against the law.” sparked system crashes. Incompatibility
The body said it wasn’t currently with Intel and Toshiba SSDs was blamed
investigating any companies over for the first issue and Microsoft stopped
their GDPR actions, but that doesn’t sending updates to configurations with
mean it won’t take action in future. known issues, saying a fix should be ready
Firms in breach of the regulations face by June. The firm was investigating a
fines of up to €20 million or 4% of their further issue that caused users to lose
annual turnover (if greater). access to their desktops.

11
Unveiled
The key details of this month’s hot hardware releases

HP EliteBook
screen with a respectable brightness
of 500cd/m2, but more interesting for

x360 1030 G3
anyone that works outdoors is the
anti-glare 1,920 x 1,080 option that
HP has updated its Elite and Envy throws out 700cd/m2.
ranges, with the most interesting The brighter displays feature HP’s
features appearing in the business- Sure View privacy system, which
centric HP EliteBook x360 1030 G3. enables users to switch the screen
Featuring four form-factor modes, from being visible to a wide audience
the lightweight convertible is aimed to allowing only the user directly in
at professionals who work in a range front of the screen to see its contents
of light conditions, with the EliteBook see our review of the EliteBook 840
(see
x360 1030 G3 offering several
different screen options.
G5, which also includes this
technology, on p63).Two more ABOVE The Lenovo Lenovo IdeaPad
The five available 13.3in
touchscreens all feature Gorilla Glass
run-of-the-mill 400cd/m2 Full HD
displays – one of which is anti-glare –
IdeaPad 330 is the
first laptop to ship 330 with 10nm CPU
4, but there are key differences that complete the display options. with a 10nm Core The Lenovo IdeaPad 330 might not
set them apart. The flagship option is The EliteBook x360 1030 is also i3-8121U processor look like the vanguard of laptop
a glossy 4K Ultra HD (3,840 x 2,160) the first device to feature HP’s Sure innovation, but it includes the first
Recover with Embedded Reimaging, offering from Intel’s long-awaited
which stores a software system image LEFT The EliteBook 10nm production line.
in embedded memory, so that data x360 1030 G3’s Intel thought it would have
can be recovered even if the hard Gorilla Glass processors built on 10nm silicon as
drive is wiped. screen will appeal long ago as 2015, but the date for
For those prone to misplacing pens to anyone who the Cannon Lake processors has
and styluses, there’s another feature works outdoors been pushed back multiple times.
that might appeal: the stylus sends Yields are not yet sufficient for
alerts to the device if the accessory widespread rollout, but the Core
strays too far from home. i3-8121U that powers this IdeaPad
330 still marks an important
KEY DIGITS AND DETAILS moment in Intel’s roadmap. The
Availability From June Core i3-8121U is an 8th generation
Price From $1,499 low-end chip running on 15W,
Processor Core i5-8250U or i7-8650U with two cores, four threads and a
Memory 16GB LPDDR3-2133 SDRAM basic clock speed of 2.2GHz, which
Storage SSDs from 128GB up to 2TB boosts up to 3.2GHz.
Weight 1.25 kg The Cannon Lake processor
supports two new kinds of
memory – LPDDR4 and LPDDR4X
Microsoft mic
arrays
– which should reduce power
consumption.But Intel remained
Surface Hub 2 – are
intended
coy on whether the processor will
later feature integrated graphics,
Microsoft has unveiled the Surface to provide a more inclusive feel for which is commonplace on its
Hub 2, an upgrade to its videoconferencing participants, low-end chips. Instead, this first
collaborative conference room but the big draw for larger firms outing for Cannon Lake ships with
display that looks like it’s straight may be the ability to tile up to four AMD Radeon graphics.
out of the incident room of a displays for a wider working space.
futuristic police drama. Microsoft says multiple people ABOVE It may look KEY DIGITS AND DETAILS
The original Hub shipped some will be able to authenticate on the like something Price From $449, with 4GB
5,000 units, and with prices same Surface Hub 2 workspace, from Minority RAM/500GB hard disk
topping out at $21,999 for the 84in allowing them to simultaneously Report, but the Availability Now, in China
version, this is a high-margin access their documents and notes. Surface Hub 2’s CPU Intel Core i3-8121U
business for Microsoft. videoconferencing GPU AMD Radeon RX 540 2GB
The updated Hub 2 is based on a KEY DIGITS AND DETAILS potential will Display 15.6in, 1,366 x 768
4K+, 50.5in multitouch display Availability 2019 appeal to big firms Memory 4GB or 8GB, DDR4-2133/2400
with a 3:2 aspect ratio. 4K cameras Price To be announced Storage 500GB or 1TB hard disk,
in the display – as well as far-field Screen Rotatable 50.5in, 4K+ resolution 128GB or 256GB SSD
Weight 2.1 kg

12
Briefing News

Amazon’s face
scanner raises
doubts over Echo
Company’s reputation at risk over government surveillance

AMAZON ’ S PRESENCE IN the smart home undergone an upgrade. “You can


has been called into question after it now perform real-time face
emerged the company was working searches against collections
with police forces and governments to with tens of millions of faces,”
provide face recognition. Amazon claimed in its marketing
Rights groups have questioned documents, adding that images
the desirability of having camera- featuring up to 100 people can be
equipped devices such as the Echo run through the system. ABOVE Do you you come out explicitly providing
Show and Echo Spot in the home While security services may really want surveillance tools,” said Millie
when the company is developing such welcome the ability to identify a face face-recognition Graham Wood, a solicitor at rights
technologies for the state. in the crowd, the ACLU certainly does technology in your group Privacy International.
The American Civil Liberties not. “With this technology, police home? “You’ve let Amazon into your
Union (ACLU) has launched a would be able to determine who home because of the way it’s
campaign trying to get Amazon to attends protests. marketed and you don’t think about
rein in its Rekognition tool, which is “Amazon has publicly opposed the speaker always listening to you
run through the company’s Amazon secretive government surveillance,” and then you look at what else it’s
Web Services arm. “With Rekognition, the organisation said. “But actions doing and it’s creepy. The idea that
a government can now build a speak louder than words, and Amazon is there primarily for the
system to automate the identification Amazon’s efforts to deploy this consumer is not really true any more.”
and tracking of anyone,” said the technology run counter to its Amazon declined to comment on
ACLU. “If police body cameras, for proclaimed values and risk harm to whether there were any UK customers
example, were outfitted with facial the company’s customers.” for Rekognition, but the British police
recognition, devices intended for The unwanted publicity comes at a services have been trialling their own
officer transparency and time when Amazon is trying to sell tools and have amassed an image
accountability would further always-listening Alexa smart devices, database of 19 million UK residents.
transform into surveillance machines with one of its difficulties being that Such a dataset, coupled with
aimed at the public.” some consumers are wary of Amazon’s know-how, could be a
The ACLU discovered that several eavesdropping. “You can market the powerful weapon, and one that
US states and police forces were technologies as being as benign as legislation has yet to address.
already customers of a service that you like, but essentially they are “There’s no oversight and there’s
launched in late 2017 and has recently surveillance technologies and then no legal basis for its use,” said Graham.

AIcan’tsaveNHSwithoutsafeguards
and science, May said the UK would The plans come less than a year
invest and “use data, artificial after UK officials found that the Royal
intelligence and innovation to Free hospital in London had wrongly
transform the prevention, early given 1.6 million patient records to
diagnosis and treatment of diseases DeepMind, a London-based Google
like cancer, diabetes, heart disease company building AI tools. Among the
and dementia by 2030”. chief concerns from watchdogs was
However, the speech made no that patients didn’t consent to their
mention of specific investment and health data being used in the trials.
gave no indication of how the process Any future plans would need to
would safeguard patient data. Given take into consideration how patients
recent history, experts say, this is a could be informed and how to
matter of some concern. persuade the public of the value of
“The use of AI in healthcare offers using their data to improve NHS
huge potential, but there has to be a performance. “Innovation and
much better conversation with privacy can go hand in hand,” said
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE COULD save ABOVE While AI patients about how and why data is Perrin. “We have to learn the lessons
thousands of lives a years, according can help in scan used, and how confidentiality is from previous examples, including
to Prime Minister Theresa May, but analysis, questions protected,” said Nicola Perrin, head of from DeepMind and the Royal Free.
experts warn that will require a remain over data Understanding Patient Data, an Most importantly, there has to be
significant improvement in the way safeguards industry/public sector collaboration transparency and meaningful
patient data is handled. set up to study the potential of AI in engagement with patients, from the
In a speech promoting technology healthcare. very beginning.”

13
PCProbe
Techfirmsgotowar
on‘righttorepair’
As new laws are proposed to let consumers repair their own tech purchases,
manufacturers redouble their efforts to prevent it, finds Stewart Mitchell

L
ay down your screwdrivers. That’s the message from failure is accident or wear and tear, but the battery always
the tech industry, despite efforts on both sides of the goes. It’s a consumable like tyres on a car and you wouldn’t
Atlantic to make it easier for consumers to repair buy a car where you can’t change the tyres.”
their own kit. Sealed batteries are increasingly common in both
With lawmakers threatening to legislate a right to smartphones and laptops and, although manufacturers
repair, the tech firms are fighting a rearguard action. And sometimes offer their own replacement services, the price
they’re fighting dirty. means it’s often more economic to replace than repair.
Apple, for example, is suing independent repair shops The process of making repair easier isn’t limited to
that import spare parts to repair customers’ iPhones. batteries, though. “Across the board, the parts are not
Meanwhile, sources tell us the company is increasingly supplied in any official way to third-party repairers,” said
stamping its logo onto internal cables and devices to make Ugo Vallauri, co-founder of the Restart Project, which runs
it easier to spot refurbished parts and punish offenders. workshops in London and other cities, where consumers
LG, on the other hand, is attempting to block a right to can take defunct hardware and try to repair it themselves
repair on the grounds that independent engineers don’t under the watchful eye of experienced engineers. “The
have the “extensive background checks” and “drugs manufacturers are not trying to encourage repairs and
screening” that its own staff are subject to. instead are trying to control everything and reduce the
Is this the behaviour of an increasingly desperate chances that people will repair.”
industry fighting its last stand, or will it continue to make iFixit’s Wiens agrees. “In order to repair something, you
repairs nigh on impossible? have to have a product that can be repaired, then you have

Fixing the fixers


Environmental campaigners say manufacturers make it
intentionally difficult for individuals and independent
repair shops to find parts, and are designing devices in a
Painfuldecisions
way that makes repairs impractical.
“Apple and Microsoft are good examples, and they also Repair costs mean consumers often
happen to be two of the biggest players in the market,” said have to think long and hard whether to
Mauro Anastasio, resource efficiency spokesperson for the replace a cracked screen or depleted
European Environmental Bureau (EEB), an umbrella body battery, or upgrade the entire device.
for 140 environmental groups. Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 is at an
“They actively discourage repair in a number of ways, age where a battery replacement might
like not making spare parts available and issuing software be required, but the company explains
updates that aren’t compatible with older models. They on its website that “your Surface will be
make key components impossible to replace and will not replaced with a refurbished Surface
provide repair information.” (repair usually costs more than sending
According to Anastasio, “when a company makes a a replacement).” The cost listed on the
product that’s difficult to repair, consumers are more site for out-of-warranty repairs is £492. fixer Repairaphone. The cost of the
likely to buy a new one when it breaks. That’s a fact.” Even going to a third party – which battery replacement is £149, but the
“Whether it’s a motivation or not, only the companies Microsoft cautions against – can be company quotes £210 in case the screen
can tell,” he said. eye-wateringly expensive because of is broken.
Batteries that are impossible to replace are a prime the way the device is designed. “The LCD iPhone repair costs are equally hard
case of designing kit that’s designed to fail within a finite screens on the Surface Pro 3s are very to swallow. The £156-to-£336 range for
period. “It’s crazy,” said Kyle Wiens, founder of iFixit, delicate and there is a greater than 50% a screen replacement on an iPhone 6
which provides information and tools to aid with repairs. chance that the screen will crack during Plus is steep enough to make many
“If you buy a laptop it should last longer than a 500-cycle the repair process,” explains device consider replacing the phone outright.
battery. It’s guaranteed to fail in everything. Any other

14
@PCPRO FACEBOOK.COM/PCPRO Briefing PCProbe

laptops and PCs in the


world as it is simply
not economically feasible
for older, functional
computers.” Microsoft says
the programmes it runs see
millions of PCs recycled.
iFixit’s Wiens says the
case highlights how
manufacturers have all the
power. “What you see
when you step back from
this is a system that’s
stacked in favour of the
to have parts information and know-how to do the ABOVE Some manufacturers,” said Wiens. “They have the lawyers, they
repairs,” he said. “On the other side you have Apple, which campaigners have the customs, the copyright and the trademarks are
is systematically trying to lock down every aspect of the believe tech firms theirs, and these poor repair shops are being strangled by
system that it possibly can.” intentionally make the system.”
Apple declined to comment directly on this story, but a it difficult for users
spokesperson pointed out that the company prioritised to repair their kit The legal fightback
ease of use and stability over ease of repair. If users were The brighter news for consumers is that lawmakers in
able to replace batteries, the company said, it could Europe and America are also growing weary of the tech
damage seals and allow water to get into its devices. firms’ reluctance to repair. In the US, for example, “right to
repair bills” proposed in 17 states would require electronics
Jailed for repairing? companies to sell spares and tools to the public and would
The difficulties facing repair and recycling companies ban “software locks” that restrict repairs. The European
trying to prolong the life of tech is perhaps best summed up Parliament, meanwhile, has already recommended a right
by a legal case in which a recycling company’s founder was to repair regulation and Brussels officials are currently
recently sentenced to 15 months in jail for counterfeiting assessing the results of a public consultation on the topic.
Microsoft restore discs (read Nicole Kobie’s view on p25). The tech companies are already manning the barricades
Eric Lundgren built up a US recycling company and said against such legislation. Apple, for instance, recently lost a
he was trying to improve the opportunities for repair shops court case in Norway when it tried to stop an independent
to breathe life into old machines, which already had a repair shop from fixing iPhones with recycled spare parts
licensed version of Windows installed. He believed that, bought from Hong Kong. It has,
because the software could be downloaded by users with What you see when however, succeeded with similar
an original product code, it could also be distributed as a suits in New York.
disc. The judge disagreed and put a value of $25 on each you step back from Others are citing questionable
disc, which is the price that Microsoft would have charged
a repair shop for a fresh install. this is a system that’s safety concerns. LG, for example,
sent a letter to state officials laying
Microsoft refused to comment directly on the case,
pointing out that the prosecution was brought by the US
stacked in favour of the out objections to the right to repair
laws, with claims that allowing
Department of Justice and not the company itself. It manufacturers independent companies to make
pointed us towards a company blog post in which repairs was a danger to consumers.
Microsoft’s communications chief Frank Shaw wrote: “Technician certification generally requires extensive
“Lundgren established an elaborate counterfeit supply background checks as well as drug screening, as well as
chain in China” and that he “went to great lengths to technical and safety training,” LG’s US communications
mislead people.” director John Taylor told lawmakers in the letter. “If
Lundgren disputes Microsoft’s stance and believes the manufacturers are required to make their technical
company has mounted a character assassination to protect information public knowledge, they no longer have the
its own image. “Frank Shaw has been given the task to ability to address whether the technicians who are
slander my purpose, my good name and muddy the waters entering the homes of consumers have completed the
for the topic at hand,” he told PC Pro. necessary technical, safety and security checks.”
Lundgren says that charging small repair companies for Asked whether this attitude amounted to little more
an operating system that’s already been paid for once is than scaremongering to convince regulators to maintain
unlikely to keep hardware from landfill. “Microsoft built the status quo, LG went on the defensive. “We’re not going
this Registered Refurbisher Program to double-charge to get into a debate with naysayers,” Taylor told PC Pro.
customers,” Lundgren claims. “Our primary goal is taking the best care of LG’s
“Specifically, it wants to charge you for a licence consumers. A big part of that is assuring that authorised
multiple times on the same computer. This would technicians (who have undergone background checks) are
eliminate the ability to refurbish most of the lower-end the ones that service LG products in consumers’ homes.”

15
TheA-List
The best products on
the market, as picked
by our editors
PREMIUM LAPTOPS SMARTPHONES NEW ENTRY

Dell XPS 13 9370 OnePlus 6


Ultraportable from £1,249 Android, 64GB, £469
from dell.co.uk from oneplus.net

This 2018 update to the all-dominant Dell The OnePlus 6 is terrible news for Huawei,
XPS 13 keeps tweaks to Samsung and Sony, because it begs one simple
the minimum: question: why on earth would anyone pay over
slimmer bezels, flagship phone when they can get
£700 for a flagship
eighth-generation Intel something that’s almost as good for two-thirds of
Core processors and the promise of even longer battery life are the the price? Yes, it lacks IP-certifi ed waterproofi
IP-certified ng
waterproofing
most important benefits. Just keep in mind that Dell has embraced and there’s no optical zoom on the camera, but
USB-C ports at the expense of the old-fashioned Type-A variety. this phone is gorgeous, fast and takes rather nice
REVIEW Issue 284, p54 photos, too. REVIEW Issue 286, p68

ALTERNATIVES ALTERNATIVES

Microsoft Lenovo Yoga 920 Scan 3XS LG17 Apple Honor 9 Lite Samsung
Surface Book 2 An ultra-thin convertible Carbon Extreme iPhone 7 A huge 18:9 display and Galaxy S8
A unique and versatile from Lenovo that not A brilliant 17in, 4K laptop Despite the launch of the stylish design give this A stunning phone,
laptop with a screen only looks the part, and for demanding gamers, iPhone 8 and iPhone X, budget phone a high-end complete with a great
that detaches to become has supreme power, but with a desktop Core the iPhone 7 retains its look. There’s even room camera, long battery
a tablet – the £1,830 also lasted for a very i7-8700 chip, 16GB of RAM place as the best-value for a dual-camera setup life and chart-topping
version is our pick of the impressive 12 hours in and GeForce GTX 1080 Apple phone. 32GB, £549 on the front. £200 from speed. 64GB, £609
bunch. From £1,034 from PC Pro’s battery tests. graphics. £2,580 from from apple.com/uk store.hihonor.com/uk from samsung.com/uk
microsoft.com/store £1,079 from lenovo.com scan.co.uk/3xs REVIEW Issue 266, p54 REVIEW Issue 283, p70 REVIEW Issue 273, p74
REVIEW Issue 281, p48 REVIEW Issue 281, p51 REVIEW Issue 283, p57

TABLETS EVERYDAY LAPTOPS


Apple iPad Asus ZenBook UX410UA
9.7in tablet from £319 Stunning 14in budget laptop, £675
from apple.com/uk from pcpro.link/280zenbook
While we criticise Apple – and It was always going to take something special to
quite rightly – for its failure to kick the Asus UX330 off the A-List – and it’s no
deliver a new design on this surprise that Asus was the one to do it, with the
thick-bezelled basic iPad, we UX410UA having the looks and feel of a
can’t quibble about its value much more expensive
for money. With support machine. Consider
for the Pencil, it’s now also upgrading to the more
a viable alternative to the expensive version with 8GB of RAM and a
iPad Pro. REVIEW Issue 285, p48 256GB SSD, though. REVIEW Issue 280, p68

ALTERNATIVES ALTERNATIVES NEW ENTRY

Apple iPad Amazon Fire Huawei HP Chromebook Asus ZenBook 13 Asus ZenBook
Pro 10.5 HD 10 MediaPad M5 13 G1 A brilliant 13.3in UX330UA
With the Pencil and Smart A top-quality tablet for Pro A stylish and high-quality ultraportable, which A superb 13in laptop with
Keyboard, the Pro is the price, with a 10.1in IPS This stylish Android laptop, but with Chrome OS, packs an excellent a top quality screen, but
pricey but – for mobile display and solid turn of tablet comes with a not Windows. It’s fast, has specification into a the spec we tested is
workers – it’s definitely pace. Only the cameras stylus, 64GB of storage all-day battery life and won’t slender 1.12kg frame – now off sale. An updated
worth it. 64GB, £619 disappoint. 32GB, £120 and plenty of power. 4G, look out of place in a including Nvidia graphics. version (FB276T) is on
from apple.com/uk from pcpro.link/279hd10 €499 from huawei.com boardroom. £480 from £1,100 inc VAT from sale but we haven’t tested
REVIEW Issue 278, p89 REVIEW Issue 279, p71 REVIEW Issue 284, p70 pcpro.link/271hpc johnlewis.com it. £650 from box.co.uk
REVIEW Issue 271, p54 REVIEW Issue 286, p58 REVIEW Issue 266, p62

16
@PCPRO FAC E B O O K . C O M / P C P R O The A-List
ENTHUSIAST PCs NEW ENTRY

CCL Reaper GT Palicomp Intel


i7 Nebula
NEW ENTRY Alienware Area-51
Threadripper Edition
AMD Ryzen 2 PC, £1,499 Palicomp goes a different route to CCL, We tested the ridiculous £5,299
with an i7-8700K overclocked to 4GHz version, with dual GeForce GTX
from cclonline.com
and two RAID0-optimised SSDs to 1080 Ti graphics cards, but if that’s
In a world of big black boxes, the Reaper GT’s all-white finish accompany its GeForce 1080 graphics. overkill – and you still want the latest
stands proud. As you’d expect, it includes some cracking The final result is a stupidly quick Threadripper processors – you’ll
components (an AMD Ryzen 2700, 16GB of RAM, a 250GB machine – and it includes a light show find the Area 51 an excellent choice.
SSD and 8GB GTX 1080 graphics) with watercooling for good to match. £1,650 from palicomp.co.uk From £2,149 from dell.co.uk
measure. A brilliant high-end PC. REVIEW Issue 286, p80 REVIEW Issue 286, p84 REVIEW Issue 281, p56

WORKSTATIONS

Scan 3XS WI6000 Viz Apple iMac Pro


There are no major design changes,
PC Specialist Apollo X02
PC Specialist provides a terrific-value
Core i9-7980XE workstation, £4,650 but the new iMac Pro’s internal alternative with this system based
components are a very different on Intel’s eight-core Core i7-7820X.
from scan.co.uk
matter. Apple creates a compelling Overclocked to 4.6GHz, with support
An overclocked Core i9-7980XE processor, together with workstation with an octa-core Xeon from 32GB of 3GHz RAM and Nvidia
64GB of 3GHz DDR memory and Nvidia’s Quadro P4000 processor, AMD Radeon Pro Vega 56 Quadro P4000 graphics, it proved a
graphics, ensured this was a great all-rounder. With a graphics and 32GB of ECC memory. solid performer in modelling tasks.
2TB hard disk and 500GB SSD, it’s a brilliant showcase From £4,899 from apple.com £2,500 from pcspecialist.co.uk
for Intel’s top-end CPU. REVIEW Issue 281, p84 REVIEW Issue 284, p50 REVIEW Issue 281, p83

MONITORS

Eizo FlexScan EV2450 ViewSonic


VP3268-4K
NEW ENTRY Philips 276E7QDAB
The obvious sacrifice you make
1080p display, £305 It’s true you can buy 32in 4K monitors for a 27in IPS panel at this price is
for around £500, but we think it’s resolution – it’s 1,920 x 1,080 – but
from pcpro.link/263eizo
worth spending the extra money on it offers good all-round image
A great-value 24in IPS display that offers this ViewSonic. In return, you get quality and looks attractive on the
more colour-accurate images than you’ve superb colour accuracy and terrific desk thanks to a slimline design.
any right to expect at this price – and a reassuring all-round quality. £895 from pcpro. £198 from alza.co.uk
five-year warranty, too. REVIEW Issue 263, p72 link/286view REVIEW Issue 286, p65 REVIEW Issue 272, p75

ENTHUSIAST/SMB NAS DRIVES

Synology DS918+ Qnap TS-453Be-4G


Qnap markets the TS-453Be at
WD My Cloud EX4100
If you’re looking for a solid, speedy
Four-bay NAS, £490 businesses rather than home NAS – particularly for a small office
users – although, in our opinion, it’s – then take note of the affordable
from laptopsdirect.co.uk
equally at home in both situations. WD My Cloud EX4100. Despite that
While all of Synology’s NAS drives share the It’s straightforward to use and a reasonable price, it includes four
same great OS, with all the attendant apps, very solid performer, as well as bays, and its mid-range specification
the DS918+ stole top spot in our Labs due to being extremely versatile. £515 can handle office duties well. £303
its horsepower, the four available drives and the sheer from pcpro.link/284qnap from pcpro.link/284wd1
number of roles it can perform. REVIEW Issue 284, p81 REVIEW Issue 284, p80 REVIEW Issue 284, p83

WIRELESS NETWORKING
Zyxel Multy X BT Whole Home Wi-Fi
The best-value mesh networking
TP-Link Archer
VR2800
Mesh networking, £250 system around thanks to a price drop A terrific value router that beams
from pcpro.link/282multy from £300 to £170. For that, you get a powerful signal throughout a
three discs and fast, stable speeds medium-sized home. Add strong
Not the smallest nodes, but that’s for a throughout your home. Perfect for parental controls and two handy
reason: each one crams in a dedicated 4x4 antenna array for the backhaul medium-sized houses, and it can USB 3 ports, and it’s our top choice
alongside separate 2x2 arrays for connected clients. The result? Lighting-fast now be expanded with extra discs. for people who don’t want to go the
Wi-Fi and impressively wide coverage for a reasonable price. £170 from shop.bt.com mesh route. £190 from box.co.uk
REVIEW Issue 282, p85 REVIEW Issue 282, p81 REVIEW Issue 274, p85

17
The A-List @PCPRO FAC E B O O K . C O M / P C P R O

WORKGROUP PRINTERS
Xerox VersaLink C600DN Brother HL-L9310CDW
If you can’t quite afford the Xerox
Kyocera Ecosys
M5526cdw
Colour laser, £779 exc VAT VersaLink C600DN, consider this Low running costs and easy
from printerland.co.uk good-value rival from Brother. This maintenance are the key factors
colour laser provides great output here, with 1.3p per mono page and
The C600DN hit 53ppm speeds in our tests, quality, low running costs (1.1p/7.8p) 9p for colour. Print quality is great
managing 50ppm double-sided, and produced and speeds of up to 32ppm, as well too, even if you’re kept waiting a
great results even on cheap 75gsm paper. Low as plenty of security features. £441 little longer for 600dpi prints.
running costs of 1.1p mono and 6.4p colour only exc VAT from printerbase.co.uk £381 from printerland.co.uk
add to its attractions. REVIEW Issue 283, p98 REVIEW Issue 283, p94 REVIEW Issue 279, p101

HOME OFFICE PRINTERS

Brother MFC-J5330DW Epson EcoTank ET-4750


If you do lots of printing then this
Oki C332dn
If you’re looking for a budget-priced
All-in-one inkjet, £120 EcoTank is almost certainly going A4 colour laser printer, stop your
to save you money, with enough ink search: you won’t find one for less than
from pcpro.link/273bro
supplied to last 14,000 black pages this network-ready desktop model.
A high-quality and versatile printer – it can and 11,200 in colour. And, unlike With 30ppm mono and 26ppm colour
even print in A3 – with a tempting price, and previous EcoTank printers, the image speeds, only high running costs (2p
it won’t cost the earth to run. Provided you quality is pretty good, too. £352 mono/11.4p colour) count against it.
have space for it, it’s a great choice for home and from pcpro.link/282epson £143 from okidirect.co.uk
small office use. REVIEW Issue 273, p84 REVIEW Issue 282, p62 REVIEW Issue 283, p97

VIDEOCONFERENCING
Lifesize Icon 450 Logitech
Polycom RealPresence Trio and Phone HD ConferenceCam
8800 Collaboration Kit The price is steep, but this complete
VC solution makes high-quality
Connect
If you need a portable solution for
Full VC kit, £1,417 exc VAT videoconferencing a walk in the park smaller rooms, this sleek device
from pcpro.link/275poly – it’s impressively easy to deploy and can be set up in seconds. Despite
use, while the audio quality delivered its size, it can’t be faulted for quality
This kit provides everything for a small business, with no need to hook by the four built-in mics was top notch. and the price is right, too. £250
flexible when it comes to positioning and
it up to a laptop or mobile. It’s flexible £3,462 exc VAT from uk.insight.com exc VAT from pcpro.link/275log
won’t be beaten for features or audio quality. REVIEW Issue 275, p98 REVIEW Issue 275, p96 REVIEW Issue 275, p97

BUSINESS WI-FI NEW ENTRY

DrayTek Vigor 2862Lac WatchGuard AP420


Not cheap, but SMBs wanting
Cape Networks
Wireless Sensor
Secure router, £354 exc VAT enterprise-class wireless security and The perfect wireless monitoring
from netxl.com central management will find it money solution for SMBs thanks to a superbly
well spent. The cloud portal is one designed cloud portal, packed with
This 802.11ac router is loaded with potential, of the best we’ve seen, performance information, for a very tempting price.
from bolstered security to a 3G/4G SIM card is great and WatchGuard’s WIPS A huge range of network and service
slot to expansive VPN options. There’s almost delivers smart wireless security. £649 monitor features also impress. £650
nothing a business could ask for that it doesn’t do, making it an easy choice for any exc VAT from broadbandbuyer.co.uk exc VAT from irisnetworks.com
switched-on SME. REVIEW Issue 286, p100 REVIEW Issue 281, p97 REVIEW Issue 279, p104

SCANNERS
Xerox DocuMate 6440 Brother ADS-3000N
Aimed at mid-sized workgroups,
Plustek SmartOffice
PL4080
USB scanner, £395 exc VAT the ADS-3000N is a solid deal: it Looking for a flatbed scanner? The
from printerbase.co.uk supports both USB and Gigabit PL4080 fits the bill nicely, combining
Ethernet network connections, while a fast 40ppm duplex ADF with an
A brilliant choice for heavy workloads, offering 50ppm scan speeds, a robust A4 flatbed scanner. With Plustek’s
the DocuMate 6440 hit speeds of nearly 5,000-page daily duty cycle and a intuitive DocAction software
70ppm in our tests. It also has a large generous software package. £384 thrown in, it’s a great buy. £348
ADF and versatile software. exc VAT from pcpro.link/278ads exc VAT from grooves-inc.co.uk
REVIEW Issue 278, p98 REVIEW Issue 278, p94 REVIEW Issue 278, p97

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SECURITY SOFTWARE PRODUCTIVITY SOFTWARE CREATIVITY SOFTWARE


Bitdefender Internet Security 2018 Microsoft Office 2016 Adobe Creative Cloud
A stellar selection of extras We’ll be honest: there’s very Adobe entrenches its position as an
including ransomware protection, little here for anyone upgrading from Office indispensable resource for creative professionals,
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protection, makes this our top professionals. apps such as Photoshop, and exciting new additions
choice for 2018. 3 devices, 1yr, £30 from Home & Student, £58 from pcpro.link/254off for digital designers, too. Complete plan, £50/mth
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Avast Free Kaspersky Google Scrivener Serif Affinity CyberLink


Antivirus Internet G Suite A brilliant package for Photo PowerDirector
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Profile
BACKGROUND INFO ON INNOVATIVE BRITISH COMPANIES

SatoshiPay
We meet the entrepreneur who’s using blockchain
technology to crack the tricky micropayments market

I
f I had a fiver for every company who tried to convince The SatoshiPay offering is simple. Want to charge users
KEYFACTS me they’d cracked the problem of micropayments over to download a piece of content, watch a video or read an
SatoshiPay is a the years… well, I wouldn’t be writing a story about article? Then they need to drop a few credits (or “lumens”)
blockchain-based another one. from their cryptocurrency wallet to the publisher to access
micropayments SatoshiPay’s Meinhard Benn says his company has the content. SatoshiPay takes a 10% flat fee on each
company that created the “pocket change” of the internet. And if you’ve transaction and the publisher can have the money from the
seeks to help web nodded knowingly at the first part of the company’s name, transaction in their account in as little as five minutes.
publishers sell you’ll know by now that he’s using cryptocurrency to do it. Benn says that the SatoshiPay technology is “very
their content to The Satoshi is the smallest unit of Bitcoin, the crypto different” to any micropayments system that has gone –
consumers equivalent of a cent or a penny, and named after Bitcoin’s and, let’s be frank, failed – before. “We use blockchain
shadowy founder Satoshi Nakamoto. However, SatoshiPay technology and different security models. We don’t have a
LOCATION has recently dropped Bitcoin in favour of a different centralised storage of accounts. We have decentralised
Berlin, but the cryptocurrency. We find out why and discover how the storage of accounts, meaning each user of the service has
company is company believes it will prosper in a micropayments full control over their fund from their web browser. We
registered in market where so many others have failed. don’t hold the funds, we just negotiate transactions
London directly to the publishers. So, there’s a real peer-to-peer
Catching the bubble element to it.”
FOUNDED 2014 Benn became interested in Bitcoin early on. “I started What’s more, and in what some might regard as an
mining Bitcoin in 2011, so very early,” he told eyebrow-raising security lapse, there’s no login or
EMPLOYEES 10 us. “I thought this is very interesting, let’s passwords protecting the users’ wallets. “[The wallet is]
keep an eye on this space. And in 2013 it tied to the profile in the browser that you’re using,”
WEBSITE took off in terms of Bitcoin hitting explained Benn. “There is a mechanism to sync to different
satoshipay.io $1,000. I thought I would use this devices, similar to WhatsApp. But to sync to the other
momentum to start a company.” device you don’t log in, you can scan a QR code. Logins
By the end of 2014 he’d launched will be optional later, but the idea was to remove all the
SatoshiPay as a generic Bitcoin friction points that consumers have in starting to use a
payments processor, similar to service like ours. There’s nothing in the way between you
what companies such as BitPay are and the publisher.”
doing now. “We quickly realised In that case, how do you prevent thieves or your kids
there’s no differentiation and Bitcoin (some might regard them as the same thing) hopping onto
as a payment method is not taking off your computer and making unauthorised payments? Benn
– we need a bit of a niche here,” he said. says it’s no less secure than emptying the coins in your
“We picked the niche of nanopayments or jeans pockets of an evening. “Having a pre-paid account
micropayments. For the first use case of means the maximum you can spend is only what’s
those small payments we picked available in your wallet,” he said. “It behaves like pocket
publishing, or micropayments change in that way. If you have pocket change on the table,
for content, because people can take that and go shopping with it.”
that’s something
very tangible.” Bye bye Bitcoin
Ironically, the soaring value of Bitcoin that piqued Benn’s
LEFT SatoshiPay interest in the cryptocurrency in the first place is now
founder Meinhard what’s driven SatoshiPay to seek alternatives. Bitcoin has,
Benn started of course, soared well beyond the $1,000 mark that
mining Bitcoin prompted Benn to back the horse in the first place. But
way back in 2011 the currency’s recent volatility and booming popularity

22
@PCPRO FACEBOOK.COM/PCPRO
Profile

has made it impractical for a cost of what they’re buying. Benn is perhaps too polite to
micropayments provider. say it, but I suspect that’s designed to appeal to old farts
Bitcoin became “slow and like me, who like to know the value of every transaction.
expensive”, according to Benn, and the
ABOVE To make the transaction costs were proving prohibitive for a service Getting the publishers on board
payment process as where you might only be handing over a few pence at a No matter how simple the system is or what label it applies
smooth as possible, time. Instead, the company moved to the Stellar to its virtual currency, it won’t take off unless publishers
there are currently no blockchain. While the Bitcoin community was discussing offer consumers the chance to buy their content using
passwords – just scan how to make a scalable system, Stellar “went ahead and SatoshiPay. Benn told us he “had one big publisher in the
a QR code to purchase just did it”, according to Benn, resulting in a system that UK,” but at the time of our interview he couldn’t disclose
or top up can handle 1,000 transactions per second, with the who that was.
transactions settled within five seconds. The costs, A recently launched lumens “giveaway” on the
ABOVE RIGHT The meanwhile, are just one ten-thousandth of a cent – “almost company’s website listed several sites where you could
SatoshiPay plugin for free transactions”. spend your currency, but none were close to being
WordPress doesn’t household names. A handpan musician, a cryptocurrency
require any extra Making micropayments stick news site and a Croatian blogger were on the list of
software and allows Irrespective of which technology is used to power the “smaller websites” currently supporting SatoshiPay.
users to charge service, many have tried to make micropayments stick, but “We are in talks with at least another five [publishers] in
visitors to view a post none have succeeded – at least not when it comes to the UK and also in Germany,” Benn insists. “We are talking
reading or watching web content. Why does Benn believe to major news outlets, including one of the biggest in
SatoshiPay will be any different? “Ease of use” is one factor Europe. We are talking to the technical division of these
he highlights. “[Online] payments have come a long way in guys at the moment.”
the past 20 years. We were always lacking a decent, light One potential roadblock for SatoshiPay is the app
payments technology. Now we stores. Companies such as Google and Apple want in-app

Psychology in payment have it.”


What’s more, consumers are
payments driven through their own payment systems,
making it difficult for SatoshiPay to crack the lucrative and
works that way. It’s easier now more willing to make small proven games market. “There is a bit of an issue with
transactions online. Look at the in-app payments,” Benn admits. “The app stores have
if you have a sort of games in the top ten of the app quite strict regulations around that. They of course want
Monopoly money that you stores, and almost all of them will
have their own virtual currency for
to sell their own in-app payments and if you try and get
around that… it’s a bit more complicated.” (See “Why you
feel freer to spend buying in-game trinkets or extra could soon be paying for the web”, p124.)
content. For millennials, it’s the Investors clearly have faith that SatoshiPay will
equivalent of handing over a pound coin for a newspaper eventually find a large audience. The company is now
in WHSmith. preparing for its fourth round of funding, having attracted
Indeed, that’s why SatoshiPay transactions are €1 million of investment from venture capitalists in
currently made in “lumens” instead of, say, euros or January last year. Still, it’s not the big cheques that are
pounds. “Essentially, you are freed from the individual going to make or break SatoshiPay. It’s that 10% cut from
transaction cost,” Benn said. “You decide ahead of time – millions of tiny transaction that it’s banking on. If you’ve
you say, okay, I’m investing five euros in this system – and just paid 20 lumens to read this article on a website, you’ll
that’s your purchase decision made. know it has succeeded. BARRY COLLINS
“Psychology in payment works that way. It’s easier if
you have this sort of Monopoly money that you feel freer to
spend and you don’t have your debit card the entire time.
This point system, we believe, will make it easier for people
Whataboutyou?
to spend.” Do you work for a British technology company that could be
SatoshiPay is also experimenting with a new token profiled in PC Pro? If so, get in touch: profile@pcpro.co.uk
system, where one content token will equate to one euro
cent, making it easier for people to understand the true

23
Viewpoints
PC Pro readers and experts give their views on the world of technology

Email isn’t
It was an easy addiction, because This month, of course, brought a
everyone else loved email too. At first the particular deluge ahead of the arrival of the
incoming messages were mostly personal new data protection regulations. Seemingly

dying – it’s – my newly employed friends and I spent


days on end firing emails back and forth
every business I’ve ever so much as walked
past on the street popped up in my inbox,

about to show
among ourselves, costing our employers begging for permission to bombard me with
thousands in wasted revenue. emails in a GDPR-compliant way. In many
Then the private sector got in on the act. cases these were companies I’d already

its true value Before long, it seemed like every time I


bought a book online, connected to a social
network or logged onto a Wi-Fi hotspot, I’d
instructed not to contact me, so the messages
were themselves in breach of the old
regulations. But since those were self-
find myself added to another mailing list. evidently toothless, I can’t really blame the
Instant messaging may be all Some of the messages were useful, detailing marketers for taking a final punt.
the rage, but the advent of GDPR train times, confirming access codes and so At any rate, I have given consent to
on. Most weren’t. Services such as unroll.me precisely zero of these chancers – and it’s a
highlights the strengths of email
sprung up to deal with the deluge; Gmail surprisingly empowering feeling. It remains
started tagging messages as “Promotions” to be seen how effective GDPR will be in the
and “Updates” to help me cope, but even so I long run, but right now, for the first time in
It was a bright, cold started to open my inbox with trepidation. more than two decades, I’m starting to feel
morning in 1995, and It didn’t help that email was becoming that my inbox is genuinely my own.
the clocks were ubiquitous within the various offices I The question now is whether all of this is
striking eleven. worked at. In retrospect, it’s obvious why: a too late to rehabilitate email. When almost
Some Might Say was quick email is far less intrusive than picking all of my online interaction takes place on
playing on the radio, up the phone. At the same time, it sneakily instant messaging services, does it even
and I’d just sat down buys you some free time – because they’re matter what lands in my inbox? When I
at my computer desk not going to respond right away – and mentioned the subject of this column to Tim
with a cup of coffee. I establishes a written record of what was said Danton – a conversation that, naturally, we
Darien Graham-Smith is opened my telnet should you later need to cover your arse. had over Slack – he agreed that email feels
PC Pro’s associate editor, client as usual, and Before long, email overload had become a “very old-fashioned”. Indeed, there’s
and if GDPR applies to connected to the genuine problem – and it was clear that something tragic about the way Google has
tweets, he’s in trouble with university email been touting new features in Gmail,
numerous celebrities. service to see what such as snoozing messages and
@dariengs my friends were up to Right now, for the first time in sending self-deleting emails with
that day. And there it expiration dates. They’re not bad
was: my first piece of spam. more than two decades, I’m ideas, but now? Email? In 2018?
It’s hard to fully describe the feelings that
swirled inside me. This was the only internet
starting to feel that my inbox is And yet I won’t be closing my
Gmail account any time soon.
account I had ever known, and it was more genuinely my own Because, once the chit-chat has
than just an inbox to me – it was the locus of migrated away, and the mailing-list
my identity. Even in person, friends spam has been shut off, what’s left?
addressed me unironically by my user ID, something had to give. Back in 2012, this very I’ll tell you what: all those informational
“deg20”. Now, my online home was being magazine published a major investigation by messages, detailing what time my flight to
invaded. I fired off a furious response – and, our man Stewart Mitchell entitled “The Copenhagen departs, and confirming my
of course, it bounced straight back. There Death of Email”, concluding that with more hotel booking at the other end. Email may no
was no way to undo the violation. No way to than 90 trillion messages being sent a year, longer be the intensely personal thing it once
prevent it happening again. My inbox was no and some employees spending as much as 20 was, but if you can cut through the rubbish
longer my own. hours a week just fielding emails, the whole it still makes a great online filing cabinet,
I won’t ever forget that feeling – but thing was becoming untenable. accessible from anywhere, and instantly
equally, I couldn’t end my love affair with searchable. It’s years since I last felt the need

L
email. I carried on checking my messages ten ooking back, I have to say that the to file a paper document in my physical box
times a day until I graduated; then I got my feature was quite prescient – take a file, and I can’t imagine why I would ever
first office job, and went up to 20. bow, Stewart. Email didn’t die, need to again.
obviously, but it’s no longer the only game in I’m sure this sort of evolution isn’t what
town. Today my work conversations take the lawmakers had in mind when drafting
place over Slack, while personal stuff goes on the GDPR, but part of the beauty of
WhatsApp. I still check my email account, technology is in finding ways to make the
but it’s no longer a priority; if there’s best of it. For years I’ve been readying myself
something in there that I actually need to for the death of email, but I suspect it’s about
read and respond to, it’s fifty-fifty whether to take on a new lease of life.
I’ll even spot it amongst the chaff. darien@pcpro.co.uk

24
@PCPRO FACEBOOK.COM/PCPRO Viewpoints

Google: um,
caller from the automated voice bots. Google When I can ask Google to find me the best
is trying to con the caller into thinking deal on a restaurant on a quiet Monday night
they’re talking to a real human being. and it can come back with eight suggestions

hang up on the You can understand why Google’s done


that. We’ve all grown so sick of automated
calls from “lawyers” who have heard we’ve
of places with spaces, then you’ve got a
technology that solves a problem for me as a
consumer and for the business owner. We’ve

idea of being been in a car accident that our knee-jerk


response to an automated call is to hang up.
no need for Duplex’s duplicity. We just need
something simple.

“human”, okay?
But at a time when trust in tech companies is barry@mediabc.co.uk
at an all-time low, conning people into
thinking they’re dealing with a real person is
a spectacularly dumb idea that could well kill

Disc inferno:
Attempting to con people into Duplex before it’s even been launched.
thinking they’re talking to a human To be fair, Google seems to be wrestling
with the ethics. In a faintly contradictory

a Windows
is Google’s dumbest idea yet
blog post, it says “transparency is key” to
the service’s success, while in the same

licence to print
paragraph claiming that the “technology is
How do you know built to sound natural, to make the
it’s me writing this conversation experience comfortable”.

money
column and not some I don’t know about you, but I’m more
terrifyingly literate comfortable when people are being honest
algorithm? It’s not as with me. I’d have no problem with Google
if AI hasn’t already Duplex ringing me up to book one of my
branched into photography courses on a customer’s behalf How a free version of Windows
journalism. Go to any if it declared it was an automated service can land you in jail – if you print
financial news from the get-go. I’d be less inclined to
28,000 copies of it, that is
Barry Collins is the co-editor website and the vast complete the booking if I wasn’t sure it was
of bigtechquestion.com. As majority of the Google calling, if it was something that
anyone who’s listened to the stories about sounded eerily like a human being but isn’t.
PC Pro podcast will testify, earnings reports will Because no matter how good Google makes The difference
no computer will ever talk have been written Duplex, there will always be little tells that between software
like him. without any human you’re dealing with a computer. The and a software
@bazzacollins intervention. Sure, unnatural pauses; the refusal of the tech to licence isn’t
the style is dryer than speak over you like a human would; the something most of us
a Jacob’s cracker, but the algorithm doesn’t absence of empathy, humour or local dialect. concern ourselves
call in sick, need a pension or drink heroic with – Windows

T
quantities of tea on the company’s tab. here are practical issues too. When comes installed on
You know this column is written by me someone rings to book one of my our laptops, and
because no algorithm could write similes as courses, we talk about what camera Nicole Kobie is PC Pro’s that’s the end of it.
weak as the one in the last sentence. There’s they’ve got, how much photographic Futures editor. She keeps But for people who
something quintessentially human about experience they have, whether they know her kit as long as possible, run their business’s
my prose. It’s grammatically imperfect, the meeting place next to Brighton’s West for environmental IT or refurbish old
hackneyed, full of all the flaws that only a Pier. Duplex isn’t going to know all this stuff. reasons – not because machines, it’s a
40-year-old dragged up through an Essex In much the same way, it will be flummoxed she’s incredibly cheap. fine line that can be
comprehensive could get away with. when Flavio’s Saturday girl asks if you want Nope, not that. very costly.
But the video I’ve just watched (bit.ly/ a blow dry or whether you’re okay to have @njkobie Just ask Eric
286talk) makes me wonder whether the day your roots touched up by Gina because Flavio Lundgren. He has
when it’s hard to distinguish between is on holiday in Tenerife (you can’t deny my plenty of time to mull the distinction, as he’s
humans and AI isn’t that far away, after all. hairdresser clichés are top drawer). been jailed for 15 months over this key
The video in question is Google’s demo of But what really bites me about Google distinction. He’s a tech entrepreneur who’s
Duplex, the company’s voice-assisted butler. Duplex is how over-engineered the solution focused on e-waste and recycling – a problem
Want to book an appointment at your to this problem is. The sample conversations that sees Americans chuck out 3.4 million
hairdresser’s between 4 and 6pm next that Google provided are all about basic tons of devices each year. Recycling is key to
Friday? There’s no need to phone Flavio any booking transactions: an appointment at the battling that waste and, when it comes to
more – just tell Google when you want the hairdresser’s, a reservation at a restaurant, computers, that often means extending their
appointment and it will ring on your behalf. enquiring about the opening hours of a store. usable lifespans by refurbishment.
The chilling part of Google’s demo is the None of these should require a telephone Rebuilding a PC means you need to
way its voice assistant imitates a human. Not conversation in the first place, let alone one reinstall Windows. If you have the original
only does it respond convincingly to the where Google has to pretend to be a human. install disc or licence key, you’re set, as you
questions posed by the person answering the I’ve got a Google Assistant on my desk and can download a fresh copy of Windows for
phone – even when the conversation veers on my phone. If I tell it to book me a table at free directly from Microsoft . If you don’t
off track – but its speech is full of the umms Pizza Express for 1pm tomorrow, it should be have a licence, registered refurbishment
and ahhs that normally distinguish a human able to ferret into Pizza Express’s booking companies can buy a licensed copy for $25.
system, check availability, and either Despite such offers from Microsoft,
book me in or tell me it’s full. This isn’t Lundgren clearly thought there was a market
No matter how good Google ground-breaking – almost every ticket for restore discs that didn’t include a licence.
booking or restaurant chain website He bought a shipment of 28,000 dodgy
makes Duplex, there will always lets you do this. What we need is Microsoft restore discs in counterfeit Dell
be little tells that you’re dealing standardised automatic booking
systems, and who’s in a better position
packaging and sold them on to computer
refurbishers in Florida. Then, one day, armed
with a computer to implement one than Google? federal agents kicked in his door at 5am, he

25
Viewpoints @PCPRO FACEBOOK.COM/PCPRO

Hello, my name
told The Verge. He wasn’t actually at home, to your followers. Each picture becomes
but he hopped on a flight to face the music. progressively less visible as time passes.
Lundgren pleaded guilty, but he doesn’t Flickr’s Groups are the way around this:
think he cost the company any money. His
argument is that the restore software on the
discs has no value: if you’re restoring your
is Dick and I there are over ten million of these, created by
users on specific themes. I’m in 221 of them,
from birds, flowers and water to surrealism,
Windows-running PC, you can download
that software for free online from Microsoft am not a abstract art and the disturbing. Putting a
picture into groups gets it far more views

photographer
– but the software must be validated with a than leaving it on your photostream for
licence key. Lundgren says he redistributed people to find. Unfortunately, due to that
and sold the software, but not a licence to go torrent of fresh content, many groups impose
with it. restrictions – for example, only one or two
Flickr’s sale to SmugMug is all pictures per day – and many also demand

M
icrosoft has its own version of about the money, so why are we that you comment on some number of other
events. Frank X Shaw, Microsoft’s people’s pictures for each of yours posted (to
still sharing photos?
vice president for communications, discourage spamming and careless use).
blogged that “Microsoft’s role in the I like to make picture sequences that
case and the facts themselves are being need to be seen together, but to get enough
misrepresented”. Stressing that the US The casual dropping attention on Flickr I need to post them into at
government targeted Lundgren without any of the “e” was a least 20 groups, most of which will only
involvement from the Redmond giant, Shaw bravado touch (and I permit one or two a day, and require up to
pointed to an email used in court that showed don’t imagine it had three comments. Hence it can take several
Lundgren intended to profit from the sales anything to do with days to post them all, and half an hour each
and tried to make the “counterfeit software Oulipo), but when I day to add the comments.
look like genuine software”, telling partners joined in 2006 I still It’s becoming a chore, so I often put a
to pass it off as genuine Dell discs to “less found Flickr rather sequence into a Facebook album instead,
discerning customers” in case tech-savvy an odd name, simply with just one on Flickr. But Facebook is an
sorts spotted the difference. Dick Pountain is editorial because for we Brits a awkward platform for pictures, so I decided
Microsoft also points out that efforts such fellow at PC Pro and “flick” is a motion to check out SmugMug’s 14-day free trial.
as Lundgren’s are unnecessary: thousands of would be delighted if you picture rather than a

S
refurbishers are signed up to its programme viewed his creations still. Okay, Flickr did mugMug is all about selling your
to get a fresh version of Windows for $25. at flickr.com/photos/ later admit video pictures (which I wouldn’t mind
What did the court think? The prison dick_pountain. It won’t content, but it’s very doing). Instead of a photostream, you
sentence answers that, with an appeals board cost you a penny. much a platform for get a customisable website that looks highly
noting that Lundgren was distributing to still photography. professional, with its own URL for potential
refurbishers, and the use of the Dell logo And it’s not half so odd a name as SmugMug. customers. You pay for these services, with a
didn’t help him. SmugMug is the US firm that, back in monthly fee that rises with the promotional
It all seems a lot of hard work to save $25 April, bought Flickr from its previous owner features you require, while 15% of any sale
or to avoid a download. Why would anyone Yahoo. It recently emailed me with an goes to SmugMug. At $4, the Basic plan is
buy a dodgy disc when they can download assurance that my Flickr account would twice what I now pay on Flickr, while the
the content for free? There are a few reasons, remain unchanged for the foreseeable future, Power ($6), Portfolio ($16) and Business ($30)
albeit with good retorts. How do you but also to invite me to try its own offering plans would need to sell a lot of pics for me to
download an OS when your computer is (which, to my surprise was founded in 2002, break even.
kaput? (Ask a friend.) How do you make a two years before Flickr). It was viewing the sample sites that made
restore disc when you don’t have a DVD Regular readers may recall that I’m a up my mind. Most showed portraits, family
burner? (USB is an option.) Plenty of people, dedicated Flickr user, with 1,856 photos and pictures or postcard scenes, like those
faced with such hurdles and unarmed other graphics displayed there. I have to high-street photography shops you still see
with any tech skills, simply turn to a repair in many small towns. I realised
shop — or to tech-savvy friends. Perhaps that I’m not actually a
alongside coding in schools, they should I realised that I’m not actually a photographer at all, just someone
teach PC maintenance. who employs a digital camera and
Now that Microsoft is done defensively photographer at all, just someone computer software to make
blogging that it’s not to blame for the harsh
sentence, it should sit back and reconsider if
who employs a digital camera and images. I don’t aim at perfection,
I don’t enter competitions and
there’s a better route to take here, making it software to make images I don’t share the dominant
so easy to refurb a PC that no-one turns to aesthetic on Flickr which is for
dodgy discs or less than reputable repair over-saturated, over-sharpened
shops. Whether or not Microsoft lost confess that my dedication has been, er, photos that whack you in the eye.
hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales flickering somewhat over the past year or My favourite among the famous
because of Lundgren is up for debate, but two, because getting pictures seen on Flickr photographers is Saul Leiter, who worked for
there’s no question too many useful PCs are feels increasingly like a chore. The reason is Vogue but, for his own pleasure, preferred
being dumped in landfill. That’s the real simply the site’s success: it currently hosts the out-of-focus, the eccentrically framed,
battle we should all be fighting. over ten billion pictures, and has 75 million the sudden splash of highly emotional
work@nicolekobie.com users who upload as many as 25 million more colour. I heavily process my pictures to make
pictures per day. There are more Flickr users them look more like paintings, I fiddle with
than UK residents, so getting a picture seen is fractal images in Sumo Paint for hours until
much like stepping out into the street and something catches my eye, usually through
waving it above your head. colour as much as form. What pleases me is
Flickr’s organising principle is the unlikely to be what would sell. Posting to
photostream: your pictures get displayed in Flickr is a chore, but then so is stretching a
strict chronological order, so only the most canvas. It’s art, innit.
recent, the head of the stream, are broadcast dick@dickpountain.co.uk

26
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Readers’comments
Your views and feedback

Starletter
from email and the web also the only phone service that works during our
all-too-frequent power outages. We have to keep an
old handset close by. Without it, we wouldn’t have
Unfair criticism? At our rural home, about three miles from the closest access to emergency services. Nigel Algar
I felt you missed the point of the green cabinet, we have just-bearable 5Mbits/sec
Gemini PDA in your review (see issue internet. There’s no mobile service, even though PC Pro replies: You raise a good point. Traditional
285, p58). You kept either comparing we’re only four miles from a Vodafone 4G mast (at handsets require no more power than resides in the
it to, or referring to it as, a phone. The least Vodafone works through its Sure Signal box). network, which certainly isn’t true of any VoIP
Gemini is neither a smartphone nor a I read your VoIP buyer’s guide (see issue 285, p92) application. We can only hope that, should the switch
laptop but an entirely new class of that mentioned BT’s proposal to discontinue its wired go ahead, people in your situation will see their
device. The same mistake was made landline service and move everybody to VoIP by 2025. connectivity options greatly improved over the next
when Microsoft released the first The wired BT landline is, therefore, a must-have. It’s seven years – for both broadband and 4G.
Surface Pro. It wasn’t a tablet, but that
is what everyone compared it to. Our star letter writer wins a copy of Serif Affinity Photo. Five years in the making, it
As such, I feel that many of the provides sophisticated image-editing tools and a meticulous focus on workflow.
criticisms levelled against it don’t take
into account that owners will be using
it for everything from blogging and
writing reports to monitoring data errors. Multi-occupancy buildings,
centres. These aren’t tasks you can such as tower blocks, are going to
perform on a smartphone, and you need much more information.
can’t fit a laptop in your pocket for I wish the company well, but fear
them either. they have many hurdles to overcome
While the Gemini PDA isn’t to make it a useful competitor to
perfect, for a first-generation device postcodes in urban areas. (As an aside,
from a British startup I feel it’s up I was amused to find that the code for
there with the best in terms of overall my front door ends in “enter”, and for
quality. I’m thoroughly looking my back door it ends in “exit”.)
forward to seeing what Planet Andy Cole
Computers does next. Oh, and the
good news: I happen to know that a Barry Collins replies: For sure,
full manual will be available for the what3words has a long way to go if it’s to
device by the time it goes on general become anywhere near as universal as a
sale this summer. Mike Halsey postcode. But speaking as someone who
ABOVE what3words is a complete address. You could post lives outside of London and routinely
needs.more.work? aims to revolutionise something to “31, WC1E 7DP, UK” spends ages lost in Sussex villages, trying
I was fascinated by your profile of geolocation, but is it from anywhere in the world with a to find the place the satnav’s postcode
what3words (see issue 285, p22) really better than a good chance of it reaching its lookup insists are HERE, I very much
[which has assigned three unique traditional postcode? destination – and you may be able welcome any effort to make addressing
words to every 3 x 3m square on the to do the same eventually using more accurate. Besides, who doesn’t want
planet to make them easy to locate]. I “levels.grin.bonus”. to work at “nasal.defends.glare” (the
thought I would test it using Google The former conveys so much Dennis Publishing address)?
Maps. First, I cleared my browser more information to a human. “UK”
history then typed “g” into the search Talk to your vendor
box and was offered Google Maps,
which I selected. In that box I typed
While the Gemini I read your article on document
management (see issue 285, p102)
“dennis p” and was offered “Dennis PDA isn’t perfect, for a with interest, as I run an IT
Publishing, Alfred Place, London”, consultancy specialising in data
which I selected. first-gen device from a capture and workflow. Eddie Ginja
Repeating the exercise, I had to
type “what3” before being offered
UK startup, I feel it’s up recommended that “businesses
should identify exactly what the
what3words. I selected that and then there with the best business need is”, which is good
selected the what3words map. I then advice, but he goes on to recommend
entered “levels.grin.bonus” and locates the country and a little local creating a list of requirements, what
located the same place. Impressive, knowledge says central London. The you want it to do and how much you
except that the first example required latter tells you nothing helpful and is want to spend; this is the point at
11 keystrokes and the second, 24. prone to the slightest error: for which I would also urge engaging
As a further test, I entered example “level.grin.bonus” is in with likely vendors.
“31,wc1e7dp” into Google Maps, California, “levels.grins.bonus” is in All too often, we vendors are given
which increased my keystrokes to 13 Alaska, “levels.grin.bonuses” is in soulless lists of requirements and
and it gave me the same building but a New South Wales and “levels.grins. asked to put a tick against the ones we
different brand, in this case Buyacar. bonuses” is in South Australia. I can do. If we tick the right boxes and it
And therein lies the problem: understand that similar three-word progresses, more often than not we
what3words gives you a geolocation addresses are deliberately geo- find the list of features was created
in two dimensions, as does a building diverse, but that is only useful if without any real understanding of
number and a postcode, but neither intelligence intervenes to avoid what technology can offer or how

28
@PCPRO FACEBOOK.COM/PCPRO Viewpoints

Readers’ poll
The Network Documentmanagement
@PCPRO FACEBOOK.COM/PCPRO

All that’s changed is that the modern


businesses that are suspicious that
equivalent of the lockable–tray
copier costly document-management
has to deal with those who carry
their projects are scams or rip-offs. (Then

Document
sensitive data around on an iPad
again, that’s not unique to document
rather than in a cardboard folder
(and management – such accusations
who don’t necessarily understand
the come up with IT projects of all
limits of security when it comes
to kinds.)
Wi-Fi printing).
Factor in a general
Indeed, there’s still much to be
perception of document
said for the lockable paper tray,
as a management as simple and

In wake of the news that Facebook had suspended 200 apps for potentially
metaphor if not a reality. It may
go old-fashioned, and it’s easy
against the optimistic precepts

management:
of to understand why
certain computing gurus, but it’s
a companies baulk at
practical solution to an everyday
spending money on
problem – and that’s what document
something that “ought to be
management is all about.
easy”. But even if we accept
that some aspects of the
Paper trail

misusing data, we asked you what its motivations might be. The results
technology are simple and
Small companies tend to assume
that old-fashioned, that’s no bad
their workflow is too simple to
justify thing. It’s a classic geek mistake
investing in anything more than
a to think that every modern

well,d’oh!
filing cabinet or two. But even if
you problem needs a rarefied,
don’t need to do much in the way
of compute-intense solution.
actual managing, technology can

Document management may help. One of my old clients, in the


Get the hardware right

were clear:
course of a deal, ended up holding
You might assume that document
sound dull, but Steve Cassidy some sensitive documents that
(even by the standards of these
were management starts with a scanner,
but it’s nigh-on impossible to do
finds out how it can save you things) very long. It rarely needed
refer to them, but had to retain
them
to rational document management
your printers aren’t up to the job.
if
ABOVE Document
management can

valuable time – and money


securely– which meant dedicating If save you a lot of believe the figures for numbers
something starts out as paper, there’s of
two full-height office cupboards, money – and space pages ingested per day into their
in a a good chance it’s going to get printed
room with a locked door. document management systems.
out again at some point; we may
As you can imagine, the mere want
to save the environment, but people In short, the best advice is not to
process of scanning in all this skimp on the hardware, even if
are more comfortable clutching the
paperwork yielded huge rewards. a nice

D
The physical piece of A4 than referring initial cost seems higher than you’d
ocument management isn’t a data was downsized into a single to hoped. Depending on your needs,
Some years later, I happened to a digital representation of it. you
sexy new idea. It’s at least as the Machines began in the 1970s locked drawer, allowing the company may be able to save money by
meet a programmer who had worked as a Indeed, you should probably
old as computing itself: as a direct expression of the need for to situate two additional staff in BELOW Modern, investing in a big multifunction
on the Post Office’s OCR project the proceed on the assumption that office
child, I remember asking my parents –a document management. room that had been freed up. In superfast scanners
project which transformed the people are going to print more than printer with its own ADF, so it can
why they needed so many little That’s not to say that it’s ancient consequence, it ended up increasing such as these by tear through big scan jobs in minutes
keys business of letter sorting by you bargain for – and the same
on their office keyrings, and getting history. Document management its turnover by about a quarter applies Xerox and Fujitsu are
electronically reading handwritten of a to scanning. I’ve had arguments or seconds. By all means, test your
the answer that these were for their remains crucial in the 21st century. million pounds a year. with a valuable addition to procedures with a slow, clunky
postcodes and turning them into companies who simply refuse to £29
individual, lockable output trays That might sound like a special a digitising office inkjet MFP before you roll them
on those little blue dots you used to For sure, it’s become
the various printers and copiers
they printed on the outside of the
see “You might say that the something much
case, but that’s the nature of the out,
used. The documents they handled Rise of the Machines began beast. Talking about document

It’s shocking.
envelope. It was a necessary broader than simply
were so sensitive that even a casual management in general terms has
bit of misfiling could spell disaster
evolution, he explained, as the in the 1970s as a direct keeping track of
always been a challenge, because
– number of letters being processed expression of the need for sheets of paper: the it’s
and individual secretaries were, was in the narrowest, most specialised
even outstripping the availability of QR code on your
then, becoming anachronistic.
So document management” roles that the technology most
visibly

Safeguards
workers to route the mail by hand. smartphone that lets
their employer had invested in pays for itself. Those who really
a Like the locking trays, those blue you board a plane is a need
complicated, state-of-the-art copier dots document, just as much as a letter a lightning-fast write-once storage
were reflections of the supreme
that could keep track of who was from your landlord that lets you subsystem already know it; with
importance of pieces of paper – move the
making each copy, and deposit and into a new office. But the old issues more generic stuff, like a simple
each scan

29%
the growing difficulty of managing

should have been


user’s prints securely into their – too many eyes on one type of and store process, it can be harder
own them. From one perspective, you to
personal out tray. document, not enough on another point to exactly where the benefits
might say that the Rise of –
remain as prevalent as they ever are going to justify the investment.
were. Indeed, I come across plenty of

in place to stop
the misuse before
it happened.
102

65%
285 NETWORK Business feature MF.indd
102
103
285 NETWORK Business feature MF.indd
103

best it can be used to meet the


business objectives. It’s a cynical move.
That’s a shame, as it’s that Facebook has its own best
interests at heart.
guidance that companies such as
ours provide. Engaging with vendors
gives customers the opportunity to
plan a better solution and allows
vendors to prove their worth even 6%
before money has changed hands.
Alan Ingram It’s good news. The company has
our best interests at heart.

We vendors are
In response to our survey,
given soulless lists of Vladimir Lungo commented: “I live They’re only doing it because
requirements and asked in a developing country and as they’ve been caught out. I haven’t
to put a tick against the such I haven’t really paid much
changed my social media habits:
attention to what Facebook does
ones we can do with my data... What’s the point of I’m expecting the companies will
Touching Base
protecting your data anyway? The change their modus operandi
government and other webpages Tony C
Your comparative review of
all store some of what you do, and
LibreOffice in the June 2018 issue of
PC Pro (see issue 284, p30) failed to really, does it affect you? Does
mention its database known as Base it matter if they know something If an app wants permission to
(a free rival to Microsoft’s Access). Let you do?” do something I ask ‘Why?’ and,
me fill the gap. Adam, on the other hand,
According to Libre’s own website explains how he “deleted all posts,
if they don’t or can’t give a good
for Base, anyone who wants to make
tags and Like history and now only reason, they don’t get it
changes to Base must do it themselves
– which means that effectively it’s keep the single most recent post John Chapman
completely unsupported. on there. My personal info is now
In fact, two serious bugs in Base all made up as well.”
that I reported to the OpenOffice John Delaney was just as I made use of all the security
Organisation long ago, before it split
bullish. “I would never sign up to be and sharing preferences before
into the Libre and Apache versions,
remain uncorrected in LibreOffice.
spied on and milked by Facebook the recent news. Sadly, most are
The Apache version has fixed one of even if they paid me.” not even vaguely interested
the bugs; the other remains unfixed
but doubtless has a low priority since I Adam
offered the pre-split developers an Jointhedebate
effective workaround.
I wish both Apache and Libre Join the growing PC Pro community I deleted Facebook and I am
on Facebook at facebook.com/pcpro
would put more effort into fixing bugs considering doing the same with
and less into adding “features” that
only a decreasing minority will want
Get the latest news and
updates by following us @pcpro
Twitter and Instagram. Life is
to use. John White better without Facebook
Email us at letters@pcpro.co.uk
OCR in Office Nick
Office has a hidden optical character 13 SEC RET
DO YOU STIL
L NEED ANT
IVIRUS SOF
TWARE?

recognition (OCR) engine in OneNote.


SKI LLS SMART p38
OF THE 16 ON
AM AZO TEST SPEAKE
THE PES
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29
WINDOWS
REGISTRY
THE HACKER’S GUIDE
It’s time to take full control of Windows:
Darien Graham-Smith demystifies the
Registry and shares a treasure trove of
handy hacks

30
@PCPRO FACEBOOK.COM/PCPRO Registryhacks

T
he Windows names SAM, SECURITY, SOFTWARE HKEY_USERS – Stores the personal
Registry is a bit like and SYSTEM. These contain machine- settings of all registered users, including
the engine in your wide settings. special system accounts that are used for
car. You know it’s Additionally, for every registered administrative tasks
there, and broadly Windows user, there’s a hive called
speaking you know NTUSER.DAT file that contains HKEY_CURRENT_CONFIG – Contains
what it does. But information about their identity, information about which hardware
few of us fully understand its inner personal settings and so forth. You’ll and drivers are installed and running at
workings, and even when things go find your own copy sitting in your the moment
wrong, we’d probably be hesitant to user folder, although you’ll have to
dive in and start trying to make fixes enable “Hidden items” in Windows Unhelpfully, these sections are also
and adjustments. In fact, it’s a good Explorer to see it. often referred to as hives, although
bet that most PC Pro readers would While it may be useful to know the they don’t perfectly correspond to
be more comfortable tinkering with locations of these hives, once you the hive files on your hard disk.
an internal combustion engine than open the Registry Editor, you’ll see However, Since their names are a bit
getting hands-on with the Registry. that the database is internally of a mouthful, they’re commonly
There’s no need to be intimidated, structured as a virtual tree that abbreviated to HKCR, HKCU, HKLM,
though. The Registry is fundamentally doesn’t directly correspond to the HKU and HKCC.
quite a simple thing, and while some arrangement of the on-disk hives.
of its contents are best left untouched, From here on, we’ll focus on that tree
there are plenty of useful tweaks and structure, since that’s how Registry There’s no need to be
adjustments you can make as long as locations are normally described – but
you have a little knowledge of what if, in the future, you come across a intimidated, though
you’re doing. reference to the hive files themselves,
you’ll know what they are. – the Registry is
What is the Registry?
The Registry has been part of How is the Registry fundamentally quite a
Windows since 1992, when it made its structured?
debut in Windows 3.1. Simply put, it’s At its highest level, the Registry is split simple thing
an internal database storing settings into five sections:
for Windows and applications. Some
of those settings are very technical, HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT – Contains As we’ve mentioned, the Registry
and aren’t intended for humans to technical information that enables has a tree structure. If you launch the
edit, or indeed understand; others are applications to exchange information with Registry Editor and click on the arrow
quite straightforward, and can be one another next to HKEY_CURRENT_USER (or
safely tweaked. double-click on its name), you’ll see
On disk, the Registry is made up of HKEY_CURRENT_USER – Contains about a dozen items – Registry keys
several different files, dotted around personal settings for the currently – appear below it, mostly with
different locations. These are known logged-in user BELOW Create a meaningful names such as Network,
as “hives” (supposedly an insider joke, new Registry value Printers, Software and so on. Some
to do with the developer’s aversion to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE – Contains by right-clicking in of these keys will themselves have
bees). Four of these hives live in C:\ system-wide settings that apply an empty area of arrows, indicating that you can open
Windows\System32\config, under the regardless of who’s logged in the right-hand pane them up to reveal further nested keys.
You’ll notice that the structure of
the Registry looks a lot like a familiar
tree of folders and files, and nested
keys are addressed in a similar way,
using backslashes to indicate their
paths. What’s more, while Registry
keys can contain subkeys, they can
also store values: for example, click
once on HKCU\Console and you will
see a big long list of values appear in
the right-hand pane. You might like
to think of these values as analogous
to data files inside a folder; in this
case, each “file” contains data
specifying something about the
appearance and behaviour of a
command prompt window.

Why might I want to


edit the Registry
directly?
The Registry isn’t really designed for
users to tinker with. When the likes of
you and me want to configure our
Windows settings, we’re expected to

31
use the friendly graphical interfaces
built into Windows, such as the PC
Settings app or the Device Manager.
These bits of software then access and
update the Registry behind the scenes.
However, using the Registry
Editor, you can access options that
aren’t available via the user-friendly
apps: for example, as you’ll see below,
you can customise context menus,
and modify which icons appear in
Explorer. Sometimes these options
have been hidden away because
they’re too complex to bother users
with. Sometimes they’re just waiting
for Microsoft to implement a front-
end: in the original release of
Windows 10, you had to edit the
Registry to activate “Dark Mode”, to
disable Aero Snap or to make the
Recycle Bin appear in This PC, but
now these options are all available in
the PC Settings app.
Inside the Registry, the settings
themselves are stored in a few
different formats. The most common
is the DWORD – a “double word”,
which is jargon for a 32-bit number
– but the Registry can also store binary
code, text strings and various other
types of data. If you look in the
right-hand pane of the Registry
Editor, you’ll see the “Type” column
shows what sort of data each value is.
Strings are abbreviated as SZ” – short
for String-Zero, because the text is
terminated with a zero-value byte.
You can edit these values in the
Registry Editor, by double-clicking on
the name of one and typing in new
data. You can also create new keys and
values from the context menu that
appears when you right-click on an
existing key (or anywhere in the
right-hand pane). If you’re creating a
new value, make sure you set the
correct data type, or Windows is likely
to ignore it; if you’re editing a value
within a Registry key, you won’t be
allowed to enter a value that isn’t of
the right type.

Is it safe to edit
the Registry? even if a change doesn’t immediately TOP By tweaking on Computer at the top of the tree and
There are keys and values in the appear to do anything, it could reveal the Registry you select Export.
Registry that could, if deleted, cause its effect later on. can add a time- If you mess up the settings in
applications to stop working properly, Second, if you do make a silly saving “Take HKCU, you can also go and look in
or prevent Windows from booting. mistake, there’s no easy way to undo Ownership” option HKU\.DEFAULT – this contains many
However, if you’re browsing around Registry edits. Before you delete or to the Explorer default settings that are applied for
HKCU and HKLM, you’ll see a lot of edit a value, it’s a good idea to back it context menu new users, so you may be able to copy
values with fairly self-explanatory up by right-clicking on the key in the values from here to restore your own
names, and to be honest if you want to Registry Editor and selecting Export. ABOVE The most account to default behaviour.
experiment with changing them, the This will save a backup file (with a common file format
danger is minimal. REG) extension containing all the data in the Registry is Is it safe to use
We’ve a few caveats, though. First, within that key; if you repent of your DWORD, or “double Registry-tweaking
some changes will only take effect changes, you can just double-click on word”, which is tools?
when you restart Explorer, or sign out, the REG file to import the old settings. Microsoft jargon There are many freely downloadable,
or restart Windows completely. So To back up the entire Registry, click for a 32-bit number third-party apps out there that offer

32
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an easy way to apply Registry hacks, your using them. Back up your
and customise Windows in other Registry before you start, or test them
ways. If you’re nervous about getting in a virtual machine before deploying
hands-on with the Registry then such them on your desktop.
a tool might suit you nicely. However,
these programs have to contend with HACKER TIPS
the fact that Windows is a moving
target, and tricks that work in one Make your taskbar
version might not work in the next. translucent
The hacks we recommend below have The April Update brings subtle
all been tested on the latest edition of transparency effects to the Windows
Windows 10, and most will work on desktop, but the taskbar remains
older releases, too. fairly opaque. If you want to make it
Be more sceptical of tools that more see-through, navigate to:
claim to find and fix Registry errors.
These apps usually focus on removing HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\
references to applications and CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced
resources that have been deleted. “God Mode”
They won’t do you any harm, but it’s Within this key, you should create
unlikely that they’ll fix any serious a new DWORD value called This isn’t strictly a Registry hack, and to be honest the name
problems, and they almost certainly “UseOLEDTaskbarTransparency” and very much oversells it. Still, this trick conveniently exposes the
won’t be able to help you out if you set it to 1. This means that, when you complete range of Control Panel settings in a flat, searchable
have manually changed a setting you next restart, the taskbar will be much interface. To enable it, all you have to do is create a folder on
shouldn’t have. more lightly tinted. your desktop called “GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-
It’s a similar story with Registry 99712043E01C}” (if the presumption offends you, you can
compacting tools. It’s true that the Add seconds to your change the first bit to whatever you like). Then double-click to
Registry takes up space on your hard taskbar clock open it, and browse the settings and configuration options to
disk, and parts of it are cached in If you like to know the precise time, your heart’s content.
RAM, so clearing out superfluous data you can update the clock at the
will give you more free disk space, and bottom-right of the Windows desktop
more available memory. However, by to show seconds, rather than the
modern standards the hive files are default hour-and-minute display.
very modestly sized – typically less The key you need to update is:
than 200MB on a single-user system
– so compacting them is unlikely to HKCU\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\
make a noticeable difference. CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced

Time to get hacking Create a new DWORD value called


You should now have a good idea of “ShowSecondsInSystemClock” and
what the Registry is, how it’s set it to 1 to enable the seconds display
structured and how you can tweak it in the taskbar clock.
with minimal risk. Below you’ll find a
selection of our favourite hacks to try Make taskbar buttons
out for yourself – it’s not just cosmetic bring the last active
stuff, but tweaks that can really window to the front
improve your productivity, with an If you have more than one window
emphasis on the Windows desktop open in an application – for instance,
and Explorer. two Word documents – then clicking
If you want to go searching for on the taskbar icon will open a
further Registry tweaks, there’s thumbnail for each, allowing you to
no shortage of pointers online – for click on either one to bring it to the
example, you’ll find settings to change fore. However, if you prefer, you can
the scaling and spacing of the icons on tweak this behaviour so that clicking
your desktop, adjust the appearance takes you straight back to whichever
of window borders and play with window was last active. As with the
many other visual defaults. Be aware, previous Registry tweak, the key you
though, that a lot of the information need to edit is:
you’ll find will be obsolete, or may not
work in the expected way. People
have been posting Registry tweaks for If you do make a silly
as long as the internet’s been around,
and many of them no longer fully mistake, there’s no
apply to Windows 10.
Finally, we’re obliged to point out easy way to undo
that the tweaks on the following pages
are offered for information only, and Registry edits so it’s a
we can’t be held responsible for
anything that happens as a result of good idea to back up
33
HKCU\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\ just a badly written program that
CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced doesn’t close down promptly like it
should. If you don’t like waiting, you
Create a new DWORD called can tell Windows to forcibly kill all
“LastActiveClick” and set it to 1. You processes when it’s time to restart. To
can still access the thumbnails of do so, navigate to:
other windows by hovering the
mouse pointer over the application’s HKCU\USER\Control Panel\Desktop
taskbar icon.
Create a new DWORD value called
Adjust the duration of “AutoEndTasks”, set it to 1 and those
menu animations annoying “this app is preventing
When you right-click on an item in shutdown” messages should be a
the Windows Explorer, the menus thing of the past. Just make sure
(and submenus) take a moment to you’ve saved your data before you tell
Open Explorer at “fade in”. You can shorten this delay
by changing a value within this
Windows to reboot.

whatever directory Registry key: Remove graphics driver


you choose HKCU\Control Panel\Desktop
shortcuts from desktop
context menu
By default, the Windows 10 Explorer opens up on the Quick If your PC has a discrete graphics card,
Access view. In the original release of Windows 10, there was The value you want is called you’ll notice that when you right-
no official way to change this, and hackers quickly sought out “MenuShowDelay”; the default is click on the desktop, a shortcut to
ways of tweaking the Registry to make it show a different 400 milliseconds, but you’re free to your graphics driver appears at the
folder when opened. Recent editions of Windows 10 now give reduce it (or raise it if you wish). You top of the context menu. Don’t want it
you the option of always opening Explorer at This PC instead can also choose to make windows pop there? Then kill it. The key you’re
(it’s the top option in the File Explorer Options dialog). up, rather than fading in, by opening looking for will be one of these two,
However, if you want it to open at some other folder, a bit the Settings app, searching for the depending on whether your GPU is
of hackery is still required. First, create a shortcut to the toggle labelled “Show animations in from AMD or Nvidia:
folder you want to be your default location – and rename that Windows”, and flipping the switch. Be
shortcut “File Explorer”. Then, enter this address into the warned, though – having submenus HKCR\Directory\Background\shellex\
location bar of an Explorer window: appear instantaneously is actually ContextMenuHandlers\ACE
quite distracting!
%APPDATA%\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch\ HKCR \Directory\Background\shellex\
User Pinned\TaskBar Disable Aero Shake ContextMenuHandlers\
Windows’ “Aero Shake” function NvCplDesktopContext
You’ll see a link here to File Explorer. Overwrite it with your kicks in when you pick up a window
new shortcut and hey presto – now, when you click on the File by its title bar and use the mouse to Just delete these keys and reboot to
Explorer icon on the Taskbar, Explorer will open at your literally shake it from side to side: all remove the unwanted menu entries.
desired location. other windows are automatically (You may want to back up the keys
Unfortunately, there’s no way we know of to change the minimised, leaving you to focus on first in case you later change your
default location that comes up when you open an Explorer the one you’re holding. It’s a quick mind – or, you can always get them
window by pressing Win+E – but what you can do is open the and easy way to hide clutter, but it’s back by reinstalling the drivers.)
Properties of your new shortcut, click on the Shortcut tab and not all that useful – and if you like to
assign a new keyboard shortcut (such as Ctrl+Alt+E) to jiggle your mouse around it can be Hide unwanted drives
directly open your chosen folder. triggered by accident. To turn it off, from This PC
navigate to: By default, the Windows 10 File
Explorer shows all local and network
HKCU\Software\Policies\Microsoft\ drives that have letters assigned to
Windows them. If you want, you can hide any of
these drives from This PC – while still
Once there, create a new subkey leaving them accessible by typing
called Explorer, and then, within that their paths into the location bar. To do
new key, create a DWORD called so, navigate to this key:
“NoWindowMinimizingShortcuts”.
Set its value to 1, restart Explorer, and HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\
Shake is gone. CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer

Shut down Windows Next, create a new DWORD value


more quickly named “NoDrives”. Now comes the
When you shut down or restart slightly difficult bit: Windows uses a
Windows, the operating system 26-bit binary code to record which
instructs all running processes to drives should be hidden, with each bit
terminate. Sometimes, though, a representing a letter from Z: to A:. So
program won’t do that – and it might if, for example you wanted to hide
be for a good reason, such as an open drives A:, B:, D: and E:, the value
“save file” dialog that needs your would be 0000000000000000000
attention. Often, though, the cause is 0011011. Unfortunately, NoDrives

34
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isn’t itself a binary value, so you will


have to enter the code in either
decimal or hexadecimal format:
in this case, the decimal equivalent
is 27.

Add “Command Prompt


here” to the Explorer
context menu
In previous versions of Windows, you
could hold down Shift while right-
clicking on a folder to see the handy
option to “Open Command Prompt
here”. In Windows 10 that’s changed
to “Open Powershell window here”. If
you want to get the old-school
Command Prompt option back, the
key to edit is:

HKCR\Directory\Background\shell\cmd

Look for a DWORD value called


“HideBasedOnVelocityId”; to restore
the old menu option, rename it to
“ShowBasedOnVelocityId”.
Unfortunately this isn’t as simple as it ABOVE You can Add “Take Ownership” cmd.exe /c takeown /f \"%1\" && icacls
sounds, as by default you don’t have change which shortcut to the Explorer \"%1\" /grant administrators:F
permission to edit this value. program opens a context menu
To gain access, right-click on the particular file type As we’ve just seen, permissions in Finally, we need to create a new
“cmd” key, select Permissions and in the extensions Windows can be a drag if you want to string value inside this key called
then click Advanced. At the top of the folder of the get hands-on with certain system “IsolatedCommand”; set its value to
window that opens you should see Registry Editor functions. Adding an Explorer the same CMD.EXE string as above.
that this key is owned by shortcut can make it a lot easier to The change should take effect
TrustedInstaller. Click the Change take ownership of specific files immediately: when you right-click
link next to this name to open the (although, sadly, it doesn’t work for on a file, you will now see the option
“Select user or group” dialog. Type in Registry keys). To add in a shortcut, to take ownership of it, without
your username, then click OK to close navigate to: having to delve into Windows’
this window, and again to close the security settings.
Advanced Security Settings window. HCR\*\shell
Finally, once you’re back in the Make “Take Ownership”
“Permissions for cmd” window, select Now create a new subkey within work with folders too
the Adminstrators group, tick the this key called “runas”, and double- The above hack works on files, but not
“Allow” box next to “Full Control” and click the “(Default)” value that is on entire folders. To make it work
click OK. You can now change the automatically created for the new key. recursively on folders – which means
name of the value – phew! Change its value to “Take Ownership”. you can easily take possession of
Once that’s done, create a new String hundreds of files at once – you should
Hide “Open PowerShell navigate to:
window here” from the
Explorer context menu If you don’t like HCR\Directory\shell
Having done the above, you might
prefer to hide the old PowerShell waiting, you can tell Follow the same instructions as
menu item. The key you need to edit is before: create a new “runas” key,
right next to the one we were just Windows to forcibly change its default value to “Take
editing, at: Ownership” and create a new
kill all processes when “NoWorkingDirectory” string value.
HKCR\Directory\Background\shell\ Then again, create a subkey called
Powershell it’s time to restart “command” and edit the “(Default)”
value. This time, though, the
As you might be able to guess, you command is:
can hide the menu item in question value within the runas key called
by changing this value from “NoWorkingDirectory” and leave its cmd.exe /c takeown /f \"%1\" /r /d y &&
“ShowBasedOnVelocityId” to value unset. icacls \"%1\" /grant administrators:F /t
“HideBasedOnVelocityId”. However, The next step in the process is to
since this key is also protected, you create a new subkey within “runas” Once more, you should copy the
will need to go through the exact same called “command”, and again edit the command above into a new string
rigmarole as above to gain access – “(Default)” value. However, this value called IsolatedCommand
but by now you should be an old hand time, you will need to enter the within the “command” subkey – and
at that. following value: you’re finished.

35
HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\
CurrentVersion\Explorer\MyComputer\
NameSpace

Then, look for a subkey called


“{0DB7E03F-FC29-4DC6-9020-
FF41B59E513A}”. It’s very likely that
this will be the only one beginning
with a zero, but double-check that
you’ve definitely got the right one.
Once you’re sure you have, delete it.
Refresh your Explorer windows and
you will see that the useless shortcut
is gone.

Remove OneDrive from


Explorer
OneDrive isn’t quite as useless as the
“3D Objects” folder, but it’s not
necessarily something you’re going
to use every day – and similarly, it
can’t be removed from Explorer using
normal methods, unless you
completely uninstall it. To get rid of
Clean up the “Open You’ll see that there’s already a ABOVE Desktop the persistent shortcut in the
With” context menu subkey here called SendTo. Create a Registry tweaks navigation pane, first browse to
When you right-click on a file and new one and call it “Copy To”. Then, include shutting HKCR\CLSID and scroll down the very
select “Open With”, you’ll see a edit its “(Default)” value and set it to Windows down long list of class identifiers until you
selection of programs that have “{C2FBB630-2971-11D1-A18C- more quickly and find “{018D5C66-4533-4307-9B53-
registered themselves as handlers for 00C04FD75D13}” (including the curly adjusting the 224DE2ED1FE6}”. Within this key,
that particular filetype. To remove a brackets, but not the quotation duration of menu edit the value called “System.
particular application from this list, marks”). Now when you right-click on animations IsPinnedToNameSpaceTree”, and
browse to: a file or folder, you’ll see a new menu change it from 1 to 0. If you’re running
item entitled “Copy to folder…” which on 64-bit Windows, make the same
HKCU\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\ lets you directly specify a destination. change at:
CurrentVersion\Explorer\FileExts\ To create a “Move To” menu item,
do exactly the same thing, but call the HKCR\Software\Classes\
Here you’ll find a long list of all the key “Move To” (obviously) and set its WOW6432Node\CLSID
different file extensions that are default value to “{C2FBB631-2971-
registered on your PC. Scroll down to 11D1-A18C-00C04FD75D13}”. Finally, browse to:
the one you want to edit and then
expand it to reveal a subkey called Remove “3D Objects” HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\
“OpenWithList”. Here you’ll see all from This PC Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\
the registered handlers; delete any key Explorer’s This PC view shows quick Explorer\Desktop\NameSpace\
to remove it from the context menu.
If you want to add programs to Within this key you’ll see a subkey
this list, it’s safest not to try to do it In the Registry, you with the same long hexadecimal
through the Registry: instead, name we referred to above (starting
right-click on the file in Explorer, can create contextual {018D5C66…). Delete this too and,
select “Open With”, and then pick after a reboot, that pointless shortcut
“Choose another app…” at the bottom menu items that let will be gone. If you still want to access
of the list. Select the application you your OneDrive folder, you can access
want and henceforth, it will be added you copy and move it by typing “OneDrive” into the
to your context menu. location bar, and create a shortcut to

Add “Copy To…” and


items with a click it wherever you like.

“Move To…” context Remove “Shortcut to…”


menus links to personal folders in its upper When you create a shortcut to a
Move files around a lot? There’s no pane, including Documents, file, Windows helpfully appends
need to be dragging icons this way and Downloads and Music. Recent “ – Shortcut” to the filename. This is a
that, or messing around with Ctrl+C Windows 10 updates have added little superfluous, since there’s
and Ctrl+V. By editing the Registry, another folder named “3D Objects”. already a little arrow icon in the
you can create contextual menu items It’s a fair to say that very few people corner that tells you it’s a shortcut. To
that let you copy and move items with will actually need this – but there’s change this behaviour, you should
a single click. Start by navigating to: no obvious way to stop it cluttering navigate to:
up your workspace. Fortunately, you
HCR\AllFilesystemObjects\shellex\ can get rid of it very easily. Just HKCU\USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\
ContextMenuHandlers navigate to: Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer

36
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Now create a new binary value named download and install drivers makes it
“link” and set it to 00 00 00 00. When a cinch to set up, compared to earlier
you next reboot your PC, your versions of the OS. More problematic
shortcuts should come out with the is the way it also automatically installs
same names as the originals. updates as they become available –
even though these may contain
Remove arrow overlays unwanted feature changes or even
for shortcuts bugs. To keep your drivers stable,
If you really want your shortcuts to navigate to:
look like regular files, you can get rid
of the arrow overlays. To do this, HKLM\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\
navigate to: Windows

HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\ Create a subkey called


CurrentVersion\Explorer WindowsUpdate and then within it
create a new DWORD value called
Create a new subkey called “Shell “ExcludeWUDriversInQuality
Icons” and create a new string value Update”. Set it to 1 and restart your
within it called “29” (yes, really). Set PC; while Windows Update continues
this to “%windir%\System32\shell32. to automatically download security
dll,-50”. Restart Windows and the updates, it should now leave your
arrows will be gone. device drivers alone.

Make “Do this for all Change your owner


Cancel Windows Update
items” the default when and organisation If you go searching online, you’ll find numerous Registry
copying files name tweaks that claim to prevent Windows from automatically
It’s a small thing, but when you’re When you originally installed rebooting after a new update has been downloaded. But these
copying a folder full files, it’s Windows, it may have asked you for a don’t work on the latest version of Windows 10.
annoying when Windows keeps name and organisation. Many The good news is that they’re less necessary than they once
stopping to ask what it should do applications will use this information were: Windows is much less pushy than it was, and you can
about conflicts and other issues. So as the defaults for registration and now nominate a set time for the system to reboot. But if you
you might be happy to learn that other metadata. This is fine as far as it absolutely don’t want the OS to ever restart on its own, the
there’s a Registry setting you can goes –but there’s no official way to best solution we’ve found is to set up a scheduled task that
tweak to automatically tick the “Do ever update this information once periodically cancels any pending reboot jobs.
this for all items” box. You still have to you’ve provided it. Happily, it’s To do this, open the Task Scheduler and click on “Create
tell Windows what to do, but now it’s straightforward to do with a quick Task…” The window that opens will have several tabs: on the
a single click. You’ll find the key at: Registry tweak. The keys you want first (“General”), tick “Run with highest privileges”. On the
are located at: Triggers tab, use the dropdown to set your task to run at
HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\ startup, and tick to have it repeat every hour; set the duration
CurrentVersion\Explorer\ HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows to “indefinitely” and click OK.
OperationStatusManager NT\C urrentVersion Next, in the Actions tab, click “New…” and in the “Program/
script” enter “powershell”. In the “add arguments” field, type:
Simply edit the “Confirmation The values are called
CheckBoxDoForAll” value, changing “RegisteredOrganization” and -command Disable-ScheduledTask \Microsoft\Windows\
it from 0 to 1. “RegisteredOwner” – feel free to UpdateOrchestrator\Reboot
change them to whatever you want.
Use strictly alphabetical Click OK to finish creating your Action. Next, click onto the
file sorting Enable Verbose Conditions tab and untick “Stop if the computer switches to
Windows Explorer tries to show you booting battery power”. And finally, on the Settings tab, untick “Stop
files in an intuitive order, so FILE_10 The Windows 10 boot screen may be the task if it runs longer than…”
comes after FILE_9. But perhaps your tasteful,with its cyan logo on a plain Click OK for a final time and the job’s finished. In the
filenames aren’t sequential, and you black background – but it’s entirely future, your new task will activate hourly and cancel any
would prefer to see them in strict uninformative if something goes pending reboots.
alphabetical order? The key you need wrong. Technical users may therefore
to edit is: prefer to see a Linux-style log of
exactly what’s going on during the
HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\ boot process. To enable “verbose”
Currentversion\Policies\Explorer mode, browse to:

Create a new DWORD value called HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\


“NoStrCmpLogical” and set it to 1. Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\
Next time you open an Explorer Policies\System
window, FILE_10 will be sorted ahead
of FILE_9 (and indeed FILE_2). Create a new DWORD value called
“VerboseStatus” and give it a value of
Disable automatic driver 1. Once that’s done, prepare for a
updates deluge of technical information next
Windows 10’s ability to automatically time you start up Windows…

37
ARE
SMART
GUNS THE
SILVER
BULLET?
Guns are out of
control in the US.
Couldsmartweapons
succeed where
politicians have
failed?Davey Winder
investigates

38
@PCPRO FACEBOOK.COM/PCPRO Smartguns

BELOW To operate the semi-


automatic Armatix iP1, the matching
wristwatch has to be within ten
inches of the gun

S
tudents took to the If people and politicians aren’t
streets to demand smart enough to deal with the
tighter gun controls problem themselves, is there a way to
following the Florida control gun deaths by making the
Parkland shooting. The weapons smarter instead?
president’s response?
Give guns to teachers. REAL-LIFE LAWGIVER
Assuming that arming teachers The notion of a high-tech weapon that
isn’t the solution, maybe the answer can both identify the user and disable
sits with technology. Could smarter the firing mechanism for anyone but
guns be the solution? the verified owner is nothing new.
Mass shootings in the US have Think of the Lawgiver from Judge
become frighteningly common. The Dredd (a movie yours truly was in
one that took place on 14 February at when the 1995 remake was produced).
the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High Yet such a gun isn’t constrained to the
School in Parkland, Florida claimed 17 realms of fiction; the Magna-Trigger
lives and saw 17 more wounded. Yet device that prevents firing unless a
mass shootings account for a tiny magnetic ring is worn predates Judge
fraction of the total number of Dredd, having first appeared in 1974.
gun-related deaths. By the end of In 1998, Colt came up with the Z40,
May, the Gun Violence Archive which used a radio-frequency
(gunviolencearchive.org) reported a wristband to enable firing and, in
total of 5,736 verified gun-related 2011, Smith & Wesson inked a deal
deaths in the US already this year. with the US government to fund
These statistics don’t include the smart gun technology. So why have
estimated 22,000 suicides by shooting you never heard of these weapons?
in the US annually but do include Because NRA members and Second
some 675 “unintentional shootings”. Amendment activists boycotted both
The number of children aged up to 17 companies and almost drove them
either killed or injured in the same into bankruptcy. Both the Z40 and the
period was 1,298. promise of research were dropped.
According to the Pulitzer Prize- The NRA insists it doesn’t
winning fact-checkers PolitiFact, the currently, and never has, opposed
true scale of the problem is almost such developments, but it does
incomprehensible. It calculates that oppose government mandates over
between the start of the American what weapons citizens can use.
Revolutionary War in 1775 up until Mandates such as a law passed in New
2015, there had been 1,396,733 Jersey in 2002 that requires all gun
cumulative deaths on the battlefield. shops in the state to only sell smart
Gun-related deaths in the US since guns within a three-year window
1968, when Robert F. Kennedy was from when the first smart gun is sold,
assassinated, tallied up to a staggering anywhere in the country. Those
1,516,863 in only 47 years. That figure earlier boycotts, the motivational
also includes suicides, accidents and muscle of the NRA and a real fear
law-enforcement interventions, as of going out of business have meant
well as homicides, but it’s still a that no gun shop has yet had the
population the size of Birmingham courage to do so. Some have thought
and Glasgow combined wiped out about it, such as the owner of Engage
by bullets. Armament in Maryland who

39
announced he was going to stock the with, when the American households
Armatix iP1 in 2014. He received death biometric scanner owning at least one gun, it’s
threats and faced a well-organised fails to recognise the perhaps surprising these
boycott if he continued. Needless to user and repeated figures aren’t even higher.
say, he dropped the idea. attempts are required Margot also reveals that
to gain access. 80% of the 250,000 guns
HACKING FIREARMS “Consider a scenario stolen each year are never
But what of the Armatix iP1 itself? where your recovered, which simply
How does this advance the smart gun? fingerprint reader feeds the underworld. “If law
It takes the ideas from the Magna- does not align in a enforcement officers carried
Trigger device of the seventies, and rushed grip, or a firearms personalised for
more recent smart “trigger guard” sweaty palm creating their use, we wouldn’t see
add-ons such as the Identilock a negative reading guns stolen out of officer’s
fingerprint reader, and builds them in the heat of a cars being used in killings.”
into the handgun. The iP1 requires the gunfight,” warned Indeed, law enforcement
owner to wear a smartwatch that Graeme Park of Mason is the one area where smart
pairs with the gun – if both watch and Advisory and a former tech is being applied to
weapon are within 1oin of each other, major in the military. When it comes ABOVE Yardarm’s firearms. Not in identifying the user,
the gun can fire. to the old usability versus security forensic Blackbox as such, but rather in determining the
However, a hacker called “Plore” argument, usability can’t be impacted system records key location and usage of weapons. One
was able to demonstrate serious flaws in the firearms sector. details such as outfit that has made great strides in
in the protection. He first managed to when the gun was this sector is Yardarm, which builds
extend the unlock pairing range by RIGHT SOLUTION, unholstered, aimed products and services that don’t
building transmitter relays, having WRONG PROBLEM? and fired interfere with the mechanical
worked out the signal wavelengths Maybe, then, we’re looking for a smart function of the weapon, but do reveal
being used and then blocked the solution to the wrong problem? Mass where and when a weapon is drawn
handset remotely. The most damning shootings are unlikely to be prevented and fired.
exploit, though, was when Plore was by the type of gun control a smart Jim Schaff, vice-president at
seen in a video bypassing the lock weapon can provide. Not least as the Yardarm, explains that by using a
mechanism entirely simply by placing overwhelming majority are combination of gun-and holster-
a stack of cheap neodymium magnets perpetrated by the registered owner of aware sensors, alongside a cloud
on the right part of the gun and the gun. And then there’s the problem platform, law enforcement can
leaving the £1,000 smart weapon of the millions of “dumb” guns in identify all motion-related firearm
activity. “Primary use cases include
real-time alerts to dispatch, so if an
“BACKDOORS MIGHT BYPASS THE officer in the field uses their weapon
then dispatch can send backup
FINGERPRINT RECOGNITION
PROCESS ALTOGETHER”
looking pretty dumb. Of course, in a existence. It’s doubtful that the
real home invasion the intruder weapons already in the underground
wouldn’t know the owner had such a system could be eliminated within our
gun and wouldn’t come prepared with lifetimes, or the generation still to
tech kit to disable it. A savvy family come, even if only smart guns could
member wanting to kill themselves, be legally sold as from today.
or others, might have more success. So where does smart tech fit into
What about the fingerprint gun control in any meaningful way?
readers? If they’re reliable enough to Margot Hirsch, president of the Smart
stop unauthorised access to your Tech Challenges Foundation believes
phone, why can’t they work on guns that almost all accidental shootings BELOW The
too? Matt Lewis, research director at and teen suicides could be prevented Identilock can only
the NCC Group, isn’t convinced this is by smart guns. Margot says that of the be opened with a
necessarily secure enough either. 2,600 youth suicides using guns each fingerprint from
“Fingerprint spoofing is rife,” Lewis year in the US, 70% use a family a maximum of
explained, “with many public sources member’s firearm. With one in three three users
explaining how this can be done.”
That opens the potential for such
weapons to be fired without the
knowledge of the owner, leaving them
in the frame for the shooting.
Then there are exploits in the
software used in the fingerprint
enrolment process. “Software
vulnerabilities, or the addition of
backdoors, might bypass the
fingerprint recognition process
altogether,” he warned. That’s not to
mention the false negatives that every
smartphone user will be familiar

40
@PCPRO FACEBOOK.COM/PCPRO Smartguns

3D-PRINTED
immediately,” Schaff said, “even if population. As we’ve seen, that
the officer is unable to call for help on certainly can’t be taken for granted.
the radio.”
Yardarm can also activate the
And so, we come full circle to the
real problem with smart guns. There FIREARMS
Engage body-worn camera system so are areas of the gun control debate One area where technology has caused a stir
that all critical evidence during a where smart guns are playing a part within both the gun-owning population and law
shooting is captured. The Blackbox – they’re just not the areas that most enforcement is 3D printing. The dark web is well
firearm forensic system records all people would have hoped for. known for selling firearms as well as drugs, and you
weapon telemetry such as holster It beggars belief that technology is can now add 3D files for printing firearms to that
state, discharge time, magazine unable to play a much broader role shameful list.
insertion, three-axis motion data, and can’t make firearms safer for And while buying a “real” gun on the dark web will
weapon jams and so on. both the legal owner and potential cost around $1,000 according to the most recent
victim alike. It leads me to the research, a CAD file to enable the 3D printing of one
LOCK DOWN THE conclusion that the real problem is will set you back as little as $12.
LOCATION that there simply is no appetite for Of course, the chances are high that it would
One young technologist, 17-year-old developing such technology within explode if you tried to fire it. Using polylactic acid
Chloe Green, is developing similar Silicon Valley or the venture capital (PLA) plastics wouldn’t work as the material is so
location-aware tech for firearms that outfits that fund it. Where is the Elon soft that parts would deform or break upon firing, at
she hopes might prevent mass Musk, Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates of smart best preventing a successful shot and possibly
shootings. The gUNarmed project gun technology? injuring the would-be shooter. Harder acrylonitrile,
revolves around a location-aware gun Is it merely that nobody wants to butadiene and styrene (ABS) polymers would likely
magazine that uses GPS data to jam be associated with the firearms deliver better
the mechanism if someone tries to fire market, even if that association led results, but even so
the weapon in a location where it’s not directly to fewer suicides, fewer the forces involved
permitted. By moving the smarts from accidental shootings and ultimately a in firing a single
the person using the gun to the place safer society for all? Or is “the market” shot would likely
the gun is being used, Chloe hopes to waiting for the power of the gun lobby render the weapon
prevent the kind of tragedies that to subside? incapable of firing a
unfold in schools and government Until the path to market becomes second time.
buildings, shopping centres, airports a lot clearer and less congested, with Hybrid 3D
and so on. As well as locking the the picket lines dismantled and printed guns using
magazine, gUNarmed can also alert distribution channels allowed to a combination of
law enforcement to the presence of respond to technological advance, it’s plastic printed
the would-be shooter. It doesn’t unlikely much will change. Apart parts and off-the-
require the purchase of a new gun as from the victim statistics that will shelf metal
it’s an add-on, but it does require the continue to rise week by week, year components, or
support of the gun-owning on year… even industrial 3D
metal printers, are
both alternatives.
Both suffer the
same drawbacks of
being much costlier
than just buying a
gun, unless the real value is in avoiding legal
ownership. Even then, the idea that a criminal
organisation would go to the expense and complexity
of producing some kind of gun-printing factory is
unlikely when buying them ready-made on the black
market is easier.
But that’s today – come tomorrow, who knows
where the technology will take us? Yesterday,
relatively speaking, technology took us to the first
functional 3D-printed gun, known as the Liberator.
This one-shot weapon was designed by a “crypto-
anarchist” called Cody Wilson in 2013 and caused a
media frenzy when his open-source gunsmithery
Defense Distributed (defdist.org) made the files
available for download.
That it was downloaded more than 100,000 times
in the first 48 hours was probably enough for the US
government to get involved and persuade the
organisation to remove the plans. Not that you can
print a fully functional gun using a 3D printer anyway,
not even in the case of the Liberator; it still requires a
metal firing pin and real bullets to actually fire.
Interest in the gun wasn’t restricted to the US,
which was only second in the “most downloaded” list
of countries: Spain topped the list, and the UK was
fifth. Maybe this led the Home Office to introduce
stricter controls on 3D printed firearms, and firearm
components, that year. Since then it has been illegal
to create, buy or sell such 3D items in the UK.

41
Build a
RASPBERRY Pi
HOME
SERVER
in 30 minutes
Want to stream your music,
create Dropbox-like storage
or even host your own
website?Nik Rawlinson
provides step-by-step advice
on doing precisely that

42
@PCPRO FACEBOOK.COM/PCPRO RaspberryPi

T
he ideal home server is quiet, reliable and light on power – just like
the Raspberry Pi. Better yet, the Raspberry Pi is cheap. The board
itself costs less than £40 and the Raspbian operating system is free. If 1
you have an old monitor, keyboard and mouse going begging, you can
usually power it using a regular USB power supply, so all you need to
add is a microSD card to boot from.
Over the next four pages, we’ll show you how you can turn a regular
Raspberry Pi into a fully-fledged home server for photos, storage and media
streaming – in half an hour or less. We’re using the new Raspberry Pi 3 Model
B+, but the instructions are the same if you’re using one of its predecessors. The
benefit of the Pi 3 B+, if you haven’t yet bought one, is that it has a faster
processor and runs cooler. It can still manage with a passive heatsink (around
£3) or, in many cases, no heatsink at all, allowing you to keep the server under
your TV without being disturbed by constantly running fans.

Initial installation 2
You can find clear and detailed Open Source Media Center (OSMC)
instructions for setting up a factory- is the system that underpins Kodi, so if
fresh Pi at raspberrypi.org/ you want to use your Pi as a streaming
documentation/setup. The board can device, it’s a simple matter of installing
run several different operating systems, this using New Out Of Box Software
but we’re using Raspbian for the main (NOOBS), the regular installer for
server functions. We would recommend setting up a Raspberry Pi. It is, quite
doing the same if you want to follow literally, a two-click operation, meaning
along. As the Pi boots from microSD, we won’t cover it here. Instead,
there’s nothing to prevent you installing we’re going to focus on making your
several different operating systems Raspberry Pi accessible remotely and
– including Debian, Ubuntu and OSMC –
on separate cards and swapping them
installing ownCloud to create a self-
hosted Dropbox-like file and media
3
as appropriate. sharing server.

You can also access it from other

1 Install Apache
Open the Raspbian Preferences
menu and pick Add/Remove
machines on your local network using
its IP address. You can find this by
opening a terminal window and
Software. This interface greatly typing sudo ifconfig. Check the “inet”
simplifies the task of downloading value for the interface through which
and installing apps without having to it’s connected to your network. In

4
use the command line. Search for our case, that’s “wlan0” – the Pi’s
“apache2” and select Apache HTTP Wi-Fi interface.
Server from the results. Click Apply to
download and install it. You’ll need to
enter your super user password. If
you’ve left all of the defaults as they
4Set permissions
If you want to create a regular
HTML site, without PHP or a database,
are, the super user’s username is “pi” save your HTML files to “/var/www/
and the password is “raspberry”. html/”. At the moment, it contains
just an INDEX.HTML file, which you’ll

2dependencies
Notice the
Installation should take less than a
need to replace or overwrite to make
your changes. Before you can do that,
though, you need to change the
minute, although the exact time will folder’s permissions. Open a terminal
depend on your broadband and Wi-Fi window and type sudo chmod 777 /var/
configuration. Once that’s complete, www/html/, which grants read and
you’ll notice that Raspbian has also
installed two further packages
write permissions to all users.
5
containing modules and common
files. These are required by the server,
so don’t uncheck them or you’ll run
5 Install PHP
So far, our web server is
functional but basic. If we’re going to
into problems. run an application such as ownCloud,
we need to add PHP. Again, this can

3Test your server


Step 3 is… technically there is no
step 3 if all you want to do is set up a
be done through the Raspbian UI.
Return to the Add/Remove Software
app and search for PHP. Select and
web server. Apache is installed and install “server-side, HTML-embedded
running, as you’ll see if you point scripting language (metapackage)”.
your Pi’s browser at http://localhost/. This appeared second in the list of

43
results for us. You’ll need to provide
your username and password again
to proceed.
6 and using the credentials specified in
step 8.

6 Install MariaDB
Our server now has a modicum of
11Create a new
database
We’ve almost finished configuring the
intelligence, but running ownCloud database server and can soon move on
requires a database to keep track of to installing our content management
which files we’ve shared and where system. First, though, we need to
they are. In this case, we’re going to create a database for its contents.
use MySQL/MariaDB, which we’ll We’ll do that by clicking New in the
install from the command prompt by phpMyAdmin sidebar and providing a
opening a Terminal window and name in the “Create database” field.
typing sudo apt-get install mysql-server We’re going to install ownCloud, so
python-mysqldb. It should only take a we’ve chosen “owncloud”, but if this
few seconds to complete.
7 is taken you can use anything else.

7 Provide a password
We now need to set up a user
account. You can create as many as
12Forward
traffic
web
The instructions for this and the next
you want but, in this case, we’re going step are device-specific. We’re using a
to create the root user with the Plusnet Hub, which is a rebranded BT
command sudo mysql -u root -p. Once unit and shares the same layout.
you hit Return, it will ask you to Whichever router you’re using, look
provide a password. However, this for a Port Forwarding setting, which
won’t be shown onscreen as you type may be in an advanced section. Once
it, so be careful to enter it correctly. you find it, set HTTP traffic to arrive at
Once you’ve provided the password your Pi. On the Plusnet/BT router, you
that you want to use, hit Return again can select the Pi from a list of clients
to continue. on the network. Certain routers may

8 require the Pi’s IP address instead.

8account
Authorise your
With the user set up, we need to give it 13updater
Set up the IP
permission to actually manipulate the We’re going to use No-IP’s free
server. Without that permission, it forwarding service at noip.com.
won’t be possible to create, delete and Having provided the details it needs
amend databases, tables or their to set up the free account, and chosen
content. While still in the MySQL/ a hostname, we’ll follow its own
MariaDB environment, type “GRANT comprehensive instructions for
ALL PRIVILEGES ON mydb.* to installing the update client on our Pi
'root'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY (noip.com/support/knowledgebase/
'xxx';” (without the double quotes, install-ip-duc-onto-raspberry-pi).
but with the single quotes, and This monitors our network’s external
replacing xxx with the password you
used in step 8). Press Return. 9 IP address and updates the No-IP
servers when it spots a change. That
means any traffic landing on our

9Install phpMyAdmin
We now need to set up the
database itself, which we can do
dynamic address forwards to our local
network, at which point the router
redirects it to the Pi.
through phpMyAdmin. Point your
browser at phpmyadmin.net and
download the latest build. Extract
the files and place them in the root of
14install
Download and
ownCloud
Point your browser at owncloud.org/
your web server (the folder “/var/ download, scroll down to the
www/html/”). You then need to Download TAR button in the Tarball
associate phpMyAdmin with Apache, section, right-click and copy the
so open a terminal window and type address. Open a new terminal window
sudo nano /etc/apache2/apache2.conf. and type wget, before pressing

10Save and restart 10


Ctrl+Shift+V to paste the address you
copied from the openCloud site. Hit
Scroll to the bottom of the Return to download the package and
configuration file and add “Include / make a note of the resulting filename.
etc/phpmyadmin/apache.conf” on its
own line, without the quotation
marks. Save the file by pressing
Ctrl+O, then quit Nano with Ctrl+X.
15Relocate and
unpack your files
When the download completes, move
Restart the web server with the the file to the “/var/www/html”
command /etc/int.d/apache2 restart. folder by typing copy mv <filename> /var/
You can now log in to phpMyAdmin www/html/. Navigate to the HTML
by pointing your browser at folder (cd /var/www/html) and unpack
http://localhost/phpmyadmin/ the archive with sudo tar xfj <filename>.

44
@PCPRO FACEBOOK.COM/PCPRO RaspberryPi

11 This creates an ownCloud folder with


the unpacked files. Copy them to the
root of the server with sudo mv /var/
16
www/html/owncloud/* /var/www/html/.

16Create
account
your
OwnCloud is installed. Now you need
to set it up. Start by giving Apache
permission to access the ownCloud
files by typing sudo chown -R www-data /
var/www/html/ then restart the server
to implement the change by typing
sudo service apache2 restart. Now point
your browser at “<IP address>/

12 owncloud” and fill in the details.


17
17 Log in for the
first time
OwnCloud will take a few seconds to
build its configuration file, then
return you to the login prompt.
Enter the username and password
you specified earlier. Once inside,
click your name on the top bar and
pick Settings, then set a recovery
email in the first section of the first
page. This is also the page you’ll
return to when you need to change
your password.
13 18
18Connect
WebDAV
via
Our server is running properly, so
let’s connect remotely. OwnCloud
has a built in WebDAV server, which
we’ll use to connect from Windows.
Download any WebDAV client from
the Microsoft Store and use your Pi’s
IP address and the username and
password to log in. You can now
manage your files and photos from
any local PC or access the server via
the browser using the Pi’s IP address.

14 19Try – and fail – a 19


remote connection
The IP address won’t work externally
as it sits behind your DHCP server, so
to connect remotely you’ll need to use
the dynamic domain name that you
set up earlier. In our case, that’s
“pcpro.hopto.org” but, as you can see
from the screenshot to the right,
typing that in throws up an error. As
the domain hasn’t been permitted,
ownCloud blocks it.

15 20 Fix the remote


connection issue 20
Back on the Raspberry Pi, we type
sudo nano /var/www/html/config/config.php
and add pcpro.hopto.org (swap this for
your own dynamic URL) in the
trusted servers section of the
configuration file. We then use
Ctrl+O to write the amendment to
disk and Ctrl+X to exit the Nano
editor. If we return to Windows and
try accessing the server using the
dynamic domain name, it now works
perfectly. Job done!

45
WHAT
DOESYOUR
BOSS
KNOW Think your private
messages on work systems
are safe? Think again.

ABOUT
Barry Collins explores what
your boss can see on Slack,
G Suite and Office 365

YOU?
46
@PCPRO FACEBOOK.COM/PCPRO Workmessages

T
ake a good look more employees, and effectively act as So how do you know if the boss is
through your private channels. exporting your private conversations?
employment Free and Standard tier admins Under its old Compliance Report
contract. Chances might not be able to see direct system, Slack used to notify users if
are that, tucked messages, but they can still tell if there was a chance their private
somewhere there’s a lot of private chatter going messages could be read.
within, you’ll find on. Slack analytics display a graph Now you have to go to slack.com/
a clause letting your that shows the percentage of daily account/team, log in and read the
company monitor your electronic communication in public, private and notification at the bottom, which
communications. But now that most direct messaging channels. If the boss reveals the type of data that can be
of our communications live in the can see a high percentage of chatter in exported from your company’s Slack
cloud, what can your company see? direct messages, that might encourage account. If private messages are listed,
Has the ability of your boss to them to probe further. it might be better to use WhatsApp or
snoop on your private messages been If Free and Standard tier admins do some other private channel to plot the
diminished now that the content want to access private conversations overthrow of your manager…
doesn’t sit on the company’s own between employees, they would have There is one potential saviour for
servers? Or is it easier than ever to to apply directly to Slack. Slack says it Slack plotters. Paid-for Slack
scour private conversations that take “will reject applications, unless accounts can allow users to set their
place on ‘work’ systems? Workspace Owners show in each own private channel and direct
Here, we dive deep into the admin instance (a) valid legal process, or (b) message retention policies. This
panels of three of the most used consent of members, or (c) a means you can click the settings cog
business communications platforms requirement or right under applicable BELOW Slack in any private or DM channel and have
to give you an insight into the laws in order to export data”. administrators are the messages routinely purged in as
communications monitoring tools If your company pays for one of given a graph that little as 24 hours. This is a permanent
available to IT admins. You may be Slack’s Plus or Enterprise plans, breaks down the deletion and means the message
shocked to discover what your boss however, the ball game changes. Paid percentage of won’t be retrievable by admins.
can see. subscribers can perform what’s daily messages in However, admins need to explicitly
known as a Corporate Export, which public, private and switch on this option – it’s not on by
SLACK Slack describes as “a self-serve export direct channels default. If your company is the kind of
Slack has largely replaced email for tool that permits a
internal communications within Workspace Owner
many companies. But, while most to export content
employees will be aware that their from private
email can be read by their employer channels and direct/
– a condition normally stated in group messages as
contracts of employment – what needed and permitted
about their Slack messages? by law”.
Especially those posted in private While Slack once
Slack channels? again insists that the
The extent to which your boss can Workplace Owner
read your Slack messages will depend must “ensure that (a)
on their appetite to pay for the service. appropriate
Slack has infiltrated many employment
organisations from the ground up, agreements and
with many teams still using the free corporate policies
tier – especially if it’s not officially have been
supported by the IT department. (In implemented, and (b)
many small organisations, there’s no all use of Corporate
such thing as an IT department in the Export is permitted
first place.) under applicable
On the free tier, teams only have law”, note that key
access to their past 10,000 messages. phrase “self-serve
The rest are bundled into an tool”. There’s nothing in practice that ABOVE In the most employer to go poking around your
unreachable archive, which Slack prevents IT admins or managers basic G Suite plan, private messages, it’s hardly likely to
doesn’t delete, because it uses access exporting and skimming through admins can’t read switch this on in the first place.
to the archive as a carrot to induce private messages. Such conversations your emails, but
companies to subscribe. are exported as JSON files, with they can search the GMAIL
Admins can search and export conversations in the following format: logs to see who It may come as a surprise to people
content from any public Slack you’re emailing and who work for companies using Google
channels, even on the Free tier. Public { the subject line as their email provider that employers
channels are all those listed under “type”: “message”, can’t routinely read emails – at least,
Channels in the Slack interface that “channel”: “a123456789”, not on the most basic G Suite plan.
don’t have a padlock next to their “user”: “u1234565789”, G Suite Basic admins can search
name (the indicator of a private “text”: “Hello world”, email logs, to see what their users are
channel only open to selected users). “ts”: 1234567.123456” receiving and sending, and even
On the Free and Standard tiers, it’s } narrow down those searches to
not ordinarily possible for Slack specific recipients, senders or subject
admins to search for direct messages That means it would be the work of lines. If a company wanted to show
between team members, unless they moments to do a keyword search for a that Employee A had been harassing
themselves were privy to the particular name or phrase, and Employee B by barraging them with
conversation in the first place. Direct identifying the person behind a user email, for example, the audit logs
messages can be sent between two or ID wouldn’t be difficult. could be used as evidence.

47
Workmessages @PCPRO FACEBOOK.COM/PCPRO

What those audit logs don’t show is OFFICE 365


the content of messages. That doesn’t Office 365 admins have much the WHAT DOES THE
mean that G Suite admins have no
way of searching through employees’
same ability to plough through
employees’ email as G Suite overlords.
LAW PERMIT?
inboxes, as Google’s support staff Office 365 doesn’t even force you to
cheerfully explained to me when I pay for the higher tier products before While there are few technical barriers in the
asked for a way to search employees’ handing businesses the ability to way of employers monitoring messages,
emails from the admin console. search through employees’ emails. It’s what about the legal barriers? Are they
“Barry to answer your question, a standard part of the Office 365 allowed to look for whatever they want
you can reset users’ passwords… and Business admin centre. provided you’re using a work account?
then you’ll be able to access users’ Usage reports let admins see when Companies are legally permitted to
inboxes,” support desk Daniel said. users are accessing their mailbox, monitor communications provided that the
This, of course, will lock the employee OneDrive, SharePoint or Skype surveillance is business-related, that the
out of their inbox, so if you’ve ever services, although these reports equipment (or service) is being provided for
found your work Gmail mailbox merely highlight the frequency with work purposes, and that the company made
password has been mysteriously which they’re being used, not the “all reasonable efforts” to inform you that
reset, you might wonder what the IT nature of those communications. your communications may be monitored. But
admins have been up to. To look for specific keywords in your firm doesn’t have to tell you when it
Once they have access to your mailboxes, admins can run a content plans to search your inbox, just that it might
inbox, admins can also set themselves search in the Office 365 Security & do so at some point. This is normally covered
up as a “delegate”, allowing them to Compliance Center. As with the off with a clause in the employment contract.
read any messages sent to or by you. Google Vault, this not only covers Firms also don’t need to seek your
But you’d be able to see who’s been email, but SharePoint Online and permission to monitor communications if
they can show that they were doing so to
LEFT In Office
365, admins • check that work procedures or
can monitor standards are being met
when you • prevent or detect crime, or is in the
access your interests of national security
mailbox and • check for unauthorised use of comms
can also systems, such as personal email or
search the internet use
whole • maintain the system (eg virus checking)
company for
specific To give an example of how communications
keywords can be lawfully monitored, take the case of
the Essex police officer who was dismissed in
December last year after he was caught
afforded delegate access in your Gmail OneDrive for Business sites, Skype for using his work email to drum up work for his
settings – if you ever bothered to look. Business conversations, Microsoft side business as a photographer. He was also
Those companies on the more Teams and Office 365 Groups. found to have used the police email address
expensive G Suite Business and Admins can search specific inboxes to try to get out of two parking tickets.
Enterprise accounts need not resort to or the entire company, and as Last November, a primary school teacher
such underhand measures. These tiers Microsoft’s help files explain: “After in Walsall was sacked after he admitted to
get access to Google Vault, which you run a search you can preview the using school equipment to send personal
archives all the email accounts in the results, get keyword statistics for one emails “of a sexual nature”. The teacher had
firm’s domain on Google’s servers. or more searches, bulk-edit content apparently ignored previous warnings not to
Crucially, this lets the company searches, and export the results to a send personal emails from work computers
search the content of email by local computer.” but had ignored them. The matter was
keyword – and not only email, but Office 365 lets admins perform reported to the police, but he wasn’t found to
Drive files, Hangout chats and Google relatively complex searches, so they have done anything illegal and has been
Groups messages, too. As Google’s can drill down to very specific pieces allowed to remain in the teaching profession.
support files helpfully explain: “When of information. “You can specify But the European Courts seem to suggest
you open an email or chat message, keywords, message properties such as that dismissal for such an offence may not be
the thread’s entire conversation is sent and received dates, or document warranted. Last September, the European
displayed. For very long threads, only properties such as file names or the Court of Human Rights backed Romanian
the most recent 100 messages are date that a document was last Bogdan Barbulescu, who was sacked in 2007
included in the preview. You can’t changed,” Microsoft states. “You can for exchanging messages about his sexual
preview earlier messages from the use more complex queries that use a health with his fiancée from his professional
thread. However, all messages that Boolean operator, such as AND, OR, Yahoo Messenger account, which was being
match your search criteria are NOT, NEAR, or ONEAR. You can also monitored by his employer.
included when you export.” search for sensitive information… in The ECHR ruled that an
Even the criminals’ favourite documents, or search for documents employer “cannot reduce
technique of saving messages in that have been shared externally.” private social life in the
Drafts so that they can’t be Microsoft’s search results even workplace to zero. Respect
intercepted on their way to recipients deliver detailed statistics. Say you’ve for private life and for the
is thwarted by Google Vault. Indeed, searched the company’s mailboxes for privacy of correspondence
the help files suggest that you a particular keyword: the search continues to exist, even
have to specifically exclude results can be sorted to show the if these may be
drafts from a search if you mailboxes with the greatest number restricted in so far
don’t want those results of hits at the top, for example. Big as necessary.”
to be returned. Brother has never had it so good.

48
@PCPRO FACEBOOK.COM/PCPRO
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49
3CX
HA CKS

Howtocreate
privateonlinemeetings
Give your online meetings a professional aura by making them personal – and
allowing employees to add a unique invite on their business cards

I
t doesn’t matter if you’re a one-man band or IT director shelf option. For example, one of many benefits of 3CX
of a 10,000-seat enterprise: you want all your business Phone System is that it offers a personal Click2Meet option.
meetings to appear professional. While you can’t And it’s free, too. Everyone you add to your 3CX system
pretend your offices are in The Shard in real life, when it will be given their own Click2Meet URL that they can
comes to online meetings there are several ways to ensure personalise. That means, if Kate Jenkins works for your
everyone involved comes away with a positive view of you company Acme, she can edit her URL to read acme.3cx.
and your company. net/join/katejenkins.
That means presenting a slick, professional image from Kate could then add that link to her business cards and
the moment you send the invitation until you sign off. In email signature. If anyone wanted to request a meeting,
an ideal situation, you’d be sitting in a conference room, they would simply enter that URL (see “How to set up a
croissants at the ready, with no chance of interruption. But private online meeting” opposite).
real life isn’t like that. Often, the only time you can make a Your caller doesn’t need to install any software. As 3CX
call is when you’re at home; as we’ll see, that doesn’t mean uses WebRTC, so long as they’re using Firefox, Chrome or
you should sacrifice professionalism. Opera, they’ll be able to log straight into the call.

Private rooms
One way to stay professional is to emphasise privacy. 3CX
includes the concept of private rooms, where it’s clear that
you’re in a one-to-one conversation. This lets you have all
the benefits of a professional videoconferencing system –
sharing desktops, recording options, video calling – but
with the knowledge that it’s just the two of you talking.
Want someone else to join the meeting? No problem.
Whether it’s during the call or before it, inviting other RIGHT As the admin
people to join the meeting is a simple task. dashboard indicates,
3CX is a serious tool
Click2Meet with plenty of power
Another way to stay professional? Make the whole and features when
experience feel tailored to your company, not an off-the- you need them

50
3CX Advertorial

How to set up a Click2Meet meeting


1 Let’s assume
you’ve already
2 Your caller
enters the
arranged the address into
time to have your Opera, Chrome
meeting. All you or Firefox. They
need to do is log will be prompted
into the 3CX web to enter their
client and click name and
WebMeeting. The confirm usage of
meeting will start microphone and
automatically. webcam.

3 At this point, your


caller will see a
4 You’re ready to
go. You can share
lovely image of screens, switch
you, so it the webcam on or
probably makes off, send chat
sense to check messages and
that your location draw on a
– and indeed you whiteboard
– look suitably – collaboration
professional has never been
before you begin. easier.

Scheduling
meetings 3 WAYS YOU CAN HOOK UP IN 3CX
It’s also possible to schedule
a meeting, complete with an Direct phone call Click2Meet Video
invitation that slots into It’s as simple as 123 – or As we’ve already seen, it’s conference calls
people’s chosen calendar. whatever you want the straightforward to Want to set up a group call?
They click accept and the extensions to be. This personalise a Click2Meet No problem. In fact, you
calendar entry will pop up translates into a direct dial email that your employees have all the tools you need
at the appropriate time, number and, whenever can share on their to host a webinar, all
with a unique link and someone calls, they’ll be business cards. You also without participants having
sign-in code. put straight through – have all the conferencing to download any additional
Inviting colleagues is a whether that’s to the tools to play with – software. People can even
simple matter of starting to person at their desk or including video, shared join in on iOS and Android
type their name and using the phone app when screens, remote control phones by downloading the
clicking Add. For external out of the office. and call recording. 3CX WebMeeting app.
people, all you need is an
email address.
Once the meeting starts, LEFT It’s easy to services provide. A better comparison is with the
you can share your screen, schedule a meeting enterprise communication tools that used to cost tens of
take remote control of someone else’s system (they will date for the future thousands of pounds.
need to download the 3CX Remote Control Extension and – just pick a time and For example, install 3CX across your business and you
give their consent) and share documents. These are send the invite will add presence information to people’s contacts. That’s
automatically put into a shared documents repository, but obviously useful for remote employees, but also allows
you can stop sharing if you wish. people to set “do not disturb” statuses.
A final useful feature (which is also available in A built-in chat tool makes it easy to instant-message
Click2Meet meetings) is the whiteboard. Obvious usages someone: you don’t need to install a third-party messaging
include brainstorming, collaborating on ideas and online service – simply send text-based messages and links in a
classrooms. And, as with Click2Meet, you can easily add familiar chat interface, whether people are using a Mac,
more people by email or create a link that can be shared on Windows, iOS or Android device.
social media. If you’re still receiving faxes, get them forwarded to an
inbox as a PDF. And there’s no need to mess around with
Beyond VoIP pressing a series of digits on your phone to listen to
So far, so easy, but don’t let this simplicity fool you: 3CX voicemails: they’re converted to audio files and emailed to
offers tools that go way beyond what consumer VoIP the relevant person.

Download 3CX FREE at www.3cx.com


51
Reviews
Slug Sectionhead

The biggest, best, most exciting products in tech – tested, evaluated and reviewed

Windows10
April 2018
Update
Don’t expect epic new features, but this is
an entirely positive upgrade that makes
Windows 10 less annoying

PRICE Free for existing Windows 10 users


from windowsupdate.microsoft.com

T
he latest major update to The other nature of Windows
Windows 10 – the fifth since Update means that you may have
its original release in 2015 – been covertly upgraded to the new
is here. Clearly Microsoft version by now. So which features
continues to take seriously its are worth exploring? And which
promise that Windows 10 will be should be ignored?
a constantly evolving platform,
with new free features coming Timeline
along at regular intervals. The big new feature in the April
The official name “April 2018 2018 Update is Timeline. If that
Update” doesn’t make any grand sounds familiar, it’s because it was
claims, but it’s more unambiguous originally supposed to be in the
than some of the airy previous Fall Creators Update, released last
names such as the “Anniversary October, but was held back for
Update” and the “Creators final polishing.
Update”. It wouldn’t be Microsoft You access Timeline by
if there wasn’t a small catch, pressing Win+Tab, or clicking its
though: while Microsoft did make icon – which replaces the old Task
the update available on 30 April View icon next to the Search bar.
2018, the nature of Windows Either way, you’ll be greeted with
Update means the vast majority of a full-screen calendar view
users didn’t get the opportunity to showing the applications and
upgrade until well into May. documents you’ve been using

52
@PCPRO FACEBOOK.COM/PCPRO Reviews
today, yesterday and in the more Android and
distant past. Click on one and iOS as a bridge
Windows will reopen that document, between the
ready for you to resume work. desktop and
It seems like a great idea: when I sit mobile worlds.
down at my computer, my mind goes Perhaps the
to the project I want to work on, Android app
rather than the application I need to will be updated
open. And the implementation is to integrate
slick, with nice big thumbnails and with Focus
previews of recently accessed files Assist; I
(including Office 365 files that you’ve suspect that
opened on other devices). will be
It remains to be seen whether impossible
Timeline will be a game-changer, on iOS.
however. At the very least, it will take It’s a similar
some getting used to: personally, it situation with
feels jarring when an interface takes Nearby
me completely out of the desktop – sharing, a new
remember Windows 8, anyone? feature that
Right now, there’s also the issue lets you beam
that not all applications work with files directly to
Timeline: developers will have to and from
update their applications to make compatible
them compatible. Currently, I can hop Windows 10
back into editing yesterday’s Word clients. It’s a
document, but the audio projects I’ve pretty obvious
been working on in PreSonus Studio copy of Apple’s
One don’t show up. AirDrop, but
There’s also the small fact that an there’s no
increasing proportion of my day’s shame in that:
work is done in a web browser. it’s an easy
Timeline has a good bash at guessing way to quickly
which pages you might want to go move the odd
back to, but it didn’t manage to file from a
capture a complete record of the desktop to a
various Google Docs I’d been editing. laptop. Once
Still, there’s no reason why that can’t again, what’s
be addressed in the future. lacking is
support for mobile devices – which is TOP The new Timeline beneath them. New design guidelines
Productivity disappointing, because the feature allows you topromote the use of lighting and depth
enhancements awkwardness of getting files from effects to help convey the
quickly hop back into a
Focus assist may sound like a feature your smartphone onto your PC is relationships between controls.
recently accessed file,
you’d get on a camera, but it’s an surely a more general frustration. Bluntly put, it’s a step away from the
but it only works with
enhancement of Windows 10’s Quiet A final interesting feature is a new certain applications flat, featureless Windows 8 style, and
Hours tool. You can now engage Focus hands-free dictation mode. Press back towards the shinier Windows 7
assist whenever you need to get a bit Win+H and… well, for most of us, ABOVE Easily Aero way of doing things – a move I
of work done, or set it to come on probably nothing will happen. But if distracted? When wholeheartedly applaud.
automatically between certain times, you’re running the US English edition active, Focus assist The visual revamp is particularly
or when you’re mirroring your screen of Windows, it will pop up a dictation mutes notifications noticeable in the Settings app, which
or playing games. window that lets you talk directly into for a period of time is finally starting to look and feel like a
When Focus assist is active, applications instead of typing. mature and coherent successor to the
notifications will be temporarily The technology will no doubt come Control Panel. The various
silenced – although you can still to the UK soon enough but, again, I “The concept is called pages now have a tasteful
nominate priority individuals whose wonder whether it’s really going to be Fluent Design, and what it two-tone design, with a
communications will get through. useful. Voice control is great for
And when you turn off Focus assist, barking short orders at Alexa, but
most visibly means is that grey sidebar, and more
features that were
you’ll get a summary of all the when it comes to anything longer, some windows become previously scattered about
notifications that were suppressed. composing out loud is actually pretty slightly translucent” the OS have now been
It’s not a bad idea: the only challenging – and that’s assuming you migrated into the app’s
problem is that, while it can stop don’t have to worry about background various pages. These include Sound
emails and Slack notifications from noise or easily disturbed colleagues. settings, the Disk Cleanup tool, the
popping up on my desktop, it can’t do Startup Items manager, font options
anything to stop the same alerts Appearance and Settings and new per-app graphics options.
popping up on my Android phone. If You might not immediately notice it, These allow owners of dual-GPU
Microsoft had managed to make a but Windows 10 brings subtle systems to specify which programs
success of Windows 10 Mobile, and changes to the appearance of the should make use of the dedicated
had built the integrated platform it desktop. The concept is called Fluent graphics chip and which should
originally envisioned, Focus assist Design, and what it most visibly always use CPU graphics.
might have been much more means is that some windows become There’s one page you’ll look for in
powerful. But the company has had to slightly translucent, so you can see vain, though: the HomeGroup feature
settle for using the Cortana app for soft hints of the colours and content has finally been removed from

53
Reviews
LEFT Nearby sharing unpredictable times, and the pushy
owes a lot to Apple’s way in which the OS then tries to force
AirDrop, but it’s a you to update. As of the April 2018
simple way of pinging Update, you’ll see an icon in the
a file from a desktop system tray advising you when there’s
PC to a laptop an update ready to be installed –
another welcome throwback to
Windows 7 – and if you’re not ready
to deploy it there and then, you can
now nominate a specific time for
installation. Much more civilised.
Even better, Microsoft has worked
to ensure that when a major update
comes down the line, much more of
the installation can take place in the
background while the operating
system is still up and running. So
when you next go to restart your PC
and find that there are updates
LEFT The Cortana pending, the interruption should only
Notebook page has last a few minutes before you’re back
been given a lick of at the desktop.
paint, making it easier
to manage connected Spring clean verdict
services As well as the major features discussed
above, the April 2018 Update brings a
sprinkling of small enhancements to
Windows 10: these include bandwidth
controls for Windows Update, and a
new Diagnostic Data Viewer tool that
allows you to check what’s being sent
back to Microsoft. Users of Windows
10 Pro also gain access to Windows
Defender Application Guard – a
feature previously only included with
the Enterprise edition, which
effectively runs the Edge
Windows. That feels like a shame, as alongside UWP apps – although part “The April 2018 Update is browser in a virtual
there are surely more households of the point of PWAs is that they another step on a journey machine to provide extra
than ever wanting a straightforward should run on any platform, and in protection against online
way to share files across their home any compatible browser.
through which Windows exploits.
networks. But perhaps it had become Edge continues to catch up with just keeps getting better For most of us, though,
an anachronism in these days when other established browsers with the and better” what we’ll mostly notice
the devices on those networks are as addition of automatic form-filling about the April 2018
likely to be running Android or capabilities, and the ability to mute Update is its slightly slicker looks, the
Chrome OS as Windows. tabs that insist on playing more comprehensive Settings app and
unprompted audio. There’s also a – hopefully – the fact that Windows
Cortana and Edge welcome Clutter-Free printing option Update is no longer quite so intrusive.
I haven’t heard of anyone seriously that saves paper by skipping over ads. BELOW Microsoft has Those are all positives – yet,
using either Cortana or Edge for more It would have been nice if Edge had listened to frustrated it must be said, there’s not much
than experimental purposes, but been given these features when users and you can now here to warm the heart. Perhaps
they’re core parts of Windows 10, and Windows 10 first came along three nominate a convenient Timeline or the new dictation
they certainly haven’t been forgotten years ago, but they’re here now. time for an update functions will revolutionise the way
in the latest update. you work, but I suspect
For example, Cortana’s Notebook Windows that they will find
page has been revamped: you can now Update update minority appeal at best.
switch between the Organiser tab, Lastly, it’s worth Perhaps it was smart of
which shows your immediate lists and mentioning that this Microsoft not to give
reminders, and the Manage Skills tab, latest Windows update this update a more
which offers quick links to connected updates Windows presumptuous name.
services, your calendar and more. Update. Or, to put that Still, the April 2018
The Edge browser, meanwhile, another way, the April Update is another step
gains support for so-called 2018 Update brings on a journey through
Progressive Web Apps (PWAs). some changes to which Windows just
Basically, these are apps that run in the way that Windows keeps getting better
the browser but behave more or less 10 downloads and and better – and every
like native programs, and don’t installs updates. improvement and
necessarily need an always-on For a start, innovation so far has
internet connection. Microsoft sees Microsoft has noted been completely free.
these as a big up-and-coming deal, users’ frustration with What’s not to like?
and it’s also going to start hosting the way that updates DARIEN GRAHAM-
them in the Windows Store seem to appear at SMITH

54
@PCPRO FACEBOOK.COM/PCPRO Reviews How we test

Howwetest Whatourawardsmean
LaptopsandPCs
Recommended
We run our own benchmarks on every
Windows and macOS system we test. This, quite simply, is a
These are based around image editing, product we would
video editing and multitasking (where recommend
we run the video editing benchmark
you buy – if it meets
while simultaneously playing back a RECOMMENDED
4K video). At the bottom of each laptop your needs.
and PC review you’ll find the system’s
score in each of these tests, plus an
Overall score.
A-List
If a laptop scores 70, say, then it’s The best buy in its
30% slower than our reference category right now.
system – a PC with a Core i7-4670K The product will also
and 8GB of RAM. If it scores 160, then
it’s 60% faster. ABOVE We put PCs
feature on our A-List,
We test laptop battery life by playing back a full-screen video until the and laptops through starting on p16,
battery runs out. We set the screen brightness to 170cd/m2, or as close as we intensive benchmarks updated each month.
can get using its settings, and switch to Flight mode. and test laptops for
battery life
Labs Winner
Each month we run a
we run Geekbench 4
Screenquality (geekbench.com). This
is a good test of the
group test, or Labs.
This product has
In each laptop, processor and LEFT & FAR LEFT To managed to beat all
phone, tablet and memory in measure a screen’s others to top position.
monitor review you particular, and sRGB gamut coverage
will see our includes both a test and Delta E, we use a
conclusions about for single-core and Display i1 Colorimeter The pcpro.link
the screen quality. multi-core
Throughout the magazine you’ll see
Some of this will be performance. See
subjective, but we also below for a selection pcpro.link shortcuts. Enter these into
test each screen using a of scores to provide a the address bar of your browser and it
Display i1 Colorimeter. We reference of what’s good… BELOW We play back will take you to a particular page, which
measure for maximum and what’s not so good. a video, setting the
will either be too long or awkward for
brightness, colour accuracy and We also run the graphics-intensive screen to 170cd/m²,
consistency – there may be a GFXBench (gfxbench.com) to see how until the battery runs us to publish or will take you to the
difference in brightness, well the phones and tablets are likely out to test battery life precise shop from which to buy. If it’s
say, from the middle to perform in games. Amazon, note that we have an affiliate
and the edges of As with laptops, we test
the panel. smartphone and tablet deal in place so we will receive a
We also measure battery life by playing commission from each sale. This will
Delta E, which gives back a full-screen never affect our verdict of a product,
a guide as to how video until the
and if another reputable vendor is selling
accurately the panel battery runs out.
displays a colour. We set the screen the product cheaper then we will use
Anything under 1 is brightness to them instead.
excellent and likely to be 170cd/m2, or as close
difficult for the human eye to as we can get using
distinguish; 1-2 is still strong; above its settings. Prices will vary
this suggests a panel that you Prices we publish are correct on the day
shouldn’t trust for colour-accurate Geekbench 4, multi-core we publish, but we often see prices
photo editing.
Apple iPhone X 626 10,390 change – especially on sites such as
Samsung Galaxy S8 8,804 Amazon. However, we do work with
Phones and tablets Huawei P20 Pro
OnePlus 5T
6,806
6,658
British PC retailers to ensure the prices
we quote for their systems are correct.
We run a selection of publicly LG G6 4,137
available benchmarks on all the Honor 7X 3,457
If the price isn’t being honoured, contact
phones and tablets we test. First, us via letters@pcpro.co.uk.

55
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Asus ZenBook 13
UX331UN-EG009T
Slender design, impressive
performance and accurate
stereo speakers make this RECOMMENDED

13.3in laptop a cracking buy


SCORE
PRICE £917 (£1,100 inc VAT)
from johnlewis.com

W
hile the royal blue
finish of
the
ZenBook 13 may not be
familiar on these pages, the
fundamental design certainly is. This
is the 2018 iteration of the ZenBook
UX330UA, which ruled supreme on
the A-List for over a year. While the
external design hasn’t changed, Asus
achieves a minor miracle inside by quality. The speakers are loud enough ABOVE Unfortunately, With an average Delta E of 3.64 and
squeezing in Nvidia’s discrete GeForce to fill a small room and sound the ZenBook’s 13.3in maximum of 9.85, it’s not the most
MX150 graphics chip. That’s quite an surprisingly accurate. Full HD matte display colour-accurate of screens either.
achievement given the ZenBook’s lags behind those of its It’s miles behind the Huawei
slender 13.9mm frame. Mixed ergonomics close competitors MateBook X Pro’s Delta E figures of
With such a slim design, you might The ZenBook 13’s trackpad is superb. 1.27 and 2.53, and inferior to the Dell
expect a limited number of ports – The palm rejection works flawlessly, XPS 13, which achieved 2.49 and 7.95
yet that’s anything but the truth. and I liked the fact that you can in the same test. Arguably its biggest
Asus has squeezed in two USB 3 left-click shortcoming
Type-A ports, one USB-C (USB anywhere is brightness.
3.1 Gen 2), HDMI, microSD and a on the pad – With a peak
3.5mm jack. Unlike the Dell XPS except, of brightness of
13, Huawei Matebook X Pro, HP course, the only 314cd/m², it’s
Spectre 13 and Apple’s 13.3in designated quite dim, especially
MacBook Pro, there’s nothing right-click area in bright light
missing. And as for wireless at the bottom conditions. Here, the
connectivity, there’s dual-band right-hand side. Its Dell XPS 13 manages
802.11ac Wi-Fi (2x2) and accompanying 454cd/m² and the
Bluetooth 4.2. Bravo, Asus. keyboard is Huawei Matebook X
The party doesn’t stop there. similarly refined. Pro 488cd/m².
There’s a blisteringly quick It’s fully backlit There are no such
fingerprint sensor at the bottom with white LEDs issues with contrast,
right-hand corner of the and, as the keys with the Asus’ panel
keyboard for sign-in, which is have 1.4mm of delivering a ratio of
aided by the integration of travel, there’s 1,117:1. However,
Windows Hello. Naturally, plenty of feel and even here it lags
there’s a webcam, too. feedback – you can behind those two
Weighing only 1.12kg, it’s touch type on the laptop at full speed ABOVE The keyboard rivals from Huawei and Dell, both of
easy to lug around with one hand and with a minimum of noise. is fully backlit and which achieve contrast ratios of over
(although, if you’re sensitive to The laptop has a 13.3in Full HD there’s enough travel 1,500:1. In general use, that won’t
such things, you might want to matte display with a 16:9 aspect ratio. for fast and quiet make much of a difference, but a
don a pair of gloves before The thin 6.86mm bezels ensure that touch typing
getting too close – the glossy lid the display takes centre stage, but
attracts a lot of fingerprints). when tested with our X-Rite BATTERY: video playback, 8hrs 23mins
Finally, a set of Harman i1Display Pro calibrator, its IPS panel
Kardon-tuned stereo speakers proved a letdown. The panel only
sit underneath the laptop. I covers 84.5% of the sRGB colour
found that setting the laptop to spectrum, which, in comparison to BELOW The ZenBook BENCHMARKS
Music mode through the high-end rivals that typically achieve 13 is a featherweight
preinstalled AudioWizard app between 90% and 96%, means colours at 1.12kg, making it
OVERALL 75
resulted in the best audio appear dull. easy to carry around
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 120 130 140 150

BREAKDOWN SCORES Image Video Multi


editing editing tasking
112 81 59

58
@PCPRO FACEBOOK.COM/PCPRO
Subscribe
higher contrast level does help
when watching moody films.

Turn of speed
today
Performance is strong across
the board. The UX331UN-
EG009T we test here
includes a 1.6GHz
quad-core Intel Core
i5-8250U processor that
turbo boosts to
3.4GHz when
required. Even with
8GB of RAM – 16GB
seems a more apt partner to
Intel’s chip – it whipped up a
score of 75 in PC Pro’s benchmarks.
That’s only one point behind the
Huawei Matebook X Pro, which
included the faster Intel Core ABOVE The ZenBook 13’s glossy royal blue lid
Print
i7-8550U, but significantly behind the might look stylish, but be aware that it picks up Quote offer code P1808P
Dell XPS 13, which scored 104. fingerprints very easily
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While I haven’t tested the ZenBook
13 with a Core i7-8550U, I’m quietly helped pull away convincingly in every 6 issues plus free gift.
confident that it will be closer to the the gaming benchmarks. In the
Dell’s score than the Huawei’s. The GFXBench Car Chase benchmark,

Print + Digital
reason? While the Huawei’s cooling the Asus managed an impressive
mechanism struggled to keep the Core onscreen score of 54fps. By
i7 chip cool under heavy load, the comparison, the Dell XPS 13, which
Asus’ cooling is great for a slim relies on Intel’s UHD Graphics 620, Quote offer code P1808P
machine: it gets to around 90°C across achieved only 31.9fps. Subscribe today for just £31.49
all four cores under full load. The fans At 8hrs 23mins in our strenuous
can be heard at this battery benchmark, the ZenBook 13
every 6 issues plus free gift.
point, but they aren’t will last around a day or so – as long as
obnoxious.
In Geekbench 4,
the Asus ZenBook 13
“The discrete graphics chip puts
managed a single-core
score of 4,178 and a
multi-core score of
the ZenBook 13 in another league
compared to its competition, while
its design, connectivity and speed
FREE
14,253. That’s very HamaLED
make it a great all-round machine”
impressive, given that
Dell’s Core i7 XPS 13
Flashlight
hit scores of 4,744 you keep the screen brightness below
and 15,047. 50%. And even if you do run dry,
Only the 256GB the fast-charging feature replenishes
SATA3 SSD lets the 60% of the battery’s capacity in only
side down: it scored 50 minutes.
476MB/sec read and It’s not perfect by any means – a
369MB/sec write faster SSD, 16GB of RAM and an
speeds in the AS improved display are top of my wish
SSD sequential list – but the Asus ZenBook 13 still
benchmark. That’s packs plenty of appeal. The discrete
deeply ordinary graphics chip puts it in another league
compared to the Dell compared to its closest competition,
XPS 13’s 512GB NVMe while its design, sheer amount of
SSD, which managed connectivity and turn of speed make it
a blazing 2,224MB/sec a great all-round machine. In short,
and 444MB/sec in the
same tests. That said,
the Asus ZenBook 13 is the best value
13.3in laptop you can buy. Ordernow:
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Where you will is
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LEFT Unlike certain rivals, 3.1 2 x USB 3 HDMI microSD slot
Asus has crammed the full Windows 10 Home 310 x 216 x 13.9mm Calls to 03 numbers will be charged at your standard local
gamut of ports into the slim (WDH) 1.12kg 50Wh lithium-polymer rate. Gift limited to 50 subscribers. Please allow 28 days
13.9mm frame battery 2yr RTB warranty (via John Lewis) for delivery. UK only. Dennis Publishing reserves the right
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receive one of four coloured flashlights. 59
Reviews @PCPRO FACEBOOK.COM/PCPRO

HP Spectre 13 (2018)
A classy laptop that’s packed
with the latest technology,
but battery life is beyond
disappointing
SCORE
PRICE £1,165 (£1,399 inc VAT)
from hp.com/uk

W
hen it first went on sale
in mid-2016, HP’s Spectre 13
nailed the perfect balance
of looks, weight and speed. This 2018
update doubles down on the formula.
Despite the ultra-skinny chassis, it
comes equipped with Intel’s latest
Core i7 processor and a touch-enabled the HP Spectre 13 reaches 351cd/m2, ABOVE The HP gaming machine. I got a slick 55fps
4K display, as well as an all-new which makes the display usable in all out of Dirt: Showdown running at
Spectre’s 13.3in 3,840
ceramic white and silver paint job. but direct sunlight. 720p with High settings; bumping the
x 2,160 IPS display is
Not only does it look gorgeous, but Colour accuracy could be better, stunning and covers resolution up to 1080p still produced a
the carbon fibre and aluminium with an average Delta E of 2.71 and 95.6% of the sRGB playable 30fps average. The base of
chassis feels sturdy, too. This is maximum of 6.07 (lower is better), colour gamut the Spectre 13 did get toasty when
despite the Spectre’s lithe dimensions, with the Huawei MateBook X Pro’s pushed to such limits, but never
which have to be seen to be believed. Delta E figures of 1.27 and 2.53 putting uncomfortably so.
At a mere 10.4mm with the lid closed, this ultraportable to shame. The Alas, the laptop trips at the final
it’s half the girth of the Dell XPS 13 Spectre’s contrast ratio of 1,497:1 is hurdle. It lasted a woeful 4hrs 52mins
(see issue 285, p64) and even makes superb, however, which helps images in our video playback test. I often
the 14.6mm-thick Huawei MateBook look punchy onscreen. failed to eke a full day’s use out of it on
X Pro (see issue 284, p57) look obese. The Bang & Olufsen-branded a single charge, no matter how
At 1.1kg, it also weighs 100g less speaker array at the top of the conservative I was with applications.
than the Dell and 200g less than keyboard is also laudable, producing The XPS 13 lasted 10hrs 58mins. Is that
the MateBook. clear and crisp audio with plenty of enough to damn the
What do you sacrifice? volume. With a device this small, you “With a device this small, Spectre? Not quite, but it
Connectivity. There are no old-style often get rattle and buzz from the you often get rattle and tarnishes its appeal.
USB Type-A ports, with three USB-C chassis when the volume is cranked
ports at the rear instead. But two of up to full, but that isn’t the case here.
buzz from the chassis when theWhere it strikes back is
price: at £1,399 for this
these support Thunderbolt 3, and HP HP packs a surprising amount of the volume is cranked up, 8GB RAM/512GB SSD
bundles a USB-C-to-Type-A adapter power, with Intel’s quad-core Core but that isn’t the case here” configuration, the closest
and a handy USB-C-to-HDMI dongle. i7-8550U processor inside both Dell – with a 4K
There’s no need to connect a configurations of the Spectre 13. It touchscreen, 16GB of RAM and a
keyboard – typing is a pleasure, with was paired with 8GB of LPDDR3 RAM 512GB SSD – costs £1,699, albeit with
the amount of feedback as good as in our review unit, but can be upped an on-site warranty to the HP’s
you’ll get from any ultraportable. Its to 16GB in the top-end configuration. return-to-base offering. That could
glass-topped touchpad is equally This pushed it to an overall score of 63 buy you the Spectre 13 with 16GB of
impressive and, while it’s a little in our benchmarks, which RAM and a 1TB SSD. Then again, the
short, my only complaint is that the is a stonking 46% Dell becomes cheaper if you
click action is on the heavy side. improvement over the 2016 choose a Full HD screen, which
The Gorilla Glass-covered 13.3in model. That said, the Dell I’d be tempted to do.
3,840 x 2,160 IPS display is wonderful. XPS 13 – with the same The HP Spectre 13 is a
Our X-rite i1 Display Pro colorimeter processor and 16GB of RAM lovely laptop with bags
reported sRGB colour gamut coverage – scored 104. of power, but it’s not an
of 95.6% and, at maximum brightness, Some of that difference outright winner.
is due to the extra memory, NATHAN SPENDELOW
but it’s also down to thermal
BATTERY: video playback, 4hrs 52mins throttling. It’s SPECIFICATIONS
certainly not due to Quad-core 1.8GHz Intel Core
the Samsung-made i7-8550U processor Intel UHD
512GB NVMe PCIe M.2 SSD, which Graphics 620 3,840 x 2,160 display
BENCHMARKS produced sequential read and write 512GB PCIe SSD 8GB 2,133MHz LPDDR3
speeds of 1,253MB/sec and 1,037MB/ RAM 2x2 MIMO 802.11ac Wi-Fi Bluetooth
sec in the AS SSD benchmark. That’s ABOVE The super-thin 4.2 2 x Thunderbolt 3 USB-C 3.1 43.7Wh
OVERALL 63
not the fastest around, but it won’t carbon fibre and lithium-ion battery Windows 10 Home 308
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 120 130 140 150
hold you back in daily tasks. aluminium chassis x 224 x 10.4mm (WDH) 1.11kg 1yr RTB
With Intel UHD Graphics 620 on looks gorgeous – and warranty ceramic white finish: code
BREAKDOWN SCORES Image Video Multi
editing editing tasking board, the Spectre 13 is a capable is easy to lug around af002na
108 68 46

60
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@PCPRO FACEBOOK.COM/PCPRO Reviews

HP EliteBook 840 G5
A great choice for security-
conscious companies, with
the best feature being a
screen privacy mode
SCORE
PRICE £1,374 (£1,649 inc VAT)
from hp.com/uk

I
f your business puts security at the
top of your wishlist when it comes
to laptops, the HP EliteBook 840 is a
G5 should be on your radar. Although, weakens Thunderbolt 3
judging by all the security features such arguments port, full-size HDMI
this machine boasts, it’s probably by including big bezels, output and an Ethernet slot.
got a secret anti-radar protective though. The 8mm-wide side bezels Yet more options come via HP’s
coating. Not content with the usual look okay, but the one at the bottom is existing side-mounted docking
defensive layers of smart card reader, almost a full inch and the top bezel not ABOVE It might not stations – which are still compatible
infrared webcam and fingerprint much better at 20mm. These make the be the best-looking or – and the upcoming Thunderbolt
reader, HP goes one step beyond: press 14in screen feel smaller than it is. lightest laptop, but Dock G2, which can power a pair of 4K
F2 on this machine and the screen The screen itself is great. Its star you get an excellent displays. This laptop has the potential
switches to privacy mode. You can feature is the ability to hit a blazing screen and keyboard to be a workhorse, too, thanks
still view the display face-on, albeit 625cd/m2 for use outdoors, while a to Intel’s eighth-generation Core
dimmed, but those to your left and Delta E of 2.15, contrast ratio of 1,071:1 processors and, in future models,
right see a grey blur. and sRGB gamut coverage of 91.7% are optional Radeon GPUs.
Then there’s HP’s combination all fine scores for a laptop. I have few We tested the a
Sure Start Gen4 feature. While it may complaints about the keyboard either. “In privacy mode, you can high-end model (code
sound like a government-sponsored It would have been nice to have a little still view the display 3JX09EA-ABB) that
house-buying scheme, it’s actually an more travel in the keys, but that’s just included the popular
face-on, albeit dimmed, but
added layer of protection for your me being fussy. The only thing that quad-core Core i7-8550U
BIOS. If malware targets this and stops me being more fulsome in my those to your left and right processor with 16GB of
makes a change, Sure Start will revert praise is that the touchpad is too far to see a grey blur” RAM and a fast 512GB PCIe
to the latest “good” version and notify the left, so I had to adjust the position SSD. This combination
both the user and the IT team. Clever. of my palm when typing or it would was potent enough to push the Dell
All this would be for nought if the nudge the position of the cursor. XPS 13 over 100 in our benchmarks,
laptop was a lemon, but it’s a solid HP includes a few nice features to but for reasons I can only speculate on
business laptop. I stop short of calling make up for this minor annoyance. – most likely thermal throttling – it
it stylish, with a business-like silver One is the trackpoint in the middle of only hit 77. I’m not too concerned by
finish and – compared to the Dell XPS the keyboard, with accompanying this. Our benchmarks are stress tests
13 (see the A-List on p16) – a porky mouse buttons below the that last over half an hour, and in
base. I measured it at 13.1mm thick spacebar, which come in handy general use I doubt that many
and, even though the lid is slim, this in cramped conditions. It’s people will notice a slowdown.
laptop’s total thickness of 19.1mm is also curious to see dial and While I wouldn’t rush out to
nothing to boast about anymore. If hang-up buttons at the buy the EliteBook 840 G5,
1.59kg sounds heavy, note that top-right of the keyboard. This there’s much to like here: the
our review sample had a touchscreen, highlights HP’s aim to make conferencing features; the
which adds around 100g. this a conferencing-friendly extra levels of privacy; the
In HP’s defence, that weight is laptop, with the promise of convenience of built-in Ethernet
partly due to the 14in panel on show “crystal clear collaboration”, and HDMI ports to accompany
here, compared to the 13.3in XPS 13, thanks to a third microphone on the Thunderbolt 3. This versatility, and
and the aluminium chassis feels outside of the lid. The idea is that, if prices starting at £1,099 inc VAT on
suitably sturdy and rugged. HP other people are taking part in your ABOVE HP includes HP’s website, make the EliteBook an
call, this third mic will help pick up physical dial and attractive option for security-
BATTERY: video playback, 6hrs 30mins their voices; if it’s just background hang-up buttons for sensitive businesses. TIM DANTON
noise, the laptop will block the sound. quickly making and
HP promises up to 14 hours of ending calls SPECIFICATIONS
battery life from the EliteBook 840, Quad-core 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8550U
but our video-rundown tests suggest processor Intel UHD Graphics 620 1,920 x
BENCHMARKS you’ll be lucky to reach this. With the 1,080 touchscreen display 512GB PCIe SSD
screen brightness set to 170cd/m2 and 16GB 2,400MHz DDR4 RAM 2x2 MIMO
Flight mode on, it lasted for 6hrs 802.11ac Wi-Fi Bluetooth 4.2 Thunderbolt 3
OVERALL 77
30mins. You’ll want to carry the 355g 2 x USB 3.1 HDMI 1.4b RJ-45 Ethernet
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 120 130 140 150
power supply when travelling, but at port microSDXC slot Windows 10 Home
least you won’t need any adapters. 302 x 199 x 15mm (WDH) 1.59kg 3yr
BREAKDOWN SCORES Image Video Multi
editing editing tasking Along with two USB 3.1 ports, there limited warranty
118 91 53

63
Oculus Go
Untethered from a PC and
without the shackles of a
mobile phone, Oculus Go is
VR at its most accessible
SCORE
PRICE 32GB, £166 (£199 inc VAT)
from oculus.com

O
ne argument why VR has Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 821 SoC. ABOVE The pint-sized gorgeous and feels slick to play, and
never hit the big leagues is the That’s a lesser combination than a remote has a trigger, diving into a home-theatre-sized
hassle: people don’t want the Galaxy S9 in a Gear VR headset, but touchpad and two Netflix session while lying in bed
faff of setting up cables and trackers, the Oculus Go is a dedicated VR buttons for navigation never gets dull.
while smartphone add-ons such as device. This is most notable in the Other experiences, such as Oculus
the Samsung Gear VR are awkward. clarity of its VR experiences: Rooms, which lets you “hang out”
Oculus Go solves this by bundling everything is brilliantly crisp and with friends in VR, point to the social
everything into one device. clear when your eyes hit the lens’ aspects of virtual reality and highlight
Gone is the Oculus Rift’s fabric- generous sweet spot. Even when your the potential benefits of more Oculus
wrapped shell, with an understated vision strays to the edges, the Go’s Go-like devices coming to market.
matte plastic casing in its place. fast-switch LCD screen helps to Even donning a headset at breakfast
Oculus trades the Rift’s built-in reduce ghosting and the screen-door to watch VR news reports is an
headphones and hard, baseball effect you see when individual pixels RECOMMENDED entertaining glimpse into what the
cap-style headband for a soft- become clearly visible. future could hold, despite it feeling a
strapped design more akin to ski The most impressive aspect of the little jarring now.
goggles, with audio integrated into Oculus Go hardware, however, is its As Oculus Go doesn’t
the headset itself. A power button and audio capabilities. Instead of a
“Oculus Go utilises built-in require anything but the
volume rocker sit on the top of the speaker simply pumping sound out directional speakers that headset to function – at
headset, with a headphone jack and into a room, Oculus Go utilises do a great job of making least once you’ve set up
micro-USB charging slot on the left built-in directional speakers that do a everything via a
everything sound like it’s
side. Everything has been designed to great job of making everything sound companion app – it could
feel sleek and integrated. like it’s playing in your head. For playing in your head” also be used as a useful
Oculus upgrades the eye surround games that utilise 3D audio, it’s a educational tool both in
with a more comfortable and fantastic experience – and, unlike and out of the classroom. In a
breathable lining, and there’s an with earphones, you aren’t closed similar way to how Gear VR has
optional insert that makes it easier to off from the outside world. been used to transport kids to
wear with glasses. The remote control Oculus Go taps into the the depths of the ocean, into
is now just a touchpad button and same catalogue as Samsung’s space or back in time,
trigger, plus two small “back” and Gear VR, as both devices Oculus Go could do the
“Home” buttons for menu navigation. run on the same Oculus- same at a far lower price.
It’s dinky, fits comfortably in your developed system. I’m not saying the Go is
hand and feels more robust than both However, the simplicity of perfect. The battery lasts
the Daydream View and Gear VR’s Oculus Go’s controller and for around two to two-
remotes (you can tether a gamepad to its improved optics mean it’s and-a-half hours,
the headset via Bluetooth if you’d much more enjoyable to use. depending on what you’re
rather have a pad-based experience). Something as immersive as doing and, as it lacks USB-C, it
As always, though, it’s what inside République VR both looks takes a few hours to charge back
that counts. The two key up again. Also note you can’t
components are the expand on the 32GB or 64GB of inbuilt
5.5in 2,560 x ABOVE In use, the Go storage, so it makes sense to spend the
1,440-pixel is exceptionally crisp extra £50 for the latter version.
WQHD display, and clear when your Even so, £199 for the 32GB Go and
with a refresh eyes hit the lens’ £249 for the 64GB model is a huge
rate of up to sweet spot step down from the £120-plus-phone
72Hz, and price of the Samsung Gear VR. If
you’ve been curious about virtual
reality but put off until now, this is
an excellent first step into the world.
VAUGHN HIGHFIELD

LEFT A SPECIFICATIONS
two-band 5.5in 2,560 x 1,440 LCD screen Qualcomm
ski goggle- Snapdragon 821 processor 3GB RAM
style strap 32GB/64GB storage Bluetooth Wi-Fi
keeps the Oculus Go handheld controller 190 x 105 x 115mm
firmly in place (WDH) 467g

64
@PCPRO FACEBOOK.COM/PCPRO Reviews

ViewSonic VP3268-4K
Brilliant colour accuracy
when you need it and a
versatile 32in monitor when
you don’t – a great buy
SCORE
PRICE £746 (£895 inc VAT)
from pcpro.link/286view

W
hen you can buy a 32in, 4K
monitor for less than £500,
you might wonder how
ViewSonic has the audacity to charge
£895 for the VP3268-4K. The answer is
accuracy. Or, to be more accurate
about its accuracy, that it offers a
pre-calibrated IPS display that – the gamma tracking grew worse, but too. Don’t be put off by that 14ms
ViewSonic claims – can reproduce our colorimeter reported that it could response time because a pixel
100% of the sRGB spectrum. cover 98.4% of the sRGB gamut. overdrive setting tucked away in the
I was keen to put such boasts to the All this fiddling with the OSD reduces the minimal ghosting.
test. On switching it from the default controls highlights one of And I have more
to sRGB mode, the most obvious this monitor’s weak plus points to end on.
change isn’t a sudden improvement in points: its OSD First is the slimness of the
colour accuracy but that the VP3268- controls. There’s no bezels, which add to the
4K goes from being a bright screen to rotary button, so you have to flick left display’s already svelte style.
something much dimmer. That’s and right through the main headings ABOVE The slim Second the flexibility, with a
because the panel’s sRGB calibration – such as input select, viewing mode bezels around the pivot mode, 130mm of height
was performed at 120cd/m2 and, if you and colour adjustments – then select screen add to the adjustment and a well-designed
change the brightness, your results which one you want, then scroll down overall svelte design base that makes it easy to swivel the
will change. Once you select sRGB using a different button, then select screen 60° each way. Third, the fact
mode, you’re locked to 120cd/m². the precise option you want to that ViewSonic calibrates the screen
It performed magnificently in our change, and then change it. It’s for Rec 709, SMPTE-C and EBI
tests. I measured an average Delta E of awkward. The only consolation is that colour spaces (for video editors), not
0.51, which edges towards perfection ViewSonic provides a simpler set of only sRGB. Moreover, you don’t need
and over-delivers on ViewSonic’s controls for main shortcuts, such as to live with the factory calibration:
promise of a Delta E of less than two. controlling brightness. using ViewSonic’s Colorbration
Its gamma tracking and uniformity There are some unusual options RECOMMENDED software, it also supports hardware
proved terrific as well – it typically tucked away, too. With four inputs – calibration using the popular
deviated by less than 5% brightness, two HDMI, one DisplayPort and one x1-iDisplay Pro.
with only the corners going up to 8%. mini-DisplayPort – you can split the While the ViewSonic doesn’t have
The sole black mark was when our screen four ways and view all of them all the HDR features of
calibrator reported that it could only at once. ViewSonic builds in a “The ViewSonic VP3268-4K the Asus ProArt PA32UC,
display 93.8% of the sRGB gamut, not generous four-port USB port, plus an performed magnificently. or the high-end auto
the 100% ViewSonic claims. I’m not audio in and audio out if the built-in calibration of Eizo’s
overly concerned by this. The more speaker doesn’t offer quite enough
I measured an average ColorEdge CG277, it’s a
important figure is power for you. It can’t Delta E of 0.51, which edges great option due to the
that low Delta E. match the quality of towards perfection” level of quality it offers for
While 120cd/m2 is dedicated speakers, the price. You’ll have to
fine, I prefer a brighter but it was great for invest in a £100 hardware calibrator
screen. The VP3268-4K Skype calls and to make sure it stays accurate, but
reached 357cd/m2 at its surprisingly effective even then the price is below £1,000.
peak, so it seems a when watching films. With rivals costing almost twice that,
shame not to take The monitor also it’s a bargain if you need the accuracy
advantage. Luckily, includes an HDR on offer. TIM DANTON
the OSD allows you to mode. This isn’t
jump quickly between certified for content SPECIFICATIONS
colour modes and I creation as I saw on 31.5in 3,840 x 2,160 IPS panel 8-bit panel
spent most of my time the Asus ProArt 14-bit look-up table 4K at 60Hz 14ms
in the Standard Color PA32C (see issue 285, response time DisplayPort 1.2
setting. Even with this p61), but if you want miniDisplayPort 2 x HDMI 2 (with HDCP 2.2)
on, and brightness to watch HDR films LEFT The ViewSonic’s USB hub (4 x USB 3 ports) hardware
boosted to 170cd/m2, rather than make well-designed base calibration PiP/PbP 2 x 5W speakers -5°
colour accuracy is them, it’s an excellent makes swivelling the to 21° tilt pivot 120° swivel 130mm height
strong. Average Delta E inclusion. It’s fine for screen 60˚ each way adjustment 714 x 265 x 506-636mm (WDH)
increased to 1.52, and occasional gaming, an easy task 10.3kg 3yr limited warranty inc backlight

65
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67
OnePlus 6 The most expensive
phone OnePlus has
released, but also the
best – it makes other
flagships look £300
too expensive

glitzy Gorilla Glass 5. It’s available in ABOVE The screen


three colours: “silk” white, matte size has grown from
“midnight” black and glossy “mirror” 6in to a whopping
black, of which the silk white is the 6.3in, which means
most attractive to my eye. Here, the the OnePlus 6 is 14g
glass has a smooth, frosted finish and heavier than the 5T
a coloured layer beneath that’s been
impregnated with powdered pearl
dust. It gives the OnePlus 6 a milky, Yet again, there’s no IP rating for
SCORE mother-of-pearl appearance that I the OnePlus 6, which means it’s not
PRICE 64GB, £391 (£469 inc VAT) haven’t seen before on a phone. officially dust- or water-resistant.
from oneplus.com Note, however, that this is a limited OnePlus states that it’s “water
edition, only available in the 8GB of resistant for everyday use” – but good
RAM/128GB of storage configuration luck getting it fixed under warranty if

O
nePlus has a simple formula that costs £519. The mirror black it gets soaked and stops working.
for its phones. Squeeze in as OnePlus 6 comes in 6GB/64GB and Elsewhere, the three-position alert
much high-end hardware as 8GB/128GB configurations, while slider switch, which is used to put the
possible while keeping the price midnight black comes in a 8GB/128GB phone into vibrate and silent modes,
reasonable. Back in 2014, that meant or a £569 8GB/256GB version. has been moved from the left edge to
a phone costing £250, but without the the right. More usefully, it’s
style or finesse of the established Design tweaks accompanied by a software tag that
incumbents. Today, it means a phone Elsewhere, the phone’s dual camera shows you what mode
that’s a match for all the flagships, has been repositioned to the middle, “OnePlus has joined the you’ve selected as you
both in terms of specification and where it sits, exclamation mark-like, metal-and-glass design move it up and down.
design, but also one that’s less of above the newly square-shaped Otherwise, the
brigade, sandwiching the
a bargain. fingerprint reader. And, on the front, physical layout remains
This time, it’s crept up from the visible from the moment you turn on front and rear of the phone largely the same as the
OnePlus 5T’s £450 to £469, and that the phone, is yet another notch. in glitzy Gorilla Glass 5” OnePlus 5T, including the
nudge upwards is reflected in its size. I don’t think that’s a problem. In 3.5mm headphone jack,
The screen has grown from 6in to a practice, you soon stop noticing it’s the USB-C socket on the bottom edge
huge 6.3in, leading to 0.4mm more there. Plus, the notch on the OnePlus and the single speaker grille. As
thickness and 14g extra weight. But 6 is smaller than that of the iPhone X, before, there’s dual SIM capability but
the phone has shrunk marginally in allowing more notifications and no microSD expansion or wireless
height and width, softening the status icons to be squeezed into the charging, although OnePlus has
impact. It’s still a big phone, though. gaps on either side. You can also boosted the phone’s download speed
While you can hold it in one hand “hide” the notch by enabling an capability from the 600Mbits/sec
thanks to the screen’s 19:9 aspect option in the Display settings, maximum of the 5T to 1Gbits/sec.
ratio, it’s tall. although all this does is apply a black
The second difference is that strip along the top of the screen. Benchmarks ahoy
OnePlus has joined the metal-and- Notification icons are still shown Aside from the contentious notch, the
glass design brigade, sandwiching the either side of the notch in this mode, display is very similar to the previous
front and the rear of the phone in so it offers no benefit whatsoever. generation OnePlus 5T. The OnePlus 6

68
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Geekbench 4, multi-core

Apple iPhone X 784 10,390

HIGHER IS BETTER
Samsung Galaxy S9 8,804
OnePlus 6 8,783
Sony Xperia XZ2 8,377
Huawei P20 Pro 6,806
OnePlus 5T 6,658

Geekbench 4, single-core

Apple iPhone X 784 4,258

HIGHER IS BETTER
Samsung Galaxy S9 3,659
OnePlus 6 2,422
Sony Xperia XZ2 2,440
Huawei P20 Pro 1,919
OnePlus 5T 1,903

GFXBench Manhattan, offscreen (fps, 1080p)


sticks with 1080p for the resolution ABOVE The OnePlus 6 comes in three colours:
Apple iPhone X 784 88

HIGHER IS BETTER
(2,280 x 1,080), which is fine unless matte “midnight” black, glossy “mirror” black
Sony Xperia XZ2 82
you’re looking for a phone to use for and the limited edition “silk” white
VR. It’s still an AMOLED panel, too, so OnePlus 6 80
black is dark and inky while colours light dims. There’s little evidence of Samsung Galaxy S9 77
are rich and vibrant. visual noise no matter the lighting Huawei P20 Pro 65
You can choose between four conditions. Simply put, the OnePlus OnePlus 5T 60
screen “calibrations”: default, sRGB, 6’s camera is among the best in
DCI-P3 and Adaptive. In testing, the the business. Battery life (video rundown)
sRGB and DCI-P3 profiles delivered When it comes to features, though,
good gamut coverage of 97.1% and the OnePlus 6 is going to disappoint OnePlus 5T 78420hrs 52mins

HIGHER IS BETTER
94.3% respectively. Colour accuracy you this year. There’s still no zoom Sony Xperia XZ2 20hrs 5mins
isn’t the best, particularly in dark capability – the second camera is there OnePlus 6 17hrs 18mins
green and light blue colours, where only to add depth data for the phone’s Huawei P20 Pro 14hrs 36mins
the screen renders colours a little blurred background portrait mode – Samsung Galaxy S9 14hrs 23mins
darker than it should, but overall it’s a and, although there is a slow-motion Apple iPhone X 9hrs 22mins
strong showing: movies, photos and mode, it can’t match the 960fps
games all look sharp. One more minor offered by handsets such as the
complaint: a peak brightness of 415cd/ Samsung Galaxy S9 and Sony Xperia distractions, but it can also limit frame
m2 means you might struggle to read XZ2. All you get is the ability to rates and resolution to save battery
your messages on a sunny day. capture 480fps clips at 720p or 240fps life (this only works on titles
I knew what to expect when it at 1080p. The good news? You can developed with the Unity engine at
comes to performance. OnePlus capture 4K at 60fps with OIS enabled. the moment).
includes the octa-core Snapdragon
845 – the fastest available – and all the Software tweaks Time to buy?
phones we’ve tested so far with this While the OnePlus 6 runs Android 8.1 The OnePlus 6 isn’t perfect. I’m
specification have benchmarked to Oreo, it includes OnePlus’ launcher surprised OnePlus hasn’t added
within a few percentage points of each software OxygenOS on top. This IP-certified water resistance or an
other. As the graphs show, the changes aspects of the way the OS optical zoom on the second camera,
OnePlus 6 is no different; I tested an works, but doesn’t come with any and remain baffled by the continuing
8GB model, but the 6GB version will unnecessary apps preinstalled. lack of microSD card expansion.
be no different. New features include app It is, however, an improvement
While its battery life isn’t quite up prioritisation, fresh navigation BELOW The OnePlus over the OnePlus 5T in every way. It’s
there with the stonking 20-plus hours gestures and a Gaming Mode. The 6’s dual camera sits better looking, faster, and includes a
of the OnePlus 5T, it still lasted an latter is mostly aimed at improving above a square-ish superior camera. I expected all these
excellent 17hrs 18mins in our performance and reducing fingerprint reader upgrades to bump up its price to more
video-rundown tests. Expect a than £500. Instead, you’re getting a
day-and-a-half under typical use. Snapdragon 845 phone costing £300
less than the smaller Samsung Galaxy
Camera upgrade S9 and Huawei P20 Pro. It’s an
What’s definitely changed for the absolute triumph. JONATHAN BRAY
better is the photographs you can
capture with the OnePlus 6 over the SPECIFICATIONS
OnePlus 5T. And that’s because, Octa-core 2.65GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon
although the specifications look 845 processor 6GB/8GB RAM Adreno
similar on paper, the main 630 graphics 6.3in OLED screen, 1,080 x
16-megapixel camera module has 2,280 resolution 64GB/128GB storage
been swapped for one with a 19% dual 20MP/16MP colour/mono rear camera
bigger surface area and with optical 16MP front camera 802.11ac Wi-Fi
image stabilisation (OIS). Bluetooth 5 NFC USB-C connector
This helps the camera pick up finer 3,300mAh battery Android 8.1 75.4 x 7.8 x
details than ever, especially as the 156mm (WDH) 177g 1yr warranty

69
Motorola Moto G6
reliable face-unlock feature.
Battery life is a disappointment,

Motorola reclaims its place with the G6 lasting only ten hours and
46 minutes in our video test. There’s
as the king of budget no sugarcoating this: that’s a poor
result, but in general use you should
handsets with a superb, get a day’s usage out of it fairly
comfortably. It’s also worth noting
well-rounded bargain that the supplied “TurboPower”
charger gives you six hours’
battery life after a mere 15
SCORE
minutes connected to the
PRICE £183 (£220 inc VAT) mains. My only concern is
from pcpro.link/286moto that, a year down the line, its
life won’t be great and,
unlike the G5, you can’t

I
RECOMMENDED
f Game of Thrones has taught me replace the battery.
anything, it’s that the titular
throne is tough to hold onto. The Dual camera array
budget smartphone crown is similarly So, at the moment, you have a
competitive, albeit with a lot less great-looking smartphone with an
bloodshed. For Motorola, the latest okayish screen and solid performance
twist in the saga is good news. After a for £220. If you’re still on the fence,
couple of disappointing generations the camera ought to seal the deal
where it lost ground to both Honor because it’s nothing short of brilliant
and Huawei, the Moto G6 is a phone for the price.
worthy of the Moto G name. Not that there’s anything
behind the very best particularly special about the G6’s
Winning by design performers. If the dual camera array on paper. You’re
It starts with the stunning design. As screen is your top priority, consider ABOVE With its looking at a 12-megapixel camera
with the rest of the industry, Motorola the cheaper Honor 9 Lite, which is 24% Gorilla Glass cladding, with an aperture of f/1.8 and phase-
has enthusiastically adopted the tall brighter and has a contrast ratio of 18:9 aspect ratio and detect autofocus. The second camera
and thin 18:9 aspect ratio display, and 1,531:1. Fortunately for Motorola, this curves, the G6 looks is only five-megapixels and doesn’t
it looks a million dollars here. Clad in is by far the weakest point of the Moto like a million bucks offer either zoom or wide-angle
Gorilla Glass 3 on the front and back, G6 and, for the majority of consumers,
and with a stylish curved design all these technical deficiencies will be a Geekbench 4, multi-core
the way round, the phone looks more complete non-issue.
flagship than budget. Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra 784 4,198
Naming no names, some handsets Punching above its weight Motorola Moto G6 Plus 4,184
use premium design as an excuse for Of far more import to most is raw Motorola Moto G6 3,920
dropping popular but fiddly features performance, and the Moto G6 Honor 9 Lite 3,558
such as microSD card support and the punches above its weight as the Honor 7X 3,457
3.5mm headphone jack. The Moto G6 graphs here show (note that the Honor Motorola Moto G5S 2,303
maintains these, as well as a 7X and Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra cost £51
fingerprint reader below the screen. and £80 more respectively). The G6 is
Geekbench 4, single-core
You can’t have everything, though. powered by the Qualcomm
There’s no replaceable battery, with Snapdragon 450 processor, an Honor 7X 784 899
wireless charging and waterproofing octa-core 14nm chip running at Honor 9 Lite 884
also absent. While the phone has a p2i 1.8GHz, with 3GB RAM and 32GB of Motorola Moto G6 Plus 876
HIGHER IS BETTER FOR ALL GRAPHS

water-repellent coating, suitable for onboard storage. There’s also an Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra 856
light rain or beer spillage, you Amazon-exclusive dual-SIM model 740
Motorola Moto G6
shouldn’t expect the G6 to last a with 4GB of RAM and 64GB storage for 632
Motorola Moto G5S
voyage to the bottom of the bathtub. £20 more (pcpro.link/286amaz).
One more negative: the circular The G6 benefits from a minor
camera housing is a dust magnet. graphics upgrade compared to the GFXBench Manhattan 3 offscreen (1080p)
G5S, which is again reflected in the
Motorola Moto G6 Plus 784 14
Screen test results. A 9fps result in Manhattan 3
Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra 14
The Moto G6 has a 5.7in IPS screen shows this isn’t the go-to smartphone
Motorola Moto G6 9
with a 1,080 x 2,160 resolution that’s for the latest, most graphically intense
ideal for a display of this size. It mobile games, but it eclipses the more Honor 9 Lite 8
provides rich, pleasant colours – but expensive Honor 7X. Honor 7X 7
there’s a but. For a start, it’s dim Another positive is that the Moto Motorola Moto G5S 7
compared to the best: a peak level of G6 runs what is pretty close to stock
408cd/m2 means that, on the two or Android, and the few modifications Battery life (video rundown)
three days of blazing sunshine we get have been introduced for the better.
in the UK each year, you might The Moto’s gesture controls, for Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra 78416hrs 54mins
struggle to read things clearly. example, let you launch the camera Motorola Moto G6 Plus 13hrs 57mins
Colour accuracy is also wayward, with a double twist, or flick on the Motorola Moto G5S 12hrs 12mins
while sRGB gamut coverage isn’t torch with a shake. In addition to the Motorola Moto G6 10hrs 46mins
wonderful at 86.3% in the phone’s fingerprint reader, which is situated Honor 7X 9hrs 47mins
Standard display mode. The contrast below the screen on the front, the Honor 9 Lite 9hrs 9mins
is a decent 931:1, which is a distance Moto G6 also comes with a fast,

70
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Motorola Moto G6 Plus


capabilities. What it does do, BELOW The Moto G6 Plus can handle games such as PUBG
however, is supplement the main Plus’ impressive dual- – just not with as much detail as
camera to add depth perception.
Pop the camera into portrait mode, The G6 Plus is bigger and camera array on the
rear adds depth data
handsets from Samsung and Apple.
The G6 Plus only gets an extra
snap a subject and you can edit the
photo based on the extra data
better than the G6 – if size to shots 200mAh battery life, but this
translated to over three extra hours of
captured by the supporting camera.
Blur, replace or desaturate the
matters then it’s an stamina in our test. It seems the
Snapdragon 630 is considerably
background at will – it works well, excellent choice more energy efficient than
even if the edges are occasionally the 450.
identified incorrectly. The final big upgrade:
SCORE
Party trick aside, though, this is a the camera. Like the G6,
phenomenal camera for the price. PRICE £224(£269incVAT) you get a dual-camera
Admittedly, it’s not a Pixel 2, Galaxy fromcarphonewarehouse.com array on the back of the
S9 or P20 Pro-beater, but it can be phone: one 12-megapixel,
mentioned in the same sentence one 5-megapixel. The

W
without looking comically out of hat makes the G6 latter adds depth data to
place. Outside, and in good light, the Plus different shots taken by the former,
Moto G6 captures images of a city from its standard- meaning you can do some
skyline that are bursting with detail, sized sibling? First, the screen: neat editing after a
with colours that are pleasingly it measures 5.9in to the 5.7in of photograph has been taken.
accurate. Flick on HDR mode and the G6, with the same 18:9 display The camera improvements are
you’ll find that both bright and dark and 1,080 x 2,160 resolution. But you three-fold. First, it has a f/1.7 aperture
areas are equalised superbly, without would be hard-pressed to notice – a touch brighter than the f/1.8 found
adding a vibrant sheen that other unless the two were side by side. on the G6. Second, it has dual-pixel
phone cameras often can’t resist. It’s a minor upgrade in terms of autofocus, meaning focusing should
The selfie camera on the front screen quality, too. While the be quicker and can lock onto subjects
offers more of the same. Photographs percentage of the sRGB colour gamut without hunting back and forth.
aren’t quite up to the same standard it reproduces is slightly lower (83.8% Finally, the faster processor means
but, once again, they’re both detailed versus the G6’s 86.3%), it delivers RECOMMENDED the G6 Plus can shoot video in 4K at
and well balanced. more contrast (1,255:1 to 931:1) and 30fps where the G6 is stuck at 60fps
It’s not all sunshine, lollipops and is far brighter. The G6 peaks at 1080p. However, the faster processor
rainbows, but the compromises are 408cd/m2, the G6 Plus’ climbs to still doesn’t fix the shutter lag we
made in the right places. First off, 536cd/m2. In bright sunshine, the Plus experienced with the G6.
video capture isn’t 4K – but it is 1080p will be much easier to read. These improvements combine to
at 60fps. More damagingly, the The G6 Plus also benefits from a make an excellent camera even better.
camera takes a while to actually nice specification bump over the G6, Pictures are packed with
capture the image after you press the which is clear in the benchmarks. “The Moto G6 Plus is an detail and bursting with
shutter button. You’ll get used to this An octa-core 2.2GHz Qualcomm improvement on the G6 in realistic, vibrant colours.
in time, but it makes magic-moment Snapdragon 630 processor, backed by The camera’s HDR
almost every way: it’s
photography more challenging, and I 4GB rather than 3GB of RAM, is a handling is incredibly
often found myself moving the phone notable boost from the 1.8GHz faster, has a better screen good, too, able to dig out
early. The result? A blurry photograph Snapdragon 450 inside the Moto G6. and a better camera” an astonishing degree of
doomed to the dustbin. This ensures a phone that feels fast detail in darker and
and responsive and has no trouble lighter areas without lending an
Buying decision with relatively intensive tasks. When unnatural look to your photographs.
You can pick faults with the Moto G6, it comes to pushing 3D graphics, the The G6 Plus even performs admirably
but every argument against it can be Moto G6 Plus gets a substantial boost in low light. Without flash, there’s a
knocked down with a very simple on the G6, too. While 13fps in the little noise, but enabling the flash
reply: “It’s £220.” Yes, the processor Manhattan test may sound low, bear produces clear images without an
isn’t the fastest, the screen isn’t great in mind it’s deliberately intensive. In unnatural tint. The selfie camera isn’t
and the battery life isn’t exactly real-world conditions, the Moto G6 BELOW The G6 Plus bad, either, producing well-balanced
stellar, but it’s £220. has a modest 200mAh exposures that, in good light, have
To counter those weak points, the battery boost over the plenty of detail to them.
Moto G6 has good qualities in spades: G6, but that equates Ultimately, the Moto G6 Plus is an
it looks stylish, the performance is to three extra hours improvement on the G6 in almost
solid and the camera is the best you every way: it’s faster, has a better
can buy without spending over twice screen and a better camera. The
the money. All of which makes the G6 bottom line, though, is simple: both
the easiest phone recommendation I phones are terrific value and you’ll be
can offer. ALAN MARTIN happy with either. ALAN MARTIN

SPECIFICATIONS
Octa-core 1.8GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon SPECIFICATIONS
450 processor 3GB RAM Adreno 506 Octa-core 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon
graphics 5.7in IPS screen, 1,080 x 2,160 630 processor 3GB RAM Adreno 508
resolution 32GB storage dual 12MP/5MP graphics 5.9in IPS screen, 1,080 x 2,160
rear cameras 8MP front camera 802.11n resolution 64GB storage dual 12MP/5MP
Wi-Fi Bluetooth 4.2 NFC USB-C rear cameras 8MP front camera 802.11ac
connector 3,000mAh battery Android 8 Wi-Fi Bluetooth 5 NFC USB-C connector
72.3 x 8.2 x 154mm (WDH) 167g 1yr 3,200mAh battery Android 8 75.5 x 8 x
warranty 160mm (WDH) 167g 1yr warranty

71
Mechanicalkeyboards
CherryMXBoard3.0 CoolerMaster CoolerMaster
MasterKeysMK750 MasterKeysProLRGB

SCORE SCORE SCORE


PRICE £48 (£57 inc VAT) PRICE £83 (£100 inc VAT) PRICE £83 (£100 inc VAT)
from scan.co.uk from scan.co.uk from box.co.uk

C T I
herry provides the mechanical he MK750 is Cooler ’ll be frank. There’s very little
keyboard components for many Master’s latest difference between the MasterKeys Pro
brands, offering four switch types mechanical keyboard, L RGB and the newer MK750, and
with different characteristics. For example, and arguably its most almost all the differences that do exist
Black provides a “linear” feel with a stiffer accomplished. It only point to you buying the latter: the port
spring; Red is designed for fast reactions requires one USB connection is micro-USB, not USB-C; there’s no
(making it popular for gamers); Brown has to power it, with added RECOMMENDED magnetic wrist rest or strip lighting along
a more tactile feel that typists should love; flexibility thanks to its the base; and it loses out on the four media
while Blue is for lovers of old- USB-C port and detachable cable. You don’t playback keys above the number pad.
style IBM keyboards with a loud click. even need to preload your computer with Instead, the Pro L RGB includes four
The MX Board 3.0 can be supplied with the software: a 32-bit ARM Cortex M3 shortcut keys – P1, P2, P3 and P4 – that
all four different switches – Cherry sent us processor and 512KB of RAM mean it’s allow you to quickly flip between the
the MX Red keyboard for review (code intelligent enough to pick from predefined profiles. These can be set up to crazy levels
G80-3850LYDGB-2) – but whichever you colour settings at the press of a button. of customisation to suit games, your mood
choose, don’t expect a lot of RGB colour. This doesn’t mean Cooler Master skimps or even (bizarrely) to play a version of
This is a business-like slab, with the only on effects: an understated colour bar sits on Snake on your keyboard. The lights
colour supplied by a backlit Cherry logo at the base to complement the individually illuminate as the snake travels around,
the top of the keyboard and red LED status backlit keys, and you can customise any and you have to direct it to food while
lights for the Windows and lock keys. number of effects using the software. avoiding its tail.
You can customise the 12 function Cooler Master also provides a wrist rest, But you can do precisely the same
keys using Cherry’s clunky which magnetically attaches to the customisations with the MK750, and there
KeyMan software. This didn’t front of the keyboard when you isn’t even any difference in terms of the
recognise Chrome or Edge need it. Although “attaches” specification: you get an identical 32-bit
as browsers when we set “TheMasterkeys may be too strong a word, ARM Cortex 3 processor, the same 512KB
F1 as a website shortcut, MK750isakeyboardthat because it’s a deliberately of RAM, and precisely the same snappy
instead prompting us to weak connection – if you drag responsiveness in games.
use Firefox or IE. But, once shouldlastforsolong the keyboard along, the strip Cooler Master supplied the MX Brown
you get over the interface, thatevenUSB-Cwillbe will disconnect. version for testing (SGK-6020-KKCM1),
there are abundant options You can pick from three but if you prefer the snappier feedback of
such as text macros and key old-fashioned” Cherry MX switch types. Cooler MX Red switches then replace the KKCM1
sequences (complete with Master sent us the Brown with KKCR1. Even though both the Pro L
the number of milliseconds you version (MK-750-GKCM1-UK), but you RGB and MK750 use the same Cherry
pause between characters). may prefer Red for faster gaming response switch tech, I preferred typing on the
As a keyboard? Naturally, it’s great. A times, or Blue for louder clicks. MK750: when you start hitting the Pro L
steel plate and Cherry’s promise of 50 While it isn’t cheap at £100, that includes RGB at pace you hear a metallic, echoing
million key presses for each key mean it a two-year warranty and the knowledge that effect that isn’t there on the MK750.
should work just as well in five years as it it uses Cherry’s hardened technology. This is This is still an excellent keyboard,
does the day you buy it – considering that a keyboard that should last for so long that but in light of the stellar MK750, it needs
longevity, its £57 price is something of even USB-C will be old-fashioned, making it to drop in price to make it a more
a bargain. our pick of an excellent bunch. attractive proposition.

72
@PCPRO FACEBOOK.COM/PCPRO Reviews

shootout Looking for the best possible typing or gaming


experience? Tim Danton andAntony Leather put
six mechanical keyboards to the test

CorsairGamingK95 LogitechCarbon SteelSeriesApexM800


RGBPlatinum G513RGB

SCORE SCORE SCORE


PRICE £145 (£174 inc VAT) PRICE £133 (£159 inc VAT) PRICE £142 (£170 inc VAT)
from scan.co.uk from logitechg.com from steelseries.com

C L I
orsair is a dominant ogitech’s gaming division is no n what can only be described as
force for gaming stranger to mechanical keyboards, unfortunate timing, SteelSeries sent us
keyboards, with its with six models that range from the M800 just as the product went to end
£105 K70 being the top £100 to £159. This, then, is the top of the of life. You can still buy it from the company,
choice of our sister magazine range beast, and it certainly looks the part. but only in German, Belgian or Portuguese
Custom PC. But it’s the In fact, it’s the most stylish keyboard versions. That’s a shame, because the key
company’s top-of-the-line RECOMMENDED here, with a brushed aluminium finish technology behind the M800 is interesting
keyboard that we tested that lends a subtle counterbalance to the – with a 3mm total travel distance, and
here, with its most unusual feature being a RGB lighting of the keys. These don’t light 1.5mm actuation, they promised gamers
volume wheel at the top right. up from the bottom, with only the who sought the quickest possible reactions a
The K95 features six macro keys on the characters glowing: the keys themselves tempting alternative to Cherry’s MX Red
left, which are textured slightly differently stay black. This means that, when 4mm/2mm technology.
so you don’t press them by accident. The top switched off, the keyboard doesn’t scream SteelSeries called this switch technology
chassis is made from brushed aluminium, gaming in quite the same way. QS1, and sadly it doesn’t exist in any of the
which explains the high cost, and extra Logitech also defies the norms by using company’s other mechanical keyboards.
compensation comes in the form of a large, its own switch technology rather Oddly, in use the Apex M800 doesn’t
soft-textured detachable wrist rest, which than Cherry’s. You can choose feel or sound like a mechanical
does a great job of providing support while Romer-G Tactile (similar to keyboard at all. There’s a
typing. You also get dedicated media control MX Brown) or Romer-G “Thismeansyoucan solidity to the keys, but they’re
keys and two sets of replaceable textured Linear (MX Red), and quieter and more typical of a
grey keys for the much-used WASD and while the numbers are a pressupto26keys standard membrane keyboard
QWERDF key sets. fraction different to simultaneouslyinagame in terms of how they feel when
In addition to the LEDs on the Cherry MX Cherry’s, the net effect you push them. Perhaps this is
RGB switches, which can be configured – and feel – is the same.
andgetthespecialmove why they haven’t gained
individually, there are 19 RGB LEDs along a The most intriguing thatmatches” popularity among gamers: you
light strip on the top edge of the chassis. Our difference is Logitech’s just don’t get that same edge.
sample had Brown switches, but you can support for 26-key rollover to We’re fans of the double-height
order the K95 with exclusive Cherry MX the six-key rollover of most of its spacebar, which is blissfully easy to hit – a
Speed switches, too – these offer a reduced rivals. This means you can press up to 26 boon to touch typists as much as first-person
actuation point, so respond that fraction keys simultaneously in a game and get the shooter fans. But, while it’s great to see a
quicker to commands. The keyboard is a joy special move that matches. That’s great, column of macro keys down the left, we
to use, with the Brown switches being well but realistically no game we know of found them too easy to hit by accident.
suited to gaming or typing. demands more than six. The M800 comes with a number of colour
Corsair’s Utility Engine software is Download Logitech’s chunky 111MB schemes, or you can create your own using
detailed and allows for full customisation, as software and you can customise this beast SteelSeries Engine. However, this doesn’t
well as macros and profiles, which can be to the normal dizzy levels. However, there offer anything unique over its rivals – other
stored on the keyboard’s 8MB of memory or are no obvious reasons to choose this over than a curious take on Minesweeper.
in the software. The K95 RGB Platinum may the Cooler Master MK750 other than that The M800 is a compelling alternative to
be expensive, but right now it’s the ultimate metallic finish – especially when it needs its noisier counterparts and is worth serious
mechanical keyboard. two USB ports to power it rather than one. consideration – if you can hunt one down.

73
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POWER
HOUSE
PCs In-depth
reviewsofeight
supercharged
R systemscosting
aw power: that’s what this month’s machines
are all about. These systems sport AMD and
Intel’s latest and fastest CPUs. They pack
high-end graphics cards that, alone, cost more
than many computers found in PC World. They’re
housed in casings designed for optimal cooling and
between£999
maximal expansion. They have ultra-fast SSD storage
combined with high-performance, high-capacity hard
disks, and they’ve been tweaked to hell and back to eke
and£1,599
out every last MHz or MB/sec.
These are the PCs you buy when the mid-range looks
measly and even a grand won’t get you what you want. Contents
Why do you need a PC with this kind of CCL Reaper GT 80
performance? Maybe you’re a gamer looking to go Chillblast Fusion Titanium 81
beyond the console experience with true 4K visuals, CyberPower Infinity X88 GTX 82
ultra-wide screens, VR or multiple displays. Lenovo Legion Y720 83
Maybe you’re working in high-resolution Palicomp Intel i7 Nebula 84
photography, 3D graphics or Ultra HD video, where the PC Specialist Vulcan S-01 86
extra horsepower will give you smoother, more Scan 3XS Gamer 88
responsive applications without the expense of a Wired2Fire Diablo Nemesis 89
dedicated workstation.
Or perhaps you’re just an enthusiast, looking for a Ten commandments for buying a
PC that will handle all of the above – and more. Either powerhouse PC 76
way, if you’ve got between £999 and £1,599 burning a How we test 77
hole in your pocket, then you’re in for a treat. We’ve Feature table 78
rounded up eight incredible systems with the speed and Ray tracing: where gaming goes next 87
features to run just about anything you want. Performance graphs 90
CONTRIBUTOR: Stuart Andrews View from the Labs 91

CHILLBLAST CYBERPOWER LENOVO LEGION


CCL REAPER GT FUSION TITANIUM INFINITY X88 GTX Y720

PALICOMP INTEL I7 PC SPECIALIST SCAN 3XS WIRED2FIRE


NEBULA VULCAN S-01 GAMER DIABLO NEMESIS

75
Tencommandments
forapowerhousePC
In the market for a high-end desktop? These are the rules
to live by when you’re about to press “buy”

More cores, more MHz


1 The days of Intel’s
RIGHT Intel no longer
has its own way at the
unchallenged hegemony are over. high end, with AMD’s
Last year, AMD’s Ryzen line fought new Ryzen chips
back on both value and performance, also on
with the Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 CPUs
giving you more cores for less money
than the Intel Core i5 and Core
i7 equivalents. In
response, Intel upped its
game, with its new
Coffee Lake i5 and i7
processors giving you four
cores and eight threads or six
cores and 12 threads at higher
clock rates than the AMD
competition. Now, AMD’s second-
generation Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7
models have returned with higher
clock speeds on six-core/12-thread
and eight-core/16-thread processors.
Which is best? Well, it depends on
the scenario. Right now, a six-core games will max out 4GB, even at 4K support future CPU upgrades (not that
Intel chip with a higher clock-speed resolutions (although some are you’ll need them).
will triumph in many games and getting very close). However, the Just be aware that the lower-end
many applications, but games higher-capacity cards will give you a chipsets (the B350 and B360) may be
developers are getting smarter at degree of future-proofing. limited in terms of high-speed
building game engines that can max memory support or high-speed IO
Don’t skimp on the
more cores at any one time, so the
balance is shifting towards more 3 motherboard
lanes for expansion cards. But don’t
buy blindly: this may not affect you
cores, even at slightly lower clock The motherboard isn’t just the bit that unless you’re planning to run multiple
speeds. And if you’re rendering video everything plugs into. This is the graphics cards or add more storage. In
or 4K graphics, then the more cores, platform that defines both what your trying to differentiate their products,
the merrier. With the latest six- and PC can do now, and where you can some motherboard manufacturers
eight-core CPUs, we’re seeing take it in the next few years. Luckily, are also pushing high-performance
complex benchmarks that used to the Coffee Lake and Ryzen processors networking features or audio support,
take several minutes to process in this month’s Labs require a modern but we regard these as nice-to-haves
handled in seconds before our eyes. platform to run, so whether you pick rather than necessities.
something based on Intel’s B360 and
Go big on graphics Pack enough RAM
2 If you’re playing games, you
Z370 chipsets or AMD’s B350 and X370
equivalents, you can expect mod-cons 4 (and make it speedy)
want the fastest GPU you can afford. such as M.2 card slots and USB 3.1 DDR4 RAM has become the baseline
The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 or BELOW The faster connectivity, plus a platform that will standard, but many of the systems
Radeon RX580 is your absolute the graphics card the on test have left the basic 2,400MHz
baseline, while a GTX 1080 or Radeon better – but paying for stuff behind for more exotic 3,000
Vega 56 wins you entry into the more GDDR5 RAM and 3,200MHz variants. The higher-
4K-gaming big leagues. Anything less may be a false speed RAM has more bandwidth for
will leave you stuck at a 1080p or, at economy demanding games and applications,
best, a 1440p resolution. Did you not to mention enough headroom for
really spend more than £1,000 on a overclocking. You can find even faster
PC just to get the same gaming RAM, but you hit high prices and
experience you could have on diminishing returns. Tests indicate
a £300 console? that the performance difference
Spending more on your between 2,666MHz RAM and
card will also buy you 3,000MHz isn’t that significant.
additional GDDR5 RAM for These days, 16GB is the sweet spot.
the beast. Don’t be too 8GB is too little for some games and
concerned about getting a 6GB or applications, while 32GB doesn’t give
8GB card, though, as surprisingly few you any tangible advantage unless

76
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you’re working with huge datasets,
images or 4K video files. The money
could be better spent elsewhere.

Balance storage
5 capacity with speed
High-performance demands a SSD,
with PCIe M.2 SSDs the fastest
options, but the applications that need
high performance also need the
capacity to store game assets, images
or massive 4K video files. As a result,
any high-end system worth its salt
will combine a 256GB to 512GB SSD
with a 2TB to 4TB hard disk. Combine
an M.2 slot and an Intel Z370 or B360
motherboard and you’ve also got the
option of Intel Optane storage; right
now an expensive alternative to
conventional M.2 drives, but
potentially the high-speed, low-
latency storage of the future. ABOVE Remember quiet and cool the CPU efficiently the hardware – all the features you
when PC cases were enough to deliver serious levels of need are supplied in the UEFI
There’s more to the case
6 than looking good
all a different shade
of beige?
overclocking without making too
much of a racket.
firmware. GPUs and RAM can also be
overclocked, with graphics hardware
Featureless beige and black boxes are Case fans also have an important manufacturers supplying their own
a thing of the past. Every PC in this test role to play here. Generally speaking, tweaking tools.
has one or more distinctive features, more fans or larger fans can work at Some of this month’s review PCs
whether a glass side-panel, glowing lower speeds to deliver the same come pre-overclocked, meaning the
accents, LED strips or, well, all of the cooling airflow, meaning less noise. manufacturer has set them up with
above. But, while every PC enthusiast However, you’ll be surprised how the CPU or GPU overclocked
wants a system that cuts la bella effective one or two fans can be in a already, and they’re covered by the
figura, remember that a case is well-designed case with optimised warranty in that state. This works if
practical as well. Is it easy to get into? airflow. More isn’t always more. they can find the right balance
Does it support a good airflow? Has it between speed and system stability
“You’ll be surprised by how It’s okay to
got room for additional storage? Is the
cable management system any cop? effective one or two fans 8 overclock
and can be a good way to get a faster
PC without spending more on
It’s worth spending extra on a system It might seem unnecessary higher-end components.
with a case that doesn’t just look good
can be in a well-designed to overclock such
case with good airflow. Make the right
externally, but is well-designed
internally. It will save you a whole lot More isn’t always more”
powerful systems, but it
can be a cheap and 9 connections
of cursing years down the line. effective way to get more Connectivity is important, but it’s
performance, smooth out frame rates getting harder to find a PC that’s
Stay frosty
7 Even at stock speeds, today’s
in a game or prolong your processor’s
working life (unless you push it too
weak in this area. Look for four or
more USB 3 or 3.1 ports – and support
CPUs and GPUs need efficient cooling. far, in which case you’ll have the for the newer, faster USB 3.1 Gen 2
A large, efficient CPU heatsink and opposite effect). Intel’s K suffix standard; this makes a big difference
fan will do the job and give you some processors and all of the Ryzen range when you’re connecting external
headroom for overclocking, but it’s are designed to support some degree USB drives. And while front or
no surprise that many high-end of overclocking, but you’ll need a top-mounted ports might seem
systems use watercooling to keep more advanced cooler to get the most unimportant, you’ll really come to
temperatures low. The most effective out of the chips without long-term appreciate them when you’re
watercooling systems can be eerily risks. There’s no need to fiddle with plugging in a mouse, headphones,
USB memory stick or wired games
controller; it’s a whole lot easier than
Howwetest reaching around the back.

Let there be light!


We award each PC an overall star rating from one to
five, calculated by weighing up its performance,
GPU to work running three game benchmarks – Rise
of the Tomb Raider, Far Cry 5 and Metro: Last Light 10 Some PC gamers succumb to
features, design and value for money. We also – at 1080p and 2160p resolutions with very high or RGB madness and feel no high-end PC
consider the warranty, service and support. “ultra” graphics settings. We also tested them with is complete without glowing strips
To test performance, we run our benchmark the demanding Cinebench 3D rendering benchmark around every major component and
suite, which features demanding image-editing and to see how they fare. We then measure power every opening. Others simple don’t
video-processing tasks followed by a multitasking consumption while idle and under load, to see which see the point. If you like the hot-rod
benchmark that involves transcoding MPEG-4 video systems will hammer style, go crazy, but it’s not essential
while playing a 4K video file. These tests provide a your home energy bills. to performance and the effects can
score for each system, representing performance Finally, we would like be migraine-inducing. Luckily,
relative to a Core i5-4670K reference PC. So, a score to thank Philips for the lighting systems are nearly always
of 150 is 50% faster than that baseline PC. loan of its 32in, 4K configurable and software
We also test each system’s main SSD, then put its 328P6VJEB monitor. controlled, giving you the tools to
get a specific effect or simply turn
down the more ridiculous stuff.

77
LABS WINNER

CCL Reaper GT Chillblast Fusion Titanium CyberPower Infinity Lenovo Legion Y720 Tower
X88 GTX (Ryzen)
Overall

Information
Price (inc VAT) £1,249 (£1,499) £1,125 (£1,350) £1,333 (£1,599) £833 (£999)
Price of delivery (standard, inc VAT) Included Included Included Included
Supplier website cclonline.com chillblast.com cyberpowersystem.co.uk lenovo.com
Service and support
Manufacturer’s reliability/support N/A 93%/92% N/A 87%/76%
rating1
Warranty 3yr C&R 2yr C&R plus 3yr RTB labour only 2yr C&R plus 3yr RTB labour only 2yr (1yr C&R, 1yr RTB, lifetime
labour only)
Core components
Processor AMD Ryzen 2700 Intel Core i7 8700K Intel Core i7 8700K AMD Ryzen 7 1800X
Core/Turbo Boost speed 3.6GHz/4.2GHz 3.7GHz/4.7GHz 3.7GHz/4.8GHz (OC) 3.7GHz/4GHz
Total number of cores/threads 8/16 6/12 6/12 8/16
Motherboard MSI B350 Tomahawk Arctic Gigabyte B360M-DS3H Asus Prime Z370-P Lenovo 36E1 (AM4)
Expansion slots PCIe 3.0 x16, PCIe 3.0 x4, 2 x PCIe PCIe 3.0 x16, 2 x PCIe 3.0 x1 PCIe 3.0 x16, PCIe 3.0 x4, 4 x PCIe PCIe 3.0 x16, PCIe 3.0 x1
3.0 x1, 2 x PCI 3.0 x1
Expansion cards fitted (not including 0 0 0 0
graphics)
RAM fitted, type and speed 16GB DDR4 3,000MHz 16GB DDR4 2,400MHz 16GB DDR4 3,000MHz 16GB DDR4 2,400MHz
RAM slots (free/total) 2/4 2/4 2/4 2/2
Graphics card
Make and model MSI GTX 1080 4GB Aorus GTX 1070 Ti 8GB MSI GTX 1080 8GB Aero OC AMD Radeon RX570 4GB
Outputs HDMI, DVI-D, 3 x DisplayPort HDMI, DVI-D, 3 x DisplayPort HDMI, DVI-D, 3 x DisplayPort HDMI, DVI-D, 3 x DisplayPort
Drives
SSD make and model Samsung 860 Evo Samsung 960 Evo WD Black WDS256G1X0C Samsung PM961
SSD nominal capacity 250GB 250GB 256GB 256GB
SSD interface SATA M.2 M.2 M.2
Hard disk make and model Seagate ST3000DM008 Seagate ST2000DM006 Seagate ST2000DM006 WD WD10EZEX
Hard disk nominal capacity 3TB 2TB 2TB 1TB
Hard disk spindle speed 7,200rpm 7,200rpm 7,200rpm 7,200rpm
Hard disk memory buffer 64MB 64MB 64MB 64MB
Optical drive DVD-RW

Case
Case make and model Corsair Carbide 275R Phanteks Eclipse P300 InWin 101 Lenovo Legion Y720
1. Score in PC Pro’s Technology Excellence Awards 2017. See issue 280, p30 for details

Case dimensions (WDH) 211 x 446 x 436.5mm 200 x 450 x 400mm 226 x 480 x 445mm 206.4 x 478.9 x 503.5mm
PSU make and model Antec Neo Classic 80Plus Bronze Fractal Design 80Plus CoolerMaster MasterWatt Lite ACBel 80Plus Bronze
PSU rating 550W 600W 600W 400W
CPU cooler Corsair H100i Chillblast Centurion CoolerMaster Seidon 240V Lenovo
Interfaces
Rear USB ports 3 x USB 3.1, 2 x USB 2, USB-C 4 x USB 3.1, 2 x USB 2 4 x USB 3.1, 2 x USB 2 4 x USB 3, USB 3.1 Gen2, USB-C
Rear ports (motherboard) PS/2, HDMI, DVI-D, Gigabit PS/2, HDMI, DVI-D, Gigabit PS/2, HDMI, DVI-D, Gigabit Gigabit Ethernet, S/PDIF, 5 x audio
Ethernet, 3 x audio Ethernet, 3 x audio Ethernet, 3 x audio
Front/top ports 2 x USB 3, 2 x audio 2 x USB 3.1, 2 x audio 2 x USB 3.1, 2 x audio 2 x USB 2
Internal SATA connectors (free/total) 3/4 3/4 3/4 0/2
M.2 connector 1 1 2 1
Software
Operating system Windows 10 Home Windows 10 Home Windows 10 Home Windows 10 Home
Company information
Main location Bradford Poole Gateshead, Tyne & Wear Global
Number of permanent sales/support staff 10 4/8 5 N/A

78
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RECOMMENDED RECOMMENDED

Palicomp Intel i7 Nebula PC Specialist Vulcan S-01 Scan 3XS Gamer Wired2Fire Diablo Nemesis

£1,292 (£1,550) £1,249 (£1,499) £1,250 (£1,500) £1,250 (£1,500)


Included Included Included £20 (£24)
palicomp.co.uk pcspecialist.co.uk/reviews scan.co.uk wired2fire.co.uk

N/A 92%/91% 83%/83% N/A

3yr RTB 1yr RTB (30-day C&R) plus 2yr RTB labour only 1yr on-site plus 2yr RTB (parts and labour) 2yr RTB (30-day C&R) plus 1yr RTB labour only

Intel Core i7 8700K Intel Core i7 8700K AMD Ryzen 2600X Intel Core i7 8700
3.7GHz/4.8GHz (OC) 3.7GHz/4.7GHz 3.6GHz/4.2GHz 3.7GHz/4.7GHz
6/12 6/12 6/12 6/12
Asus TUF Z-370 Plus Gaming Asus TUF Z-370 Plus Gaming Asus Prime B350 Plus Asus Prime Z370-P
PCIe 3.0 x16, PCIe 3.0 x4, 4 x PCIe 3.0 x1 PCIe 3.0 x16, PCIe 3.0 x4, 4 x PCIe 3.0 x1 PCIe 3.0 x16, PCIe 3.0 x4, 2 x PCIe 2.0 x1, PCIe 3.0 x16, PCIe 3.0 x4, 4 x PCIe 3.0 x1
2 x PCI
0 0 1 0

16GB DDR4 3,200MHz 16GB DDR4 3,000MHz 16GB DDR4 2,666MHz 16GB DDR4 2,400MHz
2/4 2/4 2/4 2/4

Palit GTX 1080 Jetstream 8GB (OC +150/+50) Zotac GTX 1080 8GB EVGA GTX 1080 8GB SC Gaming Gigabyte GTX 1080 WindForce OC 8GB
HDMI, DVI-D, 3 x DisplayPort HDMI, DVI-D, 3 x DisplayPort HDMI, DVI-D, 3 x DisplayPort HDMI, DVI-D, 3 x DisplayPort

2 x Samsung PM981 (RAID0) Samsung PM961 WD Black WDS256G1X0C Samsung Evo 960
256GB 256GB 256GB 500GB
M.2 M.2 M.2 M.2
Seagate ST2000DM006 Seagate ST1000DM010 WD WD20EZRZ Seagate ST2000DM006
2TB 1TB 2TB 2TB
7,200rpm 7,200rpm 5,400rpm 7,200rpm
64MB 64MB 64MB 64MB

Kolink Observatory RGB InWin 101 Corsair Carbide 275R CoolerMaster Masterbox MB600
201 x 435 x 435mm 226 x 480 x 445mm 211 x 446 x 436.5mm 212 x 464 x 456mm
Corsair CS Modular 80Plus Gold Corsair CS Modular 80Plus Gold Corsair CXM 80Plus Bronze CoolerMaster MasterWatt Bronze 80Plus
650W 650W 550W 750W
ID-Cooling 240mm FF+ Corsair H100i V2 Hydro AMD Wraith Spire CoolerMaster MasterAir MA410P

2 x USB 3.1 Gen2, 2 x USB 3.1, 2 x USB 2, USB-C 2 x USB 3.1 Gen2, 2 x USB 3.1, 2 x USB 2, USB-C 2 x USB 3.1 Gen2, 4 x USB 3.1, 2 x USB 2 4 x USB 3.1, 2 x USB 2
PS/2, HDMI, DVI-D, Gigabit Ethernet, 3 x audio PS/2, HDMI, DVI-D, Gigabit Ethernet, 3 x audio PS/2, HDMI, DVI-D, Gigabit Ethernet, 3 x audio PS/2, HDMI, DVI-D, Gigabit Ethernet, 3 x audio

2 x USB 2, USB 3.1, 2 x audio 2 x USB 3.1, 2 x audio 2 x USB 3, 2 x audio 2 x USB 2, 2 x audio
5/6 5/6 5/6 3/4
2 2 1 2

Windows 10 Home Windows 10 Home Windows 10 Home Windows 10 Home

Crewe Wakefield Bolton Dorking


5 20 200 4

79
CCLReaperGT
While the all-white finish
may turn heads, this PC’s
beauty isn’t skin deep: it’s a
great spec for a great price
SCORE
PRICE £1,249 (£1,499 inc VAT)
from cclonline.com

O
ther enthusiast PCs have style
and a whole lot of lighting, but
the CCL Reaper GT is the only
one with its own aesthetic. Forget
bombastic displays of pulsating
colour, here it’s all about gleaming
whites, with a white Corsair Carbide
275R case, a matching white MSI B350
Tomahawk Arctic motherboard and
prominent white cabling, white
DIMMs and a black-and-white fan on
the MSI graphics card. It’s a
beautifully imagined high-end PC.
There’s substance to match the
style, starting with one of AMD’s
second-generation Ryzen processors
– the eight-core, 16-thread Ryzen
2700. In terms of clock speed, it’s not
much different to the 2600X in the sensible given the minimal speed ABOVE CCL cleverly can’t compete with Samsung’s 960
Scan Gaming 3XS, but the extra two difference and the costs involved. uses off-the-shelf Evo drives on raw performance. We
cores and four threads can make a Given the temperatures at the components to create measured sequential read speeds at
significant difference in heavily current speeds, we wouldn’t be a PC with unique style 527MB/sec and write speeds of 287MB/
multithreaded applications, including inclined to overclock the Ryzen 2700 sec, where the faster SSDs reach
video encoding, 3D rendering and further, but MSI’s UEFI BIOS makes it speeds of nearer 2,500MB/sec and
recent high-end games. tempting to try. It has some of the 1,800MB/sec, respectively. There’s
CCL chooses a Corsair H110i slickest tweaking tools around, compensation in an extra terabyte of
watercooling system to keep things complete with useful in-line help. hard disk space, but you wonder if
cool. It exchanges heat from the CPU For storage, the Reaper relies on a BELOW The stylish CCL has hobbled the Reaper GT.
through a heavy-duty radiator at the 250GB Samsung 860 Evo M.2 SSD and black-and-white Not really. The CCL still came
front of the case, itself cooled by two a 3TB Seagate Barracuda 7,200rpm finish extends to the fourth in our media and multitasking
12cm fans. While the Ryzen ran hot hard disk. The 860 Evo use a SATA3 back, aside from the benchmarks and delivered a decent
during testing, reaching peaks of over controller and V-NAND flash, so it occasional flash of red score in the Cinebench 3D rendering
90°C, we encountered no problems benchmark, where its eight cores, 16
with stability and no serious levels of threads and fast memory subsystem
noise. In fact, after a fierce roar at count more than SSD speeds. And
startup, the CCL is very quiet. while the CCL isn’t quite up there with
That’s helped by efficient cooling the fastest gaming systems, it’s still a
on the MSI GTX 1080 Armor 8G OC contender: it nearly matches the Scan
graphics card, which itself overclocks 3XS Gamer in both the Rise of the
the GTX 1080 GPU with a 50MHz Tomb Raider and Metro: Last Light
increase on the base clock and a benchmarks, and isn’t far behind in
64MHz bump on the boost clock. You Far Cry 5. While the Palicomp, Scan
could even push both higher using the and CyberPower PCs will load your
bundled MSI Afterburner app – this game slightly faster, the CCL doesn’t
card will happily reach over 1,800MHz fall behind while it’s actually running.
base speeds while gaming. With some fantastic high-end
The B350 Tomahawk Arctic is also components and great attention to
an interesting motherboard. As well detail, the CCL is a beast of a PC. That
as three USB 3.1 Type-A ports, USB-C it’s also something of a beauty is the
and Gigabit Ethernet with gaming- icing on the cake. If you’re looking for
focused bandwidth management, it ultimate performance, choose the
supports 3,200MHz DDR4 memory. Palicomp or CyberPower systems; but
CCL hasn’t pushed things quite that if we were splashing out on a £1,500
far, fitting a 3,000MHz Corsair system, we’d take the icy cool CCL
Vengeance LFX instead, but that’s Reaper GT every time.

80
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ChillblastFusionTitanium
It can’t match the spec of the
fastest machines, but the
Chillblast Fusion Titanium is
undeniably great value
SCORE
PRICE £1,125 (£1,350 inc VAT)
from chillblast.com

I
t says something about the size and
power of this month’s systems that
Chillblast’s Fusion Titanium is one
of the smaller, more discreet PCs on
test. Its Phanteks Eclipse P300 case is
a good inch slimmer – and several
inches shorter – than the larger tower
cases sported by the Palicomp, Scan
and CCL desktops. Chillblast also
plays things subtle with the lighting.
Look through the tempered glass side
panel and you’ll see a glow emitting
from the Aorus graphics card and a
blue strip near the bottom, but not the
full-on lightshow of some rivals.
Chillblast opts for air-cooling over
water, chilling the Core i7-8700K CPU
with its own-brand cooler. This sports
a massive heatsink and 80mm fan, but Barracuda connected via 6GB/sec ABOVE The heatsink at the bottom of the case is already
then it has quite a lot of work to do: SATA. The 960 Evo is arguably the is huge but performs tightly packed, while the only PCI
the only case fan is a 120mm exhaust sweet spot for M.2 SSDs right now, its task well without Express slot that’s readily available is
at the rear. But there’s more to with sequential read speeds of over making much noise a single PCIe Gen3 x4.
efficient cooling than more and bigger 2,400MB/sec and write speeds of over At this point we should note the
fans. With vents on the front and top 1,800MB/sec, but without the price Fusion Titanium is one of the least
of the case, the system keeps CPU premium of the 960 Pro drive. Bar the expensive PCs on test. There are,
temperatures below 67°C even when Palicomp’s dual Samsung PM981 however, compromises made to reach
the Fusion Titanium is working hard. RAID, the 960 Evo is the fastest SSD in this price. With basic air-cooling and a
Noise levels aren’t bad either, with a any machine this month. BELOW Compared B360 motherboard, overclocking isn’t
low hum that graduates to a not- Want to add more storage? That’s with rivals, Chillblast’s an option, while RAM is your basic
unbearable whine when you’re tricky. There are three 6GB/sec SATA choice of case is 2,400MHz DDR4. Perhaps the most
handling 3D renders or playing ports available, but the compartment positively discreet serious, though, is a GTX 1070 Ti
high-end games. graphics card when nearly everyone
Connectivity is pretty standard. else is packing a GTX 1080.
On the top of the case, near the front, In our 3D gaming tests, this meant
you’ll find two USB 3.1 ports and scores were just a little off the pace,
sockets for a microphone and particularly at 4K. For instance, in
headphones. At the rear, the Gigabyte Far Cry 5 the Chillblast delivered an
B360M-DS3H motherboard packs in average 38fps where other systems
four USB 3.1 ports, two USB 2 ports for manage 40 to 45fps. That’s still not a
your mouse and keyboard, a Gigabit massive difference, however, so you
Ethernet port and HDMI and DVI-D have to wonder whether the extra few
ports, which are destined to remain frames per second are worth the cash.
unused given the supplied graphics It’s a similar story in the
card. Three audio ports have you mainstream 2D benchmarks, where
covered for surround audio. There’s the Chillblast falls behind some other
no USB-C connector, digital audio Core i7-8700K systems, but not far
output or onboard Wi-Fi, but the enough behind that you would notice
Realtek 8118 Gaming LAN module the difference in everyday use. In
supports Gigabit Ethernet with short, you could say that Chillblast’s
automatic bandwidth allocation, compromises are the right ones,
designed to ensure that games and giving you roughly 86% of the
streaming apps get priority. performance of the fastest machines
For storage, Chillblast opts for a for roughly 85% of the price. As a
Samsung 960 Evo NVMe drive in the value proposition, the Chillblast
M.2 socket plus a 2TB Seagate makes a lot of sense.

81
CyberPowerInfinity
X88GTX
A formidable price, but just
look at what’s inside: the
Infinity X88 GTX is a true
powerhouse PC
SCORE
PRICE £1,333 (£1,599 inc VAT)
from cyberpowersystem.co.uk

T
he Infinity X88 GTX is the most
expensive PC in this test, but
check out that specification.
This is no average Core i7 CPU, but a
watercooled 8700K with its six cores
overclocked to hit a peak 4.8GHz. The
MSI GTX 1080 Aero graphics card
packs 8GB of 10,010MHz GDDR5 RAM.
Throw in 16GB of 3,000MHz DDR4
RAM and a 256GB WD Black M.2 NVMe
drive, and you have a system designed
to burn through the most demanding
applications or 3D games.
And so it does; a glance at the
performance graphs on p90 and p91
hammers that home. The CyberPower
runs Rise of the Tomb Raider at a 4K These feel a little cheap, but you can ABOVE Packed with or maybe sandwich a PCIe 3.0 x1 card
resolution 4fps faster than anything unclip the panel in a couple of seconds star components, but in between the GPU and the radiator,
else and matches the similarly – something that can’t be said for the the CoolerMaster but you’re going to find the latter a
specified Palicomp in Metro: Last average four-screw effort. There’s not watercooling system struggle. Still, given the supplied
Light. Yes, it falls behind its rival in a lot of lighting inside or around the takes centre stage specification, that’s hardly a big deal.
Far Cry 5’s internal benchmark, but casing – just a small glow on the While connectivity isn’t anything
any way you look at it, this is a waterblock, a glowing MSI logo and special, it’s good to see six USB 3.1
seriously powerful PC. red illumination on the Perspex InWin ports, including two you can get to
It’s also cool and quiet, with the logo, but that’s fine with us. quickly on the top of the case near the
CoolerMaster watercooling system Beyond storage, there’s not a whole front, alongside microphone and
shifting heat from the CPU through to lot of internal expansion potential. BELOW We’re fans of headphone sockets. Plug your mouse
a chunky radiator with fans venting You can add two more DIMMs to the the InWin case, which and keyboard into the two USB 2 ports
downwards at the bottom of the existing two 8GB Adata XPG modules is large but practical and you’ve still got plenty of room for
InWin case. How ever hard we pushed external hard disks or a VR headset.
the Infinity, CPU temperatures never The system comes pre-
drifted above 64°C and actually stayed overclocked, but the Asus UEFI BIOS
south of 40°C much of the time. gives you plenty of options to tweak
That InWin case is large but clock speeds and voltages – not to
practical, with a 120mm fan and a lot mention full control over the
of space for airflow over the non- watercooling system and some nice
watercooled components. It’s a joy to automated tuning features. We’d stick
work inside, with excellent cable to the existing settings, but it’s nice to
management and two easily accessible know that, if you need it, you could
3.5in drive bays attached to the still eke out an extra boost.
power-supply compartment at the All in all, this is an extremely
top. One of these is occupied by a 2TB impressive system, ready to run any
Seagate Barracuda hard disk, while games and applications you want to
the other sits ready to be filled with a throw at it for a good few years. The
second 6GB/sec SATA drive. This gives only thing that spoils CyberPower’s
you the capacity for images, audio, party is the presence of the Palicomp
video and game files, while the M.2 i7 Nebula, which gives you a very
drive delivers the performance these similar specification for £50 less. The
demanding applications need. Palicomp has faster storage, giving it
You can get to all this stuff with the edge on the Infinity X88, but don’t
ease through the tempered glass slide discount the CyberPower; it came
panel, which has two click-and-clip incredibly close to carrying away an
pins that hold it securely in place. award this month.

82
@PCPRO FACEBOOK.COM/PCPRO Labs PowerhousePCs

LenovoLegionY720
The Legion looks the part but
doesn’t have the balanced
spec to match the best here
or cope with 4K gaming
SCORE
PRICE £833 (£999 inc VAT)
from lenovo.com

B
ig-brand gaming systems are
nothing new. Dell has the
Alienware and XPS gaming
desktops, Acer its Predator line and
HP the Omen series, all providing
enthusiast-friendly, high-
performance systems with a splash of
hot-rod gaming style. Legion is
Lenovo’s foray into the field, with a
range of laptops and predominantly
Intel and Nvidia-based desktops –
although the Legion Y720 on test is its
Ryzen-powered variant.
In fact, the Legion Y720 backs AMD
all the way, with a first-generation
Ryzen 7 1800X CPU and an AMD
Radeon RX570 graphics card. It’s also
the cheapest system by some margin.
Given the price difference, you can’t accents, giving the impression that ABOVE Lenovo needs Inside, this is a conventional PC,
expect the Y720 to compete neck-and- this PC might be about to hurl lava to learn from others complete with an old-school sheet
neck with the faster, more expensive over your desk and onto the carpet. when it comes to steel chassis. There are two 120mm
systems, but does it deliver a real taste We’re almost as impressed by the internal design fans at the front and another at the
of the gaming high-end? case-opening mechanism. Slide the rear, plus a chunky heatsink fan, but
Yes and no. The first-generation unlock slider across, click down on the airflow is more obstructed than
Ryzen 7 1800X is still a high- the raised area at the back and the rivals. The Y720 isn’t objectionably
performance processor, with eight side-panel just pops off. It’s also good noisy, but the racket picks up when
cores handling 16 threads at a to have two USB 3 ports and two USB 2 BELOW We love the the system is under stress – it’s one of
maximum 4GHz (and going faster ports at the front, even if the fact Legion’s looks, while the loudest here.
with judicious overclocking). Teamed they’re all red makes it tricky to see the DVD writer is a Nor is this the most upgradable
with 16GB of 2,400MHz DDR4 RAM, which is which. nice inclusion system on test. There are no spare
you get fine levels of performance in DIMM slots and only one PCIe 3.0 x1
2D applications; it was actually the expansion slot available, although
fastest machine on test in Cinebench. there’s space inside the drive cages for
That RX570 graphics card, another three 3.5in hard drives should
however, is a different matter. There’s the existing 1TB Western Digital Blue
enough horsepower to run games at a drive and 256GB Samsung PM961 M.2
Full HD 1080p resolution with the SSD prove insufficient. Everything’s
detail levels pushed right up, but secured with hand screws, making the
switch to 4K and the Lenovo can’t job even easier, and, if you prefer to
maintain a playable frame rate – even buy your software physically rather
1440p is likely to be too much. As a than digitally, you might be glad to see
gaming system, it’s just unbalanced, a DVD-RW installed.
with an excess of CPU power and a The problem for the Y720 is that it
lack of matching GPU performance. falls between two stools. In the past
Interestingly, Lenovo hasn’t made the six months we have seen sub-£900
same mistake on its Intel systems, PCs that deliver better gaming
where the £1,299 Y720T ships with a performance than the Lenovo, even if
relatively weedy Core i5-7400 but an they didn’t have the eight-core Ryzen
8GB GTX 1070. 7 CPU. And while the Intel versions
Unfortunately, gaming promise a better balance of CPU and
performance isn’t the only area where GPU horsepower, we’d still opt for the
the Y720 falls flat. From the outside, £1,350 Chillblast, which overall has
it’s every inch a premium enthusiast the stronger spec. The Y720 isn’t a bad
system, with its matte-black exterior big-brand take on the enthusiast PC,
punctuated by angular red glowing but some aspects need a rethink.

83
Labs PowerhousePCs @PCPRO FACEBOOK.COM/PCPRO

PalicompInteli7Nebula
Awesome performance
combines with a dazzling RECOMMENDED

light show for a killer


gaming system
SCORE
PRICE £1,292 (£1,550 inc VAT)
from palicomp.co.uk

S
ome PCs are content to sit quietly
in a corner, unobtrusively going
about their work. The Palicomp
Nebula, however, is not one of those
PCs, coming in a gigantic Kolink
Observatory case with a glossy,
semi-transparent mirror effect side
panel and transparent front. Behind
the latter you’ll find three 12in RGB
LED fans, with another one working
at the back. Each fan has 16 RGB
LEDs controlled by a bundled RGB
controller, with a choice of over 300
lighting effects. On our test machine,
Palicomp had pre-configured a
rotating, colour changing light show;
headache-inducing, perhaps, but
even as you headed off to your
darkened room you’d mutter about making it easy to work inside. There’s ABOVE Palicomp standard 2D benchmarks, with only
how spectacular it was. space for another two DDR4 DIMMs, pushes performance the CyberPower providing any serious
Luckily, there’s substance to back plus two PCIe 3.0 x 1 expansion slots to the limit with this competition. The triumph continued
up the style. That starts with a Core and another PCIe 3.0 x 16 slot if you overclocked system when it comes to games, with the
i7-8700K overclocked to max out at can squeeze the card in past the Palicomp 12fps faster than the next
4.8GHz rather than the usual 4.7GHz. double-height GPU. Down at the fastest-system on Far Cry 5 at 1080p,
Then there’s a Palit GTX 1080 graphics bottom of the case, there’s a spare and 2fps faster than the Scan at 4K.
card, also clocked to a storming 3.5in drive bay, just below the one The figures for Rise of the Tomb
1,858MHz with the 8GB of GDDR5 housing a 2TB Seagate Barracuda. Raider and Metro: Last Light need
RAM overclocked to match. And as if There’s potential, then, to take this BELOW The colour more explanation. In both cases, our
this weren’t speed-crazed enough, PC further. Yet where it’s at right now scheme may be a bit benchmarks refused to run with the
Palicomp has also fitted two 256GB is pretty great. The Palicomp proved crazy, but you can Palicomp at factory settings. We could
Samsung PM981 M.2 SSDs in the two the fastest system on test in our change it as you see fit only get it to run both benchmarks
M.2 sockets, then configured them for once we’d dialled the overclock down
RAID0 to maximise performance. to the stock 1,607MHz. This enabled
Running the A-SSD benchmark saw the CyberPower, with a smaller
sequential read speeds in excess of overclock, to sneak ahead in the Tomb
3,250MB/sec and write speeds of over Raider benchmark.
2,800MB/sec. That’s ludicrously fast. Has Palicomp over-egged its
The Asus TUF-Z370 motherboard is overclocking? Well, these issues only
a great platform for this kind of beast. occurred in these two benchmarks,
It supports the Palicomp’s 16GB of and not in other recent games we
3,200MHz DDR4 and can even stretch sampled. Given the extreme speeds
to 4,000MHz. It supports extremely on offer, even stock performance is
easy overclocking should you want to fantastic in most games, so we’d
tinker further, plus RGB lighting suggest keeping the overclock for
controls, built-in light strips and full certain titles at 4K but stepping it back
control of both fans and water pumps. for others. Whatever proves stable.
Given that the i7 Nebula uses an A system such as this isn’t for
ID-Cooling FrostFlow watercooling everyone and Palicomp went £50 over
system, complete with a whopping our advisory £1,500 price limit to pack
240mm radiator, heat shouldn’t be a all this good stuff in. Yet if you’re
problem. In fact, we rarely saw CPU looking for maximum performance
temperatures creep north of 60°C. without paying close to £2,000, then
The case itself is spacious, with the the i7 Nebula is tough to beat. It’s big,
combination of the cooling system it’s brash and it’s expensive, but it’s
and effective cable management also an incredible PC.

84
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PCSpecialistVulcanS-01
A well-built system with
bags of potential, the Vulcan
only misses out on the
awards by a narrow margin
SCORE
PRICE £1,249 (£1,499 inc VAT)
from pcspecialist.co.uk/reviews

A
s Kermit once sung, it’s not
easy being green, so we have to
congratulate PC Specialist for
the attention to detail in its Vulcan
S-01 system. Everything that can
glow, from the LED strips on the
motherboard to the DIMMs to the logo
on the Zotac graphics card, does so
with the same bilious hue, while strips
above and below the tempered-glass
side-panel continue the good work.
And if you don’t like green? Well, pick
your own colour. Thanks to the Aura
Sync capabilities of the Asus TUF
Z370-Plus Gaming motherboard, you
can have any tone you like.
What makes the Vulcan S-01 work
so well visually is the InWin 101 case,
the Corsair watercooling system and overclock that takes the base speed up ABOVE The Corsair 4K resolutions. Play a recent game
the clutter-free internal layout. Two to 1,620MHz. This isn’t the fastest card watercooling system such as Far Cry 5 on a 4K screen and
chunky pipes connect the CPU around, but given the might of the means this PC has the frame rate will never dip lower
waterblock to a side-mounted Nvidia GTX 1080 GPU even at stock room to go even faster than 35fps; for the most part, it will
radiator with twin 12cm fans, and to speeds, you can still expect awesome hold above 40fps quite comfortably.
great effect: the sound rarely rises levels of 3D performance, with the Performance is just as good with 2D
below a low hum while temperatures potential to push things further applications, where the PC Specialist
usually stay well below 40°C. through overclocking utilities. was the fastest of the systems without
The power supply is squirrelled With a few caveats, that’s exactly a pre-overclocked CPU. Those PCs
away in a separate compartment at what you get, with the Vulcan S-01 pull ahead on most benchmark
the top of the case, along with two delivering the kind of frame rates BELOW The power figures, but that hardly leaves the
slide-and-clip hard drive bays, one most monitors can’t cope with at supply is tucked away Vulcan sitting in the slow lane. It has
already filled with a 1TB Seagate 1080p and Very High or Ultra settings, in a separate area at more than enough power for 4K
Barracuda hard disk. This isn’t the and perfectly playable 30fps rates at the top of the case video-editing, professional image-
Vulcan’s primary storage device, editing and just about anything else.
which is a 256GB Samsung PM961 M.2 What’s more, stability is rock solid,
NVMe SSD. The PM961 isn’t quite as without any hint of a freeze or crash.
fast as the 960 Evo, but it’s a cheaper Connectivity is another strength.
and speedy alternative that won’t feel As well as two top-mounted USB 3.1
much different in daily use. Using the ports near the front, the Vulcan S-01
A-SSD benchmark, we still measured features another two USB 3.1 ports,
sequential read speeds of 2,446MB/sec two further USB 3.1 Gen2 ports and
and write speeds of 1,117MB/sec. even a USB-C port. Meanwhile, the
What we like about the Vulcan S-01 Gigabit Ethernet connector works
is that it gives you a great platform for with Asus’s Turbo LAN network
high performance. The Core i7-8700K optimisation software to prioritise
is Intel’s most desirable mainstream your network traffic, focusing on the
processor, and you can get the best out applications you use most.
of it with the TUF 370-Plus Gaming You won’t find the Vulcan atop this
motherboard. Its UEFI BIOS includes month’s leaderboards, mainly due to
some of the simplest and most other manufacturers being more
accessible overclocking tools around. ambitious with their CPU and GPU
PC Specialist packs in two 8GB overclocks. Yet this is a beautifully
3,000MHz DDR4 DIMMs, with slots built and designed PC with potential
to fit another two. to grow. The award winners are that
The graphics card is a Zotac GTX little bit more enticing, but we’d still
1080 running with a modest factory put the Vulcan on our shortlist.

86
Raytracing:where
@PCPRO FACEBOOK.COM/PCPRO Labs PowerhousePCs

gaminggoesnext
With exciting new technologies in the pipeline, the PC will continue
to fend off consoles when it comes to premium gaming

F
or most of the past decade, the
PC has been the premium
gaming platform. Sure, the
Microsoft and Sony consoles had their
big exclusives, but if you wanted to
play Doom, The Witcher 3 or the latest
Call of Duty at their best then the PC
was the only way to go.
Things have changed over the past
two years. For less than a high-end PC
graphics card, the Xbox One X runs
some games at 4K at a solid 30fps or
even 60fps, complete with HDR. Even
the £1,500 systems in this test struggle
to run current games with maximum
detail settings at 4K above 30fps.
Has the One X rendered
high-end gaming PCs obsolete?
We should be careful of direct
comparisons. For one thing,
while the Xbox One X outputs ABOVE The latest Last Jedi. EA’s SEED division showed
games at 4K, some titles use a demos of ray-tracing a demo of robots at work inside a
form of dynamic scaling where lighting, shadows andcomputer, featuring stunning
the image is rendered at a lower ray-traced lighting, shadows and
reflections are enough
resolution, say 2,560 x 1,440, then to make your jaw dropreflections. Remedy Games, of Max
upscaled to the 3,840 x 2,160 of a Payne fame, showed off truly
4K screen. In other cases, a trick photorealistic interiors inside its
called “checkerboard rendering” Northlight Engine. These demos are
is used to upscale lower-resolution graphics, it’s ray tracing to thank for enough to make your jaw drop.
visuals so they look like 4K. With a PC, the lifelike CGI we see in live-action The interesting thing about
you pick a 3,840 x 2,160 resolution movies as well as the beautifully-lit, DirectX RayTracing is that, while it
and 4K is exactly what you get. complex cartoon visuals of a Pixar will support new
What’s more, there’s scope to push animated film. As Nvidia’s Tony “DirectX RayTracing is hardware features inside
the frame rate further. While the Xbox Tamasi described it at a GDC keynote, happy to work within upcoming Nvidia and
One X will run Far Cry 5 at 30fps, a PC it’s “the holy grail of rendering AMD GPUs, is happy to
can take it to between 40fps and 60fps quality” but something that “hasn’t
software running on the work within software
for a smoother experience. Not to really been practical or even possible stream processors of running on the stream
mention that consoles limit your to do in real-time”. That’s why Nvidia existing high-end GPUs” processors inside existing
quality settings. is pushing it now, both through high-end GPUs. It needs a
Microsoft’s DirectX RayTracing API lot of horsepower, which is why
Step change and through its engine, RTX. Microsoft sees it as something that
Where the PC gets really exciting, will initially supplement existing
however, is where it’s headed next. Demo time rendering techniques, providing more
Every few years there’s a step change At GDC, demos from Epic and Nvidia, realistic shadows, reflections and
in gaming graphics, where a new working with ILMxLAB, showed global illumination – the simulation of
technique or rendering feature